The Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody is an affordable softshell that performs well for a variety of activities in a wide array of conditions. In our last head-to-head review, this jacket was a Best Buy Award Winner. It was dethroned in this review by the Patagonia InTraverse which scored higher and is $30 less expensive. This product is very similar to the Editors' Choice Award Winner Outdoor Research Ferrosi, which is lighter and slightly more breathable. Pick the Simple Guide if you want a more relaxed fit, Velcro cuffs, and an excellent hood.
Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody Review
Cons: Hood offers little chin protection, heavy for the amount of weather protection, boxy fit
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody is a fantastic all-purpose, uninsulated soft shell that works in a wide number of conditions. For the price, it is an excellent pick if you value breathability over weather resistance. We loved this jacket for aerobic activities in cold weather.
Breathability is inversely related to weather resistance. This jacket performs OK in high wind environments. It's sufficiently wind resistant for the vast majority of conditions that most of us encounter when hiking and climbing below treeline. We tested it for several weeks in New Hampshire's White Mountains, which are notoriously windy (Mt. Washington has the world's highest recorded wind speed), and found that the jacket doesn't work well in winds over 30 mph. In strong gusts, we felt the wind whip through the jacket. This is not necessarily a drawback, but rather something to keep in mind when considering what you plan to use the jacket for. As a budget all-purpose softshell, the Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody balances weather resistance with breathability well. In order to maintain breathability and water resistance, reapply DWR coating when you see the fabric begin to wet out consistently. Gear Aid Spray-On is one good option and is widely available in outdoor stores.
We found that in our waterfall test, the jacket left our tester soggy after only a few seconds. The problem had as much to do with water leaking through the seams as the fabric itself. Additionally, snow sticks to this softshell a bit more than some of the others we tested. However, the jacket breathed well enough that this wasn't a problem.
This piece ranks on the higher end of the spectrum for breathability. The fabric has a significant amount of stretch and isn't knit as tightly as some other softshell materials; hot air from your cardio workout escapes from the shell reasonably well. This product is significantly more breathable than the Arc'teryx Venta MX Hoody and all other softshells with windproof membranes, but slightly less so than the Outdoor Research Ferrosi or Patagonia InTraverse Hybrid. After getting quite damp in a waterfall, our tester dried out quickly with only a moderate level of activity.
The relatively baggy fit and great stretch of this softshell allows for great mobility. Lifting your arms high overhead raises the bottom hem more than the top-tier, highly ergonomic climbing shells that we tested (like the Arc'teryx Gamma MX), but considerably less than other budget shells. Most other cheap softshells are a burden to raise your arms or have hoods that are uncomfortable when worn over a helmet.
At 19.1 ounces on our scale (size M), we found this jacket to be heavy for what it provides. The Arc'teryx Venta MX is about one ounce heavier and is far more weather resistant, and the Outdoor Research Ferrosi is about six ounces lighter and gives about the same amount of weather protection and more breathability. In the field, this difference is fairly negligible. If weight is a major concern for you, consider a lightweight hardshell jacket - they weigh as little as 8.8 ounces!
This softshell has perhaps the most versatile pocket arrangement: two hand warmer pockets for use around town and a single chest pocket for when you're wearing a backpack or harness. We wish the jacket's hood offered more protection for our faces. However, when you consider price, it's very easy to overlook the Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody's average quality hood.
The wrist closures also worked very well over gloves. When rock climbing in a great stretchy softshell like this, it's often nice roll up your sleeves. On this jacket, the hook-and-loop cuffs let the sleeves stick on the forearms, but sometimes the loose fabric folded over itself making our arms look like they were wearing capris. Perhaps we don't eat enough spinach, but this problem could be solved by making the sleeves a bit tighter.
Another feature worth noting is that the jacket is made with recycled polyester. We appreciate Patagonia's environmental stewardship and commend them for making competitive garments from old bottles and other recyclables. Well done.
Style & Fit
As style relates to fit, this jacket was too baggy to be stylish on many of our testers, but looked great on those whom it fit well. One of our testers is typically in between medium and large sizes, and our size medium jacket fit him perfectly. If you're at the lower end of your size range, consider sizing down. We love that the sleeve length that is slightly longer than other softshells we tested. This jacket comes in four colors.
This is a great all-purpose softshell that we found to be very versatile. Expect it to work well for applications that require a great mix of breathability and weather resistance, including snowshoeing, rock climbing in the spring and fall, backcountry skiing, and alpine spring skiing.
This is a great inexpensive hooded softshell. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is a similar jacket but is $20 cheaper and a nearly six ounces lighter. The Patagonia Adze is our top-rated budget casual softshell. See our Price versus Value Chart.
This is a great jacket that excels in environments that demand a balance between wind resistance and breathability. The biggest differences between this and our Editors' Choice winner are that the Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody is heavier, has a baggier fit, and is slightly less breathable. Other than that, we still love this model and consider it to be an excellent choice.
— Jeremy Bauman and Max Neale