Best Fleece Jackets
The author testing fleece jackets in Crested Butte, CO; (photo/Eric Phillips)

The Best Fleece Jackets of 2021

Technical, cozy, and breathable, this midlayer is an incredible layering piece for your winter — and year-round — outdoor kit.

A fleece jacket is a warm, protective hug on the toughest pursuits. This classic midlayer is functional year-round in cool or cold weather. A fleece simultaneously retains the heat our bodies give off while providing airflow from the skin track to the chair lift and around a campfire to a stroll through town.

It’s great to pair over a base layer during high-output activities from backcountry skiing and snowshoeing to running and backpacking. While many fleece silhouettes fit sleekly beneath a winter or rain jacket, some designs are constructed to be wind- or weather-resistant and function equally well as light outerwear. Other fleeces are bulkier and cozier for everyday or post-adventure use.

Conventional designs are extremely fine-tuned, offering a spectrum of warmth, breathability, wicking capability, and integrated weather protection. There’s also a range of features like thumbholes, pockets, and hoods.

Choosing a tailored style for your outdoor pursuits will help you venture in greater comfort and safety, helping your core temperature hover at its sweet spot. Plus, fleece is soft and nice to relax in or wear around town during chilly weather or beneath a coat in colder months.

We’ve highlighted a variety of our favorite options so you can find the one that suits you best. If you’re not well-versed on fleece or need a refresh, thumb through our buying guide and FAQ at the end of this article before picking your new pullover or zip-up.

If you’re curious about a specific category, navigate to it here:

The Best Fleece Jackets for Men and Women

Best Overall: Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoodie — Men’s & Women’s

patagonia r1 techface hoody

This technical hooded zip-up ($179) is a lightweight, soft fleece that’s thoroughly armored. The snag-free synthetic material is treated with durable water repellent (DWR), allowing precipitation to drip off while being air permeable yet capable of barricading a breeze.

While this layer isn’t a burly shield for blizzards or rainstorms, it works as an outer layer for variable weather and as a sleek piece beneath a jacket. To manage a range of conditions, the double-weave fabric is stretchy and breathable.

Two hand pockets with zip closures are smartly placed a few inches above the hem, allowing space for a harness. And an internal chest pocket with a streamlined zipper is a great stowaway for an ID or credit card.

This hood($179 men’s / women’s) is spacious enough to fit over a helmet yet contoured to sandwich beneath one, too. Plus, the hood has an integrated laminated visor to help prevent obstruction of vision. The stretch-knit cuffs aren’t bulky. Overall, this layer is comfortable and articulates well during big-movement activity from skinning to climbing.

Specs:
  • Weight: 337 g (women’s size S); 391 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 69% recycled nylon, 23% polyester, 8% spandex double-weave
  • Density: 177 gsm
  • Weather resistance: DWR treatment
Pros:
  • Versatile midlayer
  • Weather-resistant and durable
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Comfortably moves with the body
  • Hood enhances the jacket as a standalone piece
Cons:
  • Machine washing eventually leads to fabric pilling
  • For some body types, the cut is too slim
  • Hood can feel cumbersome beneath outerwear
  • Zippers felt a bit cheap

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at Patagonia

Best Budget: Helly Hansen Daybreaker Fleece Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

helly hansen daybreaker fleece jacket

This full-zip fleece ($65) is a simple, lightweight layer for casual walks, everyday errands, and workdays as well as outdoor activities from backcountry and resort skiing to hiking. Without a hood, the midlayer fits smoothly beneath an outer jacket.

The YKK zippers are high-quality, including the two hand pocket closures. And the flat seams help create a close fit. When zipped up, the fleece keeps the neck hugged and protected.

As an untreated polyester fabric, this fleece retains a fair amount of warmth and breathability yet doesn’t block piercing wind, snow, or raindrops.

For a well-contoured and non-technical midlayer, this fleece at an economic price can’t be beat. Plus, this jacket offers one of the most inclusive size ranges with small through 5XL sizes available for the men’s fleece and XS through 5XL for the women’s fleece.

Specs:
  • Weight: 270 g (women’s size M); 290 g (men’s size L)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 100% recycled Polartec polyester fleece
  • Density: 100 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Economic price
  • Lightweight and thin material
  • Warm
  • Clean, sharp aesthetic
Cons:
  • Doesn’t shield wind, rain, or snow
  • For sensitive skin, the fabric isn’t the softest
  • Snug fit and better to size up for looser preference or bigger body builds

Check Men’s Price at Helly HansenCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Best Weather Resistance: Voormi Diversion Hoodie — Men’s & Women’s

voormi diversion hoodie

This newly updated hooded, full-zip fleece-wool jacket ($269) is among the most technical ever launched. While the fit is more relaxed than the Helly Hansen Daybreaker Fleece Jacket, the fully loaded design is stout for big adventures from ice climbing to backcountry splitboard summits.

Voormi shook up the textile industry by inventing a new construction process for weatherproof jackets called Core Construction in 2015. For 3 decades, two layers of fabric were sandwiched around and glued to a membrane, creating a three-layer jacket.

Instead, Voormi weaves the weatherproof membrane and fibers together, enhancing breathability while maintaining weather resistance and increasing the options for combinations.

The Diversion Hoodie, which comes in both men’s and women’s sizes features an equally calculated proprietary, strong material: 21.5-micron wool is blended with nylon for high durability that withstands a heavy, loaded pack. This piece can stand as an outer layer while whitewater rafting, chopping firewood, or skinning up through the pines beneath snowfall.

The fabric includes soft, moisture-wicking polyester next to the skin for additional warmth. The DWR treatment safeguards against wind, snow, and rain.

To stash small items or warm the hands, there are five pockets total: two exterior hand pockets with zip closures plus an interior chest pocket, featuring a port to string headphones. Then, there are two tall interior pockets with no closure. The hood isn’t too cavernous and fits beneath a ski or climbing helmet.

Specs:
  • Weight: 511 g (women’s size M); 651 g (men’s size L)
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Fabric: 48% wool, 11% nylon, 39% polyester, 2% Lycra
  • Density: 310 gsm
  • Weather resistance: DWR treatment
Pros:
  • Extremely resistant against wind, snow, and rain
  • Very durable
  • Relaxed non-hugging fit
  • Breathable, wicking fabric
  • High-quality construction
Cons:
  • The thumbholes could be more ergonomic
  • Premium price
  • Lean folks might find the silhouette too loose

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Voormi

Best Lightweight Layer: Norrona Falketind Alpha120 — Men’s & Women’s

norrona falketind alpha120

If you’re searching for an ultralight, breathable hybrid fleece, the Norrona Falketind Alpha120 ($189) is your hero. The full-zip design is paneled with uber-soft Polartec Alpha material, an insulation that’s extremely air permeable yet holds warmth, along the torso’s front and back, shoulders, and tops of the arms.

The material of both men’s and women’s hoddie looks fluffy and feels cozy. A tightly knit, high-wicking, and breathable fabric called Polartec Power Grid comprises the hood, sides, the underside of the arms, and hem.

“Fleece jackets typically aren’t very packable, and this one compresses down to the size of a small cantaloupe, which is pretty good. This is also the stretchiest, most breathable, and lightest fleece I’ve worn, plus it’s pretty toasty. I don’t like wearing this jacket when the wind is frigid — the air cuts right through — or if it’s drizzling out,” said one tester who wore this fleece on several road trips throughout the canyons of Arizona, the desert Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest from the coast of Washington through Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The conditions ranged from dry to extremely rainy and from humid to cold.

“I pulled on this layer whenever it was chilly but didn’t want to build up sweat while biking or walking around, because the fleece is so airy. I like that the asymmetric longer cut in the back provides solid lower-back coverage when I ride my bike. The thumbholes and long arms are comfortable,” the tester added, who also rode and walked around a Colorado mountain town at 8,909 feet in 50- to 80-degree conditions beneath sunshine and clouds.

Small and dependable YKK zippers close up the front, exterior chest pocket, and two hand pockets. The elastic cuffs are wide, soft, and not too tight to fit over a watch. The well-articulated hood is spacious, comfortable, breathable, and streamlined. The flat seams aren’t noticeable against the skin.

Specs:
  • Weight: 244 g (women’s size M); 280 g (men’s size L)
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Fabric: 46.5% Polartec Alpha Direct insulation (63% of which is recycled polyester), 53.5% Polartec PowerGrid fleece (49% of which is recycled polyester)
  • Density: 120 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Stretchy
  • Super soft
  • Very breathable
  • Stylish
Cons:
  • Doesn’t block wind at all
  • No repellency for precipitation
  • Might be too warm for some athletes or high-output endeavors

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at Norrona

Best Midweight Layer: Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoodie — Men’s & Women’s

arc’teryx kyanite fleece hoodie

This synthetic midweight hooded fleece ($179) is durable and stretchy with excellent wicking ability. The nylon in the weave also helps guard against wind.

As one product tester shared, “I’ve used other fleece layers this thin, and the wind cuts right into you. This hoodie had a surprising resilience to extremely cold, strong wind.” She wore this jacket as an outer layer during fall and winter trail runs around 9,000 feet in Colorado’s Elk Mountains.

Temperatures ranged from 20 to 40 degrees plus wind chill. After moving and warming up, sweat was noticeable even in the cold conditions. “There aren’t thumbholes, but I love the length of the arms, which cover my wrists and can stretch to comfortably cover my whole hand if I don’t want to carry glove liners,” she said.

The cut is attractive and streamlined for layering beneath a down jacket or harness. Just don’t forget your deodorant, as the fabric retains body odor.

Specs:
  • Weight: 363 g (women’s size S); 394 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 53% Polartec Power Stretch Pro fleece, 38% nylon, 9% elastane
  • Density: 240 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Soft
  • Stretchy and comfortable for movement
  • Very breathable and moisture-wicking
  • Trim, athletic fit for layering beneath jackets
Cons:
  • Doesn’t repel body odor

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Best Plus-Size Fleece Jacket for Women: The North Face Osito Full-Zip Fleece Jacket

the north face osito full zip fleece jacket

This fluffy, soft, high-pile fleece features one of the broadest size ranges of any well-constructed fleece on the market. The North Face Osito Full-Zip Fleece Jacket ($99) is available in seven women’s sizes from XS to 3XL.

The relaxed design is ideal for all-around use as well as post-adventure hangouts at the camp or tailgating at the trailhead after a ride or hike.

This full-zip jacket is topped off with a tall, cozy collar. The hand pockets are closed off with zippers to secure a wallet or keys, and the cuffs are stretchy. And the backside hem is slightly longer for solid coverage and style.

Specs:
  • Weight: 480 g (women’s size M)
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Fabric: 100% recycled polyester
  • Density: 315 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Broad size range
  • Cozy and soft
  • Warm yet breathable
  • Reasonable price
  • Sustainable fabric
Cons:
  • Not wind-resistant

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Best Plus-Size Fleece Jacket for Men: Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain 2.0 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket

columbia men’s steens mountain 2.0 full zip fleece jacket

The fit of the Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain 2.0 Full-Zip Fleece Jacket ($65) is streamlined yet flexible for comfort while riding a cruiser around town or hiking the trails. And the full-zip collared jacket features a broad range of sizes from S to 2XL.

The fabric is super soft and provides a bit of resistance to light rain and a breeze. The two hand pockets have zip closures to secure items. The jacket is also fairly durable and doesn’t break down from being machine washed.

This midweight jacket comfortably layers beneath a burlier jacket or can be worn as an outer layer for cool days in the yard or at the job site.

Specs:
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Fit: Relaxed
  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Density: 250 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Broad size range
  • Lower price
  • Comfortable fit
Cons:
  • Fabric isn’t treated to withstand weather like rain and wind
  • Not super stretchy
  • For athletic builds, sizes tend to run small
  • Not the highest quality fabric compared to other jackets

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Columbia

Best of the Rest

Stio Turpin Fleece Half-Zip — Men’s & Women’s

stio turpin fleece half-zip

At a comparatively low price point, fleece wearers can pick up a high-quality Stio Men’s Turpin Fleece Half-Zip ($99) or Stio Women’s Turpin Fleece Half-Zip ($99). The women’s sizes span from XS to XL and the men’s from S to 2XL, which is among the greatest size variety on the market.

This lightweight pullover design features a partial upper YKK zipper to snug up the collar or dump heat. The cuffs have unique snap-button closures. The fabric is stretchy, breathable, and warm all at once. The fit is athletic yet a tad roomy, so taking a hike or pedaling feels unencumbered.

Bonus for the earth: The majority of the jacket’s polyester is made from post-consumer plastic water bottles.

Specs:
  • Weight: 198 g (women’s size M); 227 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 65% recycled polyester, 35% polyester
  • Density: 160 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Lower price point
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking
  • Comfortable lightweight option
  • Very soft
  • Majority of the material features fibers made from recycled plastic water bottles
Cons:
  • Some folks might prefer a full zip over a pullover
  • No weather treatment on fabric to repel rain or wind
  • Button cuff rather than elastic closure or thumbholes isn’t ideal for everyone

Check Men’s Price at StioCheck Women’s Price at Stio

Eddie Bauer High Route Grid Fleece — Men’s & Women’s

eddie bauer high route grid fleece

This low-priced pullover fleece is a great go-to piece for adventures, outside work, and life around town. The lineup includes the men’s Eddie Bauer High Route Grid Air 1/4-Zip ($60) and women’s Eddie Bauer High Route Grid Fleece 1/2-Zip ($75). And this year’s fleece is even more lightweight, thanks to a new material that sheds grams and features a more tailored fit.

This stretchy design is warm, not bulky, and complements heat-building activities like hiking or skiing. The grid fabric is cozy, soft, and breathable. The design has a partial front zipper, tall collar, and sleeves with thumbholes for streamlined warmth. Ultimately, this jacket is a solid piece at a relatively low price.

Specs:
  • Weight: 249 g (women’s size M); 350 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% spandex
  • Density: 216 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Thumbholes for additional warmth
  • Lightweight
  • Soft
  • Breathable
Cons:
  • No weather treatment on fabric to repel rain or wind
  • Lacks chin guard so zip closure can irritate if not completely closed
  • For colder days, a fleece with a hood could be better

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Mountain Tech/2 Hoodie

mountain hardwear men’s mountain tech2 hoody

The Mountain Hardwear Men’s Mountain Tech/2 Hoodie ($200) is lightweight and technical in outdoor elements, making it a great choice across the seasons from backpacking to backcountry ski days.

This warm fleece fabric has a laminated protective outer layer that barricades wind — GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper. The treatment simultaneously allows vapor molecules to escape so the fleece doesn’t feel muggy or get damp from sweat.

The face fabric also has a DWR treatment so water can roll-off. As a result, this midlayer can stand as a solid outer layer, even in biting wind conditions.

Both of the hand pockets and the exterior chest pocket close via zipper. For moisture management and breathability across big weather swings, this hoodie is an excellent choice.

Specs:
  • Weight: 507 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Density: 222 gsm
  • Weather resistance: GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper and DWR treatment
Pros:
  • Competitive weather resistance against wind and rain
Cons:
  • Not the lightest for a minimalist
  • Zipper seams are a bit flimsy
  • Hand pockets are not compatible with hip belts on packs or climbing harnesses
  • Collar isn’t tall enough to protect face against wind

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Black Diamond Coefficient Fleece Hoodie — Men’s & Women’s

black diamond coefficient fleece hoody

For a slim-fitting fleece, check out the classic men’s Black Diamond Coefficient Fleece Hoodie ($179) and women’s Black Diamond Coefficient Fleece Hoodie ($179). The original iteration of this timeless fleece debuted in 2013, when Black Diamond jumped into apparel creation.

Today, this midlayer fleece has been completely renovated with a full-zip closure plus a sleek under-the-helmet hood. The sleeves have integrated thumbholes, and the chest pocket has a zipper closure.

The jacket is constructed with Polartec Power Grid, a lightweight fabric that excels at wicking and dispersing moisture and drying fast during activity. To fit beneath other layers, this athletic silhouette is well-tailored. The moisture-wicking material dries quickly, provides warmth, and is super durable.

Specs:
  • Weight: 268 g (women’s size S); 284 g (men’s size M)
  • Fit: Athletic
  • Fabric: 51% polyester, 36% nylon, 13% elastane
  • Density: 180 gsm
  • Weather resistance: No weather treatment
Pros:
  • Very moisture-wicking and dries fast
  • Lightweight
  • Streamlined fit
Cons:
  • No hand pockets
  • Pills with time

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Fleece Jacket

Material

Most fleece jackets are completely polyester or a polyester blend with fibers like nylon, elastane, or spandex. There’s a growing trend of brands using recycled nylon or polyester for all or a portion of the mix.

Some designs incorporate technical Polartec fleece fabrics that offer weather and abrasion resistance or temperature-management properties like the stretchy and sweat-wicking Power Stretch Pro textile or Polartec Alpha active insulation.

A handful of fleece jackets integrate wool fibers into the synthetic blend to bridge the qualities of both.

Recycled Fibers

A portion of fleece jackets such as The North Face Osito Full-Zip Fleece Jacket, Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoodie, and Helly Hansen Daybreaker Fleece Jacket uses recycled fibers like nylon and polyester. One recycled fabric, for instance, is made by Repreve, which uses post-consumer plastic water bottles to create the textile.

Insulation & Weight

The insulation provided by fleece jackets varies based on the material’s density, which is measured in grams per square meter (gsm). Generally, the designs are also categorized as lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight.

Lightweight fleece jackets (100 gsm) work well for 32-50 degrees and moderate aerobic activities. This is a good choice for extra insulation on a winter run, for instance. Midweight fleeces (200 gsm) are thicker for 0-32 degrees and are the most versatile.

This loftier option works well for beneath a ski shell or while walking on an autumn evening. Heavyweight designs (300 gsm) are created for the heart of winter and standstill activity. Without precipitation, this layer can also function as an outer layer in cold weather.

Naturally, the greater the gsm, the more the overall jacket weighs, too. You’ll need to balance your preference for overall fleece weight with the warmth properties needed for your activity.

Weather & Water Resistance

Some fleece designs are treated for weather and abrasion resistance, increasing the fabric’s durability and resilience to harsh weather like rain, wind, and snow. These types of jackets can be an especially good choice for activities like rock climbing or backcountry skiing when recreationists need to move quickly and desire a layering system that works well across variable conditions.

Breathability

One of the greatest properties of fleece is it’s inherently breathable, even when the blend includes a weather treatment. That said, if you tend to run hot and pull on a heavyweight fleece, the warmth can outweigh the breathability.

Collar & Cuffs

Many fleece designs feature a short or tall cuff that zips up to protect the chest and neck from the cold and zips down to expel heat. Some fleeces also include a hood any may be streamlined for bike, ski, or climbing helmet compatibility.

The cuffs are usually closed via a gentle elastic closure at the wrist or farther down the hand toward the base of the fingers. Some sleeves have an extended thumbhole design, which is popular for folks who need extra protection and warmth on their hands. Only a few designs have unique cuffs like the snap-button closures on the Stio Turpin Fleece Half Zip.

Pockets & Zippers

Fleece jackets usually have two external zippered hand pockets in the front. If you need to wear a harness for climbing, ziplining, or ski mountaineering, be sure to check if the pockets are placed higher up to pair well with a harness.

Occasionally, designs have a kangaroo-style front pocket like the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Frostzone Hybrid 1/2-Zip Hoodie, which offers the bonus of two zip closures.

Some models include a zippered chest pocket that can be internal or external. Occasionally, designs add a small zippered pocket on an arm. A handful have roomy internal pockets, too.

Traditionally, jackets will have a full zipper closure in front or be a pullover with a partial zip or button closure from the chest to neck. Zippers are generally seamless but vary in size and quality — YKK is the most robust.

Price

The majority of fleece jackets range from high-end technical pieces at $200-300 to budget-friendly $50-100 fleece and everything between. Generally, the higher the cost, the more durable, weather-resistant, and multi-functional the fleece is for a broader range of activities and conditions.

best fleece jackets for men

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has tested, reviewed, and published fleece jacket guides for men and women for several years across all seasons. To challenge and determine the best designs, our product testers have worn these jackets across a spectrum of environments and tasks in the Rockies including in Colorado’s Gunnison Valley, one of the coldest, snowiest destinations in the U.S.

Our crew of testers includes an AMGA-certified (American Mountain Guides Association) rock guide, sugar beet harvester, ski patrol tail guide, professional wildlife photographer, rancher, lifelong backcountry and resort skiers, and hunters.

For this guide, we considered the most popular, highly acclaimed, well-made, and size-inclusive fleece made for a variety of activities and across a range of prices.

FAQ

What Is a Fleece Jacket?

Fleece is an insulating midlayer or lightweight outer jacket created from synthetic materials, typically polyester or a polyester blend. The human-made fabric is soft, breathable, and quick-drying, and it imitates wool fleece. Often, fleece jackets are long-sleeved with a full or partial front zipper. The material needs an additional treatment in order to be wind- or water-resistant.

Fleece is not to be confused with wool fleece, a natural fiber used to create apparel, which comes from a variety of animals including sheep, lamb, alpaca, and goat.

The first-ever synthetic fleece textile was developed by Malden Mills Industries, which is now known as Polartec, in 1981. Using the fabric, Patagonia collaborated with the company to develop the Synchilla Fleece pullover in 1985. Today, many companies in addition to Polartec produce fleece fabric.

For What Activities Should I Use a Fleece Jacket?

Fleece jackets are a key warmth midlayer for cooler and cold seasons or when the temperatures drop each evening and night. As a midlayer, a fleece is a solid addition beneath a snow or rain jacket. Typically, they fit well over a trim, synthetic T-shirt — especially if you tend to run hot — or a thinner long-sleeve base layer.

These jackets are breathable and moisture-wicking for high-output activities like hiking, biking, running, skiing, and snowboarding at the resort or in the backcountry. If the temperature or environmental conditions are fickle, a fleece treated with additional weather protection — like the wind-blocking Voormi Diversion Hoodie — can help protect against gusts or snowfall while skinning uphill or traversing a ridgeline.

The density and thickness of fleece vary, so you’ll need to consider the temperature range of your environment, how cardio-intensive your activity is, and your personal health needs.

Check out our insulation and weight section above to learn more about fleece weights.

Is a Fleece Jacket Good for Winter Use?

A fleece jacket is an excellent midlayer for cold temperatures and wintry weather. Many fleeces are designed with an athletic, slender fit to pair beneath a snow jacket.

Some designs are roomy, and others have a fluffier surface called pile, which is also known as high-pile, high-loft, sherpa, or faux shearling. Pile fleece can still be technical, but it’s generally bulkier, which some recreationists don’t prefer if they’re traveling far and limited on backpack space.

Designs without a fabric treatment to guard against wind or snow work well for cold, sunny, and cloudy conditions. A handful of technical fleece jackets are constructed to withstand wind and snow. They won’t replace an outer layer but are great for high-output activities like backcountry skiing and splitboarding.

Is a Fleece Good in Rain?

Some fleece is treated for water resistance but does not replace a full-on rain jacket. They are, however, an excellent layer to stash beneath a rain jacket during cold conditions, especially if you’re stagnant.

How Warm Is a Fleece Jacket?

The warmth of a fleece jacket varies based on the material’s density, which is measured in grams per square meter (gsm). They range from lightweight fleece jackets for high-aerobic activities like nordic skiing or running to thick, heavyweight designs for layering up at the campsite.

Check out our insulation and weight section above to learn more about fleece weights.

What Are the Disadvantages of Fleece?

Fleece tends to hold smells, especially compared to wool, which is naturally odor-resistant. Pile fleece designs, which are fluffier and super cozy, can be bulky. Also, fleece doesn’t inherently block wind, rain, or snow — other outer layers are much better choices for weather protection.

When fleece does get wet, it doesn’t insulate well. The fabric tends to pill or clump over time. The fabric can also generate static electricity, which attracts and holds hair. Also, be careful around a fireplace, furnace, or campfire — untreated fleece can melt at low temperatures.

What’s the Difference Between Fleece and Wool?

Fleece is a human-made synthetic material, and wool is a natural fiber derived from animals. Fleece retains body heat, is breathable and moisture-wicking, and dries fairly quickly. Certain designs are made to be wind- and water-resistant. Generally, fleece doesn’t repel smelly odors.

In comparison, wool regulates body temperature well — even when wet — and boasts anti-odor properties. It’s also naturally water-repellent due to lanolin that coats the fibers, though it takes longer to completely dry compared to fleece.

Is Fleece Better Than Cotton?

In a word, yes, fleece is better than cotton — if we’re talking about managing precipitation, turbulent weather conditions, perspiration, and overall safety during outdoor activity.

Though some folks enjoy the touch of cotton, fleece is a hydrophobic fiber that repels water and dries relatively quickly. Cotton absorbs moisture, doesn’t dry quickly, and can chafe when wet.

Recreationists should avoid fabric that holds sweat and stays damp, which can potentially increase the risk of hypothermia and discomfort.


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