My hiking tip
Watching the sunset from up high at least once over the summer months is on every mountain lover’s must-do list. Our choice of mountain was the Schesaplana. It has the Lünersee lake at its feet and marks the end of the Austrian Brandnertal valley. This is the highest mountain in the Rätikon region of Vorarlberg and it sits on the border with Switzerland.
And so it came about that, as the first hikers of the day were already heading back from their trip at midday, we’d only just set off towards the summit. We planned to reach the top just in time for the sunset. To ensure we were perfectly prepared for the evening programme, I brought along a Micro Puff hoodie by Patagonia. You’re probably wondering how warm Patagonia’s outdoor jacket really is, how well the Micro Puff fits and how heavy it is, right? What (outdoor) activities can it be used for? Read on and you’ll find out.
Hiking with the Patagonia Micro Puff
The trip up the 2,963-metre high Schesaplana starts at the Lünersee cable car station, just over 1,800 metres above sea level. The route is supposed to take around 5 hours and is categorised as an alpine hike. We set off, following the shores of the Lünersee lake and climbing up a steep, twisting path for about one hour until we reached the Totalp mountain hut. Despite the cool nights, the days up in the mountains were still very warm, and we were pretty sweaty by the time we go to the hut.
We had a short break and a small shandy at the hut to freshen up. I didn’t want to cool down too much though, so I decided to take out my Patagonia Micro Puff hoodie. I’d had it stored in its own pocket up until that point, and it was barely taking up any space in my rucksack. Weighing in at under 300 g, I couldn’t feel the extra weight at all.
Testing the Patagonia Micro Puff during a high alpine hike
Outside of the hut, the light was already beginning to fade. The last guests were starting their descent, but for us, after the last sip of shandy, the only way was up. I put my jacket back in my rucksack and we continued in the opposite direction to the other hikers. We soon reached high alpine terrain and the route changed dramatically. We climbed over boulders and rocks for over an hour. Crossing screes and isolated patches of snow, we could feel the first hints of the oncoming winter. It made us look forward to our next ski touring trip.
The higher we climbed, the more beautiful was the mountain panorama and the views of the Lünersee. One big benefit of starting the hike late was that we had the mountain pretty much to ourselves because our fellow hikers had already descended into the valley. At that height, we soon stopped feeling the summer temperatures and noticed that it was quickly getting much colder and windier. Thanks to its PlumaFill synthetic insulation, my jacket made sure I was never too cold or too warm. And after over 1,000 metres of climbing, once my body was just too warm for any over-garments, the Patagonia jacket’s compressibility and low weight meant that I could store it away in my hiking rucksack and forget about it until I needed it again. It really is the perfect companion for this kind of trip. The cool colour and the great comfort it offers are, of course, really important too. The Patagonia Micro Puff is light to wear but has a great heat output - I appreciated this the most during the last few metres of the climb up the just under 3,000-metre tall mountain.
A successful end to our outdoor adventure
The fine line between sweating and feeling cold is achieved beautifully by the material that makes up this Patagonia jacket. Once we were at the top of the summit, it became clear to us that it was worth the effort. The views were incredible - we enjoyed a panorama of the Austrians and Swiss Alps and a glacier, and we could see all the way to Lake Constance. Seeing it all made us even more excited for the coming ski season. It was breathtaking. But the warm, late-summer temperatures didn’t reach us this high up. Thankfully, despite highs of 10 C, the Patagonia Micro Puff jacket kept me nice and warm. Alongside my food, this jacket became one of the most important things in my rucksack.
I can’t think of a better way to enjoy a sunset from 3,000 metres above sea level. After an amazing hour on the summit, the sun disappeared below the horizon and we started making our way back down into the valley. Equipped with a headlamp and my warm Micro Puff hoodie, we hiked through the darkness of the night and slowly found our way back down the mountain. 1,500 metres of descent later, at around midnight, we reached the car park at the Lünersee cable car station. Our legs were aching but we were very happy, and we fell asleep in our camper straight away. What an adventure!
Patagonia Micro Puff: versatility & lightness
Thanks to its revolutionary PlumaFill technology, the Micro Puff jacket insulates just as well as a down jacket, even when it’s wet. Unlike down, though, this jacket is very compressible and lightweight - it’s less than 300 g. Apart from that, the jacket’s Pertex Quantum Ripstop nylon, which makes up the outer material, is coated with DWR that keeps the wind and snow at bay. During the test, I discovered that the hood of the Patagonia Micro Puff hoodie fits perfectly under a helmet, be it a skiing helmet, a bike helmet or a climbing helmet. The insulating layer of this outdoor jacket comprises 65 g/m² PlumaFill, which not only keeps you lovely and warm but is also compressible and doesn’t lose any of its properties when wet.
Bike & hike with the Patagonia Micro Puff
The remarkable versatility of the Patagonia outdoor jacket became apparent during my mountain bike trip in the Black Forest. Although I got very sweaty cycling uphill, it got very fresh and windy when I did the downhill ride, but the jacket kept me warm at all times and I never felt like I was wearing something too thin or too bulky.
During both the hiking and the biking tests, I noticed just how light this outdoor jacket is. The Patagonia Micro Puff is a compressible featherweight that you can take with you on all trips and in all weathers. I was particularly impressed with the windproofing of the material, which stopped me getting cold when travelling downhill.
Conclusion of the Patagonia Micro Puff test
During my trips, I really put Patagonia’s outdoor hoodie through its paces. I soon grew to love this garment because, whether I’m biking, hiking or doing any other activity, the Micro Puff hoodie always comes in handy. Patagonia has succeeded in launching a warm yet lightweight jacket that looks amazing and is super versatile.
I also love the fact that the Micro Puff is completely down-free. This means that it performs just as well when wet as it does when dry, so you can wear it in the rain. Apart from that, the jacket is quick and easy to store, and it takes up very little space in your rucksack. The ski season is just around the corner and I’m already looking forward to testing the Patagonia Micro Puff during my next ski tour.
Credits: Franziska Kasischke