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Patagonia Foamback Mountain Jacket

rated 5.0 of 5 stars

The Foamback Mountain Jacket has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best waterproof jackets for 2023.

photo: Patagonia Foamback Mountain Jacket waterproof jacket

This was a great jacket in its time, worked well as rain gear, and had one of the best designed hoods compared to the small number of jackets that were available.


  • Innovative for its time
  • A great hood
  • Had a built-in insulation layer


  • None

I purchased this jacket back around 1974 or '75 and it was my first real piece of outdoor rain gear that I used during my early years of climbing and hiking in Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and east side of the Sierras.

When I first purchased this jacket my only other real outdoor specific jacket had been a Sierra Designs 60/40 parka that served me well, but the Foamback Mountain Jacket really seemed like a giant leap forward with respect to design and performance compared to my 60/40 parka.

One of the best features of the jacket is the hood which fits well with or without head gear like wool hats or a helmet and in some respects is still a better design then a lot of jackets being sold today. The fit of the jacket allows several insulating layers but still had good freedom of motion for climbing or skiing. The jacket has great designs for front pockets in that they are large and easy to get into even if you are wearing gloves.

With respect to water resistance it worked well.  The foam back material was somewhat stiff (which I liked) and allowed better air circulation within the jacket which helped with preventing the buildup of moisture, so it worked better from my perspective then the standard coated nylon jackets of the day, but would not be on par with the Goretex type of materials available today.

Most of the foam in my Foamback Mountain Jacket has disintegrated over the years and the jacket is now over 42 years old. I have kept it all of these years and don't plan on ever getting rid of it as it is a pleasant reminder of all the good times I had back in my teens and early twenties.

It also is a reflection of a time where the people climbing, hiking, etc. were also the ones designing clothing and hardware based on their experience and then in most cases actually manufacturing the products for sale. Fortunately there are still a small number of outdoor companies following that same approach today and they should be supported so good functional gear remains available.

There is a lot of great outdoor clothing and equipment available today, but with most of manufacturing being done overseas, focus on style over function, prices that strain most peoples budgets, its nice to reflect back to a time when most of the clothing and equipment was coming out of the community of people involved with the outdoors.

This is one of the best pieces of clothing I have ever owned and if they were to make the exact same jacket again, I wouldn't hesitate to go out and buy it.

I have included a couple of pictures of my jacket along with a couple of pages from a 1978 Great Pacific Iron Works (Patagonia) catalog where the thought behind the advantages of foamback designed clothing was explained.

Do you have a piece of gear from past or present that you've grown attached to and don't ever plan on getting rid of?



Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35

This was a great warm shell with big pockets which served me well winter backpacking, winter traveling in Europe and skiing.


  • Warm
  • Rainproof
  • Good hood
  • Long length
  • Light
  • 4 big pockets


  • Eventually the inner foam disintegrated and it lost its waterproofing

This was a really fun and well loved outdoor shell that I used for about 15 years. Eventually the inner foam disintegrated and it lost its waterproofing, but when it worked it was light, warm, and fantastic in any weather backpacking or skiing.

The four big pockets were great to have. I replaced it with a Goretex North Face Mountain Jacket which was heavier and bombproof. And still works great after 30 years. But I have many fond memories of the Foamback.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $40

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Price Reviewers Paid: $35.00-$40.00

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