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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia R3 Hoody Review
Cons: A bit heavy
Bottom line: The Patagonia R3 Hoody strikes a perfect balance of warmth and breathability, and is perfectly fitted for layering.
Lightweight, warm, and incredibly breathable, the Patagonia R3 Hoody takes all the features from the beloved R1 and gives us even more, securing it our Editors' Choice Award for the second year in a row! Warm, lofty pile, comfy, zipperless handwarmer pockets, and a zippered chest pocket keep your mitts toasty and secure keys or wallet. Turn this jacket inside out and that soft muppet fur on the outside is now on your skin and two zippered chest pockets are on the outside, perfect for accessing bars or goo snacks while you're wearing a climbing harness or backpack waistbelt. Whether this jacket is in "business" or "chill" mode, it exemplifies comfort, thoughtful design, and crushes the competition. If you're living in a warmer locale or looking for a lighter fleece for layering, check out the lighter, more breathable, and equally comfy Patagonia R1 Hoody.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Patagonia R3 Hoody is loaded with features. It has 2 handwarmer pockets, two zippered chest pockets, and a hood that covers your face just below the nose when zipped all the way up. Its slim cut makes it perfect for layering, and its gridded fleece design ensures excellent breathability. This powerhouse of a fleece is available in Big Sur Blue, Fire, True Teal, Black, Forge Grey, and Supply Green.
The R3 Hoody was our Editors' Choice winner for the fleece jacket category. Check out the chart below to see how the rest of the fleeces in the lineup ranked compared to this one!
The main body of this jacket is constructed with Polartec Hi-Loft polyester and a little bit of spandex for stretch Our testers loved the insulating powers of the R3, sometimes selecting it over an insulated jacket on ski tours because of its superior breathability and versatility.
This fleece was only bested in the warmth metric by the the heavy, weather-resistant The North Face Denali 2. However, it's way more breathable, comfortable, and ultimately more versatile than the Denali, while weighing half a pound less.
The R3 is the most comfortable fleece jacket we tested, earning a 10 out of 10. If you're slim, the fit is perfect, snug for thermal efficiency and layering, but wide enough across the chest and shoulders as not to restrict movement or feel too tight. See the chart below to find out where the rest of the fleeces ranked compared to the R3 on the comfort scale.
The cuffs on this fleece are the same as the R1, minus the thumb holes, holding the sleeves snugly but comfortably in place. The hood is warm and low profile, fitting well underneath a climbing or ski helmet. When fully zipped, the hood and collar create a balaclava just like the R1.
In the words of the beloved 80s rock band Poison, every rose has its thorn, and unfortunately, the R3 has one, uncomfortable flaw. When zipped into balaclava mode, the big, beefy zipper pressed up against our teeth, which we found annoying and distracting. The zipper on the R1 is smaller and less noticeable, and and the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody has a separate, comfortable, and thin face mask independent from the zipper. Perhaps Patagonia could resolve this issue with a smaller zipper pull, or an offset design used in the older versions of the R1 Hoody. This is our only beef with this killer jacket. Our testing determined that other top scorers for this metric include the Arc'teryx Fortrez, Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II Hooded, and the Patagonia Performance Better Sweater.
This fleece employs the same, effective grid pattern found on the R1 to channel moisture and make the R3 highly breathable, especially considering its warmth and weight, earning it an 8 out of 10, bested by the Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoody and Patagonia R1.
When hiking or ski touring in the cold, you can still get soaked in sweat as you slog your way up the mountain, only to freeze your butt off when you stop at the summit for selfie shots or transition into ski mode. The R3's superior breathability can remedy this uncomfortable (even dangerous) predicament, as it dries fast. Always pay careful attention to how wet with sweat you're getting in the alpine, and relayer often to keep from getting too cold. Don't be lazy with your layering!
A snug fit and great breathability result in superior layering ability. Despite being one of the heavier, warmer fleeces in this review, the R3 is still a great layering piece. Soft and supple, this jacket slides easily under a shell, puffy, or light wind layer with minimal bunching or discomfort. It layers better than it's similarly furry competitor, the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II, which has a bigger, bulkier cut.
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 without leaving us feeling constrained.
When purchasing a fleece jacket, consider what you might want 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.
Fleece jackets are not typically designed with weather resistance in mind, insulation and breathability being their specialty. The R3 is no exception, though compared to other fleeces on a relative scale, this jacket isn't too shabby. The thickness alone helps stave off light rain, and drizzle and mist beaded up on the tiny, lofty hairs when we wore it with the fuzzy side out, but eventually, as with all fleece, the rain will get through.
The gridded pattern that makes this fleece so breathable also makes it vulnerable to wind. It's best to pair this fleece with a light wind layer anything more than a light winds are expected. If you're on the hunt for a more weather resistant, stand alone jacket, take a look at the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody or the North Face Denali 2.
18oz of snuggly polyester fleece fur puts the R3 up there as one of heavier jackets in this year's selection, only lighter than the North Face Denali 2. The soft flexible material is much more packable than the Denali though.
The Best Buy Award Winning Marmot Reactor is the lightest jacket in this review, but not nearly as warm as the R3. If you dig the construction and features of the R3 but want something lighter, the R1 Hoody is a great alternative.
Our testers were a bit put off by the bright Elmo colored model we tested, but the R3 is available in a plethora of color options; Black, Drifter Grey, Forge Grey, Grecian Blue, Legend Green, Supply Green, Underwater Blue, Big Sur Blue, Fire, and True Teal. While we initially thought the reversible feature was kind of gimmicky, after testing we decided it was pretty cool. The side with the double chest pockets is functional but doesn't look very casual, and the side with the handwarmer pockets looks more low key for a night out on the town or hanging out at the coffee shop.
Anytime you need soft, breathable insulation is a good time for the Patagonia R3 Hoody. We pulled this jacket out on chilly multi-pitches, cool days at the boulders, powder days at the resort (when the extra face coverage was much appreciated) or whenever we wanted to be warmer around the house. Breathable, packable, and versatile, this is a go everywhere jacket.
$199 gets you a high-quality fleece. While it's one of the more expensive fleeces in our review, it also is one of the best, earning it our Editor's Choice Award for the second year in a row. Additionally, this jacket is backed by Patagonia's Ironclad guarantee. Our testers have had good experiences with Patagonia's repair department, getting broken zippers replaced and minor tears patched up.
The Patagonia R3 Hoody delivers on the features we value most in a fleece, earning high marks in warmth, comfort, layering ability, and breathability. While it doesn't earn a top score in any one metric, it does everything really well. Giving the R3 the Editor's Choice award was no-brainer.
— Matt Bento
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