Walk into a coffee shop in any mountain town, and take a poll of what type of jackets folks are wearing. Chances are that the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (and its various iterations – the Nano Puff Hoody and Nano Puff Pullover) is just about as prevalent as border collies and Toyota Tacomas. Ubiquitous? Yes, but for good reason. For outdoor aficionados, this versatile midlayer toes the line perfectly between real winter insulation and active use. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a bargain in this day and age when jackets of this genre retail for over $300.
The Nano Puff Jacket is insulated with 60 grams of Primaloft Gold insulation, meaning that it’s warm, but very light and easily compressible. It packs down into the chest pocket, transforming from a jacket into a bundle the size of a sandwich. OK, it’s more of deli Reuben with the works, but still, not too bad. Primaloft, while not as lightweight or warm as Down, has an advantage in wet weather. It retains 96% of its warmth even when wet, so you won’t be completely miserable when the clouds roll in.
The DWR finish is pretty standard on jackets these days, and it repels light rain and snow. It won’t keep you dry in a rain storm, but in most conditions, it allows moisture to roll off the jacket to retain warmth and breathability.
Patagonia kept the pockets simple on this jacket – no need to go overboard. That’s what the techy ski shell is for, right? The Nano Puff has two handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket, which, if you’re a fastidious packer, you can stuff the jacket into. I usually just jam it in my pack as is.
If you’re a wimp about winter weather like me, this jacket won’t cut it for sedentary cold weather activities – such as ice fishing, belaying, or looking at snowflakes under a microscope. But Patagonia doesn’t intend for it to be used as such. They’ve got burlier insulated jackets, such as the Fitz Roy Down Parka, to keep your furnace stoked in really cold conditions. The Nano Puff is intended for moderate activity in mild to cold temps, and it does a great job keeping me warm when I’m vacillating between moving and standing still for short periods of time.
I use this jacket as part of my layering system for skiing, whether I’m riding lifts or touring.
Here’s my go-to wardrobe for riding lifts:
- Thin baselayer
- Patagonia R1 Hoody
- Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
- Waterproof/breathable ski shell
For touring, I stash the Nano Puff Jacket in my pack, knowing I’ll inevitably pull it out at some point during the day for an extended break, or at the top of a cold descent.
The Nano Puff’s polyester shell isn’t incredibly wind resistant or waterproof, but it does block some of both elements. It’s fine as an outerlayer on mild days, but for skiing and other high-speed endeavors, it’s best used under a shell.
This midlayer’s strength is its versatility. It can kick it around town, be worn all day on the mountain, and is the perfect warmth for cold-weather, multi-pitch climbs. It’s made for movement, so you don’t overheat when the activity level kicks up.
Confession: I own three Nano Puffs (ahem, I know, I’m a gear junkie). I’ve got an ancient, kid-sized Nano Puff Hoody which I use for camping, garage work, and an all-around beater jacket. It reeks of engine oil and campfire smoke, and I stash it in a box in the bed of my truck, so it goes everywhere with me.
I also own a small Nano Puff Pullover from 2011 which has been my go-to skiing midlayer. And finally, this fresh 2014 Nano Puff Jacket, also a women’s size small. This most recent version, in my opinion, has the better fit. I’m 5’2″, 110 lbs. and I have a 5’3″ wingspan. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the current version’s slimmer fit and longer arms, but I definitely appreciate the improvements. It’s still roomy enough for layering over a fleece, and fits better under a shell than previous versions. And yes, the longer sleeves are much nicer for my ape index.
If you’re headed to the South Pole, look elsewhere. But, for most of us (skiers, climbers, and normal fresh air junkies), the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket is the perfect balance of weight and warmth for mild winter activities.
Technical Features: Just what you need and nothing else – lightweight, packable insulation and minimalist features.
Performance: For skiing and winter hiking, nothing beats this jacket’s dependable warmth and versatility.
Fit: A slimmer cut than previous years’ versions, yet with room to layer underneath, and longer sleeves make this the best-fitting Nano Puff jacket to date.
Evelyn Dong, Content Writer