When I moved to Colorado years ago, I didn’t own a single puffy jacket. Moving from New York City, I saw the puffy jacket as an unnecessary marshmallow that everyone in Denver was wearing. Then I went on my first high alpine backpacking trip and my relationship with puffy jackets completely changed. Since then, my puffy jacket journey has taken me far and wide, trying many different types and sizes. My latest puffy love is the Patagonia Women’s Micro Puff Hoody.
The thermometer in my car read 2 degrees Fahrenheit as I pulled up to the base of Arapahoe Basin. I was about to skin to the top of the mountain and enjoy a secluded snowboard run all the way down before the lifts even started running. I wore base layers, a Patagonia Nano Puff, and the Micro Puff as my outermost layer. One of my concerns with this jacket would be lack of breathability, but luckily I made it to the top of the mountain, warm, but not sweaty. The Ultralight nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum shell held up as I threw my split board around, carrying it back to my car.
The new type of puffy on the scene is filled with synthetic material that keeps you warm while also staying waterproof and washable. Patagonia uses ‘Pluma Fill’ which boasts all three of those traits. This is why I felt confident taking it on the slopes. Often times, the feathers in down-fill jackets will move around and create cold holes that let the elements seep in. The Pluma Fill avoids that situation and keeps you warm even after years of wear. Patagonia goes a step further with a specific fabric stitch structure that ensures even warmth throughout the entire piece.
Pros: The warmth to weight ratio is unbeatable in its class. Patagonia packed as many features as it could into this jacket, without adding any extra weight. The cuffs and waist are elastic to keep you warm, the hood fits under a helmet, and the fit allows for layers under and over if need be. I am confidently warm putting this jacket on, even at 2 degrees Fahrenheit. While the shell and fill are strong features, my favorite element of this jacket is the packability and weight. Coming in at a whopping 8 ounces for the women’s medium, it’s the lightest jacket I own. It packs into its own pocket to create the perfect water bottle sized addition to your backpacking list. This is the jacket you want for that backcountry hut trip or multiday climbing adventure.
Cons: All my other Patagonia jackets are smalls. When I tried on the small, I wasn’t fit to go out in public. So I sized up to a medium, and the fit was just what I was looking for. While I did manhandle my snowboard while wearing this jacket, I’m not positive it would stand up to daily abuse from sharp metal edges. This may not be your daily puffy, maybe it’s your specialty puffy. It isn’t built as a rain jacket replacement when backpacking, the DWR (durable water repellent) finish repels some, but not all. Make sure to grab a specific waterproof layer before setting off in the mountains.
Where I took it: To and from ski resorts on the I-70 corridor to skin and splitboard, long hikes around Summit County, to the Rio for margaritas, a flight to and from the East Coast where I could only bring a backpack.