Just about every angler who spends a good amount of time on the water has run into a situation where they need a lightweight packable jacket. I’ve especially run into this need in the salt. It’s often important to be a minimalist on a flats boat or panga, and you never want to be that angler who gets on a boat with a noticeable amount of gear. If I’m going to crowd a boat with gear, it’s going to be rods and reels! But whether you’re headed offshore into choppy water or zipping through the flats where there’s spray, or if you’re fishing in the summer when a random afternoon storm can bring a downpour, it’s great to have a jacket to help keep dry. And of course, every trout angler is always doing everything they can to cut weight and clutter.
Unfortunately, in most of the situations names above, anglers generally encounter these situations while also facing heat. Even a neck gaiter and a hat can raise body temperatures too much, so when it’s 90 degrees and you want to stay dry as you cruise the flats, you also don’t want to take on more heat (and even risk of overheating) by adding a layer that generally limits fabric breathability. A solution: the Ultralight Packable Jacket from Patagonia.
Prior to using the new Ultralight Packable Jacket, I used another Patagonia jacket for these situations. And it isn’t that I don’t love the Torrentshell jacket line, but it isn’t designed for the needs of anglers and is in many ways a compromise. It seems heavier, less breathable, and it surely doesn’t pack like the Ultralight Packable Jacket that fits easily into a stuff sack that is connected to the chest pocket zipper and goes in that pocket.
The Ultralight Packable Jacket feels about as lightweight as it gets. And several key features were well-received on the water. For example, in the salt, several hours of effort to find fish can lead to a one-cast shot where there’s no room for error. In such situations, anglers often have line catch shoes, shoe laces, zippers — you name it. This jacket cuts out a lot of potential for these fails by having a low profile design that keeps line from catching.
Then there’s the zipper and the pocket. The corrosion- and water-resistant zipper adds to longevity and helps keep water out in what can be a vulnerable part of the jacket, and the oversized front chest pocket is perfect for most fly boxes. Great for wet-wading!
One thing to keep in mind with this jacket is that it is very very lightweight. It’s built for purpose, so see it more as a technical piece than something you might wear to the office (though you could of course). As far as fit, this jacket was perfect on the sleeves and a just little roomy in the body (though not too much). A highly recommended jacket — especially for traveling anglers.
The Ultralight Packable Jacket comes in Joya Blue and Salt Grey and costs $249.
– Tim Harden
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