Patagonia DAS Light Hoody – Best Belay Jacket for Moderately Cold Temps
Patagonia DAS Light Hoody is the “Micro Puff for climbers”: a minimalist, wind-proof belay jacket designed for rock climbing in moderately cold conditions.
Patagonia DAS Light Hoody Review
This is the jacket that I wanted the Micro Puff to be for climbing. I started bringing my Micro Puff as a belay jacket on alpine rock climbs last summer, because it has an industry-leading warmth-to-weight ratio. But I kept wishing that I could fit the hood over my helmet, and that the fabric was just a bit more wind-proof. Well, Patagonia released the DAS Light Hoody as if in answer to what climbers wanted: a minimalist belay jacket for moderately cold conditions.
The DAS Light Hoody is the Micro Puff for alpine rock climbing, offering some climbing-specific features for a lighter and much more compact package than the Macro Puff (15.3 oz), a burlier parka that I use for cragging and ice climbing. DAS Light is essentially a more weather-resistant version of the Micro Puff with a helmet-compatible hood and a two-way zipper. It weighs 20% more than the Micro Puff (9.3 oz), but at 320 grams, or 11.3 oz (men’s medium) it’s still lighter than most insulated parkas. Arcteryx Nuclei FL (11.5 oz) is probably the closest sibling, sitting at about the same weight and price.
The DAS Light Hoody’s high-performance, bare-bones construction is exactly what you want to have with you in the mountains: just enough, and no more. It’s built with the same insulation as the Micro Puff, Patagonia’s proprietary 65 gram Pluma Fill, which has a very high loft for synthetic insulation and is in my opinion competitive with lower fill-power down for warmth, with the obvious advantage of retaining the ability to insulate when wet.
The jacket’s outer fabric is a 0.8 oz 10-denier nylon treated with Pertex Quantum Pro, which is slightly heavier than the Micro Puff outer but much more weather resistant. It will basically keep wet snow, sleet, or very light drizzle at bay for a few hours, which is appropriate for most conditions I find myself rock or alpine climbing in.
For any real wet precipitation (i.e. PNW snow or a rocky mountain thunderstorm) you’ll need to wear a raincoat over this. The overall effect of the Pertex Quantum Pro outer is a jacket that feels a bit warmer than the Micro Puff, and much warmer if it’s windy — it’s the equivalent of wearing a Micro Puff with a windbreaker. When you take that into account, the two-ounce difference from the Micro Puff evaporates and this jacket is simply lighter as an alpine layering system.
DAS Light Hoody has a no-frills, elegant design. The features that adapt it well to climbing are simple and have no bells or whistles: The hood fits over a helmet and cinches tight around the chin to seal out gusts. The hood is also adjustable, which is rare in jackets this light, so you can easily make it fit without a helmet too, which is great.
The two-way zipper lets you operate a belay device while keeping insulation around your lower back. The jacket stuffs into a pocket so you can clip it onto your harness. There are three pockets: a “napoleon” pocket on the chest, very useful while wearing a harness, and two hand pockets at the hip. That’s about it: lightweight insulation in a wind-breaking package.
My only complaint with this jacket is the choice of the outer hand pockets over interior ‘drop’ pockets aka ‘glove-warming’ pockets (which the Micro Puff and Macro Puff both have). I can’t really use hand pockets located on the hip while wearing a harness, but interior pockets are so nice for keeping gloves warm while alpine climbing. Alas, nothing is perfect. But this jacket is pretty close.
A note on durability: this is a minimalist jacket, and will not stand up to rough abuse. Patagonia kept the weight down on the Micro Puff and DAS Light Hoody parkas by using very light shell material. The Micro Puff is built from 0.7 oz 10-denier nylon, inside and out. DAS Light has a slightly heavier outer shell: 0.8 oz 10-denier nylon, but that’s a subtle difference.
The main performance difference is that it’s Pertex Quantum Pro, which adds significant wind and water resistance, but no added durability. I’ve already put three micro-tears in this jacket: two from tree branches while hiking and one from snagging on a metal nub on the gear shelves in my basement…so yeah, not super durable.
I’m looking forward to bringing this as my insulation piece for spring ski tours, since the weight is perfect and the Pertex Quantum Pro will keep the cold wind at bay while ripping down the corn, but I’m not skiing the trees in it this winter — the inevitable ‘love bumps’ with sharp branches will definitely rip it.
The light, somewhat delicate shell fabric does not detract from the DAS Light Hoody’s utility for climbing, you just have to use this jacket pretty strictly as a belay piece. It won’t stand up to any kind of chimneying, and it will probably last about 5 minutes in a sandstone dihedral.
That said, I brought it on a few climbs on north-facing walls in Zion in November and it was perfect: I wore it at all the belays and clipped it to my harness while climbing. Weighing only 320 grams, it’s so much easier to decide to bring this on a climb than a heavier parka and makes shaded belays much more comfortable. On rare occasions, I’ll wear it on a pitch, but only for face climbing.
Bottom line: essentially a Micro Puff built for climbers, this is about the best warmth-for-weight light parka you can get for a belay jacket, with a very light yet weather-resistant shell. I’m excited to carry the DAS Light Hoody on alpine rock climbs this summer.