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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Lofty Fleece Layer on 12/03/2013 10:15:47 MST Print View

I remember when Skurka talked about how he needed fleece during cold, wet trips as insulation where down just wouldn't cut it. That kind of woke up a lot of people, including me, into the importance of incorporating fleece into a cold-weather backpacking system as a supplement to down.

I went looking for a lofty fleece and someone recommended Patagonia's Micro-D Fleece half-zip. When I really, really like a piece, I want to share it here.

fleece

Weight: 8.4oz
Price: $65.00 or less on sale (WOW)

This piece was raved about by Dane, the alpinist that runs the Cold Thistle blog, here: http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2013/10/patagonia-micro-d-14-zip-synchilla.html

I've worn this hiking, biking, and sleeping over the past few weeks, and now I'm raving too. I'm completely impressed by this piece.

It's stretchy and loose-fitting, so I can easily layer it over or under my puffy. I can zip up the collar all the way without it irritating my neck, which eliminates the need for a scarf or neck gaiter. The sleeves don't get in my way, and the appearance is simple so I don't walk off the mountain looking like a scuba diver.
Moisture transfer/breathability is obviously going to suffer when compared to the R1, but I see it as a fleece for a different purpose; the tighter weave does block the wind surprisingly well, and the loft is fantastic- it's very thick and soft for the weight.

It's incredibly warm. It's all I need under my wind shell to bike downhill at 20º, and it's been warm enough to supplement my 15º sleeping bag on every night this winter so far. It's easy to throw on when I'm stopped for a break.

I like to roll up my sleeves, and these don't move at ALL once you slide them up your arms. Surprisingly, they don't constrict at ALL either, even when pushed or rolled up to my elbows. This minor detail is a huge plus for me.


The "Nickel" color is really nice.

aeg


I would put the warmth-to-weight ratio in my "Ultralight" category without hesitation. I would tentatively call this the best "lofty" fleece I've ever seen, though the Melanzana fleeces are also very nice.


P.S. I have no affiliation with Patagonia, but not for lack of trying...

Edited by mdilthey on 12/03/2013 13:19:49 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Lofty Fleece Layer on 12/03/2013 10:50:23 MST Print View

A very minor point, but possibly important to some - It's a 1/4 zip.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Thanks on 12/03/2013 10:59:45 MST Print View

Yes, it's a 1/4 zip. Thanks for that. :)

I also saw a Hoodie on gear swap once, but it looks like Patagonia discontinued other varieties. There's still a Micro-D beanie and scarf, and a neck gaiter.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
fleece on 12/03/2013 11:30:16 MST Print View

that actually looks just like 100 wt fleece ... the fabric weight certainly indicates its roughly in the same insulation range ...

is there anything special about the material that makes it superior to a 100 wt fleece from any other brand?

;)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lofty Fleece Layer on 12/03/2013 11:42:14 MST Print View

Fleecy mid layers are just universal clothing. They are a core part of my clothing system and perfect for wet weather and the cold-humid conditions found in the Pacific NW. My recent choices are an R1 1/2 zip vest and a full zip jacket. A Power Stretch hoodie was a past favorite and I need to get another.

My favorite cold weather system is a medium weight Power Dry long sleeve tee with a windshirt or rain shell for active trail use, supplemented with the R1 jacket (really more like a cardigan sweater) and a Micro Puff vest. They all layer well in any combination with a shell. The fleece is the first thing out of the pack when I feel chilly.

Fleecy mid layers will take your light sleep system to the next level with no more investment or weight added.

I have a pair of military Power Dry bottoms that make the best pajama bottoms made. You can go straight to wet camp wear by simply adding your rain pants. Again, Power Stretch bottoms are also excellent for sleep and layering with rain gear.

I wear 200w fleece around town, but it starts to overlap with Primaloft type gear for weight and bulk and the puffy stuff ends up more efficient in the cold.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: fleece on 12/03/2013 11:53:29 MST Print View

"that actually looks just like 100 wt fleece ... the fabric weight certainly indicates its roughly in the same insulation range ..."

It's actually lighter than "Classic" 100w fleece at 4.7oz, vs ~6oz for 100w. Certainly in the same class of garment.

If you want a great 100w style top, the Sahalie "Butter Fleece" 1/4 zip tops are a steal. The First Ascent Cloud Layer fleeces are a good buy on sale.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M
Lofty on 12/03/2013 12:03:48 MST Print View

When I hear (or read) "Lofty Fleece", I think of Polartec Thermal Pro High Loft.

But I think that material is pretty heavy, isn't it? I've never owned something like the Mountain Hardware MonkeyMan or a Patagonia R3, so I don't know how it would compare in warmth vs weight to other fleece layers.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
LET'S TALK THEORY! on 12/03/2013 12:03:59 MST Print View

One of the reasons I like this particular fleece over a lot of others is the simplicity. No pockets, no thumb loops, no hood, no plastic zipper pulls, no toggles, no liner.

For a minimalist, it's perfect. Everything you need and nothing you don't. For someone who likes these features, it might come up short, but for me, I don't see the point in a vest with zippered pockets underneath a fleece with zippered pockets and then a jacket, with more pockets, on top of that. Extra weight and bulk.

I am also skeptical of layering R1. Doesn't the grid allow moisture transport? Will grid on top of grid be as efficient as a non-gridded fleece on top of a grid fleece, or just transitioning from a single grid layer to your puffy?



These are almost silly sounding questions, but a layering system, I think, should be a sum of its parts rather than just independent pieces. When I choose stuff, I try not to have redundancies like wicking properties, insulation properties, windproofing, and pockets. These things are usually only needed once, even if your system is four parts.

Sadly, in the consumer driven outdoors market, every piece needs to have every feature....

Edited by mdilthey on 12/03/2013 12:06:35 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: LET'S TALK THEORY! on 12/03/2013 12:18:15 MST Print View

I am also skeptical of layering R1. Doesn't the grid allow moisture transport? Will grid on top of grid be as efficient as a non-gridded fleece on top of a grid fleece, or just transitioning from a single grid layer to your puffy?


- the grid is superior in terms of moisture transport ... the idea is to have less contact surface against the skin, now there are different ways to do this such as pile and pertex, furry interiors, etc ... however the grid pattern allows for superior breathability as well as the gaps allow greater air flow out ... also powerdry is a bi-component fabric designed to maximize the wicking action

- if you are doing it "correctly" you wont have "grid on grid" ... what you will have is a very thin highly wicking base layer and the grid fleece over that ... or the grid right against the bare skin ... the idea is to get the grid right against the skin or the thinnest base layer for the moisture to wick outwards ... and to maximize breathability ... the T2/T3/R1 is not meant as your standard many layers piece, it is meant to be part of the "action" suit concept where you wear a minimal amount of layers with a high/low output cycle

so in short ... a T3/R1 is a waste if you are using it in the "traditional" way ... youre better off buying a cheap 100 wt fleece IMO



;)

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Grid is Not For Me on 12/03/2013 12:28:40 MST Print View

Eric,

That confirms exactly what I'm talking about. An R1 piece is wasted unless you wear it right up against your skin or a thin baselayer.

This is also the reason I didn't get a grid fleece; it allows me a better warmth to weight ratio when I'm wearing my fleece over a thick baselayer, a windshirt, or a puffy. I'm not tied to wearing it next-to-skin for best results.

Edited by mdilthey on 12/03/2013 12:29:35 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
300 weight Polartec on 12/03/2013 12:30:15 MST Print View

I'm sitting here in my kinda chilly computer room wearing an old EMS 300 weight polartec fleece.

With both shoulder and elbow-to-wrist patches and pit zips it ain't light but after 18 years it's still very warm.

The jacket's "grid" on the inside is just puffs of thick fleece. The outer fleece is shorter and tighter.

For layering beneath a GTX or eVent jacket 300 weight fleece is just what I need IF I don't have to backpack it.

But for backpacking in winter I'll take my nylon shelled Thermolite Micro because it's both lighter and warmer than the EMS fleece jacket and far less bulky to pack.

P.S.
I thought the fleece v.s. shelled synthetic insulation debate was long ago settled in favor of shelled synthetic (puffy) jackets.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/03/2013 19:37:33 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: LET'S TALK THEORY! on 12/03/2013 12:30:27 MST Print View

"I am also skeptical of layering R1. Doesn't the grid allow moisture transport? Will grid on top of grid be as efficient as a non-gridded fleece on top of a grid fleece, or just transitioning from a single grid layer to your puffy? "

Yes, one of the great features of R1/Power Dry is the breathability and call those cells trap warm air. It needs a shell for full warmth. Worn without a shell it will take the chill off cool still morning air.

Layering multiple layers of fleece loses to a puffy layer. IMHO, the best combo is base layer/fleece/shell. You could certainly throw a puffy over a fleece, but it would have to be really cold and you start to get the Michelin Man effect.

Would grid on top of grid work? Sure, but why would you haul multiple layers of the same stuff? I would add something like a puffy vest. An R1 jacket and a Micro Puff vest are about the same weight. You could still wear the vest with you base layer if that suits the situation.

I think of fleece as mid layer stuff. You can certainly wear Power Stretch or Power Dry next to you skin and that can be handy when you camp and your base layer is wet or is being laundered.

Cap 3 is about as heavy as I would go with a base layer use for layering with fleece. That is good fore shoulder season active hiking with a wind shell as needed. The fleece comes out for breaks or maybe a cold downhill section.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Re: 300 weight Polartec on 12/03/2013 12:37:04 MST Print View

"P.S.
I thought the fleece v.s. shelled synthetic insulation debate was long ago settled in favor of shelled synthetic jackets."

----------------
I liken that to a shoes VS. sandals debate. No right answer, as they serve different purposes. I've been wet in synthetic insulation and fleece, and the fleece felt more comfortable. Maybe warmer too, but definitely more comfortable.

I also think that fleece has a bell curve of usefulness. Too thin, and a baselayer serves the same purpose. Too thick, and a lofty down or synthetic puffy would better serve the purpose. I think 100wt is the golden ratio here, where you get a sub-10oz layer that provides a great deal of warmth in a variety of conditions without being redundant with a good puffy.

And I think at most temperatures under 30º, you really do need and want both types simultaneously. Fleece + Puffy is my system, at any rate.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: 300 weight Polartec on 12/03/2013 12:47:40 MST Print View

"For layering beneath a GTX or eVent jacket 300 weight fleece is just what I need IF I don't have to backpack it."

That's my preference too (not necessarily that weight). Typically if it's above 20* and I'm moving, I'm good with just a base layer and shell. In this scenario, I'll carry a puffy to throw on in camp or on breaks.

Below 20* is where I start to add extra layers when I'm skiing, hiking, etc and I much prefer to wear a fleece in this scenario.

That’s a great price and weight for this for this fleece. I'm going to drop a subtle hint with Mrs. Claus.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/03/2013 12:48:33 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Time to Waste Time on 12/03/2013 12:49:49 MST Print View

Ian,

I am now hunting for a moving BPL profile picture. Thanks....

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
"A Power Stretch hoodie was a past favorite and I need to get another. " on 12/03/2013 12:55:59 MST Print View

if i had to choose the one item of clothing that i find most useful and always along for a trip it's my power stretch hoodie. it's the garment that i build most of my layering around. it feels great aginst skin, works perfeclty as a second layer, breaths well and is easy to thermoregulate with a deep chest zipper, sleeves that are easy to push up and and hood that can go over or under a helmet. having used a number of the other fleece material of the similar weight i always migrate back to my polartec power stretch hoodie. for the most part, i've relegated heavier weight fleece to around town and go with primaloft or down when looking for "loft" in insulation.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: 300 weight Polartec on 12/03/2013 13:02:05 MST Print View

"That’s a great price and weight for this for this fleece. I'm going to drop a subtle hint with Mrs. Claus."

Sorry dude, but I've read lots of your posts here - I don't think you do subtle....

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Separates vs shelled jackets on 12/03/2013 13:03:48 MST Print View

"P.S.
I thought the fleece v.s. shelled synthetic insulation debate was long ago settled in favor of shelled synthetic jackets."

No way! A fleece plus a windshirt wins hands down. That's where the Marmot DriClime windshirt fails, as you always have the liner tagging along. That than the fact that most of the shelled fleece jackets are boat anchors. Handy around town and work, but weak for weight vs versatility.

I tried a 300w jacket and never found it cold enough to wear one around town. Way to heavy for trail use, where a synthetic puffy trumps it.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "A Power Stretch hoodie was a past favorite and I need to get another. " on 12/03/2013 13:06:32 MST Print View

Heah, I lost weight and sold my hoodie and the replacement du jour is an R1 jacket that I got super cheap. R1 does breathe and vent well and it's pretty tough. It seems like it would be colder when you take a first look, but throw a shell over it and it's toasty and dry. PNW weather + rain shell + R1 is a match.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.wordpress.com
Beater Fleece on 12/03/2013 13:16:04 MST Print View

Dale, the only time I think your R1 is a poor choice is when it's over another R1 vest. YMMV, though, it's definitely doing something, just not as much as it could.

My around-town, fix-the-bike-in-the-barn, i'm-going-to-a-bar-in-Boston-and-scumbags-steal-coats coat is my Patagonia Retro-X jacket. I found it on super-sale and love the warmth, but the weight is insane. 7.5oz, 1/4" pile is pretty heavy, especially with a windproof liner, and the placement of features can only be called "irresponsible."

retro

The pockets zip upside-down, wind comes in through the bottom of the jacket and freezes my hands, since the pockets have no back-facing fleece liner. It looks like they decided to ignore 30 years of jacket design improvements as an homage to the "Retro" portion of the name.

I'm sure the musk of bike grease and infrequent washings stirs the senses of nearby women, too, so at least I've got that going for me.