Patagonia’s new insulated jacket, the Micro Puff Hoody, is not insulated with down, but with PlumaFill, a synthetic fiber. I’m very much aware of this, but each time I pick up the jacket my brain says: “Well, here is a down jacket.” It’s uncanny. I’m writing about it right now and looking over at the jacket and I’m still thinking that it’s down, not synthetic. It looks like a down jacket. Feels like one too. It will fool anyone who wears down insulated anything.
This is intriguing.
Patagonia says that the Micro Puff Hoody, at a mere 9.3 ounces for a men’s medium and 8 ounces for a women’s, is the lightest synthetic jacket they’ve ever made, but as far as I can tell, this is lighter than any down jacket they make either, squeaking under the 10.5-ounce (men’s) Ultralight Down Hoody. Maybe even more important than the weight, though, is the compressibility, typically the achilles heel of a synthetic jacket.
As you can see, compressibility isn’t much of a problem here:
Supposedly the PlumaFill won’t shift and bunch like down can, but the shell of the jacket is sewn with a weird quilting pattern with offsets and what look like asymmetrical sections to help keep the insulation further in place. The pattern is also intended to let heat move freely around the jacket. Fewer quilted seams also keeps weight lower. The shell is really light too, made from Pertex, DWR-treated 10-d ripstop that, you guessed it, feels like it belongs on a down jacket. It all adds up to a piece of insulation I’ll definitely have in my pack when I value the holy trinity of lightweight, compressibility, and maintaining warmth if wet.
The fit, common for the Patagonia jackets I’ve worn, is on the boxy side, but I’d likely be wearing this over a midlayer so that’s not much of a problem. To keep things simple and lightweight, there are no drawcords to tighten the hood or the waistline. Simple elastic will have to do. Two zippered side pockets and two inner drop-in pockets are all the features you get, not including of course the lightness and packability.
It’s far too hot in California these days to get an idea of how warm this jacket will be, but it certainly feels toasty and on par with every other down insulated jacket in my closet. Even though it’s not down, it’s synthetic. I swear I’ll remember this eventually.
This fall and winter I’ll have it along on some backcountry trips and can report back how well it insulates when frightfully cold, and compare it to some other jackets doing their best to skirt the down/synthetic divide.
$299 • BUY