Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: freedom of movement

Sustainability-champion Patagonia's technical fleece is the ultimate lightweight mid-layer for winter adventures

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Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

Lightweight, swift-wicking and packable – what's not to like about the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece? It's a superb piece of mid-layer that keeps you warm and protected from the elements without restricting your movement. Plus, it's made from 100% recycled polyester.

Reasons to buy
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    Lightweight, quick-drying material

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    Made from 100% recycled polyester

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    Thin enough to be worn with a shell jacket without restricting movement

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    Offset shoulder seams to accommodate backpack straps

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Slim fit design won't suit all body shapes

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    Non-stretch material might make it hard to take fleece off for people with shoulder mobility issues

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The cold season arrived, with temperatures going from 'it's okay to walk around in a t-shirt' to 'I'd better layer up; otherwise, I might freeze to death' overnight—perfect timing, as I was really keen on doing this Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review. We haven't covered the outdoor brand much on T3 before, which I intend to change going forward.

The R1 Air Fleece Crew is the perfect entry to Patagonia's wonderful world of sustainable outdoor clothing. This superb mid-layer is a must-have for those who traverse large swathes of terrain in ever-changing conditions or prefer a lightweight, quick-drying top for all manners of different outdoor pursuits.

For the many excellent qualities (and affordable price point) of this garment, the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew deserves a place on our best fleece jacket guide, even though I appreciate it isn't technically a jacket. That said, the R1 Air Fleece does in a full-zip hoody version, if that's what you're after.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: price and availability

The Patagonia R1 Air Fleece is available to buy now directly from Patagonia  UK, Patagonia US and Patagonia AU for a recommended retail price of £90/ $129/ AU$ 150. In most countries, it comes in the Lagom Blue colourway as well as Forge Grey.

The crew neck version is only available in men's version; however, there are half-zip and full-zip hoodie varieties available for women.

The R1 Air Fleece is one of the more affordable mid-layers from Patagonia. Compare it with the otherwise ultra-cool Women's Classic Retro-X Fleece Jacket (RRP £210) and Men's Synchilla Fleece Jacket (RRP £140).

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: specifications

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
  • Type: mid-layer
  • Zip length: n/a
  • Material: 100% recycled polyester jacquard fleece
  • Fit: slim-fit
  • Weight: 260g/ 9.2oz
  • Pockets: one external chest pocket
  • Waterproof: no

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: design and features

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew is a slim-fit mid-layer made from 100% recycled polyester. It's a technical fleece designed for 'high-exertion activities in cold conditions' and, as such, has different features from fashion-focused garments.

Technical mid-layers like the R1 Air Fleece are usually lighter and pack down smaller than standard fleeces. Of course, Patagonia's take on the concept has a few tricks up in its sleeve, apart from being lightweight and packable.

For instance, the jacquard material has a zigzag structure, said to balance warmth and breathability without adding weight. It's also quick-drying, meaning you won't have to worry about your R1 Air Fleece getting saturated with sweat/rain/etc. This not only prevents you from getting cold, but the layer also reduces weight by evaporating moisture quickly.

Smaller but equally as important features include off-shoulder seams, which allow you to carry a hiking backpack without the seams rubbing your shoulders raw. Although there aren't any hand pockets (you might want to check out the hoody version if you need those); however, there is a zipped chest pocket to store smaller stuff, such as keys, snacks, etc.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: performance and comfort

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

I often wear fleeces at home and when I'm out and about – one of the perks of living in the UK, where the temperature is 'meh' all year around. I prefer thicker, cosier fleeces at home and technical fleeces when roaming the countryside.

To test the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece, I headed to Burnham-on-Sea, a quiet seaside town with a surprisingly lovely stretch of beach on a crisp winter morning. The weather was almost too perfect: cold but dry, with plenty of sunshine and moderate wind.

I had a light down jacket on me but quickly packed it away, as the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece provided more than enough warmth, especially after we started monkeying around on the dunes. I loved the lightweight nature of the jacquard fleece – it almost feels like you're wearing a long-sleeved, warm t-shirt.

I'm a comparatively tall, slender guy, so the slim-fit nature of the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece worked well for me. I imagine people with different body types might find the non-stretch martial and fit suboptimal. Plus, for the same reason, I couldn't tuck the R1 Air Fleece in my trousers for added draft protection, even if I wanted to.

That said, the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece felt super comfortable, both on the trip mentioned above and other outings since then. Heat management inside the mid-layer is spot on, and thanks to its lightweight nature, the R1 Air Fleece is the perfect addition to any layering system for backpacking, bikepacking, thru-hiking and more.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: sustainability

Despite their well-earned reputation as the best type of mid-layer, fleeces are often made from virgin plastic. Patagonia moved away from this approach ages ago and made sure that Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew is made from 100% recycled polyester.

Of course, the R1 Air Fleece could just be the token sustainable product in a sea of virgin plastic fleeces, but according to the brand, 95 per cent of polyester fabric by weight Patagonia in autumn/fall 2023 was made with recycled polyester.

Plus, the fleece was made in a Fair Trade Certified factory. Not to mention the repair workshops Patagonia runs across the globe to help people mend their waterproof jackets and walking trousers. The company even has DIY tutorials (external link) to teach you how to fix your clothes at home.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: verdict

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

If you're in the market for a highly functional yet comfortable technical fleece, look no further than the Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew. It's a superb piece of mid-layer that perfectly fulfils its purpose: to keep you warm and protected from the elements without restricting your movement.

It's not the cosiest of fleeces (see also: Patagonia's Synchilla range), and I can't imagine choosing the R1 Air Fleece Crew over heavier, thicker options to sit around at home. However, I'll use it for any upcoming outdoor adventure I might have planned this and, hopefully, many more winters in the future.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece Crew review: also consider

Cotopaxi's Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket is a straightforward garment that'll keep you warm without weighing you down. It's a brilliant option if you need a cosy, lightweight fleece with excellent sustainability credentials. Read my full Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket review.

Columbia's Basin Butte Fleece gives your standard fleece a technical upgrade to pack in extra warmth. It might be too warm for a mid-layer, but if you use fleeces as an external shell, this might be a good option. Read Mark's full Columbia Basin Butte Fleece review.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.