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© Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC, Nov 2008 The Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket
What is it?
The Patagonia Micro Puff is a synthetic belay style jacket. It's light-weight (550g), simple, and warm when wet. It's for belaying your mate on a cold day, sticking on over your shell on a Scottish winter route, carrying on summer Alpine excursions, going to the pub in February and a host of other things.
It's not water-proof, it's not quite hard-core enough for winter Alpinism, it's not for Himalayan expeditions.
There are a host of insulated jackets on the market, some are thick, some are thin. The thicker they are, usually the warmer they are – but they also weigh more and take up loads of room in your sack. So the trade off, how cold are you going to get?
For real winter-climbing abuse you are going to need something heavier than the Micro Puff (See UKC Review of the Mammut Jacket and also a Belay Jacket overview), but for winter rock climbing and occasional Scottish routes, a jacket of a similar weight to the Patagonia Micro Puff is a good option.
The quick answer is – yes it does.
The cut of the jacket is quite large, meaning that it fits over your other clothes easily, just like it is supposed to (perfect for slinging on over your shell when belaying). The side pockets are big enough to get gloved hands in easily, but the outer skin of the pocket is only made from the shell fabric, with no insulation - so they aren't super warm. The chest pocket is large, but the opening could have been bigger, a map will squeeze past the zip, just. I couldn't get a hand in with a big glove on, but I could fit map, compass and a few twix bars in there. The large inside drop-pocket is fantastic and for winter climbing is essential. Basically it's a big pouch on the inside in which you can easily chuck your mitts, gloves or water bottle, or anything that you want to store and keep warm on a belay. Great. Also good for sticking your rock boots in when bouldering - keeping them warm whilst you rest. The drop-pocket needs to be big, easy to access and have a light elastic top. The Micro-Puff ticks all those boxes. The jacket zips are high quality YKK zips, both on the pockets and on the main zip. These are bomb-proof and have worked well. The waist draw cord works fine, but it would have been nice to have one on the neck, which brings us on to the next topic:
I have the version that doesn't have a hood. For a few extra quid I would definitely plump for the hooded version. I don't know what the hood is like, not having tested it, but it has got to be better than no hood! A winter belay jacket needs to have a hood if you are braving cold weather - be it on Ben Nevis or at The Plantation Boulders.
Fabrics and technical stuff
The shell fabric is “Lightweight, water-resistant and windproof”. It won't repel a rainstorm, but it is very windproof and the whole jacket feels very light. The synthetic lining is warm when wet, doesn't clump together and is made from recycled polyester, great.
Details from the Patagonia website:
One of the original and still one of the better lightweight insulated jackets. Lots of features that are handy, and a cut that actually fits. My advice is to get the hooded version. Going for a winter north face? Get something heavier and warmer!
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