But it will keep you warm on the hill or the deck once the lifts close, and makes for a great around-town layer as well. Updated May Springtime calls for varying conditions from scorching heat to dumping snow, so it's time to layer-up with a fleece jacket. Finding the right model for your body type is part of the solution, but where the manufacturers choose to place seams, cuffs and zippers also plays a role. This review will help you decide on what criteria to look for in a fleece jacket, and which model might be the best for you. Sizes range from small to 3XL, and it runs true to size.
Bonobos Crosstown Fleece Bomber
It's also on the bulky side, meaning it takes up a lot of room in your daypack and the cut it somewhat boxy.
It didn't layer well under a rain jacket or other shell and is best used as a standalone outer layer only. If you're looking for something to beat up while camping or doing yard work in the winter, pick up one of these and save your expensive fleeces for more intense pursuits. The North Face Osito 2 Jacket is a warm layer that's great for layering with during the winter. If you need something to wear under your shell for cold days on the ski hill, the Osito 2 is an excellent choice.
The hi-loft fleece is soft and comfortable, and the jacket is very warm for its weight. The cut is roomy enough to wear over a base layer, and it still fit well under our winter jacket without leaving us too confined. The Osito 2 is not a breathable model — its job is to trap your heat in freezing weather, so you will build up quite a bit of sweat if you also try to wear it while hiking.
It also has slightly shorter arms and less ease of movement than a more technical option. But it will keep you warm on the hill or the deck once the lifts close, and makes for a great around-town layer as well. The North Face Osito 2 - Women's. If you're looking for a classic fleece for camping or around town, the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover is an excellent choice.
This pullover is warm and cozy, while still offering a bit more breathability than a heavier fleece, like The North Face Denali.
While the cut is slightly boxy, that does leave room for extra layers underneath, and you can still wear it under a rain or wind jacket. It only weighs a pound and is easily stashed in your day or backpack for an extra summit or evening layer. It's not as breathable as the more "hi-tech" options that we tested, like the R1 Hoody , and the cut doesn't give it the best ease of movement. This is the layer to don after the activity is over and not during.
But we need to wear something warm in those times too, and we love the styling nod to the original Patagonia fleece jacket. The Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover has updated color combinations, and with over 30 different choices to choose from, you're sure to find one that works for you. Fleece jackets are now a staple of any outdoor enthusiast's gear cache.
This synthetic material has some great properties for active women, such as the ability to resist moisture, retain warmth, and dry quickly.
This review will help you decide on what criteria to look for in a fleece jacket, and which model might be the best for you. Over half a dozen hard-charging ladies provided their feedback and testing for this review, and their decades of outdoor experience and honest comments helped shape the opinions expressed below. After months of testing these nine different models in a variety of conditions, we scored their performance in a total of eight different metrics.
Below we'll break down the different testing categories one by one and let you know which were the standout performers in each. We'll also discuss the differences between the most and least expensive options and give you some tips on what look for when buying on a budget. The primary purpose of a fleece jacket is to keep you warm, and we made this the most important category that we evaluated each model on.
We found that success in this area came down to four criteria: There were many differences between the types of material used on the products that we tested, with some even having multiple types on one jacket.
The simple fleece pile of old has now morphed into many new and different kinds, from hi-loft and silken "raschel" fleeces to gridded fabrics. Polartec, the leading synthetic material manufacturer, now makes more than two dozen different types of fleece, and almost all of the models that we tested were made with Polartec brand material.
Fleece keeps you warm by trapping warm air around your body in the spaces between the fibers. The hi-loft fabrics have thousands of hairs that can trap and retain warmth, and even a relatively thin jacket like the Patagonia R2 kept us warm thanks to its hi-loft material.
Some thinner jackets, like the Patagonia R1 Hoody , were relatively warm for their weight, thanks to increased coverage from thumb loops and full face balaclava. The thinner Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody was not a particularly warm jacket, but when the wind kicked up the "Hardshell" coating on the fleece made it retain warmth better than other more porous models.
Another feature that helped to seal in warmth was a cinch cord hem like the one found on The North Face Denali Jacket. Cinching down the bottom of the jacket on cool and windy days prevented updrafts and minimized heat loss.
This is one attribute that makes fleece jackets unique from other types of outdoor gear, so it is a major purchasing consideration. We might not think about how cozy a ski or rain jacket is, but when it comes to a layer that we will often wear against the skin, we need it to feel good!
When we were evaluating for comfort, we considered each product's details, like whether the zippers scratched the skin and if the pockets were lined with fleece. We paid attention to how fit affected our comfort and recorded which fleeces had cozy thumb loops and hoods. Finally, on the models that stood out for their lack of coziness, like The North Face Denali Jacket , we took note of the qualities that made them less comfortable.
Sometimes comfort is sacrificed for performance. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is not particularly cozy, but it is a technical beast, and we love it anyway. The zipper ends at the navel and doesn't sit under a waistbelt, eliminating any bunching or pressure points in that area.
The silky material on the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was also very comfortable against the skin, and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was so comfortable that we could wear it all day long without it bothering us at all.
There are many reasons why you'll want to consider layering ability when purchasing a fleece jacket. We considered how easy it was to wear a base layer underneath each piece and how easily we could wear it under a shell or insulated jacket. And we also wore or tried to wear each model under a climbing harness and a backpack. All of these are important characteristics to consider when selecting your next fleece jacket. When it came to using these models as a layer under a shell and insulated jacket, the lightweight and midweight fleeces excelled, as they tended to be cut closer to the body and have a slimmer profile, along with thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody , as well as the Patagonia R1 and R2, easily fit under an insulated ski jacket without any restriction in the arms. The Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was a little too bulky to fit under a backpack but still layered easily with baselayers and outerwear. As for the jackets being their own outer layer, some models, like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody , had room for a light base layer underneath but not much else due to a tight fit in the shoulders.
The Denali was the opposite, as it could fit any of the other fleeces we tested underneath it. The Marmot Flashpoint also had a roomier cut, and we could layer both over and under it.
When it comes to layering under a pack or climbing harness, there are some other construction details to consider, like seams and zippers. Most of the models that we tested had a raglan style sleeve construction, where the seaming at the shoulder cuts across horizontally off the shoulder, moving the seams out of the way of pack straps.
This is to avoid having the straps of your pack dig the seams into your shoulders. This is a nice construction detail and selling point, but not an immediately obvious difference. While you might start to feel the seams digging into you after hours on the trail with a heavy pack, we weren't able to discern a difference during a minute hike with a pound pack. When choosing a fleece jacket to wear under a pack or climbing harness, our testers found that the more streamlined the fit, like on the Patagonia R2 Jacket , the better.
Otherwise, the material tends to bunch up around the waist and become uncomfortable, like on the Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was just a hair too short in the torso and tended to ride up under our harnesses and hip belts. When gearing up for outdoor activities in cold weather, ease of movement is another key consideration.
If you're using a fleece for a technical winter activity, usually you'll be wearing it underneath a shell or, in really cold weather, an insulated jacket. So we tried on these fleeces under a tight-fitting soft shell, a down jacket, and an insulated ski jacket.
Not surprisingly, the lightest and thinnest pieces, like the Marmot Flashpoint , Patagonia R1 and Outdoor Research Deviator , made the best mid-layers.
Less bulk made for a greater range of motion in our shoulders and arms and didn't leave us feeling like a stuffed sausage. Another standout was the Patagonia R2. The contrasting panels of stretch fleece on the sides increased the ease of movement.
These are the layers you put on after a climb, not during. Making fleece material more breathable has been a decades-long process for the outdoor gear industry.
The original Patagonia fleeces were great until you started hiking in them and your sweat puddled up on the inside, leaving you cold and clammy. With the advent of newer, high-tech materials, those days are a thing of the past. The technical models that we tested all have different means to wick the moisture generated from your exertion away from your body and out of the material. The fleece in the Outdoor Research Deviator and Patagonia R1 has grid lines that provide a lot of ventilation.
In the Patagonia R2 and Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover , the material is more lofted with microscopic holes throughout to allow moisture to escape. Each of these systems seems to work very well in their own unique way — the main downfall being that whatever allows moist air to escape will also allow cool air back in. The uniform fabric on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody didn't allow for as much breathability as the other technical options, but it did provide more protection from the wind.
It seems as though you do have to make a choice when purchasing one of these layers, and that is whether breathability is your main concern or protection from the wind.
If you are looking for a cross-country skiing layer, opt for breathability, but if you need something for alpine climbing, protection from the wind would be a greater concern.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody does give you a little bit of both, as the lightweight grid fleece in the back vents well, while the synthetic insulation and nylon shell in the front helps to break the wind a bit. Most of the women's fleece jackets that we reviewed provided very little protection from the wind.
Although we typically recommend using this type of jacket in conjunction with a shell or wind breaker, if you're looking for a do-it-all option, the "Hardface Technology" on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody does an excellent job of cutting the wind on a blustery day, for a fleece that is. The material is still relatively thin, and it does not provide the same wind blocking protection as a dedicated wind jacket. You can read our Women's Wind Breaker Jacket review for more information on the many uses of that layer.
Not surprisingly, models like the Patagonia R2 that were the most breathable were also most susceptible to the wind. If you carry a breathable fleece into the backcountry, make sure to always bring along a shell in case the wind picks up. As with wind protection, very few products that we tested provided any protection from the rain.
While fleece is naturally hydrophobic the fibers don't absorb water like cotton does , water can still saturate through the material and get you wet. It is still not designed to keep you dry in a heavy rain, but the finish does make it more versatile than any of the other models we reviewed.
The North Face Denali Jacket has nylon panels on its shoulders, and water did bead up and roll off that jacket, so it will keep you drier in a light rain.
The nylon shell on the front of the Outdoor Research Deviator also repels water, but the arms and back do not. While these models might give you a bit more time to find shelter if you get caught out in a storm, it's best to always carry an impermeable layer with you on your adventures. This is a bit of a subjective category as everyone's style is different.
Some people like wearing bright colors and don't mind looking like a Muppet, and others prefer more muted tones. If you live in a mountain town, the de rigueur fashion is technical fleece jackets and Sorels at the bar. In a big city, you might still wear a casual fleece jacket around town but want it to have a more stylish look, like the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. So, we polled our friends both male and female and asked them to weigh in on their favorite stylish pieces to try and form a consensus.
Next time you go on an adventure, you now know you will be comfortable and cozy with a high quality fleece jacket.
We added a few new picks to our list, although we are coming across fleeces that we like al the time, so you can expect frequent updates to this particular guide. Casual or Performance wear. We apply a few categories of criteria while searching for the best picks. The style is great, but the function is even better. For that reason we looked beyond the seasonal trends, digging just a bit deeper to see what would be an ideal fit for real outdoor use. Some of the searches revolve around suitable features for particular environments, comfort, fit, durability and most importantly level of warmth provided.
This is really the biggest reason you are buying a fleece. We want to be sure that the best and most suitable choices provide an acceptable, if not exceptional, level of warmth to the wearer. Whether you intend to wear as a layer, or as a stand-alone, it needs to do the main job it is designed to do, and do it well.
We looked for features such as a fairly secure waist, well-fitting collar or hood, and snug fitting cuffs. These are a few things that help greatly in retaining body heat. We also look at the material. We want to know whether it is high-quality fleece or poorly made fabric that allows the wind to breeze right through.
This one is pretty obvious, but still good to mention. Who wants to spend a bunch of money on a jacket that is uncomfortable? We also want to know how comfortable and adaptable they are when paired with other garments, forming a layering system. We want to know if the jacket bunches up when worn underneath a hard-shell , whether the cuffs are too tight, whether there are portions of a jacket which seem to fit too snug or too loose, not matching with the fit of the rest of that jacket. We like to know if this is comfortable around the house and daily errands kind of jacket.
If you go out and spend your money on something, you ought to be able to wear it wherever and whenever you want. This has less to do with overall comfort, and more to do the functional fit, especially when performing specific activities such as rock climbing, alpine climbing , and even intense trekking. We really look at whether or not the best choice really is designed with a fit which is truly suitable for the uses it is intended. Whatever you choose, it has to stand up to anything that you intend to throw at it.
The stitching should be strong, the material should be durable enough for the environment and elements you may find yourself facing.
We also look into whether a particular jacket holds up to the quality track record of the company. Studies by the military found that thin layers of clothing worn together are more effective than one layer of thick clothing. The main reason for this is because each layer traps small amounts of air which serve towards added insulation. Yes, it is if you know how to manipulate the zip system. When a jacket is fully zipped up and closed, your body will not only retain more heat but depending on the breath-ability of the fabric, the heat inside the jacket will build up and you can start to sweat and feel overheated.
By using the zip system to adjust and open your jacket you allow heat to escape and air ventilation so that your body temperature can stabilize.
Jackets which have been treated with wax coating do have less breath-ability but the makers design in other features to promote overall breath-ability to compensate for this. Once again, heat build-up due to less breath-ability can be balanced by manipulating the zip system.
Shell jackets work through adding mid layers of clothing along with base layers. The jackets do not have built-in insulation and are designed to protect from wet and wind. It depends on what the jacket will be used for and in which environment?
Waxed coated materials are highly resistant to wet and wind because it forms a more penetrable barrier. Even as I write this answer, technology is evolving and I suspect that what we now know as extremely protective will continue to be updated as tech moves forward.
Really, the fleece jackets that people choose are completely up to their own particular needs, as well as budget. Though most of the options in this buying guide tend to run a bit higher in price, we believe they are well worth the cost if you intend on really putting your gear to the test.
We researched more angles than simply what would meet our set criteria. We also paid a lot of attention to what previous customers and current users had to say about the options we picked for our list. Now you can decide which of the top ten fleece jacket options suit you best as well as your adventure. Expand Most Recent Updates. June 19, By Kris Kierstead-Lewis:. October 14, By Kris Kierstead-Lewis:.
Columbia Women's Fast Trek 2 4. Condor Alpha Tactical Fleece 4. Champion Eco Full-Zip Hoodie. Not only will you feel warm wearing it, you'll feel good knowing you've made an eco-friendly choice. Expand to see more Warmth: Comfort The beauty of fleece is that it's almost always as comfortable as it looks, if not more so.
Champion used ultra-soft brushed fleece for the lining, and the overall fit is casual and roomy so it won't feel cumbersome, even when layered over or under. One thing that's always important with clothing is how true to size it is. Some products may run small, some may run large. Coming in a wide range of size and color options, you're sure to find a product that fits well and looks good. The fit itself is casual and roomy, and looks good enough to wear every day! The outer is made of a basic cotton and polyester blend, ensuring average durability without driving up costs.
Caring for it is easy; it can be machine washed and dried, and the fabric is made to not shrink or fade, though it may pill over time. It doesn't have much in terms of fluff and additional features, but what it does have is a casual fit perfect for layering, excellent heat retention, and a wide range of sizes and colors, all for a price most everyone can agree with.
Eco-friendly True to size Brushed fleece for comfort. Columbia has been around since , and they've learned a thing or two over the last eighty years in regards to what people want out of their products. The Women's Fast Trek 2 is no exception; it has a warm and lightweight construction, lots of pockets to keep things nearby, and a stylish fit that looks good whether you're out on a run or staying inside.
The lightweight fleece inner is great at providing insulation and heat retention without being too bulky or cumbersome. This is a mid layer jacket, and as a result, may need some extra layering in the event of temperature extremes. This aside, if you're looking for a stylish and lightweight jacket that will keep you warm, this will serve your needs very well. Made from a 4-way stretch polyester outer and a fleece interior, this jacket was made with comfort in mind.
The stretch fabric allows for a more relaxed feel, and the fleece inner is unbelievably soft. In addition to its durability, this jacket is made to be comfortable enough for just lounging around. The Columbia Fast Trek 2 comes in sizes ranging from extra small to extra large, and typically run true to size. The cut is flattering, and when fully zipped the collar comes quite high to keep your neck safe from the cold. The semi-fitted style can be layered over with comfort and ease without being cumbersome.
It also comes in a wide range of colors, from basic black to bright reds and pinks. It won't shrink or fade in the wash, and you won't have to worry about the inner or the outer pilling over time. The Columbia Women's Fast Trek 2 is a great choice for a lightweight jacket that's easy on the wallet without compromising on warmth and durability. While it isn't ideal for very low temperatures, it can still be used as a solid midlayer in these conditions.
Condor Alpha Tactical Fleece. Durability is the name of the game for the Condor Alpha Tactical Fleece jacket. Sporting reinforced stitching and abrasion-resistant nylon on the collar and arms, this is made to take a beating and then some. Featuring fleece both on the inside and outside of the jacket, you won't have to worry about cold air or wind getting in, and the insulation provided will retain your own body heat to keep you nice and warm.
The hand pockets are fleece lined as well. Coming in a wide range of sizes, this jacket will easily accommodate any body type, though some users report that the jacket does run a little bit on the small side. The inner fleece is somewhat rough at first but will soften after a few washes. The Condor Alpha Tactical Fleece jacket comes in sizes ranging from small to 3XL, though some users report that it runs a tad small. It only offers four color options: This is considered a tactical jacket, though, so a wide range of colors isn't a priority for this product.
What is a priority in the Condor Alpha Tactical Fleece, however, is durability. Nylon abrasion-reinforced fabric makes up the collar, shoulders, and forearms to ensure that this jacket can take a beating.
Care is simple, as this can be machine washed in cold water and tumble dried on low. Polyester also resists shrinking and fading, so this won't be an issue for you.
This jacket is a bit on the expensive side, but given its qualities, we feel that it is very much worth the investment. Wide range of size options Lots of pockets Easy to care for Reinforced collar and sleeves.
The North Face Osito 2. A staple of college campuses in New England, The North Face's Osito 2 is one of their most popular jackets, and for good reason too.
The fleece is soft and warm, made to last, and the overall design is very stylish. The North Face used fleece for both the outer shell as well as the interior, providing proper insulation, though breathability is limited as a result.
The lightweight material and roomy fit make it great for layering without feeling cumbersome. The fit is feminine yet roomy and runs true to size. Both the outer and interior are made of high-pile raschel fleece that's soft on your skin. The pockets are fleece lined as well to keep your hands toasty, and a zipper guard keeps the zipper from being against your face when fully zipped. The Ostio 2 is designed to be both fashionable and functional.
The outer is made of high-pile raschel fleece, giving the jacket its signature "fluffy" look without looking like a Muppet. The waist is structured for a feminine fit, and the cuffs stretch to accommodate gloves if necessary. While this jacket isn't water resistant, the thicker material means it'll take a bit more time for it to get wet than some thinner fleeces.
Caring for this jacket is easy as well as it's machine washable and dryable, and the polyester fleece means it won't shrink either. If you're looking for a nice lightweight jacket that's both warm and easy to layer, the Osito is a great choice.
Soft raschel fleece Fleece lined pockets High collar. The North Face Denali. The North Face Denali is a classic. The Denali is a heavier fleece that the two featured above, but certainly a bit warmer as well. This is a well constructed, long lasting fleece which performs well for many different uses and environments.
Expand to see more First off, this is a warm jacket, made of Polartec fleece. Though noticeably heavier, and a bit bulkier, than some others on our list, the Denali performs well with just about any adventure you can think of. The bottom hem features zip cord adjustment to help block out the cold and keep the heat from escaping. Additionally, there are nylon overlays in different areas to reduce the effects from abrasions.
The Denali comes in a lot of different color choices, and is even available in a hooded version. Warmth This is probably the warmest option on this list. The Polartec fleece material is great for most cold environments, especially those where you tend to stay active and move around more.
The high collar and zip cord adjustable bottom hem also help out a bit with keeping the warmth trapped inside the jacket. For even harsher elements, the Denali is compatible with some outer shells from The North Face. There are snaps on each cuff which are used to secure the jacket inside of a compatible outer shell. However, these snaps are only meant to work with other products from this company. I have used this version as a stand-alone fleece jacket for a majority of the time, and was able to stay fairly warm in some pretty cold weather.
One feature that is a plus, some found as a bit of an irritation at times as well. The drawcord in the bottom hem tends to ride up when climbing, backpacking or other activities which required a lot of movement. Also, this model seems to be a bit on the shorter side. When bending and reaching, the jacket tends to follow quite a bit, exposing the wearer. This fit much looser, and tends to get caught with backpack straps and interfere with movement and accessibility to you gear while loaded down.
Sep 18, · Staying warm and comfortable is the name of the game when it comes to shopping for a fleece jacket. But, you'll also want to consider how breathable the layer is and if it offers any wind or water protection, depending on the environment you plan to use it in. Lightweight fleece jackets still allow the skin to breath but add an extra layer of warm comfort. MID-WEIGHT FLEECE Mid-weight fleece jackets are perfect for those who are moderately active, like trekkers or casual cyclists. The raschel fleece jackets (the high-pile Muppet-like fur), like the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover and The North Face Osito 2, were some of the warmest models out there. Fleece keeps you warm by trapping warm air around your body in the spaces between the fibers.