A puffy jacket lives in a triangle of compromise. Choose two of the following; you can have warmth, you can have water-resistance, or you can have pack-ability. It can never be all of these things at once, at least according to Patagonia, until now.
Down and synthetic fill insulation are different animals with their own material properties. When down gets soaked it stops insulating. Synthetics stay warm when wet, but they don’t compress well for packing.
Patagonia’s new synthetic insulation, which it calls PlumaFill, looks like a miniature feather with its innumerable polyester tufts jutting from a central spine. The promise of those fluffy synthetic feathers is that they compress like down but stay warm when wet.
Patagonia’s Micro Puff Hoody, available today, is the first product from the company to incorporate the new down alternative. The windproof, water-resistance shell uses lighter ripstop materials than other jackets in Patagonia’s lineup and requires less stitching as well. Because the PlumaFill insulation comes in long strands it doesn’t settle like down or traditional synthetics so the Micro Puff completely abandons the baffle construction commonly found in puffy jackets.
At 9.3 ounces (264g) the Micro Puff is the lightest insulating jacket Patagonia has ever made and has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket in Patagonia’s lineup.
Bleeding edge materials and design don’t come cheap. The Micro Puff Hoody sells for $299, but that is $50 less than the Ultralight Down Hoody it replaces.