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Patagonia R1 Air Crew

photo: Patagonia R1 Air Crew fleece top

A winning fleece layer from Patagonia. It’s light, soft, warm, and wicks moisture well. Despite the fluffy appearance, appears to be very durable. Great outer layer on cooler days, mid-layer for colder situations.

Pros

  • Feels great
  • Adds warmth
  • Wicks moisture
  • Simplicity

Cons

  • Not a wind stopper
  • Price

INTRODUCTION

Patagonia R1 fleece has been around for a long time. I first wore one twenty years ago. Light to mid-weight, extremely versatile for layering, it’s absolutely no surprise that it has remained, in evolved form, in Patagonia’s lineup.

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R1 Air Crew
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The R1 Air merges the familiar R1 concept with a design idea the company has been using for a number of years, on and off, with its Capilene Air baselayers, formerly known as Merino Air—the yarn is fluffed up, creating more opportunities to wick moisture away and trap air if worn under a shell.

The R1 Air is a 100% recycled polyester mid-weight fleece. It’s available in mens’ sizes XS through XXL (triple XL for the half-zip version) and womens’ sizes XXS through XL (2XL for the half zip). In addition to a crew neck, the least expensive and simplest option, it’s available in a half zip pullover and full zip hoody. The mens’ XXL weighs roughly 9 ounces.

HOW IT FITS

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Patagonia calls this "slim fit," and that is accurate. In many Patagonia base and fleece layers, XL is my size; for the R1 Air, XL was too tight, so I’m wearing XXL, which is fine but not what I would call roomy. I have enough space to wear a light to medium base layer. It’s hip length. Wide range of motion, both due to the way the sleeves are made and the fabric itself, which is fairly stretchy.

Sleeves are about average length, and the hem sits a few inches below the hip.

FEATURES

You’re not buying this crew neck for features. It has a small zippered pocket, a loop at the back of the neck to hang it up, and some mildly elastic material bound to part of the cuff and rear hem. That’s it. In that sense, it’s true to the simplicity that has made the regular R1 a durable favorite. What distinguishes this layer, primarily, is the zig zap pattern and texture of the fleece; regular R1 isn’t as soft and has a square grid pattern on the interior.

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HOW IT PERFORMS OUTDOORS

First, it‘s fairly warm for a relatively lightweight layer, perhaps a touch warmer than the regular R1 tops. The weave of the fabric lofts a little more. Not a reason to run out and replace your perfectly good R1, but it adds to the temperature range where this might be useful.

For example, on a couple of hikes in the low 50s, I wore this over a wicking running T-shirt. I was on the edge of overheating and eventually took it off. On the other hand, in colder weather, this worked really well with a similar T-shirt but under a light wind shell that I partially unzipped when I started getting warm. 

Second, on those days where I worked up a good sweat, the R1 air did a great job keeping warm and dry-ish. It’s among the better layers I have worn in terms of handling moisture. It’s also very comparable to the regular R1 for that. 

Third, 100% polyester, like any fleece, means it should be very durable. The elastic binding on the cuffs and hems is damage-free, and I don’t see any wear from pack straps. (Patagonia’s comparable-looking Capilene Air is a wool/synthetic blend that is prone to snags and wear.)

Finally, don’t expect this layer to keep you warm when the wind starts to blow with any force, unless you layer it under a shell. Like most fleece that doesn’t have some kind of wind stopper layer, the fabric isn’t much of a barrier for wind. This might be even less resistant to wind than most, considering the fabric is a lofted weave that ventilates well. You’re definitely trading somewhat better ventilation and wicking for somewhat lesser protection against wind with this one. 

SUMMARY

I wore the R1 Air over the past few months on at least twelve hikes, in temperatures ranging from the low 50s to high 20s, sometimes as a sweater or sweatshirt-type outer layer, other times as a mid-layer under a shell. It’s a great mid-weight fleece for a variety of purposes, particularly if you are active and working up a sweat in cooler/cold weather. If you are in the market for a new mid-weight layer, it’s definitely worth a look, and given the slim fit, I recommend trying it on if you can. I’m not sure it’s enough of a watershed improvement to toss a good existing fleece, but it is very functional and superbly comfortable. The half and full zips cost meaningfully more than the crew, one reason I went for the crew. 

Experience

Roughly a dozen hikes over the past few months, in fall to winter (mid-Atlantic winter) weather.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $99

About the Author

Andrew Friedman is a New Hampshire native who loves the Presidentials and spent his college summers guiding trips in the Adirondack High Peaks. He loved introducing his children to hiking and the outdoors. In addition to New England and the Adirondacks, he has hiked the shores of the Great Lakes, the Tetons, a number of California's state and national parks, the Albanian Alps, and trails in India, Asia, and the Middle East. Andrew logged his first review on Trailspace in 2007 and joined the Trailspace Review Corps in 2011. Andrew lives and works in the DC metro area.

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Specs

Men's
Price MSRP: $99.00
Current Retail: $99.00
Historic Range: $99.00
Reviewers Paid: $99.00
Weight 275 g / 9.7 oz
Materials 5.7-oz 100% recycled polyester jacquard fleece with hollow-core yarns
Other Fabric is certified as bluesign approved / Fair Trade Certified sewn
Women's
Price MSRP: $99.00
Current Retail: $99.00
Historic Range: $48.99-$99.00
Weight 238 g / 8.4 oz
Materials 5.7-oz 100% recycled polyester jacquard fleece with hollow-core yarns
Other Fabric is certified as bluesign approved / Fair Trade Certified sewn
Product Details from Patagonia »

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