User Review: Patagonia Men's R4 Jacket
Not for hiking, unless for rest stops, in which case you could take something more packable and lighter. This is due to the thick pile and the water-resistant membrane laminate construction.
Mine is the early design, which was improved somewhat. Pockets are high enough for a pack belt, chest pocket is slanted. Cuffs do not open so the heat builds up, and there are no pit zips. Hem draw-cords don't work as they should. Pile eventually flattens out under a pack.
More of a fishing/photography jacket.
JANUARY 11, 2009, UPDATE:
This jacket has real potential as a hard-wearing belay type jacket in my opinion. If Patagonia added a hood, made the cut a bit longer at the back and opened the sleeves, then they would be on to a winner.
I say this because as a warm-up type jacket it can function as an adjustable insulation layer: the heavier pile on the outside of the membrane only really cranks up the heat when you encapsulate it in a shell. You can then remove the outer shell once you heat up and the jacket itself as you heat up further. Therefore, the versatility it has over a synthetic down belay, which only beats this type of material in weight and compression (drying time and water resistance being a moot point, in my opinion, as it depends on the climate you intend to use it in and the habit of carrying a light hard shell), would accompany its advantages in durability, anti-shoulder strap slide and general coziness. Find a way to bond the seams and it could get even better.
Either wait years for that or look for a company making technical fleeces with hoods. As far as I know only Mammut, a company with hardly the widest distribution in the UK (USA?), are making anything resembling the above.
NB: I went up a size for comfort and layering, when I originally purchased this.