Sweet Gear Review: Patagonia R1 Flash Pullover

3 11 2008

Luke and I love gear. Luke’s favorite is probably shoes (he has 5 pairs of Miuras…) And the gear I love the most is outerwear. I’d like to blame it on growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where your most important clothing asset was not your sexy clothing, but your “technical” outerwear. There was a time in my life where I worried that I was not cool because I didn’t own a TNF Denali jacket (you know, to wear with jeans and a hoody underneath). I now realize that I was more cool because I got a custom-made BeyondFleece jacket instead.

But on to the main point of this post.

I first came across the Patagonia R1Flash Pullover on my second summer of youth climbing trips with Northwest Mountain School (run by my friends John and Olivia). My friend Alex had one that seemed like the perfect layer for our adventures, which involved sport climbing in Smith Rock, alpine rock climbing at Washington Pass, and checking out the Smoke Jumper base near Winthrop, WA. Upon returning home, I immediately went to REI and tried on a Women’s XS. I was bitterly disappointed. It did not fit well for base layer, being baggy and strangely shaped.

Lizzy, Alex, and our awesome guide Matt Farmer at Washington Pass. Alex is wearing the coveted R1.

Despite my disappointment, I came back to the R1 after a couple years of cooling off from my disappointment. I spent the summer after my freshman year in college living in John and Olivia’s awesome house in Leavenworth and theoretically working for Northwest Mountain School. As an employee, I got to take advantage of NMS’s sponsorship by Patagonia and ordered one to try out. Women’s XS in green. This time, Patagonia got it right. The fit was perfect and I began using it immediately. In fact, Luke and I think that I may have worn my R1 on every single multipitch climb I’ve done since buying it, which is a real testament to its usefulness and ability to adapt to lots of different environments. I loved it so much, I now have 2 (green and blue). Luke also has one, which he loves, although maybe not as much as me because I am much better at being cold all the time.

squamish-sept-07-040Wearing the trusty R1 on one of my favorite routes, Diedre, in Squamish.

So here’s the story: The R1 Flash pullover is a great base layer. It’s excellent at regulating body heat (which is why it’s part of the “Regulator” series, I suppose) – it keeps me warm when I’m cold and it doesn’t make me sweat when I warm up a little. It has a 1/2 zip on the front that helps me cool down and I can pull the sleeves up to my elbows when I have to do a little crack climbing. It also has a small chest pocket where I can put some Shot Bloks or a topo. It has a soft waffled texture on the inside that feels nice on my skin. I often end up wearing it as my next to skin layer after I’ve gotten my t-shirt a bit wet from sweating on the approach hike. Plus, its fit isn’t too tight that I’m uncomfortable, but easily goes underneath plenty of other layers like fleeces, down jackets, shells, etc. and fits nicely underneath my harness.

yosemite-june-07-265R1s and Peachy-O’s in Tuolumne. I know, we’re pretty cute.

The punchline? Among the many (and yes, it is quite a lot) of jackets that I currently owned (or have ever owned), the R1 Flash Pullover is absolutely the most useful piece of outerwear that I have. Without it, I’d probably do a lot more shivering. The $115 price tag might seem a little much, but in my opinion it’s well worth the years of valuable use that I receive.





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