Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Review
Cons: Hard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thin
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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 for 2019. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our panel of fashion experts indicate that the Nano-Air is probably the most fashionable synthetic jacket you could buy, as long as you keep it looking clean and nice. These jackets are known for tearing if you climb in them too frequently, although this rarely affects their performance, only their looks. The face fabrics have been modified to reduce the pilling seen in older versions, and the color schemes are attractive and appealing.
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.
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.
— Andy Wellman & Matt Bento