In recent years a new category has become popular in outdoor active wear: ultralight down jackets that are thin enough to be layered and compressible enough to be stowed into a day pack. Patagonia was at the forefront of this development with their nano puff technology, a synthetic insulation that blocks wind and traps heat without excess weight or bulk.
|Patagonia Nano Puff pullover; photo from Patagonia.com|
Patagonia has a variety of nano puff options to choose from, including a zippered jacket, a hooded jacket, a vest, and a hybrid fleece/nano puff jacket. This summer I’ve been testing the original of the series: the men’s nano puff pullover, and it has become one of those items that is a must-have for any outdoor excursion.
|At Yosemite High Sierra camp|
Although I tested the jacket during the summer, I had several opportunities to test its insulating capacity in cold weather, particularly in trips to Yosemite, the High Sierra, and the Colorado Rockies where temperatures routinely dropped into the 30s at night. I’ve worn it in active and casual settings, and it has proven much more durable than its lightweight construction appears.
Here’s a quick rundown of some features: the entire pullover weighs just over 10 oz (10.2, to be exact), and the insulating material is called PrimaLoft One, a microfiber material that is hydrophobic and highly compressible. The fabric maintains thermoregulation even when wet, but since the external polyester ripstop shell and interior lining are both coated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR), you have significant water resistance in a sudden storm before getting soaked.
True to its green construction principles, the shell is made from 100% recycled materials such as soda bottles, old carpets, and worn out clothing. There’s a single vertical zip chest pocket to store something light like sunglasses or a trail map – and when you need to store the jacket …
… the entire thing compresses into the aforementioned pocket and zips closed into a hand-sized pack that can easily be crammed into a duffel bag or backpack. And if for some reason you can't fit it in your pack, there also a carabiner loop if you want to clip it on the outside.
All of Patagonia’s nano puff tops have elasticized cuffs and hemlines to further trap warmth, and the pullover version I’ve tested has a deep collar zipper to help ventilate when the weather gets warmer. Considering that it’s essentially a down jacket, I’ve been impressed with the nano puff’s comfort across a wide temperature range; it breathes reasonably well during light aerobic activity like hiking or slacklining, and it traps body heat quite well after the sun goes down.
|Early morning hiking in Yosemite; nano puff sitting comfortably under backpack|
Without question, the most attractive aspect of the nano puff is its versatility as stand-alone outerwear, or as a middle layer for seriously cold outings. The jacket is thin enough and straight enough that you shouldn’t have to size up on your outer jacket, and it fits very easily under a backpack. The exterior surface is pleasantly slick, allowing the sleeves to slide underneath an outer layer very easily.
The only minor tweak I’d suggest for my own preference – not to mention my 6’2” height - is to make the trunk length slightly longer. It falls just above my waist line, which is ideal if used for layering under a jacket - but since I’ll probably use mine as an external layer for the vast majority of my use, I’d prefer a couple more inches of length in the trunk.
I wouldn’t use the nano puff for running, because its ventilation is relatively limited compared to Patagonia’s outstanding fleece and lightweight breatheable shells. However, for pretty much all other activities, and for all-purpose outdoor recreational use, the nano puff pullover has become the first thing I grab, whether I’m headed up to the mountains, or just out into the neighborhood.
Patagonia’s nano puff pullover retails for $169 from the company website – and here are the other varieties the company has available for both men and women:
*Product provided by Patagonia
**If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at email@example.com.
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