Fleece | Buyer's Guide
Snuggle down in a cosy corner with a nice warm fleece thanks to our buyers' guide to fleece jackets. Everything you need to know and some stuff that you don't...
Now in turn fleece is being displaced by other fabrics, but it's
still a useful tool to pack in your outdoors arsenal. But which one
should you choose? We guide you through the soft, fluffy fleece
What's it for and why is it good?
Put simply, the stuff is there to keep you warm. It's a matted,
mesh of synthetic fibres that'll trap warm air, dry out reasonably
quickly, feel comfy and luxurious and pack down fast. It's basically
a high tech pullover.
Conventional fleece has very little wind or water resistance, so
in anything short of perfectly still conditions, you'll need to wear
it with some sort of waterproof or windproof shell to stop the
trapped warm air in the fibres from blowing away.
There are three classic fleece weights originally introduced by
Malden Mills the makers of Polartec fleece.
If you run on the warm side then a 100 weight microfleece might be
your best choice, if you run cooler then think about 200 weight and
for active use, forget about the heavier 300-weight
It used to be the case that Polartec fleece substantially
outperformed cheaper, own brand fleeces which were prone to bobbling
with use. Things have changed though and the latest own brand fabrics
from outdoor brands are much better than they used to be. Polartec
has also dropped its prices and this winter, Regatta is selling
genuine Polartec fleece.
We'd happily use most own brand fleeces for general outdoor
One of the side effects of the levelling out of the fleece playing
field has been the development of a range of 'clever' fleeces with
premium prices. The four most obvious are:
We've used lots of windproof fleece over the years and so far,
none of it has been breathable enough for active use in the UK,
though it may function better in cold, dry mountain conditions at
high altitude. Frankly we believe there are better alternatives to
windproof fleece such as Schoeller, synthetically insulated windproof
jackets and some types of softshell. We'd save this for dog
Most fleece tops are based on a simple jacket or smock design but
there are a few points you should be aware of when buying....
As clothing technology's developed, alternatives to fleece have appeared
many of which are either more weather resistant or lighter for the
insulation value than fleece.
One alternative is shelled microfleece - for example
Marmot's Driclime range or ME's Microtherm - which uses a very
lightweight fleece lining with a woven, windproof outer.
The other is synthetically insulated jackets which use a
lightweight synthetic fibre - often Primaloft - in a windproof shell
to give effective, damp resistant insulation.
Both are definitely worth considering for active use, but lack
that luxurious soft touch for sitting around the caff after a hard
day on the hill.