The snow had been falling steadily since 4 a.m. And despite it being April 23, it was a cold one at Winter Park. Some friends and I had organized a parking lot beach party, hoping for balmy spring skiing, bluebird skies, and gaper ensembles galore.
However, with 18 inches of fresh snow and a projected high of 28 degrees, we weren’t going to get any of that. I wasn’t complaining. But instead of the T-shirt and jorts I’d optimistically brought, I grabbed my hardshell bibs and my Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket from the back of my truck. I suited up for a full-on winter weather shred fest.
The snow was perfect. But the conditions — especially at the top of the mountain — were far from it. Cold wind whipped against the 3L GORE-TEX ePE membrane of my jacket, snow swirling in the air. Luckily, I didn’t really feel it. The shell was heavy enough with my baselayers that I felt protected from that 22-degree F weather. I pulled the hood up over my helmet without unzipping the jacket and suddenly felt even more comfortable.
At the top of the mountain, we skied through a side-country gate in search of pow. And we hit the motherlode. With every turn, a wave of powder splashed up against me and off the Untracked. It wasn’t the first time the jacket had come in clutch this season, and it wouldn’t be the last.
In short: The Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket ($699) is a ski shell juggernaut that will serve you well for freeride skiing and at the resort. Patagonia struck a near-perfect shell weight, landing in the Goldilocks zone for warmth. The jacket is soft but clearly durable, feels impenetrably waterproof, and best of all, it’s made with GORE-TEX’s eco-friendly ePE membrane, which has zero PFC chemicals and 100% recycled material.
Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket
3-layer GORE-TEX EPE (PFC-free) construction with watertight, coated zippers
100% recycled nylon, recycled nylon backer, PFC-free DWR coating, PFC-free fabric, Fair Trade certified
One zippered chest pocket with pass-through media pocket, one internal drop-in pocket, two zippered hand pockets, one zippered arm pocket for ski pass
Made using eco-conscious ePE membrane
Sturdy, bombproof construction
Hood pulls over a helmet without unzipping the chin
Pass-through chest pocket provides easy access to interior
A little heavy for warmer days on the skin track
Could provide more protection if it was slightly longer
Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket Review
I have to be honest, I wasn’t in the market for another ski jacket when I got the Untracked. I was perfectly content with my Arc’teryx anorak shell, which had been serving me more than adequately for the whole season.
However, once I got my hands on the Untracked jacket, I found myself reaching for it more than the anorak. And not just because I liked the royal blue color. But because it is, simply, a superior jacket. The materials, the fit, and the function all impressed me and stood out from the plethora of ski jackets on the market today.
I wore this jacket over a 2-month stretch of ski season on warm days, cold days, backcountry days, and resort days. It isn’t necessarily a “quiver killer” (as it leaves a little to be desired for backcountry use), but it’s definitely a killer jacket.
In September 2021, GORE-TEX announced its newest fabric release: the expanded Polyethylene (ePE) membrane, which does everything that regular GORE-TEX does — it’s waterproof, windproof, durable, and breathable. Except, unlike regular GORE-TEX 3L fabric, this membrane is made without PFCs of Environmental Concern (PFCEC). It’s part of GORE-TEX’s goal to reduce its product-related carbon emissions by 35% by 2030.
The Men’s Untracked Jacket (and the Untracked Bibs, which won a 2022 ISPO Award) is part of Patagonia’s first-ever wave of three-layer snow sports outerwear to incorporate the ePE membrane. The 147g jacket utilizes a durable 80-denier fabric made of 100% recycled nylon that’s PFC-free plus a PFC-free durable water repellant (DWR) finish.
While other brands are moving toward PFC-free DWR treatments for textiles, it’s rare to see a brand staking claim for a completely PFC-free fabric. The brand has called it a “key milestone in GORE-TEX’s sustainability mission.”
Right out of the gate, this stuff is impressive. I’ve worn a lot of GORE-TEX outerwear in my life. This ePE membrane seemed completely on par with the quality of material the brand is known for. I have not experienced draftiness from the wind, nor have I gotten wet underneath from water bleeding through.
The zippers are all watertight, pull easily, and do not snag. The pull tabs are made from thin nylon paracord and are easy to grab (and would be easy to replace if lost or broken). And — as with all Patagonia apparel — the entire jacket is Fair Trade Certified sewn.
The 2023 version is 2 ounces lighter than last year’s version. But it’s still comparable to most ski shells at nearly 22 ounces.
Like most Patagonia clothing, the Untracked Jacket has a relaxed but true-to-size fit. It’s a little boxier than other ski jackets and leaves a generous amount of room for layering underneath. If you want a slimmer fit, I’d recommend sizing down.
My one gripe with this jacket is its length — or lack thereof. The hem of the Untracked Jacket comes down to my waist. I always prefer a longer jacket, not just for the aesthetics, but because they keep you warmer. A little extra butt protection can go an awful long way on a cold day.
The Untracked doesn’t lose points because of the hem’s length. But it certainly could have earned a few more in my book if it was longer. Though, some skiers don’t mind the traditional, hip-length look and feel.
The Function: On-Mountain Performance
Patagonia markets this jacket as being ideal for “big mountain descents or on the skin track.” I completely agree that the Untracked Jacket is a great big-mountain, free-ride, downhill, resort jacket. It held up great in deep snow, and the adjustable powder skirt cinched around my waist to reliably keep snow out. The recycled, solution-dyed flannel backer that is bonded to the GORE-TEX ePE offered just enough weight to keep me warm on some extra-chilly resort days.
But, on the skin track? I wore this jacket on several backcountry excursions in Colorado’s Gore and Sawatch Ranges. On colder days, when the sky was overcast and there was a breeze in the air, this outer layer was fine. If I did get too warm, I could easily unzip the pit zips and dump heat.
For anything warmer than 30 degrees, though, the Untracked Jacket was overkill while touring. The flannel backer and the hefty ePE membrane got pretty warm and didn’t breathe quite as well as lighter shells do.
I wouldn’t use this jacket specifically for touring in the backcountry. But, if you mostly ski resorts, and venture occasionally onto the skin track, the Untracked would fit your needs.
The Untracked Jacket has two handwarmer pockets, one pass pocket on the arm, a chest pocket, and an internal drop-in pocket. That’s a pretty standard layout for most ski jackets.
But, where the Untracked Jacket distinguishes itself from other ski jackets is in the chest pocket. It has an internally accessible pass-through media pocket. That’s particularly useful if you’re using this jacket for backcountry skiing, as you can access your beacon through the jacket without taking it off or opening it up. You have to kind of worm your hand in to get all the way through. But if it’s really cold out, you don’t have to open up the jacket to access what’s inside.
It was also helpful because I wear bibs and often store things in my chest pouch. That pass-through pocket made it easy to reach in and access my phone, car keys, snacks, or whatever else I was carrying in there at the resort.
Many ski hoods — even those that purport to be “over-the-helmet compatible” — don’t work great with ski helmets. One of my biggest pet peeves with ski hoods is when you have to unzip the front of your jacket to take it off or put it on.
Not so with the Patagonia Untracked Jacket. The hood on this piece of outerwear was designed specifically so that skiers and boarders can pull the hood on or off without fiddling with the front zipper at all. Stretch panels in the hood make it simple to pull the hood on or off without opening the front. That’s a nice touch.
Unlike other ski hoods I’ve worn in the past, I didn’t experience any issues with this one coming off when I didn’t want it to.
Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket: Who’s It For?
If you want a jacket that you can trust anywhere at the resort for freeride and downhill skiing, the Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket is absolutely worth considering. Especially if you want something that you can occasionally take into the backcountry, and perhaps especially for some colder uphill tours. It’s durable, the wind- and waterproofing hold up, the pockets are well-placed and useful, and the hood is one of the best helmet-compatible hoods I’ve worn.
The fact that all of that comes in a jacket that is made with GORE-TEX’s innovative, environmentally friendly ePE membrane is really the cherry on top. Not only is this a great general ski jacket, but it’s also sustainably designed.
The Patagonia Men’s Untracked Jacket will be available on October 1, 2023. Don’t miss our full review of the new men’s Patagonia Men’s Untracked Bibs on GearJunkie.