If you’re looking for a way to elevate your reputation as the best last-minute-holiday-present-giver-ever, or if you’re looking for options to apply that Patagonia holiday gift card you received to some fabulous chilly weather running gear, read on. Patagonia has some excellent options this year for your running gal, and I’m sure the men’s versions rock equally as well.
Patagonia’s outdoor gear is truly the gift that keeps on giving because their gear, although on the higher end cost-wise, lasts and lasts, and 1% of their sales goes back to environmental causes, thus helping to ensure we have beautiful wild places to play for years to come. One of my all-time favorite Patagonia running fleeces is still going strong and dates back at least 13 years with regular multiple-times-per-week use—does anyone remember the Patagonia R.5 half zip? It’s got a teeny hole from an excitable dog’s claw but other than that, it works just as well as it did brand new.
But, back to the present! I’ve spent the last few months testing some great pieces of running gear in temperatures from the wintery teens Fahrenheit through the upper 50s and in bright sun, snow squalls, light freezing rain, and sideways winds gusting to 40 miles per hour. I’d not hesitate to take each of the four pieces of gear with me on my next run, especially if real winter returns to the Colorado Front Range.
Patagonia Women’s Peak Mission Jacket
The Patagonia Peak Mission Jacket ($199) (213 grams) is a really fantastic piece that takes the concept of a soft shell and elevates it significantly by greatly reducing weight and improving the jacket’s overall stretchiness and mobility. This gives it fantastic breathability even with high-output endurance activities (like a hard tempo effort on grinder hills) even when there’s not a lot of wind to assist air flow through the jacket. Warmth is not significantly sacrificed by the ultralight nature of the garment because hybridized microfleece has been strategically bonded to the interior aspects most directly facing the elements—the front torso panels, the tops of the shoulders, and along the outside aspects of the arms. The jacket itself is made from 1.9-ounce 100% recycled polyester stretch ripstop with DWR to enhance water resistance. All interior seams are taped which allows the jacket to slide smoothly over wool and fleece layers alike and all chafing points are thus eliminated even if worn with a short-sleeve shirt or under a hydration pack.
As with so many Patagonia jackets, the piece fits easily into its chest pocket which also has an internal phone sleeve and headphone port for convenience. The pocket itself has a reinforced carabiner loop for attaching it to the outside of your pack or similar. I’m more likely to stuff the jacket into the back of a hydration pack, so I didn’t use this function beyond testing it to make sure it works. Another thing I really like is Patagonia’s half-elastic cuffs. They hold the sleeves close to the wrists without creating any constriction yet still allow the sleeves to glide over the top of large GPS watches or gloves which effectively seals out the wind. Brilliantly, the arms are long enough for me to get my whole hand up inside the sleeve while walking or running when my hands need the extra help to stay warm. This adds major functionality points in my opinion! The thin, unlined, brimless hood has the easy-to-use one-pull toggle that allows for complete coverage without sacrificing peripheral vision, and I found it to be manageable with a gloved hand as well. The hood is just perfect for adding that extra bit of shelter particularly over a Buff, brimmed cap, or beanie on colder or windier days. It also breathes well and doesn’t restrict the head or neck during normal running and biking motions.
In my experience, the jacket runs larger than expected. It’s considered a ‘slim fit’ but I ordered a size up for my in-between-sizes self and found it to be large enough that I can wear it over my three- to five-liter hydration packs without difficulty. If I were to order it again, I’d go down the size for a bit more of a form-fitting profile, but that being said, with the wisely designed drop tail and overall length, I can layer this jacket over a thin synthetic puffy and be very comfortable into the single digits while running and into the low teens on a fat bike. I love this ultralight, thin soft shell so much more than I expected for our dry Colorado wintry chill. I no longer have to sweat it out under a not-as-breathable-as-I’d-hoped outer wind layer in order to stay warm when the temperature drops. My last Patagonia soft shell running jacket lasted 15 years in my closet and is now making another runner equally as happy, so I have big hopes for the longevity of this piece.
Patagonia Women’s Capilene Air Crew
This Patagonia Capilene Air Crew ($129) (147 grams) is one of the most versatile pieces of ‘outdoor gear’ I now own—it’s definitely one of two ‘gear of the year’ winners from my personal, non-published ranking system. It’s absolutely beautiful and nothing about it says, “I just wore this while working really hard up and down three mountains.” I pair this with a wool skirt and feel dressy and then cruise to the trailhead, switch the skirt for running tights, and hit the dusty (or snowy) mountain trail. It can be an against-the-skin layer or easily glide over another thin base layer. It warms like wool but dries like tech material yet doesn’t retain odors. So regardless if my dressy attire needs come before or after running on any given day, no one is the wiser, and I get to benefit from a non-stinky, highly technical performance piece throughout my day.
The seamless 3-D construction is very form fitting yet somehow not at all restrictive thanks to the gender-specific zigzag knit that allows the garment to move easily with you no matter which sport or daily activity you’re tackling—pilates, yoga, running, climbing, skiing, kid-wrangling, or speaking at a conference. The higher crewneck is not at all itchy yet adds a bit of warmth especially behind an outer wind layer.
What is this magical garment made of? The material itself is 51% 18.5 micron-gauge lofted merino wool and 49% recycled Capilene polyester. In plain speak, this innovative textile is really soft, not at all itchy, at least twice as warm as it looks, and wicks moisture exceptionally well. Stretchy elastic knit is employed at the cuffs and hems which seals the breezes out yet doesn’t at all bind or constrict. You can hand wash this in a hut sink and it will be dry and ready to roll by morning, but it’s machine washable as well—so key. The Capilene Air Crew is truly a joy to wear. I will be ordering another of these in either the crew or hooded version when they hopefully make it onto the web specials on Patagonia’s site later in the season.
Patagonia Women’s Peak Mission Tights
The Patagonia Peak Mission Tights ($119) (213 grams) are very comfortable chilly weather tights thanks to some key design details. First, the wide, flat, elasticized waistband provides support and a snug fit without restricting the midsection. Fit can be further adjusted via the drawstring that sits completely on the outside of the garment—yay, no chafing the belly! The recycled nylon, polyester, and spandex blend has a really smooth face for gliding easily under a waterproof layer or post-run sweatshirt dress, but even better, the micro-terry backing (with added miDori bioSoft) feels like a brushed-fleece interior which provides a sense of extra warmth and comfort against the skin without being hot or restrictive. Polygiene is added for exceptional odor control, and the fabric wicks moisture extremely well even with splashback from the trail.
The smooth elastic ankle opening has just enough stretch to fit easily over a foot (not over a shoe) and the lack of zipper or grip strips means nothing can irritate the skin even when damp and wet from weather conditions or a slush fest. The 27-inch length fits my 5’5” body perfectly but there’s room for longer legs in there for sure. I bet women over 5’10 might appreciate a ‘long’ size option, however. A small zip pocket integrates unobtrusively on the back waistband and accommodates a key fob, a gel or two, and some cash if needed. I found the pull cord for the zipper easy to operate with close-fitting gloves. A reflective logo accents the front left hip and there is a reflective hit on the back of each calf. I’ve worn the tights for a pilates class, a few-hour run, and then added a skirt over the top for errands and not once did I have to tug them up for a better fit even though I have a fairly straight build. Thank you, gusseted construction!
The Peak Mission Tights are thin enough that you can wear them when the temperatures are going to start cold and move into capris or shorts territory by the end, and they’re so smooth such that they glide perfectly under a down skirt when a bum cover is required to maintain warmth. For my body, they’re not true cold-weather tights, which I’d define as under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, because there’s not enough thickness or wind protection particularly through the hips and thighs (hence the down running skirt), but if ‘cold’ where you are is in the twenties to forties and full tights are your jam, these are a must try. If you find yourself between sizes when you order—I am forever between sizes—I went down on this one and it fits perfectly.
Overall, if you’d like to invest in a complete cold-weather outfit for high-energy-output activities that will last you for years to come, you surely must check out the Patagonia Mission Peak Jacket and Tights as well as the Capilene Air Crew. I’ve been impressed with Patagonia’s quality and attention to detail for the 25 years that I’ve been using their gear. I love that they incorporate recycled materials as much as they do while elevating them further to highly technical, innovative, bomber garments that are fun to wear and that you can trust your safety and comfort to while adventuring in the wilds.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Are you wearing any of Patagonia’s winter 2018 running clothes, including any of these pieces? What do you think about them overall? And how about the details?
- Are there any men out there running in the men’s version of these models? What can you tell us about them?