I’ve been testing a Patagonia R1 Hoody fleece pullover for the past month and I’ve decided that I like the combination of it and a windproof and waterproof shell better than my current active layering system for winter hiking and mountaineering.
If you recall, I started using a Marmot Driclime Jacket this year as an outer shell because it has fantastic wicking properties. The only problem with it is that it’s not 100 windproof or waterproof. It also has a liner sewn into it making it difficult to finely tune my perspiration rate in warmer conditions. Don’t get me wrong. The Driclime is an awesome jacket and I really like it, but I probably wouldn’t take it on a multi-day climbing trip because it is redundant with a breathable waterproof/windproof shell. I’d rather just add another mid-layer like the R1 and bring my 3 season Gore-tex Paclite Jacket.
Why this obsession with thermo-regulation? It’s simple really. Being too warm accelerates dehydration and chilling/hypothermia from perspiration. This matters when you can’t stop to melt more water in winter. On the flip side, being too cold accelerates fatigue and fuzzy thinking: a dangerous combination when you are climbing in unforgiving mountains, far from a trail head, on short days with early sunsets.
What you want is to be dry and warm enough. This requires constant fiddling with your layers by peeling them off and putting them back on, unzipping pit zips, rolling up your sleeves to expose the veins on your forearms, taking off your gloves, raising your hat off of your ears, uncovering your neck, unzipping the sides of your pant shells, or simply slowing down your pace so you produce less heat.
I’ve always been hesitant to add fleece to my layering system because I consider it too bulky and too warm. But I’d read about the magical properties of the R1 Hoody which is praised highly in climbing and mountaineering circles for its warmth and versatility in different conditions.
While the R1 Hoody is technically a fleece garment, it is not your normal sleepytime Polartec 100 or 200 sweater. It’s made out of several different types of fleece including Capilene 4 stretch polyester, Polartec Power Dry, and Spandex. These materials are distributed around the garment to provide extra elasticity, warmth, length or weight to accommodate the needs of highly active sports and gear.
For instance, the hoody has a thin Capilene 4 layer around the waist and wrists to prevent bunching under a climbing harness and to vent heat at the wrists where you veins come close to the surface of your skin. The material surrounding your core is a heavier waffle pattern to retain heat but wick moisture more quickly by having a higher surface area.
The R1 is not windproof, but it is warm enough to wear as an outer layer in warmer winter weather over a thin base later like a Patagonia Capilene 1 long sleeve jersey. I did this climbing Mt Flume over the weekend in thirty degree weather with light wind. When we got above treeline, I put on a Gore-tex Paclite shell and zipped up the signature hood to protect my face from frost-nip. The high neck line protects your face and reduces the need for a heavier balaclava in milder weather.
During our climb, which was long and strenuous with a lot of elevation gain, I was able to vent a lot of heat by unzipping the long zipper at the front of the Hoody and by rolling my sleeves up over my wrists (see top picture). I stayed noticeably dry and warm all day, and managed to just use one pair of fleece gloves. I usually soak these in two hours and need to change into mittens. My fleece beenie, which I also usually soak through, stayed drier too.
The R1 has a few other features worth mentioning including thumb loops in the sleeves to keep snow from blowing up the arms and a small zippered pocket over the chest which is large enough for a few snacks.
Sizing runs small. I have a 46″ chest and a XL large is snug on me when I wear a thin Capilene 1 base layer. The XL is the largest size made for this garment. I almost returned it because I thought it might be too small, but I decided that it is big enough and that a non-baggy fit helps with the wicking action. This R1 Hoody is a keeper.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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