Patagonia Men's Figure 4 Jacket:
Unless you're strictly a fair-weather climber or backpacker, you're probably a little leery of most soft shell outerwear manufacturer claims. When you consider all of the hiking and climbing soft shell outerwear with variable degrees of breathability and weather protection, it's easy to understand the caution. That's one of the reasons Patagonia developed their patent-pending Composite Seam System (CSS) for their Figure 4 Jacket. Many soft shell manufacturers offer designs with exceptional water repellency, but water still seeps in around stitched seams, so most offer taped or glued seams that sometimes chafe, wear or dig--especially beneath a pack. Patagonia's CSS design is just as durable but it's lighter and softer than rigid glue points and compresses easily within your backpack. CSS is a new sonic weld technology that does away with threads and seeping stitch holes. These weld seams have a special soft adhesive mesh tape that beats the width and weight of contemporary taped construction with a folding flex that can in some cases save up to 15% more pack space than compressed soft shells in similar sizes. Construction technology aside, this is a highly functional design with articulated elbows for mobility and a neck gasket closure that helps seal out any repelled rivulets of water that might otherwise run down your spine. The cut is anatomically contoured but still loose enough for all but the heaviest insulating middle layers. Keep in mind that the length hits the hips, making the Figure 4 jacket slightly shorter than conventional alpine outerwear--especially the ski stuff. Distinct Centaur Cuffs with hook-and-loop closures cover the back of your wrists without adding excess bulk in front. If you ever wanted to take a chance on breathable soft shell performance for those long hikes up the ridgeline, Patagonia's Figure 4 is one of the best bets we've seen this season.
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