The all-day layer is our unicorn. For the longest time, changing conditions meant changing your clothes. But since the R1 was introduced in 1999 (we gave the entire R Series an Editors’ Choice Award the following year), this piece has kept us warm—then cool—and comfortable, outing after outing, even as gear trends changed.
The key technology is a high-loft, gridded interior (often emulated, never equaled) that boosts the warmth-to-weight ratio and enhances dry times and wicking. (Patagonia has lifetime exclusivity on the fabric, which is produced by Polartec.) One tester didn’t take the layer off during three days on Ecuador’s 18,996-foot Volcán Cayambe. “It was warm enough to wear by itself while ice climbing on the Hermoso Glacier, and the long cut stayed secure under a harness,” he says. For the summit bid, his R1 easily slid over a thin baselayer and under a puffy and shell. “The fleece wicked away sweat well enough that I never felt like a puddle,” he says. A navel-length zipper aids in heat management.
Versatility is top-notch. The R1 is plush enough to double as a baselayer. Its scuba-style hood fits under a helmet (there are non-hooded versions, too), and the 93-percent poly, 7-percent elastane fabric is durable: After seven years, one tester’s R1 still hasn’t pilled. Unicorns do exist.
$159; 12.9 oz. (m’s M); m’s XS-XXL, w’s XXS-XL