Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Review


Author's note, 8/10/23: I still have this jacket, and wear it regularly. It still keeps the cold out, and a bit of the wind too, even when it's wet. I feel as comfortable wearing it on a plane as I do on a run. Looks like they still sell it.


So I was reading the Nano-Air Hoody’s page on to try and find a place to start this review, and they do this thing, I guess, where they write a sentence about the garment and feature it right under the picture of the thing, to sort of give you an overview, and the Nano-Air Hoody’s goes like this:

“An insulation breakthrough: The Nano-Air® Hoody featuring FullRange™ insulation is warm, stretchy and so breathable, you can wear it for the entirety of any highly aerobic start-stop mission in the mountains.”

It’s easy for me to gloss over stuff like this. The little ‘registered’ circle-R and the superscript TM are too corporate (where corporate is the antonym of honest); words like ‘breakthrough’ and ‘so breathable’ are so buzzwordy in the outdoor gear industry that they almost tip you off like, ‘don’t bother reading this part, we’re just trying to hype up people that don’t read reviews that often’ (of course this leads to a quick piece of confusion: who’s going to fall for words like this but also be heading out on “highly aerobic start-stop mission[s]”? Wait.).

I’m actually wearing my Nano-Air Hoody right now–I figured it might inspire me. I bought it in October 2014 and I’ve probably worn it like 300 days since then (for reference it’s been maybe 480 days since then at the time of writing this). I’m wearing it over a t-shirt, and I’ve pushed the sleeves up to just below my elbows. The cuffs are stretchy and never seem to lose their stretch, which is one of the many small miracles of this jacket. But reading that Patagonia hype-text, scoffing, looking down my nose at it, suddenly it makes sense.

This jacket was more or less my introduction to high-tech insulation, which, before the Nano-Air came out, was basically shorthand for ‘down or synthetic down’. Which, if it’s any good, is probably real puffy and not super stretchy and not great for breathability either, what with down being not such good friends with moisture. But so it was only when I started trying other insulating jackets that I realized what Patagonia’s talking about up there–namely, a jacket that you can wear for the entirety of any highly aerobic activity (the stuff about ‘missions’ is kind of hype-ish and silly, and I hope Patagonia is being a little tongue-in-cheek here)–isn’t the norm, as far as insulation goes.

When I go out on a ‘mission’, here’s how it goes: I put on either one or two baselayers, depending on if I’m probably going to be cold or what. Then I put on my Nano-Air Hoody. Then I put on a shell if the weather looks bad. If the weather changes, I’ll put on or take off the shell; but other than that, nothing changes. The Nano-Air does exactly what it says it does: it stays on the whole time. If I get a little hot, I push the sleeves up and unzip the front. If I get a little cold, the sleeves come down, the zip goes up to my chin. Is it windy? Did I forget my hat? Up goes the hood. It’s so snug on my head it feels like a hat. Windy? Tighten down the cinches around the waist. When Patagonia released this jacket back in 2014, I feel like I remember them pushing this hashtag, #leaveiton. I don’t like feeling that I’m being marketed to, but there ya have it: I’ve left it on.




I feel like many of the cons I’ve written about here are silly annoyances, the solution to which is pretty simple. I don’t zip the neck up all the way most of the time; I carry a hat so I don’t have to use the hood; I use a razor to shave off the pilling. And on a daily basis, I’m still surprised and delighted by the jacket. And I don’t hesitate to use that word–it’s easy to look down on me as a materialist, but I do find real delight in this jacket. It’s light, soft, warm, durable; it does its job and gets out of the way. This is all I can ask for in an insulating jacket.

Hills and Letters Gear


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