Chris Townsend is impressed with Patagonia’s new twist on one of their classic fleeces – describing it as “one of the best fleeces I’ve ever worn”
Patagonia’s R1 fleece has been around for many years. However, the latest R1 Air is really a new garment, as it’s made from a new hollow-core polyester fleece with a distinctive zigzag pattern designed to be very breathable and to wick moisture and dry fast. The material is also 100% recycled and has an odour control treatment.
The R1 Air Hoody has a full-length zip and a close-fitting hood that fits well under a hood. There are two handwarmer pockets and a small chest pocket, all with light minimal zips for reduced bulk. There are no drawcords, just stretch bindings at the back of the hem, the inner cuffs, and round the rim of the hood. The fleece is also slightly stretchy. The fit is described as slim and the Large size fits me closely over a thin base layer. The weight is 370 grams.
Performance and design
I’ve been wearing the R1 Air through the autumn and winter on day walks and camping trips in the Cairngorms and have found it comfortable and very warm for the weight. It really is very breathable, more so than most other fleeces I’ve tried. It’s not at all windproof but then it’s designed as a midlayer. I’ve worn it under waterproof, windproof, and insulated jackets in different conditions and it’s worked well every time. In fact, it’s one of the best fleeces I’ve ever worn. Definitely a Best Buy.
The hood isn’t adjustable but that doesn’t matter because in anything more than a light breeze a windproof hood is needed over it. The pockets are the only feature of the jacket that could be better. The lower ones are cut off by a hipbelt and the chest one is quite small – too small for my smartphone. But given that this fleece will mostly be worn under another jacket this is a minor quibble.
Sizes, cost and options
The R1 Air Hoody costs £130 and comes in Men’s XS-XXL and Women’s XS-XL sizes. If you prefer a fleece without a hood there’s the R1 Air Zip-Neck with high collar and half-length zip at £110 and the sweater-style R1 Air Crew at £90.