Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, compressible, super breathable, cozy for a technical fleece.
Cons: No hood or wind protection.
Best Uses: Backcountry skiing, cardio activities on cold days.
The Patagonia R2 Women's Jacket is a high-performing fleece made of a soft and touchable fabric, and it combines breathability and coziness better than most of the other fleeces we tested. We've reviewed this jacket several times in the past (it was a previous Editors' Choice winner in 2012); since then, the design has been retooled again, so we've included this jacket in our 2014 review update to see how it compares to some of the newer fleece jackets out there. In our 2013 review, we noticed that the torso and sleeves were too short, there were no thumb loops, and the pockets were not deep enough, and lo and behold those issues have been fixed!
In the end, it was a close competitor for the Editors' Choice award again, but The North Face Radium Hi-Loft - Women's really stood out from the pack instead. In fact, the designs of the two are very similar, with high-loft fleece in the body and stretch panels on the side torso and inner arms for more breathability and movement. While this is a great technical fleece jacket to wear when being active in cold conditions or for layering under a shell, we much preferred the style of the Radium as a stand-alone jacket. But style is often subjective! If you're looking for a technical fleece that has a hood, consider our Top Pick, the Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's. Alternatively, if you're looking for a hyper cozy, around-town fleece, read more about the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Patagonia R2 Jacket is made of a hi-loft Regulator fleece in the body (similar to the long-haired raschel fleeces but with a slightly shorter length "fur"), and contrasting Regulator grid fleece (R1) panels along the inside of the arms, side torso and front hem for breathability and abrasion resistance. There are two zippered hand pockets and a zippered left breast pocket, as well as thumb loops at the wrists.
The new design of the Patagonia R2 Jacket has a good warmth-to-weight ratio, but it won't keep you as warm as the 2012 version of this jacket. It is extremely packable (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 Hybrid Hoody or the R1 Hoody, but without a hood or balaclava, it just doesn't have the same coverage to seal in that heat when compared to those two top-ranked pieces.
Comfort and Coziness
The Patagonia R2 Jacket scored well in this metric. It is cozier that the Patagonia R1 Hoody though not quite as cozy as our Editors' Choice winner The North Face Radium, or the other raschel fleece jackets we tested, like The North Face Oso Hoodie and The North Face Osito 2. This jacket has a soft-lined collar and a garaged zipper to maximize comfort around the neck.
More breathable than the 2012 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.
Layering Ability and Ease of Movement
The Patagonia R2 jacket has a tapered technical fit that still has plenty of room to layer underneath, and as a not-so-bulky fleece, it's also easy to layer over it. It fit nicely under an insulated ski jacket without restricting our arm movements. Additionally, its stretchy, lightweight fabric increases the jacket's mobility. In last year's review, we found that the jacket would ride up when wearing it under a harness, but the longer length torso has eliminated this issue.
Wind Protection and Water Resistance
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. You can actually almost see through the fabric. However, its short-sheered, high-loft fibers do a fair job of shedding light rain. When we sprayed this jacket 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 - Women's.
Credit: Amber King
Style and Fit
While the 2014 version of this jacket addressed some of the fit issues that we didn't like in the past, such as shorter arms and torso, this year's model does look a little techy, particularly since the side R1 panels are in contrasting colors. If picking a fleece solely to wear around town, we'd probably go with The North Face Osito 2 jacket instead.
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.
Credit: Amber King
One of the more expensive products in our review, this jacket is worth the cost if 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 the Marmot Flair Hoody instead.
As outdoor gear companies are continually updating their lines, sometimes they change things for the better, and sometimes for the worse. 2013 was not a great year for the R2, but the 2014 model is much improved. We like the longer torso, thumb loops and deep pockets, and this jacket will keep you warm while also being highly breathable. The style of the jacket itself is on the technical side, which is fine if you are only looking for something to wear while being active. This jacket will easily fit over or under your other layers, and is a great purchase if you do a lot of active sports in cold climates.
This is also available in a men's version, the Patagonia R2 Jacket. For a lighter fleece layer, the Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's wins our Top Pick Award as a high-performing, technical layer without any bells or whistles.
— Cam McKenzie Ring & Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: September 6, 2014
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