By the Numbers is a new Backpacking Light column from Stephen Seeber. In this space, Stephen turns a critical eye towards fabrics and materials by testing for claims, degradation, and more.
I am using a smaller pack now for day hikes. I decided I needed to replace the fleece midlayer that I carry with something warmer, lighter, and more compact. From one of my prior studies (study link), I learned that Patagonia PlumaFill had the best warmth-to-weight ratios of the synthetic insulations that I tested. I felt a Patagonia Micro Puff might be the replacement garment that met my needs. I decided that I would prefer to purchase a Worn Wear jacket to save money. Patagonia Worn Wear sells used and reconditioned Patagonia garments at a substantially lower price than the new products. I had not purchased a Worn Wear garment before, so I thought I would order a reconditioned Patagonia Micro Puff and then see how it compared with a new Micro Puff in laboratory conditions.
I started by determining the basic characteristics of the two fleeces that I carried on hikes. The results are listed below:
|Fleece Type||Brand||Jacket Weight (grams)||Measured R-Value*||Measured Clo-Value**||Grams/R|
|Heavy||Columbia||458 (16 oz)||0.43||0.49||1060|
|Light||Marmot||302 (10.6 oz)||0.30||0.34||1013|
*R-value: quantifies the ability of a material to resist the flow of heat
**Clo-value: Quantifies the ability of a fabric or garment to resist the flow of heat.
Thermal resistance testing was conducted using my permeation kettles and my Flir A655SC thermal imager.
You can read about how I test R-values here.
The images below show the thermal tests of each fleece jacket in comparison with the new Micro Puff.
Patagonia Micro Puff Insulation Evaluation
The thermal image produced by the test is shown below: