For the past 30 years I’ve chased steehead in the fall around the great northwest. This affliction must be some what infections since now most of us at Western Rivers take time off each fall just to pursue these fish. The crew and I all know it’s a game where the elements can present fishing and comfort challenges. From a clothing standpoint if you don’t have a good layering system, including a very good rain coat, you can be miserable. When these fish are in their rivers the weather often isn’t very accommodating. I know first hand what that’s like and in my early days of fly-fishing for steelhead had a number of trips where I spent as much time at the laundry matt drying out as I did fishing. Over the years I’ve realized the importance of having good gear and I include clothing in that category when it comes to being comfortable in winter, spring and fall when the weather can send you home if you don’t have a functional layering system.
As I do most fall seasons my first steelhead trip of the year is our Western Rivers hosted trip to BC. This year was no exception. As I began to pack I pulled an original Patagonia R1 top from my drawer and after a decade or more of service it still looked good, but it had gotten pretty thin. Coincidentally we just happened to get the new Patagonia R1 Field 1/4 Zip top in at the shop and with all the changes in design and fabrics this new piece of insulation incorporates, it’s a significantly improved top from when Patagonia first introduced Regulator fleece.
For starters, the fabric in the new R1 Field 1/4 Zip has a much improved hand, ability to move moisture and regulate you temperature. Sounds pretty high tech, as this and other Patagonia fabrics are. On the sleeves and shoulders it is reinforced with a DWR layer that will help keep wind and water out and you more comfortable in a variety of different weather situations. This reinforced layer isn’t waterproof, but its water repellant and a great added feature for those who fish since we’re often fishing in the rain, or dealing with wind on cool fall and spring days. It’s also got two chest pockets; one inside and one out.
After purchasing the R1 Field top there was a good reason I wore this shirt for 10 straight days; it just worked in so many different situations. For starters the recycled pilled fleece was noticeably warmer and more comfortable. On this trip for some reason we had a lot of wind, and the reinforced layer that wraps around your shoulders and down the sleeves really helped keep the chill off. Unlike Windstopper fleece, which is a challenge to get dry after it gets wet, you’ll find the RI fleece breaths so well it dries much quicker. Given the mix of weather, especially wet weather I had, it was an ideal layering piece when swinging flies or hanging around camp. Although I didn’t retire my original R1 top, after this recent acquisition it might be a while before it gets worn again.
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