The present of synthetic insulation

Last year I wrote about my lasting dissatisfaction with synthetic insulated jackets.  Today I’m happy to report that substantial progress has been made, in the form of the Patagonia Hyperpuff.

I bought a Hyperpuff jacket last spring, during the annual 50% off sale, and tested the most intransigent concern for a synthetic insulated jacket, durability, by wearing it as often as possible since, including daily wear.  I’m happy to report that after consistent use durability appears to be at least adequate, that is to say, it is at least as good as the current benchmarks for synthetic durability (e.g. Apex and Full Range).  The insulation is also a good bit warmer for the weight than any other synthetic insulation I’ve worn, including Apex, bringing the Hyperpuff into direct competition with all but the most efficient down coats in the ~1 pound class.

Beyond that, the Hyperpuff is exceptional in every respect when it comes to featuring and fabrics, and is as good as any piece I’ve used to yardstick just how much better outdoor apparel is today compared to 10 or 20 years ago.  The cut is long, slimish, and the articulation of the sleeves and shoulders excellent.  The long tail and longer cuffs, along with the internal elastic and drawcords, stack the deck in your favor when it comes to keeping and maximizing warmth.  With my usual medium I have enough room for a Nano Air Light or other light mid layer, but not enough for a heavier layer (like the Haglofs Pile hoody).  You could make the case that a bit more room would be ideal.  On the other hand, you could make the case that such a slim fit is darn handy in that it can fit under a hardshell, for things like nasty cold packraft floats or excessively windy summits.  It’s also more urban-sexy than the baggy, straight cuts many such jackets still sport.

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The fabric is also noteworthy both for being coffee shop-approved (nice and matte) as well as a bit more breathable than the expected, downproof light nylons.  It’s impossible to say how much of the performance is due to the shell, how much to the liner, and how much to the insulation, at least without dissecting the jacket, but the whole package modulates across a temperature range and disperses moisture in a way we’ve come to expect from active insulation, but has heretofore never been a feature of serious insulating garments.  I’ve put a few pin holes in the arm with embers, but haven’t had any rips or pilling, which is perfectly adequate.

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The pockets are also on point, with the chest pocket not being so deep things get lost, and hand pocket zippers running smoothly, and the one drop pocket having a perfect little mesh drain window in the bottom.  In an ideal world I’ve have two chest pockets (for keeping little things warm), and two drop pockets, but in practice one of each has worked out just fine 99% of the time.

Another year will tell more about how well loft will be retained.  Aside from that ongoing variable, the level of warmth, breathability, and features are all pretty much perfect.  After 11 months of use I’m more content with the Hyperpuff than with any other puffy I can recall owning.

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8 thoughts on “The present of synthetic insulation

  1. Always nice to hear, especially given how much more affordable synthetic is, particularly on sale.

  2. Dave- did this by chance replace their DAS Parka? on paper doesn’t seem to be quite to the same level (warm) as their older DAS

    1. It did. In use it’s as warm as the old 180g Primaloft 1 DAS due to better breathability and loft.

      1. Impressive!

  3. Nice write up. Seems like a fine offering from Patagonia. I’ve pretty much given up on Syn for exactly the reasons you say. If one actually “uses” it, well you might as well Goodwill it after a year.
    There are really some incredible products that pop up once in awhile and one can really avoid the sense of paying way too much. And if they are “overstuffed” with lower fill power, well you know what I mean.
    Like this: (found for $93.00 at REI Downtown over Xmas)
    REI Stratocloud Down Hoodie

    https://www.rei.com/product/142150/rei-co-op-stratocloud-down-hoodie-mens

  4. @Mike

    Regarding the DAS question. Strangely I just reached out to Patagonia customer service a few days ago to find out if the Hyperpuff Parka not Hoody would be resurrected from its short life before it was pulled. The parka (which was hooded) has thicker insulation than the hoody and is the DAS replacement. There was some durability issue or something that meant it didn’t even stay on the market for a season. Customer service said they were glad to hear about the interest but it is too soon to know what will be released for next winter though. So if you want a Hyperpuff style DAS replacement let Patagonia customer service know you also want to buy a Hyperpuff Parka.

    1. I will- thanks for the heads up.

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