Last week, Patagonia announced the release of their much-anticipated Nano-Air Hoody and Jacket. Featuring FullRange insulation, the jackets are meant to be worn continuously during aerobic, stop-start mountain activities, as they offer excellent temperature regulation and four-way mechanical stretch without the need to remove or add layers throughout the day.
Most synthetic and down insulated jackets use outer shell and lining materials that are not breathable enough to handle the aerobic phases of most backcountry pursuits. Instead, they are typically used as additional garments that must be carried until pulled out during the static period of your day (such as during rest breaks and at belays).
By comparison, the Nano-Air’s combination of nylon fabric and FullRange insulation is incredibly breathable, allowing airflow up to 40 CFM (cubic feet per minute) while still maintaining stretch and warmth. The jacket’s nylon face fabric uses a DWR finish to repel precipitation.
FullRange Insulation is a multi-denier synthetic fill insulation made from several different types of polyester fibers, developed by Toray Mills in Japan. It’s built in much the same way as traditional fill insulation, but has a proprietary element that gives it added stability against fiber migration, and allows for great stretch and recovery. Nano-Air garments use a 60-gram insulation weight for versatility in a wider range of temperatures. Utilizing a blend of hydrophobic fibers that repel moisture, FullRange insulation will maintain its warmth and loft when wet, and dries fast.
The FullRange insulation reminds me of Polartec Alpha. Alpha is a knit material that offers stability and durability without the need for scrims or tightly woven fiber proof lining fabrics. This means you can use highly breathable lining fabrics that permit body heat and moisture vapor to move through the insulation. This air permeability allows for warm air to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration creating a more even distribution of warmth within the garment. My Alpha vest was a staple layer in my ice climbing wardrobe last season so I will be interested to see if the Nano-Air jacket performs the same.