Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket

No matter the season or climate, we almost always travel with a light sweater or jacket made of synthetic fleece, down or wool. During long-haul flights, planes can get chilly, and adventures in warm climates can still include cold and windy conditions. During summer trips in the mountains, we’ll throw on a warm layer as we reach higher elevations, or when temperatures drop in the morning and evening.

Some of our testers have found that Patagonia’s R1 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket works great as a light insulation piece for travel. Not too hot and not too cool, the R1 fabric has kept up comfortable as a layering piece in really cool temperatures, or as a stand-alone jacket when temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s.Patagonia

The one caveat about this jacket is that it fits pretty snug, and our male testers with a broader build reported that it was a bit too tight. However, the fit wasn’t an issue with our taller, slimmer male tester who noted, “The jacket doesn’t feel like it is hanging off of me. I don’t ever get the feeling of there being too much extra jacket hanging around my waist.” While some guys thought the jacket was too slim, our women testers had no issues with the fit.

With that in mind, here are a few things we like about the R1 Full-Zip Jacket…

It’s built for real adventure

Our testers used the jacket for a number of spring hikes in the Appalachian Mountains. One person noted that the RI had quite a bit of flex and never felt restrictive when he was hiking with a pack and doing a bit of rock climbing. He really liked how the side pockets were positioned high on the jacket, so they didn’t interfere with his backpack hip belt.

It provides great warmth for the weight

The main advantage of Regulator Fleece is that it insulates well, but it’s not bulky or heavy. Also, the fabric compresses easily, so you can stow this jacket in a carryon bag or daypack and it won’t hog a lot of space. Another advantage is that R1 Regulator Fleece feels comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. In the Appalachians, one tester said her wore it almost constantly as temperatures ranged from the high 40s to the upper 60s, and he was always comfortable. Because the fleece is constructed to allow some airflow, you won’t easily overheat when you’re hiking or climbing in cool conditions. The interior fabric is also built to wick sweat, and soft fleece in the neck area has a grid pattern to help move moisture.

The thumb loops in the sleeves also proved key in extending the comfort range of the jacket. During cold morning walks, we’d slip our thumbs into the loops to cover our wrists, which are natural thermostats and play a role in making you feel warm or cold. Also, Patagonia designed the jacket sleeves so that you can pull them up a bit to cool off, and the fabric won’t strangle your forearms.

It’s tough enough for the trail

As we used the thumbholes, we noticed that the sleeves are subject to quite a bit of rubbing and abrasion. Plus, we scraped the jacket along the rocks while climbing. But, with all the abuse, the jacket shows only minimal wear. It’s also relatively easy to clean, in part because dirt and other grime can’t cling to the fabric easily. When a rainstorm kicked up suddenly, we also noticed that the jacket has a slight resistance to water, so it will buy you enough time to fish a shell out of your backpack.

The downsides…

As we mentioned, some people took issue with the slim fit and prefer a looser jacket for travel. Otherwise, the only other concern was the placement of the jacket’s interior pockets. They basically fit right over the pouches for the outside pockets, so there was an uncomfortable bulge when the exterior and interior pockets held items at the same time. But that’s not a deal breaker in our book, and this jacket is a good choice if you need something that’s lightweight but can handle extensive travel and serious outdoor pursuits.

Traveler’s Notebook

For information:

Retail price: $189



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