For years now, we’ve been hearing how synthetic fills are becoming more and more down-like: lighter, more packable, warmer. It’s become somewhat of a tired refrain, and one that many of us quickly write off as marketing hype.

Enter the Patagonia Micro Puff. It fooled me, and I like to think that I’m not easily fooled, at least when it comes to insulation. Not only does the jacket weigh a scant 8.7 ounces (women’s medium, on my scale), it has that down-like suppleness, airiness, squishiness. When you put it on, it practically hovers over your torso—like only a down puffy can do.

The author hard at work testing apparel between glasses of wine at Rifugio Elisibetta in the Italian Alps.

The author hard at work testing apparel between glasses of wine at Rifugio Elisibetta in the Italian Alps.

Yet the Micro Puff is not filled with feathers, but PlumaFill, what Patagonia calls a “synthetic insulation that has a unique stabilizing structure featuring strands of heat-trapping ultrafine filaments that offer the warmth and packability of down but with the warm-when-wet performance of synthetics.” It’s constructed using a kind of hybrid quilted baffle—a seemingly random pattern of stitch lines and chambers designed to keep the fill stabilized, while at the same time allowing heat to move uninhibited throughout the jacket. It not only feels like a down puffy. Aesthetically, it looks like one, too.

I brought the Micro Puff on a recent 9-day hike of the Tour du Mont Blanc, and wore it on every high pass and when night time temps in the Alps got chilly. I rarely had to even zip it up. Granted, I was not able to push it into temps much below 45°F, but I suspect it will go there. I also wore it over a tee-shirt on a blustery, wet day in Iceland, when the rain plastered my hair to my forehead, and never noticed a dip in warmth even after it was well soaked. At the same time, it doesn’t get clammy like many synthetic jackets do; it breathes.

Bottom line: So far I love this jacket, and it’s making me long for cooler temps. And the Alps. And cheese. And wine. But that’s another story.


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