Patagonia has been the go-to brand for many outdoor enthusiasts for a long time. Buying from Patagonia gives you confidence that you are getting outdoor gear that will protect you from the elements while still looking cool and feeling comfortable too.
It can sometimes be difficult to find products from other brands that compare to some of Patagonia’s best products. However, there are products within the Patagonia catalog that are comparable and even challenging to choose between.
If you are looking for an effective mid-layer then chances are you’ve found the Patagonia Down Sweater and the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. Both of these are fantastic options but it can be a challenge to know which one will be best suited to your outdoor adventures.
In this article, we compare the Patagonia Down Sweater and the Patagonia Nano Puff in terms of insulation, breathability, comfort, protection levels, and other key features that might benefit you and your time in the wild.
Patagonia Down Sweater vs Nano Puff: Which is Best for You?
There are many factors that might sway your decision as to whether the Patagonia Down Sweater or Nano Puff is best for you. Things such as the activity you plan on doing while wearing them and the conditions you’ll be facing while doing so.
Other things such as your personal preferences, features that you find particularly useful, and materials you like your outdoor clothing to be made from can all also make you lean towards one jacket more than the other.
Ultimately, it will be a combination of multiple factors that will lead you to your final decision of which one you will choose to buy.
- Material: 1.4-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco 100% polyester (55% postconsumer recycled content)
- Average weight: 11.9 oz (337 g)
- Zippered Front Pockets: Yes
- Internal Chest Pocket: Yes
- Elastic Cuffs: Yes
- Drop Tail Hem: Yes (slightly longer at rear)
- Hem Adjusting Cord: Yes
- Packs into own pocket: Yes – Chest Pocket
- Material: 1.4-oz 20×30-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Insulation: 800-fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down ((goose down certified by NSF International)
- Average weight: 13.1 oz (371 g)
- Zippered Front Pockets: Yes
- Internal Chest Pocket: Yes
- Elastic Cuffs: Yes
- Drop Tail Hem: Yes
- Hem Adjusting Cord: Yes
- Packs into own pocket: No
Main Differences Between Patagonia Down Sweater vs Nano Puff
If you just want to know the key differences between the Patagonia Down Sweater and the Patagonia Nano Puff without going into too much detail, the differences can be summarized as:
- The Patagonia Down Sweater uses 800 fill power goose down insulation whereas the Nano Puff uses 60g Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco
- You can use the Nano Puff Jacket as a versatile layering option as it can be an effective mid-layer or outer layer in milder conditions. The Down Sweater is best used as a mid-layer only so is somewhat more limited in its use
- In dry conditions, the Patagonia Down Sweater provides better insulation than that of the Nano Puff. However, as the Down Sweater uses down insulation and the Nano Puff uses synthetic insulation, the Nano Puff Jacket outperforms its insulating properties in the wet
The Layering System
If you are unfamiliar with the layering system and how it works, it’s worth taking a bit of time to get a better understanding of why it is so useful when you are spending lots of time outdoors.
The layering system involves wearing your clothing in 3 separate layers – a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer layer. Each layer has a different function that, when combined, keep you as protected from the elements as possible.
In simple terms, the base layer’s main job is to wick moisture (sweat) away from your body.
The mid-layer is arguably the most important of the three layers as it provides insulation. While mid-layer clothing doesn’t actually generate its own heat, it is designed to trap your body heat and keep it close you your body which is what creates the warmth you feel when wearing it.
The outer shell is the layer that protects you (and the other two layers) from water. It usually has good levels of water resistance but it should also be breathable to allow any moisture wicked away from your body to escape.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Patagonia Down Sweater and Nano Puff use different insulation materials.
Patagonia have used 60g of PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation in the Nano Puff. This is made from recycled polyester. This type of synthetic insulation performs well when wet, unlike natural down which can lose a great deal of its insulating properties when wet. 800 fill power goose down is used in the Down Sweater with a fill weight of 3.4 ounces.
While both jackets offer great insulation, they do tend to be better suited for different activities and environments. The down insulation of the Down Sweater makes it an impressive mid-layer for cold conditions. It traps a large amount of body heat and keeps you warm and snug underneath a waterproof outer layer.
As the Nano Puff is a bit more versatile, it can be worn as an outer layer in mild conditions. It’s ideal for quickly putting on when settling down for the night for some food to keep the cold air off you. It’s also better suited to slightly wetter conditions as its insulation still performs well in light rain. That being said, it wouldn’t be warm enough or water-resistant enough to wear as an outer layer in harsher conditions.
Neither of these jackets is particularly strong when it comes to breathability, although the Down Sweater does perform slightly better than the Nano Puff on this front.
The Nano Puff has a solid liner and the fabric it is made from is designed to be water-resistant and windproof. While these are very important features for an outdoor jacket, it does impair its breathability somewhat.
Patagonia have used a DWR coating on both jackets. The difference is that the Down Sweater has a thinner lining. It certainly isn’t the most breathable jacket you can find but it does just outperform the Nano Puff in breathability.
Patagonia have done a great job in making both of these jackets in a “regular fit” style. What that means is that you should have enough room for sufficient layers underneath the jackets without feeling too restricted in your movements.
If you like loose-fitting jackets then either of these will do a good job at fitting the bill. Both are comfortable to wear even for longer periods of time. As they are so lightweight as well, you can comfortably wear them without feeling cumbersome or restricted in your movements.
Patagonia have done well in making these insulated mid-layer jackets that are both comfortable to wear while still protective enough to keep the wind and cold at bay.
As both the Patagonia Nano Puff and the Patagonia Down Sweater have a DWR coating, they do offer some level of protection against light rain. That being said, neither are fully waterproof and will not handle heavy rain very well.
The Nano Puff, thanks to its synthetic insulation does still maintain its insulating properties even when wet. The Down Sweater quickly loses its capability to keep you warm once it gets wet as down insulation can quickly become saturated and it takes a while for it to dry out.
When it comes to wind protection, the Nano Puff beats the Down Sweater again. This is mainly because of the brick quilting pattern and horizontal quilt lines used on the Nano Puff compared to the tubular baffles used on the Down Sweater. The former is much more reliable at keeping out drafts which can make a big difference on windy days in the wild.
Construction and Durability
The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket and Down Sweater are both made using 100% recycled polyester ripstop for the outer shell and liner.
As they are made so similarly, they both are equally as durable when worn outdoors. Both of them can handle the rigors of outdoor life well and have reasonable levels of abrasion resistance.
While they might not be able to handle lots of interaction with sharp trees, rocks, and gear, they will hold up well with general outdoor wear.
Something to bear in mind with these jackets is that they have been designed to be worn as an insulated mid-layer. This means that they are meant to be worn underneath a tougher outer layer so they don’t need to be as durable as some other jackets you can find. With that in mind, they do very well in terms of durability as they can take more of a beating than some other mid-layer jackets.
The Patagonia Nano Puff is lighter than the Patagonia Down Sweater. There may only be a couple of ounces in it, but this can make a difference if you want to keep your outdoor gear as light as possible.
The Nano Puff weighs in at around 11.9 ounces depending on what size you get. The Down Sweater weighs in at 13.1 ounces again depending on what size you choose.
Patagonia have made the Nano Puff a super-lightweight jacket that folds down into itself very compactly making it a great choice for those outdoor adventures when traveling light is a must. The main downside to this is that insulating power has been sacrificed slightly in order to keep weight to a minimum.
As the Patagonia Down Sweater is a little heavier than the Nano Puff, it is able to offer a higher warmth to weight ratio. It is still a very lightweight jacket but offers a little bit more protection from the cold than the Nano Puff.
Features: Thumb Loops, Zippers, Hood Pockets
When it comes to features, both the Patagonia Nano Puff and the Patagonia Down Sweater are pretty much identical.
They are both simply designed so have minimal features, but the features that have been included are all extremely useful for spending time in the wild.
Both jackets have zippered hand pockets that allow you to keep your hands warm when wearing as an outer layer or to store some small outdoor accessories without taking up space in your backpack. The Nano Puff and the Down Sweater also both have an internal zippered chest pocket too. This is particularly cool as the pocket acts as a stuff sack that the jackets fold up into for easy storage. The stuff sacks also have a handy loop that can be used to attach your rolled-up jacket to your backpack.
They both also have a zipper garage at the chin end of the zipper. This prevents the zipper from catching your chin so adds an extra level of comfort.
Elastic cuffs on the jackets give a comfortable and protective fit although there are no thumb loops on either one.
Patagonia have made hoody versions of the Nano Puff Jacket and the Down Sweater so these can be useful if you like the option of wearing a hood while on your adventures.
Patagonia Down Sweater vs Nano Puff: The Verdict
Choosing between these two awesome jackets is extremely difficult.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket is better suited to colder conditions thanks to its down insulation. It’s not great in anything more than a light rain but it works exceptionally well as a warm insulated mid-layer underneath a waterproof outer layer.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket is better suited to milder conditions where a more lightweight and versatile jacket is needed. Its synthetic insulation perfomrs well even when slightly wet so it can be a handy choice if you’re not entirely sure what weather to expect.
Both the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket and the Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket perform well for their intended purpose. As they are made by Patagonia, you can be sure they will last a long time and perform exactly as you need them to.
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