Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Review 2018

  • Ultralight Backpacker

Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Overview

Patagonia’s reputation for environmentally friendly, long-lasting gear precedes the high price tags of their merchandise. The company, which prides itself on making top-tier gear while pushing the boundaries of environmentally positive practices, claims that their latest Micro Puff Hoody is the best warmth-for-weight synthetic jacket that they’ve ever built. Ever.

That’s a bold move Cotton, let’s see if the claim pays off for them.

The Micro Puff Hoody is stuffed with Patagonia’s lofty PlumaFill insulation, a unique synthetic insulation that mimics the structure of down feathers to provide maximum warmth and packability while maintaining the wet weather benefits of synthetic material. The MicroPuff is ultralight at a cloud-like 9.3 ounces and its durable construction comes backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.

After testing and comparing against synthetic jackets on the market, we’re awarding the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody the Premium Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.

While it works for other backpacker types and in scenarios on and off trail, for the high price we think it’s best for those wanting to go as ultralight as possible. You can get a warmer, heavier, cheaper synthetic jacket in the Rab Xenon X or the Montbell UL Thermawrap Parka, but if cutting weight is your primary goal, the Micro Puff is hard to beat.

Dig into synthetic jackets with our full guide, and read read below for an in-depth Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody review.

Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 9.3 oz. (264 g) One of the lightest (if not the lightest) synthetic insulated jackets on the market for the warmth.
Insulation PlumaFill Patagonia created PlumaFill insulation for this piece. It mimics down in structure, but is totally synthetic. See more about synthetic insulation in our Guide.
Shell Fabric Pertex Quantum 10D 100% nylon The industry-standard, high-end shell fabric. See more about synthetic insulated jacket shell fabric in our Guide.
DWR Treatment Yes The shell fabric is treated to repel light water, and works well. It wears off after a long time, and can be reapplied.
Number of Pockets 2+ There are only two zippered hand pockets on the Micro Puff. They work well, and one has a carabiner loop for stuffing the jacket inside. The inside of the jacket also has two drop-in pockets if you need to store something else.
Stuffs Into Itself Yes Stuffs into the left-hand pocket and has a carabiner loop for easy clipping.
Hood/Jacket Option Hood and Jacket Patagonia offers this as a jacket and a hoody.
Adjustable Hood No This jacket is trimmed down to basics, so it does not have an adjustable hood. The hood has elastic around the front so it does fit to your head.
Adjustable Waist No Down to basics, which means no adjustable waist. This is less than ideal, as securing warmth at the waist is helpful.
Gender Men’s, Women’s Offered for both men and women.
Sizes Available Men’s XS-XXL, Women’s XXS-XL Many sizes for men and women.
Manufacturer Warranty Ironclad Guarantee Patagonia has one of the best limited lifetime warranties in the outdoor industry. Definitely get in touch if your product breaks or has a hole.
Retail Price $299 A high price for fancy new tech in an uber light, warm synthetic puffy.

Gear Review of the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

Origins: Easing You In

As winter waned and spring sprang to life my restless legs left me feeling antsy. The hiking itch needed to be scratched. It was a low snow year in the Oregon Cascades, so I took the opportunity of fair weather and clear mountain passes to start the hiking season early.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-snow-in-woods
The Patagonia Micro Puff, eliciting smiles in freezing weather.

The Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody travelled with me over the mountains and into the harsh landscape of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument where night temperatures dropped below freezing. I was surprised by how well the Micro Puff kept me warm in this exposed environment without the help of any additional layers. I mean, I had on pants and a shirt too, of course. But for such a light layer, it packed a good deal of warmth.

This was a great first test of the jacket. The volcanic landscape was windy and cold with winter’s last breath, but this lightweight jacket proved to be tougher than it looked. The fabric was comfortable on my skin, the zippered pockets were convenient, and the hood fit just right.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-Newberry-National-Volcanic-Monument-hiking
The Micro Puff providing warmth in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

I felt the Micro Puff deserved a more robust adventure, so I planned a backpacking trip of the 79-mile North Umpqua Trail which lies east of Roseburg, Oregon. The trail starts high near the Pacific Crest Trail at the top of the Cascades, hugging the North Umpqua River for much of its length as it follows the rushing water downstream.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

I’m glad I had the synthetic Micro Puff Hoody instead of a down alternative because this was a wet backpacking trip down the North Umpqua Trail.

That’s the best argument for choosing synthetic insulation over down — it keeps you warm even when it’s wet. Not only did it rain for much of the hike, but it was also humid along most the North Umpqua Trail, partly because it was adorned with dozens of beautiful mist-making waterfalls. You read that right. Not only was the river full of waterfalls, but even the trail itself was covered in cascading water at times.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-north-umpqua-trail-moss-path
The North Umpqua Trail covered in water running from everywhere.

The consistent rain caused me to keep the Micro Puff under the Zacks Vertice Rain Jacket for nearly the entire hike. The two jackets layered well and felt as if they belonged together. It was like they joined, hand-in-hand to create a protective forcefield against Mother Nature and her elemental powers.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-under-zpacks-vertice
The Zpacks Vertice rain jacket and the Micro Puff excelled as a two layer protection for the wet and cold trail.

That said, I never once was sweaty in the Micro Puff as a result of the rain jacket. It locked in my warmth when I needed it, but the thin 10D Pertex Quantum shell did not feel stifling or cling to my skin. It breathed well enough for me to wear all day without discomfort. When the Micro Puff did eventually get wet I was able to dry it quickly during the rare sunny moments of the day.

Digging Deeper

The jacket has a minimalist design, though it’s apparent how much time and attention went into refining the final product. There is a main zipper with a thin storm flap that goes all the way up to the chin. There are two zippered hand pockets, one of which houses a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop that you can pack the entire jacket into. Inside the jacket there are two drop-in pockets large enough to hold a water bottle in each.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-inside-drop-pocket
Interior drop-in pockets are a nice touch for such a minimalist jacket.

Nothing on the Micro Puff is adjustable — not the hood, hem, or cuffs, but all of those key spots are fitted with elastic that stretches just enough to make every part fit with a comfortable looseness. Many jackets with elastic bands stretch so far and constrict so tightly that you feel them clamp to your body, but that’s not the case with the Micro Puff. It feels like the elastic fit was designed just for me.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-hood-cinched-up-3
The minimalist Micro Puff has no adjustable points on hem or hood, so make sure it fits in a way you like. Here you can see the hood is pretty snug.

That said, this lack of customization is done to reduce weight, and it may not feel “designed” for you, so it’s smart to try this jacket on if you can.

Comfort 

This jacket was my go-to comfort piece for this trip. It felt so nice that I even used it to add an outer-layer of loft to my sleeping pad’s pillow. The shell is soft and the insulation feels like it just HAS to be down. It’s so fluffy!

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-snowball-closeup
Comfy.

Durability 

Other people have reported that the thin outer-shell is prone to rips and tears — I never experienced any issues. The Micro Puff handled the weight of my pack and the rub of its straps just fine. I know I bumped into a tree or two, but the jacket’s shell and stitching show no scars. Is everyone else rolling around in blackberry bramble or something?

Time will certainly tell, and the longer and harder you use a piece like this the more it will wear. But in very wet, very real conditions I found no durability issues with this jacket.

Warmth 

I would not have expected this thin, weightless jacket to keep me warm through cold rain and sub-freezing temperatures. Maybe with extra layers, but not all by itself. It shouldn’t have been able to keep me warm, it just shouldn’t have, but it did. I’m amazed.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-hood-movie
Surprising warmth that comes with the help of a hood!

Breathability 

There’s something about this insulation that felt right in every environment. I was warm when the air was cold, I was cool in the heat, dry when I should have been covered in sweat — it was magic. And magic breathability in the damp, raining Pacific Northwest after miles of hiking is hard to come by.

Fit

When the universe created me it built my body about as average-sized as can be. At 5’10 and around 180 pounds the medium Micro Puff fit like a dream. You already read my praise of the elastic, and everything else was just as good. If anything the hood might be a little tight for someone with a helmet or a whole lot of hair.

Patagonia-Micro-Puff-Hoody-review-hood-cinched-up-2
The hood is well-designed, but definitely hugs the head. Make sure it fits your noggin’, and that you like this style of hood.

Grievances

Can we lower the price a bit? Probably not, but that’s all I have for complaints. This jacket is awesome.

Final Word

The Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody weighs next to nothing, packs down to nothing, and since it’s water/wind/cold/hot resistant it seems as if nothing can get through it. Put simply, nothing in its category can compare.

Where to Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

We tested the men’s Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody. This is also offered in a women’s version, and is the exact same except for fit and color. Patagonia also offers this as a jacket, which is the same except for the hood, in both genders. To hood or not is a personal preference, usually determined by your layering system. We tend to prefer puffies with hoods.

Compare Patagonia Micro Puff prices below.

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arthur mcmahon outdoor gear reviewer

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures on Instagram. Arthur also hosts the Better Hiker podcast & blog where he discusses trail wisdom, philosophy, and historic adventures.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

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