Patagonia Puffball Sweater
Fabric: 1.3 oz Ripstop Nylon
Price Paid: $55 on sale
Synthetic insulated jackets of this type (others are made by Marmot, TNF, Moonstone) really should be considered a third grouping (along with fleece and down) rather than a substitute for either.
Compared to fleece, they are lighter and far more compressible for the same warmth. Because of the nylon shell, they block the wind better, and tests in the washing machine show that they dry slightly quicker.
However, they are not nearly as durable as fleece (the Puffball outer fabric tears quite easily), and do not breathe as well.
Compared to down, they are cheaper, but not nearly as warm or as breathable for the same weight. However, the Puffball is less affected by wet weather--although a down jacket with a good outer fabric (it doesn't even have to be DryLoft) is not nearly as sponge-like as some claim.
The Puffball (since replaced by the upgraded FireBall) has a ridiculously small zipper pull, a very nice inner mesh pocket for drying gloves and hats, and not much else.
I've found it's best used when space is tight in a pack, or when multiple layers of fleece are too restrictive--downhill skiing at below 0 F.
A medium weight capilene shirt, an expedition weight shirt, a retro pile jacket, a puffball--all under a storm parka--works well when it's really cold.
Price Paid: paid $85 ($130 retail?)
This is an excellent product. It is vastly lighter and warmer than fleece, and will pack into a 5x7 stuff sack. It is almost as warm as a down jacket, but with none of the disadvantages of down.
Only complaint: the thin shell is a bit delicate (but what do you expect for something that's intended to be super light?). Wear it under a shell it you expect abuse.
Price Paid: $90 (on sale)
This is a great jacket to put on as soon as you stop hiking and before you cool down. Packs into tiny spaces and weights nothing. It does lack a proper collar to keep your neck warm but for the portability, it can't be beat.
The fabric is a bit thin, so wear a shell if you are hiking through heavy brush.
Where to Buy
The Patagonia Men's Puffball Sweater is not available from the stores we monitor.
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Here's what other sites are saying:
Patagonia Puffball SweaterColor Shown:BlackFeatures:For alpinists and moutaineers seeking soft, lightweight, wind-resistant, highly compressible warmthLightweight, durable shell fabric resists snaggingAttached hood fits under a helmet; it has two drawcords; one around the face, one for volume (adjusts at the back of the head)Full-length front zip (backed with a non-snag windflap) allows for easy on/off and ventilationFit to accomodate under-layersWith two handwarmer pockets (one has an oversized pocket bag which serves as a stuff sack)High-coverage collar has a fold-over zipper cover for comfortdurable covered elastic wrist closuresAdjustable drawcorded hemInterior mesh pocket for drying hat or glovesOne interior stash pocket with zip closureFabric: - Shell: 1.5 oz 30 denier high-tenacity polyester ripstop; Deluge DWR finish - Insulation: 150 gram Thermolite Micro - Lining: 1.7 oz nylon ripstop; DWR finish
- US Outdoor Store