Nano Air vs wool vs PossumDown vs Cap 4
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Nov 14, 2014 at 7:37 pm #1322746Gary PikovskyBPL Member
@gosha007Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Breathability? Drying time? Pure awesomeness? How do these stack up as midlayers and more?Nov 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm #2149386hwc 1954Member
I don't have a Nano Air, but I believe that it is Patagonia's name for Polartec Alpha insulation. I do have a Marmot IsoTherm Jacket, which is Polartec Alpha jacket with a mesh inside lining and a Pertex (or something similar) DWR exterior.
Think of it as a next-generation synthetic puffy, an upgrade over Primaloft. It's a stretch woven fabric (like a very sheer, but thicker Power Dry:
Unlike Primaloft, it is an actual piece of fabric that won't break apart or shift around. It's stretchy and very breathable.
It's more of a mid/top layer offering some degree of wind/water resistance (DWR) on the outside. I would wear it over a Cap 4 (Polartec PowerDry HE) when I need extra warmth, wind protection, or some light moisture protection.Nov 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm #2149759Serge GiachettiSpectator
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
I don't have any possum down, but I have a nano air and an mec t2 (similar to cap 4). The nano and cap 4 are very different beasts. The nano is great as a cold weather action layer or for stop & for activities with a a broad range of conditions and activity levels like alpine climbing and BC skiing. Its different and (I think) better than the alpha peices I've seen because of the excellent stretch and the outer and inner nylon are very breathable, yet provide some wind/weather resistance. For winter, I think this peice makes the most sense as a mini-belay action layer—something you can layer over your base or base/windshirt for moving in the cold/wind & then combine with a light down puffy for stops & camp warmth. It breathes well, and its warmer than a comparable weight fleece, but its not meant to be as breathable as fleece. The beauty of this peice is that it could potentially simplify your clothing system because it can serve as a mid/ outer, but its also breathable enough to layer it over or under a wind or hardshell depending on conditions.
Cap 4 IMO is one of the best baselayers out the for wicking, and dry times in colder weather (below 40-30 degrees for me). Just personal preference, but I don't like it as a mid b/c it tends to bind a bit with baselayers, its a hassle to get on & off, and I usually want a mid layer with some wind resistance in cold weather because of the windy alpine conditions in the rockies. That's just my issue with midlayers in general though. For the cold, I'd rather use a cap 4 or r1 as a base with a breathable wind shirt over that, and then layer the nano over that if needed. It just makes the hole system additive rather than something you'll have to adjust multiple layers at a time with. Hope that wasn't confusing.Nov 16, 2014 at 11:32 pm #2149832hwc 1954Member
In NH, I'll wear a Cap 4 as the base layer from 20F to 35F and generally hike with just that, adding a windshirt or a Marmot DriClime lined windshirt if it gets windy or on the downhill when I've stopped sweating.
Below 20F, I'll wear the Cap 4 over a very thin tech t-shirt baselayer. Just to extend the range where I can hike in just the Cap 4 for max breathing. Again, adding a wind shirt or DriClime if I'm cold or it's windy.
I always carry an Ultralight Down hoody, which I put on when I'm stopped (or god forbid, in an emergency), But, I never hike in it.
I'll probably start carrying the Marmot Alpha as a warm breathable top layer instead of a fleece (packs smaller/ligher). I tried once last year with a Primaloft synthetic puffy and ended up completely soaked from sweat.Nov 17, 2014 at 1:08 am #2149844Serge GiachettiSpectator
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
hwc, I also love the driclime and rab's vapour rise alpine as a cold weather wind layers. I may well try using the T2 like you're describing with a light t shirt underneath more on cold days this winter, when I know its unlikely I'll need to shed the T2. I guess partly why I like the T2 as a base is because its easy to vent to the skin by unzipping the windshirt or driclime and the T2. Between power dry high efficiency (cap 4) pertex equilebrium, driclime/vapourise I really feel like the problem of dressing for cold weather activity in the mountains has been pretty well addressed, at least for me. The nano air is just a nice compliment to that breathable additive system.Nov 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm #2150067Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
The Patagonia Cap 4 with the ribbed HE High Efficiency fabric is the fastest drying, warmest for the weight base layer I've ever tried. However, because it's so breathable it has zero wind resistance. Everyone is different in their cold tolerance, but I can't imagine using it on its own on a cold day. The slightest breeze would chill you. I almost always used it with a pre 2012 breathable Patagonia Houdini wind jacket and it works great. The Cap 4 balaclava hood has doubled material and fits very well, adding warmth. Sometimes I'll wear a very thin merino or synthetic T under it.
If you want to use it over the widest temperature range when it's cool not cold, I'd recommend getting it in a light color (mine is light grey). That way you'll heat up less if it warms up and the sun pops out, and you can just role up your sleeves and open up the zip.
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