With so much focus these days on responsibly-sourced down, it’s easy to overlook synthetic-fill garments that keep you warm for considerably less money. Like the Patagonia Nano-Air Light hoody ($299) and the Patagonia Nano-Air Light pants ($149).

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Slim, athletic fit, it doesn’t feel bunchy under a lightweight cycling shell

What I liked

Hoody is a great warm mid-layer for active pursuits on cold days. Synthetic insulation is more resistant to moisture and dries faster when it does get wet so I found that worked very well on 25-degree morning bike commutes when paired as a mid-layer under a light cycling shell. It worked equally well on days in the 30 to 35-degree temperatures as an outer layer paired with a mid-weight baselayer. It also worked successfully on a 28-degree trail run day. I remained comfortable even though I worked up a sweat.

Pants are a warm on their own and incredibly warm with baselayer. I tested this while on a late October camping trip in the Boundary Waters in temperatures that ranged from the low-20s in the mornings to the mid-40’s in the afternoon. On their own they weren’t warm enough for the mornings but when I added a Kora Shola yak wool baselayer the transformation was amazing. I went from freezing and surly to warm and loving.

Hoody layers nicely. Because it has a slim, athletic fit, it doesn’t feel bunchy under a lightweight cycling shell or my Mountain Hardwear Straight Chuter jacket. The pants don’t work so well as a baselayer because they are a little on the bunchy side.

Fit runs true to size for both hoody and pants. The cut is slim and some people think they need to go a size up. I normally wear a small and the Nano-Air Light hoody and pants size small samples I received fit just fine. No need to order the next size up.

Comfortable. The hoody has plenty of room in the shoulders even with a mid-weight baselayer. The sleeves are long and forgiving and are made with stretch fabric at the wrist cuffs. The pants have ample room in the hips and butt and easily accommodate a baselayer. I did attempt to wear the pants under a pair of ski pants (just for giggles) and it was too restrictive—not to mention I looked about fifty pounds heavier.

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Chamois’d bike shorts and bike tights can and do fit under them!

Both have a great warmth-to-weight ratio. Fleece, another option for a midlayer, is warm but it’s dense and takes longer to dry.  This denseness also has a tendency to feel restrictive and it’s not the most breathable. I found that the Patagonia Nano-Air Light hoody and Nano-Air Light pants hit the sweet spot between the warmth of fleece without the weight and moisture retention while still remaining breathable as a mid-layer for cold weather cycling.

Pants do very well with bike shorts/tights. This was really the reason I requested a sample of the pants. I wanted to know if they would be another warm option for winter cycling. They are and like the hoody they have good breathability.

Hood does not obstruct vision. And still keeps the chilly wind off my neck and face. It’s not helmet-compatible though.

Not the warmest jacket and pants out there but…when I wear it over a mid-weight Merino wool shirt or leggings and it’s about 40 degrees outside and I’m not moving around a ton, I’m very comfortable. Conversely, when I am moving around a ton, I’m too warm.

What I didn’t like

Price. At $299, the Nano-Air Light hoody costs more than many of Patagonia’s puffy down jackets and on its own doesn’t provide the same degree of warmth.

Final thoughts

The Patagonia Nano-Air Light hoody is a versatile jacket the works well on its own in temperatures ranging from the low 50’s to the low 40s. As a mid-layer, it adds an extra layer of bulk-free, breathable insulation for colder days. Same with the Patagonia Nano-Air Light pants.

Yes, the price tag of the hoody is like taking a bullet but justification comes from its use value and quality. You really can use both the hoody and the pants for just about any active activity this fall and winter. We can all agree that Patagonia doesn’t cut corners on quality and the Nano-Air Light hoody and Nano-Air Light pants are no exception.
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