Friday, February 22, 2008

Still Waiting...

UPDATE FEB. 25: The ship date for the Critical Mass Bag is now MARCH 3 according to

Usually when a movie's release date is pushed back or the studio doesn't release it until the last minute (so that critics can't review it), it means trouble--script was weak, production problems, cast issues, etc. I don't know if that is the case in the retail world, but Patagonia continues to push off the shipment of the Critical Mass Bag. When the bag first appeared on the website in January, it said that it would ship February 5th. Then for a long time it said February 25th. A few days ago it changed to February 26th and now it says February 27th. Problems with production? Should we be concerned about this? Is this a bad sign?



Bicycle Days Are Almost Here!

I know that there are many hard-core bicycle riders out there. I've seen the blogs of people who are riding their bicycles through the snow, pumping the cranks against sideways rain. I ain't that guy. I like nice warm weather when I ride. As a result, I haven't ridden my bicycle to work since November. But the weather is starting to come around a bit and bicycle days are almost here. I'm eager to hop back on my bicycle (a grey '07 Specialized Sirrus, above) and get it rolling again. I've been running off and on in the meantime but am looking forward to throwing a leg over the ol' two-wheeler in the near future.

Labels: , ,


Palo Alto Patagonia

Paid a visit to the Palo Alto Patagonia store Wednesday. I got there about 45 minutes before closing on a dreary, rainy day. The store is on Alma Street which is a pretty busy narrow street (had to wait to open my car door lest an approaching automobile convert my 4-door car to a 3-door car) just off University Avenue which leads into Stanford University. It's a great looking store that stretches pretty deep behind a fairly narrow store front.

It was the second to last day of the Winterfest Sale and I found that they had some gear that had long since sold out on the website like the old version of the MLC bag and some printed t-shirts. They also had a good amount of winter stuff like the Down Vest, Rubicon Puff, and so on. I liked the look and feel of the store and while I didn't come out with anything (still waiting for the new Critical Mass to come in and the Stretch Latitude jacket to go on sale), I did encounter some warm employees and a catalog (for some reason I never got the Heart of Winter catalog in the mail).

The buddy I was with was pretty shocked by Patagonia's prices and we had a good discussion about the environmental causes Patagonia supports and the R & D that goes into the products. He was convinced though that the bottom line was that Patagonia was out to make money and frankly, I couldn't refute that--what business isn't? However, without knowing much about the company, it's easy for people to look at the price tag and just see it as a rip-off.

Labels: , , , ,


Monday, February 18, 2008

PAT COM REVIEW: The Patagonia Down Vest

The down vest is a staple for any self-respecting outdoor apparel company. One can picture this item in situations ranging from being featured in a 1970s ski magazine to an ultra-modern runway collection during New York's Fashion Week (though those vests are probably made of leather, sequined, and cost more than a mid-sized sedan. Patagonia's version of the down vest is a slightly streamlined throwback that does what it needs to do: keep the wearer warm. If you'd like to read the specifics about fabric and weight, you can find it on the Patagonia website or from any other internet retailer's website. The first impression I had of the Patagonia Down Vest was that it was simple. You won't find any crazy quilting or design anywhere on the vest.
The only parts of the vest that breaks with the horizontal stitching are the diagonally stitched side panels. Those panels are in a different fabric (if I'm not mistaken it's the same fabric that lines the inside of the vest) and have less space between stitch lines. The effect it has is to make the sides slimmer and not so puffy. It's a nice touch that doesn't take away from the vest's aesthetic nor it's function.

One of the things I like about the vest are the tricot-(fleece, more or less) lined collar and hand-warmer pockets. The pockets are toasty warm on a cold day and are heated from your body inside the vest.
Also, there's no skin-shock on the neck from chilly nylon. It's only soft and warm and that's definitely one thing you would want from something you're going to be putting on in freezing weather. Some other nice touches to the vest include a zipper-secured inside pocket on the left side of the chest as well as pull cords that allow you to cinch up the bottom hem of the vest.The pull cord is even textured to make it somewhat non-slip.
It also comes with a stuff sack that, according to Patagonia, is also treated with a Durable Water Repellant. Now in my experience, I've never had a need for the stuff sack. I suppose if someone was packing for a trip and had very little space the stuff sack would help compress the vest. For me though, it sits on a shelf in my closet, still folded the way it was when Patagonia sent it to me. It's a nice touch, I'm just not sure what to use it for.
The zippers are also terrific--smooth and completely snag-free. The grosgrain strip that lines the wind flap behind the zipper is a nice touch that gives me confidence to zip that thing up extra fast in cold weather.

One thing that bugs me about the vest is the shortness of the bottom hem. It could be a bit longer and at times when I'm sitting down, the back portion of the vest kind of slides up my back and makes it look really shrunken. Part of the reason for this is the slick inner fabric lining that makes it easy to put on. But I think it would help if Patagonia extended the length of the bottom of the vest just an inch or two.

For me, cost will always be one of the most important considerations. I appreciate high-quality but I'm also far from able to pay full price on Patagonia stuff. So I wait...and wait...and wait for stuff like this to go on sale...and then get marked down again. Patagonia currently has the vest on it's Winterfest Sale for half price, $72.50. This is much closer to my price range and I figure it's a vest that could last me a very long time, especially considering Patagonia's lifetime guarantee.

So overall, I consider this vest to be a really great piece that keeps me warm in cold weather. It's versatile enough to brave a variety of temperatures and easy and light enough to take off when it warms up. I've had no problems with down coming through or fabric snagging or pilling (though I'm sure with enough use the collar and pocket lining will pill) so I would chalk that up to solid Patagonia research and development. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about something I've addressed here or something on which you'd like me to comment.

Labels: , , ,