Patagonia R2 Jacket : Super Fuzzy, Super Effective
I've been testing Patagonia's incredibly warm R2 jacket for the last month, and I am impressed.
It's so light and breathable that I forget I've got it on, yet so warm it feels like a down parka. I'm not sure how a fleece could be better.
The R2 is one of Patagonia's high-loft tops made from Polartec Thermal Pro fabric. It's super fuzzy. My jacket is blue, so my friends affectionately call it my Grover Suit. I have to keep a close eye on it when we're climbing because, despite the teasing, when I'm not looking, someone always ends up wearing it.
The R2 is a very unique top, and only a few manufacturers make anything like it. The high-pile fabric has lots of surface area, so it traps a lot of body heat and warms me up quickly. However, the fabric isn't very dense so it packs up tiny and breathes really well. In many ways, the Thermal Pro fabric is the fleece equivalent of down. Soft and puffy, super warm, breathable, and compressible. But it's even better because it dries out quickly and maintains its performance characteristics even when it's wet.
I've spent a lot of time in my R2 jacket, most recently on a climbing road trip through central Colorado and northern New Mexico. I would put it on as soon as I crawled out of my sleeping bag, wear it until the day warmed up, and then dump it in the bottom of my pack until the cool evening breeze appeared. It is moderately windproof, so it works well enough on its own, but it also works perfectly when layered beneath a thin rain or wind shell due to its high breathability.
Aside from the unique fabric, I like the cut a lot. The R2 has a nice athletic cut, so it doesn't catch wind and blow around. The zippers are clean and tight and virtually snag-proof. Last, the shoulders are seamless, so my pack doesn't chafe.
All in all, the R2 is a great choice if you're looking for something that's warm, extremely light, and packs down really tiny. Available in men's and women's versions, in a wide range of colors.
Bottom LIne: Incredible warmth-to-weight ratio with this lightweight, highly breathable fleece jacket.--N.W. (Sept. '09)
Price: $175 click to shop at , on sale for $88-$175 at amazon
Manufacturer's Site: www.patagonia.com