Nano Puff Vs Thermoball: Which Won The Battle?

Two of the leading outdoor apparel brands The North Face (TNF) and Patagonia offer selections of quality and reliable down jackets. Naturally, each brand has a loyal fanbase, but we decided to put their most popular jackets against the other.

We put TNF’s Thermoball and Patagonia’s Nano Puff on the spotlight to figure out which one is worth your money. Both stand out as excellent jackets in their merit, being well-made, providing a diverse selection of options and offered at reasonable prices. They also both have hundreds of positive consumer reviews, which does not make it any easier to choose one over the other.

With a bulk of the groundwork done, this review should give you more insight on how the Thermoball and Nano Puff jackets hold up against each other.

North Face Thermoball Vs Patagonia Nano Puff Comparison

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What Makes A Great Down Jacket?

There are endless numbers of variables that determine which down jacket will suit you best. However, you want one that fits right, does not weigh too much, offers a reasonable amount of warmth, and provides water resistance. Your intended use should also guide the decision of going for a mid or lightweight jacket.

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To begin with, down jackets come with the insulating layer that helps keep ducks and geese warm even when they swim through freezing water. Naturally, the more down layering, the better insulation provided.

Synthetic Versus Down Jackets

The first decision is figuring out whether or not to buy a down insulated jacket or a synthetic option. Down jackets provide significantly more warmth despite being lightweight, and they also compress better. On the other hand, the down jackets gradually lose their loft when they become wet which in turn comprises their ability to keep the wearer warm.

 

Synthetic insulated jackets come with more bulk while offering the same level of warmth. The PrimaLoft varieties are the most common types of synthetic jackets offered by both brands. The PrimaLoft microfibers provide superior thermal insulation and retain much of their loft when wet.   However, the synthetics do not compress down well. Downs tend to last longer, an average of 10 to 20 years, and they also provide better breathability.

Fill Power

One of the many confusing aspects of shopping for down jackets is the fact that they feature a “fill power rating.” You often see numbers like 400, 700, and 900 assigned to different products which raise curiosity for the regular shopper. The accompanying numbers reference the quality of the amount of down insulation used to construct the particular jacket.

Generally, the higher up the fill power number, the better the warmth-to-weight ratio meaning that you get a jacket that weighs significantly less but provides marginally better insulation.

Construction

Down jackets make use of two main types of construction which are the welded/bonded baffles and sewn-through methods. Most feature the hassle-free sewn-through construction method. It is a markedly cheaper method given that it makes use of less fabric making the entire process also less time-consuming.

The welded or bonded baffles technique fuse the outer and inner fabric pieces creating baffles held down using heat, glue, chemicals or a combination of the three. Given the lack of holes from sewing on the outer fabric, the welded baffles tend to provide better water resistance and wind impermeability.

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The material used for the jacket also plays a hand in its overall performance. The amount of down filling, the fabric, zippers, and other hardware all contribute towards the weight. The material used also affects the durability and lighter and thinner materials more susceptible to snags and abrasions. However, the shell fabric often determines the longevity of any down jacket.

Compression

Compressibility matters too because it impacts how much abuse the garment can withstand without comprising its insulating abilities. It just means that you can stuff the down jacket inside your backpack without worrying about losing its insulation capabilities over time. When unpacked the downs regain their shape quickly.

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Luckily, most down jackets come with a pocket, stuff sack, or a clip-able carabiner loop. It helps with storage and carrying the garment with you on your adventures.

Hydrophobic vs. Regular Down

The hydrophobic varieties come coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish which helps to repel water. These options significantly eliminate the setback of most downs which is their inability to maintain loft. That means that with one of these jackets on, you can still stay warm even in wet conditions.

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You might spot a few brands marketing their down as having permanent water resistance capabilities. Given that it is a synthetic coating on the outer shell of the jacket that provides the water repelling abilities, it does not necessarily mean that the garment will stay that way during its lifespan.

How Do The Specs & Features Vary?

Aside from the distinct differences related to warmth, lighter jackets come with a variety of differing features. Some of the features that often appear across the board include waist and hood draw-cords, and marginally fewer pockets. Most come with hand-warmer, inner/outer chest, and internal stash pockets.

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The hem drawstring helps give the jacket a tighter hold around the hips and wast. Similarly, the hoodie draw-cord gives a tighter fit around the head providing more warmth overall.

Most also just make use of one of the jacket’s pockets as a stuff sack which works better in reducing luggage when outdoor adventures.

What Are The Differences Between This Style Hoodie And A Sweatshirt?

Both down jackets and sweatshirts function as outerwear, but the former comes constructed out of cotton jersey fabrics while the next one features filling encased by an outer shell. The other distinct difference is how you wear a sweatshirt versus a jacket, with the first worn over the head and the second featuring an open front with buttons, zippers and hook closures.

A hooded sweatshirt works much like a sweater making it an excellent choice for mildly chilly weather, but it does not hold up too well as an option for extraordinarily freezing or rainy conditions. A down jacket hoodie works well as a winter-weather choice and depending on the level of warmth needed you can wear it on its own or alongside other warm apparels.

The reason why you want a hooded sweatshirt or down jacket is just that they keep you warmer in windy conditions.  However, you still have to factor in considerations such as whether you intend to wear the down jacket as a mid-layer and with a helmet or not.

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Patagonia 60g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation 

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - Men's Black Medium

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Some Highlighted Features:

  • It is polyester-made.
  • The down features the Primaloft Gold Eco insulation.
  • It is 60-g compressible and water repellent.
  • Adjustable drawcord at the hem provides a tighter fit when needed.
  • It stuffs up in one of the zippered pockets.

What Makes It Different?

The Nano Puff comes made using 100% recycled polyester and offers functions well when it comes to wind blocking. Its outer shell sheds moisture making it a suitable addition to your layering system. At an estimated 11.90z, it keeps the bulk low, and the 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco makes it highly compressible.

It features an inner zippered chest pocket which doubles as stuff sack coupled with a carabiner clip-in loop. The down also features two handwarmer pockets, a drawcord hem, and elasticized cuffs.

Who Should Buy The 60g PrimaLoft Jacket?

The backcountry skier and alpine climber will appreciate having one of these jackets at hand.


Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hoodie

Mountain Hardwear Mens Ghost Whisperer Insulated Down Water Repellent Jacket with Hood - State Orange - M

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Notable Highlights:

  • The down is nylon-made and comes with a hoodie.
  • It is hydrophobic with moisture wicking abilities.
  • A low-profile quilt pattern forms heat-trapping channels.
  • An interior toggle hem makes adjustments possible.
  • Elastic inner cuffs seal out the cold.
  • It is available in 12 color choices and Medium to XXL sizing options.
  • At just 70z it is perfect for layering.

What Makes It Standout?

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down is exceptionally lightweight at just 7oz but still provides a decent level of insulation. It comes with an 800-fill power and resists moisture with the help of inner placed cuff seals. A single toggle hem found inside the jackets makes adjustments possible.

Its construction is unique making use of the Ghost Whisperer seven denier by ten denier fabric. The fibers feature water repellency infusion to keep out the moisture while providing warmth. It is also quite helpful that the down is available in 12 color choices and several sizing options as well.

Who Should Buy One?

The lightweight nature of the down makes it suitable for backpacking and layering.


Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

Patagonia Men's Down Hooded Jacket Sweater

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Some Key Features:

  • The down features a polyester-made with a DWR finish.
  • It features a contoured fit design with a longer-length hem.
  • The jacket comes with a hoodie featuring a single-pull adjustable cord.
  • It also comes with two zippered handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket/stuff sack.
  • Elastic cuff seals provide enhanced warmth.
  • It is available in three colors and XL/XXL sizes.

What Set It Apart?

The lightweight, windproof hooded sweater comes with an 800-fill power making use traceable goose down. A DWR finish repels water keeping the jacket warm collectively with the help of the elastic cuff seals and adjustable hoodie. The contoured fit and longer-length hem also work towards offering as much warmth as possible.

The jacket features two zippered handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket that doubles up as a stuff sack.

Who Should Buy The Down Hoodie?

Anyone who needs a lightweight yet exceptionally warm jacket should consider buying one.


North Face Thermoball Hoodie

The North Face Thermoball Hoodie Jacket - Men's Asphalt Grey/Fusebox Grey Process Print Large

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A Few Noteworthy Features:

  • It is made using 100% ripstop nylon.
  • A DWR coating makes it water resistant.
  • It comes with a hood binding and hem cinch for a better fit.
  • The down also features zippered hand pockets and an internal chest pocket.
  • It packs up in its hand pocket.
  • The Thermoball comes in an impressive selection of color and sizing options.

What Makes It Different

The TNF’s jacket features the PrimaLoft insulation designed to retain loft and keep you warm in wet conditions. The jacket is equally as compressible as down with the ThermoBall clusters maintaining heat in small pockets and providing efficient insulation. It features a similar fill power to a 600 goose down.

A DWR coating makes it water resistant while retaining warmth in wet conditions. It also comes with a hood binding and hem cinch-cord for added warmth. It also comes with two covered zippered hand pocket and an inner chest pocket.

Who is it for?

The Thermoball is equally an excellent choice for anyone looking for a lightweight cold-weather jacket that holds up well against the elements.


The Final Verdict

When you take you a closer look at both brands there really is not that much difference between them. Both brands offer downs that are suitable for mid-season use and as layering garments for the colder seasons. Their down jackets also come with DWR coating which makes the garments water resistant.

Consumers generally find the Thermoball jackets to be a litter warmer when compared with the Nano puff jackets but the difference is almost negligible. The Nano puff jackets also provide windproof capabilities. Patagonia goes the extra mile and makes use of recyclable materials with 55% of their garments made using the recycled post-consumer content.

Both brands offer their jackets in relaxed fit sizes suitable for the outdoors.  However, the Nano puff tends to feature a slightly longer hem. The Thermoball women jackets come in tapered fittings while the men’s jackets come in roomier designs.

Their price points also much up which does not leave room to make a buying decision based solely on the cost. It mostly comes down to size/color and style preference when deciding to go with the Nano puff or Thermoball.

Scott Moey
 

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