Synthetic Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody
$249, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XXS-XL
A lot of people wore this jacket before I did—or, more accurately, a lot of people wore most of this jacket—before I zipped it up at my campsite on a rocky ledge high above Baron Lake in Idaho’s magnificent Sawtooth Mountains. But I wouldn’t know that by simply looking at or wearing my Nano Puff Hoody. I’m speaking only partly metaphorically: Besides having excellent performance qualities, this jacket now contains cutting-edge, synthetic insulation that comes mostly from recycled polyester—which means that it’s not only good for me in the backcountry, but it’s good for the planet my kids are inheriting.
I stayed warm in the three-season Nano Puff Hoody on clear mornings and evenings with lows around 40° F on a three-day, mid-August backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths, camping in the Sawtooth Valley in mid-September, and on an 80-mile, five-day backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park Complex in the last week of September. The synthetic 60g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco consists of fibers a fraction of the diameter of a human hair packed together in a way that forms tiny air pockets to trap body heat. Like down feathers, those ultra-fine fibers are softer and more compressible than thicker-diameter fibers, making PrimaLoft Gold warm for its weight and volume, while the brick-like quilting pattern with horizontal side panels prevents insulation from migrating and clumping.
The water-resistant fibers also maintain those air pockets when wet, allowing moisture to pass through them, meaning this insulation “breathes” and continues keeping you warm: PrimaLoft claims that Gold Eco maintains 98 percent of its dry thermal efficiency when wet.
The close-fitting hood, designed to wear under a helmet, isn’t adjustable but is elasticized and well tailored—staying on my head in wind, moving with me when I turn my head, and not obstructing peripheral vision at all. The two zippered outside pockets are roomy and warmed my hands quickly on chilly mornings. The jacket zips into its inside chest pocket, which has a loop for clipping to a carabiner when stuffed. The shell fabric’s DWR (durable, water-resistant treatment) repels light precipitation. Elasticized cuffs and an adjustable hem seal out cold, and the sleeves are long enough to not ride up when you’re reaching overhead, as when climbing.
But the big news is that the new Gold Eco is made with 55 percent recycled polyester insulation—maintaining its performance qualities with a significant reduction in environmental impact. Patagonia makes several models of the Nano Puff in men’s, women’s, and kids’ sizes, all with PrimaLoft Gold Eco—which will keep two million plastic bottles out of landfills just in the first year of sales of these jackets. More than half the material in the Nano Puff line’s zippers comes from recycled polyester, and the line has used 100 percent recycled polyester in the shell and liner fabrics since 2009. And PrimaLoft has replaced all of its Gold Insulation with the new recycled Gold Eco.
Thinking about that while enjoying my campsite view of Baron Lake in the Sawtooths gave me a warm feeling. Or maybe it was the jacket. Either way, I’m happy about that.
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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.