Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody Review
Cons: Baggy fit doesn't work well as a mid layer
Our Analysis and Test Results
At first, we had reservations about it since it's not quite soft enough to wear as a mid-layer. It has a baggy fit like a shell, and it's very weather resistant, but not weatherproof like a hardshell. If we were to classify this "fleece", we would call it a very thin softshell with light gridded "fleece" backing. This jacket excels in our weather resistance metric, but rather than treating it as a midweight fleece, we used this more like a light softshell for layering over another fleece when it is breezy or in light precipitation.
Our testers get a baseline idea about the warmth of the fleece jackets by wearing them over a t-shirt while hiking, climbing, and biking around in moderately cold, often breezy conditions.
When it comes to fleece, we're used to next-to-skin softness and a snug, thermally efficient fit. The Techface, however, has a baggy fit, and while it does feature the grid pattern found in all Patagonia R-series fleeces, the grid has much less loft than even the grid found on the R1. On its own, the Techface is slightly warmer than the lightest fleece in the lineup.
We did like that there were zippered handwarmer pockets since this fleece functions slightly more as an outer layer. Inside the pockets are the pull strings for the hem cinch. This helps keep the wind from creeping up under the fleece, and we appreciate that the excess elastic is in the pockets instead of just dangling down on the sides.
When worn over a light fleece layer like its sibling, the Patagonia R1 Hoody, the Techface is an extremely comfortable terminal layer, cut to accommodate under layers without restricting movement. When worn over a thin base layer or t-shirt, the Techface lacks the lofty and soft feel that people normally associate with fleece jackets. If you're going for the soft comfort and/or breathability, the Techface will disappoint, but if you're looking for a comfy, durable wind layer for climbing, the Techface is right up your alley.
This jacket is super stretchy and has a long hem that tucks neatly under a climbing harness. This stretch makes it an ideal layer for climbing in cool weather, and the fabric is durable enough to withstand more abrasion than typical fleece.
The stiff brimmed hood kept the precip out of our testers' faces, and the adjustable hood cinch keeps the hood comfortably in place and out of your face. The hood is designed to fit over a helmet like a shell, rather than under your helmet as with the original R1 Hoody. Two zippered hand pockets and an interior zippered chest pocket provide ample room for essential items like keys and snacks.
This thin, fleece"ish" layer has roughly the same sized grid pattern as the R1, featuring air channels between the squares, allowing for better breathability. The Techface is thinner than the R1 Hoody, but it has a tighter, more wind-resistant weave, which reduces its overall breathability. Since it has less loft and a larger fit than the R1 Hoody, it is not as warm when worn only with a base layer. Our testers enjoyed using it for road biking and running on blustery days.
If you're looking for a lightly insulated, highly breathable mid-layer, The Techface R1 isn't the best selection, and we would much prefer the classic R1 Hoody for that purpose.
As a mid-layer, the Techface R1 doesn't cut it. It offers little warmth, and it bunches up under other layers. As an outer layer, it performs incredibly! We loved to wear it while biking around town and climbing in windy conditions. The hood is huge; it's bulky and cumbersome if worn under a puffy or shell, but over other layers or a climbing helmet, it is flawless.
The Techface resists water better than any contender in the fleece category. We used this in light spring rain showers, to find it almost as water-resistant as a raincoat but maintaining much more breathability.
The Techface is a hybrid design, aiming to increase versatility. In the case of the Techface, there is a durable water-resistant (DWR) finish. This finish won't last forever, but our brand new Techface was extremely effective at shedding water. It blocks light winds, but not as well as a less breathable wind layer or a hard shell.
At 14.4 ounces for a men's large, the Techface weighs more than many light mid-layer fleeces, but insulates less.
Even though the Standard R1 is thicker and warmer, it remains a few ounces lighter than the Techface. We attribute the extra weight to the fact that the Techface uses a denser woven fabric, has a baggier cut (requiring the use of more material), a full-length zipper, and a larger feature set like handwarmer pockets, hood cinch, etc. however, despite being slightly heavier than some, when we had it crammed down into our packs, we barely even noticed it was there.
The Techface is priced higher than the classic R1 Hoody but is less expensive than the similarly weighted Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody. For the quality and craftsmanship that we are used to with all Patagonia items, we feel this jacket is quite competitively priced, and as always, is backed by Patagonia's Ironclad Guarantee and great warranty and repair services.
As brands continue to reinvent classic fleece designs and make a wear-all-the-time do everything layer, we're seeing more hybrid styles that break the mold. By breaking the mold, these crossover styles will often perform poorly in one or two metrics. Those looking for a soft fleece to sleep in while camping in the backcountry should hang on to (or go out and buy) the R1 Hoody, but if you are looking for a relatively breathable outer layer that will keep out some of the elements, pick yourself up the Techface.
— Adam Paashaus & Matt Bento
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