Patagonia Down Sweater vs. Marmot Zeus
The title invokes a showdown but it really shouldn't be. Both products bring excellent quality to the outdoorsmen, hiker, backpacker, and others depending their activities. So I have spent 45 of my, eh eh, years in the outdoors going back to my early days as Boy Scout in the 1960s and three decades as a scoutmaster and an scout adult leader. Next to hydration, I learned my first and most important lessons in BSA about how to stay both warm and dry. Yeah BSA! This critique and these coats are very much about warm and dry so here it goes.
Both jackets have their advantages. Sometimes the advantages are so subtle the casual buyer will never know the difference. Others differences may be important depending on your time and place in the outdoors or around town. I am going to talk about six different qualities that make a difference; warmth and weight, water & wind resistance, looks and fit. Ninety-five percent of us will have specific interest in those categories. Both coats have excellent construction.
Warmth and weight: Both down coats are excellent here because we are not talking about real, real cold, as in Alaska winter cold or consistent sub zero. However, if you are living in an area where temperatures drop significantly in the evening below freezing, the Zeus edges out the Pat. Both have great designs regarding warmth and both are 800 down fill quality, which is very, very cool. This means excellent loft and weight qualities (this translates into more warmth for fill, less weight, and excellent compressibility.) The Pat down sweater will do very well if you have a shell, which you should in very cold, (freezing point and below), wet environments, or a combination of the two and especially with wind. In those conditions either coat should have a shell for backup. While both the Zeus and Pat have very good collars around the neck, the Zeus has a warmer design for the neck with less but more voluminous baffles, but that comes with a tradeoff. I will discuss that soon. Both coats have good length but the Zeus is a little longer and on cold days on ski slopes it is a better middle liner between the shell and the garment below the coat. If I am going on an extended backpack trip I will mostly reach for the Zeus. If it is weight your concerned about, that should not make a difference between these two excellent coats. While the Zeus is a little bit heavier it still compresses nice and the difference is too small to change my mind. The Pat is a little more compressible and they both make nice warm pillows at night on that backpacking trip. The Pat has some subtle advantages on summer backpack trips with cool nights.
Water & wind resistance: Ok, we are talking about down and water here. We know they do not do well together when exposed to each other and both manufactures will generously tell you should have a waterproof breathable shell if you think rain is in the cards. So true! The Pat says, "The Deluge® water-repellent finish causes snow and rain to bead up and roll off." The Zeus says, "The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish causes water to bead up and roll off." Well, "sort of" in both cases. After a few months of use I have found that both coats don't bead up as well and allow the droplets to fall off. They are definitely better than other comparable down garments because of the surface treatment and construction but don't leave home without the shell if you really think it is going to rain and get cold. Wind resistance; for down coats both do well here. Remember that wind pressure looks for voids in the garment; do pull the waist band before making the comparison. I would probably go with the Pat here but both are better than other garments with similar designs. Either way it is about six's again.
Looks and fit: Remember the tradeoff? Well here it goes. Ok we are the outdoor type and we are not so vain, wrong! Looks does count when it comes to wearing cloths casually, going to work, visits on cold days, hitting the ski slopes, and just wanting to be warm around town or short hikes. Hands down, the Patagonia down sweater is a better looking garment. My scouts and youth groups have a term for the Zeus; "it has a bit of the Michelin Man look," highly functional, but the Michelin Man look. I am in the outdoors for my work a great deal of the time in- and around- rivers with streambed material and survey equipment. The black fly larvae attached to river cobbles has the Michelin Man look in a light gargoyle color, with a touch of light brown. Fit has a lot to do with feel. The Pat down sweater feels very good and fits my frame well. Zeus is nice too but the Pat fit edges out the Zeus.
When you are walking up the East Slope of the South Sister on a cold windy day, looks doesn't really matter and the Zeus has a really cool angle wing cut in the upper arms for flexibility and comfort. Going out to dinner on a cold evening, hitting the ski slopes, or a short hike may make the difference on which coat you choose. The Pat has a nicer fit and it is a better looking coat. Having said that, the Zeus is still an attractive choice and so many of us have different upper body types that may feel and look good in the Zeus or the Pat. For me, I really like the Pat fit, and yes, even the looks of the Pat down sweater.
Ok, there is a reason I have both coats and that is because they are both excellent products and you can hardly go wrong choosing one or the other. For me, it depends on where I am going that day as to which one I will reach for. There is no such thing as a 4.5 on this scale but that is what both of them are to me. That means excellent use, value, looks, and overall functionality. There are just a few things that would make either coat a 4.9. Is there really such a thing as 5.0? No, but there is rounding up or down.
A New Favorite
This is an amazing piece of gear. I am very particular about what jackets I rely on and for years reached for one or another Arc Teryx soft shell to suit my needs. But I had been looking, for some time, for a light, down, extremely compressible jacket that provides greater warmth than a soft shell. I did not need to look any further than the M's Down Sweater. Backed by the Patagonia reputation for quality, this great, extremely versatile jacket seems to be on me almost every day, in some fashion, whether the thermometer reads 25 or 50. I have abandoned my $1K, tailor-made overcoat and replaced it with the M's Down Sweater as my go-to-work winter garb. Instead of reaching for a sweatshirt when going out in the yard to play with my three year old, I reach for this, knowing it is durable, light, and easy to move around in. As long as I travel to anywhere there is liable to be a chill, this will be in my bag, since it costs nothing in space and weight. I am 5'9" 190 lbs and the large fits perfectly. In fact I could easily wear a thick fleece beneath it as well as a shell over it (together) making it a formidable layering option. I got the alpha green, which is the same color as the US Army ACU green (fleece) so those who are downrange could easily wear this under their ACUs for extra warmth. Special Forces could even wear it on top since they don't mind getting yelled at for being out of regulation. For me, living in Tokyo, the most important aspect is that it is so compact. You can wear it while commuting, take it off in the train, stuff it into a small backpack or camera bag, and enjoy the ride in comfort; it is that easy to get in and out of. I could gush on for hours about this jacket. Suffice it to say, I love it, and am certain that anyone who lays out the $200 for it will as well. Considering what 200 bucks buys these days, once you get this baby out of the box and slide into it you will realize what a value it is. Those on the fence about getting the M's or W's Down Jacket need to get off. Buy it, you won't regret it. This is my first jacket review, and seeing as I will probably keep an M's Down Sweater in my inventory for the rest of my life, it may well be my last.
Wonderful Warmth, fickle fit...
This is perhaps the best coat I'll ever own, because of it's warmth, convenient light-weight and durability. I fear getting the jacket wet, so I also bought Patagonia's Rain Shadow jacket, and the two together are a real power team...! Here in flat, open Columbus Ohio, the cold wind is merciless... but I don't feel a lick of it when I wear these two jackets together. Even alone, the down sweater provides sufficient protection from the wind. With a hooded sweatshirt underneath the down sweater, or even just a t-shirt, I find it to be perfectly warm (and I am ALWAYS cold). What I like best about the down sweater is that I can wear it inside, too, because it vents well when it's unzipped.
I am built a lot like a giraffe... tall and skinny... and the down sweater is not the perfect fit for me. The jacket is designed to have a "regular fit," which for the "regular" person would allow room for a hooded sweatshirt or any sweater underneath... but for me, "regular fit" means I could fit seven more of Me in the coat. I considered buying the First Ascent down jacket that is of similar quality, because it is "form fitting." I feel like it would be warmer if it's closer to the torso. I decided on the Patagonia because 1) they had the color I wanted, 2) it's a brand I know I can trust and 3) I think it folds up even smaller than the First Ascent. Surprisingly, the sleeves on the Patagonia down sweater are long enough for me, which is rare. I describe the fit as "too small" because I would make the jacket a little bit longer in the trunk, but that's considering that I'm built like Gumby. Most people wouldn't think it's too small.
To summarize, I highly recommend the down sweater. I'm using it right now as a winter coat (averaging 2 shirts underneath, or a sweatshirt on single-digit days, and always a knit hat), and I imagine it will be the perfect early spring/late fall jacket with only a t-shirt underneath.
However, I would only buy this as an everyday jacket if you will have a hard-shell/rain coat on-hand... i.e. I keep mine in my backpack, or I just wear it. If it starts raining really hard, the water-proof coating on this down sweater wouldn't protect the down feathers. (I highly recommend Patagonia's Rain Shadow as a good, lightweight, waterproof exterior shell.)
A Solid Product
As a winter sports professional, I use this item in a variety of conditions. It is a typically well manufactured and solid Patagonia product, better, though not exceptionally so, than all of its competition in either down or synthetic fill. I find it to be at its best as a mid layer. The fit (and I chose it for fit over several other, similar pieces) is somewhat baggy through the torso on me (5' 10" / 150 lbs) to be a good outer layer without a sweater, sweatshiirt underneath to make up for the open airspace. I've worn it in combinations with a Patagonia Better Sweater (@ 20 - 30 deg. F, warm and toasty), a uniform sweatshirt (@ 40 - 50 deg. F, just fine), under a Marmot Precip (@ 50+ deg. F w/drizzle, just fine) and over just a T shirt (@ 60+ deg. F, just fine). Some of my colleagues that have both this and the Patagonia Nano Puff prefer the Nano Puff, though that seems to be more of a "keeping it dry" preference. All agree that the Down Sweater is the warmer, though only slightly, of the two. I haven't had a problem keeping it dry, but have never had it out in real rain. It is a very popular item with my colleagues and most wear it as an outer layer in mild winter conditions. It seems to "breath" well without any internal condensation build up and it does compress to a small ball (I am not 100% sure if the internal pocket is designed to be a reversable stuff sack, when I tried to use it in this manner, it seemed really a tight fit). It does leak a little down, but there isn't any noticible problem here other than the odd feather on my sweater or shirt. You can definitely do worse than this product and it certainly works as advertised.
This jacket is as close to perfection as you could come. It is exactly like the description say it is and it is as good as everyone says it is in the other reviews. Most of the time I can't believe how warm it is and yet it's so "extremely light",warm and unbelievably good looking for a "down" jacket.. I live in Beijing, China and the winters are very cold. I have worn this in all kinds of conditions as insulation and as a all around jacket. The later is incredible because it seems to be perfect for a very large temperature range. From a little cool to just plain cold. When it gets really cold I wear it as a insulation (it's perfect for that because the cut is nice and trim and doesn't bulk up inside of a jacket..) or put something inside (it's perfect for that because the jacket is expands easily in the sleeves and torso but still looks good when you wear something underneath)
Everyone is always talking about how great technically Patagonia is and how long the clothes last (I have an original rain jacket that I bought in 1988 and it's still holding up......) and both things are true.
But the bottom line for me is that I HAVE TO LOOK GOOD ha ha ha ha....and the Down Sweater makes me look ike a movie star...........!
An excellent, and extremely comfy piece
This is, for the weight, a very warm jacket. I wear the coat all the time and it has held up well. I live in Alaska and have seen some cold weather while in this thing. With a light fleece on underneath it I have been comfy while the temp is 32 degrees F and with a base layer and heaver fleece I have stayed warm while out in 0 degrees F, both of these times I wasn't very active. I have taken it dog sledding and been drug along a frozen river, it has had the sleeves drenched while deep sea fishing in the pouring rain, it has kept me warm while my car warms up on the way to college. It also works great as a pillow. It keeps the wind off well and is pretty durable for its weight, none the less I would recommend trying to avoid abrasive surfaces and sharp objects. It does dry out decently quickly but if soaked it will lose its insulating properties because its down. Additionally, just like anything else made of lightweight nylon, avoid fire and really hot objects like the plague, unless you like holes in your jacket. Overall I love this jacket and will buy another one when this one goes, just make sure you don't abuse the jacket too much and it will last you a while.
Excellent UL backapcking / camp layer
I use this jacket as a warm layer on long-distance backpacking trips. Using this jacket and a regular rain coat, I can handle temps well down into the 20's. I usually hike only in the rain coat as adding this jacket is too hot and it will get wet from sweat (not good for down).
I add this jacket under my rain coat during breaks and in camp at night. It makes a huge difference in temp and comfortability, but the real benefit is in the weight and size of the jacket. My buddy packs in a rain coat and full size (non-down) parka for cold nights. He is carrying needless weight and bulk when the Patagonia jacket allows me to turn my rain coat into a jacket as warm as his parka and at very little weight and size penalty.
Patagonia makes exceptional products and the quality of this jacket is great. My only con is the fit. As another reviewer noted, this jacket runs big at the top and in the sleeve holes. I ordered my usual size L and it fits more like an XL. I probably should have returned it for a size smaller and I suggest you consider that when you order yours.
Best Travel Jacket
For traveling in the winter time, you can't get a better piece of kit. We took these jackets (my wife and son have one too) to Africa when we left the US. It was a tropical winter in Africa so we knew we wouldn't need them but summer in the US. They packed down so small but were great in the plane when it was cold. When we returned to the US from Mozambique in January, we left 100 F degree temperatures and stepped off the plan in Utah to 25 F; quite a shock. Luckily our down sweaters kept the cold at bay. Because of their compressability I take mine anywhere that it may be under 55F. It is lightweight enough that it doesn't add to luggage weight or bulk and can be worn easily under a rain shell in nasty weather. Stick a cotton hoody under it and increase the warm factor by several degrees. The DWR finish works great for dry snow and light rain. The styling is great because you don't look like a Michelin man. You can wear this with slacks and a tie to church or a business meeting on a cold day or just as easily with jeans and a t-shirt. Fantastic!
Great, but not perfect for me
I am 5'10" 135lbs and wear a 36 jacket. The size small was closest fit for me. However, there is too much material in the armpits and upper arms. So it is a bit baggy and loose fitting on me. The XS is too small and tight. The shoulders don't look very square and flattering. They make my shoulders look very sloped, you can even see this in the model picture. The fit overall isn't very athletic and is kind of tubular. The waist is cut straight and I wish it was cut slightly longer in the rear. The internal pocket is a great addition and the whole jacket fits nicely in it when packed. The material is not shiny at all, but isn't matte either. The down has a great loft and the whole jacket is nice and warm without ever being too hot. It blocks the wind well. Seems like it would be as durable as any other jackets in its class. I wish the pockets were lined as well as the chin guard. In the time that I had it, there was minimal to no leakage of feathers. Awesome. However, because of the loose fit, I ended up going for the Downlight Sweater instead.
After wearing my M's Down Sweater daily for over a year (men's size xs because I HAD to have the yellow). I have endured daily taunts from my boyfriend; he suggested it become my new uniform because it never seemed to come off of me. Not unlike Fonzi from Happy Days he envisioned me opening my closet to seven of the exact same outfits...one for every day of the week. The only thing that would make it better is if it was designed as a full suit with feet so I wouldnât even have to bother with regular clothes or shoes. I could just pad around the world, safe in my little down cocoon. Fast forward to Christmas, guess what I got him? Mâs down sweater size large in brown. He hasnât taken it off since. He declares his love for it almost daily, and struggles to theorize just why. There is something otherworldly about the weightless warmth, comfort and freedom of movement it provides. He wears it around the house in Southern California with the same ease as on recent trip to -20F Alaska as a layering piece. The Down Sweater is the 3 Wolf Moon of Patagonia and now we are howling together.