Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket & Pants Review

patagonia-kniferdige-jacketOn one hand, it’s nice to have tools that are designed to do a specific job well, but on the other, that can get expensive quickly, and means you have to have more stuff. For most people, having one piece of gear that works for multiple purposes makes much more sense, both financially and from a don’t-pollute-the-world-with-too-much-crap perspective. Enter the Patagonia KnifeRidge jacket and pants, which are equally at home on steep ice as they are in deep pow.

The foundation of these pieces is the Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric, which is extremely abrasion resistant, thanks to the tightly woven outer layer. It also has a soft, smooth feel. (And who doesn’t like feeling smooth?) On windy summit days, they easily kept heat in, but not so much that I’d overheat. I’ve been consistently impressed with how windproof this fabric is, and even in sustained 20-30 mph winds they did what they are supposed to do. I haven’t had them in wet conditions yet this winter, since it’s mostly been very cold and snowy, so no complaints so far on that front. Patagonia claims the fabric is waterproof in all but a downpour, and the seams are fully taped in case the waterfall you hoped to climb is less frozen than you anticipated.


On cold mornings, I’ve started up a skin track wearing this shell over a breathable insulation jacket, and am always surprised by how long I can leave it on. I run hot, and so I generally have a low tolerance for fabrics that aren’t very breathable, but these have impressed me every time I go out.

While climbing, the sleeves stay put, and the cut allows excellent range of motion. The hood easily fits over a climbing helmet, for the days when the spindrift just won’t stop pouring off the top. (Or is that just your partner messing with you?) Other small touches include an elasticized strap on the lower back that connects to other Patagonia snow pants, and a concealed RECCO reflector.


The cuff has two options, trimmer for ice boots or wider for ski boots. Some will find the cut a little trim, but if you aren’t afraid to roll Euro-style (a daunting proposition when working with teenagers, but a challenge I accepted none-the-less) then you’ll hardly notice. The one thigh pocket is adequate, though I’d prefer two more pockets and take the added functionality they would offer over whatever extra weight that would add. The drop-seat design is nice for when nature calls, and the thigh zippers allow you to easily ditch excess heat on the uphill.


For cold and dry climates, this pairing offers a great balance of breathability, durability and weather protection. The only downside to these pieces is their high price, which puts them on the more expensive side of their category. However, given their versatility, if you can swing the price tag, they are highly recommended. (And right now you can get the jacket for $269 on their website.)

Fit: I have the jacket in a large, which feels like it’s a little roomier than it needs to be, and a medium would probably work for me if the sleeves are long enough. The pants are on the trim side, but medium is good, which is what I wear in most pants.

Retail: Jacket $449 , Pants $379
Fabric: Polartec Power Shield Pro
Weight: Jacket – 18.75 oz, Pants – 17.5 oz
Ideal uses: Ice climbing, backcountry skiing, alpinism

More info and specs can be found on the Patagonia website.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

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