Mid-Layers Put to the Test: Patagonia’s Nano Air Light Hybrid & Arc’teryx Atom LT

Mid-Layers Put to the Test: Patagonia’s Nano Air Light Hybrid & Arc’teryx Atom LT

Written by Active Endeavors Ambassador, Quincy Milloy

I’ll be the first to admit—when Patagonia announced the Nano Air Light Hybrid, I was skeptical.  The Hybrid has the Nano Air insulation up front with a less-insulating “waffle knit” on the sides and back.  Who would want a layer that only insulates half of you? What’s wrong with the original, I thought? The regular Nano Air is arguably one of the best breathable mid-layers on the market.  So when I had the opportunity to try the Hybrid vest out on a recent trip to Germany, I wasn’t holding my breath for anything revolutionary. It all seemed like a weak attempt to add variety to the already stellar Nano Air lineup.

My go-to mid-layer has been an Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody that I picked up at Active Endeavors and used for my main insulation layer while skiing. Mid-layers are perfect for when the snow melts. I can put my outer winter shells in the closet and jackets like the Atom LT or the Nano Air transition into outer layers. When I boarded my flight to Germany in early spring, the only warmth I brought was the Atom I wore onto the plane and the Nano Air Hybrid packed away in my bag.

Unlike my normal adventures, which generally include climbing and skiing, this trip was all about sight seeing in Munich and the surrounding area.  I traded the great outdoors for outdoor beer gardens, climbing shoes for street shoes, and nature for the man-made beauty of a European metropolis full of rich history. Nevertheless, the Atom LT and the Nano Air Hybrid were still right in their element. In fact, the Nano Air Light Hybrid was brilliant.

As someone who always carries a DSLR and other goodies with me when I’m exploring, I almost always have a small backpack with me.  If you are an avid backpack wearer, you are all too familiar with the nemesis that is back sweat.  It happens, it’s uncomfortable, and we would all love to avoid it.  That’s where the Hybrid excelled for me.  As someone who runs a little warm usually, I opted for the Nano Air Light Hybrid vest on days above 50°F.  The vest, paired with a Patagonia Thermal Weight crew shirt, provided the perfect amount of warmth while wandering around the Salzburg fortress on a mild day at the base of the Alps.  With the knit lining on the back, I was able to shed excess heat without the need for perspiration. It truly was a revolution.

The Arc’teryx Atom LT performed just as marvelously.  A few of the days were a bit cold and damp, and when you are sitting at an outdoor beer garden enjoying a masterpiece of German beer, it’s nice to have a bit of extra warmth provided from the Atom.  It was also a wonderful choice when I was wandering the city late at night for some fun with long exposure photography.  Based on rave reviews by numerous friends of mine, I’m sure the regular version of Patagonia’s Nano Air would have done just as well in these situations.  Mid-layers are some of the most versatile pieces of gear you can invest in, and I trust that you won’t be disappointed if you decide to pick one up.  Just ask any of the Active Crew and they can give you some pointers on what would work best for you.

Germany was spectacular. I only spent time in the Bavarian state and neighboring Austria, but I was blown away by the cool stuff to do and see.  If you are looking to plan a trip there, feel free to drop me a message and we can chat about it.  From majestic baroque castles and palaces, to world-class museums and medieval fortresses, Germany is full of unique experiences that are both enlightening and entertaining.  And if that doesn’t appeal to your tastes, how about a good beer and a plate full of schnitzel?

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