Patagonia M10 Overview
I used to be afraid of heading into the backcountry when Hodr (the Norse God of darkness and winter) was in full fury, and then I realized I just had lame gear! Now that I’ve made a few key upgrades, I am comfortable and safe when others are at home hiding under the covers.
The Patagonia M10 rain jacket is the linchpin that makes this all possible. What a jacket. It’s technically an ultralight hardshell meant for alpine climbing, but it works just as well as a heavy duty rain jacket that’s still extremely light. That’s a feat that doesn’t seem like it should make sense, but at 9.17 ounces it’s one the lightest, fully-featured 3-layer rain jackets on the market. Made out of a proprietary fabric, the M10 is comfortable, waterproof, and extremely durable. And it has Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee, one of the best in the business.
All of this (and a very high price tag) makes the Patagonia M10 rain jacket our Premium Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.
Patagonia M10 Star Rating
The Patagonia M10 is an ultralight yet burly rain shell designed to handle the toughest alpine conditions on earth. It’s a 3-layer jacket with a single chest pocket, a 3/4 zip for constant breathable wear, and it weighs just 7 ounces. Stow it in the single pocket and use to fend off the worst weather the planet has to offer.
For maintaining a warm and healthy glow during heavy rain and snow, we invite you to check out our comprehensive rain jacket guide. To see the Patagonia M10 rain jacket in action, just keep reading.
Update: We tested the Patagonia M10 in 2017, and in 2018 Patagonia removed the “jacket” option (with a full zipper) and replaced it with the Anorak option, which is a 3/4 zipper. This change is more suited to alpine climbing, which is the first intention of the shell, and reduces overall functionality for your standard backpacker, who may want to zip the whole jacket on and off easily. The rest of the shell is the same (fabric, materials, etc.), so it’s still an excellent rain jacket. It also lost two ounces (it’s now 7 ounces), so is still extremely ultralight.
Patagonia M10 Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||9.17 oz. (260 g) for Men’s Medium||Ultralight hardshell with full protection and many pockets for under 10 ounces. You will barely notice it in your pack.|
|Layer||3-Layer||3-Layer rain jackets offer the best breathability, durability, and overall protection. This usually comes with a weight penalty, but not for the M10. More on rain jacket layers in our Guide.|
|Waterproof Membrane||H2No||Proprietary membrane from Patagonia in 3-layer construction. Decent breathability and fully waterproof. More on rain jacket membranes in our Guide.|
H2No Performance Standard Shell
2 oz. 12D 100% nylon ripstop
|A very lightweight, yet durable shell that can take a serious beating. Meant for alpine climbers, arguably the toughest of outdoor pursuits.|
|No. of Pockets||
2 Hand-warmer Pockets
1 External Chest Pocket
|Three pockets in an ultralight rain jacket is deluxe. The pockets work well and are well-placed.|
|Pocket Placement||Above Hip Belt||The two lower pockets are meant for climbing and backpacking, which means they’re placed very high. Just beneath the chest, in fact.|
|Pit Zips/Vents||No||To save on weight the M10 does not have pit zips. It has great breathability without them, but if you absolutely need pit zips consider another jacket.|
|Water Resistant Zippers||Yes||Patagonia doesn’t list what they do to their zippers to make them essentially waterproof, but they work extremely well. Zipping up requires a bit more force than usual, but that’s common.|
|Storm Flaps||No||No need for storm flaps or buttons when there are water resistant zippers. Also cuts down on weight.|
|Packs Into Itself?||Yes, kind of||Patagonia claims the M10 will pack into its chest pocket, where there’s a small carabiner loop. In our experience it mostly stuffs in, but is hard to stuff enough to close the zipper. Make this pocket a little bigger!|
|Hood||Helmet Compatible, Rolls Away/Stores, 1 Adjustment||The M10 hood is deluxe. It’s articulated, meant for climbing helments, and cinches easily with a high quality toggle adjustment. It also clips and rolls away for more casual use, which is nice but not often necessary.|
|Fit||Slim Fit with long toros and sleeves||All of Patagonia’s clothes are cut fairly slim, but the M10 has long arms and a very long torso. These are both to keep out rain and snow, but it makes the jacket feel big. Enough room to layer a puffy underneath.|
|Seams||Sonically Welded Seams||Very high quality seam seal method. The M10 will not let water in.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Ironclad Guarantee||Lifetime warranty for any product. Patagonia has an incredible warranty service, and can also repair your jacket for free or little cost, depending on the issue.|
|Retail Price||$399.00||An extremely high price for the last rain jacket you’ll ever need.|
Gear Review of the Patagonia M10 Jacket
Origins: Easing You In
In order to properly test the versatility of the Patagonia M10 I knew I’d have to expose it to many different activities and environments. I wore it trail running during an Auburn downpour, snow camping in a ridiculous Tahoe blizzard, and hiking through wet Morro Bay gusts. And it never failed me. In fact, it quickly became my “American Express” jacket for the winter and spring: I don’t leave home without it.
While running, the Patagonia M10 was light enough that I didn’t feel weighed down, waterproof enough that I stayed dry, and hugged my body close enough to remain comfortable. And of course these attributes carried over during other activities as well.
Having tried many different lightweight jackets, I know how hard it is to find something this versatile. For instance, I have another rain jacket that I run and backpack with, but I almost froze to death on Mt. Whitney last winter because it wasn’t quite as waterproof as the manufacturer claimed. This is clearly not an issue with the M10.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
All I had to do was a little deep winter backpacking to know the M10 was the jacket for me. We had a crazy winter in Northern California. Like begging for mercy, hide your wife and kids type weather, even for those of us that love to get wet and dirty.
The weekend I spent in Tahoe with the Patagonia M10 as my outermost armor was the quintessential representation of the season. Snow drifts so high you can barely see the sky, temperatures that instantly bite any skin that you were stupid enough to leave exposed, and an unceasing wall of frozen white. Humbling, arctic stuff.
Those conditions are way more manageable if you’re comfortable, and thanks to the M10 I was peachy. This ultralight hardshell is made so well and battens down so superbly that it creates a personal cocoon of warmth, especially when paired with an insulated midlayer. There are a few features responsible for my (very healthy) obsession with the M10.
Awesome design feature Number One: Completely waterproof zippers. Patagonia doesn’t specify how they do this, but it kept rain, slush, and snow from seeping through all the zippers.
Awesome feature Number Two: A big chest pocket for storing gloves, headlamp, knife, a phone, etc. I used this frequently. It’s a pocket most ultralight shells don’t have in order to save weight, but Patagonia has managed to include it.
Awesome design feature Number Three: Side pockets for your hands! Yeah, more pockets. How many times have you tried to protect your hands by stuffing them into the pockets of your rain jacket only to discover there are no pockets? That’s typically the world of ultralight gear: leaving comfy features out. But not for the M10.
While stumbling through the snow and trying to maintain some semblance of direction sense and sanity (picture an Everest documentary where the intrepid climbers have frosted beards and slowly move forward in a bumbling waddle), I was starkly aware that a thin layer of fabric was the only thing separating me from the fury of the storm. Sometimes that freaks me out. But the Patagonia M10 gave me an added confidence that allowed me to spend mental energy on making camp, preparing food, and actually enjoying myself — rather than sitting in my tent pining for the sun.
Pockets and waterproof-ness aside, the Patagonia M10 has a couple other features that I was impressed with after months of use.
First, it has hook and loop cuffs (like Velcro) so you can effectively seal the jacket around your hands/gloves. I’ve worn other jackets that tried to duplicate this ability (most rain jackets have them), but none of them were as successful as the M10. Why? Thanks for asking. One jacket had cuffs that weren’t adjustable, and happened to be too big for my wrists. Another adjusted, but still wouldn’t tighten enough to actually keep water or wind from blowing up the sleeve. A third did adjust, and would cinch tight, but the Velcro fastener was poorly made and always gave up just when I needed it most. So yeah, big high five for the M10.
The hood is also very well designed. It’s large enough to fit a helmet, yet cinches easily and effectively for those of us not climbing or biking in rainy conditions. The hood had no issue keeping rain, snow, and wind out while still allowing sight and sound in. Part of this is that it’s an articulated hood, so it moves with you as you move, allowing clear vision. Also, many other rain jacket hoods rustle enough to drown out all other noise – not so with the M10. This preserves the sense of calm serenity while out on the trail.
For those who need it, the hood packs down and clips to the coat, making it way more streamlined. This is a nice feature for around town use, but if it’s actually raining or snowing you’ll have the hood up. A surprising luxury for such a lightweight jacket.
Extremely comfortable! Especially if you consider the fact that you will be wearing it during inherently uncomfortable conditions. It’s not overly noisy, layers well, and has a hood you could live in. Fist bump for increased comfort.
This thing is made for the serious wilderness explorer. I used and abused it, on and off my body, for two months and there isn’t a scratch on it.
Can you give a jacket a Michelin star? I love the Patagonia M10’s breathability. There is nothing worse than putting on a shell to avoid the rain, only to get wet because of the condensation inside the jacket. Yuck. Just breathe.
This shell was built to keep out water, and it does that like it’s going to work. Rain, snow, whatever — it all stayed on the outside.
I am 5’9”, 155 and the M10 size Medium fit me well around my chest and shoulders but hung surprisingly low. It’s definitely made to fit over a bulkier warm layer of some kind, which makes sense as it’s an alpine jacket. If you’re looking at it for warmer-weather hiking, consider a going down a size.
Anything that makes you look like a mountain-taming, ice-climbing warrior is good. Period.
As I mentioned above, the M10 hung very low on me (to mid quad), and I have a long torso. To be fair this is a purposeful design feature because it allows room to fit a few other layers underneath, and because it offers more protection (rather than rain or snow being able to creep in when you bend or reach). It’s also engineered for climbing, where you need waterproof protection below a harness. Just go into this relationship knowing that you might look like you’re wearing your dad’s jacket.
Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket
Also, and perhaps this goes without saying, the M10 is not going to keep you warm if it’s the only jacket you’re wearing. I threw it on over a t-shirt to walk a couple hundred yards in Tahoe, and I was freezing. But that’s my bad. I should have taken the extra ten seconds to put on my insulating middle layer. The M10 is designed as a rugged outer shell and it’s fantastic at that.
Finally, while the jacket packs down into tiny pockets of your pack, it doesn’t fit easily into the chest pocket, which is what Patagonia claims it does easily. There’s a carabiner loop on the inside of the chest pocket for easy clipping, but stuffing it all the way in there takes some work.
Patagonia clearly spent time talking to backcountry travelers when designing the M10 rain jacket. Wonderfully waterproof, beautifully breathable, lusciously light, and perfectly packable, it simply does everything you want an ultralight hardshell rain jacket to do.
Where to Buy Patagonia M10
A men’s Patagonia M10 Jacket was used for this review. It has since been updated to an Anorak style, and is only offered for men. The M10 Anorak is the same construction and fabric, but with a 3/4 zip instead of a fully zipped jacket.
You can find the Patagonia M10 Anorak for men below.