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Patagonia Synchilla Vest

photo: Patagonia Synchilla Vest fleece vest

A wardrobe staple. Recycled, lightweight, versatile, durable. An extra layer of warmth, which doesn't impede your shoulder movement.

Pros

  • Multi purpose
  • Feather light
  • Washes well
  • Needs no special treatment—durable
  • Recycled fabric
  • Tough fastenings
  • Cosy, to the touch

Cons

  • Not inexpensive to buy
  • Not wind proof
  • Not a rain jacket

I like a vest/gilet/sleeveless sweater....call them what you will. I don't live in a warm climate but I go outdoors every day and don't always appreciate the restrictions of heavy and bulky clothing. If I'm cutting wood, paddling, or walking with poles, my arms are going to keep themselves warm. If I'm working, with arms above my head, the tradeoff of warmth for flexibility is often a good one.

I have padded gilets, waxed cotton ones, shell vests, and a wind vest. It's only a matter or time, before I buy one, with a hood;-) The great benefit of a Patagonia, is that it breathes better than a shell, so makes a great mid-layer, or active external garment, if the northerlies aren't blowing. The Synchilla fleece is a fairly open weave and works better than some alternatives, between your base layer and rainproof.

Like many garments from this company, the vest is made from recycled plastic bottles. I much prefer to reuse such things, rather than seeing them in landfill or washed up on my local beach.

This is a simple design—two mesh backed, zipped pockets, at hand height—and a full length front zip, which also fastens the collar upright, to keep your neck from creaking. Since one of my vests is ten years old and the other five or six, I can report that the zips are great quality and overall construction is first class. Pilling of the fabric is minimal and there are no obvious wear points, around the seam binding or degradation of the elastic hem or sleeves.

The older of my vests has developed a curled-up zip, from years of travel abuse, in holdalls and backpacks, but this is only evident when the zip is unfastened.

For use in a layering system, for active outdoor travel, this product has really worked for me. It's also an unobtrusive item, in the corner of my bag and I wore each of my examples in office environments, when they were fairly new.  (The pervasive smell of kerosene or paint daubs do nothing for your corporate credibility.) As a general purpose, comfy, warm top, to protect my aging back from evening chills, or post-exercise stiffness, Patagonia's cosy Synchilla texture also scores highly.  

This is not the cheapest example in the market and it doesn't do 'everything'. It doesn't have four hidden pockets. It's not windproof, thornproof, or rain resistant and it's not as warm as a down vest. It does breathe better than any of them...and I've tried all the different types. If you like to be outside in all weathers, there will be times when you misjudge the conditions or the meteorologists get it wrong. This gilet is my fallback position for days like that.

Experience

Both vests were gifts from my wife. I am "awkward to buy for," but she knows I'll happily repurchase a design that has worked for me in the past. I was delighted to receive the second one, just as I had been when the first appeared.

The first of these garments has followed me to the Rockies, Alps, and Sierra, as well as to the shops, pub, and workplace. Probably been laundered a hundred times (I never use a tumble dryer or fabric softeners).

Source: received it as a personal gift

Solid construction, solid fleece, solid fit, but no windblock lowers utility.

Pros

  • Fit is good
  • Fleece quality high
  • Almost no movement issues
  • Excellent under a shell for sweaty winter work/play

Cons

  • No windblock. No windblock. No windblock.
  • Some pilling
  • No chest pocket (may have one now)
  • Patagonia logo = 30%+ premium over = quality gear.

1. I haven't had one new for 15 years'ish, so fit and fleece may be worse now. I hear Patagonia quality has fallen off.

2. If you only own one fleece vest, make sure it has windblock lining. These don't. They're more for light weather or as an insulative layer.

Here in VA a windblock vest plus a heavy thermal longsleeve suffices for almost any winter day without rain or heavy snow. The same is not true for simple fleece. Not by a long shot. 

3. Tradeoff for windblock: slightly stiffer overall, not as good under a shell (but still serviceable.)

4. Very little difference in light weather, ie the windblock vest works well in light weather, but the pure fleece sucks on windchill days.

5. Buy a vest with a chest pocket if you can. For one you can tuck your phone in and listen to an audiobook or podcast over the phone speakers if you forget your headphones or their batteries run out. Slightly rude on the trail except in grizzly country where it's less "rude," more "stupid to forego and also I have 2 big jingle bells on my pack."

Nice to have the option in either case.

Experience

Haven't clmbed Everest or ice climbed. Backcountry snowboarding, winter backpacking, hard work outside in the winter, all that good stuff.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Too much. It's Patagonia.

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Specs

Men's
Price MSRP: $129.00
Current Retail: $129.00
Historic Range: $25.95-$129.00
Weight 278 g / 9.8 oz
Length Hip length
Material 100% Recycled Polyester Fleece / Fair Trade Certified sewn
Women's
Price MSRP: $109.00
Current Retail: $109.00
Historic Range: $20.99-$109.00
Weight 232 g / 8.2 oz
Length Hip length
Material 100% Recycled Polyester Fleece / Fair Trade Certified sewn
Kids'
Price MSRP: $59.00
Current Retail: $47.20-$59.00
Historic Range: $15.00-$59.00
Weight 7 oz / 198 g
Fabric 7.5 oz 100% Polyester Double-Faced Fleece, 85% Recycled
Product Details from Patagonia »

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