By the Numbers: Patagonia Worn Wear Micro Puff vs. New Micro Puff
Dec 1, 2020 at 9:18 am #3686671Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
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.
In his first column, Stephen examines thermal imaging from a new Patagonia Micro Puff and one purchased from Patagonia’s Worn Wear program.Dec 1, 2020 at 12:05 pm #3686697PaulWBPL Member
@peweg8Locale: Western Colorado
Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to do this.Dec 2, 2020 at 12:20 pm #3686876Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Interesting that Pluma Fill is better than the best version of PrimaLoft – interesting and encouraging.
BUT… I’d like to see how it fares after 20 stuffings with a 4 hour stuff time.Dec 2, 2020 at 2:59 pm #3686915jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
My ancient Nano-Puff is Primaloft–I assume! maybe they changed this over the years. It still looks almost new, and is likely 20 years old with LOTS of worn time. I wear it probably five times a week all winter. Great insulation for its weight. The only downside is that it retains a sweat smell fairly easily. In a way that makes it more impressive because I wash it a lot and it’s still going strong.
I wear it in winter while skiing, but I haven’t stuffed it much over its life. I don’t take it backpacking.Dec 6, 2020 at 9:04 am #3687482Richard NBPL Member
The imaging makes it look as if a lot of heat is coming through the stitching in the older garment. Was it visibly more stressed at the seams?Dec 7, 2020 at 12:57 am #3687610Jens WBPL Member
Thank you, very interesting. It would be very cool to do the same thing with a light weight down jacket to test the old saying that these don´t degrade to the same extent, and to evaluate different “revivial” strategies.Dec 7, 2020 at 6:05 am #3687620Kelly CBPL Member
Thanks for doing this.
I would expect a new garment to do better than a used one, so no surprise.
Are you planning to “monitor” how the new Micropuff does after 5 uses? 10? 20? Be interesting to see if there’s any sort of degradation curve (how quickly the R and Clo change).Dec 7, 2020 at 8:45 am #3687633Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
It’s pretty much a given for me that synthetic fill loses loft over time, so a used one is going to reflect that. How it was used is going to make a difference.
I don’t see lightly insulated jackets as interchangeable with fleece.
Fleece is a good mid layer for active use. It breathes and is hydrophobic. It is heavy and bulky for the loft provided. It needs a shell for full performance, especially in any wind. A fleece is just a synthetic sweater.
Unless you have an “active insulation” garment, lightly insulated shells are not very breathable due to the requirement that the fabric needs to contain the fibers, regardless of synthetic or down fill. The actual loft is quite thin. IMHO, much of the warmth is from two wind shell level layers with low airflow/breathability. With sewn through construction and some degradation in loft, the thermal photos are no surprise. I would like to see photos of the fleece with a breathable wind shell or a rain shell.
Lightly insulated (60g) jackets are good grab and go items for errands or commuting and warding off a light chill in camp or a rest stop, but don’t cut it for colder weather and for active use. I prefer fleece with a wind or rain shell.Dec 7, 2020 at 11:19 pm #3687750
Eric: I don’t know that I would conclude that PlumaFill is superior to Primaloft Gold. Remember, the test I did includes the insulation installed in the jacket. So the jacket fabric and construction will impact performance in my test. It would be interesting to see how the bare insulations compare. The problem is, I have to be able to purchase the insulations to test them and I don’t think PlumaFill is available to purchase. I can retest my Micropuff. I have stuffed it many times. After each hike, I take it out and hang it. The jacket gets stuffed into its own pocket, which is not a very tight stuff.
Richard: That is a good observation. I don’t have the jacket anymore, so I can’t tell. I am not sure that stress on the seam would do it. If the threads loosened, the insulation trapped by the stitching might expand, thereby trapping more air and offering more insulation. So, you might think about what would cause more compression of the insulation at the seams in the used jacket.
Kelly: That would be interesting. I wish I had thought about that when I started using the new jacket, as mentioned above, it gets stuffed and unstuffed each time I take it out since I hang it back up after each hike. I will take a look at it and post some results.
Dale: I take your points here. When conditions require all these layers, I typically have a windproof shell over either the fleece or micropuff . The micro has its temperature limits, as you point out. So, when it is really cold, I will bring a warmer jacket, such as a Macropuff, which is nearly twice as warm as the Micropuff. For cold weather use, I agree that a fleece performs better with a windshell over it because the fleece has high air permeability. The warmth to weight ratio of fleece will be substantially less than the batt insulation in the synthetically insulated garments. I am going to have a column that specifically focuses on warmth of 100, 200 and 300 weight fleece and another that focuses on warmth of various batt type synthetic insulations. So, expect more discussion on these issues.Dec 11, 2020 at 2:14 pm #3688378Max OBPL Member
Degadation of fleece over time in comparison to high loft stuff could be interestingnas well…Jan 1, 2021 at 7:43 pm #3691735
The BPL community is lucky to have someone with your background and equipment available to accurately test such things as heat transfer and insulation value!
Since you have the equipment and experience, I would like to see an article about how much heat loss occurs from different parts of the body. I know that Ryan has already dispelled the myth that most heat loss occurs from your head (misinterpretation of a Navy study in cold water, I believe). But similar to that belief, I have recently heard it is helpful to cover your neck to avoid heat loss from the major veins and arteries close the the surface there. I have even heard that you can significantly cool yourself (during exercise in hot weather) by transferring heat through the palms of your hands.
Anyway, with so much probable misinformation abounding, it would be nice if you could provide real scientific evidence on the most important areas of the body to insulate (if there are any), or to ventilate to let heat escape.Jan 2, 2021 at 7:57 am #3691781
wow, nice measurement setup, I didn’t see this before, I’m looking forward to more measurements, thanks
I read your “How I measure” document – nice how you verified your instrument with a known sample, cork. Different thicknesses. Maybe Styrofoam would be a good material to use because it’s more consistent, the R value is written on the side of it (not that that’s accurate)
Like Dale said, micropuff synthetic insulation is known to lose loft over time, which would be consistent with your lower measured R value for used garment. Fleece loses fibers every time you wash it, but then it also loses mass, so maybe that’s not so bad. (Except for ocean life)
The grams/R is about 4 times bigger for synthetic than fleece. Synthetic has 4 times the warmth for the same weight.
I also ditched my fleece jacket and replaced it with synthetic. Same weight, 4 times the warmth. Has the same benefit of retaining warmth when wet. Maybe fleece retains warmth when wet a little better, but it’s still much worse than synthetic in my unscientific experience.Jan 2, 2021 at 8:12 am #3691783
That original navy study compared someone with no hat, to when they put on a hat.
With no hat, about half of the body’s heat loss is through the head. When you put a hat on, you save half your heat loss.
People then misinterpreted this as there’s something magical about the head. That surface area conducts more heat.
That’s not it, it’s just that if it’s really cold you’ll lose a lot of heat through your head if you’re not wearing a hat.
The problem wasn’t the original study, it was how people misinterpreted it.
“If your feet are cold, put on a hat”Jan 2, 2021 at 9:10 am #3691791
A few comments:
Bryan: Interesting concept but not something I can measure. If you look at a human body in infrared, it is all about the same surface temperature and temperature differences can often correspond to fat deposits. So, I think to look into this, I would suggest finding the navy study that has been referred to here. I have not checked into this but I am sure there are lots of material doing physiological studies on line.
Jerry: I also use extruded polystyrene foam board in 1/2″ and 1″ thicknesses so I can test to higher R values. Although the R value is printed on the insulation, that is for an average insulation temperature of 75F. Typically, manufacturers specify for R value at 3 average temperatures: 25F, 40F and 75F. This may vary. This is because the R value changes with temperature, with R value increasing at average insulation temperature drops. XPS insulation behavior is pretty linear with temperature. Other insulations, such as isocyanurate, are not. I use published manufacturer’s data to extrapolate to the higher temperatures I use during insulation testing. The same behavior is true for cork or fiberglass batts. So, R 13 rated fiberglass batts can range from R11.4 at 145F to R14.9 at -25F. Since these are manufactured products, the actual performance can vary a bit from published values.Jan 2, 2021 at 10:02 am #3691795
yeah, good point
maybe you can still get useful data without a good standard insulation sample, comparing fleece to synthetic for example. Not that important if your R values are off a little
great article and studyJan 2, 2021 at 2:31 pm #3691821StumphgesBPL Member
Stephen, a couple ideas:
1. It has been written that below a certain weight class, say sub-8 oz, the advantage in insulation efficiency offered by down over synthetic is so minimal as to be meaningless, because the amount of insulation is relatively small once the shell fabric, zipper, etc. have been added up. Furthermore, because such light jackets are most appropriate for temps when it might rain, choosing a hydrophobic synthetic insulation for jackets in this weight class makes additional sense.
Your data here seems to blow the first argument up.
2. How does equivalent weight Polartec Alpha compare to worn synthetic fill like Pluma or Climashield Apex in clo/R-value? Alpha has always been marketed as a hyper-efficient fleece, so as an “active insulation.” But presuming that Alpha maintains its loft, or can regain it with some handling, like fleece does, is it worth considering a stand-alone, or “direct” Alpha garment as an alternative to a synthetic fill garment for camp use? If we’re carrying a wind and/or rain jacket anyway, wouldn’t we have the entire weight of a synthetic fill jacket to budget toward a naked Alpha hoody?
Used Patty MicroPuff or EE Torrid Apex (~8oz class synthetic fill garments for camp/sleeping)
2 x Timmermade (~ 9 oz) + windshell or rainshell (already carried)
Which is warmer?
(The Timmermade Alpha Direct hoody is 4.5 ounces and made with the 2.5 oz/yard (90 gsm) Alpha variant; I know that thicker Alpha (120) is around but don’t know of anyone making a “direct” style, unshelled garment with it.)
Do we know much about how Alpha holds its loft (we know it’s fragile, but that’s not to important to camp/sleep use, and if covered with a shell)?Jan 2, 2021 at 6:33 pm #3691873
@stumphges, I second the request for info on how PolarTec Alpha holds its loft.Jan 2, 2021 at 6:48 pm #3691874
A few articles about heat loss from the head:Jan 3, 2021 at 2:41 pm #3691957
I am working on an insulation study that should answer some of the questions raised above. C0ncerning loft loss of Alpha, or anything else: In order to demonstrate this I really need to have a new and used garment with the same insulation type. Then, it is easy. I have some Alpha here as part of the study I am doing. I don’t think there is much I can do to this to simulate the use it would get in the field. So, for those of you who have an interest in a specific insulation and you have a used jacket with this insulation, PM me and I will try to set up a comparative test.Feb 7, 2021 at 4:03 am #3697848
I am interested to see how Patagonia Micro Puff compares with Lofttek used in Outdoor Vitals jackets and quilts.Feb 7, 2021 at 7:11 am #3697854
I have seen their website. Makes you wonder. If someone has one and wants to send it, I’d be happy to test it.Feb 7, 2021 at 2:33 pm #3697915
They might send you something if you request it: [email protected] or
(435) 572-0787Feb 7, 2021 at 2:34 pm #3697916Feb 7, 2021 at 3:51 pm #3697930
If you are willing to obtain the jacket and get it to me, I will be happy to test it. You will be responsible for returning or keeping the jacket after the test. If you want to pursue this, PM me to discuss the logistics.
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