Patagonia Micro Puff vs. Arc'teryx Atom LT: Which Insulated Jacket Is Best?

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Arc'teryx Atom LT insulated jacket

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Welcome to the heavyweight battle of insulated jackets. Patagonia's Micro Puff and Arc'teryx's Atom LT are two of the best mid- or outer-layer insulated jackets you can buy. They incorporate each brand's best tech, high-end materials, and warmth-to-weight ratios for two jackets that will work as your outer-layer for cooler and cold temps and serve as a mid-layer for frigid days. They're incredibly versatile pieces, stylistically working for the city and functional enough to handle most backcountry elements.

Recent upgrades to each model have only improved upon previous versions. The Micro Puff has boosted its durability while adding more planet-friendly materials. And the Atom LT updated the fit, cuffs, and fabric designs.

These upgrades and overall performance don't come without a cost—they're also both at the higher end of the price spectrum. We've tested previous versions of these jackets for years and have spent the past few months testing the newest versions while hiking, running, camping, walking the dog, and al fresco munching.

The Key Takeaways

Patagonia Micro Puff
  • $279 (jacket) and $329 (hoody) at time of publish

  • Sizes available: XS to 3XL

  • Regular fit, good for layering

  • Jacket weight: 10.4 ounces

  • Excellent weight-to-warmth ratio, packs into its own chest pocket

  • Loads of recycled and bluesign-certified materials, Fair Trade Sewn, PFC-free DWR

Arc'teryx Atom LT
  • $239 (jacket) and $259 (hoody) at time of publish

  • Sizes available: XS to 3XL

  • Regular fit, good for layering

  • Jacket weight: 12.2 ounces

  • Good weight-to-warmth ratio, and is packable but does not pack into its own pocket

  • Also has loads of recycled and bluesign-certified materials, Fair Trade Sewn, PFC-free DWR

TripSavvy's Pick

You can't go wrong with either jacket. And considering the Atom LT is $40 less in the jacket version and $70 less in the hoody, it's hard to justify the extra spend for the Micro Puff. The Atom LT more than gets the job done by providing good warmth for its weight. We also like the fleece side panels, which definitely amp movability and stretch. That said, we love the Micro Puff. It was a game-changer when it came on the market in 2017 and has only improved since then. Simply put: You can't go wrong with either jacket.

Read on for detailed testing insights of each insulated jacket.

Patagonia Men's Micro Puff Hooded Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Men's Micro Puff Hooded Insulated Jacket

Backcountry

Price at time of publication: $279 (jacket) and $329 (hoody)

Who should buy this: This jacket is for the traveler and outdoor adventurer that appreciates high-end materials, tech, design, and construction, wants their clothes to be as planet-friendly as possible, and doesn't mind spending top dollar for quality outerwear. This jacket has been clutch on side- and backcountry ski missions, dawn patrol paddleboarding and hiking sessions, late-evening dog walks, and packing for city sightseeing trips.

Materials: 0.8-ounce, 10-denier Pertex Quantum shell made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled ripstop nylon and 65 grams of PlumaFill 100 percent recycled insulation | Sustainability: Made with all recycled materials, bluesign-certified fabrics, and is Fair Trade Certified | Jacket weight: 10.4 ounces

Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket

Arc'teryx Atom LT jacket

REI

Price at time of publication: $239 (jacket) and $259 (hoody)

Who should buy this: Anyone looking for a stylish and functional insulated jacket for pretty much any outing. The Atom Series is Arc'teryx's mid-layer insulated line. And "LT" stands for lightweight. The smaller design and profile, along with the stretchy fleece side panels make this jacket particularly good for higher-output activities like climbing or running, especially when compared to the Micro Puff. We found this jacket ideal as an outer-layer for runs in the lower 40s and upper 30s, cooler bike rides, late evening and dawn patrol dog walks, and trips to the local brewery.

Materials: Dope Permeair 20D 100 percent nylon, Coreloft 60 100 percent Recycled Polyester, Tyono 20 denier shell with FC0 DWR treatment 100 percent nylon, and 94 percent polyester/6 percent elastane | Sustainability: Made with all recycled materials, bluesign-certified fabrics, and some colors use Dope Dying methods | Jacket weight: 12.2 ounces

Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Warmth

Winner: Patagonia Micro Puff

Both jackets are warmer than they look. They don't quite have the same warmth-to-weight ratio as traditional down, but they're about as close as you can get in the synthetic insulation space. That said, we've found Patagonia's Micro Puff to be a tad warmer. Patagonia employs 65 grams of PlumaFill insulation with elastic cuffs and an adjustable hem to help seal in warmth. We prefer this jacket on cooler outings and found it particularly useful to put on at the top of the skin track while getting our gear in order to ski back down.

Arc'teryx's blusign-approved Coreloft 60 is also surprisingly warm for its thinness. While we rocked the Micro Puff for quick skin-and-ski resort laps, we have preferred the Atom LT for running, biking, and faster hikes. While it's not the most breathable, we did find it more breathable than the Micro Puff.

With light layering, we found both jackets sufficient for temperatures in the low 40s. With proper layering, these jackets can work as outer-layers for temperatures below freezing. For many backcountry ski missions, we've found the Micro Puff to be a sufficient outer-layer over a thermal base-layer, sweat-wicking long-sleeve, and fleece jacket.

Patagonia Micro Puff testing

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Durability

Winner: Arc'teryx Atom LT

Patagonia's first version of the Micro Puff had durability issues. And while the latest version has improved, we still found Arc'teryx's Atom LT to be more durable, making this ideal for activities like climbing. The Atom LT features a Dope Permeair 20D lining with a Tyono 20 denier shell with FC0 DWR treatment. That's not a super durable build, but we've found it sufficient enough for pretty much all of our outings. We wouldn't ski through trees with either jacket as a stray limb could rip them reasonably easily. But if you avoid hard swipes or hits on sharp objects, both jackets should last many years.

Arc'teryx Atom LT testing

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Weight and Packability

Winner: Patagonia Micro Puff

Our biggest complaint for the Arc'teryx Atom LT? It doesn't come with a stuff sack, nor can it be stuffed and zipped into one of its own pockets. Patagonia's Micro Puff, meanwhile, can be stuffed and zipped into its chest pocket. Combine that with the fact that it weighs a couple of ounces less, and the Micro Puff is the clear winner for weight and packability.

That said, the Atom LT is also highly compressible, and you'd have no problem fitting it into a hiking daypack or a carry-on bag.

Patagonia Micro Puff vs Nano Puff

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Weatherproofing

Winner: It's a tie!

Neither one of these jackets are fully waterproof. But the main reason to get a synthetic insulated jacket over a down (besides cost) is synthetic insulation continues to retain and trap heat while wet. Down will clump and lose its heat-retaining properties. So even if you do happen to get caught in wet weather without a proper shell, these jackets will keep you mostly warm. (We do recommend wearing a hardshell or rain jacket over these layers if you know the weather will be bad.)

Both jackets fear PFC-free DWR coats, which we've found good at blocking light rain and moisture. But with enough moisture, the jackets will begin taking on and soaking up water.

Patagonia Micro Puff testing

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Value

Winner: Arc'teryx Atom LT

No doubt, Arc'teryx and Patagonia are two of the pricier outdoor gear brands. But we've found both brands are worth the cost. They make some of the highest-quality and top-performing gear you can find. And both brands mostly do it with the best planet-friendly practices. Still, the Atom LT comes at a price that's a tad easier to stomach.

When weighing your options, consider how you'll be using each jacket. Are you looking for something resembling a traditional puffy that's highly packable, lightweight, and could work well as an outer-layer while skiing? You probably want to spend up for the Micro Puff. Or are you looking for a stretchy, comfy layer that's also warm, but would also be better for running, fast-packing, or climbing? We suggest the Atom LT.

Arc'teryx Atom LT

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. Born and raised in the Midwest, he's now one of those Californians who those outside of California make fun of because he's wearing a puffy jacket when temperatures dip below 65 degrees. He's not ashamed. Nathan has owned versions of the Micro Puff for five or more years while testing the Atom LT for many months. Besides the Micro Puff, Nathan also frequently dons Outdoor Research's SuperStrand LT, Orvis's Pro Insulated Jacket, and Outdoor Vitals' Vario Jacket.

We've tested the Micro Puff and Atom LT jackets on hikes, backpacking, ski touring, paddleboarding, and backyard potlucks.

Was this page helpful?