By Ethan Stewart
Editor's note: The creation of our new Encapsil™ Down Belay Parka is a big deal for all of us at Patagonia. In the midst of getting everything ready for launch, we asked our friend Ethan Stewart to tell the story of how Encapsil down and the parka came to be. Though he handled the writing like the professional news reporter that he is, it should be said that we requested this piece.
At first blush, the big “wow” factor of the Encapsil Down Belay Parka is, of course, the insulation, Patagonia’s proprietary take on water-resistant down. There has been an industry wide race in the past year to get water-resistant down products available for mass consumption. The idea of making down clusters impervious to their historic Kryptonite of moisture has been a Holy Grail of sorts for outdoor garment manufacturers for quite some time. And, while other companies have managed to plant their water-resistant-down flags first, none have been able to do what Encapsil down has achieved.
“This is an absolute game changer. It’s not just a small tech evolution,” Patagonia’s Alpine Line Manager Jenna Johnson said with a smile on her face, “I mean, when GORE-TEX® fabrics first came out is probably the last time something did this for the marketplace.”
Above: Patagonia ambassadors Dylan Johnson (foreground) and Josh Wharton (wearing headlamp and Encapsil Down Belay Parka) take a chilly breather halfway up the north face of Mount Temple. Canada. Photo: Mikey Schaefer