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Patagonia Alpine Downlab Launch: Pushing the Limits of Natural Down

This week, Patagonia launched its new Alpine Downlab line, which features ‘the lightest fabrics’ the company has ever used. The brand says the 800-fill collection prioritizes layering versatility.

Patagonia introduces its Alpine Downlab gear, new for this fall, with claimed innovations. Using its lightest fabrics, the brand optimizes the garments for packability and easy layering. According to Patagonia, it’s “exploring not just what down is, but what it could be.”

patagonia alpine downlab
Alpine Downlab women’s pullover and vest

The Patagonia Alpine Downlab builds aim to bypass the traditional shell/midlayer/base layer method, with garments suitable for use as midlayers and outer layers. They’re also heat-mapped to target where you need more insulation and where you need to vent heat.

Linden Mallory, product line director for Patagonia alpine and rock climbing, explained that the construction focuses on maximum mobility and versatile layering.

Eliminating the hood on the crewneck, for instance, means you can wear it with multiple other layers without bunching around the collar. Its intentionally boxy silhouette facilitates layering without excessive tightness, which can decrease insulation by crushing loft. Instead, it’s built to float above or between layers.

The crew and vest also leverage UltraAlpine, the brand’s lightest fabric to date. The 7-denier, PFC-free nylon weighs 23 gsm (grams per square meter). AlpLight, the 10-denier nylon the pullovers and jackets use, is still ultralight at 27 gsm.

Finally, the quilting and baffling patterns focus on increasing mobility. The diamond quilting pattern around the shoulders of the women’s jackets is not simply decorative. In practice, it stabilizes small amounts of down to aid shoulder mobility. Similarly, the men’s line incorporates narrow quilt lines on the shoulders and angled quilting at the elbows.

And when it’s time to shed layers, these pieces harness the packability of natural down and squeeze down to nearly nothing.

patagonia alpine downlab
Alpine Downlab unisex crew and men’s pullover

As usual, Patagonia also chips in for the planet and all its inhabitants. The Patagonia Alpine Downlab pieces use 800-fill Advanced Global Traceable Down Standard goose down, certified by NSF International, to protect the birds that supply it from being force-fed or live-plucked.

And the collection includes NetPlus, a fabric made from 100% postconsumer recycled nylon fishing nets, forged into a ripstop fabric for durability.

Less overtly, the brand’s layering concept seeks to increase the longevity of buyers’ existing wardrobes. Instead of replacing what you have with a whole new layering system, you can integrate Alpine Downlab with what you’ve already got.

“The prompt was all about figuring out ways to give solutions to our customers to add warmth to their existing kit/collection/what they like to wear already,” Mallory said.

“Not getting them to replace what they already have. This is subtle, but a departure from a more prescriptive 1-2-3 layering paradigm or specific kit built with a singular lens.”

patagonia alpine downlab
Alpine Downlab men’s pullover and women’s jacket; (photo/Patagonia)

The Patagonia Alpine Downlab collection comprises three designs for women, two for men, and a unisex crewneck pullover. The women’s line features a zip-up collared jacket, a half-zip pullover, and a hooded vest. Men get a collared jacket and collared half-zip pullover. MSRP starts at $199 and tops out at $299.

Check out what could be an alpine outerwear quiver-changer. And check back in the future for a GearJunkie test in true alpine conditions.

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.