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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia R2 Jacket Review
Cons: No thumb loops, a bit too technical looking for casual use, zipper bunches.
Patagonia's R-Series is one of the best collection of technical fleeces assembled. The Patagonia R2 Jacket is no exception, but it lacks a little something that the Patagonia R3 Hoody and Patagonia R1 Hoody were able to supply. Those two models won our Editors' Choice and Top Pick awards, respectively. We enjoyed wearing this fleece as an outer layer and mid-layer, and also when we just wanted something soft and snuggly against our skin. But it lacks a hood and is not quite as warm as the R3 or as well-suited to aerobic activity like the R1. Our testers used this fleece out on trail runs, climbing/belaying, hiking, and frolicking in the mountain snow, and it performed well in all those conditions. So, if you are specifically looking for a non-hooded fleece, then check this one out.
RELATED: Our complete review of fleece jackets - men's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Patagonia states that, "Chilly crags, half-frozen trails and backcountry powder are all equally fine playgrounds for our R2 Jacket." We would have to agree with this statement. This lightweight fleece features two zippered hand warmer pockets and one zippered chest pocket. It is made with Polartec Thermal Pro (97% polyester (63% recycled) and 3% spandex) with the R1's Polartec Power Grid fleece featured in panels that run along the sides, underarms, and wrists. The color options are: Black, Forge Grey, French Red, Navy Blue, and Peppergrass Green. Sometimes the R1 panels are the same color as the rest of the jacket, and other times they are contrasting, giving it a more technical look.
If you're looking for a lightweight and warm mid-layer without a hood, the Patagonia R2 Jacket may just be for you. When used as a mid-layer, this fleece jacket did a great job of adding warmth during cold days out at the crag. The Polartec Thermal Pro fleece traps in heat, but there is no elastic at the hem. This seems to be the weak spot in the R2's ability ward off cool air; crisp fall winds crept their way into the jacket through the bottom. Other than this, it regulated our body temps well during many different pursuits.
The main Polartec Thermal Pro fleece feels like fluffy clouds as it moves over your skin. However, the joining of the R1 panels creates a seam that always settled along our testers elbows. This can be quite annoying if you are sitting at a computer and typing up, let's say, a review of the jacket. The offset raglan seams around the shoulders are a relief when carrying a heavy pack into the backcountry. When fully zipped to trap in the heat, we noticed the stiff zipper created a bit of discomfort. Our testers also noticed that the zipper bunched up in the front, which was a little annoying at times. While this is something that a lot of jackets tend to do, we did not notice it at all with our Editors' Choice winner, the R3 Hoody.
Since this fleece seems to be a hybrid of the R1 and R3 hoodies, minus the hood, it is no surprise that it is a standout when it comes to breathability. Patagonia says the fabric used for this piece is directionally knitted to create exceptional breathability. We were amazed how this fleece regulated our temperature while hiking up to the crag in the early fall. The lightweight material is hardly noticeable and it wicked any moisture away from the body.
One of the reasons for buying this fleece is to combine it with an outer layer for added warmth. The elastic wrist cuffs worked well in keeping the sleeves in place when sliding into an outer shell, but there was a little bunching of the sleeves. If this piece featured thumb holes, like the R1 Hoody, the sleeves would slide in with ease with no bunching. In fact, the 2014/15 version of this jacket did have thumbs holes, but for some reason they were dropped in the redesign for this season. Once the jacket is properly adjusted under a top layer, though, it is hardly noticeable. Whether it's a wind breaker, rain, or down jacket, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is low profile and slim enough to fit underneath an outer layer and keep you even warmer.
Ease of Movement
Ease of movement in a jacket is one of the most important things you should pay attention to when buying a layer that you will be active in. If the fleece is so tight in the shoulders that you can't raise your arms above your head, it won't work well for climbing in. The first thing we did in all these jackets was raise their arms up and down many times as well as bend down to touch our toes. We noticed with this jacket that there was a bit of pulling/catching in the shoulder and underarm region when rotating our arms. When bending down the jacket stayed in place and did not expose the back or other areas you might want to avoid exposing.
Wind Protection & Water Resistance
The Patagonia R2 Jacket does not do well as a standalone layer in the wind and rain. The material allows the rain to soak through to the body, but the drying time is quite quick. On a windy day we found that the material dries even faster because the wind breaks the surface of the jacket easily. If you are looking for a fleece jacket that repels water and is more wind resistant, check out the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody. It's made with a "hardface" fleece technology which repels wind and a light rain, making it a more versatile outer layer fleece jacket than this one.
This mid-weight jacket weighs 14.3 ounces (i.e. less than a pound), which is not much at all for such a warm layer. Balling this jacket up and stuffing into crag packs made little to no difference on the weight being carried, and it compresses into a small package. Once the jacket is on, it is almost impossible to notice the weight difference.
Due to not having a hood, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is best suited for chilly spring and fall days when a hood is not needed, or you're layering it with something that already sports a hood. In fact, this jacket makes a great option for layering under a ski jacket, as you don't want a hood bunching up at the base of your neck underneath your helmet and limiting your mobility. Heading out for a light day hike or keeping warm while hanging out by the campfire are great reasons to slide into this fleece.
With a price tag of $169, it is only $30 less than our Editors' Choice winning R3 Hoody, and our testers feel like they would rather spend the extra money for a slightly better product. If you are looking for a more affordable non-hood option, check out the $95 Marmot Reactor, our Best Buy winner, which actually scored higher overall than this model.
This fleece does not top the charts in any one category but does great as an all-around jacket. Whether you are out for a light hike using it as an outer layer, or high up in the snowy mountains using it as a mid-layer, you won't be disappointed with the Patagonia R2 Jacket. It allows the body to breathe, and at the same time keeps you warm and snuggly. The five different color options gives you a choice between poppy, flashy colors, as well as some darker neutral colors.
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Patagonia R3 Hoody
Patagonia R2 - Women's
— Kenny Barker
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Most recent review: July 15, 2016
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