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Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip - Women's Review

Best worn just like your favorite sweater, this thick warm fleece looks and feels great - if it fits
patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review
Credit: Patagonia
Price:  $129 List
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2022
59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 7.0
  • Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Versatility - 20% 7.0
  • Breathability - 15% 5.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 3.0

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Better Sweater is a thick, warm fleece pullover with a sweater-like pattern that looks far more classy than just about any other fleece we tested. The inside of this stylish top is very soft, with a classic fleece lining. A zippered pocket on the left sleeve is a unique and surprisingly useful addition to this polished piece. With very little stretch and limited mobility and coverage, we like wearing the Better Sweater most in situations where we would normally wear just a sweater. It's not quite a technical performance piece, but still offers a vibe and comfort we enjoy.
REASONS TO BUY
Stylish
Thick and warm
Soft interior
Sleeve pocket is uniquely useful
REASONS TO AVOID
Barely any stretch
Lacks coverage
Lowered mobility
Fit isn't overly accommodating of diverse body types

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Stylish, thick and warm, soft interior, sleeve pocket is uniquely usefulVery stretchy and comfortable, cozy and warm, breathable, comparatively compactVery stretchy, comfortable thumbholes, extended coverage, packable, very breathable, great warmth-to-weight ratioExceptionally breathable, extremely lightweight, clever thumb loops, great neck protection, shirt-like comfortInstantly cozy, soft and fluffy, affordable, lots of color options
Cons Barely any stretch, lacks coverage, lowered mobility, fit isn't overly accommodating of diverse body typesSlim fit doesn't work for everyone, not very windproof, fuzzy exterior collects debrisChest pocket looks bad, oddly long cut, light colors are see throughNot as warm, hard to layer over other things, lighter colors are somewhat see-throughNo pockets, challenging to layer, not breathable, less wind resistant
Bottom Line Best worn just like your favorite sweater, this thick warm fleece looks and feels great - if it fitsAn extremely versatile fleece with lightweight breathability and stretchy comfort combined with midweight warmth and protectionThis lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable priceAn excellent lightweight, breathable fleece shirt to level up your winter running wardrobeA simple pullover with a classic design that's cozy, relaxed, easy to love, and affordable
Rating Categories Patagonia Better Sw... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Summ... Columbia Benton Spr...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
7.5
6.0
4.5
8.0
Comfort (25%)
6.0
9.0
6.5
7.5
7.5
Versatility (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Breathability (15%)
5.0
8.5
9.0
9.5
4.0
Layering Ability (15%)
3.0
7.0
7.0
5.5
4.0
Specs Patagonia Better Sw... Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Summ... Columbia Benton Spr...
Type Midweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Main Material Recycled Polyester Recycled polyester 94% polyester, 6% spandex Polyester Polyester
Cuff Construction Micropolyester jersey trim Quick-drying woven binding Same fabric as jacket Elastic band Elastic cuff
Weight 13.1 oz 10.7 oz 8.9 oz 4.4 oz 10.4 oz
Hood Option? No Yes No Yes No
Number of Pockets 1 arm 2 hand, 1 chest 1 chest None None
Features Flat seams, extended collar, off-shoulder seams Off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, moisture wicking Thumbholes, flat seam construction, UPF 30, moisture wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, chin guard Off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, thumb holes, scuba hood, moisture wicking Comfort stretch, extended collar

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Patagonia Better Sweater is a midweight hoodless fleece with a quarter zip. It's made of recycled polyester and has a single zippered pocket on the left bicep. It features flat seams, off-shoulder seams, and an extended collar.

Performance Comparison


patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - the better sweater is a more stylish-looking fleece that we like as...
The Better Sweater is a more stylish-looking fleece that we like as a standalone layer.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Warmth


The Better Sweater is impressively thick, with a fleece lining inside that adds that feeling of instant warmth to your outfit. It's quite warm inside and a joy to wear at family gatherings and around the house. Where it loses points on warmth is for its lack of coverage and mobility. This pullover has fairly short sleeves and a short torso compared to the more performance-based models we tested. It also has limited stretch, which is noticeable particularly across the shoulders and during movement.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - the better sweater's sleeves are fine for standing around but a lack...
The Better Sweater's sleeves are fine for standing around but a lack of shoulder mobility leaves our wrists exposed when in motion.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Comfort


This is one of the least accommodating fits of any fleece we tested. It has minimal stretch and is designed to fit like a slim sweater rather than a midlayer for adventuring. We found ourselves wanting to size up from our usual size to get a little more space inside, and we recommend trying the Better Sweater on to ensure you like how it feels before you buy it. But our testers who like the fit also enjoy the soft interior of the sweater. It also has a single zippered pocket on the outside of the left bicep which is ideal for holding lip balm, some cash, and a few cards — as long as you don't put a coat on over it.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - the extended collar of the better sweater is comfortable to wear...
The extended collar of the Better Sweater is comfortable to wear fully zipped up.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Versatility


So much thickness does wonders for resisting the elements. Though it doesn't repel precipitation (nearly no fleece does), it takes a long time for it to soak through this bulky fleece. The substantial fabric also offers reasonable protection from chilly breezes — though the shorter torso and sleeves leave plenty of exposed areas. The size Small we tested weighs 13.1 ounces. The Better Sweater is heavy and bulky; not ideal for packing light.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - it's one of the thickest fleeces we tested, though not the most...
It's one of the thickest fleeces we tested, though not the most element resistant.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Breathability


The fabric of the Better Sweater isn't particularly breathable, so any breathability comes from the fit on your body. A looser fit allows for freedom of air movement — great for breathability but the enemy of warmth. The quarter zip allows for effectively venting your chest on the go. The sleeves can be pulled up, but the sweater is so bulky that they feel pretty strange to wear like that.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - the zippered sleeve pocket is actually quite handy!
The zippered sleeve pocket is actually quite handy!
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Layering Ability


The Better Sweater is best worn as a standalone layer. Its slim fit struggles to be comfortable when worn over anything other than a next-to-skin baselayer or simple t-shirt (and even then, we fought to arrange our sleeves underneath). Once donned, the substantial bulk of the sweater doesn't make for a comfortable midlayer. Additionally, those shorter sleeves and torso leave us more exposed than we want when we're adventuring.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - the better sweater is bulky and slim fitting, making it difficult to...
The Better Sweater is bulky AND slim fitting, making it difficult to layer.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Should You Buy the Patagonia Better Sweater?


If you're after an adventure-ready fleece with high mobility and versatility, that's not the Better Sweater. But if you dig this classy quarter zip vibe and slim fit with a soft interior, the Better Sweater is an upscale way to wear fleece at every family holiday dinner.

What Other Fleece Jacket Should You Consider?


If you're here to level up your sweater game and add warmth to your outdoor chic wardrobe, no other fleece we tested offers the level of style of the Patagonia Better Sweater. If you like the pullover-with-a-collar vibe but want something a little more adventure-ready and budget-friendly, the Columbia Benton Springs is a great choice. For a hooded option, check out the Arc'teryx Kyanite, that's a warm, comfortable, classy hoody full of thoughtful technical details.

patagonia better sweater 1/4 zip for women fleece jacket review - though it lacks mobility and some technical detail, we love the look...
Though it lacks mobility and some technical detail, we love the look and warmth of the Better Sweater.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Maggie Nichols
 
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