Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Hood provides instant balaclava, highly breathable, packs down small, recycled materials, hem extension tucks into pants, thumb loops secure cuffs for active sports.
Cons: Not as warm for its weight as high-loft fleeces like the Patagonia R2
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 lightweight 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 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—at the least it’s 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 Arcteryx Fortez Hoody, which is more durable, more wind resistant, and more jacket-like. Our testers, who are primarily rock and ice climbers, generally 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 alpine climbs and 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 hodless fleeces on cold climbing and skiing days (<15 degrees F) because they are warmer for their weight and we often pair them with an appropriate balaclava or a lighter baselayer with a hood, such as the Patagonia Capilene 4 Hoody. However, many GearLab testers own their own R1 Hoodies and reach for them whenever other test models aren’t around, and even when they are. Bottom line: this amount of insulation is superb for most active, technical pursuits. A warmer fleece like the R2 might be better if you’re looking for an all-purpose low physical output fleece, rather than a techy backcountry oriented fleece.
It simply doesn’t get any more comfortable than the R1 Hoody. The fleece is lightweight, the quarter zipper eliminates the rigidity of full zip models, and the hood fits over and protects 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 the fall of 2013 Arcteryx released the Fortez Hoody which has a hidden, integrated balaclava, 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.) 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 be improved upon, but otherwise, this piece is nearly perfect for its intended application.
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.
The R1 has a lower environmental impact than other similar fleece jackets because the fleece is made of recycled soda bottles and Patagonia strives toward low impact manufacturing processes. The company also donates a small share of their profits toward grassroots environmental efforts that work to preserve and restore our planet’s natural areas and threatened species.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 22, 2013
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