Patagonia Micro Puff Storm Review
Cons: Heavier than most other models in this category, not breathable
Our Analysis and Test Results
This jacket is the only model that claims to be waterproof, with the Rab Xenon X trailing behind in second place. Despite the Storm's parka stylings, our tester's feel the lighter Rab Nimbus is equally as warm. This jacket's excellent weather resistance comes with the sacrifice of breathability, but the Storm wasn't designed for jogging; it was forged for suffering in the mountains.
The Micro Puff Storm uses the same Plumafill insulation found in the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody; Plumafill is lightweight and exceptionally lofty for synthetic insulation. We appreciated its warmth-to-weight ratio in the Micro Puff Hoody, but that jacket isn't incredibly durable. In the burlier Storm, we can take advantage of this technology without worrying about having to baby the jacket. This jacket doesn't feel as warm as loftier down parkas we've worn; it has 65 grams of insulation, which is the same amount as the Micro Puff Hoody. The Storm feels warmer though, due to its low hemline and windproof shell.
Weight & Compressability
The Storm is the heaviest in our review, tipping our scales at a hefty 20.5 ounces for a men's small. If you're interested in this model, you're likely ready for the extra weight that comes along with weather protection. However, if you're after a jacket that's warm, light, and suitable for layering under a waterproof hardshell layer, the Arcteryx Atom AR and the Rab Nimbus are more appropriate choices. In terms of compressibility, the Storm takes up more room in our packs than most of the other jackets in this review, but it does stuff away easily into one of its huge stretchy handwarmer pockets. There is a clip-loop so you can attach it to a climbing harness. Our testers feel its too big to be swinging around on their harnesses during difficult climbing, but they did think it made the perfect pillow.
The Storm has an excellent fit if you're looking for a parka style coat. Its low hemline provides ample bum coverage, and its long articulated sleeves stay in place nicely while skiing or swinging ice tools. There is a hem cinch the runs through mini snow skirt (emphasis on mini) and keeps the cold air out, but not all the snow on powder day wipeouts. This jacket has two huge zippered handwarmer pockets that are big enough to hold a liter of water and a pair of gloves; we could easily fit a DSLR camera with a 70mm lens in there, but we don't recommend it. Inside the jacket are two drop-in pockets for anything you want to keep warm with your body heat like gloves or climbing shoes. The hood is insulated and is elasticized around the face, with a firm brim that sits above the face hole, keeping out cold drafts and falling rain/snow.
The Storm excels in the weather resistance metric, earning a 10 out 10. It's the only jacket in our review with a waterproof breathable membrane. We stayed completely dry during our shower test, and while the Plumafill insulation reportedly maintains its loft when wet, water never seeps through the shell fabric anyway. The brim on the hood kept water out of our faces as well as many hardshell jackets we've worn, and the low hem kept our butts dry while standing in the shower and sitting on the chairlift.
The Storm is one of the least breathable models we tested, which is to be expected because it's completely waterproof. If you absolutely need ventilation on the fly, you can open the big zippered pockets to let some air in, but you're still going to sweat. For the best combination of warmth and breathability, we go with the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody, though you'll want to have an additional waterproof layer if you're expecting weather.
When our testers wear this jacket, they look really…warm! If you're wearing this parka on date night, you might need to reconsider a few of your choices. At the ski resort, one of our testers was accused of being a "touring guy" (guilty) because of his "Patagonia stuff". Though this jacket is very technical, it looks way cooler than the accusers vomit colored onesie. It's available in two bright and visible colors: Fire and Balkan Blue, as well as classic black.
The Storm is sized generously so it can be used as a belay parka, and it's perfect for throwing on top of your other layers as soon as you stop moving, and before you get cold. We use it often for cold climbing days while belaying or on storm days at the resort. It felt awesomely warm with a mid-weight down layer underneath and would be toasty for cruising around a frigid town (though you'll save a few bucks if you opt for a different model if cruising is your main goal).
At $499, this is the most expensive model in this review. You could look at as two jackets in one, but the majority of our testers prefer the versatility of a layering system. If you're game to make the big investment, you'll be getting a warm coat with durable construction that's backed up by Patagonia's excellent warranty and repair service.
The stormproof Micro Puff Storm is an outlier in a category comprised mostly of breathable mid layers. While it didn't receive tip-top scores in all our metrics, it does what it was designed to do very well and takes full advantage of the Plumafill insulation. If you don't have a problem coughing up the extra cash, it'll make a great belay parka, a good ski jacket, and a decent all-around lightweight winter coat.
— Matt Bento
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