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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Loki Midi Micro Fleece > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

LOKI Midi Micro Fleece

Initial Report - March 13, 2009
Field Report - May 19, 2009
Long Term Report - July 14, 2009

David Wilkes

 

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.net
Age: 42
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I have usually only managed time for 1-3 trips a year averaging 2-5 days, and as many day hikes as I can. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information

Manufacturer:

LOKI

Year of Manufacture:

2009

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.lokigear.com

MSRP:

US $89.00
Listed Weight: 9 oz / 255 g
Measured Weight: 14.4 oz / 406 g

Material:

100% Hollow Fiber Polyester Knit

Product Images
Image courtesy of LOKI

Product Description:
The LOKI Midi Micro Fleece is a lightweight (100 Wt), zip, hooded fleece jacket with a face shield built into the hood and mitts built into the sleeves.


Initial Report

The LOKI jacket arrived folded neatly in a plastic bag along with some LOKI stickers and a “Winter 09-10” product catalog. Attached to the zipper pull is a hangtag describing the features of LOKI jackets. This looks to be a generic tag covering the face shield and mitts common to all of the LOKI jackets. Attached to the back of the hangtag is a sticker with the specific name “Men’s Midi Fleece”, Style number, size and color of the product I received.
I was quite surprised about how much heavier the jacket I received was than what is listed in the product description on the LOKI web site (see specifications above). Since they do not specify a size, I can only assume that their listed weight is for a smaller size than the large I received.

Upon receiving the jacket, I inspected it fully. All the seams look to be in good shape, and there are no obvious flaws in the materials. I think the Camel color is much nicer than it looked on-line. The built-in face shield is pretty much what I was expecting from the description, and made from the same soft fleece material as the jacket. The mitts were also basically what I was expecting, except for the textured plastic strip extending across the palm to provide grip. This was not mentioned in any of the descriptions I read, and I did not notice it in the pictures that I saw. However in looking at the image of the Camel color jacket on their web page, I do see that this is visible. The YKK zipper has a two-part all metal zipper pull that looks durable, but maybe a bit small to handle while wearing gloves. The hood has an elastic cord with small cord locks on either side.
While inspecting the jacket I noticed how the mitts were integrated into the sleeves and wondered about what happens to the jacket if I were to tear or wear a hole in one of the mitts. It does not look like the mitts can be replaced. This is something I will have to consider during the testing.
LOKI offers the standard lifetime warranty for their products, covering defects in workmanship and materials but not misuse or normal wear.
Upon trying the jacket on the first thing I noticed was how soft the material is. This is probably softer than any other fleece I have ever owned. As advertised, this is a thin fleece jacket, hence the 'micro' in its name. The weight of the material seems to be about what I like to use for a mid layer throughout much of the Fall & Spring especially when I am expecting to be active, or when I do not anticipate the temperatures getting too cold, or as an outer layer when I just want something to keep the chill off. I have a jacket of similar design and weight and I wear it often throughout the year. The hood and face shield are easy to operate. Before receiving the jacket I wondered if the face shield would be bulky or uncomfortable when not in use, but when I tried it on I did not notice the face shield at all. The other thing I was wondering about was if the face shield had any adjustments (it does not) and if not how well it would fit. Upon trying it on the first time, I found it to fit fine, not too tight and not too loose however I will have to check this again after I replace this one for a larger size (see below).

While trying the jacket on I noticed instructions on determining the correct fit. It states to engage (the term LOKI uses for putting on the mitts) both mitts and rest both arms at your side. It states that there should be enough room so that the shoulder of the jacket is not pulling too tight. When I tried this, I noticed that my fingers were jammed against the ends of the mitts and the material along the shoulders was stretched rather tight. I followed the sizing chart when I chose the size of this jacket, in hindsight I see their sizing chart is not entirely clear when it comes to the sleeve length. With most jackets, I tend to be between a Large and X-Large. For outer layers I normally find going up a size allows me to wear a layer under if necessary, and for mid layers I normally go with the Large so it will not be too bulky to fit under an outer layer when necessary. When the mitts are not engaged I found the sleeves to be rather long (LOKI says on their web site that the sleeves are 3.5 in (9 cm) longer than standard for a proper fit of the mitts, but otherwise the jacket fits all right. However due to the tight fit when using the mitts, I contacted LOKI to arraigned getting the Large replaced with an XL. I talked to Eric who was very helpful and provided me with a Return Authorization number and an address to send it to. He said that upon receiving the jacket, as long as it was still in good condition with its original tag, he would gladly send me one of the XL’s he had in stock (he said he had 2 XL’s in Camel on-hand). Since I do not expect to receive the replacement prior to this Initial Report’s due date I will comment on the speed and accuracy of this exchange in my Field Report.

In the sizing chart (accessed via a small, easy to miss, link on the bottom right of their web page) it states a sleeve length and inseam, but with the caveat about them being longer than standard. After reading this and trying the jacket on their sizing is still not entirely clear. For example I measured my arm length (shoulder to finger tip) to be 32 in (81 cm) and by the way I read their chart a large should be adequate for me.
I think it might be a good idea if they specified a maximum length for a proper fit (e.g. measurement from collarbone to finger tip, or something similar?)

Field Report

Field Report usage summary:
  • A few walks around the neighbor hood and local parks
  • 2 short runs
  • 1 short solo backpacking trip (slept in the LOKI)
  • Daily wear (home & work at least 3 days a week since receiving the garment)
  • 3 ‘all nighters’, working on exposed ridge tops till the wee hours of the morning
  • 2 bicycle rides (road and trail)
  • 2 day hikes on local trails
  • 7 day car camp/hike/backpack trip (Bishop California)
    • 15hrs of driving there (more on the way back due to missing an exit…by 2hrs!)
    • Two nights driving/sleeping in my truck
    • One overnight hike near Lake George 10,400 ft (3170 m) – High: 72 F (22 C)/ Low: below freezing
    • One night at a campground
    • One abbreviated day hike
Wearing the LOKI while filtering water
As mentioned above in the Initial Report, the large size I initially ordered was a bit too small. I contacted LOKI to see about exchanging it for a larger size. I talked to Eric Wilson who was very helpful, he said he had two XL’s in the Camel color on hand and provided the necessary information for me to return the garment. He sent out the replacement on the same day he received mine (Friday) and I received the new one on Monday.

Upon receiving the jacket I repeated the process of inspecting the garment and trying it on. Aside from three stray strings on one mitt which I trimmed using a lighter, the garment was in the same excellent condition as the previous. The XL fits me across my (somewhat oversized) torso better than the large did, but oddly enough when following their sizing instructions (mitts on and arms hanging at my side) there is still just a bit of stretch across the shoulders (Maybe I just have long arms?). While this may be a bit contrary to their fitting instructions, I personally think it is a good fit. One of the items I wondered about was if the sleeves were too long would the mitts hang and be annoying? After wearing the jacket for two days, I found the length of the sleeves when using the mitts to be as close to ideal as I can imagine. The other thing I noticed was that the face shield in the large seemed to fit me quite nicely, snug but not too tight, while the face shield in the XL felt like it might be a bit loose.

In reviewing my Initial Report, I realized that I was remiss in reporting on a garment but not commenting on the washing instructions. There were no care instructions on the hangtag that came with the garment, and I did not see any on the LOKI.com web site. The only care instructions I have been able to identify are on the tag attached to the inside of the jackets collar. The instructions state simply:
WARM WASH
TUMBLE DRY LOW
DO NOT USE BLEACH
IRON LOW
This is followed by the normal (and highly cryptic to me) symbols for these instructions.

My first outing with the jacket was a walk to a nearby park with my kids. The temperature was about 45 deg (7 C), with chilly and gusty winds. The first thing I noticed was how well the garment resisted the wind. Being fleece, it is not windproof, and being so thin, I did not expect it to be very effective against wind. However, it did a much better job at stopping the wind than I expected. Soon after starting out on our walk I engaged the mitts. They worked well, but I noticed that the seams in the thumbs and cuffs (inside the mitts when they are engaged) are a bit annoying. I found I was able to operate my cell phone and MP-3 player with the mitts on, but only after I shifted the material such that the seams were behind my thumbs. (Having the seams sewn flat would be really nice.) I quickly found that when engaged, the mitts openings made convenient pockets and I kept my cell phone in one for much of the walk. While at the park, my 6 year old daughter who was riding her bike forgot her gloves complained that her hands hurt from being cold. My hands however were quite comfortable (this says something about the LOKI mitts, but not about my chances for receiving “Father of the Year”).

To accommodate the length needed for the mitts the sleeves run long (3.5 in / 9 cm longer than normal according to LOKI). While I despise sleeves that are too short, ones that are too long can be quite annoying. The LOKI MIDI sleeves are quite long, but they have elastic cuffs that prevent the sleeve from extending past my wrists, and so they mostly stay out of the way. The mitts when not in use are on the inside of the wearer’s wrist, and I found the bulk of the material along with the bunching of the excess sleeve length took some getting used to.

During this walk, I also used the hood, but not the face shield. I noticed I could feel the face shield against the back of my neck and that when I turned my head it would rub against the back of my ears. Otherwise the hood is large but comfortable.

On my second outing with the jacket I went for a 2.5 mi (4 km) run at a nearby track. The conditions were the same as above (45 F / 7 C and some wind). Soon into the run, my hands began to sweat and I had to disengage the mitts. The LOKI was maybe a bit warm for this activity but I wanted to see how it managed perspiration. I did get a bit sweaty, but between my synthetic shirt and the LOKI, it never got out of hand. In addition, after my run, while walking to cool down, I was not chilled in the slightest.

One day at work I ended up swapping a fleece pullover I had been wearing with the LOKI. I soon noticed that the LOKI was noticeably warmer than the one I had been wearing, despite them being of similar weight and both being zip pullovers.

On another outing, I went for a hike up Umptanum creek. It was 40 F (4 C) with a light wind when I started out and by the time I returned it was 50 F (10 C) and raining lightly. I engaged the mitts and hood right away. I took a bit of shifting to get the straps from my trekking poles over the mitts and comfortable. After a few miles, I had to remove my hands from the mitts and remove the hood as I was beginning to overheat. I did a bit of bushwhacking along with some scrambling up loose shifting mud and talus slopes and some short climbs up some rock while exploring a few of the side canyons. The LOKI did a good job at blocking the light wind and seemed to handle perspiration well. I stopped for a bit on one rock outcrop to enjoy the view. I could feel a bit of a chill due to being sweaty but this dried quickly and did not become a problem. I also used the face shield while sitting there to protect my face from the light wind. With it covering my nose it caused my sunglasses to fog. While finding my way through some brush I was surprised at how little the material snagged on the brush. The only snag I felt was when I brushed against a branch covered with small thorns.

For day to day wear the length of the sleeves and the bulk of the mitts when not in use I find a bit annoying. I have worn the jacket to work and around the house in the evenings, and I find that the sleeves/mitts get in the way when typing on the computer or attempting to cook or wash (hands, dishes, etc).

My next significant outing was a short overnight trip where I would try out hammock camping and test some gear. I hiked into a local canyon, set up camp in a stand of trees and spent the evening exploring up and down the stream. It was a warm sunny spring day and so I did not put on the LOKI until after I had set up camp. The night turned out a bit colder than I expected and I ended up sleeping in all my clothes including the LOKI. I slept with the hood on and the face shield covering my mouth. I did not sleep with the mitts on only because I was having some difficulties with my hammock and needed to be able to unzip my sleeping bag quickly. It was a cold night and I did not get much sleep (kept having to move to avoid cold spots and then would start to slip out of the hammock), but the LOKI was very comfortable.

On 3 occasions I had to work throughout the night on local ridges (about 2000 ft / 2100 m) in windy cold weather. On first occasion, I ended up putting a light wind shell over the LOKI and the combination worked quite well. I used the hood/face shield and mitts both times, and was quite comfortable.

During my trip to Bishop I slept in the LOKI 4 nights (once on the trail, once while car camping at a campground and twice in my truck while in transit). I camped just short of reaching Lake George. I had to stop due to deep soft snow. I put on the LOKI soon after setting up camp. During the night I got a bit warm and had to remove the hood, mitts, and partially unzip my Bivi. While sleeping in my hammock at a campground (at about 7000 ft / 2100 m) it got a bit below the comfort level of my hammock and I was a bit chilled most of the night and so kept the hood/face shield on all night. I did not use the mitts as I needed to occasionally readjust the hammock, and needed more dexterity than the mitts allow. During the abbreviated day hike, my father-in-law slipped into an icy stream (air temp around 45 F/ 7 C). I was wearing the LOKI, but since he was wet from head to toe I insisted he remove his wet jacket and use the LOKI until we were able to get to a lower elevation and some warmer conditions.

I have worn the jacket at least 3 days a week since receiving it. I have worn it around the house and yard, I slept in it on my basement couch twice (the LOKI is incredibly comfortable), and I have worn it to the office. I have worn the LOKI on 2 bike rides, once to the office and back and once on a combination of road and trail. I have also worn it to coach my daughter’s soccer team a few times (the field is quite exposed and has been windy and cold).

Field Report Summary
Using the mitts and faceshieldI really love the LOKI MIDI micro-fleece jacket! It is by far my favorite garment and I think my wife is getting tired of how often I wear it. When it comes to outdoor products I put a high emphasis on items that serve multiple purposes and/or work in a wide range of conditions. The LOKI is a good example of what I look for. It is far more wind resistant than any of my other fleece garments. It allows sweat to escape while still being warm, making it comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. It is comfortable enough to sleep in. The face shield and mitts are very handy and convenient. However, the long sleeves and bulk of the mitts when not in use take a bit of getting used to. The long sleeves can get in the way when doing things like washing my hands or cleaning up the dishes. The only things I can think of that might make the product even better may not even be possible. I would love it if the seams in the mitts were flat (but is that possible while still retaining the elastic cuffs?) and if the face shield could be adjustable (removable?) it would make an already great garment slightly better.

Long Term Report

Usage during the long term reporting period:
•    Overnight backpacking trip to Umptanum Falls with my 6-year-old daughter (her first backpacking trip!)
•    3 day family camping at Bumping Lake Washington
•    Day hike into the Goat Rocks Wilderness from White Pass

During the long term testing period it has been quite warm, and as such I have not worn the LOKI Micro Fleece as much as I had been previously. I still wear it around the house some nights when the basement is cold, and while I took it with me on one additional backpacking trip, the temperatures were way too warm to wear it.

I wore the jacket two evenings while camping with my family. The evenings and mornings were a bit chilly and the mosquitoes were ferocious! The jacket did a good job at keeping the chill as well as the mosquitoes off. The weather was warm enough for me to sleep in my hammock on the second night. I wore the LOKI all night allowing me to leave my sleeping bag unzipped and mostly open. I also kept the hood on, but only to keep the bug netting from lying directly on my skin.

On the last day of the test period I headed into the mountains in search of some rain, since I am also testing a pair of rain gators. The weather has been so hot lately that I only brought the LOKI as an afterthought, never expecting to wear it. As it turned out by the time I reached the ridge top I was in dense fog (some freezing fog), with temperatures around 35 F (1.6 C) and a strong wind that was chilling me through my rain gear. So I put the LOKI under my rain jacket, put the face shield over my mouth and nose, cinched the hood around my face, and engaged the mitts. The rest of the time I was up there I was quite warm and comfortable. Comfortable enough in fact, to stop and eat my lunch while enjoying the seclusion of a foggy mountain ridge despite the wind and damp. Sadly, my camera did not fare so well and the lenses was so fogged that I was unable to get any usable pictures. During this last trip I slipped on some soft snow and ended up grabbing some muddy rocks. The fleece picked up some of the mud, but this was easily rubbed off. It made me think that the mitts might be made a bit more durable if the area over the fingertips was covered with the same material as used on the palms. But that is just nit picking.

The LOKI Micro Fleece hanging unusedConclusion
The Loki Micro Fleece quickly became my favorite jacket for home, work, and trail. I have found it comfortable for a wide range of temperatures and so comfortable that I enjoy sleeping in it. And that is saying something since I prefer to sleep in as little as possible! In going over the garment again, I see very little indication of wear. It seems very durable. I still wish the face shield was adjustable (elastic along the top maybe?), and worry what happens when (if?) I wear a hole in the mitts (I tend to wear out the fingertips of most of my fleece gloves). But since I can find no visible sign of wear yet, this may take a long time.

I fully intend to continue to wear the LOKI (often) after the conclusion of this test and have recommended the garment to a number of friends and family.


This concludes my Report. I would like to thank the folks at LOKI and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this fine product.

 



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Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Loki Midi Micro Fleece > Test Report by David Wilkes



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