Jacket- Patagonia Ultra Light Down Jacket

 My Ultra Light Down Jacket kept me warm on an early Morning Walk in Yosemite. 

My Ultra Light Down Jacket kept me warm on an early Morning Walk in Yosemite. 

Quick Notes

  • The polyester is super lightweight, but also strong and soft
  • Great Warmth to Weight Ratio (8.4 oz)

I love my Ultralight Down Jacket. I talked to the Patagonia employee when I purchased it and he told me that the liner/exterior fabric is one of the few things that Patagonia outsources, they don't have the capabilities to make fabric this light and strong. This fabric is actually more durable than the fabric on the regular Patagonia down jackets. 

The weight of this jacket is amazing, and even more so when the warmth of the jacket is considered. It is also pretty usable for layering, since it isn't too bulky. 

Bringing a down jacket into the backcountry is always kind of a risk, especially if rain is in the forecast. It doesn't keep it's excellent insulating power if it gets wet. I'm still considering if this will be the jacket joining me on the trail. For now it makes a great layer when I know I'm going to stay dry. 

 Bear sporting his jacket while we fueled up on rest.

Bear sporting his jacket while we fueled up on rest.

Jacket- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

We both love our Nano Puff Jackets! We also love Vernal Falls!

Quick Notes

  • Synthetic insulation makes this jacket perfect for keeping you warm in damp weather
  • Great all-around jacket
  • lightweight (14.4 oz)
  • Retails at $199

Bear got a Patagonia Nano-Puff Jacket for his birthday earlier this year, and it has been his go-to jacket ever since. In fact, his constant use inspired me to get my own. It is lightweight but warm, and a better option for backpacking than down when you are expecting wet weather. I especially like the fit of the women's version. it is tailored without being too form fitting, allowing flexibility. 

This jacket is NOT waterproof, it is water resistant, however synthetic insulation can keep you warm, even when it is wet, unlike down. It does weigh more than the Patagonia Ultralight down Jacket, but if you're expecting rain in the forecast it's probably a better choice. 

The Nano-puff jackets are great for layering because they are not bulky. The relatively thin profile makes this jacket great for wearing under a shell (such as a rain jacket) 

Nano-puff jackets retail at $199, however if you wait for outlet sales, the price becomes considerably more reasonable, though Patagonia is almost never considered cheap. I'll admit though I'm a sucker for Patagonia and it is probably the brand to which I am most loyal. (I got mine for about $60)

One thing I have noticed on my jacket is that the quilted stitching around the sleeve has started coming loose. This is something that is pretty concerning, and I'll be watching closely over the next few months. But Patagonia does have a very good gear guarantee, so I'm not worried. 

 

Men's Jacket 

Women's Jacket

Backpack- Ariel 65 (Osprey)

Quick Notes

  • Customizable sizing allows for the perfect fit
  • 65 liters is a good mid-range size for anything form a weekend to a week long trip
  • At 4 lbs 8 oz this pack is a little heavier than I think is reasonable. 
  • It is difficult to access the water bladder compartment. 
  • The pack is very comfortable to wear.  

I have been borrowing my brothers' packs for years. 

This year, for my 23rd birthday, almost exactly 6 months ago, I got my very own backpacking pack. The Ariel 65, made by Osprey. After a thoroughly exhausting search through the REI stock I settled on the Ariel 65 for the following reasons:

  • Size- 65 liters is as much as I ever want to carry. While I'm on the trail I will never be more than a few days away from town. My rule of thumb, having used many varied packs over the years: you will fill whatever space you have, so buy as small of a pack as you feel comfortable with. 
  • Ultra Customizable sizing- If you are purchasing a backpack be SURE you are buying the right size. The Ariel 65 allows you to have a separately sized harness and belt. I used a small frame, medium harness and medium belt, as sized by the backpack specialists at REI. 
  • Organization- I know, I know, more features like pockets and dividers add more weight. BUT, it can also add a level of comfort and convenience. The top of the pack separates and becomes a fanny pack. (my family always called them butt bags but I have recently been informed NO ONE else calls them this, anyone want to confirm this for me?)
  • Color. I love the colors that Osprey packs come in. They have great gem tones.

I've used my pack on two one nighters, and a two nighter in the Sierras since I got it and so far I'm pretty happy. It is heavier than I would prefer a pack to be, weighing in at 4lb, 8oz. The hydration pocket is not readily accessible, and is nearly impossible to get a bladder into if the pack is actually full. 

All that being said, it's working for me for now. I have a over a year before my planned departure and I have many trips between then and now. REI's return policy is pretty golden so I think I will continue using it until I decide if these factors will make or break the pack for me in the long run. 

In Summary: I would recommend this pack to people going on short trips who don't need to access their hydration bladder frequently. Honestly, if the bladder compartment became more accessible I would be pretty happy with the pack. That being said, bladders are never easy to wrangle. And I'll admit, I have developed a bit of a sentimental attachment. Still, in the future I think I'll have to find a lighter pack with less of the organizational features.