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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Patagonia Micro Puff Vest > Test Report by Leesa Joiner
Micro Puff Women's Vest
Initial Report: March 11, 2008
Field Report: May 18, 2008
Name: Leesa Joiner
Location: Western Maine, USA
Height: 5'7" (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 (70 kg)
Chest: 38 (96 cm)
Waist: 31 (79 cm)
Hip: 38 (96 cm)
My outdoor experiences include trips varying in length from one-day hikes to two-week trips. Most involve my three children. While my style isn't as 'high adventure' as some, I do enjoy the time we spend outdoors. My load used to be HEAVY - think pack mule. Now that the kids carry their own gear, plus the two oldest help carry the food, etc, my load is lighter. I go for durability over weight when selecting gear.
While outdoors, I spend time hiking, geocaching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and camping. I spend almost as much time outdoors during the winter as I do during the summer.
Product: Micro Puff Vest - Women's
Model Year: 2008
Weight as advertised: 9.5 oz (269 g)
Weight as measured: 9.2 oz (260 g)
The vest is advertised as being a 'lightweight, water-repellent vest insulated with continuous filament polyester'.
The vest is available in Cranapple, Daffodil and Black (my choice). The outside of the vest is constructed of a 1.3-oz, 22-denier double-ripstop polyester (90% recycled) with a DelugeŽ DWR finish. The front zipper is water repellent treated, and has a inner wind flap. It has a smooth feeling texture with a diamond style stitching on the side sections. There are two zippered hand pockets, located on each side seam. The 3in (8 cm) collar has slightly more fill than the body of the vest.
The inner fabric of the vest is 1.2-oz, 22-denier mini-ripstop polyester (50% recycled); Deluge DWR finish. It is quilt stitched in a horizontal layout to hold the fill in place. There are two elasticized draw cords with cordlocks - located just inside the zipper area on the bottom of the vest.
There is one zippered chest pocket on the inside left side, near the front zipper. This pocket also serves as a stuff sack, and has a small fabric loop that allows it to be clipped to a pack. When stuffed, it measures about 8 x 4.5 in (20 x 11.5 cm).
The web site lists an inner mesh pocket also -but mine does not have it.
The fill consists of 3-oz ClimashieldŽ Green continuous filament polyester insulation.The vest feels very thin.
I was very excited to test this vest as it is a first for Patagonia expanding into the synthetic fabric area. Part of my interest in that is due to the supposedly superior drying times for some synthetics.
The vest is very comfortable to wear, although it is closer fitting than most of my jackets or vests. I requested a size large, and fall within the suggested size recommendations. I will be looking at what I can wear under it when the weather is cold. So far, I have worn it over a long sleeve t-shirt and it was fine.
All the zippers work smoothly and are easy to manipulate. The stitching is well done, and intact. It appears to be very well constructed. I like the fact that it is long enough to come down below my waistline. I did not feel my movements were restricted at all, even with the close fit.
Care instructions as indicated on the website suggest washing using cold water, on the gentle cycle, and drying on low.
The vest was just about what I was expecting from the information on the website, but I was pleasantly surprised by how light weight feeling it is.
Some of the things I'll be looking for include how well it holds up to four months of use, what I am able to wear under it, and if wearing something over it works for very cold weather. I am also curious as to how well it works in very cold weather, and then when the weather warms up. I did wear it on a very short snowshoeing walk. I was able to unzip it and felt comfortable, at least from the temperatures, not so from the altitude. Thankfully, I avoided the ski patrol!
Over the last two months, I have worn the Micro Puff vest on eight snowshoeing trips, along with more than 10 days hikes, and numerous other occasions around town, and while traveling.
Some of the things I find I like about the vest include:
* Fit allows for great range of motion, with no restriction.
* Zipping and unzipping allows for easy control of body temperature.
* Durability - the vest has held up well, especially considering how many times I fell while wearing it.
* Blocks wind effectively
* Easy to store in my pack or travel bag, and it comes out without wrinkles.
The primary use this vest has seen is while snowshoeing and hiking. The temperatures at the beginning of the test period were below freezing, and we still had lots of snow cover. Gradually, the temperatures have increased and we've even seen a few days in the 70s F (21 C). Night temperatures are still in the 40s F (4 C), so I continue to wear the vest for early morning hikes.
On one all day snowshoeing adventure, I wore the vest over a long sleeve Scottevest Performance Tee Shirt, and a long sleeve fleece pullover. When I started out, it was 20 F (-6C) and overcast. As the day went on, the sun came out and the temperatures increased to the mid - 40s F (5 C). My daughter, son and I went to a local trail that is through a heavily wooded area, and has some slight gains in elevation. The trail is wide, but rocky in areas. As I warmed up, I unzipped the vest and felt more comfortable. Later in the morning, after exerting myself a bit, I found I was too warm, so I pulled off the fleece, and put the vest back on. Now I was too cool, so I zipped up. I'm glad the zipper works so smoothly - it definitely got a work out. I was impressed with how easy it is to control how warm/cool I am just by using the zipper. I was a little concerned about the fit of the vest over anything bulky - it wasn't restrictive, but it was snug. I found that it wasn't a problem after a few snowshoeing trips. I managed to lose a few pounds, and that made a difference in the fit. I ordered a large and even though I was not at the higher end of the large range, it was a close fit.
I also had the opportunity to wear the vest on a short climb on snowshoes while in Utah. It was about 50 F (10 C) and the sun was very bright. It was an absolutely beautiful day with no wind. I had just got off an airplane though, so I didn't make it too far before the elevation (approx. 8500 ft ( 2590M) ) made me wimp out, since my elevation at home is about 1000 ft (305 M). I was glad I had the vest on though - being able to unzip it and cool off quickly was great. I only had on a light weight long sleeve shirt underneath the vest. I did find that the vest shed snow easily, without leaving behind any wet areas. I spent a few minutes in the snow. Not sure how I got there (I think I was pushed), but getting up proved to be a challenge. The snow brushed off easily, I only wish my pants were made from the same material. I wore the vest the rest of the weekend when I went out - and appreciated how comfortable it was. I like that it is nice enough looking to wear out somewhere nice, but casual. I also found it easy to wear on an airplane - and it makes a great pillow if needed.
On one of my day hikes in early April, we went into New Hampshire, and hiked along the Saco River. The ground still had about 24 in (61 cm) of wet, slushy snow. The temperatures were in the mid - 30 F (-1 C) degree range F (-1 C). We had tried snowshoeing, but we were getting soaked from all the snow that was thrown up by the snowshoes. The vest did get fairly wet, but the water all rolled off, without penetrating the outer layer. We took off the snowshoes, and managed to hike a few miles without getting soaked through. The jacket was good protection against both the wet snow, and the dampness.
In mid-April, we had a good snowstorm that dropped 20 in (C) of snow and led to school being canceled. That called for a day out snowshoeing. My daughter and I started out early in the morning, anxious to make the first tracks in the snow. Obviously, it doesn't take much to amuse us! It was 28 F (-28 C)when we left the house at 8 a.m., with winds that were blowing at about 20 mph (kph). It felt very cold, and I was thinking that the long sleeve T-shirt, fleece and vest might not be enough to stay warm. Once I got moving though, I found that I was very comfortable. I loved how the vest blocked the wind from cooling me off. Once again, being able to unzip as I warmed up was great. We were gone about 4 hours, and when we returned it had warmed considerably and was in the high 30s with bright sun. I had removed the fleece, and wore the vest open. For part of the morning, the vest was stuffed in my pack, as the fleece was enough. When I pulled the vest out of my pack - it looked fine, without being wrinkled.
The other times I used the vest while engaged in outdoor activities were in similar weather, terrain and elevation situations, and with similar results.
I am truly impressed with the Micro Puff vest. It has held up very well. The zipper still slides smoothly and I can actually zip it one handed. I hadn't given that much thought, until fighting with another piece of clothing that requires me to use both hands to zip or unzip it. The stitching is intact, and the 'finish' on the fabric still looks new. I'm looking forward to continued testing of the vest. Even though our temperatures are warming, the mornings and evenings are still cool. I have a 3 day weekend trip coming up in western Maine, and I'll be sure to pack the vest. It takes up little room in my pack, and is well worth the space it takes.
Long Term Report
July 21, 2008
Over the last two months I have had the opportunity to wear the Patagonia Micro-Puff vest on at least 10 occasions. All were early morning walks in the woods, or while camping. The weather during most of the time was too warm to need the vest, but since I am up by 5 a.m., the temperatures were between 38 - 50 F (3 - 10 C) and the vest came in handy.
The end of May found us hiking in Western Maine over a long weekend. The morning temperatures were about 40 F (4 C) and it was nice to slip the vest on while I made breakfast. By the time we were ready to hike, the temperatures were warming up enough to point that I didn't need the vest. It easily slid into its stuff sack and into my pack. At night it came out again, this time to serve as a pillow. I wore it over a long sleeve t-shirt, and/or layered with a fleece pullover.
Mornings before work, I try to walk the paths behind my house, and found that the vest worked well until about mid-June when the temperatures were above 50 F (10 C) and I really didn't need it. It was nice to have the vest as an outer layer while walking.
During the test period, I wore the vest while hiking, snowshoeing, walking and while doing errands. The vest was very comfortable, and although it had a snug fit at the begining of the test, fits a bit looser now that I've lost a few pounds. It has held up remarkably well over the last four months through almost continuous use. There are no obvious signs of wear, and the zipper continues to work easily. I have washed the vest in cool water and air dried it 3 times, and have been happy with the results - the vest comes out clean and smells fresh, with no adverse effects. The finish on the jacket is still smooth and it still sheds water. On a few occasions I used the vest as a pillow at night - not only did it serve that purpose well, it unrolled and looked good enough to wear, no wrinkles at all.
The vest worked very well in damp conditions, which I find make me chill much quicker than the same temperatures when dry. The vest kept me from feeling the dampness as much as I would have without it. When worn in light, misting rain, the vest did not soak through, and the water beaded up and ran off the vest quickly. It was not exposed to drenching rain during testing.
I would say some of the best features of the vest include; being able to wear it during changing weather conditions - controlling the warmth by zipping and unzipping it, the high collar which served as a great wind break and the ability to compress it into its stuff sack so it takes up little space in my pack. I also like the flexibility it adds to my outer wear choices. It can be layered over and/or under different layers. I have used it with long sleeved t-shirts, fleece pullovers, rain jackets and a down jacket in various combinations.
There is nothing I can think of that would be considered negative. I really like the vest and hope to wear it for many years to come.
Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Patagonia for the opportunity to test the Micro-Puff Vest.
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