11K on Denali
When I get really confused as to what is available on the market for clothing today I generally think back to a specific piece of gear I want to duplicate with what is available now. If nothing else I am a creature of habit. Earlier this year went looking for a upper layering shirt/sweater weight upper that I had owned twice in the past. It was a really simple mid weight pile jacket that wasn't very durable but it was very warm and breathed exceptionally well. That one I have yet to replace but I might be close. Likely one or the other is a modern, Patagonia Men's R2® Jacket or the Better Sweater? But I am open to suggestions.
The usual suspects in the same sweater/jacket
But this blog isn't about that sweater. The sweater and how much I liked and used it got me thinking about what was under that sweater I used and liked so much. That was an expedition weight 1/4 zip T-neck. That one I also liked a lot and didn't have in my closet any longer. Thankfully because iirc it got pretty rank in the end.
This is actually the first in a series on current Patagonia Alpine clothing. In the last few decades I have not been a big fan of Patagonia. But as you can see I have been in the distant past. I don't generally write about gear I don't use and like. A series on Patagonia surprises me....but my experience this winter showed me it was well deserved.
When I finally started counting, Patagonia clothing made up a shockingly large percentage of the clothing I used in the alpine. Even more so this winter.
So to the topic at hand? That 1/4 zip expedition weight fleece? More than one Patagonia advocate tried to convince me the Capilene 3 and 4 were a good choice. I have several R1 hoodies and pullovers. I didn't want the typical grid patterns in any form. But I wasn't quite sure why. I guess it was because I didn't really like it as insulation or wind protection. R1 and the Caps are good at keeping you dry but not really what I as looking for. I guess what I really wanted was something more old school. Better wind resistance, more creature comfort if you weren't working hard (read soft next to the skin) and more warmth from the garment.
I have to admit...none of this would have ever happened if the Cap 4 didn't retail for $99. The Micro D 1/4 zip retails for $59.00
A lightweight, warm, and fast-drying u-zip microfleece that works as either insulation or an outer layer.
Key Features of the Patagonia Micro D 1/4 Zip Fleece:
- Ultrasoft, quick-dry, microdenier fleece
- Zip-through stand-up collar; u-front zip
- Clean-finished hem and cuffs
- Hip length
- Regular fit
- (8.4 oz) 238 g
- Fabric: 4.7-oz 100% microdenier polyester (85% recycled) fleece
What I say?
I don't own another piece of clothing that is as warm for the weight or as comfortable next to the skin as the Micro D. I generally wear a thin base layer under it for skiing. But nothing warmer in that application that I own. Too warm for back country skiing I think and it doesn't breath well or get rid of the moisture as fast as I would like. No question it is not an R1 layer. But then it is more wind proof and warmer I think as well. It has limitations if you want to move quickly and know you will be sweating. I haven't bothered yet to see how it does next to the skin. Although I did use something similar in the distant past as a base layer. I might try that again knowing full well the limitations of this pile fabric. Knowing that it dry fast is a big help. The more I think of it the more places I think about using the Micro D in the mountains.
Some times it is just figuring out how to use a fabric to best effect. This is a pile that I really like but it took me most of the winter to find a place in my own "clothing system" for it to be the most effective. Now I have a hard time going skiing, on lift or side country when I don't take the Micro D. I bought the first one on a lark....choking on the Cap 4 price. I figured what the heck. "Patagonia has a stellar return policy..I can't loose here".
The other day all my ski clothes badly needed cleaning. But it was cold in the house and I was tired but needed to be working. I wanted something warm and soft to wear around the office. Jeans, flips and a Micro D made my day! Just as the Mirco D did in the last big storm cycle on the mountain. At that point I knew I'd better buy another. And at $59. it was an easy decision.
My vote is for the brighter colors!