Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, compressible, super breathable, cozy for a technical fleece.
Cons: No hood, no wind protection, short torso and short sleeves.
Best Uses: Backcountry skiing, cardio activities on cold days.
A high-performing fleece made of a soft and touchable fabric, the 2013 Patagonia R2 Jacket combines breathability and coziness better than any other fleece we reviewed. An updated model of the old Patagonia R2 Jacket, the new R2 has a softer texture than the old jacket and is about two-and-a-half ounces lighter. In our previous fleece review, our testers chose the old Patagonia R2 Jacket as our Editor's Choice Award winner; however, with stiffer competition from some of Patagonia's other top-performing fleeces, the R2 lost its top spot in our updated review. This season, the R2 comes in seven colors and the new model features abrasion-resistant fleece under the forearms, on the elbows, and along the side body to increase the fleece's durability.
From a negative standpoint, this jacket does not come in a hooded model (making it less versatile in our opinion), and our testers noticed that the high-loft fibers of the jacket shed for the first two weeks or so that we had it. The new R2 also fits differently than the old R2. The new R2's sleeves and torso are both a full inch shorter (which made it an awkward fit for our longer-bodied testers) and the torso is cut looser than the old R2, giving it a boxier rather than a slimmer fit. Like the old R2, the new jacket has two hand pockets and a spacious chest pocket; however, the new R2's hand pockets aren't as deep and don't allow you to really burrow your hands into your pockets like you can on the old R2 and the Piton Hybrid Hoody. While the new R2 is more breathable than its predecessor, it's also not quite as warm, especially along the arms.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Although this piece did not earn our Editor's Choice Award again this time around, the R2 Jacket is still an awesome technical piece to add to your gear closet, especially if it fits your body type. If you're looking for a more versatile jacket, try our new Editors' Choice Award winner, the Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody. For a technical piece that's not quite as cozy, but fits longer bodies and has a hood, consider our Top Pick, the Patagonia R1 Hoody. Alternatively, if you're looking for a hyper cozy, around-town fleece, read more about the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover.
Credit: Amber King
Comfort and Coziness
A looser fitting fleece with panels of soft high-loft fabric and sleek Polartec Power Stretch fleece, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is cozier than the R1 Hoody , but not as comfy as the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Woman Fleece. The R2 has a soft-lined collar and a garaged zipper to maximize comfort around the neck. The new R2 is also cozier than the old R2, which has clumpier fabric in comparison to the soft fuzzy fibers of the new R2. Among the technical fleeces, it has the most touchable, snuggly fabric, but is lacking critical features like thumb loops and a hood.
Made of Regulator fleece and Polartec Power Stretch Fleece, the Patagonia R2 Jacket has a good warmth to weight ratio, but won't keep you as warm as the old R2 Jacket. It is extremely packable (slightly more so than the old R2 and about the same amount as the R1), so it's great to toss into your pack as an extra layer on long days. Overall, the new R2 will keep your torso warmer on a cold day than the Piton or R1, but without a hood, balaclava, or extra length on the sleeves and torso, it just doesn't have the same coverage to seal in that heat when compared to these two top-ranked pieces.
More breathable than the old R2, the new Patagonia R2 Jacket has a body-mapped design to maximize warmth, breathability, and wear resistance. It also has mesh-lined pockets to increase airflow. This jacket is a great option for a lightweight mid-layer whether you are heading on a steep uphill hike or out on a long alpine rock climb. It is also more breathable than our Editor's Choice pick, the Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody.
Layering Ability and Ease of Movement
As a somewhat loose-fitting fleece with a fair amount of extra room in the torso, the Patagonia R2 Jacket has plenty of room to layer underneath and as a not-so-bulky fleece, it's also easy to layer over it. Additionally, its stretchy, lightweight fabric increases the jacket's mobility. Although this piece will tuck easily into a harness, because of its shorter cut, it doesn't stay in place and often rides up.
Credit: Amber King
Wind and Water Protection
Like many of the fleeces we reviewed, the Patagonia R2 Jacket does not protect against the wind and will not do much to keep you warm on a breezy day. However, its short-sheered, high-loft fibers do a fair job of shedding light rain. When we sprayed the R2 with water, we noticed that the droplets beaded up before absorbing into the fabric. If you're looking for a fleece that does offer some wind and water protection, try out the Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody or the discontinued Mountain Hardwear Women's Mistral Jacket.
Credit: Amber King
Style and Fit
Although it's one of the most technical fleeces we reviewed, the Patagonia R2 Jacket doesn't look overly techy. It is fairly stylish, but our testers discovered that it's not super flattering on all body types. It's cut an inch shorter at the hip than the old R2 and three inches shorter than the Piton. The torso is also less fitted than many of the other fleeces we evaluated and its sleeves are two inches shorter than the Piton, Better Sweater, and R1.
Lightweight, highly breathable, and fairly warm, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is a great technical piece for cardio activities on chilly days or as a layer on mountain adventures. This cozy jacket also looks nice around town. For a super breathable and compressible fleece with a hood, try the Patagonia R1 Hoody or for a more versatile, all-around jacket, consider our Editor's Choice, the Patagonia Piton Hybrid Hoody.
One of the more expensive fleeces in our review, this jacket is worth the cost if it fits properly and you're looking for a cozy, yet technical fleece. If you're looking for a less technical, cozier piece at a more affordable price, check out our Best Buy Award winner, the Marmot Flair Hoody.
Men's R2 Jacket
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: September 6, 2014
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