Preparing for a trip, the routine of weighing—figuratively and literally—every item of clothing and gear to balance weight with safely and, ideally, comfort is an accepted fact of life. How cold will it be? How hot? Will there be rain? Bugs? Will we need to climb snow or rock? With all the considerations to be had, it is great to have a few pieces that one knows will come along, no matter what. No thinking required. For me, the Patagonia R1 Hoody is one of these.
Patagonia built the R1 Hoody around Polartec’s Power Dry fleece. The stretchy fleece’s waffle pattern is soft against skin and maintains comfort by simultaneously wicking perspiration away while keeping a warm layer of air next to the skin. The cozy, snug-fitting hood fits under a climbing helmet. The front of the R1 Hoody, when zipped, comes up to about the wearer’s nose when the hood is up. This doubles as a very-not-windproof balaclava and adds warmth, particularly under a shell hood or helmet. This is a slim-fitting garment, and that includes the hood, sleeves and waist, though the fabric provides a high degree of stretch throughout.
The 3/4-length zipper allows for extra venting when exerting heavily, and opens the neck enough to don the garment. Patagonia recently changed its R1 pattern to put the main zipper straight up the front of the neck, backed with soft fabric for comfort. Earlier models, including the version tested here, featured a slight offset to the zipper at the neck and face, keeping the zipper out from under the nose. A fleece pad added softness. I like the previous design, but also have used plenty of center-front zip garments; I think either way is fine, if done well. A single Napoleon chest pocket is big enough for medium to small mobile phones (an iPhone 6 fits nicely). The pocket is backed with a mesh for breathability. Both zippers feature lightweight pull tabs. Sleeves are long to allow for long reaches while climbing. A welcome detail are the thumb holes at the cuff; use these to keep wrists and palms covered. An “R” device is stitched at the left sleeve, near the cuff.
The waist is another place Patagonia has made a design change, this time clearly for the better. The previous model tested over the past few years and reviewed here has a more elastic fleece at its long waist. Designed to stay put under a climbing harness, it does its job. The technical look, however, makes the R1 Hoody less wearable around town; and yes, it comes in other colors besides “Mango” shown here, which also limits its use when subtlety is desired! Patagonia did away with the extra-stretchy panel at the bottom, wisely electing to extend the Power Dry fleece to the waist, which still is cut long to be harness friendly.
In windy conditions, some sort of shell is needed over the R1 Hoody, even if only a wind shirt; wind resistance essentially is nil. That is directly due to the fabric’s excellent breathability. In practice, when mountaineering I wear it most over a thin silk-weight base layer and under a hardshell if the temps are too cold for just the shell. Skiing, I often add a lightweight insulating layer over the R1, such as the Patagonia Nano Air. This combination in particular is extremely breathable and keeps me warm and dry under the hardshell down below freezing, even when riding lifts. I’ll make my usual note about how everyone is different and what works for me might not keep you at a comfortable temperature!
Is the Patagonia R1 Hoody for you? If internet opinion means anything, there are many, many people who love their R1 Hoody like I love mine. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the R1 goes into my pack or onto my body when I head out. If a technical hoody is not your style, Patagonia also makes a non-hooded version with a full zip front and has integrated the Power Dry fleece into a number of hybrid garments.
Have you used the R1 Hoody? Let us know in the comments!