Description of Field Testing
We tested this jacket in the fall and winter of 2017 on hiking, skiing, ice climbing, and mountaineering trips in Alaska’s Chugach and Talkeetna mountains.
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- Performance Assessment
- Weight and Compressibility
- Insulation Durability
- Fabric Durability
- Construction Durability
- Performance When Wet
- Strengths & Limitations
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A comprehensive Synthetic Insulated Jacket State of the Market Report will be released on March 25, 2018. When that report is published, we’ll update this review with a comparison summary of this product with other notable products in the review.
What Other Believable People Think Colin Haley
Usually, Ambassadors’ opinions about how a product performs relative to other products are biased and suffer from their beginner to intermediate knowledge of gear. Ambassadors get things for free and/or are paid, and want to or need to maintain their relationship with the company. Also, Ambassadors often don’t have a large enough sample size—they haven’t used lots of products (more than ten) from different companies—to know how something compares to the competition. For these reasons, when assessing how a product performs when pitted against others in its class, I generally don’t place much weight on Ambassadors’ opinion of gear.
Colin Haley is an exception. He’s a gear geek and has learned a lot from his decades of cutting-edge alpine climbing. Here’s his take on the Micro Puff:
"I have been bringing the Micro Puff on almost every mountain endeavor that I’ve been on in the past nine months. This is one of the more exciting new products that Patagonia has come out with and, in my opinion, what makes these jackets special is a warmth-to-weight ratio that is extremely good. Most people who pick these jackets up for the first time mistakenly assume that they are down, not synthetic."Casey Shaw
Another opinion I highly respect that of Casey Shaw, Manager of Advanced Research and Development at Patagonia. He works remotely from his shop in Sante Fe, New Mexico dreaming up and building some of the best products in the outdoor industry. He often works on experimental projects with no budget or market potential, and no one is looking over his shoulder to say no to his ideas. The last time I talked to him, he spoke at length about a radically functional and cost-effective trapezoidal belt loop he designed for a pair of pants for the Delta Force elite military unit. Casey’s work that reaches the commercial market is among the most sophisticated in existence. Take, for example, the Grade VII parka.
Beyond Casey’s general expertise, what makes me value his opinion on the Micro Puff is the fact that he didn’t work on it. The jacket’s primary creators were Kevin Dee, who built a lot of the early prototypes, and Christian Regester, who, among other things, found a way to automate the quilting process. Casey says the Micro Puff is, "Really fantastic." Much to my surprise, he even bought one for his wife!But these people haven’t used the Nunatak Skaha Apex!
Unfortunately, none of these highly believable people have used the Nunatak Skaha Apex. If they did, we feel confident it would be their top pick for lightweight pursuits.
Ryan Jordan, Backpacking Light's publisher, has extensive experience with the Patagonia Micro Puff, having worn the jacket on more than 100 days of outdoor activity this past fall and winter. He offers some insights in Backpacking Light's recent Staff Picks and Publisher's Gear Guide. He notes: "the durability is impressive, and has survived wet stuffing, laundering, light bushwhacking, and rock abrasion extremely well. The insulation is holding up its loft better than any continuous filament insulation I've used, including Apex." He fairly notes that the Skaha Apex can probably be built lighter due to its customization options (lightest possible Apex insulation, hoody style, no pocket) - this was, in fact, Ryan's design strategy behind his design of the late-2000s Cocoon UL jacket, which weighed 7.5 oz in a simple hoody style using Polarguard Delta insulation. Ryan says, "if weight is the absolutely most important thing, then the Skaha Apex would be a great choice, but if features (giant interior and exterior pockets, a long hem, and full zipper) are as important, then the performance-to-weight ratio of the Micro Puff will be extremely difficult to beat, the there's something to be said about the loft:weight ratio, durability, and dry time of PlumaFill. It seems like a pretty special insulation that makes marked improvements over today's short staple and continuous filament options."
Where to Buy the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
The Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody is available at Patagonia (men's | women's) and REI (men's | women's)
This review is part of a comprehensive State of the Market survey of synthetic insulated jackets that has been ongoing for the past two years. Included in this survey:
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