Gear & Beer: Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket, Ibex Wool Aire Hoody, Bent Hill Brewery Coconut Porter

patagonia nano airPatagonia Nano-Air Jacket

It’s that time of year. Most of the leaves have found their way to the ground, soon to be covered in snow. The air is crisp, even during daylight hours. Road and trail traffic has quieted as leaf peepers and summer vacationers have retreated. Late fall is the perfect season to get outside a few more times before the first Nor’easter hits, and you’ll want to layer up with a few good pieces before hitting the trail.

Enter the Nano-Air, the latest insulating layer from Patagonia. When the team at Patagonia tells you to “put it on and leave it on” they mean it. The rip stop shell fabric and lining offer four-way stretch to allow for unrestricted movement. It’s also water repellent in case you come into light precipitation like sprinkles or flurries, but add a waterproof shell in wetter or cold conditions for extra protection and warmth. The Nano-Air’s greatest feature is its breathability. Put it on to warm up at the beginning of an ascent and you won’t take it off again, even as you heat up. Pair this jacket with a moisture regulating first layer and forget about the sweat and chill cycle when pausing aerobic activity during breaks. Patagonia claims this is the most breathable item on the market and Outside Magazine rated it Gear of the Year for 2015.

The Nano-Air’s comfort and breathability come from Patagonia’s “FullRange” 100% insulation, a structurally stable synthetic polyester fill that can be paired with shell and liner fabrics that have an open weave. The more open the fabric weave, the greater the air flow. A close fit and brick quilting keep the insulation close and securely in place to enhance function and add style.

Additional features are few, keeping total weight to a minimum, but zippers are well placed and well planned. A wicking storm flap on the full length zipper keeps drafts and moisture out, helping to maintain a consistent internal temperature, and the zipper garage keeps it off your chin. The pockets – two side and one chest – are also zippered, low profile and out of the way of packs and harnesses. Adjust the draw cord to keep heat in at the hem. Available in men’s and women’s jacket and hoody styles so everyone can get warm and stay comfortable. This is a great transition piece, I haven’t taken this jacket off since it arrived in the mail this fall and I plan to keep it on all winter. $249


ibex wool aireIbex Wool Aire Hoody

When temperatures dip, nothing provides warmth quite like wool. Harness the naturally insulating properties of wool in Ibex’s 90 percent merino-filled Wool Aire Hoody. The Australian merino wool stays warm, even when it gets wet, and stays put with no bunching or shifting between the shell and lining. The wool insulation is blended with 10 percent Inego, a plant based polymer that boasts a 60 percent lower carbon footprint than traditional materials. Ibex even keeps plastic fabric additives to a minimum in the 88 percent recycled rip stop nylon shell, which is treated with DWR for water repellency.

The Wool Aire is available for men and women as a jacket, hoody and vest. Expect a close, athletic cut, with roomy arms in the jacket and hoody to allow a range of motion. The full length zipper zips high up the neck, eliminating drafts even with the hood down, with a garage so it doesn’t irritate your face. Two side zip pockets are well placed for harness and pack compatibility and an internal mesh pocket doubles as a stuff sack with a loop for clipping it close at hand.

Pairing the Wool Aire with wool first and/or second layers, depending on how low the temperature dropped, kept me reliably warm and dry on chilly mountain excursions. The wool insulation isn’t bulky and looks flattering enough to wear on trips into the city. Sustainable and durable, this jacket is a great base or outer layering piece to add warmth in New England’s unpredictable autumn weather. $350


benthillBent Hill Brewery Coconut Porter

Central Vermont is home to nearly 15 fantastic breweries and just a short scenic drive to another 25 or so in the rest of the state. New operations are popping up across the state at a rate that can be hard to keep up with. Bent Hill Brewery opened its doors to the public this past summer, and invites you to stop by and taste their four flagship offerings, which are also available locally in large format bottles or on draft in and around their hometown of Braintree, Vermont.

Bent Hill’s Coconut Porter is a great pick for the cooling weather and shorter days. This dark colored porter has enough toasty smokiness to conjure feelings of warming by a campfire with a mildly nutty and tropical coconut flavor and light body which nod to the recently befallen days of summer. The coconut is roasted right at the brewery and added during second fermentation. The addition of coconut certainly adds a complexity to the aroma and flavor, but does so subtly so the malts and hops can also make an appearance. At 4.4% ABV, you’ll want to enjoy a couple pints of this easy drinking porter.

Bent Hill’s flagship beers are distributed locally, but they also brew smaller batches of new recipes and sample them at the brewery, which is a 15-minute scenic jaunt from the interstate. Check them out on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and fill up a growler of your favorite while you’re there.

Hilary DelRoss

Hilary grew up in southern New England where she developed her love of nature and outdoor recreation, including learning to ski at Rhode Island's only ski hill. After exploring the Rocky and Cascade mountain ranges, she transplanted to the Green Mountain State where she snowboards, skis, hikes, bikes, kayaks and stokes campfires from her home base in Montpelier.