Beware: I'll limit the context of this post to fleeces (NOT going to be covering the suits, shorts or janes).
First of all, there seems to be a confusion between Patagonia's R1 and R2 models because there are SO many of them - 18 at total. I've contacted a Patagonia Rep about all this and laid out everything including the chat screenshots in this post.
Although most models are available in both gender specific designs, some R1 models are available for men or women only. Let's lay them out first:
Main R1 Models:
- R1 Pullover [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 129 USD.
- R1 Techface Jacket [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 159 USD.
- R1 Techface Hoody [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 169 USD.
- R1 Full Zip Hoody [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 169 USD.
Gender Specific R1 Models:
- R1 Pullover Hoody [Men's]: MSRP 159 USD. For high output activities, this well-balanced mid-layer is my top recommendation of all and also is the most popular. Not sure why Patagonia doesn't offer a Women's specific counterpart. R1 Full Zip Hoody [Women's] can be a good alternative to this.
- R1 Techface Pullover [Men's]: MSRP 129 USD.
- R1 Long-Sleeved Fitz Roy 1/4-Zip [Men's]: MSRP 169 USD.
- R1 Crew [Women's]: MSRP 99 USD.
- R2 Jacket [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 169 USD.
- R2 Techface Jacket [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 169 USD.
- R2 Techface Hoody [Men's - Women's]: MSRP 189 USD. My top outer-layer pick for static use when it's cold, windy and/or rainy out in town.
- Techface adaptations increase the warmth, durability and wind & water resistances by a good margin compared to the base models but also sacrifice breathability significantly.
- R2 is warmer and less breathable than the R1. They offer very similar (same) durability and weather resistance capabilities.
- Techface comes first: So, compared to a non-Techface R2, any Techface R1 is actually going to be warmer, more durable & weather resistant and less breathable.
You can apply this to all different comparisons such as:
- R1 vs R1 Techface,
- R2 vs R2 Techface,
- R1 vs R2,
- R1 Techface Hoody vs R1 Hoody...
etc... You get the picture.
#Sidenote: On top of R1 and R2, there were also R3 adaptations of all these before, but Patagonia discontinued them as of 2018.
Base Models vs Techface
In short, Techface adds to the durability and weather (wind AND water) resistance of the jacket a considerable amount. But it comes at a cost: You sacrifice equally significant amount of breathability and layering abilities.
First of all, unlike the base models, Techface does come with the DWR.
DWR is a coating. It's basically sprayed on to the surface of these jackets as a finish. It stands for Durable Water Repellent - which means that water will be repelled under wet conditions instead of soaking into the fabric. DWR also decreases dry time.
It's a good thing Techface jackets are coated in DWR, but pay attention to the fact that DWR is a coating - meaning that it will wear off over time.
Which is why you might want to invest in a DWR spray such as the Grangers recommended by Patagonia themselves.
What I mean by layering ability is the baggier cut of Techface compared to the base models. Combine this fit difference with the performance differences mentioned a paragraph above, and you can figure that:
- The Techface is actually intended to work as more of an outer layer where you can under layer with other mid/base-layers more easily,
- Whereas the base models are intended to be used as true mid-layers which you can pair with shells and some insulated jackets over more easily.
But there's a caveat here.
If you're going to go down this route (layering) AND if you'll be performing high output activities with these jackets, then I'd recommend going for option #2 because, in most cases, you CAN compensate the lost weather and abrasion resistance with shells in option #2 but you CAN'T compensate the lost breathability (which is quite important for these active uses) in option #1.
If you'll be wearing the jacket mostly casually though, then the Techface is probably the better alternative for you.
R1 vs R2
R2 corresponds to 200 wt classic polartec fleece whereas R1 to 100 wt.
This notation is so widely accepted by now that it is actually even used by other companies - although the official rights are reserved by Patagonia.
Same goes for R3, R4, R5 and R6 models: They respectively correspond to 300, 400, 500 and 600 wt.
So what does this tell us? Here's what Jenn told me:
Since R2 fleece is thicker and the construction is different, it'll be warmer. But it's equipped with a lesser amount of cross weave power grid technology for breathing (unlike R1's full grid coverage; it's only at the sides, under arms and wrists in R2), so R1 is more breathable.
She's right there: Neither R1 or R2 is wind or water proof (as I already explained before in this post).
An additional difference some of you might care about
Another important point is that the thumb holes are available in R1 Pullover Hoody [Men's] model only:
So... don't fall for the photo of another fleece!
There are A LOT of models out there. I'll lay out the two typical buyer profiles now:
- "I'll be active wearing this fleece - so breathability is important but I wouldn't like to compromise any considerable amount of warmth either. Could you tell me which one would work the best as a mid-layer?"
I can pretty confidently recommend you this: Men's R1 Pullover Hoody - but Patagonia didn't release a women's counterpart for that. So if you're a woman, this one can be a pretty good alternative for you.
- "I'll be using it casually, with very little to no activity, as an outer layer. Power walks at most. Warmth, weather resistance and durability are priority. What's my best shot?"
If neither of these profiles is you, then read the entire article and try to figure out which adaptation can be the best for your own needs and desires.