A few years ago, ultra-compact pullovers started to pop up from outdoor clothing manufacturers. The goal with these pullovers is to provide as much warmth in as small a package as possible. These pullovers make for a great layer under a shell in sub-freezing weather. And this time of year, they excel as the “insurance policy” for light-weight adventuring.

Over the last six months or so, I’ve been swapping between two pullovers: the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover and the GoLite Demaree Canyon 800 Fill Down Anorak. I’ve worn both in wintertime cold weather, and I’ve taken both camping during the early spring season. They both pack down to almost-nothing and are incredibly warm given their lack of bulk.

Neither of them breathes well, so I’ve not found them very useful for sustained, high-aerobic activities. But for end-of-ride relaxing, chilled-out neighborhood walks, and as a sleeping layer, the pullovers are a godsend.

PATAGONIA NANO PUFF PULLOVER $149; 289g, Made in Vietnam
PROS: incredibly light; casual and “normal” looking; women and men versions. CONS: no hand-warmer pockets.

GOLITE DEMAREE CANYON 800 FILL DOWN ANORAK

$185; 460g, Made in China
PROS: hand-warmer pockets; handy front zip pocket; super warm. CONS: a bit too technical looking for an “in town” jacket; no woman’s version.

PATAGONIA NANO PUFF PULLOVER

When I first took hold of the Nano Puff, I was pretty sure it was a gimmick. It weighs less than a can of soda. How could anything so insignificant really keep me warm?

I started using the Nano Puff during the winter bike commutes on clear mornings when the temperature was around freezing. With just a single mid-weight wool shirt underneath, the Nano Puff kept me amazingly warm on my downhill commute into the winter air.

The Nano Puff has since become my go-to pullover for any trip that has the potential to go cold on me. With the spring we’ve had, there has been plenty of opportunity to run this pullover through the paces. I’ve camped with it, and I’ve used it as my main riding-around-pub-crawling pullover.
As a Patagonia product, the Nano Puff delivers on the style side too. It’s not bulky and comes in great colors, and it’s cut like a normal-looking jacket. In town, the Nano Puff works fine with a single, Napoleon-style breast pocket; but when I’m camping or hunkering down somewhere cold, I miss having hand-warmer pockets.

The Nano Puff also scores some points in that it comes in both male and female-specific versions.

GOLITE DEMAREE CANYON 800 FILL DOWN ANORAK

The GoLite Anorak is the more performance-oriented pullover between these two options. My goal with the GoLite was to reduce the weight and bulk of my overnighter sleeping kit by bringing a smaller sleeping quilt (instead of a bag) and leaving a clothing layer behind. The idea is that the GoLite would provide all of the benefits of a pullover and I could sleep in it. The idea paid off.

The GoLite is just super warm. With 800 fill down, it’s much warmer than the Nano Puff. It has the blessed hand-warmers, which are lined with fleece, as well as a pouch-style pocket at the belly that is surprisingly useful. Additionally, at the hips and up into the pits, it has a stretchy material that makes for a super warm snuggly fit. When it’s cold out and I just want to sit and be warm, this GoLite is exactly what I want.

But it’s puffy down, and the weird stretchy material under the pits and the strange Kangaroo pouch pocket makes it a bit too nerdy for round-the-town wearing. This is a technical pullover, and there is no woman’s version.

But hey, fashion is fickle and temporal, so who cares?

If you want warmth with no compromise, hand-warmer pockets, and your utilitarian sensibility proudly scoffs at the fashion weenies du jour, then the GoLite Anorak is for you.