Staff Thoughts: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
Size & Fit
I am 6' 2" broad-shouldered and long-armed. I usually wear extra-large in tops and t-shirts, and large in more technical wear such as fleeces and waterproof jackets. The Micro Puff is a regular fit garment which can be worn tight or loose. If you fall between two sizes, as I did, ask yourself what you intend to wear the jacket for and with what layers. I opted for a tighter fit to be worn over just a base layer, tech tee or both. If you're walking in windy conditions, as I was for this test, you will appreciate a tighter fit to prevent the jacket filling with air. Cold air stirring in between layers will affect your ability to keep the air trapped in the synthetic PlumaFill warm, which is how the jacket insulates. If you intend to wear the Micro Puff over a fleece and base layer, then a looser fit may be better suited, especially if you have toned arms as I found the arms to be particularly tight on me.
For this test, I wore the Micro Puff over an Icebreaker oasis long sleeve crewe neck top and a Mountain Equipment Ground-up tee. I was also wearing a cap. Even though it was cold enough for a beanie I wanted to test the thermal properties of the hood which is designed to be worn under a helmet, the cap improves the look when no helmet is worn and also helps to stop the wind blowing in as there is only elastic around the hoods opening and no drawcord adjustment which would add extra weight and bulk and could also cause discomfort when worn under a helmet.
The Micro Puff packs into one of the main hand pockets which doubles as a stuff sack. This pocket is identified by the zip slider having two pullers. It just fits to keep pack size small, and I found it easier the pack with the main zip open, this also allows you to get the jacket on quickly once unpacked. Care needs to be taken not to catch the fabric when closing the stuff pocket zip. There's also a carabiner loop so it can be attached to the outside of your rucksack, climbing harness or trouser belt.
Test Walk Conditions
Crook Peak and Wavering Down are part of the West Mendip Way near Weston-super-Mare (OS Explorer Map 153). This part of the Mendip Hills is exposed to cold winds that frequently blow in off the Bristol Channel sea. This particular Sunday at the end of December was one of those such days. The air temperature was 6 degrees Celsius with the wind chill making it feel more like 2. It was dry and mostly cloudy with a few sunny spells.
The Micro Puff is filled with synthetic insulation making it suitable for cold conditions where dampness may be unavoidable. Synthetic insulation doesn't suffer from clumping as down feathers do when wet, so it will still insulate. As the lightest filled jacket in the Patagonia range and possibly even on the preset market (2019), it's this and the small pack size that has generated so much interest in the successor to the popular Patagonia Nano Puff. I was certainly drawn to this high warmth-to-weight ratio, to replace a bulky and heavy fleece that I usually carry in my day pack as a backup layer for hiking and Snowboarding, although with just a 10 denier Pertex Quantum outer fabric I would be reluctant to wear the Micro puff as an outer layer for snowsports due to risk of tearing on ski/snowboard edges, ski poles or chair lifts, for this I would recommend something tougher with 30+ denier, but this would significantly increase weight and packability.
Don't be put off by the Micro Puff's lack of puff, and let yourself trust the magical construction of Patagonia's exclusive PlumaFill technology that took 10 years to develop. The quilted pattern which gives the Micro Puff a distinctive look allows heat inside the jacket to distribute more freely. Patagonia rates the Micro Puff as their best warmth-to-weight insulate jacket. Throughout my walk and during the other times I've worn this deceptively warm garment, in temperatures of 2-5 degrees Celsius with only a base layer or t-shirt underneath, I've yet to feel the need to add additional layers and had it not been for this review I would have probably started with more layers than needed. At the start of my walk, I chose not to wear gloves or a beanie hat, so I could gauge how well my exposed skin was quickly warmed. Windproof Pertex Quantum outer fabric instantly made these exposed areas warm when covered. The pockets are well-sized and sit high enough to allow for a rucksack hip belt, and with my hands in them, my elbows were at a comfortable 90-degree angle, they are easy to zip closed without snagging when not being used. Passive elasticated adjustment (no drawcords) on the hem and cuffs isn't tight which does allow the jacket to fill with air in windy conditions, but this is easily combatted with a rucksack hip belt and gloves that fit over the cuffs, I prefer the looser elasticated cuffs, so blood flow isn't restricted.
Value for Money
For £100 less you could get a high-quality synthetic jacket that will perform just as well as the Micro Puff, and if you don't need the exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, then that will do fine. However, if you look into more of what Patagonia does, then you may want to become a part of their cause. "We're in business to save our home planet" is the heading on their company mission statement which is summarised as follows: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Some of the ways they're achieving this is; materials made from recycled plastics, sustainability, fair trade certified sewn, an iron-clad guarantee, 1% for the planet where 1% of their sales goes to support environmental organisations around the world, worn wear repair program and a commitment to taking back your clothing when it's beyond repair to turn it into something else or find a home for it when you have no further use.
Mark started his outdoor education at Weston-super-Mare college in 1992 where he studied Pre-Public Services. There he completed MLTB training in mountain leader and single pitch climbing, orienteering coaching award, kayaking trainee instructors award and a GCSE in Outdoor Education. He's climbed, walked and camped in many locations in the South West, visited most of the National Parks and also attended a Jonathan Conville Alpine mountaineering course in Chamonix, France. His other interests include Snowboarding, Windsurfing and Surfing. Mark's favourite mountain is Tryfan in North Wales and his favourite local walking location is West Mendips.
Want to read more staff reviews?
-Read Sam's review on the Osprey Hikelite 18 rucksack.
-Read Jess's review on the Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody.
-Read Gaby's review on the Osprey Kyte 36 rucksack.
-Read Paul's review on the Rab Kangri GTX Jacket.
-Read Stu's review on the Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody.