Patagonia’s Nano Puff collection has been in stores for nearly a decade. It was so popular, even North Face has a version – the Thermoball.
At the time of the release, it was a revolutionary outerwear collection – a warm, lightweight jacket that stuffs into its own pocket? Sign me up, please!
Last year, Patagonia came out with the Micro Puff collection, which aims to do the same job as the Nano Puff, but just a little better.
So, which one do you go for? Do you buy the classic that thousands of people can vouch for? Or do you stick with the “new is always better” rule? We will tell you everything you should know about these jackets, and help you make that decision more easily!
Apart from the obvious design differences, there are a few things that Patagonia attempted to improve with the Micro Puff. Did they succeed? See for yourself.
While both of these jackets have synthetic insulation, Patagonia opted to go with proprietary insulation in the newer jacket. The Micro Puff is insulated with 65 grams of PlumaFill – synthetic insulation made 100% from Polyester.
PlumaFill is designed so that it can replicate the structure or natural down, which allows it provides you with the same levels of warmth and packability as down. But, since it is synthetic, it performs a lot better in wet weather. That’s because natural down insulation consists of down clusters that clump up when wet. Therefore, they don’t trap body heat nearly as efficiently when wet.
Patagonia’s PlumaFill doesn’t have that issue – Polyester is able to keep you really warm even when it gets completely wet. Additionally, it helps that Patagonia puts a lot of insulation in these jackets. The regular Micro Puff features 65 grams of insulation, which is actually about a quarter of its entire weight!
But PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, which is used in the Nano Puff jackets, is able to do the same thing. Plus, it’s arguably the better type of insulation – PrimaLoft is used by dozens of different brands, whereas PlumaFill is only used by Patagonia. You can see the efficiency of PrimaLoft on many different examples, and so you are more sure of its quality.
Additionally, the Nano Puffs are insulated with PrimaLoft Gold Eco –the best type of this insulation that exists. It offers a higher warmth-weight ratio than other types of PrimaLoft, which is how the Nano Puff jackets manage to be so lightweight. Plus, it is breathable, water-resistant, and packable, as well as made from 55% recycled content. If being environmentally conscious is important to you, the Nano Puff is the obvious choice.
But in terms of just performance, it is really hard to say that one is outright better than the other. The two types of insulation are way too similar to efficiently compare them, and both do exactly what they are supposed to – they keep you warm even in the rain while being extremely lightweight and packable at the same time.
One of the biggest differences between the Nano and the Micro Puffs is in their average weights. Let’s use the men’s size M as an example here – the Nano Puff jacket weighs 337 grams (11.9 ounces). The Micro Puff jacket in the same exact size weighs only 235 grams (8.3 ounces).
That’s a 102-gram difference. And while that might not seem like a lot, considering there are jackets that weigh several pounds, it actually makes a huge difference here. Especially considering that both jackets have approximately the same amount of insulation in them. If you want to talk mathematics, the insulation in the Nano Puff accounts for 17.8% of the jacket. With the Micro Puff, that number is higher – 27.7%.
And if we are to trust the numbers, the Micro Puff should be the warmer option.
But if we are talking just about packability, I don’t think that those 102 grams make that big a difference. Both jackets are packable and stow into an inner pocket. So, you can transform both of them into a tiny little pillow. Both of these pillows are approximately the same size and one of them is a deck of cards heavier than the other. Does that make you categorically refuse to buy the heavier pillow? I don’t think it does.
Obviously, the Micro Puff is the lighter option. If that’s your primary concern, then definitely go for the newer Puffs – the difference is more than noticeable. But if you’re worried about packability more than pure weight, either of these Patagonia jackets is still a good option.
I think that’s to be expected, considering that it’s the newer collection. If you’re mostly worried about the price and want to get the more affordable option. the Nano Puffs are the obvious choice. Unless you think the lighter weight and higher weight-warmth ratio of the Micro Puffs are worth the $50.
Both the Nano Puffs and the Micro Puffs are designed as sports jackets. They offer premium breathability, which you need when you’re engaging in activities that make you sweat, like hiking, skiing, jogging, or whatever.
Their main function is to keep you dry both on the inside and the outside while retaining the body heat that you yourself are generating. They are not proper winter jackets – if that’s what you’re looking for, I suggest you check out our post on the top Gore-Tex alternatives.
But you can wear the Puffs as a mid-layer, or just bring them on adventures that require you to have lightweight, warm protection. Additionally, they are great jackets for Fall and Spring, mostly because of their performance in wet weather.
But don’t think either of these will keep you toasty on cold January nights.
Both of these collections feature several different products, with the three most popular being the hoody, the jacket, and vest. I’ll tell you something about each of those, and I’ll link both the men’s and women’s versions below the reviews.
Patagonia’s Nano Puff Jacket has a shell made from 20-denier polyester, which is coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent). It helps the jacket wick away any moisture instantly and doesn’t allow it to permeate inside the shell. The same coating is applied to the polyester lining as well, making this jacket waterproof both inside and out.
It has a center-front zipper, which features a storm flap on the inside. It is also moisture-wicking and has a zipper garage next to your chin, which allows for superior comfort. And that’s actually pretty useful – nothing can discourage you from zipping up your jacket fully like a zipper that scratches and bother you.
These jackets feature elastic cuffs and an adjustable hem. Both of these do a great job at keeping the draft out and making these windproof. But, what’s even more important, is that the drawcord at the hem allows you to adjust the internal temperature. In case you get too hot in the jacket, just loosen the hem and let some air in.
The Nano Puff has a total of three pockets. Two are external, hand-warming pockets, while the third one is internal. The internal chest pocket also doubles as a stuff sack and has a carabiner loop.
And what that basically means is that you can stuff the jacket into the internal pocket and then attach it with a carabiner to your backpack. And since even its interior is waterproof, you don’t have to worry about it getting wet – it will dry off quickly and warm you up in a matter of seconds.
There are not too many differences between the jacket and the hoody. The hoody is a little heavier, mostly because it has an integrated hood, which is helmet-compatible.
It is designed to be worn under a ski jacket, to provide you with additional warmth. And that’s really the only difference, apart from the price – the materials are the same, they have the front zipper with internal storm flap and the same number of pockets.
It comes down to whether or not you think that it’s worth it paying $50 more just to have a hood.
To get a Nano Puff Vest you take the regular Nano Puff jacket, cut off its sleeves, and shed $50 from the price and you get the vest. Those are pretty much the only two differences since the vest is also waterproof, insulated, packable, breathable, and has the same design.
It has the same three pockets that the other Nano Puffs have, including the stuff sack one. The same goes for the adjustable hem and wicking storm-flap zipper.
Obviously, since you are removing the sleeves, you’re also shedding some weight. So, the vest is appropriately 110 grams lighter than the regular jacket. And I actually think this is the better option if you’re looking to upgrade your jogging attire – you won’t be nearly as hot as you would be in the plain jacket.
The first difference you notice in the Micro Puffs is the design – unlike the Nano Puffs, these don’t have a quilted shell. Instead, they only feature horizontal seams, which makes them look more interesting, in my opinion.
But it’s the differences that you don’t see that matter the most, like the fact that the way the shell is “quilted” helps maximize the loft of PlumaFill insulation, in turn making this jacket warmer all around. Or the Pertex Quantum fabric.
Both the shell and the lining are made from it. The fabric is made from tightly woven nylon, it is coated with DWR and it offers supreme breathability, waterproofness, and wind resistance. And since nylon is generally more durable and water-resistant than polyester, I’d say that the performance of the Micro Puffs is somewhat better than the performance at Nano Puffs.
Just like the previous Patagonia jackets, these feature a front zipper with a storm flap and a “zipper garage” at the chin. Basically, there are two pieces of fabric that cover the end of the zipper, so that it doesn’t scratch you. Simple, yet so efficient!
The Micro Puffs feature more pockets than the Nano Puffs – two external hand-warming pockets and two internal drop-in pockets, with the left chest pocket doubling as a stuff sack. And they also have elastic cuffs that keep the draft out of the sleeves, and help improve the wind proofness of the jacket. Additionally, these feature an adjustable hem as well, which allows you to regulate your body temperature in case you get too warm.
The Micro Puff Hoody is pretty much just the jacket with a hood. All of the important features are the same – the high-quality materials, the elastic cuffs and hem, the zipper with flap, packability, and lots of pockets.
The one difference is that this Micro Puff features a helmet-compatible hood, which makes it the better option for skiing and snowboarding, simply because it can provide you with more warmth. And it is a little bit heavier (29 grams), because of that hood.
In terms of whether the Nano or the Micro Puff Hoody is the better middle layer for winter sports, I’d suggest you go for this one if you really want the lighter weight and the additional pockets. If you’d like to save a few bucks, get the Nano Puff instead.
This Micro Puff vest is like a layer of clothing you don’t even know you’re wearing. It weighs just about 142 grams (women’s S), with nearly half of that being the weight of insulation.
It is made from Pertex Quantum, just like the jacket and the hood, and it has the same level of waterproofness and breathability. Since it lacks sleeves it’s not really wind-resistant, but I don’t think you’d expect that from a vest anyway.
It has the same number of pockets as the other Micro Puffs, and it stowes into the internal chest pocket. Keep in mind that this vest weighs approximately as much as your smartphone, and that’s why it’s a great choice as a warm middle layer for any outdoor adventure.
*Note: At the moment, the men’s Micro Puff vest is sold out everywhere. I will update the post with links when it becomes available again!
I would say that the Micro Puff is the winner, but by an inch.
The differences between these two collections are not drastic. It’s not like the Nano Puff was the obvious choice until just a few months ago, and now it is obsolete.
Both of these Puffs are exceptionally lightweight, offer great performance in wet weather with superb synthetic insulations and DWR coating. If you’re looking for a lightweight sports jacket that you can wear on hikes, camping trips or just when jogging, either one will do a great job.
If you’re prioritizing pricing, get the Nano Puff since all items in the collection are about $50 cheaper than the same ones in the Micro Puff collection.
On the other hand, if you want the lightest jacket you can get, grab one of the Micro Puffs – they truly offer unparalleled weight and warmth-weight ratio.
And if you’re looking for a proper winter jacket, I suggest you check out one of the posts below – there’s lots of variety, for both the ladies and the gentlemen!