Product Testing - Microburst Jacket, Intercontinental Shorts, and Capilene 1
We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our athletes and ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.
Products used: Microburst Jacket, Cap 1 Scoop-neck Shirt, Inter-Continental Shorts, Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks; Huckleberry Shoes.
Activity: Life in Taiwan
Tested by: Ting, Patagonia.com Customer Service
In preparation for my 15-hour flight home with the kid in tow (aka "Mission Evil Spawn Drop"), I thought I would take advantage of her last day of school abroad and stretch out my legs a short hike around a nearby recreational area. I was in Taipei, Taiwan logging eight weeks of volunteer hours with Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association through Patagonia’s environmental internship program. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into environmentalism in a different culture while Patagonia continued to cover my salary and benefits. The timing was just right that allowed Zoe to tag along for the intensive language and cultural immersion, as well as meet her family across the Pacific. The tropical weather would provide an interesting environment to put some of our gear to use.
The forecast showed a partly cloudy day in the upper 70s, but after two
months in Taipei I had learned my lesson and set my Microburst Jacket on top of
the Cap 1 Scoop, Inter-Continental Shorts [ed note: a close current equal is the Inter-Continental Hideaway Skirt], Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks,
and Huckleberry Shoes.
Sure enough, I was woken early by the sound of heavy rain. Fortunately, by the time I left home, the rain had eased up. I threw my Microburst Jacket [ed note: a close current equivalent is the Jetstream Jacket] on and stashed my wallet in the chest pocket. The generous hand pocket was more than enough for my water bottle and a banana. The two-way adjustable hood was a nice bonus so I could watch out for those errant mopeds as I maneuvered my way out of town.
While it was cool when I set off, the temperature climbed steadily and the rain turned into a mist. I soon unzipped the pit zips to ventilate. Another half mile or so, I was beginning to wet out; it was pretty amusing seeing the moisture bead up on the inside of the jacket. I tied the jacket around my waist and continued on.
The Huckleberries provided sufficient support for my feet and ankles but it drove me mad having to stop and tighten my laces repeatedly. On top, I was glad that I went with the Cap 1 Scoop since the long sleeves gave my arms some protection from the mosquitoes that were feasting on my legs. The DWR (durable water repellent) kept the Inter-Continental Shorts dry in the rain and did not feel clammy in the high humidity subtropical climate. While it may seem to be overkill to have DWR on a pair of fast drying shorts, I have learn to appreciate how they kept my thighs warm the times that the wind and rain had decided to do the sideways tango and soak my shorts. The DWR also offers protection from the spills that often end up in my lap whenever Hurricane Zoe is around. Kudos also goes to the Lightweight Endurance Ankle Socks that kept my sweaty feet dry and comfortable.
It was interesting testing out our gear in a completely different environment from the high desert. I found the shell selection process much trickier in a high humidity environment. While the Microburst Jacket worked well in keeping me dry from the rain on the outside, the moisture generated by my body heat was just not able to overcome the dense humidity and pass through the membrane fast enough for the jacket to feel breathable on the inside. Instead, it wet out. The lighter Women’s Nine Trails Jacket [ed note: look for the W's Nine Trails Jacket to be available during our summer sale, starting August 12] may have been a better alternative in terms of breathability, but I would be limited in my pocket option and would undoubtedly be a sad, wet mess if I were caught in a heavy rain. For me, I would prefer to be protected by water-proof layers and sacrifice a bit of breathability.
The Capilene 1 is definitely a keeper for its fast-drying characteristics. Most Taiwanese people line dry their laundry under covered balconies, and even with consecutive rainy days, my Capilene 1 could be dried in less than 24 hours. Think about how much quicker the Capilene 2 could dry with its more open weave! Now I am ready for those customers bound for the subtropics.
Here are some other tidbits from my time way…
The MLC would be even more impressive with a two way zipper in the organizer pocket as I prefer wearing it as a backpack and often reach behind for my passport. It would save me time not having to remove the bag off my shoulders.
Duway Skirt had an impressive dry time even in high humidity. I did a load of laundry with Nikwax’s Tech Wash once I returned home. Between the cleaner and dry-time in a dryer, my skirt's water repellancy was revived beautifully.
The Kid's Rain Shadow Jacket in Gold Yellow rocks! It made the kid easy to spot and the reflective strip on the back was especially helpful in the evenings. After getting a few compliments about her jacket, the ever fashion conscious one pleaded with her sweet brown eyes and said, “Mom, I need a yellow kid sized umbrella to match my jacket and galoshes.”
Lastly, the Women's All Wear Shorts' (discontinued) zippered interior pocket was great for change and a nice spot for valuables.