Looking for light and packable insulation for use in the alpine? Every climber is. Each climber-centric brand seems to have an idea of how to deliver on the need too. Few have it dialed like Patagonia though. The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody is yet another excellent option in the company’s already stacked fleet of alpine insulators, and unlike all the rest, it breathes like a fine wine.
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody Features:
- Ultralight, warm, and breathable jacket for cold-weather pursuits
- Nylon ripstop shell with PFC-free DWR offers mobile protection
- Breathable insulation keeps you toasty without the sweat
- Stretchy hood easily pulls on or off, even when jacket is zipped
- Regular fit enables easy layering
- Stretchy cuffs with thumbholes boost comfort levels
- Multiple pockets stash smaller essentials
- Weight: 335g
- MSRP: $299
My New Standard for Alpine Rock
Okay, let’s get it over with at the front end. $299 is a lot of money for a shoulder-season-focused alpine insulation layer. More generally, $299 is a lot to spend on anything for most climbers. As a person who never spent more than $40 dollars on a pair of climbing shoes for the first 4 years of his climbing career, I recognize it. Stay with me here dirtbags, because this is a great jacket, and I think it deserves consideration even without a sale price.
Why? For one, it flies in the face of the false dichotomy many folks believe in: that clothing is either warm or breathable. Well, this jacket is both. It breathes better than any other alpine insulator I’ve owned (really, no competition here), and simultaneously it keeps me warm when I need to be. For me, that translated to fewer transitions into and out of a jacket.
For two, it’s designed for the movement of climbers. Most jackets aren’t. If we’re honest with ourselves, even most climbing jackets aren’t. Never once while wearing the Nano-Air Hybrid did the jacket pull up and out from under my harness. And thank goodness, because I hate it when that happens. It stretches with long reaches and moves fluidly when I arch my back on grungier climbs. All in all, it’s a champion of mobility.
There are some neat features that make all of the above true, and they’re worth highlighting, but it mostly comes down to smart materials choices. Warmth is thanks to the 40g synthetic insulation on the chest, tops of the arms, and parts of the hood. Breathability and mobility come courtesy of the R1 Air back panel and under arms. All the materials are super packable too. I can crush the thing down to the size of a grapefruit, no problemo.
Other wins for the jacket come from an altogether quality design. For instance, I was a big fan of the fit and constriction of the hood, as well as the constriction of the wrists. The wrists in particular are fitted enough to feel natural as long sleeves, but tight enough to shove up your forearms and stay put when buckling up for a long splitter. The zipper choice is quality and placement of the zippered pockets is ideal for access when wearing a harness.
Over the past four months, this jacket traveled with me to Squamish many times, joined the fun on a variety of North Cascades objectives, and accompanied me on a 17 day trip across the UK (which helped reframe Summer as a cold, rainy season… thanks, UK). Testing was ample, and it revealed all the wonderful things I mentioned above. It also blew out a seam near my left armpit, and snagged another R1 Air seam enough to pull a bit of thread loose. While every other part of the jacket held up quite well, the R1 Air seams were exposed enough to become a weak link durability-wise.
In terms of functionality, my only gripe was the lack of in-pocket storage. Just equipping one pocket with a double-sided zipper could’ve ticked that box and meant that I could climb with the Nano-Air Hybrid on my harness rather than in my pack when not in use. And one more oddity: the combination of super-breathable back and wind-proof front mean that if you’re not wearing a pack and you’re getting consistent wind from behind, the jacket can balloon up a bit with the trapped air. It’s not so bad really, but it’s worth a little callout. I still think it’s an absolutely killer jacket.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and a lean 170lbs, and I tested a size Large. I loved the athletic fit, and found it exactly the right amount of room in all zones. Fit-wise, I wouldn’t change a thing. You might wonder if the R1 Air gets fuzzy after a lot of use and washes. I wondered that, and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t.
- R1 Air panels breathe super well
- Insulated panels are windproof and warm
- Warmth to breathability is perfectly balanced for alpine adventure
- Packable and light
- Athletic fit and good mobility
- Well designed wrists and hood
- Great aesthetics
- R1 Air seams can snag or open with heavy use
- Somebody get in-pocket storage on this beauty
The Bottom Line: Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody
I’m a picky guy, and I hold a high standard for my alpine climbing insulators. I can confidently say that over 13 years of rock climbing in numerous other jackets, this is far-and-away my favorite. Why? Great materials and design come together to provide breathability, warmth, flexibility, and packability, all in a jacket that doesn’t sneak out from under my harness when I’m climbing. I ran into some slight durability hiccups, and I dearly wish the jacket packed into its own pocket for storage, but I still maintain that this is the greatest alpine rock climbing jacket I’ve ever owned. I have spoken.
Buy Now: Available from Patagonia