The Powslayer Jacket and Pants from Patagonia are one heck of a combo. They’re lightweight, windproof, tough, and just at home in the backcountry as they are in the resort. When Patagonia says these things are stormproof, they’re not joking around.
We’re bloody lucky to be able to go skiing right here in our own backyard here in Aus. Hopping in the car and hightailing it to the Snowies, or the VIC High Country, is a huge privilege and sometimes we’re treated to some pretty special conditions. Craving an early backcountry mission, I headed up to the Snowy Mountains to chase some freshies and put Patagonia’s Powslayer jacket and pants through their paces.
Designed for the Backcountry
While you can definitely wear the Powslayer combo in the resorts (there’s even a sleeve pocket for your lift pass), the jacket and pants are designed with the backcountry in mind. This means they’re lightweight, easily packable, and they offer top-notch waterproof and windproof protection.
Out in the backcountry, the weather can change pretty quickly and your body temp changes too. Unlike resort skiing, getting to the top of the hill takes a fair amount of effort. So when you get the magic combo of a long ascent and a bluebird day, you’re gonna start removing layers.
The Powslayer jacket folded down nice and small, it is a very minimal outer-layer after all, and packed into my backpack with no worries about squishing my lunch burrito. The Powslayer pants have zippered vents on both sides which open fully to get max airflow on your pins – perfect for a steady climb through the trees.
Both the jacket and pants are made from a 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric, and there’s an added DWR finish to the outer shell, ideal for those extra soggy Aussie snow days. I found that these guys performed exactly as described. As the cold winds whipped around us higher up the mountain, both jacket and pants were impenetrable and kept me nice and warm with only a thermal layer and a light puffy jacket underneath.
In addition to stacking it in the snow a few times, we ate our backcountry burritos sitting in the snow. While my backside got pretty chilly by the end of lunch, the waterproof fabric kept me completely dry – no soggy bottom for me.
The Powslayer jacket and pants are pretty minimal in appearance, which helps make them lightweight and stowable, but they’re also jam-packed with handy features.
Before diving into pockets and zippers, let’s first acknowledge that both jacket and pants have the environmentally conscious approach that you’d expect from Patagonia. The GORE-TEX PRO fabric package includes the first 100% recycled nylon face fabric – which is super durable and waterproof, but also flippin’ radical. Good on ya Patagonia.
First up, pockets. For a minimal design, the jacket has actually got heaps of them: two in the chest, one with a secure media pocket; two handwarmers; one in the sleeve for your lift-ticket; one internal drop-in and one internal stash. All pockets were a decent size and well-positioned with watertight zippers to keep your gear nice and dry. The pants have two cargo pockets and one thigh pocket, also featuring the same watertight zippers. The zippers feature a slim-zip installation and while this helps keep the jacket minimal, it does make the zippers a little harder to use, especially while wearing gloves.
The embedded cord-lock system (used to tighten the hood and waist) probably isn’t something you’ll be spending a whole lot of time thinking about, but the slim cinching system is tidy, easy to use, and avoids dangling cords hanging out. There’s also a handy and effective powderskirt to keep snow from getting up your shirt when you’re waist-deep in fresh pow – yeah, it could happen – or more likely to stop snow sneaking in when you catch an edge and get a face full of snow.
When you’re out in the backcountry, safety is paramount. Alongside the usual safety precautions of lodging trip intentions, taking safety courses, and carrying an avalanche beacon, the Patagonia Powslayer jacket and pants have an extra measure of safety. They feature a Concealed RECCO® reflector. This device helps make you searchable to rescuers, as it’s a lightweight passive transponder, which requires no power or activation to function. Basically these guys will bounce back a radar signal, helping rescuers pinpoint your location. While this tech isn’t very common in Aus, it’s a bit more relevant in countries like the US, NZ, and Japan. Ideal for the next time we can go powder hunting overseas.
The fact that the Powslayer jacket and pants are incredibly waterproof and windproof will go a long way to keeping you warm, dry, and safe in the worst conditions out there, but you’ll also need to make sure you’re wearing decent layers underneath. I’ve used the jacket with thermals, a light puffy jacket and a flanno underneath, which is my usual backcountry layering system.
There’s plenty of room for these layers, and enough for an extra puffy jacket if it’s really cold out. The sleeves were roomy and didn’t cause my puffer to bunch up upon entry. The pants were comfortably worn with thermal pants underneath. The easily adjustable waistband helps accommodate different thickness pants with simple velcro adjustments and the articulated patterning aids carefree movement.
When you’re looking at ski and snowboard clothing, there’s a huge range of prices. And like most technical gear, you usually get what you pay for. We’ve probably all been caught out in bad weather, either at the snow or nipping down the local shops for a litre of milk, and you quickly discover whether your waterproof jacket cuts the mustard. Not so important when you’re nipping to the shops, but super important when spending a day in the mountains.
The Powslayer jacket retails for five cents shy of $900, while the pants are just under $800. This is a decent chunk of cash for a jacket and pant combo and is on the higher end of the spectrum in general. But when you compare it to other Gore-Tex outerwear, it actually sits around the mid-range. If you ask me, quality outerwear is always worth the investment, particularly when you’re in the backcountry. However, if you’re only going to be skiing a couple of resort days this season, these guys are probably more technical than you’ll need.
Overall Impressions of the Powslayer Jacket and Pants
I’ve been really enjoying using the Powslayer jacket and pants from Patagonia. Both items fit well on the body and are thoroughly snow-proof. Being so lightweight is particularly important for being out in the backcountry, where you’re earning your turns with every ascent. As the weather kept changing, I made good use of the vents and had the jacket on and off a few times. The jacket might be minimal, but the length of the sleeves and skirt are generous, keeping your wrists and waist well protected from the ever-penetrating wind and snow. Likewise, the pants’ gaiters fit comfortably over my snowboard boots and the toughened scuff guards at the bottom have stood up to wear and tear from bindings and boots.
I was impressed with the toughness of both the jacket and the pants. Often lightweight shells feel a bit thin and fragile, I’ve certainly torn a few anoraks in my time. The Gore-Tex Pro fabric not only felt tough but easily stood up to a few close calls (and minor collisions) with gum-tree branches that I may have brushed against while weaving lines through the trees.
I’ve been pretty darn lucky with the weather during Powslayer testing so far and we’ll be updating this review once I’ve been treated to some proper wet snow days as the season progresses.
Thanks to Jon Harris for the photos.
Mattie was given the Powslayer Jacket and Pants by the good folk at Patagonia. He was allowed to keep shredding in them after writing this review and say whatever the heck he wanted.