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Hands-on Gear Review

Patagonia R3 Hoody Review


Fleece Jacket

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   Varies from $149 - $199 online  —  Compare at 3 sellers
Pros:  Soft, warm, comfortable, reversible, stylish, hood, elastic hem and cuffs, easy to layer.
Cons:  A bit heavy
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Patagonia

Overview

In previous years Patagonia's R3 Jacket was one of our award winners. They've stopped making the "jacket," and now offer up a hooded version instead. This made us love it even more, bringing it to the top of the pile and making it the winner of our Editors' Choice award. Just about everything this fleece jacket offers screams perfection. The slim fit and snug-fitting hood with elastic binding locks in just the right amount of heat during those morning runs or hour-long hikes to the base of the cliff. It's loaded with great features, including being reversible. Pile side out gives you two hand warmer pockets and a zippered chest pocket. Smooth side out offers a sleeker look with two zippered chest pockets only. These pockets are a great place to stash your I.D., keys and any other small personal effects in separate pockets to avoid creating a bulky bulge while out in the backcountry or a cold morning run. Both sides also feature the clean-finished cuffs that the Patagonia R1 Hoody is known for. The elastic binding along the hem, hood and hand warmer pockets seals in just the right amount of warmth to keep a smile on your face during most weather conditions. Our testers used this fleece jacket for everything from backyard BBQ's to carrying heavy packs to the cliff, and it performed well in every condition we tested it in. If you plan on using your fleece jacket for high intensity aerobic activities, then you might prefer the lighter R1, but for all other applications the Patagonia R3 Hoody was our favorite model and a clear choice for our Editors' Choice award.

Patagonia R3 Hoody - October 2016
Patagonia has released additional colors of the R3 Hoody. Keep reading to find out more.

RELATED: Our complete review of fleece jackets - men's

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Kenny Barker
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
December 18, 2015

Updated Fall 2016 color options for the Patagonia R3 Hoody


Patagonia has release four new colors to the R3 Hoody line up, adding more options to this Editors' Choice Award winner. Legend Green, Drifter Grey, Forge Grey, Grecian Blue, and Supply Green.

Patagonia R3 Hoody
Patagonia R3 Hoody
Patagonia R3 Hoody
Patagonia R3 Hoody
Patagonia R3 Hoody
 

Hands-On Review



If you haven't checked out the Patagonia R3 Hoody in a few years, you'll definitely want to take a close look at it now. Gone is the heavy and too-warm fleece jacket of years past. This lightweight 18-ounce fleece jacket offers the perfect amount of warmth while remaining breathable. It's made with Patagonia's recycled polyester technology, which turns soda bottles, plastics and even old worn out Patagonia garments into "new" products. The 8.9 oz/yard Polartec High Loft fleece is 97% polyester (53% recycled) and 3% spandex. This jacket currently comes in Black, Classic Red, Hunter Green and Underwater Blue color choices.

Performance Comparison


There are so many different uses for our Editors' Choice winner. Here's lead tester Kenny Barker heading out to the boulders on a cold day with a pad full of climbing gear. There was no irritating rubbing on the shoulders from the straps while hiking and no cool air flow through the hem on this frigid day.
There are so many different uses for our Editors' Choice winner. Here's lead tester Kenny Barker heading out to the boulders on a cold day with a pad full of climbing gear. There was no irritating rubbing on the shoulders from the straps while hiking and no cool air flow through the hem on this frigid day.

Warmth


Staying warm is the main reason for buying a high dollar fleece jacket such as this one. With this piece you get what you pay for! Whether you are out for an autumn night's stroll down to the pub or huffing it back to a multi-pitch wall in the Wind River Range, this jacket is great for maintaining the proper body temperature. Although the The North Face Denali was the warmest model we tested, the R3 was almost as warm and did a better job at regulating body temperature. Its warmth-to-weight ratio is pretty hard to beat the Denali weighs half a pound more than this jacket. Our testers were definitely impressed that something so lightweight kept us as warm as it did.

The high-loft fleece material kept us toasty warm on  cold days  and the elastic surrounding the hand-warmer pockets worked well for trapping in heat when trying to keep those fingers toasty.
The high-loft fleece material kept us toasty warm on cold days, and the elastic surrounding the hand-warmer pockets worked well for trapping in heat when trying to keep those fingers toasty.

Comfort


Most people take their jackets off when they return home, but this was not the case for our testers when wearing the Patagonia R3 Hoody. This was the most comfortable jacket we tested this year. The recycled polyester fiber strands are woven to perfection, which create a fluffy "barely there" feeling against the skin. The underarm gussets and low profile stitching around the shoulders make this jacket comfortable to wear while carrying a backpack. Patagonia changed the wrist cuffs, which was one of the only things we disliked about the R3 Jacket last year. They decided to incorporate the exceptional R1 cuffs into this year's design for added comfort. The kissing-welt zipper garage also helps makes it more comfortable when the jacket is fully zipped during brisk outings. While out testing, our testers noticed that everyone was interested in touching the jacket to feel the softness we were spraying about.

This jacket was comfortable to wear under a pack when out for a snowy hike  and we loved wearing it while lounging around the house as well. We pretty much lived in this fleece for weeks!
This jacket was comfortable to wear under a pack when out for a snowy hike, and we loved wearing it while lounging around the house as well. We pretty much lived in this fleece for weeks!

Breathability


Being able to go about your daily outdoor activities without dripping in sweat is vital to maintaining the proper body temperature (and sometimes even staying alive!). This jacket offers just the right amount of breathability, whether it is used as an outer layer or mid-layer. The R3 material now uses a gridded design similar to what's been used on the R1 for years. The grid channels allow your moisture to ventilate, and even when it did get soaked through (even the most breathable fleece will get soaked through with enough exertion), the drying time on this jacket was faster than any other model we tested. While the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody was a close competitor to the Patagonia R3 Hoody, it did not do as well as this one at keeping us dry.

The Polartec Power Grid material vents heat without compromising warmth. When you want to pull your sleeves up to cool off even more  the R1 material wrist cuffs stretch and stay in place without restricting blood flow.
The Polartec Power Grid material vents heat without compromising warmth. When you want to pull your sleeves up to cool off even more, the R1 material wrist cuffs stretch and stay in place without restricting blood flow.

Layering Ability


One of the main reasons to buy any of the R-Series layers from Patagonia is their superior layering ability. This jacket is no exception it slides into a rain, down or synthetic jacket with ease to create the perfect mid-layer. The only complaint our testers had was minimal bunching in the cuffs, but that actually corrected itself after a few seconds. This is where the added thumb holes of the R1 Hoody have superiority over the R3 when it comes to being layered. This jacket also had ample room in the shoulders and arms to go over a base layer or two without leaving us feeling constrained.

When purchasing a fleece jacket, consider what you might what to wear both underneath and on top of it. Fleeces are often worn as mid-layers, which means they need to be roomy enough to be worn on top of a thermal baselayer, but low profile enough to fit underneath your wind, rain or cold barrier. Not an easy task! Check out our Introduction to Layered Clothing Systems article for more information on how to layer up for the outdoors.

The R3 has a roomy enough fit to layer over the R1  but this whole unit is still sleek enough to fit under a shell or puffy jacket without leaving you feeling like a stuffed sausage.
The R3 has a roomy enough fit to layer over the R1, but this whole unit is still sleek enough to fit under a shell or puffy jacket without leaving you feeling like a stuffed sausage.

Ease of Movement


While moving around in the Patagonia R3 Hoody, our testers did not experience any pulling or tightness in the arms and shoulders like we did in the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200. This jacket was cut with an athlete's proportions in mind, and the ample room in the shoulders was something all of our testers, particularly the climbers, appreciated. There was also next to no riding up when bending down to pick something up or stretching after a long hike in the alpine.

Wind Protection & Water Resistance


What this jacket does not offer is much protection from wind and precipitation. The Patagonia R3 Hoody is geared more towards layering under something else that will protect you from those elements. This jacket is more likely to soak up moisture than shed it, but it did dry exceptionally fast when wet. It did do better than we originally thought it would in blocking the wind, but on gusty days you'll want to bring along a dedicated wind jacket like the Patagonia Houdini. If you are looking for a more stand-alone fleece jacket, the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody has "hardface technology" that helps block the wind and rain a little more than this model.

The fleece material quickly absorbs water and doesn't offer much in the way of wind protection either. However  this material dries extremely fast and helps keep you warm even when the jacket is wet.
The fleece material quickly absorbs water and doesn't offer much in the way of wind protection either. However, this material dries extremely fast and helps keep you warm even when the jacket is wet.

Weight


At 18 ounces, this is one of the heavier fleeces we tested, but ultimately it wasn't enough of a difference to affect our Editors' Choice award decision. Sure, this jacket could do away with the reversible zipper and two extra chest pockets to shave off a few ounces, but we appreciate the extra versatility that those features offer. The lightest fleece that we tested was our Best Buy winner, the Marmot Reactor, which weighs 12.7 ounces. The difference between the two is little more than an energy bar or two, yet you get more performance and warmth from the R3. It also folds up into a tiny little ball when not needed and takes up little room in your pack.

This view shows the reversible side of the jacket featuring two chest pockets. These may add a little more weight but are a great place to store important items like keys or a phone while out on a hike.
This view shows the reversible side of the jacket featuring two chest pockets. These may add a little more weight but are a great place to store important items like keys or a phone while out on a hike.

Best Applications


There are a lot of uses for the Patagonia R3 Hoody. We used this hoody for every occasion we could think of. The absolute best use for it is simply when you want to be warm and comfortable in cold weather. It is great for staying warm between climbing project attempts, or going for a long evening run during those cold times of year. Using the hood under a helmet on a multi pitch climb is one of the features that sealed it as our Editors' Choice winner. Our testers couldn't find a time that this fleece wasn't useful.

Value


With a retail price of $199, this is one of the more expensive fleeces we tested. However, this jacket offers a lot, and for the amount of use you'll get out of it we don't think you'll be disappointed.

Conclusion


The Patagonia R3 Hoody surpassed all the other models that we tested this year, earning our Editors' Choice award. Its warm, soft and fluffy material traps in heat and is extremely comfortable. The newly redesigned gridded pattern helps vent your sweat without compromising on warmth. It layers well, both under an outer layer and on top of other clothing. Our testers loved this fleece and used it for everything from hiking to the crag in frigid conditions to having a drink with friends at the local patio fire. It's also created out of partially recycled materials, and can be recycled back to Patagonia at the end of its lifetime.

Other Versions


The other products in the Regulator line are the: Patagonia R2 Jacket, Patagonia R1 Hoody, R1 Full-Zip - Men's and R1 Pullover - Men's.

R3 Fleece Hoody - Women's
R3 Fleece Hoody - Women's
  • Cost - $199
  • Perfect as a toasty midlayer
  • Women's version
Kenny Barker

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 18, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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