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Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket and Pants

Sam Shaheen reviews the Patagonia Knifeblade jacket and pants, Blister Gear Review.

Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket

Patagonia Knifeblade Jacket and Pants

Sizes Tested: Medium

Manufacturer’s Stated Weights: 535 grams (jacket); 462 grams (pants)

Jacket features:

  • Fabric: Polartec Power Shield Pro (89% polyester/11% spandex)
  • 2-way adjustable, fleece lined hood
  • Touch Point cord lock system  
  • Chest pocket
  • Harness compatible hand pockets  

Price: $379

Pant features:

  • Fabric: Polartec Power Shield Pro (89% polyester/11% spandex)
  • Suspenders
  • High waistline
  • Adjustable elasticized suspender system
  • Zip fly with snap-tab closure
  • Single right-thigh pocket with reverse-coil zipper
  • Articulated seat and knees for optimal mobility
  • Slim lower-leg profile with cuff guard
  • Adjustable leg opening
  • Drop seat and zip crotch

MSRP: $300

Reviewer Info: 5’10”, 135 lbs.

Test Locations: Rocky Mountain National Park, White River National Forest

Days Tested: 40+

According to Patagonia, the Knifeblade jacket and pants are “built for mobility and storm-level protection with optimal breathability.”

Both the jacket and pants are made from Polartec Power Shield Pro, a water-resistant, soft shell fabric. And while they aren’t ideal for all conditions and pursuits, they’ve proven to be an excellent setup for dry-weather ski touring and ski mountaineering.

Fit

How well a piece of outerwear fits depends, in part, on how you’re using it. Compared to some other similar pieces I’ve worn, I’ve found that both the Knifeblade jacket and pants have a great slim fit that helps make them particularly well suited for high output activities.

The Knifeblade jacket has a decidedly slim fit through the torso and sleeves, with very little extra fabric. I usually wear a size Medium, and the Knifeblade jacket in a Medium feels almost like a size Small.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Patagonia Knifeblade jacket and pants, Blister Gear Review.

Sam Shaheen in the Patagonia Knifeblade kit, Summit County, CO.

But since the Polartec fabric used on both the jacket and the pants is very supple and offers a little bit of stretch, the more athletic fit didn’t restrict my movement at all. Plus, I was moving around / staying warm enough while wearing the Knifeblade jacket that I never needed to fit extra layers underneath it (more than a base layer or a mid layer like the Marmot Alpha Pro).

And if I did happen to get cold while belaying or scoping a line, it was easy to throw on an insulator like the Patagonia Nano Puff or Mont Bell Alpine Light Parka over the Knifeblade, then take it off once I started moving again.

If you plan to wear more than a base layer and single midlayer beneath the Knifeblade, consider sizing up.

Compared to the Knifeblade jacket, the Mountain Equipment Centurion and Tupilak, offer a slightly more relaxed fit, though they are still far from loose. And as hard shells, they do offer a bit more protection from the elements, lending themselves more to lower output activities than the Knifeblade.

As for the Knifeblade pants, they don’t fit quite as slim in the leg as I would prefer for pure alpine climbing/mountaineering, but they are perfect for skiing / ski touring, and seem to fit true to size. In a size Medium, the pant’s bib comes up over my belly button and fit my 29” waist almost perfectly.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Patagonia Knifeblade jacket and pants, Blister Gear Review.

Patagonia Knifeblade Pants

Fabric

I’m very happy with the Polartec Power Shield Pro used on both the Knifeblade jacket and pants. It is a 3-layer, water-resistant soft shell fabric, but it has a thin, knit tricot liner more like what you’ll find on a typical 3-layer hard shell.

The backing of many soft shell’s fabric is thicker (like the fleece lining on the TREW Swift) and designed for warmth. The Knifeblade jacket / pant’s knit tricot liner, on the other hand, is quite thin, in order to enhance breathability and durability. The same goes for their face fabric, which also uses a thin, tight weave and has a great, quiet hand feel.

The membrane / laminate in between the liner and face fabric is a convective or “air permeable” membrane similar to Polartec NeoShell. (For more information on air perm fabrics, see Outerwear 201). The membrane is porous rather than monolithic (solid) like most hardshells, and its pores are large enough to allow the flow of air and water vapor across the membrane. While the laminate is not totally waterproof, its pores are still small enough that liquid water cannot pass through easily, resulting in a highly breathable but also water resistant membrane.

7 Comments

  1. Fraser September 6, 2014 Reply

    Is the Knifeblade still available from Patagonia? I don’t see it on their website. If not, which jacket is most similar?

  2. Stewart September 8, 2014 Reply

    Great performance garments, but in both my Knifebalde pullover and pants the PSP membrane virtually dissolved in the high wear and high stretch areas within a season of use. Got a full refund from Patagonia, and was told they’re dropping these from their product line. PSP is an incredible product if it could be made to last.

  3. Blister Member
    Slim September 12, 2014 Reply

    If you are looking for (active) ski shells, nothing comes close to the breathability and waterproof ness of Nikwax Analogy fabric, used by Paramo and Cioch Direct.

    It consists of a pump liner and plain, uncoated microfiber outer fabric. Since there is no membrane or coating anywhere in the system, breathability is just as high as a plain fleece and uncoated windshirt, with the additional benefit that it actively wicks liquid moisture(sweat, snow from a wipe-out) to the outside. At the same time it keeps you completely dry in a thunderstorm, as long as you use the heavier fabric. Or choose the lighter ones for normal wet snow protection. Without a membrane, and since the two layers are not laminated but loose, flexibility is fantastic.
    Since the seams don’t have to be taped, any tears can just be sewn up and modifications are also possible.

    I truly believe it is the ultimate ski(touring) fabric.
    I know this sounds like snake oil, but many reputable sources have been using it for many years. It is not available in the US, but can be ordered online. The fact that many British mountain rescue teams use it should speak to the fact that it can handle wet weather!
    I have been very happy wit my set. I have no affiliation with any of the companies, just trying to help people discover a piece of gear that’s fairly unknown in the US.

    http://oneswedishsummer.weebly.com/my-blog/paramo-quito-jacket-analogy-light
    http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/gear-review-paramo-enduro-jacket/009837/
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/paramo_vista_rain_jacket_review.html#.VBNltmK9KSM

    And for a discussion of the new, lightweight fabrics:
    http://www.andyhowell.info/trek-blog/2012/06/05/the-paramo-problem/

    It would be great if Blister could get a set of these for review.

  4. Blister Member
    Slim October 4, 2014 Reply

    Hmm, just bought these for my wife, will see how they do in the durability department. They were in the 50% sale, Id forgotten the name of them even though I’d read this review and comments.

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