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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia R2 Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: No hood or wind protection.
Bottom line: A versatile jacket for hiking and using as part of a layering system.
The Patagonia R2 Jacket is a high-performing fleece made of a soft and touchable fabric, and it combines breathability and coziness better than most of the other fleeces we tested. Patagonia is constantly redesigning this model from year to year, and the current offering came very close to winning our Editors' Choice award. It fell a little short of The North Face Radium Hi-Loft as it is not quite as warm and a little harder to layer, but otherwise our testers loved this jacket. The hi-loft fleece in the body keeps you toasty while the stretch panels on the side torso and inner arms provide more breathability and movement. This is a great technical fleece jacket to wear when being active in cold conditions or for layering under a shell. If you're looking for a technical fleece that has a hood, consider our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Patagonia R2 Jacket is made of a Polartec Thermal Pro hi-loft fleece in the body (97% polyester (63% recycled), 3% spandex) which is similar to a long-haired raschel fleece material but with a slightly shorter length "fur." The side arms, torso and wrists are made with Polartec Power Grid (the popular R1 fabric), sometimes in contrasting colors and othertimes in the same tone. There are two zippered hand pockets and a zippered left breast pocket, and the latest version no longer has thumb loops. Current color choices are: Black, Drumfire Red, French Red, Harvest Moon Blue, Mogul Blue (seen above), Ploy Purple, Shock Pink, and Tailored Grey (tested).
The Patagonia R2 Jacket has a good warmth-to-weight ratio, but it won't keep you as warm as a heavyweight fleece option like The North Face Denali Jacket - Women's. It is extremely packable (about the same amount as the R1), so it's great to toss into your pack as an extra layer on long days. Overall, this model keeps your torso warmer than the R1 Hoody on a cold day, but the lack of a hood or balaclava means you just don't have the same coverage to seal in the heat if using it as an outer layer. While hoods provide more warmth overall, they can be bulky under a helmet or unwanted if every other layer you are wearing has one. So, if you are specifically looking for a midlayer, say for under a ski jacket, then you'll actually want to look for a model without a hood, and the R2 is a good option in that respect.
This jacket scored well for comfort. It is cozier that the Patagonia R1 Hoody though not quite as cozy as our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Radium. This jacket has a soft-lined collar and a garaged zipper to maximize comfort around the neck, and the R1 cuffs are not too tight or constricting.
This jacket excels at venting your perspiration. The main hi-loft fleece has thousands of tiny pinprick holes that let your moisture escape, and the R1 gridded fleece panels on the sides are strategically placed in areas where you want less bulk and even more breathability. It also has mesh-lined pockets to increase airflow. This jacket is a great option for a lightweight mid-layer whether you are heading on a steep uphill hike or out on a long alpine rock climb.
The R2 has a tapered technical fit that leaves little room to layer underneath. A thin t-shirt or baselayer is as much as you are going to fit under this jacket. As such, it's easy to layer over it. It fit nicely under an insulated ski jacket without restricting our arm movements.
Ease of Movement
The stretchy, lightweight fabric made this jacket easy to move in, particularly when not wearing too much underneath it. The long torso doesn't ride up when wearing it under a harness or backpack hipbelt, and the side stretch panels let us climb with ease.
Wind Protection & Water Resistance
Like many of the fleeces we reviewed, this jacket does not protect against the wind and will not do much to keep you warm on a breezy day. You can actually almost see through the fabric. The short-sheared, hi-loft fibers quickly absorb into the fabric without barely beading up first. If you're looking for a fleece that does offer some wind and water protection, try out the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Women's.
Style & Fit
Overall we like the style and fit of this jacket, though the R1 side panels can look a little "techy," particularly when they are in contrasting colors. The cut is tapered and flattering, and the arms and torso are nice and long.
Lightweight, highly breathable, and fairly warm, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is a great technical piece for cardio activities on chilly days or as a layer on mountain adventures.
One of the more expensive products in our review, this jacket is worth the cost if you're looking for a cozy, yet technical fleece. If you're looking for a more affordable jacket, check out our Best Buy winner, the Marmot Flashpoint - Women's.
This jacket keeps getting retooled slightly by Patagonia, so if you haven't liked older models you might want to take a second look at the R2. While not an award winner, we still really liked it and think it's a great option for active pursuits in cold weather. This jacket keeps you warm while also being highly breathable, and it easily fits under your other layers.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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