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Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Review

The most iconic active insulated mid-layer offers great breathability
Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody
Photo: Patagonia
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $299 List | $299.00 at Backcountry
Pros:  Comfortable, very breathable, light, stylish
Cons:  Hard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thin
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Andy Wellman & Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 4
  • Breathability - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody is perhaps the most popular and iconic active insulated mid-layer, and is the jacket that kicked off the trend that has reconfigured the synthetic insulated jacket landscape. While it has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, we feel that it is one of the better active mid-layers that you can buy. It is thinner and not as warm as most of its competitors, but is also more breathable, making it especially valuable for high output activities and warmer weather, or as a layering piece. It is less useful as a stand-alone jacket if one is not staying active.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $299.00 at Backcountry$329.00 at Backcountry$155.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$239.20 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$207.20 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Comfortable, very breathable, light, stylishLightweight, wind and water resistant, quite warm, durable face fabricLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableVery warm, comfortable fit, seals out the weatherVery comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobility
Cons Hard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thinExpensive, no hem drawcords, hood is slightly tight with a helmet onDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticHeavier than most, not very breathable, priceyPricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itself
Bottom Line A thin, lightweight insulating layer for days when you don’t stop movingAn amazing jacket for active outdoor pursuits that is an ideal fit for wearing all the timeAn ideal outer layer for throwing on during windy and cold days outsideSuper comfortable and very warm, this jacket is a go-to choice all winter long, regardless of what you are doingAn excellent fitting jacket that is comfortable and breathable for use when active, and also serves as a great lightweight mid-layer
Rating Categories Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Patagonia DAS Light Hoody Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody
Warmth (25%)
6
8
7
9
5
Weight And Compressibility (20%)
7
9
9
5
7
Comfort (20%)
8
6
6
9
9
Weather Resistance (20%)
4
8
8
7
5
Breathability (15%)
9
5
5
4
9
Specs Patagonia Nano-Air... Patagonia DAS... Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Atom AR... Arc'teryx Atom LT...
Measured Weight (size) 14.4 oz (L) 12.0 oz (L) 11.0 oz (L) 17.6 oz (L) 13.4 oz (L)
Insulation 60g FullRange insulation 100% recycled 65g PlumaFill 60g Stratus 120 g/m2 Coreloft body, 80 g/m2 underarms, 60 g/m2 hood - with Dope Permair 20 in armpits 60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides
Outer Fabric 100% nylon ripstop 10 denier Pertex Quantum Pro Atmos ripstop Tyono 30 denier nylon 20D Nylon Tyono
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes, clip loop Yes Yes, clip loop No No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest

Our Analysis and Test Results

New Colors
With a new winter season upon us, Patagonia has released new colorways for the Nano-Air Hoody. The jacket remains the same though, and the info found in this review is representative of the current model, despite the fact that you can no longer buy it in the color we tested.

As the jacket that redefined the synthetic insulation genre, the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody is still likely the most popular choice among this rapidly expanding field. For those who have owned one in the past and are looking to re-up, there have been a few new revisions. Most notably, the face and liner fabrics have been updated to minimize past issues with pilling, while at the same time, all the fabrics and insulation used in construction have increased their percentages of recycled material. The jacket is also now a hair lighter, but it lost one of its chest pockets and has no drawstring at the hem in case you want to tighten up the fit below the waist.

The fit of this jacket presented our head tester, as well as many online reviewers, with some difficulties. It's designed to be "slim-fitting," and in size medium, which we normally wear for Patagonia clothes (typically a large in all other brands), it fits close enough to the body to preclude wearing thicker layers underneath. While the jacket fits and looks nice when we are not moving, raising or moving our arms reveals considerable restrictions in our shoulders and armpits, and the sleeves feel a bit short and tight, we cannot pull them up over our forearms because the cuffs are too tight.

Online reviewers have mostly commented about choosing a larger size when on the cusp and complained that the sleeves were then much too long and the overall fit too baggy. Active mid-layers such as this one are made with stretch fabrics and designed to be hypermobile, so the fact that this one suffers in that department, and presents people with difficult choices regarding fit, is disappointing and led us to consider other options for our Top Pick awards. Even so, it will remain a massively popular jacket, and one we recommend highly if it fits you well.

Performance Comparison


The Nano-Air looks nice, breathes excellent, and is very...
The Nano-Air looks nice, breathes excellent, and is very comfortable, making it one of the most popular and well-loved active insulated jackets. We struggled with the fit, and aren't alone, but concede that this is one of our favorite layering pieces.

Warmth


The Nano-Air Hoody is made with 60 g/m2 FullRange, which is a proprietary insulator made by Patagonia in conjunction with Japan's Toray Mills. While we have no reason to feel like this isn't effective insulation that breathes and stretches well, we can't help but point out that compared to the competition, this is easily the thinnest jacket. Thin insulation means less room to trap warm air, and in our comparative testing, we felt that it was not by any means the warmest option. Worth pointing out is that our warmth testing took place using these jackets as an outer layer, standing still in the horrendous snowy cold, while the Nano-Air is designed specifically for use while generating body heat by staying active. If you simply want a super warm jacket, don't choose this one! If you want a very versatile jacket to add to your layering system, it remains a solid choice.

This jacket helps trap body heat if you are moving and generating a...
This jacket helps trap body heat if you are moving and generating a lot of it yourself, but stand still in a cold snowstorm and prepare to suffer. It is not really suitable as an outer layer in conditions such as these, but if layered over, can add desirable warmth.

Weight and Compressibility


Our men's size large test jacket weighed in on our independent scale at 14.4 ounces. This makes the Nano-Air one of the lighter insulated options you can buy, and indeed this newly updated version is a bit lighter than previous versions. With one less chest pocket, and lacking any drawcords or buckles to fine-tune the fit, even in the hem, it's not surprising that Patagonia has managed to minimize the weight.

Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier...
Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier transport, as well as a nalgene bottle for size reference.

This jacket stuffs into its chest pocket turned inside out. In previous years, our testing revealed that this was nearly impossible to do so because the pocket was too small, but with the new version, we found it to be not too difficult. The stuffed pocket is relatively easy to zip closed, and clips handily onto a gear loop of your harness, making it a great emergency piece for bringing along on multi-pitch climbs.

At a mere 12.5 ounces for a size large, this is one light jacket!
At a mere 12.5 ounces for a size large, this is one light jacket!

Comfort


There is no doubt that the interior liner fabric of this jacket is the softest and most comfortable of any we tested, especially as it rests against the skin. It is not a stretch to compare the texture to cotton, and it sometimes reminds us of our favorite sweatshirt. Unfortunately, the fit and mobility of this jacket are not as optimized as other competitors. While the four-way stretch fabric is indeed very stretchy, the fit is perhaps too sleek and slim and inhibits mobility, especially if wearing another mid-layer underneath, such as a Patagonia R1.

One of our principal complaints with the fit for us (we chose to go...
One of our principal complaints with the fit for us (we chose to go smaller when on the fence between sizes) is the length of the sleeves, which are a bit too short. Also, the cuffs and diameter of the sleeves are such that it is impossible for us to pull or roll them up to aid in venting or mobility.

We were bummed that the sleeves fit so snuggly that we were unable to pull them up above our forearms, a great way to quickly vent while climbing or running, and we also noticed that fit in the collar also feels slightly restricting, especially if we want to tuck in our chin. Try this one on before buying (or make sure you can send it back). If it fits you well, that is awesome. If not, know that there are many similar options from other companies that we found to be more mobile.

The hood is only held in place using elastic without the option for...
The hood is only held in place using elastic without the option for securing the fit with pull cords, but does a good job sealing off the face opening. The collar also pulls up to cover the neck and chin nicely.

Weather Resistance


If you encounter rough weather while wearing this jacket, we highly recommend layering over it with a shell. The wind cuts right through the very air-permeable face fabric and insulation, and if that wind is cold, this jacket does little to protect you as an outer layer.

To find out how water resistant it is, we put it to the test with...
To find out how water resistant it is, we put it to the test with the garden hose, and unfortunately this jacket was not one of the better performers.

When testing its level of water repellency by spraying it with a hose, we found that the DWR coating is not as effective as some other active insulated jackets, especially those made by Arc'teryx or Rab. While some small amount of beading occurs, enough to be comfortable in a light drizzle, a significant amount of water also absorbs directly into the fabric itself.

Despite having a DWR coating, we found that with very little...
Despite having a DWR coating, we found that with very little spraying, water immediately soaked into the face fabric without beading and running off, one of the poorer results from this test. This thin jacket is also not very wind resistant.

Breathability


With its highly air permeable face fabrics and very thin layer of insulation, breathability is where the Nano-Air shines. It is truly effective at helping you dump excess heat while working hard, and this makes it a perfect layer for wearing while skinning uphill, Nordic skiing on frigid days, or running in cold temps. It seems like almost everyone we know wears one of these jackets on the skin track.

Running uphill repeats on a hot day to test and compare the...
Running uphill repeats on a hot day to test and compare the breathability of our test group, we found that running in the Nano-Air was far more pleasant than some of the options that didn't breathe well, cementing its place as the best choice if you want breathable insulation.

Value


As with most clothing made by Patagonia, this jacket doesn't come for cheap. It ties with the Arc'teryx models as the most expensive that we have reviewed, but it is always worth pointing out that when buying Patagonia, you are also buying their ironclad guarantee, meaning you may be getting a jacket for life, not simply a jacket for a few years. If this jacket fits and also suits your needs perfectly, we think the value is good, but also point out that there are similar options that retail for a lower price that perform just as well.

This is one of the most popular active synthetic insulated layers...
This is one of the most popular active synthetic insulated layers made of the proprietary FullRange insulation. Most people seem more than willing to shell out the money needed to own one. We like it for hanging out at the crag on cool but not prohibitively cold or windy days.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody is a well-loved and popular active insulating mid-layer that thrives in aerobic circumstances where its thin layer of insulation provides just the right amount of warmth while also breathing extremely well. It is not generally sufficient as an outer layer, and the fit seems to be more difficult than most to dial in.

The original, the Nano-Air, is one of the thinnest but also best...
The original, the Nano-Air, is one of the thinnest but also best layers for wearing on active days where you still need insulation, like this late fall hike we took to one of the many beautiful lakes along the PCT in Oregon.

Andy Wellman & Matt Bento