Patagonia Nano Air™ Review – A New Genre

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Patagonia Nano Air™ Review – A New Genre

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    Richard Nisley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Sean Passanisi’s Research Report Request to Richard Nisley

    Email excerpts from Sean Passanisi to me:

    …I would like to know if you are interested in performing some of your wonderful tests on my Patagonia Nano Air jacket. I'd be thrilled to make it available for testing.

    …I am very eager to see if your findings on the Nano Air match the hype, i.e., does the garment provide enough of a balance between breathability for active use and warmth with/without a shell for static use to justify the weight penalty compared to down, lack of compressibility compared to Primaloft, and the (significant) cost penalty compared to traditional fleece.

    …I think BPL members (especially me) have been discussing Alpha/Full Range under the assumption that the technology was very similar, and I think many will be surprised to learn of the differences. Perhaps it is my own ignorance, but I assumed companies like Arcteryx and North Face using proprietary insulation (Coreloft, Thermoball, etc.) were basically just re-branding Primaloft to differentiate their line.

    … FYI, I added below the 3 main threads on Alpha/Nano-Air from the past 6 months. Not sure if you saw these previously, but thought it might be helpful to see some of the questions, concerns, and initial impressions in the BPL community.

    Polartec Alpha Discussion:

    David Chenault's initial impressions of Rab Strata:

    My original Nano-Air thread:

    …have you read David Chenault's Rab Xenon and Patagonia UL Down Hoody: Comparison and Long-Term Review? It's been on my mind as I think about the pros/cons of the Nano Air. It would be great if you could include your expertise on how this garments compares with the more traditional alternatives in the market. :)

    Nisley’s Response

    This document will provide objective answers to Sean’s above questions and Sean will provide a supplemental report describing his subjective assessment of the Patagonia Nano Air ™. Toray 3DeFX+™ and Toray FullRange are the same product and Toray 3DeFX+ will primarily be used to describe this insulation. Primaloft One™ and Primaloft Gold ™ are the same product and Primaloft Gold™ will primarily be used to describe this insulation.

    If you don’t want to read the whole report, this is the summary: For UL backpacking, this new technology would weigh 1.8 oz. more than what I currently use as a size L Nano Air alternative (14.6 oz.). It is a size L Patagonia ’12 Houdini (4 oz.) & size L Patagonia ‘12 R2 vest (8.8 oz.) using a Patagonia Capilene 4 base layer. It wouldn’t keep me as warm when active; it wouldn’t allow me the flexibility of wearing just the Houdini as a warm weather windshirt; and it would cost me an additional $300.

    For use as a comfortable single garment for active wear when layering wasn’t feasible, it is currently tied for the best of the new genre.

    Google Search Results for the terms {FullRange, 3DeFX, and Alpha reviews}
    Items in red below disagree with my lab tests.


    To read or download the full report click HERE

    [ Drew ]
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Valley CA

    Here is my TL:DR version of my Nano Air thoughts (forest green, size medium, non-hoody)

    -VERY comfortable, very soft, premium feel
    -Warm as expected; breathability causes it to feel colder than expected in wind/breeze
    -Aesthetics + stretch make it enjoyable to wear to work, casually, and on trail
    -Outer fabric is delicate – stubble/beard has caused wear on collar after only a few weeks
    -Probably not worth full retail; it's like a premium, premium sweat jacket more than a synthetic down alternative

    James holden
    BPL Member


    Whats the difference between this and windpro fleece in real life?

    My windpro fleeces have some wind resistance, is very brethable, dries very quickly, has some "warmth" and can be had at reasonable prices

    Ive always wondered about the difference


    Richard Nisley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area


    Polartec Wind Pro (tight weave rather than a membrane) has been offered in weights from 8.8 oz./yd2 to 14.1 oz./yd2. The 12 oz./yd2 version, style 7380, seems to be the most common version. The CFM is 60. The clo/oz is probably less than .16 which is the value for classic fleeces. The woven hard face is heavy.

    Toray 3DeFX+ averages .56 clo/oz. The CFM is 175.

    If the application is around town, then Wind Pro is great. If you are going to carry it in your climbing pack, you are going to get kicked off the BPL forum (smile).

    Real life? – I don't know what that means.

    James holden
    BPL Member


    Guess im gonna take my lumps !!!

    How about thermal pro and a windshirt … The alpha is supposed to be based off thermal pro fleece insulation

    Ill be a true BPLer once i get one of these new fangled active synths on my credit card


    Edit … Never mind saw yr note about the r2 (thermal pro) and windshirt

    Guess i might be a BPLer after all !!!


    I guess this is why I look at stuff like that in the shops but still end up using my R2 jacket and Westcomb Crest Hoody windshirt (although I do use an OR Wind Pro Hat and gloves).

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    Eric: My Wind-bloc LW R4 (less fuzzy than reg R4) had a decent temp range dependent on base-layer, but had to be constantly fiddled with. The Pata employee said great for resort slopes as a snowboarder and with jeans to visit art galleries on a Friday night (never did resort ski in it before ripping it on a nail, … hence had).

    Will probably take my Nano-Air snowshoeing here pretty quick, but it does seem to disappate too much internal heat.

    Ed: tense to indicate the premature passing of my non-repairable LW R4, since discontinued

    James holden
    BPL Member


    Windpro and windblock are different actually

    The former is quitte brethable where the wind resistance is provided by the dense fabric naturally

    The windblock has a laminate which reduces the brethability


    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    I'm pretty much done with wind-whatever soft-shells after they couldn't repair it. I did snowshoe a bit in the LW R4 and the temp was fine as it was just lightly snowing … just did not like the snow clinging to the fleece in case I had to stop (did not take a hardshell). Similarly, a a REI Schoeller suit didn't really help with changing conditions every time we got to the top or rounded a corner. Back to the Nano-Air, got a Westcomb Neoshell to fit over it when REI had their big Westcomb sale. Been day hiking in the cold to get a feel for its temps. Think this will solve my problem of rounding a snowy curve only to freeze in a surprise arctic blast. Just to add, the exterior fabric does seem a bit gossamer. Doesn't seem too Michelin man .. we'll see

    Sean Passanisi
    BPL Member


    Thanks again Richard for compiling your detailed report.

    I've used my Patagonia Nano Air jacket around town since October (unfortunately, I have not yet taken it into the wilds). I told Richard offline that my biggest surprise was the low insulation value he found for the Nano Air. I also own an R2 vest and subjectively, the Nano Air jacket seems much warmer than the R2 (even accounting for the form factor).

    I use my R2 regularly during this time of year during our "chilly" mid-50s mornings here in San Jose. The vest keeps me just warm enough not to feel cold. Walking the same route but with the Nano-Air, I felt much warmer by comparison. I've had the same experience riding my bike during the evenings. I've felt uncomfortably cold with the R2, switched mid ride to the Nano Air, and felt much warmer.

    I then tried the same walk using a Houdini over the R2. No surprise, the wind shirt added a fair amount of warmth and was comparable to the Nano Air, which matches Richard's findings. And that's the conclusion in Richard's report: you can get similar warmth without the fiddle-factor, but you are going to pay for it and lose the ability to use the wind shirt in other situations.

    BPL Member


    "And that's the conclusion in Richard's report: you can get similar warmth without the fiddle-factor, but you are going to pay for it and lose the ability to use the wind shirt in other situations."

    Pretty much sums up my experience. I've been using my nano-air quite a bit for backcountry skiing this winter and absolutely love it. Pairing it with a baselayer and a shell has been a winning combination.

    And to be fair, I don't think the nano air was designed with ultralight backpackers as it's target audience. Per Patagonia, it's for alpine climbing, ski touring, or highly aerobic start/stop activities in the mountains. If I'm backpacking in the summer months, I doubt I would bring it along. However, for fall/winter trips or most other outdoor activities I enjoy, I'll probably have it on.

    Serge Giachetti


    Locale: Boulder, CO

    Exactly what Aaron said. These aren't exactly targeted toward ultralight backpackers, but to the extent that I'm backpacking in alpine areas and incorporating skiing or scrambling into my trips, the nano air is definitely a nice piece to have along, to simplify my layering, but also because its an extremely comfortable, versatile and stretchy layer. It moves with you, which is pretty unique for a puffy, which is part of what makes it so appealing as a climbing/skiing layer. This is a great shoulder seasons jacket in the mountains for blustery ridges where you still want to move fast. As for hard core skinning, you probably don't wanna wear one of these zipped up except on bitter cold days, but there's so many other uses for a jacket like this, particularly as part of a winter layering kit. Since it toes the line between softshell and UL puffy perfectly, you can use it on the move as a warm softshell and as part of a 2 belay jacket system.

    I also find my nano air surprisingly warm for what its worth Add a shell and I really can't tell much of a difference between it and my arc nuclei. PL1 definitely feels a bit warmer at least in the impossibly warm rab xenon.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Nice work Richard. Thanks for sharing.

    Your data agrees with my anecdotal experience using the Strata for the past 3+ months. It's not that warm compared to top-flight synthetic jackets, and not that breathable compared to fleece, and for traditional backpacking doesn't really have many ideal applications, if any at all. These jackets will be a big success with the town/fashion crowd for a variety of reasons, and with skiers. As I noted in my earlier observations, it's very nice for stop and go stuff in real cold. It's also proven useful as an overlayer for backcountry skiing. My usual system there is a baselayer/windshirt combo for the up, and a light puffy for the down. The Strata moves moisture faster than something like the Xenon, and will keep you warmer over the course of multiple laps. Significantly warmer, in fact. Problem is you need an additional, more windproof layer for strong winds and/or cold temps. Just cruising mellow ski runs on a sunny, 0F day cut right through the Strata.

    Gerry B.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Louisiana, USA

    Since all of my hiking trips include a windshell, either a Tachyon or old version Houdini as well as some type of raingear, my Nano-Air Jacket is an ideal middle layer if rain is a possibility and I would rather not bring down gear. I find it very comfortable in temperatures from the 30's to 50's worn over a baselayer and under my windshirt, keeping me warm but not overheating due to its breathability. To adjust for temperatures expected, I vary my base layer, not my middle insulation. As is usually the case, I cannot justify Patagonia gear at full retail price. I was fortunate enough to find my jacket on Ebay and cannot be happier with it. Even though it may not be targeted to the backpacking community, I consider it an ideal part of my layering system down here in the rainy south.

    Woubeir (from Europe)
    BPL Member


    Just an update:
    Primaloft comes with Gold Insulation Active which is like Silver but now also stretchy. The CLO/oz is a tiny bit lower than Silver Active.
    Arc’teryx will come with their own stuff, Coreloft Continuous. No CLO/oz known at present.

    Steve K
    BPL Member


    Locale: northeastern US

    So what kind of performance characteristics does Primaloft Active have? One has to imagine the synthetic juggernaut isn’t going to take PT Alpha and Fullrange lying down.

    Woubeir (from Europe)
    BPL Member


    Let’s say (I know but I was asked not to spread the info any further) Apex-like. ;-)

    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    For my recent Alaskan Lost Coast trip I broke down and bought a Nano Air hoody. I have an old Westcomb Polartec Alpha jacket (not sure of the model anymore) that is great as a thermal layer for stop/start activities in the cold, but too thin for sitting around in the rain. I tried on a Nano Air and thought the fit and puff was good, and bought it. After a wet start to that trip, I love it. I have a lot of down pieces (MH Ghost Whisperer hoody, Arcteryx Cerium LT hoody, OR Radiant hoody, etc) and a number of synthetic puffies (Mont-Bell and Rab Xenon, etc), but I liked the Alpha for really wet conditions as it did not lose its loft and dried “quickly” when damp. The Nano Air hoody was great and I was the warmest in our group as we hunkered down in steady rain (wearing full rain gear over it, of course) for a number of hours. It’s not super light, but I’ll take it on trips when I know I’ll get wet in the future for sure. Plus it makes a great pillow-stuffer. :)

    D M
    BPL Member


    Locale: What, ME worry?

    I’m probably wasting my breath here but oh well. This is only about a cosmetic issue, JFYI. Normally I don’t give a hoot about colors of clothing for hiking but last year I bought a hooded nano air on sale as I have always had overheating issues while moving. It was a color I hated but I’ve had decades of experience using both natural and synthetic dyes so I thought I would give it a go. I used Rit synthetic dye and it came out just beautiful! And dyeing did not affect the DWR performance. So the product also takes synthetic dyes well. Now I have the color I want and no more overheating while hiking.

    Nate S
    BPL Member


    Sorry for the strange question, but is it ever the case that some fabric combinations create a higher clo when together than the sum of their parts?

    Ie, because of the 175cfm, would the. And air + wind shirt be much warmer than expected starting when it’s breathability was shut down?

    My question is probably based on a misunderstanding of clo values =]

    Roman Vazhnov
    BPL Member


    Locale: Russia

    I have mentioned it already – same concept (breathable insulation layer for fast moving activities), but different materials: Sivera Gamayun, 254 gr.= 9 oz. High air permeable fabric on both sides and Climashield Apex inside (100 g/sqm = 3 oz/sq yd). Clo/oz is much higher than Alpha.  I am a happy user of previous version for several years by now.
    Could be DIY project, Apex don’t need downproof fabric, you can use air permeable fabrics for inner tents for example.

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    What quantitative temperature difference would one expect comparing a MH Monkey Man Polartec Tec Thermal Pro High Loft Vest to a Patagonia Nano-Air Vest  in an Active and Static environments?

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