If there's one constant in almost all mountain activities, it's that sooner or later you're going to come across nasty weather. It doesn't matter if you're chasing big walls in Yosemite, powder lines in Courcheval or summit days in the Canadian Rockies -- staying warm is the difference between owning a harrowing expedition and bailing back to civilization with your tail between your legs. Patagonia's Special Edition Encapsil Down Belay Parka, a perfect fusion of purpose-driven engineering and uncommon design, is the most formidable backcountry armor on the market.
Warmth ratings for goose down are classified by "fill power" (a glorified measurement of loft and fluffiness) and typically range from 450-800. It isn't uncommon to see the odd ultralight sleeping bag that pushes the upper limits at 900 fill, but before the Encapsil coating technology used by Patagonia, no fill had reached the magic 1,000 rating.
Plasma treated, water-repellent down and a lightweight polyurethane-treated nylon shell form the foundation of this flawless warming layer. Although they're impressive, it was the finishing touches and intuitive features that made the jacket so memorable for us during backcountry skiing sessions earlier this year. A helmet-compatible hood fits easily over climbing and mountaineering helmets and features a single-cord tightening system that is easily manipulated with one gloved hand. Gone are the days of clumped up, wet down, thanks to individual baffles sewn into micro mesh and then seam welded to the face and lining fabric. The cuffs, shoulders, and small of the back -- always a problem area for mid-layers and active wear -- are built with smaller baffles, stretch fabric and innovative variegated seams to keep the precious down in place. The finished product is a groundbreaking work of art that you can count on during the worst weather mother nature can muster.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
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