Attention, world: Patagonia has a new puffy jacket out. Not to be confused with the Nano Puff Pullover or any of the other various Puff’s, Air’s and Micro’s that Patagonia has put out over the years, we now have a new, and very exciting, Micro Puffy Hoody from the folks at Patagonia. They tout it as the best warmth-for-weight jacket they’ve yet to build, and that’s definitely been a promise kept over the course of my testing.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Features:
- Ultralight nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum® shell
- PlumaFill insulation replicates the structure of down in a continuous synthetic insulation material
- Innovative quilting construction maximizes the loft of the PlumaFill strands with minimal stitching
- Center-front zipper has wicking interior storm flap and zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
- Two welted zippered handwarmer pockets; left pocket doubles as a stuffsack
- Under-the-helmet hood construction is light and simple
- Elasticized cuffs and hem seal in warmth
- Weight: 9.3oz
- MSRP: $299
It’s a synthetic that’s light enough to be goose down
I’m going to begin by saying that there’s all sorts of synthetic jackets. For the longest time they tried to imitate down in terms of down’s structure. The goal was to replicate the loft and lightweight properties of down, while staying warm in wet weather. Then Polartec got the bright idea to do fabrics like Alpha, which were ‘active’ insulators that were nothing like down but breathed really well. This latter category has done really well and active insulators are a staple choice on my outings. But the ‘make-it-feel-just-like-down’ camp of synthetics has often missed the mark.
Enter the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody: I take back all the mean things I’ve ever said about synthetic puffies trying to be like down puffies. This one, ladies and gents, actually feels like its achieving what it set out to do. The jacket feels very light, compressible and highly warm for its weight. Usually synthetic only gets two of those things and the jackets often feel heavy or cumbersome. Not the Micro Puff. Let’s dive into the reasons for this.
I’ll start with the fabric. In many ways, it’s the foundation of the puffy. It’s a very lightweight 10D nylon weave known as Pertex Quantum. I’ve tested quite a few pieces with this fabric and it’s really good stuff – the exceptionally tight weave blocks wind and adds a solid material barrier to moisture ingress. Obviously, there’s a DWR plopped on top, too. As far as puffies go, this one is well-equipped to handle moisture.
Perhaps equally important is the unique stitching pattern Patagonia has employed on the Micro Puff Hoody. Stitching synthetic jackets is always a delicate balance of trying to keep the insulation in place while minimizing added weight and cold spots from the pinched insulation. The Micro Puff appears to have a series of ‘broken’ baffles that look like they shouldn’t work. Actually, they hold the insulation well and, crucially, cut down on cold spots. It’s visually interesting and performs well.
The other features of the jacket are very minimal. There are two zippered hand pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff pocket. There is no drawcord at the hem or any adjustments at the hood. However, the lack of these features doesn’t actually hold the jacket back very much. The hood design is great; it can sit beneath your helmet and it naturally seals around your face pretty well. When the hood is down and the jacket is zipped up all the way, it forms a wonderful ad hoc neck gaiter that seals out drafts.
The lack of the hem adjustments might trouble some people, but let’s think about this. Generally people most rely on hem adjustments when they’re climbing. You’re trying to keep the garment from riding up under a harness. But, realistically, how much climbing are you wanting to do in a non-stretchy puffy jacket? But, in truth, I haven’t taken this bad boy on any climbing trips anyway. It’s too cold for rock and none of the ice lines are in yet.
What I have done, however, is taken it on backcountry ski trips where I have been *very* impressed with its performance. It hasn’t risen up under my bibs while skiing and, it turns out, the simple elastic hem does its job very well. The same can be said of the cuffs, which fit nicely under a glove’s gauntlets.
I love using this puffy jacket because it’s such a fearless puffy – it lacks many of the weaknesses that often make me think twice before bringing a particular jacket on a trip. This is what I mean by that: it is simultaneously highly resistant to water while still being very lightweight. This thing is only 10oz! That’s only 3oz heavier than my Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, and the Micro Puff is nearly as warm. For comparison, the Ghost Whisperer has 75g of 800-fill goose down, and the Micro Puff has 65g of PlumaFill polyester insulation. It’s tough to make this a direct comparison – how exactly does the heat retention compare? We can’t be exactly sure, but it does tell you something about the weight of the insulation relative to the overall garment weight.
The key thing about the Micro Puff is that it does exceptionally well in wet weather thanks to the combination of its PlumaFill synthetic insulation and its very, very tight 10D fabric weave, which has tremendous inherent resistance to water and wind.
- PlumaFill insulation is the most ‘down-like’ I’ve ever encountered
- Exceptionally lightweight package for its weight
- Minimalist features are increasingly seen as preferred – less to break
- Hood design seals nicely around the face and neck, fits under a helmet
- Baffle design isn’t gimmicky, actually holds insulation well
- Some will miss the lack of hem adjustments
- $300 is a lot for synthetic insulation
The Bottom Line: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
If you are looking for a no-nonsense, warm puffy for adventures that take you out into the snow or wet, right now it’s hard to do better than the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody. Its overall warmth-to-weight and excellent wet weather performance make it an indispensable piece for my wintertime adventures in the wet, wonderful PNW.
Buy now: Available from Patagonia.com