Patagonia pushed another huge initiative to the apparel world that aligns with the brand’s earth-conscious ethos. For the first time, the company produced an accredited three-layer ski kit that is fully recycled and completely free of PFC chemicals.
The kit also includes Patagonia’s H2No technology that is Fair Trade Certified sewn with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish that does not contain perfluorinated chemicals. This technology is a waterproof standard which puts each garment through a tortuous washing test that simulates a lifetime of abuse.
Launching for winter 23/24, the Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket is enhanced with more stretch, breathability, and aesthetic lines with integrated zippers. The supple fabric is updated from 70% to 100% polyester and can be downcycled.
The SnowDrifter Jacket women is best showcased as a full kit with the Women’s SnowDrifter Bibs, which arrived in GearJunkie testers’ hands earlier this spring. We fully tested each piece before they hit the market this fall for the 23/24 season.
The light and stretchy shell fabric and minimalist design allow for full range of movement with added protection, breathability, and moisture-wicking characteristics that resemble a full hardshell jacket.
In short: After testing for 3 months, I found that the Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket ($488) is as light as a softshell, as durable as a hardshell, and ideal for both uphill and downhill pursuits. Plus, they’re among the most sustainably made products out there, which I’m on board with.
Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket: Review
I got my hands on this hardshell jacket — that feels like a softshell — at the end of February during the GearJunkie Ski & Ride test week. This year’s version includes elevated and clean lines that fall into place with the seams, giving it a fresh, modern look. I was able to live in the Cosmic Gold jacket, which has bold, earthy colors that really make this jacket stand out.
The SnowDrifter jacket is lightweight with a great balance of an athletic yet roomy fit. The seams are fully taped (Fair Trade Certified sewn). The pockets are roomy and strategically placed for a phone, lift pass, and other essentials. And the sleeves were long enough to swallow mitten cuffs.
With a soft, pliable nature, this jacket felt stretchy enough, so it moved and bent where needed. Yet, the layer kept its structure, and I can confirm its protection as a hardshell.
It snowed almost 6 inches the first day I pulled on the SnowDrifter, and we were greeted with stormy, windy conditions. The snow was dry, and the air was brisk. This jacket certainly did well in this environment, and with an additional down vest and base layer underneath, that was all I needed to stay warm.
My general concern of moisture breaking the barrier, from the piled snow that accumulated on our outerwear while riding the ski lifts, was quelled at the end of the first ride. This material repelled the wet snow well, and I was still dry and warm at the start of the first run. That didn’t change throughout the day despite blizzard conditions.
The two-way adjustable hood fits nicely over my helmet with an added visor that helps fend off falling snow. This design allowed motion side to side with no restriction. The brim also reached all the way down to the end of the helmet above my goggles, providing true protection from the snowfall and wind.
Many hood designs on women’s ski jackets do not offer such a breadth of protection and mobility — if you live in a place with frequent precipitation, this hood alone might be worth the investment.
Uphill and Downhill
I also tested this jacket on several backcountry tours in cloudy and chilly, as well as sunny and warmer conditions. For uphill, human-powered pursuits, the lightweight, breathable material was perfect. On the downhill, the shell warded off the wind and kept me warm after an arduous ascent.
The perfect winter day for me is to tour in the morning and ride lifts after lunch, and then hit après at 4 p.m. This jacket was all I needed for all pursuits over the course of the entire day.
Weight and Materials
The balance of weight and durability of the SnowDrifter at 600 g is what really sets it apart from other shells. I’ve been a fan of both the Patagonia PowSlayer Jacket (521 g) and the Stio Raymer Jacket (481 g), both of which are comparably light for backcountry touring. However, in my experience, neither boast the sustainability nor the performance of the SnowDrifter.
Patagonia found a balance between these two features that makes it feel like you’re wearing very little, yet feel completely protected and comfortable. The light, airy feel of the jacket makes you skeptical of the jacket’s true protection, which after testing, I can confirm is delivered.
The SnowDrifter’s six total pockets are strategically placed for your hands and all the necessities. One pocket on the upper bicep works well for a ski pass. An interior drop pocket is lower-placed, stretchy, and would be great for an extra hat, sunglasses, or other bulkier item you might need during the day.
Two exterior zippered hand pockets are nicely placed amid the color blocks, and one front exterior chest pocket is great for a phone at the resort or a beacon on a tour. An interior pocket sits at the chest — a great cash or credit card stasher.
This jacket is roomy enough to move yet has a snug, protective fit. Jacket shells tend to feel constrictive, so to be able to move freely without feeling like you have a cardboard box on is often hard to find. The length was slightly longer, which was nice when riding lifts and for keeping your backside warmer.
My overall positive impression of this jacket is not swayed by a few adverse characteristics, which are based on my preferences, but I think they are worth mentioning.
The interior powder connection liner is not removable, something that I generally do not use and like to take out to nix the bulk. While skinning on a tour, I brushed by a tree and, unfortunately, the lightweight 3L standard shell did not stand a chance against a sharp branch. And, while riding lifts during a double-digit sub-zero day, I had to wear extra insulation layers underneath to ward off the cold.
Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket: Conclusion
The Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket is your one daily driver for all types of wintering. Although this jacket is listed in the backcountry touring category, it dually worked well in stormy, snowy conditions riding the ski lifts in addition to human-powered pursuits. You’ll even look good grabbing a beer at the bar after your ski day.
In my experience, the SnowDrifter is best suited for skiers pursuing multiple types of adventures throughout the winter day and season. If only given the option of one jacket for the entire season, this would be a top choice — your one-jacket quiver.
The new Patagonia Women’s SnowDrifter Jacket will be available on October 1, 2023.