Patagonia Supercell Jacket
Where to Buy
PROS: -15 oz (light and very packable) -Waterproof…
Fabric: DWR coated Nylon
Price Paid: $50
-15 oz (light and very packable)
-Waterproof material and seams
-Fairly durable shell
-Really long pit zips and really big and useful pockets
-Double storm flaps over main zippers
-Hemline covers and protects butt area and goes under belay harness well.
-Low price tag
-NOT all that breathable
-Neck and chin exposed
-Too many annoying zipper snags
The Supercell is a great low budget shell for 3 season backpacking and easy general camping. Other than that you won't get much cold weather protection (neck area exposed) and breathability (this is not an alpine ascent friendly jacket) that you get with other Gore-Tex XCR and Pro Shell jackets.
I used this Super Cell for rainy days running an adventure high ropes course at at summer camp. It worked great, keeping me dry and warm during the August/September downpours in the Northeast region. This jacket is pretty close to 100% waterproof, meaning water will not leak in thru the jacket fabric and seams.
However, the jacket is not breathable like Gore-tex and if you wear it during a long strenuous hike whiles carrying a full 50 Liter backpack you will sweat and end up soaking wet with sweat under the jacket at the end of the hike. Patagonia probably realized this because the pit-zips are really, really long (from elbow to an inch or so off the hemline) on this jacket. Even with the pit zips wide open, I found I still sweated anyway if I did anything more than stand around whiles wearing a backpack. This lack of breathability and sweating thru your base layers that occurs also made me feel much colder during rest breaks when hiking on cooler days.
Another gripe is the collar leaves your chin and a bit of your neck exposed even when zipped all the way up. This lets in all sorts of drafts and wind driven rain as well. A positive flipside, is the hood is really good and adjusts three ways and will completely protect your forehead and face from vertical downpours without blocking your vision. The hood is also designed to move with you when you look up, down or turn your head to the side.
Sadly, the awesome hood on this Supercell is spoiled by the poor coverage provided by the low collar height. For urban wear, a scarf can remedy this easily.
The Supercell is the lightest shell I own at 15 oz. And it rolls up into its own hood and packs away in my pack without adding bulk.
Patagonia replaced the Supercell in 2006 with a bland, wispy, paper-thin 12 oz jacket called the Rain Shadow that sold for $169.
The Rain Shadow improved in 2007 to become the more stylish and easier on the eyes 13 oz Jetstream which sells for $199. And there is the very similar alpine-technical 10 oz Spraymaster Jacket which also acended from the Supercell family that sells for $249.
From what I've seen and tried on these are all same jackets being that they started from the Supercell Jacket and over the years Patagonia modified the Supercell into these three modern Jackets with weight and price being the difference between the lot.
The Supercell sold in 2004/2005 was $149 and you can get these now on eBay for anywhere from $10 (used) to $100 (brand new with tags). If you find one in this price range and you probably will I totally recommend it for those folks looking for an easy to wear, low cost, and waterproof jacket.