Patagonia PowSlayer Jacket
Patagonia's PowSlayer Jacket is a premium, lightweight yet durable, waterproof snowsports jacket for the backcountry-focused skier and rider. It works equally well for inbounds and side-country trips too. Its Gore-Tex Pro fabric keeps out all types of precipitation—not just powder—reliably and comfortably all day long, though overall sizing is roomy. With its 100-percent recycled face fabric, the PowSlayer brings together environmental credibility and technical waterproof/breathable performance in a full-featured ski jacket.
At $699 the PowSlayer's MSRP is decidedly steep, but if you spend your winters on snow and it fits your budget (or you find it on sale) it's an excellent long-term option. Plus, with its solid construction, recycled fabric, and Patagonia's customer service and repairs program it's a worthy investment for the dedicated skier and rider.
- Superb waterproof protection for all types of precipitation
- Good range of movement
- Loads of pockets for organization
- Relatively low-profile, not bulky
- Lightweight (18.3 oz, women's medium)
- 100% recycled face fabric
- Fair Trade Certified sewn
- Oversized fit, may want to size down
- Can't fit my climbing skins in inner stash pocket
- I remain undecided on the Cohaesive cord-lock adjustment system
- Price—MSRP is $699, though it can be found on sale at the end of the season (like right now)
The Patagonia PowSlayer Jacket, and its corresponding Powslayer Bibs and Pants, are lightweight, packable, waterproof Gore-Tex Pro shells designed for backcountry touring, but which work well for inbounds snowsports as well. According to Patagonia, they feature "the first 100 percent recycled nylon face fabric to deliver the highest level of durable waterproof/breathable and windproof protection available."
- Weight: men's 19.3 oz / women's 18.4 oz (my women's medium weighs 18.3 oz)
- Material: 100% recycled nylon ripstop Gore-Tex Pro fabric
Fit and Comfort
The PowSlayer is roomier than other medium-size jackets I've worn, including ones from Patagonia. Patagonia calls the jacket a "regular fit," but I'd call it a generous, oversized fit. That said, I've noticed other snowsport jackets in recent seasons having roomier fits as well.
Since the jacket is roomy, it allows for plenty of layering for long, cold New England days. Paired with the bibs, I can fit baselayers, a Polartec shirt, my POC back protector vest, and a down insulated jacket underneath with no problem. There are no restrictions or gaping and the back doesn't ride up. While the sizing gave me second thoughts at first, the extra room never bothered me once I put on the jacket and started skiing.
The men's and women's PowSlayer Jackets both comes in five sizes, XS to XL. If you're in between and don't want an oversized fit, consider sizing down. After months of use however, I'm a convert to the medium.
The PowSlayer has a few options for adjustment:
Hood and Waistband—The helmet-compatible hood and the waistband both use the embedded Cohaesive cord-lock system. For the hood you can adjust the overall volume from the back of your head, and you can tighten the front of the hood around your face from either side. The waistband can be tightened from inside either hip/hand warmer pocket.
These are pretty standard ski jacket adjustments. Not everyone may be familiar with the Cohaesive system, though it can be found on other snowsport jackets. I find it fairly simple to tighten—push down the button, pull the corresponding cord at the same time, and release the button to lock it—but not quite as easy to loosen, particularly with bulky gloves on. I always wonder if I've fully loosened it. Providing some info on the Cohaesive system with the jacket and/or on its product page would be helpful.
Overall it's a nicely streamlined system without dangling cord locks and toggles, but it's not necessarily intuitive. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to figure out how the adjustments work before you're out in the cold fiddling with your hood while wearing bulky gloves.
Cuffs—The cuffs have a low-profile hook-and-loop adjustment to tighten them over or under your gloves and mitts. I tend to tighten over my ski gloves and have never experienced any snow leaking in at the cuff. They're easy to use with or without gloves on and stay in place.
Features and Functionality
For a minimalist design, the PowSlayer has a number of features specific to backcountry or frontcountry skiing and riding.
Pockets—With seven total, this jacket has a plethora of pockets and organizational options. Inside on the right there is a stretch stash pocket. I can fit a pair of insulated gloves in here, but not a pair of climbing skins; The pit zip means there's no room to make this pocket wider. Inside on the left is a zipped media pocket for valuables, such as a phone or wallet—no key hook though.
Outside there are two, deep chest pockets, with the left one connecting to the inner zipped media pocket. The right chest pocket is standard, though with a beefier zipper like the main zip. Immediately below are two hip/hand warmer pockets. Finally the left shoulder has a zipped pocket for RIFD ski passes.
Powder Skirt—The adjustable powder skirt has a standard toggle for tightening, and a webbing loop at the center back lets you connect the jacket to Patagonia snow pants, like the PowSlayer Bibs. The powder skirt is low-profile and unnoticeable when not in use, giving the jacket some range for non-snow use.
RECCO reflector—A concealed RECCO reflector makes you—well really your jacket—searchable to rescuers in the event of an avalanche. (Wear an avalanche beacon if you're going into avalanche terrain.)
Zippers—With all of those pockets plus two pit zips there are a lot of zippers on this jacket. All of the coated zippers are watertight and low profile to reduce bulk and weight. I haven't had any issue using them with gloves on, though occasionally I'd appreciate beefier pulls. On its first few uses I struggled getting the main zipper started, partly since the jacket is baggier, but it now works smoothly and isn't a problem.
Waterproofing and Weather Resistance
The PowSlayer could be called the Precipitation Slayer, but that wouldn't sound as cool. Its waterproof performance is where the jacket stands out the most for me. The PowSlayer is made from a three-layer, 40-denier nylon ripstop Gore-Tex Pro shell fabric with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
I've worn the Powslayer Jacket, and its coordinating bibs, over a winter that included not a lot of pow in Maine, but plenty of mixed snow, freezing rain, and other precipitation. And all of that wet stuff stayed on the outside where it belongs over hours of use. I've come to unquestioningly rely on this jacket to keep me dry, regardless of what's falling from the sky.
The PowSlayer has performed superbly in all sorts of weather, and I haven't encountered any wetting out, despite spending hours in mixed precipitation. This jacket feels like a fortress against the elements. Zip it up and you're protected. It's not a silent fabric, but I don't notice it crinkling while I'm wearing it either.
Patagonia says the fabric includes "the first 100% recycled nylon face fabric to deliver the highest level of durable waterproof/breathable and windproof protection available." I appreciate Patagonia's use of recycled fabrics, especially in a technical garment. There's no discernible difference in the jacket's performance or looks, and I wouldn't know the fabric was recycled if I didn't read it in the description.
If temperatures rise on the slopes or you're skinning uphill, the lengthy pit zips allow for plenty of venting and breathability. However, I'm more likely to take the jacket off and stuff it in my pack if I'm doing something highly aerobic like skinning uphill for a while.
The huge pit zips work well for regulating temperature and moisture on the move though. Plus, over hours of skiing, including in deeper snow in the trees, I've never noticed internal moisture buildup inside the PowSlayer.
Layering and Warmth
The PowSlayer is uninsulated, which is how I like my shell jackets. Its ample roominess allows for lots of layering options. I've worn it on days from 0°F up to 40° F. On the coldest days I can wear baselayers, a fitted fleece top, my POC back protector vest, and a down jacket underneath with no restriction. While I initially worried that this jacket would be too big, it's nice to not wonder if I can fit that puffy or extra layer on underneath on the coldest days and to not have any restriction.
If you run warm (I do not) and will primarily use this jacket during highly aerobic outings, consider sizing down, so you're not wearing more jacket than you need. I need layers though, so it works for me.
Construction and Durability
The PowSlayer Jacket is well-constructed and durable. It's designed to be lightweight (men's 19.3 oz and women's 18.4 oz) and packable, which it is, but it isn't fragile. Despite not taking any extra care with this jacket—it gets shoved into a ski bag in between ski days and has been rolled up inside a backpack—it shows no signs of wear after one season of use.
In addition to its 100-percent recycled face fabric, it's also Fair Trade Certified sewn, which means it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards (you can learn more about Fair Trade certification).
Patagonia also has an excellent Worn Wear repair program to keep clothes in use longer. So if your clothing fails, bring it to them for repair. I've done this for several items at no charge through our local store in Freeport, Maine. Since the PowSlayer Jacket costs $699 at full price and the bibs $599 that's nearly $1,300 (yowzers!) for a waterproof ski shell setup (without sales). At such a premium price, knowing a product will last and that the company will service it for its lifetime is essential. Patagonia backs its products.
In terms of the PowSlayer's long-term durability, sadly, the 2020 ski season was cancelled abruptly due to COVID-19, and I wasn't able to continue testing through the spring touring season as intended. I hope that changes for 2020-21 and will update on the jacket's long-term use at that time. At this point though, after several months of regular ski use, I have no concerns about the quality and construction of the PowSlayer Jacket and plan to continue using it as my primary waterproof ski jacket.
Patagonia's PowSlayer is a premium snowsport jacket for when you need reliable weather-proof protection in a range of conditions, plus it's made from recycled materials. Whether it's powder (if you're so lucky) or freezing rain (if you happen to live in New England), the PowSlayer will protect you from all forms of water—wet snow, slushy snow, freezing rain, sleet. This jacket has kept me warm and dry for months of skiing, and has been an excellent option for the mixed winter precipitation we get in the Northeast.
The PowSlayer is well designed and constructed and has loads of features for skiers and riders—pockets, powder skirt, RECCO reflector, and more. While the jacket's sizing is roomy and you may want to size down, the jacket itself is relatively light and not bulky. It remains comfortable during long days of skiing even with loaded pockets (though I can't fit my skins in that inner stash pocket) and a variety of layers underneath. When you heat up on the uphill or temperatures rise the lengthy pit zips provide venting. While it's specifically designed for snowsports, you could use it as a rain shell in the off-season if you wanted.
The PowSlayer has earned a trusted spot as my primary ski jacket for the coldest, snowiest, and wettest months. I plan to keep using it in the snow on our local hills and mountains next winter.
I ski primarily in Maine, though when travel and budget permit I occasionally go farther afield. I've worn hard and soft shells for backcountry, cross-country, and resort skiing for several decades. I also end up standing around in the cold and snow watching junior ski races a lot. With the abrupt cancellation of the 2020 ski season due to COVID-19/coronavirus, the spring skiing and touring season was a bust.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Patagonia)
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