Gear review: Mom serves up a Primo Christmas present |

Gear review: Mom serves up a Primo Christmas present

Jon Maletz
Aspen Times Weekly

I love my mother unconditionally. But when it comes to Christmas gift-giving, well, she leaves a little something to be desired. Honestly, what is a guy who survives almost exclusively on Big Wrap and frozen pizza going to do with a fondue set?

I put in a request last month. Rather than wind up with the usual “presents” – boxer briefs, toothbrush, hand sanitizer and bizarre tchotchkes – I decided to ask for one big-ticket item: The Patagonia Men’s Primo Jacket.

Sure, at $449 the price is steep – I never would’ve coughed up that kind of money myself. But I figured my parents owed me after 2009, when on Christmas morning I unwrapped Tupperware, a skillet and two oven mitts.

My mother agreed, on the condition that the jacket would serve as both my birthday and Christmas present. That was a compromise I was all-too happy to make.

I had been eyeing the Primo for months. While I have the rest of my equipment dialed in, I have struggled of late to find a ski jacket that combines the optimum mix of form and function. I have tried puffies that kept me warm but restricted my movement. I have tried form-fitting softshells that are perfect for spring days, but are about as useful as a cheap department-store windbreaker on brisk mid-winter mornings.

I decided a shell would be the best way to go, and scoured the Internet for options (I’m up really late, and there’s really nothing on television except music videos and Shake Weight infomercials).

I kept coming back to the Primo, which had the simple look that always appeals to me and received nothing but glowing reviews.

Now I see why.

When I first took it out of the box, I was struck by how light the Primo was – about 1 pound, 7 ounces – and I doubted that a jacket so thin could keep me warm. But it delivers – and then some.

I first tested it out on an overcast afternoon on Aspen Mountain in early December. The temperature hovered in the mid-30s and wet snow was falling at an impressive clip. My goggles and wool hat were drenched, but the Primo’s three-layer, stretch-woven nylon H2No material kept my core bone dry.

A few days later, as the mercury dipped well below freezing at Snowmass, I layered some thermal underwear and a fleece under the Primo and was extremely comfortable. The jacket’s oversized collar provided welcome shelter from the biting wind on top of the Big Burn, and the snug powder skirt came in handy when I hit a depression in the Powerline Glades, double-ejected and was buried. With my previous jacket, I would’ve been digging snow out of my crack for hours. With the Primo, the only thing holding me up was the search for a lost ski pole.

My only minor gripe is Patagonia’s sizing – the size large fits my 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame well, but the sleeves are a little long. That does not deter from recommending this jacket to everyone, however.

And it will not keep me from emptying out my closet and donating my other winter jackets. The Primo is the versatile jacket I’ve been searching for.

Thanks, Mom.

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