That's because your choice pretty much comes down to your response to this question:
How you're planning to use the jacket?
Because the design intention of these jackets are completely different than one another.
If you're going to be physically active, absolutely get the Nano Air (more breathable). For a stationary use, get the Nano Puff (warmer).
Attention here guys: Air received an update this Fall 2019, check out this post of mine if you want to see what's new. The info under this post isn't applicable to the models prior to this update. On Patagonia's site, this is the new hoody.
The differences between these jackets can simply be listed as follows:
- Air is MUCH MORE breathable and a little more versatile & easier to layer
- Puff is more wind resistant and a little more water resistant, durable & warmer
Also, I've put this post together for the comparison between all the popular Arcteryx and Patagonia mid-layers, including the two in this post. So if you're interested to see how well these two jackets scored in the warmth, comfort, weather & abrasion resistance, breathability and style departments; check that out as well.
Find below the lowest temperatures you can wear each jacket without feeling uncomfortably cold.
These are only approximate values assuming:
- you only have a shirt under and no shell over,
- during daily use (strolls, power walks etc at most - no high output activities),
- with enough wind to cause an umbrella to twist in your hand,
- and when it's dry out.
°F / °C
Patagonia Grade VII Down Parka (Men's)
Patagonia Vosque 3-in-1 Parka (Women's)
Read more about this chart here in my Insulated Outerwear Temperature Ratings Guide. Also my Best Patagonia Jackets post.
If you think you run warmer or colder than the average person, then shift temperature ranges accordingly.
Lastly - make sure to check out Patagonia.com Web Specials before you buy.
90% of these differences are caused by their insulators: FullRange vs PrimaLoft - as you can see their manuals here [PDF Guide - 2019/2020].
Another important take away of this post is that you can achieve and actually exceed the warmth provided by Puff if you layer your Air either with a moderate quality shell or a moderate quality baselayer.
But you can't make the Puff as breathable as the Air.
Also, I talked to the Patagonia Customer Service myself (screenshots below), made hours of research and out what I found about the differences between Patagonia Nano Puff and Nano Air Jackets together here in this post.
Now, before we get to it, there's one thing I'd like to clear out in advance.
I know some (maybe most?) of you want to learn the differences between durability, warmth, versatility etc, and I WILL get to them in detail under this post, but keep in mind that the design intentions of these jackets are kind of like apples and oranges.
If you'll be active inside the jacket, get the Air. For a casual outwear, stationary use; absolutely get the Puff!
So, as you see, the 5 main differences we'll dive deep now are:
- Weather Resistance
Now let's begin with weather resistance.
FullRange vs PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco
FullRange insulator (which, by the way, Nano Air is equipped with 60 grams of) is intended to make the insulator both breathable AND fairly warm & water resistant.
It's a lightweight synthetic insulation (40% recycled) with an innovative combination of stretch and breathability, allowing it to be functional across a "full range" of conditions - e.g during the activities that requires a lot of physical movement. It maintains 96% of warmth, even when wet.
PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco insulator (which, by the way, Nano Puff is equipped with 60 grams of) is intended to make the insulator highly weather resistant by sacrificing breathability a lot.
It's equipped with more thermally efficient 100% polyester (55% postconsumer recycled) insulation that is hydrophobic, highly compressible and maintains 96% of warmth, even when wet.
Although FullRange still isn't as warm or water resistant as PrimaLoft, it still makes a good job - especially when you take into account that Nano Air provides a slim fit and hence easier to layer (especially with a shell on top and a base layer beneath).
Layering won't impact the breathing capability of the jacket negatively either.
Patagonia doesn't give their jackets EN Ratings, so it's impossible to know what would be the lowest temperature which a 5'3" 25 year old female would feel fairly warm under these jackets.
Not to even mention that determining this is EXTREMELY subjective.
In order to give you a rough idea around the warmth difference between these jackets...
Combining the information in this chart with the differences between these insulators; for a stationary use...
...the lowest temperature that you can comfortably wear the Nano Puff and feel fairly warm would be around 28 deg F (around -2 deg C). This is lower than that of the Air's, which is nearly at 32 deg F (0 deg C).
That said, this is very difficult to pinpoint as it's EXTREMELY subjective as I told you, so take this advice with a grain of salt. Even the Patagonia Customer Service can't provide the answer to this...
This is like comparing apples and oranges, guys! If you're even just LOOKING for the warmth differences between these jackets, it's highly likely that you're on a path that'll led you to a mistake.
Your motivation for deciding which jacket to go for should be decided by the design intention differences between these jackets (active vs stationary use) NOT their warmth differences!
In our case, both jackets come with DWR coating on their surface.
DWR is a coating. It's basically sprayed on to the surface of these jackets as a finish. It stands for Durable Water Repellent - which means that both these jackets will "repel" water under wet conditions. Instead of soaking into the fabric, the water will be smoothly slipping down their surface. DWR also decreases dry time.
It's a good thing that both jackets are coated in DWR, but pay attention to the fact that DWR is a coating - meaning that it will wear off over time.
Another sacrifice made with high breathability is wind resistance. Now, this sacrifice isn't as little as warmth or water resistance.
If you go ahead and check out the supplier of FullRange insulator, which is a company called Toray, you'll see that wind cuts right through this FullRange insulator of Nano Air. Again, though, you can solve this with a windshirt.
So these aren't problems you can't solve - but you'd still need an extra gear to gain these extra weather-resistance advantages.
So extra points to Puff in this department.
I repeated this many times in this post until now, but for the sake of consistency, let me say one more time:
Air is much more breathable than Puff - and you WILL notice the difference between the two when you're active inside them.
Just like its sister Micro Puff, Nano Puff really doesn't breath at all either, so if you're looking for a jacket that allows comfortable, dynamic use, DO NOT GET NANO PUFF.
Nano Air has a slim fit, whereas Puff has a regular fit.
Under this "fit" department, we really can't say if one is better than the other since it's comparing apples and oranges.
When moving, you'll function better and feel more comfortable inside a slimmer fit.
Puff is a casual piece. I can't see how can you use it other than wearing it in your neighborhood.
Until now, I mentioned that Air is suitable for a wide variety of activities.
That's why, comparing these jackets alone (assuming no other layering is a viable option), I'd say Air is more versatile than Puff.
On top of that...
What's maybe even more important is that you can achieve and actually exceed the warmth provided by Nano Puff if you layer your Nano Air either with a shell or a baselayer.
But you can't make the Nano Puff as breathable as the Nano Air.
Which, I think, is another factor that makes Air even more versatile.
In Patagonia's website, denier values for Air aren't revealed.
That's why I asked Customer Service about this, too.
John from Customer Service told me that the shell fabric of Puff is more durable:
So... Extra points to Puff. Its nylon shell not only provides more water resistance but also increases its durability.
Again... Comparing the durability alone will lead you to the wrong decision... It's... apples... and... oranges... guys...
*repeating myself to death*
I'd say they weigh the same... Air's 318 g (11.2 oz) of weight won't really feel any lighter than Puff's 337 g (11.9 oz).
Briefly, we can say both jackets are quite light.
So, in short, 90% of the difference between these jackets caused by using different insulators. 60 grams of Air's Full Range is going to be much more breathable, whereas 60 grams of Puff's Primaloft is going to be much more wind resistant and a little warmer & more water resistant. If you're going to be physically active, absolutely get the Nano Air. For a stationary use, absolutely get the Nano Puff.
A good video review of Puff is here:
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That of the Air:
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