Chris Townsend tests the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid, a hybrid synthetic insulation/fleece jacket.
The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody is a lightweight warm insulated jacket that can worn as an outer layer in cool weather when it’s not very windy and as a mid-layer when the wind picks up. It’s half synthetic insulation, half-fleece, hence the hybrid in the name. The front, hood, and most of the arms have a smooth polyester shell with Patagonia’s own FullRange synthetic insulation inside. The back, hood and underarms are made from Patagonia’s excellent R1 Air fleece. The whole garment is stretchy and very breathable. The insulated sections are slightly wind-resistant, the fleece sections won’t keep out a light breeze.
Patagonia’s says that the Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody is “made for cool-weather objectives where you’re working hard” and it is good for this but only if it’s not very windy. I gave it a strenuous test one dawn when I woke to wonderful light and a cloud inversion and spent over an hour charging around to various viewpoints in the calm chilly air. In anything less breathable than this jacket I’d have got quite sweaty. As it was, I kept warm and stayed dry. I think a simple fleece jacket would have performed as well though. I’m not sure that the synthetic insulation and fleece mix has any big advantages.
Both the materials are soft and comfortable and feel pleasant against the skin. The stretchiness means the jacket moves with you and doesn’t impede movement whilst being close-fitting. The pockets are roomy. A pack hipbelt just clips the bottom of them. The hood is roomy too, a bit too roomy in fact as it’s not adjustable. On me it impedes vision and comes down a little too far at the front unless I wear a hat under it.
This midlayer has similar warmth to a heavyweight fleece but weighs less, the main advantage of the mix of materials. It functions fine as a good midlayer and has a touch more wind resistance than a fleece jacket.. However it could do with a better fitting hood and it is quite expensive.
Kirsty Pallas has also reviewed the Patagonia Nano-Air as part of extensive insulated jacket gear testing. Read her verdict here.