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Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody Review

This lightweight piece has all the warmth of a mid-layer jacket but with a highly breathable design that's ideal for colder, active adventures
patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review
Credit: Patagonia
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $169 List | $169.00 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, warm, simple, versatile, breathable
Cons:  Few features, less technical, no thumb loops
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By James Lucas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2022
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 9.0
  • Breathability - 20% 9.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 9.0
  • Weight - 15% 8.0
  • Weather resistance - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Patagonia R1 Air marks an upgrade in the classic R1 line. The company used 100% recycled polyester to create an incredibly warm, lightweight, and breathable fleece. They used hollow-core fibers in a zig-zag pattern to make the jacket more breathable without sacrificing warmth and still keeping a bit of comfort as well. While the jacket lacks many of the highly technical features we like, the versatility and simplicity of the athletically fitting garment made it our go-to for heavy exertion during outdoor adventures.

Editor's Note: The hooded version of the R1 Air was added to our lineup on November 14, 2022.

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Price $169 List
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Pros Comfortable, warm, simple, versatile, breathableBreathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsLightweight, athletic fit, easy to layer,Warm, great mobility, incredibly comfortable,Stylish, warm, simple
Cons Few features, less technical, no thumb loopsAverage weather resistanceNot exceptionally warm, poor casual wear use,Lacks thumb loops, poor breathability,More style than function, bulky
Bottom Line This lightweight piece has all the warmth of a mid-layer jacket but with a highly breathable design that's ideal for colder, active adventuresHighly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat valueBuilt for outdoor performance, this lightweight fleece works perfectly for active useComfort, style, and function make this piece work well in the mountains and for casual evenings around townBilled as casual outdoor wear, this warm fleece can move from out on the town to out at the crags
Rating Categories Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Outdoor Research Vi... Patagonia R1 Hoody Arc'teryx Kyanite A... Kuhl Interceptr 1/4...
Warmth (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Breathability (20%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Layering Ability (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Weather resistance (10%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Patagonia R1 Air Fu... Outdoor Research Vi... Patagonia R1 Hoody Arc'teryx Kyanite A... Kuhl Interceptr 1/4...
Type Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Midweight
Measured Weight 12.5 oz 13 oz 11.4 oz 15 oz 15.1 oz
Main Material 100% Polyester 94% polyester, 6% spandex 93% polyester, 7% spandex 53% polyester, 38% nylon, 9% elastane Body: 78% acrylic, 22% polyester
Side panels: 70% acrylic, 30% polyester
# of Pockets 3 3 1 2 1
Unique Features Slim-fit hood, quick drying Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding Balaclava hood, odor control, thumb holes Scuba hood, stretchy fabric Thump loops, articulated sleeves, low bulk seam stiching
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Patagonia R1 Air works as an ideal fleece for cold weather activity. The company used hollow-core fibers in a zig-zag pattern to create a jacket that focuses on comfort while moving. While the piece isn't as warm while stationary, it excels in its ability to wick away sweat and moisture. The zig zagging patterning of the fleece, in addition to being stylish, allows for air to easily move through the garment. For cold days bouldering in the Colorado Front Range, for brisk mornings hiking in Yosemite National Park, and for evenings of casual wear on the Eastern Sierra, this jacket provided a perfect amount of warmth and protection from the elements.

Performance Comparison


patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - early morning scrambles in the r1 air provided a good combination of...
Early morning scrambles in the R1 Air provided a good combination of warmth and breathability. The jacket moved well while scrambling up the First Flatiron at sunrise.
Credit: James Lucas

Warmth


The R1 Air acts as a perfect level of warmth for colder sandstone bouldering at Flagstaff, for active scrambling in the Flatirons, and for the approaches to the crags around Boulder, Colorado. Often, when our tester's stopped, they became a bit chilly and usually brought a second, warmer layer with them. Though this jacket has the weight of one of the lighter jackets we reviewed, it provides the warmth of a mid-layer piece. It's ideal for moving in colder temps.


The hollow-core fibers felt slightly more wind resistant to our testers. On blustery days at 14,000 feet on Rocky Mountain National Park's Diamond, the R1 seemed to fight back against the windy. The hood fits well and though it lacks adjustability to snug it closely to the head, it stayed put while moving. There are no thumb loops to keep the sleeves from riding up but our testers didn't find this problematic and the waist lacks a drawcord. The athletic fit of the jacket kept the garment from riding up though and prevented heat from escaping.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - the r1 air has a zigzag patterning for the fleece which offered...
The R1 Air has a zigzag patterning for the fleece which offered ample warmth for hanging out before climbing time started.
Credit: James Lucas

Comfort


The 100% recycled polyester fleece of the R1 Air feels significantly different against the skin than other products due to the zig-zag pattern. Initially, our testers felt skeptical as the fleece felt slightly stiff against the skin when new but as they wore it, the piece felt softer. As for the comfort of the fit, some of our testers noted it being tight around the forearms but the slim cut allowed for it to fit under a harness well and move with the body while climbing.


The soft and stretchy fleece has a thin elastic band in the cuffs, around the hood, and along the base of the jacket. These kept the jacket in place without causing too much irritation. Patagonia traditionally puts its seams off the shoulder, which makes the jacket more comfortable to wear while carrying a pack. Whether you're giving redpoint burns on your sport climbing project at Smith Rock, hiking to the top of Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park or heading to the local coffee shop, this jacket will move with your body, allowing for comfort reaching a high crimp, swinging arms while jumping through talus, or just sipping a latte.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - our testers liked the diagonal fleece style against their skin.
Our testers liked the diagonal fleece style against their skin.
Credit: James Lucas

Weather resistance


Opinions varied on this jacket's weather resistance. When one of our testers wore it while climbing through the clouds and fog at 14,000 feet on Rocky Mountain National Park's Diamond, he thought the permeable garment protected him from the wind. Another tester, who wore the jacket while biking to Eldorado Canyon to climb found that the R1 Air followed more of a semblance to traditional fleeces with the wind biting through. Ultimately though, if there's significant wind, it's best to bring a hard shell jacket or a fleece specially made to be windproof.


In terms of rain, some fleeces fair better than others due to a DWR treating or non-fleece matherial. The R1 performed ok in this metric, not turning into a sponge too quickly but also getting pretty damp after time in the rain. As with any fleece, you'll want to bring a rain jacket if the forecast calls for much more than a light sprinkle.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - the r1 air felt a bit more wind resistant than some of the other...
The R1 Air felt a bit more wind resistant than some of the other more lightweight fleeces but when it got wet, it stayed wet. A shell is necessary when in inclement weather.
Credit: James Lucas

Weight


Weight tends to be a crucial component when buying a fleece as it goes everywhere with you. Carrying those extra ounces while hiking, skiing, or climbing adds up quickly. We really liked the lightweight of the R1 Air. The medium hit the scales at 12.5 ounces. While this wasn't the lightest fleece we reviewed, for its weight it's one of the warmest. Patagonia kept this jacket streamlined with just a single chest pocket and few frills. While this jacket lacks as much adjustability, it does have a simple build that keeps it light.


Breathability


The R1 Air offers great breathability. The zig-zag patterning of the fleece allows for additional airflow through the garment and the lightweight material allows for further breathability. Some of our testers thought the garment provided too much breathability especially when worn as a layer under a shell. They found that the shell then became damp because of the hollow-core fiber's ability to wick away moisture. They generally found that this piece works best during cold, dry weather with a soft shell over it.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - while we found the difference between the moisture-wicking ability...
While we found the difference between the moisture-wicking ability of this piece and the original R1 to be negligible, the R1 Air seems to be more impervious to wind. It also handled the heavy hiking well, breathing well through the movement. The rigorous testing found these subtle differences.
Credit: James Lucas

When a storm moved in while climbing on Rocky Mountain National Park's Diamond, this piece kept the biting wind from freezing our tester, making the piece much more favorable to our chilled tester. The minimalist design and the breathability made this a favorite stand-alone piece for chilly morning cardio endeavors.

Layering Ability


The R1 Air provides a great piece for layering due to the athletic fit and streamlined design. The thin zippers, the single chest pocket, and the streamlined hood mean there's no extraneous material to get stuck under a puffy or rain shell. The form-fitting hood moved well under other layers. As was mentioned in the breathability section, some of our testers found that the fleece wicked too well and created some dampness inside of a second layer during heavy exercise but this could be dealt with by changing the upper layer.


One large drawback of this fleece is the lack of thumb holes or thumb straps. Having these allows the jacket's sleeves to stay in place while wearing another layer over it. The slight bunching wasn't significant because of the fleece's athletic fit.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - the lack of thumbholes made layering a bit more difficult but the...
The lack of thumbholes made layering a bit more difficult but the hood fit close to the head and a bit of elastic under the cuff allowed for the sleeves to be pulled up and stay in place.
Credit: James Lucas

Should You Buy the R1 Air?


The R1 Air belongs in any climbing pack, in the car ready for any hike, and worn for any day out with friends. Patagonia's quality assurance makes it a worthwhile purchase. This piece will last through hundreds of days in the mountains and out at the crags. For someone looking for a warm, lightweight fleece that performs well during heavy exertion in cooler weather, the R1 air delivers.

patagonia r1 air full-zip hoody fleece jacket review - the r1 air mixes breathability, warmth, and an athletic fit well...
The R1 Air mixes breathability, warmth, and an athletic fit well. Along with Patagonia's quality assurance, the piece is well worth the money spent.
Credit: James Lucas

What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?


This fleece brings a new level of comfort to the world of performance wear. A highly capable jacket, the Patagonia R1 Air can take you from your adventures in the mountains to lounging at your local coffee shop. High-tech without looking like it, this was our favorite fleece and this season's top choice. If you want something more technical, we'd recommend the classic Patagonia R1 or the less expensive Outdoor Research Vigor. If you're looking for a similar feel but something slightly warmer, take a look at the Arc'teryx Kyanite AR.

James Lucas
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