I can always tell when I’ve found a good fleece because my wife has a tendency to steal it. As soon as the Helly Hansen Panorama Fleece arrived in the mail, my wife claimed the fuzzy fleece for herself.
Once I was able to get the fleece away from my wife by promising her she could get her own version with the Women’s Imperial Pile Fleece Jacket, I set out to test the new fleece in the Colorado Rockies to see how it stands up to the cold mountain air.
In short: The Helly Hansen Panorama Pile Fleece Block Jacket ($140) is a classic pile jacket that’s the perfect amount of cozy for casual settings, but also offers extra warmth when adventuring outdoors. It has worked as a versatile midlayer for running a quick errand around town to going for a winter hike. It keeps me warm without overheating, and it stood up well to cold and windy conditions around 20-40 degrees. Plus, the clean white snow color looks good, turning a few heads.
Helly Hansen Panorama Pile Fleece Block Jacket
- Shell Recycled polyester, polyester
- Lining 100% polyester
- Pockets 5
- Available sizes S-XXL
- Verified weight 1.4-2 lbs. (675-952 g)
- Very warm
- High collar
- Lots of pockets
- Heavy, not the best warmth-to-weight ratio
Helly Hansen Panorama Pile Fleece Block Jacket Review
Refined Coziness From Couch to Chairlift
I’m actually wearing the Helly Hansen Panorama Fleece as I write this, and I am nice and toasty. This is the time of year to snuggle into a nice warm fleece and the Panorama, like its namesake, covers a wide range of winter activities.
The fleece has served me well from writing in coffee shops on cold mornings to serving as a solid ski layer on the slopes. The Helly Hansen Panorama Pile Fleece is a warm, functional midlayer to throw on or wear under a shell on cold winter days.
I wore it in a variety of conditions from a cold day in town far out to a frozen snow-covered lake. While it doesn’t have a hood, the high-neck collar provides warmth and protection against the elements. Most of the testing I did in this layer fluctuated between 20-40 degrees, not including any snow, wind, or precipitation that would affect the temps.
The full zip is made with 100% recycled polyester and comes with two zippered pockets and a chest pocket that easily holds a cell phone. It also has two deep drop pockets inside the fleece that can stash gloves or a hat. The stout YKK zippers are also easy to grip thanks to the red pull tags attached to them, even with gloves on. In testing, they opened and closed smoothly.
The fleece also layered well with a simple base layer such as a Smartwool long sleeve, or even just a basic T-shirt. For colder windy days or in precipitation, a shell such as the Helly Hansen Verglas Shell Jacket worked great for me. The Panorama Fleece fits comfortably on the body as a midlayer and is still easy to move naturally.
While the fleece is ideal for day-to-day use in the winter, it can also stand up to a bit of activity. Be it a hike or a few laps at your favorite ski resort, the Helly Hansen Panorama serves as a great layer for those who prioritize warmth and comfort. In spring conditions, you could wear it on its own, but on colder days it will help to have an outer shell (and likely hood or hat) on as well.
Helly Hansen Panorama Fleece vs. Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece Jacket
The Helly Hansen Panorama Fleece compared to the Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece is an apt juxtaposition. Both are big fluffy fleeces that are very warm and comfortable. Both have that classic fleece look and are great to have on hand in the winter.
The Helly Hansen is soft inside and out; it’s like wearing a cloud. Whereas we found the Patagonia Retro interior more matted and rough. Both jackets use recycled materials: The Patagonia is made from 100% recycled polyester fleece, just like the Helly Hansen. Patagonia’s fleece also carries the Fair Trade Certified sewn-in certification.
Both jackets include a chest pocket and two hand pockets. The Helly Hansen also offers two drop pockets on the interior of the jacket, which is nice for additional storage.
Overall, these two fleeces are very similar and aim for the same demographic of people who wear fleeces around town on the weekend to trailheads and beyond. Between the two, the Helly Hansen has an edge on softness and overall comfort with a high cushy collar, while the Patagonia edges out in terms of construction and fit. And lastly, the Helly Hansen Panorama is priced at $140 compared to the Patagonia Retro Pile Fleece at $285.
The Helly Hansen Panorama Fleece delivers on all fronts. It provided exactly what I want from a fleece, which is warmth and comfort. From cold nights outside at home to walking around town and traversing ski resorts, it kept me warm and toasty. I tested out the “snow” color version, which also looks amazing. That being said, you’ll want to be wary about wear, and keep it clean by washing it with similar colors. (Don’t toss this fleece in the dryer; instead, hang it to air dry.)
I went with an XXL based on Helly Hansen’s online Fit Finder. While the body fits me well, the sleeves were a bit long. This is also not a breathable fleece, so while it worked great for lift-service skiing, it may be too much for backcountry skiing or more strenuous excursions. Not to mention, it’s way too heavy to want to pack around. Instead, I’d recommend something like the Ortovox Fleece Light Jacket, which is breathable, ultralight, and great for high-intensity backcountry trips. However, if you’re not prone to sweating a lot on your excursions or you run cold, it could be a functional layer for light activities such as winter hiking or snowshoeing.
If I had to pick a con, it’d be the weight. This fleece falls more into the bulkier category be it pre- or post-adventure use. It’s a bit heavier than competitors, weighing in at 675 g for a regular fleece and 952 g for our XXL sample.
The Helly Hansen Panorama Pile Fleece Jacket is currently $140.