With winter upon us, it’s time to start bundling up. And if you have any cold weather vacations planned for the holiday season, you’ll want to be sure that you have the proper gear before you get to your destination. Keeping your core warm is not just about comfort; It’s a matter of safety. At the heart of any layering system is a solid, insulated and wind-proof fleece coat. I decided to put the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket to the test on a recent trip to the Yukon.
There are tons of fleece jackets on the market these days. Many are less about performance and more about fashion. With the temperatures in Whitehorse ranging from -25C (-13F) to -4C (24F), I needed a fleece that could actually keep me warm, and thus, healthy. I wore the R3 while splitting wood, hiking and dog sledding in some of the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced. Let’s break down how the R3 handled the conditions.The problem with many of fleece jackets is their inability to deter the wind. No matter how warm the jacket may be, if cold winds pierce the surface, the end result is a chilly core. The R3 is made of a microfleece that did a stellar job of keeping the wind out during my tests. The jacket is made partially from recycled Polartec Wind Pro fabric that claims to block “four times more wind than regular fleece.” I won’t attempt to quantify its wind-blocking abilities, but I can say that, unlike other fleeces I have worn, the R3 prevented me from feeling the wind chills will still remaining quite breathable.
The interior of the jacket is quite plush, which generated a fair amount of warmth against my base layer. The R3 managed to wick away most of the moisture generated when I was sweating during aerobic activities. It is certainly warmer and more insulated than your average fleece, so at times I did feel quite warm when indoors while others were still comfortably wearing their coats.
The R3 looks and feels like a durable product. The seams and pockets are sturdily stitched and the pockets are are glued-in to provide extra dependability. And while it’s solid and warm, it never felt heavy when I was wearing it. At $200, this is not your entry-level fleece and it is clearly made to last.
The fit of the jacket is snug but not tight. I have rather broad shoulders and a long torso, so the R3 did feel somewhat fitted around my shoulders and at times seemed somewhat short. However, it still comfortably fit when worn above a base layer (or two). I would certainly recommend that you try the jacket on at a store before purchasing to ensure that you find the appropriate size.
The purpose of a fleece of this quality is to keep you warm first and foremost, but you don’t want to own an ugly coat. The R3 is quite handsome and the snug fit, while worrisome if you are exceptionally broad, does cut some attractive lines.
While a fleece jacket is not suitable as your sole winter coat due to it’s penchant for absorbing water when it’s raining/snowing, the R3 was pretty impressive in frigid weather on dry days. On a hike up Grey Mountain outside of Whitehorse, I quickly shed my down coat and wore only the R3. It deterred the wind, kept my core quite warm and never felt heavy or damp as I began to sweat. It handled the blustery conditions in Carcross, YT, as well, despite the chill coming off of Bennett Lake.
A quick look at the pros and cons of the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece:
- Incredibly warm
- Durably crafted
- Plush interior wicks away moisture
- Lightweight and breathable
- Snug fit depending on your shoulder width and torso length
Overall, I highly recommend the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket if you are looking for a well-crafted fleece that can handle particularly low temperatures. It may be warmer than you need if you don’t anticipate dealing with below-freezing temperatures where you live or during your travels. At $200, it’s reasonably priced for how stellar a jacket it is and would be a wise purchase for anyone who is planning a winter filled with outdoor activities.
The Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece is available on the company’s website and at many outdoor gear suppliers.