Patagonia R1 Hoody Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Perfect fit for most active uses, ideal weight for many conditions, great hood design
Cons: Not as warm for its weight as some high-loft models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
For years, climbing dirtbags, desert rats, and hiker trash have been reaching for their R1 even after it's all ratty with holes, and for great reason. The R1 performance is ideal for serious outdoor activities. Sure, as with any product, there are pros and cons, but as a light layer for active use, it's hard to beat its practicality.
The R1 Hoody is far from being the warmest fleece in our test, but when you consider how lightweight it is, it packs in a ton of warmth (especially under a light wind shell). The large grid squares lining the inside are soft and lofty, which feels great against our bare skin but also does an amazing job of holding in warm air.
We found that for climbing on crisp fall days in the shade, the R1 Hoody was perfect for keeping us warm. But when it was time for belaying, we reached for the comfort of our puffy. Throughout the day, the R1 never came off. The balaclava-style hood was useful, fitting warmly and snugly under our climbing helmets, and effortlessly zipping up to protect our cold faces. We feel this fleece may be the perfect mid-layer, and we often layered it under an insulated jacket and a hard shell, shedding the insulated jacket as temperatures rose throughout the day, but never taking off the trusty R1.
No other fleece in our test has the same soft, airy feel that the R1 Hoody has against the bare skin. It has a trim fit that allows it to easily be layered over without any fabric bunching up. We have had a number of these fleeces through the years, and while this hoody has gone through some redesigns and updates, this fleece is just as awesome as it ever was. The long front zipper goes from, more or less, your belly button up past your nose.
The sleeves are snug enough to stay in place under other layers, especially when using the thumb loops. Some would say it has the ideal fit, while others found it too snug on the forearms. Overall, it's one of, if not the most comfortable fleece in our test. It's that quintessential road trip piece, that once it goes on, it doesn't come off till after the trip or we get that much-needed shower.
The R1 is a super breathable layer, which would be evident if you were to hold it up to a light or a fan. Between every grid square is a very thin layer of fabric that allows warm air to escape. In the case that you need even more ventilation, you can unzip the super-long zipper to cool down even further. This jacket is offered in a full-zip version, but we much prefer the pullover for its weight savings and for reducing bulk for Layering over/under.
The R1 uses a fleece that has been treated for odor control (Polygiene), which is supposed to reduce bacteria growth and, therefore, odor as well. And while we would love to report that we had no odor problems, that isn't the case. However, in the past, it used to be an exponentially worse problem, and the new versions are overall much less smelly. We also noticed that the smell washes out completely, while other synthetics tend to hold the stink even after a good washing.
The R1 is an impressive layering piece due to its slim fit, half zip, and the thumb loops. Thread your thumbs through the perfectly placed loops at the cuffs, and you can easily slide on other layers without bunching up the sleeves, and even eliminate the gap between your sleeves and your gloves. The half zipper is nice because it reduces the amount of bulk that, without proper management, can get unwieldy under other layers. Ditto for the one chest pocket. It gives you a spot to put your keys or chapstick, so we didn't miss handwarmer pockets that we wouldn't even be able to access with a harness or other layer on.
The trim fit of the R1 is a little tight for all but the lightest long sleeve base layers but the low profile enough to fit under any shell, puffy, or even any of the other fleeces in our roundup.
The features that make this jacket so breathable and good for layering also leave it defenseless against the elements. Rain, even light rain, soaks right through the R1, and it does almost nothing to block the wind. However, when it comes to moving quickly through the mountains, maximum breathability is needed to let excess heat escape. Fortunately, this fleece layers well under a wind jacket or a hardshell, so when conditions take a turn for the worse, put your thumbs through the thumb loops and layer up.
If you are looking for a fleece jacket that can protect you from the elements a little better, we recommend a fleece with a "hardface" technology or possibly consider a softshell.
The R1 Hoody is one of the lightest fleeces in this review. If you are looking to conserve weight in your backpack for a long chilly run or an ultralight thru-hike, and don't mind the lack of handwarmer pockets or a full-length zipper, put this at the top of your wish list.
The R1 also stuffs down quickly into the lid or top of your pack, making it an excellent just-in-case layer for those long days that don't end until the sun goes down and the temps start to drop.
This fleece is somewhat expensive, but considering Patagonia's excellent warranty service, and how incredibly versatile this jacket is, we feel it's worth the extra cash for year-round comfort. One thing worth noting is this fleece isn't the most durable. The thin fabric between the grids can't withstand hard use for too long. Most R1 lovers understand this fact and yet, wouldn't trade their beat-up R1 for any other fleece, except of course a new one.
Patagonia has something special with the R1 Hoody. This thing sets the standard that every manufacturer is striving to match, but alas, to no avail. We would love to offer a substitute for the R1 Hoody, but in reality, there is none. This jacket is the lightest weight, most compressible, most breathable, and best layering piece in our test without a doubt. If you are one to move fast in the mountains, this is far-and-away the best fleece for you. For the reasons above, the R1 takes home our Editors' Choice Award again. For bitter cold mornings when you are active, a wind shell goes a long way, and for cool fall evenings at camp, nothing is more comfortable. If you are in the market for a technical fleece for climbing, skiing, hiking, running, or any activity that requires using a layering system, the R1 Hoody comes highly recommended by many an outdoor enthusiast, including our whole review team.
— Adam Paashaus & Matt Bento