The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Review

The most breathable and insulated jacket in the line up.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $299 List | $194.35 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Very breathable, super comfortable
Cons:  Offers little wind resistance
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2018
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 14
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 5
  • Breathability - 15% 9
  • Style - 5% 8

The Skinny

After several years on the market, the Patagonia Nano-Air continues to be one of our favorite jackets for alpine climbing, cold weather running, and ski touring. No other jacket feels as soft and comfortable against our skin or offers as much stretch and mobility. We wore it around the house on chilly mornings, and even to sleep. Our Top Pick for Breathability, the Nano-Air isn't as breathable as a few lighter weight competitors, but its balance of warmth and breathability keeps it out in front of the pack. It has two super convenient chest pockets, two hand pockets, and a hood that fits well, even without a cinch cord. While most of the synthetic jackets in our review are alternatives to down jackets, the Nano-Air offers a warmer, weather resistant alternative to a fleece.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Patagonia Nano-Air earns top marks in the comfort and breathability metrics thanks to soft and stretchy fabrics and its unique FullRange insulation. Additionally, two hand warmer pockets, two chest pockets, and a snug hood made our testers eager to leave the jacket on whether they were on the move or at rest. While breathability compromises wind resistance, the DWR treatment makes this piece surprisingly water resistant, buying you some precious time to run for cover or dawn a waterproof layer in a sudden downpour.

Performance Comparison


We've heard some complaints about this jacket pilling  but we didn't experience this at all during our testing period.
We've heard some complaints about this jacket pilling, but we didn't experience this at all during our testing period.

Warmth


The Nano-Air sports 60g/m2 of Full range stretchy breathable insulation. Developed jointly by Japan's Toray Mills and Patagonia, we found it to be very warm for its weight and exceptionally lofty. When the wind blows, it cuts right through this jacket, but that's not the point.


The Nano-Air is incredibly breathable and ensures you stay warm by keeping you dry during aerobic activity. Billed as the layer you can put on and leave on all day, we found this to be fairly accurate for summertime alpine climbing. If your idea of fun involves running fast and sweating loads, check out the even more breathable version, the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody. For a slightly less breathable but more durable option, take a look at the Arc'teryx Proton LT.

This jacket is breathable and warm  so we could put it on and leave it on during alpine ridge scrambles.
This jacket is breathable and warm, so we could put it on and leave it on during alpine ridge scrambles.

We sweat it out during a lot of approaches, but dried quickly, and left it on for the entirety of the climbing. Supplemented with super light wind layer, the Nano-Air feels as warm as the Rab Xenon X, our Editors' Choice winner, and warmer than the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody. The Arc'teryx Proton LT has a thicker shell, and a little less lofty, and our testers feel it's not quite as warm as the Nano-Air.

This jacket is stretchy with a great fit  so you get maximum mobility when it counts.
This jacket is stretchy with a great fit, so you get maximum mobility when it counts.

Weight and Compressability


At 12.3 oz, the Nano-Air falls in the middle of the lightly insulated jackets, but still offers above-average warmth. The newest iteration of the Nano-Air stuffs into one of its hand warmer pockets. This feature is advantageous on jackets like the Rab Xenon X, allowing you stuff the jacket away easily and then clip it to your harness and go. Unfortunately, the stash pocket feature on the Nano-Air is basically unusable.

Good luck getting this jacket to fit inside its tiny stowaway pocket. We were not impressed with this feature.
Good luck getting this jacket to fit inside its tiny stowaway pocket. We were not impressed with this feature.

We stuffed and crammed for about ten minutes and still couldn't get the Nano-Air all the way into its pocket, and then we felt like the zipper was going to bust open. And after all that struggle? No clip-in loop! Hopefully, next time around Patagonia increases the size of the stowaway pocket and adds a clip-in loop.


Comfort


This is one of the most comfortable jackets in our review. The 50 denier plain weave nylon lining feels soft against the skin, like your favorite sweater, but way more expensive. It doesn't have the slippery feeling of the Micro Puff and Xenon X, and it doesn't feel sticky if you start to sweat.


The mobility is excellent on this jacket. It has enough stretch that we could wear it under a harness, reaching way above our heads all day, without it riding up. There is no hood cinch, but the hood is stretchy enough to remain snug right on your head or stretched over a helmet. The two large chest pockets are another excellent feature for climbers, allowing easy access to goos, energy bars, or crumpled up topos while the jacket is tucked under a harness or backpack hip belt. The same chest pockets allow for easy access to a smartphone or other similar goodies.

Looking to ditch the hood?
This award-winning hoodie is also available as a jacket. The Nano Air Jacket has all the same features of the Nano-Air Hoody, minus the hood; it also saves you about $50. While having a hood adds warmth to this product, we also understand that hoods can add extra bulk when layering. Either version of this product is highly recommended.

The waist hem cinches down with an elastic cord, and the cinches are located in the front of the jacket underneath the hand pockets. This feature addresses one of our common jacket complaints; accidentally clipping gear through the loops of slack in the waist cinches when they are located on the side of the jacket.


Weather Resistance


The price of excellent breathability is poor wind resistance, but the Nano-Air breathes so well that we're willing to pay the price and carry an extra wind jacket or a lightweight rain jacket. Alone, the Nano-Air can do little against the howling winds. What really blows us away in terms of weather resistance is the effectiveness of the DWR treatment. We thought that the soft, breathable shell fabric would soak up water like a sponge and leave us soaked. We were so wrong.


Water beads up and rolls off this thing like water off a duck's back. After five minutes under a heavy stream of water, the Nano-Air was still shedding water, and no moisture soaked through. It performed better than the heavier Arc'teryx Atom LT and much better than the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, which doesn't feature a DWR treatment.

Breathability


The Nano-Air gets an easy 10 in this metric and our Top Pick for Breathability, outperforming jackets constructed with weather resistant Pertex fabrics by a long shot. The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody and the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody are more breathable but aren't nearly as warm. Its that balance between warmth and breathability that no other manufacturer has been able to top. According to their website, Toray Mills' Fullrange insulation consists of four types of coil-shaped spiraling yarns that allow for stretch and breathability. The thicker, hollow core yarns create a higher loft, which helps trap and retain heat.


Obviously, we're not ripping jackets apart and looking at yarn types, but what is visibly apparent to us is the loft. The Nano-Air is puffier than the Outdoor Ascendant Hoody and the Arcteryx Proton LT.

Style


The people have spoken and have awarded the Nano-Air a high score in the style department. Check out the chart below to see where each jacket ranked in comparison with this one in the Style metric.


It's now available in seven different colors,(including camo!) often with the zipper colors matching the interior liner color, which we think looks cool.

Best Applications


Skinning up the hills on a cold morning, chilly winter snow jogging, and of course, alpine climbing are what the Nano-Air is best suited for. We also found it very useful for bouldering and sport climbing on cold days due to its excellent stretch and mobility.

Running  climbing  skiing  or just cooking pancakes! the Nano-Air does it all.
Running, climbing, skiing, or just cooking pancakes! the Nano-Air does it all.

Value


$300 dollars is expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for; a unique, useful, super-breathable jacket backed up by Patagonia's excellent warranty program. Judging by the popularity of this jacket, the price isn't keeping too many folks away.

Conclusion


Our Top Pick for Breathability, the Nano-Air has become a favorite piece in our alpine climbing kit. It scored higher metrics in comfort and weight than its closest competitor, the Arc'teryx Proton LT. It performs exceptionally on its own or as part of a layering system and repels water way better than we ever imagined. We were skeptical about the need for another specialized model in our ever-growing quiver of jackets, but Nano-Air made us believers. It's worth the extra cash if you are playing hard in the cold.


Matt Bento