Patagonia does “simple” just about as well as it can be done. I keep looking for anything not practically perfect about their stuff and I can usually not find it. I keep trying all their fancy new stuff and I like it all. The Simple Guide Pants and Hoody just seemed like a bit of a throwaway request as I looked for things to feature this spring; they’re not flashy or new or shiny or groundbreaking; just a basic set of very light softshell pants and jacket. I didn’t think I’d have much use for them and I didn’t know what I’d have to say about the set, which just goes to show how wrong I can be about what it is I’ll use or like. Since the package arrived from Patagonia, I’ve hardly gone a day without wearing them.
I loved the way the pants fit; nice and slim without being tight, with a perfect rise hitting just over the tops of my hipbones. Plenty comfortable walking, climbing, or just sitting around. See, a lot of people wouldn’t really “get” how important that is, but I think most women have had a pair of pants that felt comfortable for walking but had that “dig-in” feeling when the wearer sits down. Not these – they are awesome. They feel like pajamas (okay, they ALMOST feel like pajamas); you forget about them no matter what you’re doing when you have them on.
The hoody is Patagonia’s “regular” fit (as opposed to “slim” fit, meaning that it’s a bit relaxed to give the wearer plenty of options for underlayers. I was able to layer the Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket under this hoody to great effect and without any restriction in movement. It’s just a “relaxed” fit, not baggy, so order your regular size and you’ll be happy.
Both the jacket and pants have been my go-to for everything from walking the dog to climbing a ridge, to a five day camping/ice climbing venture. Actually that last part was super stressful as I usually don’t wear gaiters when ice climbing and as a result a lot of my pants are riddled with holes at crampon level. I loved these pants so much that I had some anxiety about cutting them up so I borrowed gaiters from a camping partner. Coincidentally enough this was the first ice climbing trip I’ve been on that I didn’t end up ruining a pair of pants. Hmmm. Those two things can’t be related…can they?
Like I said, features are basic. Pants have two hip pockets and one leg pocket. Jacket has one inner pocket and two zippered handwarmer pockets. No pit zips, no vents. You don’t really need them as the fabric is quite lightweight. Not heavy on the features but just what you need – like the name says, they are simple but effective. I can’t imagine going anywhere without these for all but the bitterest of the winter months (too light for that); they’re so versatile, comfortable, and useful. The temperature range is truly incredible. On my camping trip I wore these pants with a base layer in low-teen temps and on their own into the high 40s and they were reasonably comfortable at both extreme ends of that temperature range. During spring, summer, and fall in Alaska they’re going to get a TON of wear, I can already tell.
It’s hard to find anything to complain about with Patagonia stuff but I will say that the pants could be a tad bit longer. Tall ladies will want to look for the longer-inseam length. Other than that I don’t think you could do any better if you need a nice light jacket and pants for variable conditions. I beat them up and they still look brand new. They wash well (and I should know, since I’ve worn them so much already they’ve been washed several times) and pack down pretty nicely. A wonderful surprise from a company I already held in high esteem. At $99 for the pants and $149 for the hoody, it’s top-quality gear at a reasonable price point.