Design / Features / Pockets
The design of the PowSlayer jacket seems to be centered around one central goal: saving weight.
All the pockets and features are minimalist, engineered for maximum functionality while keeping weight to a minimum. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into this jacket.
The two breast pockets—one inner access and one outer—can hold a phone or wallet. The lower pockets are well designed, with Velcro access from above for one and zipper access on the other. They’re both relatively spacious, with room for a medium-sized pair of gloves (but unfortunately, not enough for my Black Diamond Guide Lobster Mitts). The Velcro-access pockets are also accessible when wearing backpack waist straps, a nice touch for avoiding stops during tours.
The hood and waist cinches utilize Patagonia’s Touch Point system, in which the cord locks are embedded in the hood and hem rather than awkwardly outside. The technology is certainly low profile when compared to the normal cord lock system, and while I don’t use them too frequently, it’s a nice design touch and decreases the potential for snagging of the cords or breaking of the cord lock.
I’ve yet to find a hood that is truly helmet compatible, however, and the PowSlayer is no different. My Smith Maze helmet (size L) did fit (albeit tightly) into the adjustable hood of the PowSlayer. Snowboarders, however, require a great range of neck mobility in order to maintain proper body position while riding, and the PowSlayer (along with every other jacket I’ve ever worn) restricts the range of motion enough to not allow for normal technique with the hood on. This is by no means a Patagonia-specific problem, but I can’t wait for the day that a perfect hood is designed for boarders.
Performance / Warmth / Breathability
My first experience in the PowSlayer was a greybird, 15-degree day at Snowbird with high winds—perfect conditions to test a few aspects of Patagonia’s highest-end freeride shell jacket. The windproofing of the PowSlayer was undeniable after cutting the 60 mph gusts that day.
Over the next few months, I put the PowSlayer through its paces. Blizzard hikes up Baldy at Snowbird, bluebird treks to the West Basin and Juarez at Taos, and snowshoeing near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort were all good tests for the PowSlayer’s breathability, and it didn’t disappoint. Throughout a wide range of temperatures and levels of activity, it kept me completely comfortable—the PowSlayer is definitely the most breathable jacket I’ve ever worn.
Standard underarm pit zips with waterproof zippers were effective. I prefer zips with slightly elastic mesh, but given the weight-saving design of the PowSlayer, I’m not surprised by the lack of mesh.
While the dry snow of Taos, Jackson Hole, and Snowbird doesn’t make for the best testing grounds for waterproofing, I haven’t had any issues with getting wet. The DWR has held up well, and the Pro Shell membrane is undeniably waterproof.
The PowSlayer’s thin fabric and light weight do require warmer layering efforts than a standard snowboard jacket, however, as would any Pro Shell jacket.
For example, a normal day in my Sessions Team Jacket (a thicker shell with a mesh/taffeta lining) might require a lightweight baselayer (contributing little to no insulation) and a hoody (or Patagonia Nano Puff jacket if conditions were colder). On a similar day in the PowSlayer, I’d wear a Patagonia Capilene 4 crew or Under Armour Base 3.0 crew against my skin, and almost always still reached for the Nano Puff. This change in layering didn’t bother me at all, as the PowSlayer’s weight and breathability felt miles ahead of your standard jacket.
The 3L Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric employed by the PowSlayer, along with its $679 price tag, ought to come with a high standard of durability. In the 40+ days I’ve ridden in the PowSlayer up to this point, it has performed outstandingly. Among the first things to go in your average ski jacket is the DWR (durable water repellent) coating, but the PowSlayer has yet to wet out in soggier conditions. The waterproof zippers are showing a little wear from pack straps, but are still waterproof. The typical wear on the side that comes from carrying around a snowboard (with its edges pressed into your coat) is present, but it’s small, and I’ve never had a jacket that could withstand constant friction with burred steel edges, nor do I anticipate ever having one.
The Patagonia PowSlayer jacket is a well-engineered, lightweight, and durable jacket. It’s not designed for the casual weekend warrior, but if you’re spending lots of time hiking or are looking for the combination of light weight and high performance, definitely take a look at the PowSlayer. You’ll get a a top-of-the-line piece of outerwear that will last, along with Patagonia’s fantastic warranty. Those who want the best in technical shell outerwear should definitely put the Patagonia PowSlayer on their short list.
Personally, I think I’ve underestimated the difference that really quality gear can make. In the PowSlayer, I don’t overheat so quickly and sweat as easily, and wind and water don’t seep in. And that means I’m comfortable longer, so I stay out longer. It’s actually made boarding and being on the mountain more fun.