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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Patagonia Micro Puff Vest > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Women's Micro Puff Vest by Patagonia
Reviewed by Jamie
Product Information Back to contents
Product Description Back to contents
The Patagonia Micro Puff Vest is a full front zip, synthetic fill garment made of lightweight recycled polyester and treated with a DWR finish. The manufacture claims it's, "exceptionally warm when wet, durable, light, soft and compressible; insulation won't drift or quilt". The one I received is a light yellow color with grey lining and trim. The trim around the arm holes is slightly stretchy. Below the arm holes on each side are quilted panels (pictured below right). These bring the vest in a little and give it more of a woman's shape. The vest has two exterior zipper pockets and one zippered chest pocket (pictured below left) that also works as a stuff sack. Along the bottom hem there is a draw cord with a spring loaded toggle at each end. The front zipper is backed with a windflap that has a slightly ridged piece of nylon sewn to it. This serves as a zipper guard. At the top of the zipper is an extra bit of material that keeps the zipper from hitting the user's chin.
The Micro Puff Vest arrived last Thursday, February 28th in perfect condition. I looked over the seams, zippers and the draw cord and they are all in good working order. I did not find any loose threads, snags in the fabric or otherwise unacceptable blemishes on either the interior or the exterior fabric.
A standard Patagonia hang tag was the only enclosed informational material. Obviously the nature of this item doesn't warrant much instruction. The tag did, however, include some general information in several languages about the manufacturer's guarantee, the garment's fit, the insulation and finally a statement that its windproof. Curiously, care and cleaning information were noticeably absent from both the hang tag and the garment tag. The garment tag shows a couple of symbols that commonly accompany washing instructions but the words to that effect are missing.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
The Micro Puff Vest was well pictured on the Patagonia website so it was nearly exactly what I was expecting. The only exception is one pocket. The website says there is, "one internal mesh drop-in pocket" but the vest I received does not have this feature. It has the two exterior hand warmer pockets and the chest pocket that functions as a stuff sack but that is it.
If I were going on looks alone, I'd say Patagonia has a winner. The vest is very stylish and the fit is just perfect for my figure. I love the soft feel of the fabric, if it weren't for the incessant static I'd probably try to wear it all day. I've already worn it about three times while zooming around town and it's very comfortable. I'm looking forward to getting it in the field and using it in cooler conditions so I can see how well it really performs.
Since receiving the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest at the end of February I have worn it many times around town, during six day/night hikes and on one overnight camping trip. Unfortunately, by the beginning half of May it became too hot to use the vest in the lower elevations of the state and I did not have any out-of-town trips planned at that time. I will be using the vest again in June and July during a couple of camping/hiking trips I have planned in some higher elevations.
Field Tests Back to contents
Hikes this month lasted between two and four hours and took place in a local desert mountain preserve near my home. Elevations in the preserve range from 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 2,100 ft (640 m).
The month of March is pretty wacky here in the lower desert region of Arizona. High temperatures can jump around from day to day and that makes choosing clothing difficult. As an example, this year we had an 82 F (28 C) degree day then two days later it was only 63 F (17 C). The lows on the other hand appear to remain fairly steady. Most of March hovered in the 40's F (5 - 9 C). Being a native desert dweller I get chilled pretty easily. For me, these temperatures definitely warrant at least a jacket or sweatshirt when stopped and depending on wind and how much I'm working, either a windbreaker or long sleeve while hiking. For the test I ditched my usual hiking garb and used the Micro Puff Vest as my main outer insulation instead. The vest was amazingly warm for such a thin garment, even over a short sleeved tee, which was how I wore it most of the time.
On one outing the wind was blowing pretty hard so I wore the vest over a windbreaker and I was snug as a bug. I could actually feel heat building up around my back and shoulders a few minutes after putting it on. On more than one trip I had windy conditions and so far the manufacturer's claim that the vest is windproof appears correct. With the zipper and collar up I could not feel any wind penetrating the vest. I don't have any useful input to add regarding the fabric's water repellency yet but I'm hoping for a chance to test that in June when the monsoon season starts in the mountainous region of the state.
I brought the vest with me on three outings during April but was only able to wear it on two of them. One was a night hike (same info. as March hikes above) and one was an overnight camping trip with my family. The weather was very mild on our camping weekend with only gentle breezes and an overnight temperature of about 55 F (13 C). I wore the vest the whole evening while around the campfire and I slept in it. The day hike where I packed the vest but did not use it was a five hour trek in a desert conservation area north of Phoenix. The temperatures were in the low 80's F (27 - 29 C).
I wore the vest for the longest continuous amount of time while camping, about fourteen hours total, and both fit and function were good. The vest worked nicely with a day pack while traipsing around with my kids. It didn't bunch up or ride up while I was moving, sitting or bending. I found it very comfortable to sleep in too. I only had a light sleeping bag with me so I slept with the zipper fully zipped up for maximum warmth conservation. I was watching for ride up at the hem, exposing my back to cool air or for the collar or arm holes to feel too restrictive but none of those things happened. Instead I was very cozy and toasty warm the whole night.
My only complaint regarding fit, and it is extremely minor, is the collar and just one side of the collar at that. It's the right side, which has the rigid windflap. The slightly inflexible nature of the flap causes the collar on that side to stick up unless I consciously fold it over when the vest is zipped up halfway or more. The upright collar hits me in the chin, which is annoying enough to mention but easily remedied so not really a big strike overall.
After the campout I had to wash the vest because it smelled a little too much like the campfire for my liking. Since the English washing instructions are curiously missing from the garment tag, I took an educated guess and washed it using the delicate cycle in cold water with other colored items. For drying I hung it on my clothes line out of direct sunlight. It washed easily and afterward looked and smelled as good as new. No problems what-so-ever with this process as far as I can tell.
On the day hike where I carried the vest but did not become cool enough to wear it I had it stored in my pack in its stuff sack/chest pocket. I liked this feature because it eliminated having an extra stuff sack and it does compress the vest quite nicely. I'm a big fan of convenience which means if there's a stuff sack or straps involved and it takes more than twenty seconds to find or fiddle with, I'll probably leave it at home. I'd rather just shove the item into my pack, especially things I will probably be pulling back out again at the next rest stop. With the built-in pocket/stuff sack, I didn't really have an excuse not to use it.
Likes and Dislikes So Far Back to contents
Unfortunately, temperatures in my neck of the woods have not been cold enough to wear the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest so testing efforts have for the most part been put on hold until fall. The last couple months have not been a total loss, however, I have used the time to gather details regarding a few other aspects of this garment, which are noted below. I will also be posting an addendum to this report around the end of Nov. or early Dec. at which time I expect to have had several more opportunities to actually wear the vest and gauge its effectiveness in colder and hopefully wetter conditions.
I have carried it fully compressed using the chest pocket/stuff sack on three different day hikes and over four consecutive days in my car camping duffle bag. On all occasions I found this feature very convenient since I did not have a separate stuff sack to worry about misplacing. I also felt the vest fit into the pocket easily. Even on the occasion where I had a pair of thin glove liners in one pocket I was able to fit the vest into the stuff pocket. Granted it was more difficult but it did work. I have to admit I was worried about catching the material in the zipper when closing and opening the pocket, but with careful consideration I managed it without incident. I don't think this issue needs to be improved unless it can be done without adding weight to the garment. It really wasn't that big of a deal since catching the zipper can easily be avoided with attentive zipping practices.
The Micro Puff Vest is not what I would call poofy to begin with. Its slender cut is actually part of its charm as far as I'm concerned. But after removal from its stuff sack pocket, especially after four days in that cramped condition, it certainly felt more compressed. It was also very wrinkly, luckily not really a backcountry issue. I gave it a couple of good shakes to spark the re-lofting process and then draped it over my bag. I kept checking it every ten minutes or so until it felt "normal" or at least how I remembered it before it went into the stuff sack. It took just under an hour before I was satisfied that it was back to its pre-stuffed state.
Summary Thus Far Back to contents
I think Patagonia has made a very nice garment. It's been warm, wind resistant, comfortable, packable and it looks nice, other than right out of the stuff sack. With the exception of the outer fabric's DWR finish, which I have not put through any paces yet, all the manufacture claims have been accurate. I am enjoying this vest so much I plan to carry it as a primary piece of gear on colder treks in the fall and winter. I found early on it worked really wonderfully in conjunction with a wind jacket so I am anxious to see what temperature this combo will take me. Please watch for this and any other information I gather in my forthcoming addendum.
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