Weighing 18 ounces (510 grams) and insulated with Patagonia's proprietary, plasma-treated, water-repellent Encapsil 1000-fill-power down, the belay parka is unparalleled in warmth for its weight, designed for alpinists to take into the burliest of conditions.
"Patagonia has insisted on taking an intensive scientific and holistic approach to do more, but with less environmental harm," notes Randy Harward, vice president of advanced research & development at Patagonia. "Even with these stringent guidelines, we've developed the highest-performing down technology available anywhere. This has been a five-year R&D project in the making, and we are eager to integrate this technology into future styles beyond the Belay Parka."
Water-repellent down garments are now available from several manufacturers. Patagonia, however, has taken a unique approach - one that not only produces water-repellent down, but delivers a significant advantage no one else can provide: unprecedented, 1000-fill-power. Encapsil patented technology uses a safe silicone-based chemistry that is free of fluorocarbons.
Patagonia's down is sent through a proprietary machine and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves until the surface of the down's molecular structure begins to shift. A tiny amount of siloxane is then deposited onto each plumule of down, adhering to its changed molecular structure in a virtually permanent way. The result is down that is hydrophobic, stronger and loftier by 25%.
"This is the most challenging design project I have ever worked on," notes Casey Shaw, advanced product engineer at Patagonia. "To design this parka, we had to develop new construction techniques that would allow us to maintain perfectly baffled chambers, while insuring low bulk and realistic production capability for the factory. Given the complexity of this parka's design, our team had to fly to the factory to guide them through the intricate construction and assembly techniques to ensure the correct execution of the design."
Patagonia offers its most thoughtful design in the Encapsil Down Belay Parka, with no detail spared. Shell fabric is an ultralight 10-denier Pertex Endurance nylon ripstop with a polyurethane dry coat, providing excellent water repellency. The hood is baffled and helmet-compatible, with a single drawcord that provides a small draft collar of down around the face, creating a microclimate to help prevent frostbite on exposed skin.
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