Warm enough to be an outer layer in the milder months, light enough to make an effective mid layer when it’s frigid out, we can see ourselves wearing this jacket all year round
Warm and breathable
Super light and packable
Made using recycled materials
Durable against backpack rub
Gets a little smelly
No thumb holes
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Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket: first impressions
In this fleece jacket/softshell hybrid, Patagonia is aiming for a layer that insulates when you’re working hard in cold conditions. The result is a super lightweight layer that breathes well but forms a brilliant barrier against frigid temperatures. The sleeves, shoulders and front panels are made using their popular Nano-Air softshell insulation while the back and underarms are made using a textured fleece, which means that your upper extremities and vital organs benefit from insulation while the areas where you sweat benefit from moisture-wicking, breathable and quick drying fabric.
• List price: $249 / £220
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: XS - XXL
• Weight: 260g / 9.17 oz (women’s small)
• Materials: Recycled polyester
• Colors: Black, Night Plum,Light Plume Grey, Lagom Blue, Nouveau Green, Friend Green, Shrub Green, Wavy Blue, Sedge Green
• Best use: Hiking, rock climbing, winter sports
Because it’s not all fleece, it’s low on bulk and super lightweight so it makes both a really effective mid layer where it’s freezing out, and stuffs down into your backpack when it isn't. The cut is slim and flattering and long enough to keep your bum warm with a high neck that protects your throat from a draft. This version doesn’t have a hood, but for a little more money a hooded version is available.
In our tests, we were pleased at how the Nano-Air holds up against backpack straps and breathes when the going gets tough, but we did notice the underarms tend to cling onto body odor more than we’d like. It’s also a relatively pricey piece of kit, though it’s so versatile that we could make an argument for wearing it all year round, and it gets extra points for using recycled polyester in its production.
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket: in the field
As a hiker, skier and climber, I adventure outdoors year-round and though my kit naturally changes with the season, it’s nice to find pieces I can wear in all seasons. In this jacket, which I’ve been testing in the Scottish hills and the Lake District recently, I think I’ve found one such garment.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
I usually wear a small and that’s what I tested. Though I sometimes find Patagonia gear to be on the large side, this fits perfectly. It’s slim fitting but with just enough room and natural stretch to move in comfortably, and the long cut is both functional for added warmth, and flattering.
Weight and packability
It’s not the lightest fleece I’ve tested (that’s the Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 zip) but it’s really light and because it’s not entirely made of fleece, it squashes down really well to fit in my backpack.
Waterproofing and breathability
The super lightweight jacket is a good lesson that appearances can be deceiving. It’s hard to imagine that it would be as warm as something like my Houdini Power Houdi, but I definitely notice a difference in my comfort levels the minute I put it on and it’s been really cold here lately.
I wore it on a steep, frigid hike over the weekend and was well impressed by how well it breathes. I did unzip my pit zips on my waterproof jacket, but after that I felt great even with high aerobic activity. I think the paneling of fleece and softshell fabric is really genius for when I’m working hard in cold conditions.
Odor control and durability
I think my only real complaint about this jacket is that it seems to really hold onto body odor under the arms. I suppose you could argue that I’m just a very smelly person, but compared to other fleeces, I noticed that this one got stinky really quickly and stayed that way, so I can imagine it spending a lot of time in my laundry basket.
I haven’t been wearing it for years so it’s hard to attest to its durability, but I have been wearing a Patagonia Nano-Air hooded jacket for about seven years and it held up until last winter when it developed some mysterious holes in the cuff. In my experience, the smooth paneling of the softshell part holds up pretty well against backpack straps, but only time will tell.
Storage and other features
Two zipped hand warming pockets provide plenty of storage, though I suppose when the weather warms up, I miss a chest pocket if I’m wearing this as an outer layer. It doesn’t have a two-way zipper or a hood, but it is available in a hooded option and frankly, since all of my shells have hoods, I’m not missing the added bulk. I also really appreciate the use of recycled materials in the making of this jacket.
Versatility and value
It’s definitely an expensive mid layer, but when you consider that it can be worn as an outer layer across most seasons (depending on where you live anyway) and multiple activities like hiking, skiing and climbing, I can see how you could justify the price.
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket: the bottom line
If you’re seeking an exceptionally warm, light and breathable insulating jacket that is versatile enough to be a mid or outer layer across multiple activities, you’ll love this jacket. If this one doesn’t quite fit your budget, take a look at the Montane Isotope Hoodie.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.