For an easy insulating layer, it’s hard to beat the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody.
Patagonia’s Nano Puff Hoody has become my Old Standby, but that’s not the way things started out.
When I resolved to “get back out there” after nearly two decades away from the outdoors, I knew it was time to retire my mid-1990s REI three-in-one Gore-Tex-shelled down coat. My trusty blue coat had carried me through winters in the U.S. mountain west, in China and Russia, and on the U.S. East Coast. But twenty years on, I found that the waterproof shell would leak in heavy rain and the zip-in down liner was showing its age. And that ’90s styling. . . .
The advances over the intervening years were impressive. I initially tried to find a similar model, only to discover that the current trend was for shells to be thin and uninsulated (and unlined, unlike my Old Blue) to allow for increased versatility—various mid-layers, or none, could be added under the shell to suit environmental conditions. So, having decided on a new shell, I looked for a down mid-layer comparable to the old model I had. I ultimately settled on a Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket, which has become one of my favorites. But as I heard about how wet down would flatten and lose its insulative properties, I thought maybe I would be prudent and also pick up a synthetic insulation mid-layer. So, finding a deeply discounted model in previous-season colors (the curiously named Grecian Blue), I pulled the trigger on a Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody.
The truth is, I’ve used the Nano Puff probably five times as much as I have the Down Sweater. What was supposed to be a backup piece became my go-to piece.
The reasons are simple. Though not as warm as the Down Sweater, the Nano Puff’s 60g Primaloft One (now Primaloft Gold Eco in the latest version) gets awfully close. But with the Nano Puff, I don’t worry about the jacket getting wet (it boasts a good DWR treatment, but has plenty of stitching for water to soak through) and if I sweat into it, no problem. Also, the Nano Puff simply is cozy. It’s also great when layered under other layers, as the insulation does not compress as much as down. (Down really works best as an outer layer, where it can loft fully.)
The Nano Puff Hoody is thin, but warmer than it looks. Underneath a hard shell, I’ve been comfortable down to around freezing while being active. For standing around, something more substantial is needed. (For below-freezing comfort, I’ve layered a 100g synthetic coat over the Nano Puff with excellent results.) But in milder temperatures, I use it as much as a stand-alone jacket as a mid-layer. Especially around town, the nylon outer and liner do a good job cutting the wind and add warmth to the thin layer of insulation. In this sense, it is not as versatile as Patagonia’s Nano Air, which is more breathable but not very wind resistant. But if I know I will want both a windbreaker effect and insulation, the Nano Puff is an easy choice.
On newer versions, the Nano Puff’s recognizable stitching covers the sleeves in addition to the front and back. On my older model, the sleeves are smooth and not stitched. The stitching looks good; I like the newer design. This jacket has no wrist or hood adjustment. Elastic at these points does a fine job keeping a good seal. The hood is insulated and fits better under a climbing helmet than over.
The Nano Puff’s two handwarmer pockets are roomy enough for a pair of gloves or a thick knot cap (and a pair of hands at the same time). The single inside chest pocket is large; the jacket can be stuffed into this pocket for traveling, etc. When stuffed, a loop allows easy attachment to a harness or hook.
For years of frequent use, my Nano Puff Hoody has held up well—better than I expected from its thin nylon shell. I haven’t experienced any rips or punctures; abrasion is another story, with some wear in places rubbed by a cardboard box (!) as well as at friction points where the hem drawstring hardware protrudes.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody is a great, easy choice for cooler days, especially with wind. Though I frequently use the Nano Air version as a highly breathable mid-layer, the Nano Puff is the jacket I throw in my bag if the forecast is uncertain and I’m traveling light. After more than five years of frequent use, I don’t see this jacket getting retired anytime soon.