Patagonia’s description of the Light and Variable Hoody (LVH) reckons it’s good for “sudden cloudbursts or brisk boat rides back from the reef”, so the first thing we did is ignore that and take it for half an hour’s walk in a pretty heavy drizzle.
For a very lightweight (more on that later) jacket, the LVH keeps out more than enough rain. Getting back home we checked the damage underneath. A couple of damp patches on the shoulders, but nothing more. We had an iPhone in one of the handwarmer pockets and it came through unscathed. It’s not going to keep out sustained rain, but then again that’s definitely not what this is designed for.
There’s no doubt that under the actual conditions it’s meant for it’s going to have no trouble keeping you dry. .
The fit of the LVH through the torso arms is a regular fit and would allow for a thin jumper underneath. The bottom hem drawcord is unobtrusive, kept out of site by a loop hidden on the inside of the jacket. Surprisingly, there was no sign of the “stand-up collar with chin flap to prevent chafing” as mentioned in the product description on the LVH we bought.
Flat-felled seams on the torso will add durability if you’re treating your jacket badly. Our sewing guru wasn’t convinced that the chest zip was truly flat-felled (as described by the product description), but she did think it was more durable than a standard seam.
At 238g it weighs less than a can of Red Bull. If weight is important to you, the LVH should be on your shopping list. When we weighed it in on some digital scales it actually beat the advertised weight, chalking up only 216g. The stuffsack feature is a great little addition, as it gets rid of the nuisance of your jacket taking up space and getting in the way in your pack. When compressed down it’s about the size of a large grapefruit. It doubles as a travel pillow if you’re desperate. The zip pull tucks away as well leaving you with just the carabiner clip-in loop exposed. (iPhone 6 shown next to jacket)
With 50+ UPF it would be ideal for hiking with light drizzle or waterfall spray on a sometimes-sunny day. When we went out it was wet and fairly windy and the LVH did a good job of keeping us warm without overheating. There are two vent holes under each armpit.
The elasticized cuffs didn’t close over the wrist as tightly as we’d have liked and the cinch ties to tighten the hood are fiddly (you need to tie them in a knot) but you can’t have everything at $130. If it was raining but not too windy you could get away without properly tying the cinches.
Zippered pockets in our view are generally better than no zips so you can chuck stuff in them and not risk losing, or at least, worry about losing your gear. The zipper pulls for the pockets and the front zip according to the description are “climbing-rope-inspired”. They look nice and give you something extra to grab at when using the zips, but also have potential to get snagged, though it doesn’t seem too likely.
No doubt there’s a million different versions of the LVH on the market and plenty of them at a cheaper price. At least with Patagonia, you know you are getting a quality product, thoughtful features, sustainable textiles and the knowledge that you can get it fixed if anything goes wrong. Plus it looks cool.
WE WORE: Classic Red/size small
MATERIALS: 100% recycled polyester, durable water repellent finish
PRICE: AUD $129.95
WEBSITE: Check it out at patagonia.com.au/m-s-light-variable-hoody-11540
UPDATE 4 March 2017 – the Patagonia online store no longer lists the LVH for sale, but it is available through the US site, other retailers and possibly in store.
Review by @carpobrotus. He is 6’1 and weighs 65kgs. You might find this useful when considering what size might fit you well.
DISCLOSURE: No disclosure required on this one, we paid for the jacket ourselves. (Unfortunately) we did not receive any payment for this review.