Rating: 5 / 5
Ok, Western Mountaineering has a new 3.5 ounce quilted down vest out, but for a wet conditions-friendly vest, the Patagonia Micropuff is tops!
This is minimalism of the best sort - no heavy zipper, no pockets, bullet proof light plastic snaps for partial venting.
You can wear this several ways (provided you size it right to begin with):
1. Over just a baselayer for rest-stops, or at camp as the day cools off;
2. Over a windshirt on windy chilly days at reststops (thus oversizing it is not a bad idea);
3. As your only extra warmth layer when you are overnighting and using a slighly underrated sleeping bag (I like to underrate my sleeping bag then wear my warm clothing to bed if needed);
4. As an EXTRA warmth layer in a sleeping bag, either over your chilly, windy day windshirt or under a warm piece like a Micropuff Jacket (or even under a Precip rainshell).
The only use I didn't mention is for active wear - it's just too hot. I guess if you are really skinny and tend to lose core (but not limb) warmth too quickly, a vest might make sense, but I still think the Micropuff could be too warm; an R2 (fleece) vest might be a more flexible alternative to the because it isn't windblocking and can thus be worn alone, under, or over a windbreaker to vary the temperature range.
For the same reason I don't recommend the Micropuff under a rain shell - even an R2 might be too hot, and a lighter vest better.
On the other hand, if your outdoor activity cycle is such that you often use a down vest, then the Micropuff might be a great, less bulky, more water "safe" alternative to your down vest...or might add a little extra warmth under a full down parka.
I have to admit I sometimes have trouble deciding whether to take the R2 vest or the Micropuff. If it's going to be my sole warmth piece on a dayhike, I'll take the Micropuff, because it will keep wind and light rain off my core, and probably be better if I get stuck out overnight; otherwise I think the R2 is more versatile, although a little less warm (actually, the R2 will hold off a light rain too, I treated it with Nikwax water repellent so most of the rain beads up on it) and heavier.