Gear Review: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

In 2015 I bought a puffy for a hike on the Colorado Trail that weighed in at 12 ounces at the time of this writing. It’s a great piece, still going strong (though marred slightly by a few grease stains and pinpricks from errant embers). But it’s definitely no-frills, sporting just one small exterior breast pocket, snaps instead of a zipper, a design that admits jabs of chilly air from time to time, and no drawcord to cinch up the hem.

Fast forward to 2020 and the latest iteration of Patagonia’s Nano Puff jacket. Weighing less than an ounce more (company specs say it weighs 11.9 ounces, but my scale read 12.7), it features two roomy, zippered hand pockets, a zippered interior breast pocket, a center zipper with interior storm flap and a draw-cord to snug you up on a windy or chilly day.

What’s more, the exterior materials are 100 percent recycled, while the insulation is 55 percent post-consumer recycled content, and the PrimaLoft® fill retains insulating properties when wet.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket At-a-Glance

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket.

Weight: 11.9 ounces (per Patagonia; my scale indicated 12.7)

MSRP: $199

Outer fabric: 100 percent recycled ripstop polyester with durable water repellent (DWR) finish

Lining: 100 percent recycled polyester

Wind resistant: Yes

Water resistant: Yes

Insulation: 55 percent post-consumer recycled 60-gram PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco

Zip: Center-front with wicking interior storm flap and zipper housing at chin

Pockets: Two zip outer hand pockets; one zip internal chest pocket that doubles as stuff sack

Hem: Adjustable draw-cord

patagonia nano puff jacket 2020

Circumstance of Use

Welcome to the wonderful world of pandemic gear reviewing, in which one’s living room, backyard and short, local expeditions must step up as understudies to the usual rigors of overnight camping and longer trips. I’ve worn the Nano Puff a lot since receiving it, not just indoors, but also on mornings where the mercury registered in the mid-40s Fahrenheit and the wind was blowing at 15 or 20 knots and in a modest rainstorm, and I’m confident that it will perform well in more extreme conditions.

It doesn’t pack as tightly as a down jacket, but is surprisingly compact. But the advantage of PrimaLoft® and other similar synthetics over down is considerable: it retains insulating power even when wet (and requires the sacrifice of no birds).

Patagonia Nano Puff Features

nano puff patagonia pockets 2020

The pockets are lovely, dark and deep (apologies to Robert Frost).

Pockets: For me, this is almost the biggest step forward from my beloved older jacket. Having hand pockets just gives me so many more options for stashing a tube of lip balm or a bar, and the chest pocket is also roomy.

Cuffs: Elastic, non-adjustable. As happens with nearly every jacket I’ve owned, the cuffs do absorb rain and arm sweat.

Hem: Drawcord cinches up easily at a single interior point.

Zipper: Buttons have their benefits—sometimes I like to toss on my old jacket for the simple pleasure of tugging on the collar and popping them all open, prrrrrrp!—but on the whole, you’re better protected by a zipper. This one is easy to grab, featuring what I call a “glove cord” for those cold days. Evidently the small pocket at the chin meant to house the zipper is a “garage.” Good to know. Also, good feature, as it keeps metal from contacting the underside of your chin.

Collar: No hood, but a sturdy 2.5-inch collar—tall enough to kiss a tugged-down beanie.

patagonia nano puff 2020 stuff sack

Fabric: The 1.4-oz 20-denier polyester is heftier than many ultra-light jackets—twice as thick as my old jacket—which should give it more durability. The lining is 1.3-ounce 22-denier, which is even sturdier.

Storage: I was deeply skeptical that I’d be able to stuff the Nano Puff into the chest pocket, but turned it into a neat 10x6x3 bundle with a minimum of effort. Not bad at all, considering all the features and weather-resisting power it’s got. That said, it’s probably not advisable to store it this way for too long.

Colors: Quick rant about the usual color choices for men in outdoor gear: When are we, as a society, going to evolve beyond the idiocy that dictates men are only “supposed” to wear “manly” (i.e. dull) colors – Navy, black, gray, brown, maybe a deep forest green, or perhaps maroon, for guys who really want to push the boundaries of color-coded masculinity? But Patagonia is cool, and thinks we fellas are secure enough to offer not just black, gray, Navy and brown, but also red, aqua, orange and light green. A veritable rainbow. Kudos.

About the Company

patagonia nano puff jody frank evans

Jody Frank Evans photo.

Patagonia is known for making actual investments for the future of the planet, including its self-imposed, 1-percent “Earth tax” to fund environmental nonprofits, concerted efforts to use post-consumer materials and support of activist movements. The Nano Puff is made in Vietnam.

Comfort and Sizing

I requested a medium, knowing that it might be a tad large for me, as indeed it is. At 5’7” and 140, I can often wear small men’s gear, but I’m OK with a little roomier jacket in case I’m layering up underneath (and I think Patagonia’s sizing is pretty standard). The Nano Puff fits nicely underneath my Mont-Bell rain shell, which also happens to be Navy.

Water Resistance / Insulating Power

upper goose pond appalachian trail clay bonnyman evans

2016 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Bearbait relaxes at Upper Goose Pond, Massachusetts. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

I’m of the opinion that no jacket, no matter how high-tech or expensive, will keep you dry in an insistent downpour, or a mild one that lasts hours. And nobody in their right mind expects a puffy jacket to capably perform as a rain shell. That said, the Nano Puff features a DWR finish, inside and out, and raindrops beaded up nicely for a little while when I took it out in a modest rain. But who cares, right? The primary reason to go with a synthetic fiber like PrimaLoft® is the fact that it retains insulating power even when wet.

Although I have not had a chance to use the Nano Puff in temperatures lower than 45 degrees, it’s been plenty warm so far, and unquestionably warmer than my old jacket. It nicely fends off the prying fingers of wind.

Pros

  • PrimaLoft® retains insulating properties when wet
  • Lightweight
  • Tough material resists tearing
  • Three big pockets
  • Mostly recycled materials
  • Sweet color selection
nano puff patagonia 2020

The Nano Puff is compact enough not to feel bulky under a rain shell.

Cons

  • Cuff material sponges up arm sweat and rain
  • Not as compact as down-filled jacket
  • Might be nice to have a hooded option

Overall

clear creek colorado trail clay bonnyman evans

Clear Creek Valley, Colorado Trail. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

I’m genuinely excited to put the Nano Puff through some more challenging paces when the time comes. For under $200 (what will you do with that extra dollar, hmmm?), a puffy with all these features seems like a steal, particularly given that the tougher fabric is likely to keep it usable for a long time. But don’t worry, my beloved (competitor name redacted) puffy, I still love you, too.

Shop the Patagonia Nano Puff Here

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