Fleeces are a great addition to any layering system, offering a reliable, comfortable, layer of efficient insulation when you're on any hiking, camping, outdoor adventures. I personally will throw one in my backpack whatever the weather – if it's 25 degrees or -2.5 degrees.
Worn in the winter as a mid layer beneath a waterproof jacket, or worn in the summer on top of a t-shirt in cool, dry conditions, a good fleece will regulate your body temperature throughout the year. Essentially a form of synthetic wool, fleece jackets, or polar fleeces, are traditionally made from polyester, but today you'll find them in a range of materials, styles and textures – hoody or jacket, full-zip or pullover, brightly coloured or dark and subtle. Finding the right fleece for you is often down to personal preference; the way the fleece feels when wearing it, materials, ethics, wicking properties, weight and style. Our selection of women’s fleeces encompasses all of this – from the thicker winter fleece to a thin jacket perfect for summer hiking, there’s something that can suit your needs all year round.
You’ll probably find that when you settle on your perfect fleece, you’ll be wearing it non-stop for years. In an outdoor market where every brand boasts their own signature fleece, we’ll help you rummage through polyester, zips, buttons and pile to find your perfect one.
Best Women's Fleece Jackets: The List
- Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover
- Páramo Zefira Fleece
- Rab Double Pile Jacket
- Columbia Titan Pass 1.0 Fleece
- The North Face 100 Glacier Fleece
- Helly Hansen Heritage Pile Jacket
- Burton Hearth Fleece
- Fjällräven Kaitum W
The fleece that ‘made fleece famous’. Patagonia first started making their iconic Snap T fleece back in the 70s, later stopping production – despite demand – due to being unable to source ethical and environmentally-friendly materials. Today, the fleece is made with 85 per cent recycled polyester, is Fair Trade certified, and still has the same retro style as the original Snap T. It's warm, comfortable, and durable, being resistant to abrasion and light winds. Though it might not be the most technical fleece Patagonia produce, it's an ideal all-year option with an interesting story and ethos. I can’t deny that I love this and wear it basically all winter from the hills to the city. It’s a little warm for summer, and doesn’t have the same wicking properties as, for example, Patagonia’s R2. But for something that’s both casual and effective, the Synchilla is my top choice.
£110 / 100% recycled polyester / Available in a range of patterns and colours all year.
More info: eu.patagonia.com
The significant feature of the Zefira Fleece by Páramo is that it is both water repellent and windproof, thanks to the Nikwax impregnated fabric that blocks water and keeps heat inside – providing a good level of protection against the elements, whilst also offering excellent wicking properties. The fleece feels soft and comfortable against the skin, with a longer fit that drops over the hips for extra coverage. The ethics of the brand are also worth noting; the fleece is recyclable, Fair Trade certified and made with PFC-free water-repellency. Being very light, the Zefira is ideal for summer hiking; when the weather is warm but you need something just in case the bad weather suddenly moves in – perfect for British hiking then.
Approx £100 / 100% polyester / Available in Carmine Marl (pink), Moss (green) and Elderberry (purple).
More info: paramo-clothing.com
Rab’s heavy-weight Double Pile Jacket is ideal for long autumn and winter days in the hills. It is incredibly warm and snug thanks to the fluffy double-layer Berber pile fabric, and it also features a liner that will block out any buffeting wind. The retro style and original Rab logo is a nod to the company’s heritage, those early days starting out in Sheffield in the 80s. With its casual, loose fit, the fleece may as well be unisex and it's ideal for layering under in the winter. Though this fleece jacket isn’t lightweight or overly technical, the simple, no-frills design and retro style give it a timeless appeal that I personally love.
£90 / 70% polyester, 30% acrylic / Available in Grit (grey) and Cosmos (purple).
More info: rab.equipment
A simple, no-frills fleece, the Columbia Titan Pass 1.0 is made from warm Polartec fabric, making it both warm and light while also being fast-drying and durable. With two large zippered pockets, you can keep your hands warm on a cool day, and the pocket in the sleeve is a great feature for storing your phone, keys or some cash. The collar of the Titan Pass is slightly higher than normal for added warmth and there are draw cords at the hem to further ensure no heat is lost. Being thin and light, this is an ideal fleece for layering in the winter or for wearing just as a jacket in the summer. It does the job with minimal faff though I did find that it runs short on the hem and tight in the chest, so it might be worth choosing a bigger size than usual.
£60 / 100% polyester / Available in black, white or blue.
More info: columbiasportswear.co.uk
The low cost but effective The North Face 100 Glacier fleece is ideal for summer hiking, or for layering under a down jacket and coat in the winter. With Polartec fabric made from 100 per cent recycled polyester, the fleece provides warmth at a low weight, while being soft against the skin. The elastic binding at the sleeves and hem ensure heat stays inside, while the full zip means you can stay cool on summer days. This is a great year-round fleece; it feels comfortable to wear and it regulates body temperature well. A great option for a good price.
£55 / 100% polyester / Available in orange, Blue, black or green.
More info: cotswoldoutdoors.com
Another throwback design, the Heritage Pile Jacket is a modern take on Helly Hansen’s original pile fleece of the 1960s. The fleece uses heavyweight pile for warmth, though the fit is modern and well-designed for women, with a good length in the hem and sleeves, a high collar and slight clinch at the waist. When you first put the jacket on, the interior material feels a little rough against the skin, however this does soften up over time and it will help to keep in warmth in the winter. While the Rab equivalent of the retro fleece includes a windproof lining, the Helly Hansen does not and subsequently it does let in wind. When sheltered, however, the fleece is very warm. This might mean you’re less inclined to take the fleece out hiking in winter, however in summer it makes it airy and breathable.
£100 / 100% polyester / Available in navy.
More info: hellyhansen.com
Popular snowsports brand Burton are known for designing stylish gear to keep you warm through the winter months. The Burton Hearth Fleece caught my eye aesthetically, but after wearing the fleece, I can also confirm it is both comfortable and warm, with a great women’s fit and design. The button collar gives the fleece a retro style while keeping your neck warm, and the zippered hand pockets create a pouch that's practical. There's also an earphone cable guide as an added feature. I really like this fleece; it's great for days in the mountains or the city. I’ll also be wearing it through the summer on those chilly evenings. The fleece is Bluesign certified, which means the materials used are designed to reduce impact on people and the environment. The Burton Hearth Fleece is certainly much more than just a pretty face – precisely why it makes into my list of the 8 best women's fleece jackets.
£85 / 100% polyester / Available in cream, purple or patterned.
More info: burton.com
The Fjällräven Kaitum Fleece is the only non-polyester based fleece in this series. Instead it's made from a blend that combines the warmth and temperature regulating qualities of wool and strength of polyester to make for a thick, warm and comfortable layer. Though the wool can be a little irritating on bare skin it's fine over a long-sleeve baselayer. I've certainly found it to be ideal for the colder, winter months as a mid layer, while it's also been useful to wear in the summer on a breezy day out in the hills or on those cold camping evenings.
£175 / 65% wool, 25% polyamide, 10% polyester / Available in grey, olive or green.
More info: fjallraven.co.uk
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