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Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket : For Men and Women

Puffy is out; thin is in! So I think the "Puff" in Patagonia's Nano Puff Jacket must refer to its cloud-like lightness. This sweet, ultra thin jacket provides incredible insulation without bulk, and it's a great wind breaker, too.

I first wore the Nano Puff Jacket while camping a few months ago. During the day all I needed was a merino wool tee and a rain jacket. It rained all day, so by the time I get into my tent at 10 p.m. I was soaked and shivering and a bit worried about hypothermia. I just couldn't warm up even with dry clothes on. Then I remembered that I'd stuffed my Nano Puff Jacket into a small pouch in my pack (the jacket packs down very small into its inner zippered chest pocket). Once I put it on I finally warmed up enough to fall asleep!

It's been dipping into the low 40s lately, and I've been perfectly warm wearing just a t-shirt under my Nano Puff Jacket. The Primaloft insulation is incredibly effective at trapping heat next to my body. The hem of the jacket has a draw cord so I can cinch up the bottom on both sides of the jacket as an added defense against chilly breezes. When fully zipped, the collar stands up to provide great neck protection. Of course, the jacket has zippered hand pockets on each side of the jacket. Even with the pull tabs, the zippers lay flat and are discretely placed so they don't catch on things. Nice.

I'm impressed with how well the Nano Puff Jacket blocks the wind and deflects the constant drizzle I face every day during this long rainy season. Most of all I love that this jacket weighs almost nothing and is so soft and pliable that I can move around freely without it getting in my way. It's so thin that it feels more like a shirt than a jacket.

The Nano Puff seems to have been designed with climbers in mind since it's so efficient, light, and simple, but anyone who spends time outdoors will love this jacket. I don't know what I've done without it all these years!

The jacket comes in three styles for both men and women: a full-zip ($179), a pullover with quarter-zip ($140), and a hooded full zip ($199). I tested a women's size L, and found it true to size. I liked that it was long enough through the torso to cover the waistband of my low-rise pants, and the sleeves are plenty long, too. I also really liked the diamond pattern stitching, which gives the jacket a more feminine style. The men's jacket has horizontal stitching. (See shopping links below.)

Available in women's sizes XS-XL in a bold color palette that includes: Volcanic Blue, Acai (purple!), Light Fire, Black, and Fog. Men's sizes: XS-XXL in Black, Fire, Bali Blue, Fog, and Narwhal Grey.

Finally, the Nano Puff Jacket is made out of 100% recycled polyester, and it's recyclable through Patagonia's Common Threads Recycling Program. Nice eco creds!

Bottom Line: I love this jacket. It's paper thin, it's virtually weightless, and it's totally effective as a mid-layer or as an outer layer. It's performance features make the Nano Puff a serious piece of gear, and the vibrant colors make it fun to wear.--E.D. (Nov '10)

BUY ONLINE: $179 Shop at REI . Free shipping at Altrec.

Manufacturer's Site: www.patagonia.com

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.