If you are looking for a super-lightweight and warm jacket this winter, it's hard to pass up the Nano Puff or the Thermoball.
Both are high quality puffy jackets that you can easily pack-down into their own pockets and stash away for when you need that extra warmth.
I carry such a jacket with me whenever I am in the mountains, whether it's for a weekend away, a hiking or snowshoeing trip, this kind of jacket is awesome because it is so small (when packed), light and yet still super warm.
The difficulty is choosing between them!
So, in this detailed comparison I am going to show you how they go head to head as well as feature by feature, to make your decision easy.
Let's start with the specs and features, broken down in an easy to read table below...
1.4-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
5D 33 g/m² 100% nylon ripstop with durable water-repellent (DWR) finish
60-g PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco 100% polyester (55% postconsumer recycled content)
10 g/ft², 11 g/ft² and 13 g/ft² PrimaLoft® ThermoBall™ synthetic insulation
11.9 oz (337 g)
12.3 oz (350 g)
Zippered Front Pockets
Internal Chest Pocket
Drop Tail Hem
Yes (slightly longer at rear)
Hem Adjusting Cord (Keeps air out at bottom)
Packs into own pocket
Yes - Chest Pocket
Yes - Hand Pocket
As you can see above, there is not much between these jackets, but, let's break it down anyway.
There is not a huge difference in warmth, but some people have said that the Thermoball is a little warmer. North Face states that
"Kansas State University has shown that ThermoBall has warmth equivalent to 600 fill goose down"
which gives you a reference point for warmth when compared to normal down-filled jackets.
In any case, these are not "depth of winter" style jackets, but more suited to either in-between seasons or for use in layering (with thermals and outer layers).
Both jackets are water resistant, although I would not plan to wear them in the rain. They are coated with DWR which simple repells water, helping keep the jacket dry in the rain. You should always have a waterproof layer if you expect rain. Although, these are both synthetic jackets and dry quite quickly (especially compared to goose down which is horrendous when wet!).
The Nano Puff is also windproof to an extent, although again, if you plan on being in some tough weather, best to always have a rain jacket as an outer layer, even if it's just to be sure
Both of these jackets have a slight relaxed fit as they are designed for the outdoors.
However, the Nano Puff tends to be a little more snug a fit, so if you want more room to move or layer, you may want a larger size than normal.
The Nano Puff also has a slight tail on it, which some people prefer as it gives your rear a little extra warmth in wind or when sitting. The difference is slight though.
The Thermoball has quite tapered fit on the women's models, but the men's has enough room to layer underneath.
Another slight style difference worth mentioning is the stitching. The Nano Puff has a staggered brick wall design, whereas the Thermoball is stacked bricks. You can see the difference in the images below.
If you are concerned about how these companies care for the environment, then this section is for you.
Patagonia is renowned for it, and goes a little further with their materials selection and recycling. The insulation in the Nano Puff is 55% post-consumer recycled content. The Thermoball does not do this.
Both manufacturer's use BlueSign approved materials too. If you don't know them, BlueSign is a Swiss company that aims to create more sustainable materials. Always a good thing in this age of fast fashion and throwaway everything!
In the end it comes down to mostly look and feel, and the color/size choice available.
Patagonia tends to be a little more expensive, but that is not always the case when things go on sale. So be sure to check out both jackets via the links below.
Whatever choice you make, a lot of people are always super-satisfied with both jackets as a nice warm mid-layer or in between jacket for those on the go!