Respect the Vest

Pity the vest—it gets so little respect. Other than a brief retro-inspired bump over the last few years by urban lumberjacks, the sleeveless body hugger hasn’t really been popular since the 1970s.

This is a shame, because the right vest, one like the Patagonia Nano-Air, can be a staple of your backcountry (and front country) kit through most of four seasons. For winter and early spring, the Nano-Air’s 60-gram synthetic insulation gives midweight, midlayer versatility—use it under a ski jacket on cold day or by itself over your base layer for skinning or cool-day, late-season turns. For start/stop pursuits, like climbing, it’s also ideal, because the Nano-Air breathes extreme well, shedding heat before you can overwhelm it but still keep your core toasty when it’s your turn on belay.

The Patagonia is designed with a snug, slim fit that both mirrors the broader trends in menswear and plays a functional role: By staying close to the body, the Nano-Air layers nicely under outer garments and creates a sleeker, more athletic silhouette. And because both the insulation and its nylon ripstop shell have four-way mechanical stretch, the vest never feel restrictive, whether you’re reaching to place protection or fire up the stove for morning coffee.

$199 • BUY

Read more gear reviews.

Read more from Steve Casimiro at his blog, Adventure Journal.

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