The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hoody is one of the best jackets I have found to meet my needs for climbing in the mountains. It is warm, extremely breathable, and lightweight. One of my favorite things about this jacket is its versatility. It acts as a perfect midlayer for climbing in colder conditions or can be worn on its own during warmer days. At a mere 9.2 ounces, it is surprisingly warm for its weight yet doesn’t add too much bulk to your layers.
The Nano-Air Light’s durable 100 percent nylon ripstop shell is plain weaved, allowing for substantial stretch and excellent breathability. It is designed to expel moisture during exertion and trap in heat while layered under a shell. I wore the jacket frequently on early morning approaches and was pleasantly surprised with how few times I had to stop and shed a layer. Speed equals safety and the fewer times I have to stop and change layers, the better. When you do need to take the jacket off, the long front zipper allows for easy on-and-off access and extra ventilation.
The jacket has a minimalist approach. There is only one pocket, located on the chest, and it is engineered with no stitching around your shoulders and back, allowing for more comfort and increased strength. I used it on numerous climbs where groveling was necessary and didn’t get a single rip in the fabric. Another feature I really like is the stretch-woven sleeve cuffs. They fit snug yet push up my arm comfortably without cutting off circulation.
The Nano-Air light is finished with a durable water repellent (DWR), which helps repel rain and snow and enables the jacket to dry faster. Although the jacket is not fully waterproof, it does a great job of shedding rain and it takes a lot of water for it to become saturated. If you do get caught in a downpour, however, the synthetic insulation helps you stay warm.
Although the Nano-Air Light is a bit pricey at $249, it is equally matched against its competitors and well worth the money. One of the only negative aspects is that it runs a bit on the short side, and I constantly had to adjust my layers and pull the jacket down below my harness. I also think the piece could be improved by incorporating a zippered internal chest pocket, which would serve as a stuff sack that clips to your harness with a reinforced loop. If I am not climbing with a pack, I like having this option as it is easy to layer up at belay stations.
Overall, I think this jacket is an excellent piece for climbing and its versatility allows it to perform well in a multitude of conditions.
Whitney Clark has been climbing for seven years and has explored new routes in the mountains of Patagonia, the Himalaya, Alaska and the Sierra. You can find some of her recent stories for Alpinist.com here, here and here.
A bit short
Lacks an internal pocket/stuff sack that can clip to a harness