This hydrophobic property also means that the fleece jacket will kindly refuse to let sweat escape from you body. For these times, we suggest the Patagonia R1 Hoody.
You are buying a fleece to increase your warmth overall, or to get a more breathable insulating layer. Both of these are in direct relationship to water in terms of how to stay dry from rain and sweat.
Fleece is warm, no doubt about it. This process is very similar to down , yet fleece is not as warm as down for the weight. And down jackets suffer from a serious lack of breathability….
You could argue that the key to a fleece jacket is its breathability. When the right fleece jacket is paired with the right activity your problems are solved. Keep in mind that the lighter fabric fleece is more breathable. If you use a high lofted heavyweight fleece it will not breathe, and you will not want to hike up a hill with it, let alone trek miles with a fully loaded backpack on.
How we love thee, and how we fear thee. Food can run out, an ankle can twist, and you might get lost. Most commonly, though, it starts to rain. Fleece, by nature, is hydrophobic. This means its threads cannot absorb water. What petroleum-based product does? So, yes, fleece holds up in a light rain. This hydrophobic property also means that the fleece jacket will kindly refuse to let sweat escape from you body.
One of the biggest issues with fleece in the early years was that it simply could not be used for intense activities because it was so warm that it made users sweat profusely, and that sweat was trapped. Polartec and others have managed this by making very lightweight fleece and making uniquely shaped fleece like the microgrid.
Zippers, pockets, hoods, and elasticity. Most fleeces are zippered. This helps them breathe, and the general populace has come to expect a zipper in a coat. The ability to store stuff in a jacket is almost essential. There are often two zippered hand-warmer pockets on fleece jackets, meant for storing your hands duh or small items, like a wallet or phone.
On a backpacking trip these pockets are typically empty until you set up camp; then they hold a headlamp, map, or lighter. Zippered chest pockets are also popular. These are typically smaller than hand-warmer pockets and store smaller items, like a lighter, ID, or daily supplements. Some fleece jackets have all three pockets, some have just the chest pocket, and some have no pockets at all. What do you need out of your fleece? A great debate among outdoor enthusiasts, hoods typically come down to preference and your other clothes.
There are plenty of technical fleeces that come with hoods, or super heavyweight fleeces that come with hoods. On the technical side, a hood is just added functionality in a lightweight piece of kit. Fleece hoods are usually baclava style, come up past your chin, and cinch tightly over your head. Not form-fitting at all, these fleece hoods are oversized, incredibly soft, and can be found running amok on college campuses.
When you decide to get or not get a hood, think about the rest of your layering system. Will it be redundant? Do you like beanies more? In general I use hood-less fleeces because I like beanies, and have hooded down or synthetic jackets.
However, manufacturers throw elasticity into parts of a fleece jackets fleece to increase their warmth. A solid fleece jacket will have elastic cuffs, elastic around the hood, and elastic at the waist. The hood and waist may even have adjustable toggles to tighten the elastic band to you, thereby trapping in warmth. There are also sleeves that have longer stretchy material; these are even nicer, and keep in more heat. In some models the sleeve actually comes up quite far, providing a glove-like experience for your hand.
These jackets are often worn as a mid-layer between base and shell layers during extremely cold weather--e. Stick with mid-weight fleeces during moderate temperatures. If you plan on wearing your jacket toward the end of autumn or the beginning of spring, when the temperatures are cold but not freezing, try wearing a mid-weight fleece for your outerwear.
This thickness often provides enough airflow to prevent you from overheating, but still keeps the harshest of winds from chilling you. Wear a heavyweight fleece jacket if you plan on performing stationary cold-weather activities.
These jackets work especially well for activities like easy skiing and camping. Heavyweight fleece provides a thick layer of insulated warmth that can easily protect you against the cold as long as no precipitation is present. Buy a windproof fleece jacket to use as daily outwear.
Windproof jackets can come in light, mid, and heavyweight fleeces, but each has a windproof membrane layered between two layers of fleece. This severely cuts down on the amount of airflow, making it suitable for use as daily outerwear. Avoid windproof fleece for athletic activities, however, since the lack of airflow may cause you to overheat when you produce high amounts of body heat.
Look for water-resistant fleeces if you live in a climate prone to precipitation. While many fleeces repel small drizzles of water or snow, a moderate shower will likely soak through. Water-resistant jackets have a non-breathable layer similar to the layer found in windproof jackets, and many windproof jackets can even double as water-resistant jackets.
Note that even water-resistant jackets may not be enough to protect you from heavy downpours, however. Opt for a zipper jacket for the most versatility.
If you layer your fleece jacket with other forms of outerwear, or if you plan on wearing it during aerobic activity, you can unzip the front once you heat up to help you regulate your body temperature. Look for zipper jackets with wind flaps. These strips of fabric are located beneath the zipper and add a layer of material to block the wind. Without these flaps, cool air can leak in through the zipper, reducing the amount of warmth your jacket provides.
We include this chart in all of our reviews to help you make the best choice for your budget. Warmth is one of the key things to consider when buying a fleece jacket. The purpose of this layer is to help trap and retain our body heat on cold days, and the warmth rating that we've given each model counts as 25 percent of their overall score.
The warmth is determined by the thickness of the material thicker is usually warmer , but many other features can add or detract from it. Elastic cuffs, drawstring hems and tighter weaves that help block the wind all add up to additional warmth points.
We should add though that sometimes a model can be too warm, particularly if you are using your fleece jacket as an active layer. What we are mostly looking for is something that keeps us warm while hiking, climbing, or ski touring, without being too stifling. The warmest model that we tested was The North Face Denali 2. The model that we tested did not have a hood, but in the Denali's case did not make much of a difference.
If you need a warm and toasty outer jacket and prefer fleece to a synthetic or down jacket, then this is the one for you. However, it was also the heaviest and bulkiest model we tested and did not perform well during periods of active use. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is made of a thinner material than the Denali , but the addition of a hood left us feeling almost as warm and indeed more protected from the elements on windy days.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody also sports a hood, and while it is made of a much thinner fleece, that feature helped bump it up in the warmth ratings. The super light Deviator Hoody refuses to be categorized, combining a Polartec Alpha Insulated chest and shoulder with a fleece back and arms.
The result is a superlight "fleece" that can keep your core warmer while still being very breathable. In addition to hoods, a snug hem can make a difference for warmth. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody had a unique hood with a built-in neck gaiter that helped keep us warm up top, but the loose bottom hem with no cinch cord let cold winds rip right up the jacket.
Elastic cuffs, like those on the Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody , also help trap in the warmth. Finally, hand warmer pockets are another addition that helps keep you warm when your hands start to freeze over. Either way, pockets will help keep your hands warm at a moment's notice, and every model that we tested except the Patagonia R1 Hoody and the Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoody , and the Synchilla Snap-T had them. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody has cozy hand warmer pockets without zippers. The lack of zippers keeps the jacket light and comfy, but make sure you store anything significant in the zippered chest pocket.
Fleece is by nature a soft material, and it typically makes for very comfortable jackets. While all of the different models that we tested were made with materials that were quite comfortable, some stood out from the rest. The soft textured micro-fleece lining on the Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody also had a cozy and soft texture, particularly compared to The North Face models which are made with a scratchier and harsher fabric that was quite noticeable and much less cozy.
However, comfort is not only differentiated by texture, but also by the fit. 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. Ease of movement is another important factor when considering comfort. When you put on a fleece, how does it feel when you twist, turn, or reach above your head.
Do you feel restricted? Does the jacket ride up when you lift your arms above your head and expose your vulnerable flesh to the cold? Ease of movement mostly dictated by the fit or cut of the jacket. Some folks will want a jacket to fit loose like the Patagonia Synchilla Snap T , while others will prefer a tighter fit like the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody for layering.
When it came to fit, the Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody was a little short for the torsos of most of our testers. A shortcut is problematic because shorter jackets tend to ride up over a climbing harness or a waist belt on a backpack.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody has an ideal cut, with long enough lengths in the arms and torso. The Better Sweater because of its stretchy side panels that allow for increased ease of movement and breathability.
The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody scored well in the comfort metric but lost a point for being a little tight across the shoulders. We like the Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody — the fleece was soft, and the basic and slim-fit design suited us well. Whether you are using your fleece jacket as an outer layer or a mid-layer, its ability to breathe or vent your sweat to the outside is an important aspect to consider.
Rigorous activity produces heat within the body which then sweats to cool itself, but that sweat has to go somewhere, or else you end up a soaking mess.
In general, fleece material is superior to other options, like cotton, in that the material is hydrophobic and won't absorb your sweat. But the thickness of the fleece and the tightness of the weave will affect how much air and moisture can move in and out of it.
As we tested a variety of weights and types of jackets, it was no surprise that some were more breathable than others and better suited to aerobic activities, while others worked better for more sedentary pursuits. The most breathable model that we tested was the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody. The Coefficient Hoody combines an ultra-thin fleece with a Polartec insulated torso, This makes the extremely breathable, while still locking in a little warmth around the core.
The Patagonia R-Series use Polartec's Power Grid fabric, which is made of hundreds of cubes of fleece separated by thin channels. The cubes keep you warm, while the channels offer a virtually non-existent barrier for your moisture to vent through. This technology is used in both their R1 and R1 Techface models.
The R1 is a light enough layer to wear for just about any aerobic activity in cold weather, from running and hiking to climbing and ski touring. Climbers are notorious for climbing without a shirt even in the most frigid conditions, as many can't stand to feel the slightest bit hot or sweaty when trying to "send.
But we kept the R1 on even on mild days, and its breathability was so effective that we never felt uncomfortable or sweaty. While the Coefficient Hoody is slightly more breathable due to being so thin, the R1 is a warmer, more comfortable fleece. The new Patagonia R1 Techface Hoody is thinner and even more breathable than the original R1, but it doesn't make for a cozy mid-layer like our old favorite.
The same goes for the "hard-faced" Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody. While that jacket is made of a tighter, more weather resistant weave, it is so thin that it still vented well.
In addition to the weave and thickness of the material, some other features can help a jacket breathe better. The stylish Patagonia Performance Better Sweater Hoody has thin panels on the sides and under the arms to mitigate to the tight fleece weave on the rest of the jacket. Other jackets have pockets lined with a thin mesh, as opposed to fleece, which can be unzipped for added airflow.
As your fleece jacket typically is worn both over and under other clothing, its ability to pair well with other layers is another crucial consideration. You don't want it so tight that your under layers are bunching up, but you want it slim fitting enough so you can slide a wind, rain, or puffy layer on top of it.
You can learn more about layering systems with our Introduction to Layered Clothing Systems article. We tested each model with a variety of other jackets and base layers and rated them on how easily they layered and their level of comfort.
Thinner models, like the Patagonia R1 Hoody and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody layered easily under everything we tried them with. The thumb holes were also a bonus, as we didn't have to worry about the sleeves riding up when putting on another layer. However, you can't wear more than a thin baselayer underneath these slim fitting jackets.
They have a boxier cut, long arms that bunch around the cuffs, and are made with a thicker material. While we had no trouble putting them on over other fleece, they were not so comfortable to wear under another jacket like a shell or winter puffy jacket. The Patagonia R1 Techface Hoody is sized much bigger than the insulating R1 Hoody because it works best as a weather resistant terminal layer. Fleece jackets have never been known for amazing wind protection or water resistance.
A fleece jacket or simply a fleece is a lightweight casual jacket made of a polyester synthetic wool such as polar fleece. A fleece jacket will typically have a zipper up the middle, rather than buttons or other fasteners. Traditional fleece fabric comes from polyester, which is made from plastic. The polyester is woven into a light fabric, which is then brushed to achieve greater volume in the fibers. It was invented in the late s by engineers working for textile maker Malden Mills. Fleece tops will have a full zip or a half zip that runs from the collar to partway down the chest. A full zip fleece unzips like a jacket and is ideal if you'll be removing layers often. A half zip fleece goes over your head like a jumper and opens at the neck.