Light, warm and purple - the Patagonia R1 Air is an amazing Midlayer garment for cold weather activities, and in combination with a wind jacket could be all you need on a cool day outdoors!
Disclosure: I bought the R1 Air Zip-Neck from my own money. There are Affiliate links in this article which are marked with an ∞ Infinity Sign 😊 You can use these AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU but I get a small provision from the company. As you know: I’m keepin’ it real and tell you how it is - I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Hiking in Finland. Read the Transparency Disclaimer for more information on affiliate links & blogger transparency.
It is toasty warm, it is really light for what it does, and it lets all the air through so you want to wear something over the ∞ Patagonia R1 Air so the wind doesn’t blow away that lovely warm air layer around you! You can watch the Video to get a good idea of this sweet piece of kit.
I bought the ∞ Patagonia R1 Air Zip-Neck in October and have been using it for around 10 days as I write this Review, for short day hikes, cycling and picking up the post 😁
This is a Midlayer garment made for cold weather and high exertion activities like winter backpacking, trailrunning in cold weather, mountaineering and ski touring. It works well for picking up the Post and Day hikes, too.
I bought my Zip-Neck in Size S and it fits me perfectly (this is a slim fit garment, and I’m still 175 cm tall with a weight of 65 kg). It weighs 258 g.
The features of this Zip-Neck, according to the Patagonia website:
- Hollow-core fabric with a unique zigzag texture
- A tiny Zippered Chest Pocket
- Off-shoulder seams
- A Half-zip for venting
- Soft Cuffs and Hem
- Fair Trade Certified™ sewn
- HeiQ Anti-Smell finish
The fabric of the R1 Air is 100% recycled polyester, which is getting increasingly common nowadays and which is a positive development. Hollow fibres also have been around for a while (used for example in pillows and duvets), and if my memory doesn’t betray me there are already a few outdoor apparel brands which have used hollow core fabrics in their garments.
Now that zig-zag pattern, which Patagonia says is Unique. I had to re-read my Hoodylicious article from 2012 as I was thinking that maybe the Silkbody Cellular Pilot Top had a similar fabric pattern, but it did not. My next step was to consult Chris Townsend as he has forty plus years more experience than me, and also he does not recall seeing such a pattern in outdoor garments before. So there we go, Patagonia indeed is the first to use this zig zag pattern (and it’s warm & good, as you’ll read in a moment)!
This is a Patagucci, äh, Patagonia piece. It’s a premium brand, and you pay a premium price, and so also the quality is premium. The R1 Air line of garments are Fair Trade Certified sewn in Sri Lanka, and the quality is indeed great, as you would expect.
Sustainability & Recyclability
As it is made from 100% recycled polyester and is certified as bluesign® approved, with a HeiQ biocide finish (which is made from recycled silver salt) this is a garment which makes me smile - because it does well in terms of sustainability. Kingwhale in Taiwan produces the hollow-core fabric, which is then shipped to Sri Lanka where is is made into the garments which we then wear outdoors. The Zip-Neck arrived with just a small hang tag and in a small plastic bag, so also on that front I am happy. If it is broken you can send it in to Patagonia to get it repaired, and if you think it has served you enough over many cold winters, you could send it to Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative so that they can recycle it, or fix it and let it go on more adventures with someone else.
Please treat this as an early review. This garment is available since late October 2020 - it was announced at the ISPO in January and hence any “Reviews” you see online should be treated as “early impressions” after a wee bit of usage - unless you read this in May 2021 😉
As I wrote above already, I have used this Midlayer now 10 days for short day hikes, cycling and picking up the post. I haven’t been out backpacking with it, and I also haven’t used it for trailrunning as right now it’s too warm for me to use such a garment for running. Speaking of temperatures - it’s right now November, with temps between 0°C and 8°C during the day, with frost at night. Already from the little usage I have and my 12+ years experience of winter backpacking I think this garment is made for significantly colder weather than this warm November, so I’m looking forward to taking it out ski touring and winter backpacking once winter arrives.
But let’s talk about warmth. Because that’s the first thing which comes to my mind when I think of this midlayer - it is ridiculously warm. The zig-zag pattern of the fabric allows for really big “air gaps” between the tufts of the hollow-core fabric, and these air gaps is what traps the air which your body heat warms up. In practice I believe these hollow core tufts are only there to keep the garment above your skin or baselayer, so that it can create this warm air field around you. It’s genius, really, and in combination with a wind jacket, hardshell or an insulation jacket it creates a double-sided, really warm layer of air around you. Because the zig-zag pattern is also on the outside, and so under a wind jacket or similar it creates another warm layer of air. I’m not getting tired of highlighting how amazing the Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody is as a windjacket, and it has surprised me to no small means how warm the R1 Air is in combination with that jacket in these cool temperatures. I can cycle with a T-Shirt, the r1 Air and the Alpine Start hoody, in November. Usually I’d wear a much warmer, heavier and thicker Midlayer + Insulation or Hardshell to not get cold!
Now on its own, or just over a T-Shirt or another baselayer, I will not use it. The thin fabric, so not the hollow-core tufts, but the cut-outs in-between them, well, they are nothing more than a mesh. You can see it in my Video above at the 4:21 mark really well, where I hold it into the sun and you can see right through it. In practice I have tried using it on its own, but as I’m living at the coast we have always a wind blowing, and that wind goes right through the R1 Air and blows away your warm air field. Also when walking faster when in a windless forest I had the same effect - the air goes through it and takes the warmth away. Hence why I say this needs to be used with a jacket above it!
The big zipper is great for venting, which might be necessary during ascents or when hiking for a longer time. I find it is easy for me to run “too hot” with the R1 Air in the warm November temperatures, and having the possibility to vent allows me to still use it. Plus, when slowing down, reaching the summit, or pottering around at camp, I simply zip it back up and am toasty warm. The collar on the Zip-Neck is really nice, it closes high and replaces a Buff for me.
Finally, the fabric is supposed to wick sweat quickly away from the skin making for a dry feeling. Now I haven’t undertaken any really sweat-inducing activities with it yet besides day hikes with a light pack, and on these I had a dry feeling. But if it was because of the moisture-wicking capabilities of the fabric or because I didn’t sweat that much, I don’t dare say. The fabric does have a none-smelly HeiQ finish, which is eliminating bad odours and keeps the garment fresh. That’s probably really useful (if it works) on longer hikes and when you’re wearing the R1 Air day-in, day-out for a few weeks.
By the way - the R1 Air is also available as a no-frills ∞ Sweater and a ∞ Full-Zip Hoody. All three styles are available as Womens and Mens versions, in different colours. But the best colour is purple 😎
Could be better
I have used this not enough to make some proper suggestions for improvement, but I have some things and features in mind which might make it better. First off are thumbloops. I’m a fan of these, and especially if gets cold it is nice to get more warmth to my hands with thumbloops. Then there’s the Pocket: I wonder if a larger pocket would make sense, or if maybe no pocket at all is better on the Zip-Neck (saving a tiny bit of weight)? Right now the Pocket is ok for some snacks or batteries, but even a Smartphone or a Notebook don’t fit in it. The question is if it needs to be any bigger - a map & compass could go into the chest pocket of the jacket you wear over it, so what need is there for this pocket? It does well to keep snacks warm, though!
Finally, I wonder how durable the material will be. I fear it might be sensitive and only hold up for a few seasons, but it’s really too early to say this and in May 2021 I should know more about that.
It is too soon to call this warmest Midlayer I own just yet, but in the little time I have used it the R1 Air Zip-Neck really has made a very good impression on me. It is soooo warm (too warm for indoor use 😆), it is very comfortable on the skin, it is light, it is purple 💜 and it has an 1A+ Environmental track record. I can not wait to take it skitouring and backpacking this winter, and see how warm I will be in it. My early use at least suggests that I won’t feel cold!
If you too don’t want to feel cold, head over to ∞ Bergfreunde.eu or ∞ Bergzeit to buy your own R1 Air when you’re in Europe. If you’re in North America, you can buy one from ∞ Patagonia. Remember, all styles are available as ∞ Women’s Versions and ∞ in different colours in case you don’t like purple =)
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