Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Recycled materials, well put together, clean design, versatile minimalism, light, unobtrusive logo, breathes like you're naked.
Cons: Little wind protection, mesh pockets, bland styling, no waist drawstring.
Best Uses: Under almost anything for varying temperatures, stand-alone light layer.
The Patagonia R1 Pullover is a highly versatile, breathable, and compressible lightweight fleece jacket. Alpinists and backcountry skiers literally live in this layer. It's more breathable, more versatile, and packs smaller than the Patagonia R2. Get the R1 Hoody (our favorite R1 model) if you want a hood or the R1 Full-Zip Jacket if you want a longer zipper and handwarmer pockets.
Go for the Patagonia R2 Jacket if you want something warmer and something that looks better around town. If you're going for aesthetics and the cozy factor get the Mountain Hardwear Money Man or for the "black North Face Jacket look" get the North Face Khumbu Jacket.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The R1 is Patagonia's lightest and most breathable fleece. It uses 6.8 oz. Polartec Power Dry, which has a grid backing (high-loft pillars with open spaces between) and a smooth microfiber face for the outside. The R1 is designed for high output activities in cold weather or for use an outer layer in moderate temperatures without high winds. This is arguably the most versatile fleece layer available. It excels in fluctuating temperatures and wicks your sweat away almost as good as bare skin. The R1 is the go to fleece layer for alpinists and backcountry skiers. It can be a baselayer for 8000m peaks or the main insulating layer on multi-pitch climbs in spring, summer, and fall. The R1 breathes well enough to be used when skinning up the steepest of mountains. This layer epitomizes versatility. Pair it with a windbreaker, softshell, or hardshell for the most versatile high output layering system on the planet.
The R1 is not as warm as the R2, or other standard fleece jackets. Unless, the temperatures are mild, the R1 is for moving in. It's also exceptionally compressible and tucks into a corner of your pack.
The R1 comes in three Men's versions: full zip jacket (with two handwarmer and one chest pocket), pullover (quarter length zipper with a chest pocket), and a hoody (quarter zipper, chest pocket, longer cut for tucking into pants, thumb loops, and balaclava style hood). The Hoody is our favorite of these three because it's longer and tucks into your pants, has thumbs loops for active sports, and its hood provides an instant balaclava. The Pullover could be a good option if you don't like hoods, plus it's slightly cheaper than the Hoody.
The R1 has less a lower environmental impact than other similar fleece jackets. The fleece is made of recycled soda bottles. And Patagonia donates a significant part of their profits toward environmental efforts that work to preserve and restore our planet's natural areas and threatened species.
The R1 isn't a casual, around town fleece. Yes, it can be, and is often, used around town, but it doesn't look like a casual cardigan. For example, the sleeve seams lie below your shoulder, which makes it more comfortable under a backpack, but looks less "jacket-like." Get something else if you want a fleece jacket solely for its looks.
The R1 is highly breathable and thus not very wind resistant. Thicker fleeces or those with windproof membranes (Gore Windstopper) offer more wind resistance. Bring a lightweight wind shell, such as the Patagonia Houdini, with you. (A wind shell weighs around four ounces and pack smaller than an orange.)
The R1 isn't the most durable fleece. Polartec Power Dry is knit relatively loosely and is prone to snag on passing branches or wearing out after prolonged time in fierce offwidths or squeeze chimneys. We suggest wearing a wind shell while bushwhacking.
All active cold weather pursuits.
Max Neale has lived almost exclusively in the R1 Hoody for the past three years. He's worn holes in one (Patagonia replaced it free of charge) and is slowly working on the next. He's also returned all other fleece jackets (including the R2). Why? Answer: because synthetic jackets are warmer for their weight than heavier fleece jackets. The R1 Hoody is Max's single most used piece of outdoor gear. Highly recommend.
Exceptional design and materials combined with Patagonia's Ironclad Guarantee (you can return it at anytime for any reason) make the R1 an exceptional value.
The Patagonia R1 Full Zip - Men's is also available, but we highly recommend that you go with the Patagonia R1 Hoody. As you can see in our ratings the other R1 models score considerably lower in several categories.
Looking for the women's version? Check out the Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's, $160, or Patagonia R1 Full Zip - Women's, $160.
— Chris McNamara, Max Neale and Kevin Swift
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 7, 2014
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