Patagonia M10 Jacket: Ultralight Hardshell for Alpine Climbing and Hiking

  • Ultralight Backpacker

Patagonia M10 Jacket 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.

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.

M10 Jacket 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.
Face Fabric

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.

Patagonia-M10 ultralight hardshell Rain-Jacket sunny
Never leave home without a rain jacket during winter, even if skies are blue.

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.

Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket blizzard
The Patagonia M10 piled on a snow bank. Yes, I was cold and wt during this photo.

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.

Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket hand pocket
When fully zipped, these zippers don’t let water (or snow) in. They’re also placed high: that’s the “hand” pocket, just beneath my arm.

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.

Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket pockets
A large chest pocket and two high hand-warmer pockets means lots of storage on this ultralight hardshell.

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.

Digging Deeper

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.

Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell RainJacket cuff closure
Simple and effective cuff closure are key to any rain jacket, especially alpine hardshells.

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.

Patagonia M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket hood
The hood is large enough for helmets, but cinches easily for full protection. Large pockets and water resistant zippers help.

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.

Comfort

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.

Durability

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.

Breathability

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.

Fit

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.

Style

Anything that makes you look like a mountain-taming, ice-climbing warrior is good. Period.

Grievances

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 fit
Long torso and sleeves make an otherwise slim jacket bigger than normal.

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 M10 ultralight hardshell Rain Jacket chest pocket stuffability
Tough to get the M10 all the way into its chest pocket.

Final Word

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 Jacket

A men’s Patagonia M10 Jacket was used for this review. The M10 Jacket is also available for women. It’s the same exact jacket with a different fit and color options. Patagonia offers the M10 Anorak, which is the same construction and fabric, but with a half-zip instead of a fully zipped jacket. While the M10 Anorak is a best of a jacket, the full zipper is key to any rain jacket, so we don’t recommend it for more casual users. You can find the Patagonia M10 Jacket for men and women below.

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Josh Mathe

Josh Mathe is passionate about squeezing every last drop from life, and helping others do the same. He is the best-selling and award-winning author of "I, Athlete" and "In the Footsteps of Greatness", as well as a speaker, fitness expert, nutritionist, ultra endurance athlete, and life adventurer. Josh is the owner of One10 Performance & Nutrition, and when not in office he spends his days in the mountains moving as fast and light as possible. Josh holds a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition, and is a certified sports nutritionist (CISSN), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and endurance coach. He lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife and three crazy animals. For more information or to contact Josh directly, please visit his website.

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