As a long-time go-to, the classic Patagonia R1 has always been known for its technical performance. It's also held its podium as Editors' Choice for many with years with us — for good reason. With its Polartec PowerGrid fabrics, a stretchy and odor-free material, it has incredible breathability and an amazing weight-to-warmth ratio. The stretch in the fabric provides full mobility, while it layers nicely over a midweight baselayer or under an insulated jacket. It's durable, packable, practical, and reliable, and has historically been a classic go-to for alpine ascents for its breathability and wear-all-day functionality. Just at home on the streets as it is on a mountaintop, this is the best technical fleece we've tested.
Patagonia R1 Full Zip Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Not weather resistant, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Hoody is a technical polyester mid-layer that provides unbeatable performance while embarking on trips to the grocery store or summiting your first mountain. It features PowerGrid Technology, a full balaclava hood, two handwarming pockets, and packable design.
The R1 Full-Zip Hoody isn't the warmest option out there, but it'll still keep you warm when it's not too cold outside. Made of 6.9 oz of Powertech Powergrid fleece with a wind-cutting overlay, it will insulate on its own when the temperatures are cool.
When layered with the proper gear under a shell or insulated jacket, it's an excellent mid-layer that'll provide warmth in the coldest temperature. The fitted hood zips into a balaclava, providing ample coverage all the way up to the nose, locking in warmth.
Unfortunately, this jacket does not come with thumb loops anymore (a feature we used to love), but the sleeves are stretchy and long enough to wrap around the hand. The cuffs are comfortable but aren't as thin as they used to be, making them more durable.
Comfort and Fit
For a technical layer that's pretty bare-bones on features, we are impressed by the level of relative comfort and coziness this jacket has to offer. The full-zip fleece is easy to put on and take off, while the power grid fleece is super soft on the skin. Its fit is true to size and roomy through both the arms, chest, and shoulders. The longer design is tailored for a woman that are both tall and short.
The wrist cuffs are double layered and reinforced, making them comfortable and cozy to pull up over the hands. The hem cuff also has this feature, making the jacket fall heavier towards the bottom, providing a nice fit. The fabric is a little stretchy without any weird constrictions throughout the stitching. The hand pockets are huge with a hidden zippered pocket in the right pocket that comes in handy for items you don't want to lose.
This fleece offers some of the best breathability and thermoregulation of any option tested.
The grid-like pattern of the PowerTec fleece offers hundreds of small canyons for heat to escape readily. The fleece itself, when worn next to the skin, wicks away moisture easily, keeping you dry and warm. This key feature makes it the best technical layer we've tested and the pinnacle reason we recommend it for aerobic endeavors in cold temperatures.
While the fabric itself is super breathable, the zipper also provides a means of manual thermoregulation. The full-zip design allows you to unzip just a little or a lot. If the day heats up and you need ventilation pronto, simply unzip. But, if clouds roll in and you need to retain heat, zip it back up. The R1 simply provides the best balance of breathability and warmth. This makes it an excellent option for alpine climbing, wearing around town, hiking, and going to work. It can truly do it all.
As lightweight and thin mid-layer, a thinner base layer will fit nicely underneath the roomy interior of the jacket. It had faced slippery material slips seamlessly under-insulated jackets or a shell.
The stretchy fabric conforms to the body, staying in place underneath a fully-weighted backpacking backpack or harness. The hem has a thicker design that adds a little more weight to the jacket, preventing it from rising up. The brick fleece is smooth and doesn't catch base layers easily unless they are particularly thick or lofty.
The fabric on the full-zip does provide enough room to wear a thicker wool base layer underneath and can be worn as a final layer. Overall, it's easy to layer with simply because of its relative amount of stretch and fitted design.
Ease of Movement
It's no wonder that the classic R1 has been a go-to for first ascents and all sorts of climbing escapades around the world. This sport is renowned for its dynamic movement, and the Patagonia R1 conforms to the body and flows perfectly with it. The stretchy fabric and long arms and torso provide full coverage while promoting easy movement.
We didn't have any issues with this classic riding up bunching while wearing a backpack or harness. The longer length in the torso of the full-zip version accommodates bodies short and long. Sadly, the new version of the R1 does not have thump loops anymore, nor are the pockets as compatible with a harness or backpack. The arms of the jacket are still stretchy and long enough for those who are tall. The R1 hood articulates well under all sorts of helmets (we tried skiing, climbing, and biking) and doesn't impede peripheral vision. Overall, the full-zip jacket offers a full range of motion.
The R1 is not water-resistant or super wind-resistant either. Given its thin design, it's lesser so than most contenders in this review.
Sporting a grid-like brick fleece pattern, this jacket has a lot of little holes that provide amazing breathability. That said, when it comes to dumping rain or snow, we have to recommend a lightweight shell that you can layer on over. In our water tests, after about two seconds under a tap, the water began to percolate into the fabric, soaking it thoroughly. When on, we noticed that a small drizzle or some light snow (with a layer underneath) wasn't a huge deal. The upper fabric absorbs the bulk of the moisture while the polyester fleece retains warmth when wet.
Another plus is that the fabric dries quickly, especially with a good breeze. The upper fabric also does a decent job at cutting super stingy winds, but it's not at all wind-proof to safe the least. As a result, make sure you put a thin shell over top if you're expecting super wet or windy conditions. We've hiked plenty of times with this top on and gotten it completely wet. The plus is that it does stay warm when wet if you keep moving and have a layer underneath.
Many people might cringe at the price tag. However, for anybody who has owned an R1, they know it's worth the money. The main author has been a long-time user (along with many of her friends). Over the last ten years, she hasn't had to replace it and only upgraded for different colors. The new rendition has all the same construction features as the previous version, with a few style differences…though the fabrics are the same. There's a reason that Patagonia has been afraid to change this jacket too much. It's a good investment.
The classic Patagonia R1 hasn't changed a whole lot over the years and continues to be our favorite mid-layer fleece. As a technical layer, it provides an amazing warmth-weight ratio with exceptional thermoregulation. While it's not the warmest on its own, it simply performs the best as a mid-layer for cold-weather aerobic activities. You'll be seeing this on us during our Alpine ascents and backcountry hiking trips. It's offered in a full-zip hoody and a ¾ jacket option. While we really like the new full-zip hoody, we do miss the ¾ zip hoody option and the thumb loops. Our Editors' Choice award winner is hands down our favorite fleece mid-layer.
— Amber King
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