Patagonia R1 Air Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Pills after washing, style isn't for everybody, breast pocket is small and seemingly unfunctional
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia R1 Air offers the best thermoregulation of any fleece tested — ever! It features a unique architecture of polyester fibers that offers ample warmth and breathability. It fits women of all sizes, layers well, and moves well with the body. It comes with a small chest pocket, two handwarming pockets, a balaclava hood, and a full-zip design.
If you love snuggling up to a warm cup of tea in a warm fleece jacket, this is one that'll make you feel that much more cozy. We are completely astounded at the amount of warmth this thinner fleece provides. Unlike other fleece jackets that trade-off breathability for warmth, Patagonia manages to balance this magical combination. We tested in temperatures between -10F and +70F. It has a super wide range of thermoregulation and performed well through it all.
Built with 100% polyester, the fabrics are super-soft against the skin. The more you move, the more it generates warmth. We tested it while ski touring, skiing at the resort, trail running, and hiking. We also wore it around while performing chores outside, on the coldest days of winter. In all scenarios, when paired with a solid base layer, it transferred heat well, keeping us insulated and happy. Don't be afraid to don it while sitting on icy chair lifts or battling cold winter winds. This top performer, when layered properly, will keep you snug as a bug in a rug.
The hood comes over the face while the zipper comes all the way up to your nose. While there are no adjustments on the hood or around the face, there's really no need. It offers plenty of warmth around the head.
Comfort and Fit
Warm and cozy, we dub this jacket to be one of the most comfortable for its soft materials, ease of movement, and features. It's one you won't want to take off, even after slaying miles in the mountains. It wards off smells, so you can take on missions that last several days. It doesn't have fancy features like fur-lined pockets or even thumb loops, but it provides plenty of length, stretch, and softness. This jacket has a medium level of length in both the torso and arms that stays in place as you move. It's also lightweight, so it hardly feels like it's on.
The polyester material feels kind and soft on the skin. Even our testers with the most sensitive skin liked how it felt. The fit is quite stretchy, hugging the body but not constricting in any particular place. Many of our testers are 'medium-sized', and they felt the length was just right. However, some of our longer limbed testers mentioned the arms felt a touch short. If you're on the line between tall and medium, this top will probably work for you as the materials stretch. However, if you're tall, expect the arms to come up a little short (depending on your ape index).
Pockets — probably our biggest caveat of this jacket. While the handwarming pockets are warm and functional, the breast pocket is almost useless. Typically, we like to store a smartphone in the breast pocket to easily access while climbing, skiing, or hiking.
This keeps it away from the waist where back hip straps might be in the way. Unfortunately, this pocket is TINY! You can fit a bar or a snack, but definitely not a phone. If Patagonia was to redo this jacket, we'd ask for a pocket the size of at least a small smartphone. While cute, hardly functional.
Finally, the hood is quite cozy and comfortable. As mentioned before, it's warm but also breathable, making it easy to layer under a helmet. It also doesn't impede peripheral vision once you've got it locked under the hood. You can also turn your head side-to-side with it layered, which makes it more comfortable to wear at a cold climbing belay or when biking in chillier temperatures.
This jacket is made with several continuous channels of varying levels of material, which provides warmth and breathability throughout the whole jacket. It's an exceptionally breathable fleece that is also incredibly warm. We've tested it — hard — while trail running, climbing, biking, hiking, and backpacking in various temperatures. In most cases, there was no need to take it off until temperatures rose to over 65F.
So how is this achieved? The architecture is superior to any fleece jacket we've seen before. Most of the technical fleeces that offer excellent breathability use a PowerGrid structure in the fabric where there are islands of insulation surrounded by square channels of thinner material to provide a high ratio of breathable to insulating fabrics. This jacket uses the same concept but provides the same number of breathable channels to insulating channels. The breathable channels throughout help to offload heat more efficiently than this PowerGrid design.
When you look through the fabric, you can easily see the zigzag pattern that allows ample ventilation. There are no dedicated vents on this jacket, aside from the full-length zipper when your heat output gets really high. This is the fleece we'd reach for on cooler run and backcountry ski missions. It's also one we love to don for warmer days on the resort. It's far from the thinnest fleece out there, but the unique architecture will keep you cool and temperatures regulated well. It's also one we used while backcountry skiing and backpacking. As a result, it is best for those seeking a fleece that'll breathe with superior thermoregulation.
We appreciate how this jacket hugs the body, making it easy to layer under any jacket. While the face fabric isn't the smoothest, it offers ample volume and stretches through both the torso and arms. As a result, it layers well under and over most things. It doesn't score super high in this category as the material does catch slightly but never bunches.
Ease of Movement
Superior and excellent! The stretchy fabrics hug and move with the body. The seams are stretchy, which doesn't constrict those with the widest of shoulders or the bustiest of chests. When climbing, backpacking, and hiking, we didn't notice this jacket rising up or getting out of place; it stays put. As a result, it earns top marks in this category.
This jacket offers a decent wind and water resistance but is far and away from the most weather resistant. It'll provide some protection from a hard breeze but won't keep you dry if the rain starts to fall. Luckily, given its polyester construction, if you get drenched, you will stay warm.
This jacket lacks any kind of hard-face technology, which is usually responsible for cutting wind. However, when wearing it during the winter on its own with a base layer underneath, we still stayed warm and couldn't feel the wind penetrate through the fabric. The stitching in the channels of breathability seems latticed, perhaps to break the wind, but it's not as good as other continuous fabric competitors.
The polyester will bead water in a light rainstorm, but after just a small level of saturation, it will absorb completely; this is not a fleece we'd want to get caught out in the rain with. While the polyester fabric does insulate when wet, its super thin design doesn't do much in the way of keeping your base layers (or skin from getting wet). To keep yourself protected from rain and wind, be sure to wear a base layer or bring a shell.
If you're seeking a layer that offers ample warmth and breathability, this is the one! The price is pretty high for a fleece jacket, but in the world of technical fleeces, it isn't out of this world. The only caveat we see with value is its level of durability. After using it for over three months, the fabric has started to "pill", even after the first wash. Many of the testers like the style of this jacket, but critical eyes pointed out the jacket looked "older" and "retro", which may be a look suited only for some. Overall, know that performance is knock-out, but the soft fabrics will pill and look worn down over time. This probably isn't the layer to buy if you love to shimmy through slot canyons, bushwack through the forest, or battle your way through an off-width.
We had the pleasure of testing the Patagonia Air R1 and its performance is knock out! It offers the best range of thermoregulation we've ever seen in a fleece jacket. Keep it on while trail running in 60F weather, or layer it during the coldest days of winter. While its style isn't for everybody, and it can pill after just the first wash, its technical performance is superior. Wear it straight from your outdoor adventures to your couch. Curl up with a good book and enjoy the comforts it'll wrap you up in.
— Amber King