Patagonia is well known in the backpacking world and for good reason; they make some of the highest quality gear and have a reputation for being ethical and honest. They've won over the hearts of backpackers everywhere and have convinced them to shell out big bucks for their gear.
If you've been looking for a nice lightweight insulated jacket to wear in cold weather or to keep you warm around camp at night, you've probably come across the Patagonia Nano Puff and the Patagonia Down Sweater. But what's the difference? Despite their similar appearances, there are a couple critical differences that set these two jackets apart.
Nano Puff vs Down Sweater Side by Side Comparison
I'm going to give a run down of these 2 jackets and compare all of their features so you can quickly compare them. In the next section I'll give my thoughts on which jacket would be better for specific people/situations.
Note: this table only mentions the differences between these two jackets. They're very similar so I'm not going to repeat all of the areas where their features overlap.
Synthetic - 60g PrimaLoft
Goose Down - 800 FP
Nylon bound elastic
Rip Stop Threading
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Synthetic vs Real Down
The differences between synthetic and real down have been hashed out a million times before so I'm not going to repeat that here. The most important difference is that synthetic down doesn't lose it's insulating properties when it's wet but real down does. This means that the Nano Puff is a better jacket if you think you could be exposed to rain, like when you're backpacking.
The Patagonia Down Sweater uses real down (800 fill power, ethically sourced goose down) which means if it gets wet, it might not keep you warm anymore. Both jackets have a water proof coating on the shell of the jacket but if water gets inside, the real down quickly loses it's ability to keep you warm. The Down Jacket is better for activities like rock climbing where you can be pretty sure you won't be getting rained on.
If you've ever compared sleeping bags with real and synthetic down, you probably noticed that most real down bags are smaller than synthetic down sleeping bags. The same thing applies to these jackets. Real down is more compact and lightweight than synthetic down so the only way that the Nano Puff is able to weigh in 1 ounce lower than the Down Sweater is because it uses less down.
If you're looking to stay warmer in cold climates, the Down Sweater will do a better job. If you just want a nice insulating layer when hiking and you aren't going to depend on your coat to get you through the entire winter in the Northern U.S./Canada, then the Nano Puff will fit the bill.
Rip Stop Threading
The Patagonia Down Sweater comes with rip stop threading but the Nano Puff does not.
Rip stop threading means the stitching on the jacket is done in small sections so if any piece of the threading comes unraveled, the rest of the threads don't unravel with it.
This means if you get a rip in your Nano Puff, you're going to lose more threading than you would with the Down Sweater. The Down Sweater keeps that rip isolated to the small section where the rip is at.
What does this mean for you? Any rips will cause your down insulation to move around and clump up. This could leave some spots of the jacket with no insulation so it won't keep you warm in that section.
This might sound like a big deal but for me it wasn't a deal breaker. The Nano Puff has a smaller, square stitching design so the pockets of insulation are already small and isolated. Yah it sucks if the threads rip and your insulation gets lumped up but it's not a disaster.
The Down Sweater has larger sections of insulation and if the threading came out on one of those sections you'd notice it. It's a good idea by Patagonia to include the rip stop threading on the Down Sweater but it would have been nice to have it on the Nano Puff too.
Hood vs No Hood
The Nano Puff has a variation called the Nano Puff Hoody which.....comes with a hood.
The Down Sweater doesn't have this option and just comes in the one design.
The hood for the Nano Puff is not an add on you can get later. If you want the hood, you have to specifically order the jacket that comes with it. This is a totally different item than the one I showed above on the comparison table.
Here's a link to the hoody version if you're interested.
Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Who Should Get the Patagonia Nano Puff?
The Nano Puff is a great jacket if you are looking for a jacket that will be a warm base layer that you can use while hiking or sitting around camp. I wouldn't rely on it to keep me warm in Michigan during the winter since it's pretty thin.
Even though the Nano Puff is thin, it's still a really warm jacket. I'd be comfortably taking this jacket when backpacking down to the 30 degree range for extra warmth. If I was expecting snow or day time high temperatures of 30-40 degrees then I'd either get a warmer jacket or add some layers to the Nano Puff.
Who Should Get the Patagonia Down Sweater?
The Down Sweater is a beefier jacket built more for warmth. I'd opt for this jacket over the Nano Puff if I was planning a through hike during cold weather or if I wanted a coat that could double as my full time winter coat.
The only thing I'd be leery of is the down getting wet which can be a problem when you get wet, sticky snow. During dry powdery snow there's no issue but there's nothing worse than having a down coat get wet.
The Nano Puff and the Down Sweater are both great jackets. For most backpackers I'd recommend the Nano Puff over the Down Sweater. It's better for most use cases and looks cooler which is what really counts when you're backpacking in the middle of nowhere.