The Patagonia R1 Air is a great all-around fleece that performs well across the board and quickly became our go-to layer for traveling and camping. Its zig-zag pattern offers plenty of stretch, while a soft interior and exterior kept us warm and cozy. The R1 Air has a simple design that still features just about everything we could ask for — zippered hand pockets, push-up-able cuffs, a fitted hood, and a small chest pocket. However, it lacks thumbholes, and the wind easily cuts through the thin areas of its zig-zag pattern. But with a slim fit, this stretchy fleece easily layers under a puffy jacket or a shell when the weather turns sour. We couldn't find a more dynamic and useful fleece than this one.Editor's Note: This article was updated on November 29, 2022, to reflect our findings in our most recent round of testing.
Cons: Slim fit doesn't work for everyone, not very windproof, fuzzy exterior collects debris
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Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoody - Women's
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|Pros||Very stretchy and comfortable, cozy and warm, breathable, comparatively compact||Comfortable, stretchy, mobile shoulders, fluffy interior, warm, polished exterior look and feel, easy to layer||Very stretchy, comfortable thumbholes, extended coverage, packable, very breathable, great warmth-to-weight ratio||Exceptionally breathable, extremely lightweight, clever thumb loops, great neck protection, shirt-like comfort||Instantly cozy, soft and fluffy, affordable, lots of color options|
|Cons||Slim fit doesn't work for everyone, not very windproof, fuzzy exterior collects debris||Zipper not wind resistant, slim cut may be limiting||Chest pocket looks bad, oddly long cut, light colors are see through||Not as warm, hard to layer over other things, lighter colors are somewhat see-through||No pockets, challenging to layer, not breathable, less wind resistant|
|Bottom Line||An extremely versatile fleece with lightweight breathability and stretchy comfort combined with midweight warmth and protection||All the comfort of your favorite sweatshirt combined with the performance of a technical fleece layer||This lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable price||An excellent lightweight, breathable fleece shirt to level up your winter running wardrobe||A simple pullover with a classic design that's cozy, relaxed, easy to love, and affordable|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||Arc'teryx Kyanite H...||Outdoor Research Vi...||The North Face Summ...||Columbia Benton Spr...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Specs||Patagonia R1 Air Fu...||Arc'teryx Kyanite H...||Outdoor Research Vi...||The North Face Summ...||Columbia Benton Spr...|
|Main Material||Recycled polyester||53% polyester, 38% nylon, 9% elastane||94% polyester, 6% spandex||Polyester||Polyester|
|Cuff Construction||Quick-drying woven binding||Tanica stretch fabric||Same fabric as jacket||Elastic band||Elastic cuff|
|Weight||10.7 oz||12.6 oz||8.9 oz||4.4 oz||10.4 oz|
|Number of Pockets||2 hand, 1 chest||2 hand||1 chest||None||None|
|Features||Off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, moisture wicking||No slip front zipper, chin guard, moisture wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams||Thumbholes, flat seam construction, UPF 30, moisture wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, chin guard||Off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, thumb holes, scuba hood, moisture wicking||Comfort stretch, extended collar|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia R1 Air is a lightweight, recycled polyester fleece with near-midweight performance. It has two zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket. We love the moisture-wicking fabric and the fact that there are no abrasive seams on the tops of the shoulders or in the armpits.
Though the R1 Air is very lightweight, the warmth it offers is much more akin to a midweight fleece — in most situations. When hanging out in camp or traveling to far-flung locations, the soft fluffy fabric of this fleece does an exceptional job holding in our body heat. Its slim fit keeps the heat close to your body, while stretchy fabric allows it to be reasonably accommodating of different body shapes. A fitted scuba style hood stays up in the wind or under other shell hoods and features a very high chin to keep your face even warmer.
Even our lead tester with self-professed "monkey arms" (an ape index of +4) found the R1 Air sleeves to be long enough for most things. Excessive reaching — like in rock climbing — exposed our wrists slightly, but during activities like cycling, we still felt protected. If you're looking for thumbholes, though, the R1 doesn't have any. The biggest sap of this fleece's warmth is in any wind. Even more than "average" fleece jackets, the zig-zag pattern of the R1 fabric and its lack of any wind guard for the zipper lets chilly fall breezes slip right through. If you're encountering wind in the R1, you'll want an outer shell.
All our testers who wore the R1 Air commented on how nice it feels. It's equally as fuzzy on the inside and outside, giving it a nice cozy air. The fabric is very stretchy and accommodating to a diversity of body shapes. Seams have been moved away from key areas of movement to keep you comfortable while you do whatever it is you're setting out to do. Seams on top of the shoulders have been moved back to avoid conflicting with backpack straps. Seams typically located in the armpits have been lowered to the ribs, eliminating that annoying rubbing that makes us excited to take off form-fitting clothing at the end of each day. A drop hem helps keep your waist protected during movement. Our only real complaint about the comfort of the R1 Air is that its slim design, despite a good amount of stretch, isn't as accommodating for curvier body types or wider hips.
The R1 Air features a lot of pockets, compared to most fleeces in our lineup. The two zippered hand pockets are deeper than their zippers, helping to hold items even when unzipped. They drop all the way down to the hem of the jacket though, rather than floating above it for easier access when wearing the hip belt of a pack or a climbing harness. On the inside, the pocket material has been sewn closed across the bottom to create two narrow but deep drop pockets. A small chest pocket on the left side is just large enough to hold some credit cards, cash, and a lip balm.
Almost none of the fleece jackets we tested offer meaningful water protection, so we didn't dock too many points for the R1 Air soaking up a light mist during our testing. The pocket material repels some water, and it takes a while for precipitation to make it through the fabric to the interior. The zig-zags in the main fabric — while adding extra comfort and breathability — are the weak point when protecting against the elements. The main zipper features fabric that mostly covers the medium-sized teeth, but doesn't totally stop water or wind from going through to your core.
The size Small R1 Air we tested weighs 10.7 ounces, which is on the lighter end of the spectrum of jackets in our lineup. Once again, none of the fleeces we tested have specific packable features (like stuffing into their own pocket), so we didn't hold that against the R1. Yet, when packing this jacket, the lightweight features become evident in ways that they weren't during our warmth testing. The zig-zag material helps to cut down weight, while the thinner fabric remains more compressible and easier to pack than many. When packing for a trip, we always felt the weight and packability of the R1 Air were worth its warmth and comfort.
The R1 Air is far more breathable than your average fleece. In fact, the only models we tested that were more breathable are all made for high-output activities and sacrificed significant warmth to maintain breathability. When it comes to threading the needle of warmth and breathability, the R1 Air outshone the rest. Those ever-present zig-zags in the fabric between rows of fluffy fleece allow your body to expel extra heat when needed. The cuffs are mostly unlined, making them easy and comfortable to push up our arms when faced with warming conditions.
Wearing this fleece unzipped when we needed to let off a little steam was more comfortable than most, and we never noticed the lightweight fitted hood of the R1 Air pulling the jacket in odd directions. Though some fleeces make the hand pockets out of mesh to facilitate venting, the R1's pockets are made of the same material as the small chest pocket, which helps seal in warm air. Combined with its other breathable features, we appreciated the extra warmth and didn't even notice the lack of pocket ventilation, as we could simply unzip the whole thing. We loved wearing the R1 Air for moderate output activities like hiking and even some extremely cold early morning runs well below zero.
Here again, the R1 Air finds a happy medium of functionality. Its slim shape and fit aren't ideal for wearing over a baggy t-shirt, but this fleece easily slides on over a next-to-skin baselayer. The fluffiness of the internal fabric doesn't catch as much as some others but also isn't the most accommodating fabric for an outer layer.
As a midlayer, the R1 Air excels. Its fitted shape and thinner material make it a joy to wear under a puffy jacket, waterproof shell, or both. Without thumbholes to encumber your layered wrists, the sleeves and hem length of the R1 prove to be a great length for layering — keeping you protected without awkwardly sticking out the openings of your jacket.
Should You Buy the Patagonia R1 Air?
In terms of value, the R1 Air is an excellent buy. It's one of the more expensive fleeces we tested but also one of the most dynamic layers to wear through a huge range of activities, locations, and weather conditions. It lacks some of the very specific features that niche users may be looking for, but as a general, all-around fleece, this one is our favorite.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
Though we love so much about the Patagonia R1 Air, its fit and generic function may not be exactly what you're searching for. For a relaxed sweatshirt vibe with great protection and performance, the Arc'teryx Kyanite is our favorite. If you prefer a more relaxed fit that feels like you're snuggling with yourself, the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T is a cozy choice. And if you're looking for excellent breathability and a more technical performance from a lightweight fleece, the Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip is the one we'd recommend. But if you want a great all-around fleece that will keep you warm and comfortable in non-windy environments, layers well when you need extra protection, and still allows for the breathability you crave, there's no fleece we think is more dynamic than the Patagonia R1 Air.
— Maggie Nichols
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