In reviewing these jackets, it only makes sense to start with the original. I remember seeing the Patagonia Nano Air in the Patagonia store in Boulder, it is a completely different design. It is warm like a synthetic down jacket but it doesn’t have the garbage bag look and it feels like you’re wearing nothing, and yet, it’s pretty warm. The first time I put it on I thought, “Oh wow, I’ve got to get one of these.” Since then, I actually bought a light version as well. But what for though?
Therein lies the problem. This is an extremely versatile jacket that really doesn’t have a specific purpose. It’s a bit too warm to function as a replacement for a Patagonia R1 and a little too cold to function as a replacement for a light down coat. At the same time though, this is a better jacket than both the R1 or a light down sweater when it comes to functionality when you’re working hard in the outdoors.
This makes this piece a main staple in my kit, though I don’t get as much use out of it as I want to and even less so currently as I’ve largely replaced it with the Arcteryx Atom LT. Today, we’ll review the Patagonia Nano Air, I will be focusing on the regular Nano-Air and not the Nano-Air Light as the ladder feels mostly gimmicky and has little purpose in my kit.
The Patagonia Nano-Air jacket consists of an 30 denier 100% nylon ripstop outer shell with a 50 denier plain weave lining and 60-g FullRange insulation. The piece is completed with a Durable Water Repellent. Yet, despite the higher than expected denier of the jacket and the fact that it does have a DWR finish, this really does not feel like rugged or even a remotely waterproof piece. To be fair I haven’t tested the piece in these conditions but based on the feeling of it, it wouldn’t even occur to me to bring it on such a trip. That said, one of my favorite things about this piece is that it keeps me warm even when it’s drenched (typically with sweat) and another of my favorite things is that it works perfectly underneath my hardshell…so how concerned am I about he waterproofing nad ruggedness of the piece? Not very.
The Patagonia Nano-Air comes in two distinct versions, both versions can come with or with a hoody for a total of four separate jackets under the Nano-Air moniker.
This jacket, if it fits right, will be the most comfortable piece in your kit. It’s one of those pieces you can put on and forget to take off. It will work perfectly fine if you’re bone dry or if you’re drenched in sweat. The “Air” pieces from Patagonia are meant to feel like you’re wearing nothing but air and this piece certainly accomplishes that.
While not as warm as the Patagonia Better Sweater, the Nano Air is a pretty warm piece. This works best as a layer underneath something like a ski jacket or hard shell. Additionally, the temperature regulation is better than most other pieces as well. My personal rule of thumb is that this a jacket for short adventures (one day or less) in temperatures above 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Where It Has Succeeded:
- Colorado Ski Slopes (when paired with a hardshell)
- Colorado backcountry snowshoeing
What Doesn’t Work
Warmth in the Wind
Even a slight breeze will rip right through this jacket which means that even an average winter day, this jacket doesn’t really work as a standalone piece. That’s all there there really is to say about this, it really just does not work at all in the wind.
Historically, I’ve rolled this jacket up into it’s hood. However, newer versions have a pocket that converts into a stuff pouch, which is great. All that said, this jacket doesn’t pack up quite as well as a light down coat, which has lead me to skip it in lieu of a down jacket. This in combination with the fact that it is less warmth per ounce than a down coat is the primary reason I’ve gotten less usage out of it.
This is a piece that’s difficult to rate. When it was released, it was no doubt revolutionary but that was a long time ago, now there are several similar jackets on the market (notably the Arcteryx Atom and the North Face L3 Ventrix). Moreover, the soft insulation layer is hardly a critical one when compared to more rugged and warmer pieces. However, it is a nice luxury versus the less comfortable gear typically found in my kit. Therefore, this comes down to preference, if this jacket is functionally warm enough for the climate you’re going to be in, and the Patagonia Nano-Air is the best fit for you (or your choice of brand), then it’s a great jacket for you.