Patagonia R1 vs. R2: Which Is the Better Fleece for You?

We break down one of the best and most versatile fleece series available

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Patagonia R1 vs. R2

Tripsavvy / Zack Angeline

Welcome to the vast world of technical fleeces. There's a ridiculous amount of them on the market. But Patagonia's Regulator line is one of the oldest and best. First launched more than three decades ago, the R1 ("R" stands for Regulator) has become one of the most popular and versatile technical fleece lines available. Patagonia has since launched the R2 and R3 series.

As someone who has spent years doing high-output activities in the mountains (and getting my rear handed to me by the elements in the process), I've been somewhat obsessed in my search for the ultimate layering system. The R1 series has been crucial in that pursuit. I've recently put the R1 to the test against the R2 series.

But before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's take a step back to review the basics. The main difference between the R1 and R2 is the weight of the fleece. As the names suggest, the R1 line features lighter-weight fleece while the R2 is heavier. The R1 line has multiple models like the R1 Air, the R1 Daily Jacket, and the R1 Pullover.

For this test—and to try comparing apples to apples, as they say—we put the R1 TechFace versus the R2 TechFace.

The Key Takeaways

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket
  • Price at time of publish: $169

  • The fit is a bit baggier with room to layer underneath and cinch cords at the waist help with weather-resistance and fit

  • The power grid tech fleece is not your typical cozy fleece feel and the lightness of the material makes it even less soft

  • Lacks breathability compared to other R1 models, but makes up for it in weather-resistance

  • Weight: 11.5 ounces

  • DWR finish

Patagonia R2 TechFace Hoody
  • Price at time of publish: $199

  • Fits a little more snug to the body compared to the R1, but still not a super tight fit

  • Softer than the R1 thanks to the additional fleece weight

  • Lacks breathability, but considering it's meant for colder conditions and not as high-output activities, that's less important to us

  • Weight: 17.1 ounces

  • DWR finish

TripSavvy's Pick

These jackets serve different purposes, so consider what you'll most likely be doing when wearing the jacket. Patagonia's R1 TechFace Jacket will be better for warmer conditions and higher-output activities like running, laying a skin track, or strenuous hiking. The high-loft double-weave construction of the R2 TechFace Hoody will be better for colder conditions or if you're resting more between climbs or on easier hikes.

Read on for detailed testing insights of each Patagonia layer.

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket

Backcountry

Price at time of publish: $169

Who should buy this: Anyone looking for a technical fleece for high-output activities in cool and cold weather should buy the R1 TechFace Jacket. It's an excellent midlayer for running, strenuous hiking, laying a skin track, or other higher-intensity activities. It's not the heaviest or softest fleece, but that's why we enjoyed it on winter high desert runs and hikes. We also love that this fleece features a DWR coating to wear as your primary layer in light rain and precipitation.

Materials: 92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex | Sustainability: Made with recycled materials, bluesign-certified fabrics, and is Fair Trade Certified | Weight: 11.5 ounces

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Price at time of publish: $199

Who should buy this: Anyone looking for a technical fleece for activities like hiking and climbing in cool and cold weather should buy the R2 TechFace Hoody. This product transcends the normal layering system offering solid warmth and protection from lighter weather. We also see this jacket as a good commuter option and one that serves more of a purpose than just higher-intensity activities.

Materials: 94 percent polyester and 6 percent spandex | Sustainability: Made with recycled materials, bluesign-certified fabrics, and is Fair Trade Certified | Weight: 17.1 ounces

Patagonia R2 TechFace Hoody

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Comfort and Fit

Winner: R2 TechFace Hoody

We wanted to get this out of the way first because these jackets do not feel like your traditional cozy fleece. The TechFace is a polyester-spandex power grid blend that isn't really soft. However, the high-loft double-weave of the R2 is considerably softer on the inside compared to the lightweight double-weave of the R1.

Likewise, we found the snugger fit of the R2 a bit better than the baggier R1. Both have excellent stretch, but the R2 seemed to fit a bit better, especially at the arms. That said, if you're looking to layer a long-sleeve underneath the R1, there's plenty of room to do so. Most of our R1 testing involved having just a T-shirt underneath, so it remained a bit on the baggy side.

So, overall, we'll give the nod to the R2 here.

Patagonia R2 TechFace Hoody

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Breathability

Winner: R1 TechFace Jacket

We wouldn't describe either one of these jackets as overly breathable. But of the two, the lighter-weight R1 is more breathable. Still, during multiple runs last winter in California's high desert, the R1 was the perfect layer to begin the run but soon trapped heat and moisture once the sun got higher in the sky and temperatures increased.

While we appreciate the DWR finish on both jackets (more on that in a bit), we have to think it cuts down on the breathability. That's less of an issue if you run cold or are not using these jackets for high-output activities. But if you plan to make this your winter running or backcountry skiing layer, we recommend going with the R1.

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Weather-Resistance

Winner: It's a tie!

Normally this wouldn't be a factor in a fleece jacket comparison. But that's one of the reasons the R1 and R2 are two of the best fleeces on the market. Patagonia places a DWR coating. Combine that with the more durable power grid construction, and you've got a highly weather-resistant jacket for fleece standards.

Now, these won't be your outerlayer when it's dumping. For that, you'll need the typical hardshell. But if your outdoor session includes some light weather or precipitation, these will hold up better than your typical fleece or midlayer.

Patagonia R2 TechFace Hoody

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Warmth

Winner: R2 TechFace Hoody

If you've made it this far, this shouldn't be a surprise. The R2 is the warmer and cozier version of the two TechFace jackets. If you're looking for a warmer technical fleece jacket, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than the R2. Why? Again, it's that high-loft double-weave construction and DWR coating. The partial binding at the waist also helps hold in heat. While the R1 has the cinch-cords at the waist, we didn't really see them as helping hold in heat like the R2's partial binding.

Patagonia R1 vs. R2

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Value

Winner: It's a tie!

Can you find cheaper fleeces on the market? Of course. But the quality-to-price ratio of both the R1 and R2 is top-notch. With Patagonia, it can often feel like you're paying for the name. And while that might be the case for some products, that's not the case for the Regulator series. There's a reason why this series is one of the most prolific technical fleece lines created. Not only are both the R1 and R2 high-performing jackets, but the boosted durability and DWR make the jackets also capable of serving as your softshell. It's also one of the stretchiest fleece products available, making both jackets excellent for climbing, backcountry skiing, and running.

And that's not to mention the feel-good factor of buying these products, which feature recycled materials, bluesign-certified fabrics, and are Fair Trade Certified. Plus, you've got Patagonia's robust repair and care tutorials, Ironclad Guarantee, and Worn Wear program.

Patagonia R2 TechFace Hoody

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. While based in warm and sunny Ventura County, California, he's still spent most of his life in regions with harsh winters. He's endured enough storms and been misguided by enough "sucker holes" to know how essential proper layering is during outdoor activities.

These jackets were tested in and around Joshua Tree and Big Bear Lake in California, Colorado's Rocky Mountains, and the Midwest's windy and cold winters. Nathan loves his Patagonia R1 Air Hoody, the R1 Pullover, and the R2 TechFace Hoody for most activities. But for runs and skinning, he's going with the R1 TechFace Jacket.

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