Patagonia Dragonfly Full-zip Jacket

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It took a couple of years to refine things but the Dragonfly concept has finally achieved near perfection. The new Dragonfly Full-zip Jacket is simultaneously sophisticated yet simple, versatile yet unobtrusive.

Made entirely of 1.1-ounce triple ripstop nylon fabric with a good DWR finish, this is arguably the nicest windshell on the market. Compared to previous versions, the new generation of material is more breathable, has a softer hand due to a slight texture, and it's less transparent than before.

While skinning up long hills above treeline on backcountry ski tours, the jacket was a perfect complement to a mid-weight zip-T base layer. In the past, we might have worn something like the venerable Marmot Driclime Windshirt. But the Dragonfly was even better for high-aerobic output while taking the edge off a strong breeze. Since more skiers are opting for soft shell jackets, this is an ideal addition to the clothing system.

The entire jacket (size large) weighs just 3.6 ounces (102 grams), which is actually less than the catalog specification, and compresses to a tiny ball. For comparison, one of the lightest Gore-Tex PacLite jackets available, the Arc'Teryx Sirrus SL (a superb jacket itself), comes in at 13.7 ounces (388 grams). Sure, this is apples and oranges (water resistant/highly breathable versus waterproof/fairly breathable), but the Dragonfly is also a third the weight of the Marmot Driclime Windshirt. The Dragonfly also stuffs into its own chest pocket -- a feature sorely missing on many ultralight products -- which even has a carabineer loop.

As we've come to expect from Patagonia, the fit is impeccable. This is a shell made for athletic people who demand unimpeded movement when climbing, biking, skiing or whatever. There is also little excess fabric to flap in the wind; a noisy issue with less sophisticated shells. While simple, the hood is cut better than most and has a nice brim that works well with glasses.

At first blush, $135 seems like a lot for a simple windshell. But after using the Dragonfly in the field, it's obvious you get what you pay for. This is a product so good that any other changes would probably just screw it up…hence, our perfect rating.

SNEWS Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $135

For more information:www.patagonia.com

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