Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Hood= instant balaclava, very warm for its weight, highly breathable, packs down small, extra length tucks into pants, thumb loops secure cuffs for active sports.
Cons: Not as durable, wind resistant, or as stylish as hardface fleeces; no handwarmer pocket can be a drawback for some people.
Best Uses: Under almost anything for varying temperatures, standalone light layer.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody takes the highly versatile, breathable, and compressible R1 Pullover and adds: a balaclava style hood, longer arms with thumb loops, and an extended hem for tucking the fleece into your pants or a harness. This is our favorite style R1 and our top rated fleece jacket. Alpinists and backcountry skiers worldwide live in this layer; it’s our testers’ single most used fleece. The features are nearly perfect: the ninja hood adds instant warmth when you need it and the quarter-length zipper dumps heat when you’re moving fast uphill. This could be Patagonia’s single best product and it is the author's favorite Patagonia product-- many other premium brands make similar fleeces but none match the high performance of the Men’s R1 Hoody.
This fleece competes fiercely with the Arc'teryx Fortez Hoody, which is more durable, more wind resistant, and more jacket-like. Our testers prefer the R1 Hoody, but if you’re looking for a top-tier technical fleece that looks better around town and functions at a higher level as a standalone jacket the Fortez Hoody is worth considering. Check out all the jackets tested in our Fleece Jacket Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The R1 Hoody is our testers’ go-to midlayer for outdoor adventures of all types in all seasons. It is a lightweight fleece that is warm enough, but not too warm. That’s why we love it. It serves equally well when used as a baselayer on ultra frigid gram counting adventures, when tossed over a t-shirt for the mid-summer bike ride to happy hour, or on a casual evening walk around the neighborhood.
We reach for warmer hoodless fleeces on cold climbing and skiing days (<15 degrees F) because they can be warmer for their weight, and we regularly pair them with a full face, sometimes windproof, balaclava. However, our tests show that warmer fleece materials are frequently too warm for active use in three-season conditions. We've found that there's no need for a heavyweight fleece because other types of clothing, such as down and synthetic insulated jackets, are more efficient insulators- they provide more warm per unit weight and per dollar. Therefore, we believe that the R1 fleece's type and weight represents the best of the available options for the widest range of applications.
Without increasing warmth, it doesn’t get any more comfortable than the R1 Hoody. The fleece is lightweight so you feel like you're wearing a really warm shirt rather than a jacket. Also important: the quarter-length zipper eliminates the rigidity of full zip models, and the hood fits over and warms your head like a dream come true.
The hood is worth elaborating on because it is the second best fleece hood we’ve ever tested. For many years this jacket had the best fleece hood we had used. Other companies (including Outdoor Research, Wild Things, Mammut, etc.) released and revised their lightweight fleeces but they never put enough attention to the most important part (the hood)and the R1 Hoody’s hood reigned on as the leader in comfort and warmth. Then in 2013 Arc'teryx released the Fortez Hoody which has a hidden, integrated balaclava, which is a unique and innovative feature. The Fortez Hoody provides excellent visibility for 90% of the time you need a hood and it lets you pull a black balaclava over your face, and customize its position over your mouth, nose, or neck, in a way that bests the R1 Hoody. We prefer the Fortez’s hood because it is more versatile, provides more coverage especially for the nose, and because it allows better visibility. (The R1 Hoody’s chin covering material can flap about annoyingly and can need to be tucked into the sides of the hood to remain out of your field of vision.) But, even though the Fortez has a slightly better hood we still LOVE the R1 Hoody’s hood.
Weight and Packed Size
Our men’s medium model weighs 12.8 ounces and compresses to slightly less than one liter in volume. Although fleece is not superbly warm for its weight (down and synthetic insulation are warmer per unit weight/volume), its warmth when wet and comfort next-to-skin make it a material that we almost always carry with us.
Wind Resistance and Breathability
All R1 models have very poor wind resistance and excellent breathability. The material dries very fast, which is a huge advantage for high exertion activities and three-season backpacking.
It’s not form fitting, it doesn’t have seams at the edge of the shoulders that make you look like a burly man, and the material is obviously technical in nature; the R1 is not at all stylish. Yet, for experienced users, the fleece is attractive in that when you see someone else in it you can appreciate how comfortable they are. And that is attractive. The R1 Hoody is a staple in climbing circles from Denali to Camp 4, to Patagonia, and across the ponds. Despite its OK aesthetics we all wear it everywhere.
The hood could cover the nose slightly more, but otherwise this piece is nearly perfect. Our testers have owned several different iterations of the jacket the current one is exceptional in both design and in durability. As illustrated in the photo below, there is little that can wrong with the jacket.
Ice and alpine climbing.
The R1 Hoody is worth its weight in gold. It’s one of those pieces of gear that improves your comfort and performance by a significant margin, and it’s very challenging to put a monetary value on such a benefit.
Patagonia also offers the R1 Pullover and R1 Full-Zip, but we highly recommend that you go with the Hoody. As you can see in our ratings the other R1 models score considerably lower in several categories.
Dream Backpacking Gear List
The R1 Hoody is one of many items featured in our Dream Backpacking Gear List. Check it out for other top-tier "dream" backpacking items.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 18, 2014
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