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Patagonia Micro Puff Vest
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
 
Page Contents:



Initial Report:
Patagonia Micro Puff Vest
March 5, 2008

Tester Information

Name:
Gail Staisil
Age: 55
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 138 lb (63 kg)
Chest: 37 (94 cm)

Hip: 37 in (94 cm)
Location:
Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 18 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.


Product Information



Manufacturer
Patagonia
Website http://www.patagonia.com
Model Women's Micro Puff Vest
Color
Cranapple (Daffodil and Black are also available)
Shell Material
22-denier double ripstop polyester (90% recycled)
Lining Material
22-denier mini-ripstop polyester (50% recycled)
Insulation
3-oz Climashield synthetic (40% recycled polyester)
Tested Size
Women's Medium (Sizes XS-XL are available)
Manufacturer's  Weight  (M)
9.5 oz (269 g)
Tested Weight  ( M)
9.5 oz (269 g)
Model Year 2008
MSRP $125.00

 
 


Initial Impressions and Product Description


Design/Fit
Patagonia Micro Puff VestSelf-stowing pocket
Although Patagonia makes many types of vests in their clothing line, the Micro Puff Vest stands out as their only synthetic-insulated vest (currently). The Micro Puff Vest with hangtags arrived in great condition and in the requested color of Cranapple. The color is much like it appears on the website (darker than my pictures). All of the seams, zippers and stitching were finished very neatly.
  

Like any new clothing, I was anxious to try on the Micro Puff Vest. I had requested a Women's Size Medium even though my measurements were towards the top end of that size range. However, I noted that the vest was a "regular fit" and because I have worn other clothing from the manufacturer, I based it on that experience. I tried the vest on with a light sweater underneath and it was very non-restrictive in all areas and it really couldn't fit me any better. It will allow me to wear a few light layers underneath if desired.   

The vest itself is designed with quilted fabric side panels are that are sewn between the back section and the two front sections of the vest.This gives the vest a little extra flair and reduces the bulk on the sides. The armholes are encased in a matching stretch fabric. The only adornment on the vest is the logo "Patagonia" located on the lower left side of the vest.

The materials used to make the Micro Puff Vest are mostly recycled. The exterior windproof shell is fabricated with a double-ripstop polyester fabric that is 90% recycled. The interior lining is a mini-ripstop polyester that is 50% recycled and the high-loft Climashield insulation is comprised of 40% recycled polyester. All of the fabrics are silky smooth to the touch.      


More Features

Center Zipper and High CollarHigh collar with fold-over flap
 

The front of the vest features a full-length center zipper with a sturdy pull tab. The zipper extends high up to chin height and the top of the zipper has a folded-over section of fabric to presumably add comfort to the neck area when the zipper is closed. The zipper's windflap is also backed by matching grosgrain ribbon. This allows the zipper to operate smoothly and it performed nicely the few times I zipped it shut.

There is one design feature that really caught my attention. The vest features a 3 in (7.6 cm) tall collar. I really like the height of this collar as it can be used to protect the neck air from cold and wind. There is a hang loop inserted into the lower edge of the collar insert for convenience.



Pockets and Hem Adjusters

The Micro Puff Vest features several types of spacious pockets. Two angled exterior pockets are located one each on either side of the vest. Both pockets are equipped with an invisible zipper that allows access to the roomy interior space of approximately 10 in (25.4 cm) in height and 6 in (15.2 cm) in width. They are placed strategically at an angle with each pocket's lower opening being placed closer to the center zipper. Adjustment cord and lock
Internal chest pocket with expansion pleat
There is also an internal chest pocket. This rectangular pocket 10 in (25.4 cm) by 5 in (12.7 cm) features a 6.5 in (16.5 cm) vertical zipper to secure items. The top surface of the pocket features a folded-over pleat that allows it to expand when filled. This pocket also serves as a self-stowing pocket for the vest. When the pocket is filled with the vest, it measures approximately 7.5 in by 4 in by 3.5 in (19 cm by 10 cm by 9cm. There is a grosgrain loop of ribbon sewn into the corner of it that can be used to attach it to a carbiner. (I stuffed the vest into the pocket to weigh it and was happy to find out that it weighed exactly as much as claimed by the manufacturer.) The website description of the product does also mention an internal mesh drop-in pocket but it simply isn't there. Maybe it was a last minute design change.

The interior of the vest features a single adjustment cord with a cordlock located near each end of the lower edge of the vest. The cordage is encased in a tunnel and is pulled through buttonholes and then adjusted with the cordlocks.


Care

Care instructions are printed on a tag that is inserted into one of the internal seams. Patagonia uses product care symbols on their tags. I had to refer to the website to interpret them. The four symbols represented on the vest indicate that it should be machine washed gently in cold water, tumble dried on a low setting, and neither bleach nor ironing is recommended.
 

So far, I'm excited about the features of the Micro Puff Vest. I'm looking forward to wearing the vest during the next four months of winter and spring adventures. I have many extended backcountry trips planned and I also will wear the vest for day activities as well.

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Field Report:
Patagonia Micro Puff Vest
May 14, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the field test period, I have worn the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest during several extended trips. They included a five-day sledge trip, and two four-day backpacking trips for a total of 13 days. In addition, the vest has been worn for snowshoeing, cross country skiing and both winter and springtime day hikes (an estimated 2 times a week or approximately a dozen times for those activities). Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lake shores and hiking trails
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


Winter Sledge Trip:

Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Winter sledge bushwhack trip
Distance: 19 mi (31 km)
Length of Trip:
5 days
Total Sledge Load (including consumables): Estimated 60 lb (27 kg) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, mid-high humidity
Precipitation: Trace of new snow
Temperature Range: 
-4 F (-20 C) to 34 F (1 C)
 
Backpacking Trip:

Location: Mackinac State Forest - Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Bushwhack, partly snow-covered forest and swamps
Distance: 13 mi (21 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight: 42 lb (19 kg) -Included transport of snowshoes, traction device, etc.
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, partly cloudy
Precipitation:
None
Temperature Range: 23 F (-5 C) to 63 F (17 C)

Backpacking Trip:

Location: North Country Trail - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance: 41.3 m (66.5 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, partly sunny, rain
Precipitation:
0.15 in (0.38 cm)
Temperature Range: 34 F (1 C) to 62 F (17 C)
 

Performance in the Field

Usage and Comfort
 
Backpacking Usage - 13 Days
Tester wearing Micro Puff Vest during five-day sledge trip
During my first extended trip with the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest, the vest was worn almost continuously over a light Capilene top and a light fleece shirt. During the first several days of this five-day trip, it was also covered with a shell while hiking (temperatures mostly in the 10 F to 20 F/-12 C to -7 C range).

During the evenings, it was covered with an additional insulating layer or two due to the low temperatures (low of -4 F/-20 C). The last two days of the trip featured warmer temps during the hiking portion (25 F to 34 F/-4 C to 1 C) so the vest became my outer layer. As the temps climbed to above freezing on the last day, I wore the vest comfortably until I started a 2.5 mi (4 km) climb back to where we had our shuttle vehicle. 


During my second extended trip with the vest, the overall temps were much warmer compared to the first trip. While I didn't need to wear the vest during the hiking hours, it was immediately worn as soon as I made camp for the night. I layered it over two Capilene shirts (one short sleeve and one long sleeve) plus an R2 Patagonia fleece jacket.

Wearing three layers underneath the vest works for me but it certainly isn't as comfortable as wearing just one or two layers as the chest area is too constricted for that many layers. When the temperatures dropped further in the evening hours to below freezing (32 F/0 C), I added a down jacket over it. The jacket was removed for sleeping but I slept each night in the vest and shirts to supplement my 20 F (-7 C) sleeping bag. I sleep on the cold side so the sleeping bag alone wasn't enough to ward off the chilly nights.

My third multi-trip with the vest was in still rather cool conditions (low temp was 34 F/1 C) The vest was worn in conjunction with a lightweight down pullover and shell jacket at camp. Because the vest and pullover are the same size, there was no difference in comfort when the vest was worn over the pullover or when I wore it under the pullover (it was a little bit constricted but still comfortable).


Additional Usage- Approx 12 days

The vest was also worn for a variety of activities including snowshoeing, cross country skiing and dayhikes. Most often I started the adventure with a shell over the vest and then removed it as I warmed up. The vest is very comfortable and nonrestrictive for aerobic activities without a shell down to about 25 F (-4 C). I usually wore a hooded Capilene 4 Shirt underneath the vest for these activities. I really liked the high collar on the vest to seal in the warmth created by my activities. On some occasions, I pulled the zipper down a few inches to vent if I got too hot. The shell of the vest is effectively windproof so it keeps my torso much warmer without having to overheat my arms (in contrast to wearing a full-sleeved jacket). The stretch-taped armholes also work at keeping cold air out of the vest.

The vest has been comfortable to wear under my backpack harness and also while wearing a waistbelt to pull my sledge. It doesn't bunch up or cause any pressure spots.

I haven't used the internal chest pocket other than to store my car keys. It is designed to be dual-purpose and also serve as a stuff sack but I would prefer an external pocket in that area. It would be easier to access while wearing a pack. The handwarmer pockets have been used a few times to store my light gloves when my hands became too warm during an activity. All of the pockets are roomy but were restricted in usage due to me wearing so many layers.


So far, I have mostly worn the vest in tandem with other layering garments. It has worked well even though the vest isn't particularly roomy especially in the chest area. The vest fits much better with just a single underlayer and I intend to use it more in that fashion during the long term period when the weather should be warmer. All of my trips have been in cold-to-cool weather so I have needed to use more insulation than just the vest. The vest has been warmer and bulkier than I envisioned but the former has been an attribute in this climate.

Although the vest can be stuffed into the interior chest pocket, I usually just stuff it in my pack around the other items. So far, during my other activities I haven't had to remove the vest except for one time as noted above.

In addition, I like the bright color of the vest and its simple design. Although I haven't yet worn it for casual wear, I think that it's an attractive garment that can be worn just about anywhere.
 
 

Care and Durability

So far, the vest has been very easy to wash. It has been machine washed and lightly dried three times (primarily because it has been used often). I haven't noticed that it easily soiled or held any odors.

I did have one mishap with the vest but luckily I was able to wash away the stains that occurred due to a simple mistake. On my first trip with the vest, I became too hot as I climbed an uphill grade lasting a couple of miles (5 km).
Instead of stopping and stowing the vest in my sledge (as I should of done), I decided to just wear the vest around my waist in case I needed to put it back on quickly.

The aluminum traces on my sledge unfortunately stained two areas of the vest (approx 1 in by 2 in/ 2.5 cm by 5 cm) as the vest became in contact with them. I didn't notice it until someone in my group mentioned it and by then the damage was done. My heart sank when I looked at the vest.

Upon my return home, I did some investigation as to what would remove aluminum oxide. Harsh chemicals were mentioned and I knew I better find a safer attempt for removal. I used my liquid laundry soap plus some solid detergent granules to scrub the areas and I had to soak and repeat the procedure several times. I finally was satisfied that the stains were gone and it appears
to be as good as new.

The vest has been exposed to bushwhacking through trees and rough vegetation but luckily it hasn't harmed it in any way. The zippers have been easy to operate and they haven't become stuck. Even though the invisible zippers on the handwarmer pockets are a bit harder to open, I've been able to do it while wearing gloves.

In the long term period, the Micro Puff Vest will likely see little wear during warmer temperatures during the daytime hours but there will still be cool evenings. I look forward to evaluating its usage and comfort and will look at the durability and care over the long haul.

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Long Term Report:
Patagonia Micro Puff Vest
July 14, 2008

Locations and Conditions

During the long term test period, I have worn the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest during two more multi-day trips. They included a four-day backpacking trip, and a two-day backpacking trip for a total of six days. In addition, the vest has been worn for hiking and cool evening wear (an estimated 2 times a week or approximately more than a dozen times for those activities). Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lake shores, islands and hiking trails
. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1200 ft (366 m).


Late May Backpacking Trip:

Location: Fox River Pathway and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Trail
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance: 58.25 mi (94 km)
Length of Trip:
4 days
Backpack Weight: 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain, snow
Precipitation:
0.50 in (1.27 cm)
Temperature Range: 37 F to 54 F (3 C to 12 C) (mostly 40 F to 45 F/ 4 C to 7 C)
 
July Backpacking Trip:

Location: Grand Island National Recreation Area
Type of Trip: Maintained trail
Distance:  22 mi (35.5 km)
Length of Trip:
2 days
Backpack Weight: 22.5 lb (10.2 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, Partly Sunny, High Humidity, Windy, Extreme Flying Bugs
Precipitation:
None 
Temperature Range: 64 F to 78 F (18 C to 26 C)  

Performance in the Field

Summary

Over the last four months I have found the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest to be a lightweight insulated vest that is a very versatile layering piece of clothing. It has layered well with one or two light pieces of clothing underneath and can easily be worn under a multitude of types of jackets. It has been extremely comfortable and breathable when wearing it in a wide range of temperatures (-4 F/-20 C to 64 F/18 C). The vest has been very durable and it can be easily washed. 


Long Term Period Usage and Comfort

The Patagonia Micro Puff Vest has been a valuable part of my wardrobe during the last two months. Spring and early summer weather has been veryThe Micro Puff Vest as part of a rain layering system (self-portrait) cool here and I have not only worn the vest after aerobic pursuits but during them as well.  During my late May solo backpacking trip of four days, the vest was worn continuously until the last three hours of the trip. With wet conditions and low temps, I also wore a light wind jacket and rain jacket over the vest during all hours of backpacking other than the aforementioned.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vest didn't accumulate any noticeable moisture nor did I feel too warm even though I walked well over 50 mi (81 km) with it on in temps from 37 F to 45 F (3 C to 7 C) while wearing both jackets as well. My top underlayers consisted of a Patagonia Capilene 4 Hoody and sports top. Before I retired to my sleeping bag each night, I removed the wind and rain jackets but kept the vest on over the hoody. The vest was truly an indispensable piece of clothing during this trip due to the very damp and cold conditions.

The high collar on the vest has continued to be one of my favorite features. It acts almost like a built-in neck gaiter. I normally wear my hair in braids so my neck area is very exposed. Zipping up the vest's integrated collar seals the warm air inside and is very cozy. I usually keep the neck area open during activity for venting but seal it back up when I stop activity.
The insulated windflap with grosgrain ribbon has no doubt eliminated the center zipper from snagging as well as keeping drafts at bay.

During my second backpacking trip in the long term period, the weather was much warmer during the day (64 F to 78 F/18 C to 26 C). I only wore the vest during the morning hours at camp and I also used it as a pillow for sleeping. It was stored in my pack during hiking hours. I stuffed it in its self stowing pocket and placed it in the outer pack pocket in case it was needed.
 
Other than for backpacking and dayhiking, I have kept the vest handy to wear for quick jaunts outside. Living very close to the vast waters of Lake Superior, the nights cool off rather fast in the early part of evenings. It has been a perfect garment to take off the chill. I even wore it when I walked down to the lake to watch the Fourth of July fireworks as the evening temps dropped below 60 F (16 C).

The pockets have been more handy in the long term period as I often wore the vest without a covering jacket. I can easily place my hands in the roomy  pockets to warm my hands or store small items. The carbiner loop inside the chest pocket has been handy to clip my car keys to although it is probably intended to clip the vest itself to a carbiner on the inside of a backpack or other. I haven't used that pocket for much else as it seems too constrictive on me. I have found the style of the vest to blend well with many types of clothing being equally attractive when worn with non-trail type clothes.


Care and Durability

During the long term period, the vest has been washed and dried an additional four times. Because I have worn it often for aerobic activity I like to keep it clean although it didn't particularly look or smell dirty. The fabric of the vest has held up well in addition to all of the zippers. It appears that the DWR finish is holding up on the vest as I have walked in light misty rain with it on and it has not penetrated the surface of the fabric. Most activity during the long term didn't involve bushwhacking but just the ordinary wear experienced while wearing a backpack.
 

Overall Pros
  • Versatile layering piece
  • High and protective collar
  • Stretch armholes prevent cold air from entering vest
  • Handy pockets
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Easy to wash and dry

Overall Cons
  • More bulky to pack than expected
  • Internal chest pocket is hard to access while wearing a pack

Tester Remarks 

The Patagonia Micro Puff Vest will continue to be an important part of my wardrobe after the testing period is complete. Thanks to Patagonia and BackpackGearTest for this great opportunity to test the Micro Puff Vest. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series. 



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