MSRP: $449 (jacket), $399 (bibs)
There are a lot of choices out on the market when it comes to cold-weather gear. And for those discerning buyers who are looking for something that not only keeps you dry but also keeps up with you as you sweat–skinning or climbing up winter mountain objectives–it’s important to find the best. There are some essential features to look for when weeding through your options, from true water resistance to the equally important breathability, fit, comfort, maneuverability and weight.
Time after time, I’ve ditched jacket after jacket to the local gear consignment shop because there just wasn’t something quite good enough about it. Sometimes the fit is great for skiing but isn’t versatile for climbing, and you end up with a jacket that constantly pulls up and over your harness every time you reach high. With other jackets, you might be skinning up a steep track on dawn patrol, feeling the sweat and heat build up underneath your jacket that does a fine job of keeping moisture out, but a terrible job of letting heat escape. The goldilocks jacket can be hard to come by.
Enter the Dual Aspect jacket and bibs from Patagonia, which hits all the marks of a high-quality alpine kit.
The tester racks up for some winter rock climbing in the Eastern Sierra (traditional lands of the Paiute, Mono and other Indigenous groups) to test the movement and breathability of the Patagonia Dual Aspect kit. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collection
The first thing I liked about the jacket was its straight fit. Not too narrow, and not too fitted, its shape is more boxy than anything, allowing for plenty of cold-weather layering underneath. For reference, I am 5-foot-8, and a small size leaves me ample room for layering underneath, which gives me the impression that this jacket runs a bit big. It is, however, built long enough to fit comfortably underneath a climbing harness. With two large zippers, it’s easy to open and close the jacket with thick gloves. The hood is spacious and helmet-compatible with a stiff, reinforced brim, and the neck is high with great coverage. Underarm gussets help you reach high as you swing your ice tools without pulling your jacket up and over your harness, and pit zippers help you ventilate when things are getting too steamy.
The Dual Aspect jacket is long enough to fit snugly underneath a harness, eliminating any major bunching while climbing. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collection
This jacket also is compatible with a helmet, featuring a hood with a stiff brim and generous neck coverage. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collectionSpecifically engineered for alpine climbing, the Dual Aspect bibs take comfort and movement in the mountains to the next level. They passed the hose test, providing adequate waterproof protection. I also took them out on steep hikes in the mountains and was as comfortable as you can be sweating in hard shell pants. The design shines with its clever four-way stretch suspenders, which are made of a lightweight stretchy mesh, and paired with the bibs’ high-step gusset, makes for unrestricted climbing movement. The cinched waistband is comfortable and (get ready, ladies) bathroom compatible–just pull the back part of the waistband down and feel free to go wherever is convenient, even with a harness on–a total game changer, thank you, Patagonia!
Together, the Dual Aspect jacket and bibs make for a powerful kit. And high-performance and high-quality construction of course, comes at a price. The biggest downside to these items is their price tags, which make for one committing purchase, especially when combined. Because of this, I would recommend this kit to the serious alpinist who sees herself spending a lot of time climbing or skiing in mountain environments where water resistance and maneuverability from a hard shell are paramount.
Made with Patagonia’s proprietary waterproof H2No, the Dual Aspect jacket and bibs do not use any perfluorinated chemicals in their garments, and stand up to the nastiest of elements. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collection
A high-step gusset and four-way stretch suspenders make the Patagonia Dual-Aspect Bibs perform exceptionally well for rock and ice climbing movement. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collectionSome other things to consider are that this jacket is constructed from Patagonia’s proprietary performance standard for waterproofing, H2No. The three-layer H2No Performance Standard is composed of 100% recycled nylon ripstop face with a slick jersey backer, a waterproof/breathable barrier and a PFC-free DWR finish (durable water repellent coating that does not contain perfluorinated chemicals). If you’re looking for the most durable, most waterproof kits on the market, you might want to look elsewhere. But the three-layer H2No is not only less expensive than Gore-Tex, it is plenty rugged and waterproof enough for most, and is made from recycled materials to boot. Also worth mentioning is that this kit is Patagonia’s first that does not contain any perfluorinated chemicals in its waterproof finish.
At 9.4 ounces for the bibs and 14.6 ounces for the jacket, this kit is also lightweight, allowing you to move fast and free in the mountains. They aren’t too bulky, either. If you want to strip down for the uphill ascent, packing them in a bag is a viable option. If you’re a serious alpinist looking for your next kit, you can feel good about pulling the trigger on the Dual Aspect from Patagonia.
Miya is a former rock guide and now full-time photographer. She’s done freelance work for Bishop Area Climbers Coalition, ClimbOn Skincare, Drink Zaddy’s, Gear Junkie, Hoka, Moja Gear, Novus Select, Outdoor Gear Lab and Patagonia in addition to Alpinist. She resides in the Eastern Sierra or out on the road in pursuit of photos and climbing in her trusty Honda Odyssey. You can see more of her work at MiyaTsudome.com.
These lightweight, yet heavy-duty layers work perfectly with some breathable base layers for ski days in the backcountry. The jacket runs slightly large, which allows room for layering. [Photo] Miya Tsudome collectionPros
Jacket has a regular fit that allows for layering.
Gussets on jacket and bibs allow for ultimate maneuverability while climbing.
Bibs have stretchy suspenders for freedom of movement.
Bibs also have cinched waistband that can be pulled down in the back for pit stops.
Waterproof and breathable
Made of recycled materials and chemical-free
Not as rugged or waterproof as Gore-Tex
[This review has been updated to correct that H2No is not itself a fabric but a “proprietary performance standard for waterproofing.”–Ed.]