On the luxury end of the fleece category, we have the plush Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap T. To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever sent 5.14, skied a 60 degree slope, or stood on top of an 8000 meter peak while wearing a Lightweight Snap T, but we can pretty much guarantee that plenty of hard-charging folks have put on this cozy pullover after sending the gnar, safe and sound, curled up with a hot cup of something. This is based on the original Snap-T that has been in the Patagonia line for over thirty years. Around town or around the house, this is a warm and comfy fleece, but for the backcountry, we'd recommend a fleece that fits better, breathes better, and packs away smaller.
An updated color option for the Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T is shown above. The design of the shirt is the same as the model we tested.
Our Analysis and Test Results
This fleece performs poorly in the breathability, layering ability, and weather resistance category while feeling super comfortable and exuding a certain style synonymous with mountain culture.
This fleece is thick, heavy, and consequently pretty warm. It's thick, uniform polyester fleece is an effective insulator, but doesn't compress or breathe very well. This will keep you warm in town when the temps dip, but when they start to come back up, you'll be shedding this layer pretty quickly.
The Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T has blanket-like softness and comfort. We don't know if Patagonia sourced these Synchillas in the wild or from the controversial Argentinian Synchilla farms, but their fur sure is soft. Seriously though, this pullover has some of the softest fleece, but we sometimes wished it had some hand pockets, and it's slouchier fit draped over our testers like a poncho. Elastic cuffs keep the sleeves down around your arms when it's cold, but they are easy to pull up when it's time to get down to business.
The Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T is one of the thickest fleeces in our test and, therefore, one of the least breathable. The Synchilla's only method of venting hot, sweaty air is to open the four plastic snaps and roll up those sleeves.
You're going to need a shell or insulated jacket with ample room if you plan on incorporating the Snap-T into your layering system. Our slimmer testers found this fleece bulky, especially in the shoulders and sleeves. When layered under a shell, the thick fabric bunched up, feeling constricting and uncomfortable. However, we suspect folks that like the look of the Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T won't be trying to hide it under a technical looking hardshell jacket.
This jacket is available in several different options, including five colors and a couple of print models. Our testers often paired it with a warm flannel as this loose-fitting jacket has plenty of room for it. This fleece has a classic look for any casual occasion.
When it comes to wind, the Snap-T performs better than most of the fleeces in our test due to how thick it is. This "benefit" comes at the cost of breathability and weight. Also, since this jacket has no durable waterproof treatment, don't expect to stay dry in a downpour. If you do get caught out in the rain, this fleece will take longer to dry out. This is not a technical layer, so we would not recommend treating it as one.
The Large size Snap-T tipped our scales at 17.5 ounces, making it one of the heavier fleeces in the test, but if the goal is maximum warmth for the weight, this is actually a great deal. However, if you plan to use this in a technical capacity, you will be much happier finding a better overall performance piece.
The Synchilla Snap-T is priced very well. If you understand the limitations of this jacket and just want a warm, stylish town piece, this is priced right! However, don't let the low price convince you that you can use this in both a casual and technical capacity.
This warm pullover is popular for its comfort and style and has been a classic Patagonia staple for years. We think it's an awesome piece for post-adventure lounging and recounting highlights and mishaps around the campfire, but if you're headed into the backcountry, we recommend a more technical fleece, that will breathe and layer better.
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