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Field Tested: Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka

27-Feb-2013
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The Encapsil Parka by <a target="_blank" href="https://www.patagonia.com/us/home">Patagonia</a>. Perfect timing! What could be the warmest, lightest, loftiest down jacket ever made arrived just as the temp plummeted to minus 5 degrees.

The Encapsil Parka is the first 1,000-fill down jacket and has hydrophobic down stuffed into independent baffling, which, in the sewing world, is akin to climbing 5.15.

The down industry is getting a kick in the pants as new technologies emerge to address the shortcomings of feathers. In 2012 DriDown and DownTek came out with technology that treats down with a chemical polymer that makes it hydrophobic—instead of the down balling up like a wad of used tissues when it gets wet, the feathers retain loft.

The technology being employed in the Encapsil Parka is drastically different. The down is sent through a vacuum and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves, causing the feathers to poof out beyond their natural shape. Then the down is plasma-treated to give it hydrophobic properties. Until now, the very best naturally occurring down could only expect to reach a loft of 800, possibly 900, fill power. This new technology has yielded 1,000-fill down, a significant and very cool innovation.

I tested the Encapsil in negative-degree temperatures and wet, heavy snowfall. My upper body was never cold while wearing this thing and I was surprised to find that it was just as warm as another expedition-grade down jacket I own that is more than twice as heavy and three times as bulky. In a very wet snowfall, the nylon exterior did a good job of beading up water, but ultimately, the jacket began to feel wet. Yet the down retained its shape and loft. When I got back inside, I crumpled the wet jacket and watched as it puffed back up.

A few problems exist, however. The jacket is really expensive and even if you have 700 ducats to shell out, you may not be able to find one because only 1,000 are being manufactured.

 

Features

>Independent baffling and differential cut eliminate “cold spots.”

>Helmet-compatible hood with single drawcord for easy adjustments.

>Two baffles behind zipper keep out cold and make for snag-free zipping.

>Encapsil down first to achieve 1,000-fill power. 

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