Review: Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket

Hybrid, Breathable Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket
$199, 10 oz./284g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL

Throughout four straight days of backcountry skiing in the mountains above Lake Tahoe in early February, winds gusting at 40 to 50 mph buffeted us—the pockets of protected terrain seemed rare—and snow fell for three of those days, heavily at times. A few days later, I was Nordic skate skiing and snowshoeing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, on days ranging from overcast and windy to breezy with warm sunshine. On all of those days, temperatures were cold enough—from the low 20s to the mid-30s Fahrenheit—to quickly chill me if I either under-dressed for the wind or sweated from overdressing. And for hours at a time on those days of widely ranging conditions and exertion levels, I wore Patagonia’s new Nano-Air Jacket.

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Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.

Whether skinning or snowshoeing uphill carrying a pack in wind, or creating my own wind on skate skis, every time I needed a touch of warmth and maximum breathability, I turned to this hybrid insulation piece. That’s because it traps sufficient heat in my torso while releasing excess heat off my back and arms. It achieves this through a hybrid design that puts 40g FullRange synthetic insulation, which stretches and breathes, in the front of the jacket, upper shoulders, and top sides of the sleeves, and a much more breathable, wicking, stretch waffle knit on the back of the sleeves, in the sides, and covering the entire back.

It also sports a very lightweight, 20-denier, nylon ripstop shell and lining. The result is a jacket with exceptional mechanical stretch and air permeability (40 CFM on front and 130 CFM on back). This jacket offloads body heat about as fast as you produce it.

Everything about the Nano-Air Jacket is low bulk and low profile, for functioning as an outer layer without getting in your way, or layering under a shell. When I wore it as an outer layer while skinning uphill for several hundred feet, the shell fabric, treated with a DWR (durable, water-repellent finish), repelled heavily falling snow well enough that it never got more than superficially damp.

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket.

The two zippered front pockets, positioned mid-chest, above a pack or harness belt, each has the space for a pair of winter gloves. The stretchy, close-fitting cuffs have thumbholes and slip easily inside virtually any type of glove, helping keep my hands warm. The hem isn’t adjustable, but stretches and fits snugly to keep cold drafts out.

The jacket lacks a hood, for fitting more unobtrusively under a hooded shell, and the collar fits closely around the neck to block drafts.

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As manufacturers increasingly specialize their outdoor apparel, designing jackets that are better at mimicking how our bodies behave—moving with us and releasing and trapping heat variably in different areas—the lightest and most breathable garments are precisely the ones with the greatest versatility. Those are the ones you’ll wear the most when active because you’re less likely to overheat and need to peel them off, and they feel comfortable and layer effectively underneath shells.

Patagonia’s Nano-Air Jacket stands out as one of the lightest and most breathable in this expanding category. I’ll wear it for everything from backcountry and Nordic skiing in winter to hiking and climbing from spring through fall.


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See all of my reviews of breathable insulated jackets, all insulated jackets, and all outdoor apparel that I like.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

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