Fleece is an essential piece of mountain gear and any self-respecting rider would be lost without it. That's why we've dedicated an entire article to the best fleece jackets around. Check it out to find your perfect fleece.
Who doesn’t love a fleece jacket? Fleeces are a staple of winter wardrobes the world-over, but a good fleece is perfect all year round. From kicking back at home to running errands in town. From layering up for a day on the slopes to heading out for a few drinks at the resort. Fleeces are everywhere, and having a few reliable ones in your wardrobes is a must for any self-respecting human being with an eye for fashion and a lust for comfort.
When it comes to fleeces, we just can’t get enough! Which is why we’ve rounded up our top picks for men and women below, and categorised them for you. Whatever you need a fleece for, you can find our top choices in terms of best fleece jackets below. Ready to add something new to your wardrobe? Who are we kidding! When are you ever not …
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Men’s Outdoor Fleeces
Women's Outdoor Fleeces
Our choice for the best overall fleece jacket is the Dope Oi! When you think about what a fleece jacket needs to do, and what it needs to be, the Oi wins out. Fleeces need to be warm and cosy before anything else, and what’s cosier than a 300gsm deep pile shearling fleece? Nothing!
And with a DWR-coated softshell-style seat panel and hood for extra weather protection, fleecy handwarmer pockets and an oversized, DWR-coated kangaroo pouch for on-the-go storage, this is the ultimate cosy outer layer or insulating midlayer on those chilly days. Plus, it’s like sitting inside a teddy bear when you’re kicking back on the couch. What could be better?
The Oakley Flight time is our favourite when it comes to a Pullover fleece jacket. Pullovers need to feel like a big hug, and this jacket definitely does. Designed by snowboard superstar Stale Sandbech, the Flight Time fleece is, as you can imagine, designed to make long journeys just that much cosier.
Made from a plush microfleece, and outfitted with an oversized hood, half-zip construction, and a fleece-lined hand warmer pocket, the Flight Time is the perfect hoodie for long journeys, and everything else, too. Comfy, reliable, and endlessly stylish, it’s as pretty as it is useful, and will definitely become your new favourite this season.
The Glacier TKA Pull Over fleece sweater from The North Face is a super comfortable and form fitting lightweight fleece from the king of mountain brands. The North Face know that layering is key on any mountain adventure, and that fleece works best when it’s trapping air. As such, this 100g/m2 fleece is the perfect midlayer when you need warmth without the bulk.
Steep ascents are where this fleece comes into its own, and thanks to its light and flexible construction, it’s super packable, too, so ideal for those cold days where you’re working up a sweat. Made from post-consumer recycled polyester, and equipped with a snappered chimney style collar for comfort, cosiness, and ventilation, along with elasticated detailing at the cuffs and hem for superior fit, this midlayer fleece is a welcome addition to any mountain-lover’s wardrobe.
When it comes to Value for money, fleeces don’t get better than the Montec Echo. Coming in at less than half the price of some fleeces on our list, the Echo offers superior warmth and performance considering its price point! It is simple, effective, cosy, technical, relaxed, warm, breathable, awesome, brilliant, excellent… er… what were we saying? Right — the Echo.
Made from 100% recycled 280gsm fleece, it’s super warm. And with a chimney collar (no hood), it makes the perfect toasty midlayer for those cold days on the mountain. Ideal to throw on under your jacket for maximum insulation, the Echo is as reliable as it is comfortable. But that’s not to say it’s a one-trick pony. A good fleece is must for everyone’s wardrobe and there’s no better than the Montec Echo for a go-to midlayer.
This was the only choice when it comes to comfort. Plush fleece in an oversized hoodie with a gusseted collar? Sign us up! We wear these around the house, to the supermarket, out for drinks in the evening… We really should wash them more. But anyway, we do that because they’re so darn comfy. And we could go on about it all day, but at some point, you just have to trust us!
Made from a 280gsm recycled microfleece, hoodies don’t come softer and sweeter than this. The Cozy II has a longer drape for maximum coverage, rolled cuffs for comfort, and a collar gusset to keep the wind out. You find yourself reaching for it again and again just because it’s so dang comfy. And that says it all, really.
The Montec Lima is our favourite overall fleece jacket because it does what it needs to! The super thick and plush shearling fleece is insanely warm, and with a DWR coated hood and seat panel, sitting on a damp seat or snowbank becomes just a normal occurrence. If the sun is shining, it’s unzipped and hood down, and if the weather closes in, just throw it up. It’s versatile and essential, and does everything you need it to.
Made from a 300gsm shearling pile fleece, and complemented with DWR panelling on the seat, hood, and kangaroo pouch, it has everything you could want in a big, cosy pullover. If you’re looking to ward off the winter cold, look no further.
When it comes to bang for your buck, the Loyd is the go-to on our list. It’s heavier than some midlayer fleeces, but we don’t mind because it’s super warm. For us that makes it really versatile. And with a chimney collar over a hood, and a zipped neck, you can wear it under a snow jacket, as an outer layer, or when you’re relaxing at home. It had everything going for it and no downside.
It’s made from a 280gsm microfleece that’s cosy and warm, and comes with a chimney neck perfect for layering, and a ½ construction ideal for cooling off when you get a little hot under the collar. And for the price, it’s an absolute steal that you’ll never want to take off.
The Montec Delta is like living inside a cloud made of snuggles. If you like being hugged from all sides, being able to scooch down inside your hoodie to escape the world, and generally feeling all cosy and safe all hours of the day, then the Delta is the choice to make. But the awesomeness doesn’t stop at the door.
It’s a 280gsm super soft microfleece that feels so good against the skin you’re never going to want to take it off. With an oversized fit, collar gusset for snuggling into, and a big handwarmer pouch for cold days, it has everything you need when the weather starts to turn. It’s a throw-on-and-go hoodie that you’ll be reaching for again and again.
A performance fleece, for us, needs to work during tough activities! We love the Floyd as a midlayer because of it’s DWR coating. On those wet and cold days, your jacket will begin to soak through. So having a DWR coated fleece will be an extra layer of protection from the snow and rain! The Floyd also works really well as an outer layer for hikes on those changeable days. Versatile, lightweight, and super tough, the Floyd is a great addition to any wardrobe, and one of the best fleece jackets out there.
Made from a microfleece polyester-spandex mix with a smooth DWR coated outer, it is the perfect winter top for hiking, biking, or kicking around a slushy resort. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s built for cold, wet weather. Just the kind of offering you’d expect from a snow wear company. And boy did they deliver!
Okay, now comes our favourite part. The technical stuff! You may be thinking 'how could you possibly give advice on fleeces'? Well, you don’t know just how nerdy we are. Like all things, knowledge comes with understanding. And understanding why fleece is so good compared to jersey fabric needs a little bit of science know-how.
Fleece works by way of trapping air within the fabric. Polyester fleece is designed to mimic natural fur, which insulates against the cold by forming a barrier of air bubbles between your skin and the outside. This concept is used in everything from polystyrene to thermal flasks, from anti-fog ski goggles to home insulation.
This is why fleece is such a good insulator, and had both wind-resistant and insulative properties, even when it’s a lightweight fabric! Fleece is just warmer than other fabrics. End of story!
Of course, not all fleece is the same. Micro-fleece and shearling are totally different. Coarse or wider weaves like shearling (which mimics sheep’s wool) and pile, are plush, thick, soft and cosy, and look great, too. These are often used in fleeces that are more focused on look and comfort than performance. Their larger make-up is less efficient than a micro-fleece, but has a distinctive look that’s super cool.
Performance fleeces tend to have a tighter weave in order to trap more air within a specific weight. They’re warm for their thickness, and are designed to insulate more efficiently. Some fleeces are also bonded, layered, or even DWR coated for better wet-weather performance. As such, a lower weight (or thinner) performance fleece might be as warm or warmer than a really thick or heavyweight pile or shearling!
Zip-through versus pullover is an age-old debate. The issue of heat-loss is negligible, so it’s down to preference! You’ll often see heavier fleeces with a zip and lighter fleeces as pullovers, but that’s by no means a hard and fast rule! Go with what you think will suit your needs best.
We touched on this a little above, so let’s dig into it more here. Weight is represented by ‘gsm’ or just ‘grams’ sometimes. This is the weight of the fleece per metre squared. GSM = Grams per Metre Squared. The weight represents the thickness of the fleece. So a heavyweight 300gsm fleece will be thicker than a 175gsm fleece. However, you get quirks and differences in the way the fleece is made which affects the warmth.
A thicker fleece won’t always be warmer! There are versions like micro-fleece (which has a super tight weave) and Polartec fleece which aim to keep heat in and repel cold air, while also letting moisture out. These more technical fleeces will be much warmer than their ‘style-focused’ siblings. So don’t go by weight alone! Check out what kind of fleece you’re buying and do your homework before making a decision!
Fleece is regarded as one of the most comfortable fabrics around. Polyester (which we’ll go into in detail below) is a super smooth and comfortable fabric that’s comfortable on the skin. It can be stretchy or rigid, and is easy to work with, making it the ideal choice for garment use. Everything from underwear to snow jackets is made from it!
Polyester is a synthetic fibre that often contains polyethylene terephthalate. Polyester can be made from natural or man-made materials, can be recycled, can be biodegradable, and is able to be worked with in a lot of different ways. Its smoothness and hydrophobicity (it doesn’t absorb water) makes it ideal for use in clothing. Cottons and other natural fibres soak up moisture and get wet or feel clammy against the skin.
Polyester doesn’t, however, which makes it the perfect material to use in performance and activewear when you’re sweating a lot. The ability to combine it with other materials like elastane or spandex for flexibility, cotton for durability and texture, polyamide and nylon for hardiness and strength, also makes it a versatile material and the top choice for a wide variety of uses.
Polyester as a fibre doesn’t absorb moisture, so tightly woven polyester fabric will offer good water resistance. Similarly, a tightly knitted weave will also provide solid wind-resistance. Because polyester is not an elasticated fibre by nature (unlike cotton, for example, which has a slight stretch), the weave cannot be expanded, and as such, there’s no spaces for wind and moisture to get in. This is why polyester is such a popular garment for active and outerwear, as it doesn’t lose shape or become easily deformed, meaning reliable performance in the long term.
Breathability speaks to how much water vapour can be let through a fabric in a specific duration. Polyester, as we’ve already mentioned, doesn’t absorb moisture. So any sweat or water that is exuded from your skin will pass through the fabric without soaking in. This makes polyester inherently breathable — or at least reliably so! When cotton fibres absorb water, they expand, closing the spaces between, and reducing breathability. This isn’t the case with polyester, which is a good thing when you’re hiking or skiing!
Because fleece jackets are as much outer layers as they are midlayers, their features vary widely. For midlayer style fleeces, you’ll often find a pullover construction combined with a ½ or ¼ zip style and a chimney or turtle-neck collar, which allows you to pair them with hooded coats or jackets. Midlayer fleeces are sometimes thinner and fit more snuggly, too, for better insulation.
Outer layer fleece jackets can often be thicker, and may come with zippered pockets or pouches, water resistant panelling, or other design quirks that help them function in inclement weathers. Depending on your needs, different features will be helpful in different situations!
The ability to layer up with a fleece is a strong point of the fabric! As good an insulator as fleece is alone, it’s even better when sandwiched between a base and an outer layer. The texture of fleece will trap air both behind and in front of the fabric — so you’ll have air-fleece-air, which works well. However with a base and an outer layer, you create two further barriers, and two further layers of air (the space between the layers). So a three-layer setup with a midlayer fleece would be baselayer-air-air-fleece-air-air-outer layer. That’s a lot of layers for heat to get through!
This is why it’s favoured over jersey fabrics for inclement weather activities and cold-weather expeditions! Fleece is a remarkable material that takes inspiration from animal fur and wool, and who better to take after than the queen of intelligent design herself, Mother Nature? Evolution perfected animal fur millions of years ago. All we did was decide to make it out of polyester.
Best overall fleece jacket men: Dope Oi
Best pullover fleece jacket men: Oakley TC Flight Time Hoodie
Best budget fleece jacket men: Montec Echo
Best comfort fleece jacket men: Dope Cozy II
Best performance fleece jacket men: Peak Performance Marco Jacket
Best overall fleece jacket women: Montec Lima
Best budget fleece jacket women: Dope Loyd
Best comfort fleece jacket women: Montec Delta
Best performance fleece jacket women: Dope Floyd