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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Loki Midi Micro Fleece > Test Report by Peter Spiller

LOKI Midi Micro Fleece

a test report by

Peter Spiller

Initial Report:  (March 12, 2009)Tester Information
Field Report (May 19, 2009) Product Information
Long Term Report (July 17 2009) 



Tester Information:

Name:Peter SpillerBackpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking avidly since childhood.  In the last several years my passion for backpacking and kayaking has grown.  I am a Chapter Outing Leader for the Sierra Club, I have trained in Wilderness First Aid, and am a staff member for a wilderness basics course.  I enjoy solo backpacking and group trips.  I have an adaptable style that is fueled by my interest in backpacking gear.  I pack as light as possible when the situation dictates, but I am not against hauling creature comforts. I average 1 hike a week, and 1 backpack a month year-round.
Age: 38
Gender:Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Torso Length:18 in (46 cm)
Email address:phspiller@cox.net
City, State, Country:La Mesa, CA U.S.
Personal Website:www.outsidesd.com


Product Information:


Manufacturer:Loki
Loki Midi Micro Fleece
Photo from Loki's Website
Manufacturers Website:http://www.lokiusa.com/
Model:Midi Micro Fleece
Size Tested:XL
Weight (manufacturers):9oz (255g)
Weight (as delivered): 15 oz (425g) size XL
Fabrics:
Hollow Fiber Polyester Knit 
MSRP:$89.00

Initial Report:

March 12, 2009

Product Description:


The Loki Midi Micro Fleece (hereafter referred to as the fleece)  is a 100-weight hooded fleece pullover jacket loaded with unique features.  The fleece that arrived at my doorstep was a gray color referred to on the Loki website as "goat".  There is a small Loki logo embroidered on the left breast area, and two draw strings on each side of the juncture of the hood with small cord locks to retain the tension on the hood when it is pulled closed.  The front of the fleece has a zipper on the center front that extends down about 1/4 of the way down from the neck. All of the seams are double sewn, and there are black elastic gathers on the cuff of the sleeves.

Along the bottom of the sleeves is a nylon patch sewn with a small Loki tag attached on the elbow side.  The patch is not sewn to the fleece on the upper edge.  This patch is the main component of the built in "Loki Mitt" feature.  According to the Loki website, you activate the by the following procedure:

   1. "Pull sleeve over hand & insert thumb into the thumb slot."
   2. "Squeeze thumb to fingers making a ring."
   3. "Pull the mitt cover from the wrist of the sleeve to the back of your hand forming the Loki Mitt"

Deploying the "Loki Mitt"

Inside the the hood is another narrower strip of fleece sewn on each side of the hood with elastic gathers on each side.  This fabric comprises the built in face shield.  Loki indicates the instructions for using the face shield as follows.

   1. "Grab the Face Shield™ inside the back of the hood."
   2. "Pull the Face Shield™ over your head."
   3. "Pull the hood up for full coverage."

Built in Face Shield

Initial Impressions:


Upon pulling the fleece out of the package I was struck as to how traditional it appeared.  I did some research on the features of this fleece while applying for the test, and expected it to appear more technical looking out of the package.  It appears to be a lightweight stripped down hooded fleece when the unique features are stashed away.  It is only after deploying the "Loki Mitts" and the face shield that the true colors of this unique fleece are displayed.

The fit of the XL seem to be spot on.  The torso fits close to the body to allow for layering without being too tight.  The sleeve length when the "Loki Mitts" are not deployed are quite long, but this was indicated on the website as being normal.  When I first deployed the "Loki Mitts" I was concerned that the sleeve were too short in this configuration, as the mitts caused the shoulder area to tug.  It was only after I rearranged the extra fabric of the sleeves inside the mitt that I was able to gain some room, and make the fit more comfortable.  It is still somewhat bizarre to feel the movement of the mitts in the shoulder area,  and I will report back in the long term testing as to whether I get used to this sensation.

The Hood is voluminous, but it feels tight when the mask is positioned behind the head (the non-deployed postion) and my head. When the mask is deployed the large hood allows room behind it to keep the mask from binding on my face and being tight.

Quality Assessment:

The fleece appear to be very well made.  My initial inspection of it did not find any defects.  The double sewn seams appear to be very durable,  and the zippers and pull cords track smoothly.  The "Cloud 1 Micro Fleece" that is used by Loki is very soft, and comfortable next to my skim.

Conclusion:

The Loki Midi Micro Fleece is a super fleece in disguise.  When all of the features of the fleece are not deployed,  it appears similar to any other run of the mill hooded fleece, albeit a well made hooded fleece (Clark Kent).  It is only when the built-in face mask, and the built-in "Loki Mitts" are deployed that this fleece shows it's true colors (Superman).  These features make a run of the mill fleece into a mean lean insulating machine, that can save pack weight by allowing me to leave mittens and a balaclava at home.  The weight saving is somewhat mitigated by the 15 oz (425 g) weight of the XL size which is significantly heavier than the 9 oz (255g) weight listed on the website. I look forward to testing the functionality and features of the Loki fleece in the months to come.

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Field Report

May 19, 2009

Test Locations


During the field testing period the Loki Midi-Micro Fleece has seen a multitude of different conditions,  and has accompanied me on three different backpacking trips for a total of six nights in the field.

Mammoth Lakes- California
Elevation: 9500 ft (2896 m)
High Temperature: 32 F (0 C)
Low Temperature: 23 F (-5 C)
Precipitation: 0.3 in

The Midi Micro Fleece served as a mid-layer through this extremely cold, extremely stormy snowshoeing trip

Grand Canyon National Park- Arizona
April
Elevation: 6,800 ft (2,072 meters)-2,200 ft (670 meters)
High Temperature: 42 F (5.6 C)
Low Temperature: 18 F (-7.8 C)
Precipitation: 0.1 in (0.25 cm)

The Midi micro fleece was my primary mid-layer on this demanding backpack with constantly changing conditions.  The fleece was worn at least partially for each of the four days I was in the field.

Laguna Mountain San Diego County, California

April
Elevation: 4000 ft (1219 m)
High Temperature: 57 F (13.9 C)
Low Temperature: 33 F (0.6 C)
Precipitation: 0 in (0 mm)

This trip was a short overnight backpack. I used the Midi Micro Fleece as my primary insulation after making camp for the evening.




Field Performance


I have been impressed with the performance of the Loki Midi Micro Fleece up to this point in testing.  I have used the fleece primarily as a mid-layer under a breathable hard shell,  and it has kept me warm in some very cold and wet conditions.  The seemingly thin fleece packs a surprising amount of insulating capability.  

Loki in an iglooThe fleece was my primary day mid-layer while snow shoeing and shelter building through a brutal snow storm in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.  During the 36-hours we were in the field we received an excess of 2 ft  (61 cm) of snow, and the blowing wind never let up, assuring bits of snow penetrated every nook and cranny of our clothing and tents.  The Midi Micro fleece was sandwiched between a wool base layer and a breathable hard shell,  and kept me warm and dry through the entire day

I did not use the built in mitten during this trip,  as I was afraid that they would get too wet,  and render the entire fleece useless for the rest of the day.  I would have tested this theory, but I was relying on the fleece as my day insulation,  and was unwilling to compromise the fleece in the cold conditions.  As it stood,  the extra length of the sleeves, in order to accommodate the mittens meant that they would occasionally poke out of the ends getting snow on them.  I ended the day with a lot of moisture on these sleeves, although it did not compromise the warmth of the rest of the fleece.  The hood was worn for most of the day beneath the hood of my hard shell jacket and above a close fitting beanie.   It helped keep my head warm.  I used the face mask on the second day, snow shoeing back to the trail head,  and it worked well to keep the snow from biting into my exposed skin.  The mask was wet and almost completely frozen by the time I arrived at my destination.  This was not a problem at this point, but in my opinion, represents a flaw in the design of the features.   If I would have used the mask on the first day of the backpack,  and arrived at camp in the same condition, I speculate that I would not have been able to dry the fleece in a timely manner,  and it would have put the entire garment out of commission for part or all of the rest of the trip.  As it was, I did have to put on the fleece with wet sleeves on the second day.  I would like to see some way to remove the extra features of the Midi Micro fleece,  so that the body of the fleece can be used independently of the gloves or face mask.

Loki in the CanyonDuring my Grand Canyon Trip,  the fleece was my primary method of insulation.  I did not bring another pair of insulated gloves, as I knew I had the built in mittens on the sleeves.  By carrying only this fleece,  I was able to save some weight and pack space.  I was glad that I did have the mittens and face mask in the hood,  as we did experience a snow storm in the canyon. The temperature dropped significantly during the storm,  and the combination fleece, mittens and face shield under my hard shell kept me warm enough to function.  I think I would have preferred a black fleece, as I would have imparted a Ninja vibe with the mittens and face shield deployed.

I have washed the fleece four times, according to instructions, since it arrived and it still looks as good as the first day.  The craftsmanship of the garment is impeccable,  and the fabric has been durable.  The whole garment packs down pretty well for a fleece,  and  I feel that despite it being heavier than advertised the warmth to weight ratio is superb.  While the fit of the fleece is nice,  and the design is stylish,  it is not the first fleece I reach for when I am in town.  The technical features such as the mittens, and face shield get in the way when wearing it in milder weather,  and represent a little bit of a compromise as far as comfort.  The trade-off of comfort for functionality is usually worth it in the field,  but not at home when I have other more comfortable fleeces at my fingertips.


Summary


Overall I am impressed with the Loki Midi Micro Fleece.  It is a quality lightweight fleece that packs a lot of features and a lot of warmth.  Worn in conjunction with a wool base layer, and a breathable outer shell,  I have been relatively comfortable down to about 18 F (-7.8 C).  The built in mittens, and face shield help with pack weight and volume, but I have some concerns over the lack of ability to remove these features if they become wet.  Overall I really like the Loki Midi Micro fleece as an insulating garment while backpacking, and look forward to spending the 2 months of the long term testing period further evaluating this fine fleece.


Long Term Report

July 17, 2009

Test Locations

I used the Loki Midi Micro Fleece on a 5-day base camping trip that included a 2-night bakpacking trip.  I have used the fleece for a total of 11-nights in the field, and numerous uses in an urban environment during the 4-months of testing.  The trip this summer, was much warmer and dryer than my experience during field testing, and the Loki Midi Micro Fleece shined in these conditions.

Mammoth Lakes- California
Elevation: 9500 ft (2896 m)
High Temperature: 80 F (27 C)
Low Temperature: 35 F (1.7 C)
Precipitation: 0 in (0 mm)

The Midi Micro Fleece served as a  primary mid-layer for 5-days during this trip, including 2 nights backpacking near Reds Meadow.

Field Performance

As the weather has warmed, and summer swings in to full force, a new dynamic has come into play for the Lodi Micro Midi Fleece.  As of late the fleece has served as my primary source of insulation allowing me to dump the gloves and hat, and rely solely on the its multifunctional design.  While backpacking in the snow and wetter weather had me concerned about the abilities of the built in gloves and face mask after they became wet, the drier weather has eased these concerns. I now confidently carry the fleece as a means of warding off the evening chill.  The combination of the fleece and my wind resistant rain shell offers all the insulation that I need for summer time conditions.

The fleece has survived multiple washings intact, and appears very similar to when it arrived.  I cannot detect any significant pilling, and the seams and fabric have held tight without holes or loose threads.  During the course of my trips, the fleece has been very dirty multiple times with several stains; all of which washed out without a trace.  The fit remains the same as when it arrived, with no shrinkage or deformities of any kind. 

Summary

Overall I am impressed with the Loki Micro Midi Fleece as a lightweight technical insulation piece.  It is not something I would wear around town on a regular basis, but the built in features such as the "Loki Mitts" and the Face mask make it an excellent insulator for milder weather where severe cold and wet weather are not a significant factor.  The fleece is slightly cumbersome with all of the features permanently attached, but the convenience of not having to root though a backpack to find a pair of gloves, or a balaclava make up for the clunkyness of the features.

I will continue to use this fleece for backcountry trips in moderate weather, as it will allow me to replace three pieces of gear (fleece, gloves, and warm hat) with one integrated insulating mid layer.  I continue to hesitate to choose the Loki Midi Micro for colder wetter weather, not that it is not warm enough, but the permanant gloves and face shield do not allow for separate removal and drying.

This concludes my long term report of the Loki Midi Micro Fleece.  Thank you Loki and backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test this fine fleece.


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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Loki Midi Micro Fleece > Test Report by Peter Spiller



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