Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip - Women's Review
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Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip - Women's
|Price||$77.35 at Backcountry|
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$101.93 at REI
$66.73 at REI
$90.27 at Backcountry
|$38.91 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Stylish, thick and warm, soft interior, sleeve pocket is uniquely useful||Very stretchy and comfortable, cozy and warm, breathable, comparatively compact||Very stretchy, comfortable thumbholes, extended coverage, packable, very breathable, great warmth-to-weight ratio||Exceptionally breathable, extremely lightweight, clever thumb loops, great neck protection, shirt-like comfort||Instantly 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 types||Slim fit doesn't work for everyone, not very windproof, fuzzy exterior collects debris||Chest pocket looks bad, oddly long cut, light colors are see through||Not as warm, hard to layer over other things, lighter colors are somewhat see-through||No 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 fits||An extremely versatile fleece with lightweight breathability and stretchy comfort combined with midweight warmth and protection||This lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable price||An excellent lightweight, breathable fleece shirt to level up your winter running wardrobe||A 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...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Better Sw...||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||Outdoor Research Vi...||The North Face Summ...||Columbia Benton Spr...|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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