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Patagonia Better Sweater Review


Fleece Jacket

  • Currently 3.5/5
Overall avg rating 3.5 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: October 21, 2014
Price:   $139 List | Varies from $104 - $139 online
Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Best looking "fleece"
Cons:  Fabric pills up easily = reduced aesthetics, heavy and expensive for its warmth and comfort, not versatile
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ October 21, 2014  
The Patagonia Better Sweater is a midweight fleece jacket with a sweater-looking exterior. It attempts to provide stylish, professional sweater-like aesthetics with the performance of a fleece. Like all hybrid jackets, however, it does not perform well at either objective. Therefore, we do not believe it is a "better sweater." It's also not better than a fleece because it's not suitable for serious outdoor activities, especially not overnight trips where weight is a concern. The jacket's primary advantage over other fleeces is aesthetics; it's the best looking "fleece" we've tested. That is until the fabric wears out and gets covered with pills… We urge you to purchase a performance oriented fleece and/or a stylish sweater instead of this compromise piece.

RELATED: Our complete review of fleece jackets - men's

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Patagonia has a long history of making excellent fleeces and sweaters, but the Better Sweater cannot be considered one of the company's better products.

This jacket performs moderately well as a fleece and moderately well as a sweater. We believe it is an OK compromise between the two types of apparel. But it is a compromise. If you want sweater aesthetics we suggest purchasing a sweater and if you want the performance of a fleece, we suggest purchasing a fleece, like Patagonia's R2 Jacket.

The author owns many Patagonia sweaters that have been made over the last decade. These sweaters are much more attractive than the Better Sweater. Because the Better Sweater jacket does not provide professional looking aesthetics (it's only suited to the most casual of business casual environments) and doesn't provide the performance attributes of fleece (high warmth to weight ratio, small packed size, good breathability, etc.) we don't recommend it.

One of the jacket's greatest drawbacks is that the sweater-knit face fabric pills up after a relatively short amount of time. We have experienced the same problem with various other Patagonia hoodies in the past and other pseudo fleece jackets. This a major drawback because the jacket looks considerably less attractive when it pills.

If you are looking for a moderately priced casual jacket, the Better Sweater could be an OK option, but we feel that many people would be better off purchasing a higher performance fleece jacket, like Patagonia's R2, and/or a nice sweater. Also, the jacket has a somewhat boxy cut, so those with more athletic builds may find it to be too wide, which means it is not thermally efficient or as comfortable trimmer fleeces like the Patagonia R1 Hoody or Arc'teryx Fortez Hoody.

Other Versions

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Patagonia Better Sweater - Women's
  • Cost - $140
  • The women's version of this sweater

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Better Sweater 1/4 Pullover
  • Cost - $99
  • 1/4 length neck zipper
  • Chest pocket only

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Better Sweater Vest
  • Cost - $99
  • Full zippered vest

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: October 21, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 50%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Feb 4, 2014 - 06:13pm
wflan · Skier · Denver
I'm going to have to disagree with the reviewers. I LOVE my better sweaters. Mine are a few years old & idk if they changed them enough to make the pilling a bigger issue. I noticed some, but less than a lot of sweaters I've seen.

These are great because they are good looking and warm and versatile. The pockets are comfy and have an inner layer if you want to carry something separately from the outer/hand pocket. It layers well with its bulk and collar. For CO skiing, I have a thin merino base, an R1 hoody, and a thicker hardshell. In my backpack with food and water, I carry my better sweater. That simple and comfy combo has gotten me happily through long days in the Rockies without being too cold or sweaty as wind, sun, snow, and temperatures change throughout the day. There are thinner/lighter fleeces for packing BUT with the better sweater, it's so flippin comfy it's what I want to wear around the house and it's good enough looking, you can wear it at work or with outfits as fancy as your standard business casual. It's a slightly porous weave, which makes it versatile w/ layers and sweat free.

Again, I LOVE them in almost any situation. They used to be ~$70 and I bought two colors. Some of my favorite pieces of clothing across all genres.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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