Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Perfect fit for most active uses, ideal weight for many conditions, great hood design.
Cons: Not as stylish as some other fleeces for around town, not as warm for its weight as some high-loft models.
Best Uses: Just about any outdoor pursuit.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a pullover-style fleece that features a balaclava-style hood, longer arms with thumb loops, and an extended hem for tucking the fleece into your pants or a harness. In our original men's fleece review, the R1 was our Editors' Choice. In this 2014 update, we re-tested it against new and updated fleeces from other manufactures. Although nothing has changed except available colors, it remains a near-perfect layer and we are confident in re-awarding it our Editors' Choice award.
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 Patagonia Men's R1 Hoody. This model competes fiercely with the Arc'teryx Fortez Hoody, which is more durable, more wind resistant, and more jacket-like. Our testers prefer the R1, 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.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Patagonia R1 Hoody is simply one of the most useful layers we have tested. Its versatility and comfort are second to none. It really seems to be the ideal weight for just about any activity you can think of. Testers reached for this layer more often than any other by a large margin.
This hooded pullover 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 (less than 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. Depending on your layering system, we've found that there's no real 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. Testers reach for this model for just about any activity you can think of. From climbing, to hiking, to ski touring, our Editors' Choice winner is universally useful.
Without increasing warmth, it doesn't get any more comfortable than the Patagonia 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. It features long slim sleeves and comfortable thumb loops. These are great features and especially useful when the fleece is used as an active base layer. Also, the sleeves have wide and comfortable elastic wrist cuffs that effectively keep the sleeves rolled up to the elbow. This is a critical feature if a fleece is intended to be used for climbing.
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 (if we aren't already wearing it).
Wind Resistance and Breathability
All of Patagonia's 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. This pullover is ideal for highly aerobic activities like cold weather runs. The "Regulator Fleece" fabric that makes up the body is soft, thin, and leaves small air gaps between each square of the grid to add breathability and allow moisture to effectively escape.
If you start to really overheat, the 1/4 length zipper can be opened to mid-torso to effectively dump heat. Although high-loft models breathe fairly well in low-exertion situations, as soon as activity really ratchets up, the fur tends to hold heat/moisture and a stifling/soggy feeling can ensue. Even top scoring high-loft models like the Patagonia R3 simply cannot compete with the breathability of the R1's grid fabric. Unfortunately, this same grid fabric allows wind to blow right through without much resistance. However, as wind protection isn't the intended use of an active fleece like this one, a lack of wind resistance really isn't much of a detraction. If you're looking for a similar weight fleece that provides more wind resistance, be sure to consider the Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody - Men's.
Style and Fit
This jacket is not form fitting and the material is obviously technical in nature, so it 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. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a staple in climbing circles from Denali to Camp 4, to Patagonia, and across the ponds. Even though it is not something you would wear out to a hip city bar, there is likely not a climber or hiker hangout in the world where someone isn't wearing an R1 right now. In short, anyone in the know will find you supremely attractive in this fleece.
Although this model doesn't have many bells and whistles, its hood 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 one of the most important parts (the hood) and the Patagonia R1 Hoody's hood reigned on as the leader in comfort and warmth. It has an offset zipper that rests on your cheek rather than zipping straight up to rest on the nose. Although this a great design, it is still sometimes a bit uncomfortable to have a zipper squeezed tightly against your face, no matter the location. The 2-in-1 hood/balaclava design also means you'll have an extra flap of fabric moving around and obstructing vision when not fully zipped. This can be a bit annoying, but is usually not a huge issue. The hood is fairly thin and form fitting and fits comfortably under a climbing helmet.
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. Even though the Fortez has a slightly better hood we still LOVE the Patagonia R1 Hoody's hood.
Aside from its hood, however, this fleece has some unique and effective features of its own. The sleeves are long, form fitting, and have comfortable thumb loops to keep them in place and add a bit of warmth. When it's time to climb, the sleeves roll up to the elbow and stay put. The lack of handwarmer pockets reduces around-town comfort, but makes this piece more comfortable when wearing it under a harness or pack since there is less fabric that needs to squeeze under your waist belt. It really is hard to beat the R1 as an active climbing layer for chilly days. The singular chest pocket is about the right size for a wallet and phone, but will bulge awkwardly if you try to stuff much more inside. The hood is not quite as awesome as the Fortrez's, 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.
Any outdoor pursuit. Literally. Depending on weather conditions this can be a stand alone piece or part of a breathable layering system. The Patagonia R1 Hoody doesn't do it all all by itself, but we think it's a stellar additional to your layering arsenal.
Our Editors' Choice winner 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. Its versatility is second to none and it can be used for just about any activity you can think of. In short, we do not think there is a more valuable layer in existence, which is why we've given it our Editors' Choice award.
One tester said the following of our Editors' Choice winner: "If my house were burning down, I'd run for my R1 before my family photos." We're not sure if this is a wise decision, but we are very confident when we recommend the Patagonia R1 Hoody to just about anyone in the world.
Patagonia R1 Pullover - Men's
Patagonia R1 Full Zip - Men's
Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's
Dream Backpacking Gear List
This pullover is one of many items featured in our Dream Backpacking Gear List. Check it out for other top-tier "dream" backpacking items.
— Eric Schnepel
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 2, 2014
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