Summer has ended early and the cold weather is on its way, so stay warm and stay safe with our guide to the best fleeces of 2011.
As the evenings begin drawing in and the temperatures fall, it’s the pefect time to take a stroll after dinner or after work, stretch your legs and enjoy the cool weather.
But as Summer ends and Autumn is on its way, it can get cold out there very quickly, which is why so many of you have emailed in and asked what you should be wearing – and not just for your feet!
So we’ve picked out our five favourite fleeces from all the ones we’ve tried on over the years to help you stay warm in style. As always, we’ve stuck to sensibly priced, starter level kit. Because we’re going for a stroll, not marching up mountains, so we won’t be getting that cold.
We can appreciate that many of our readers take their dog out of an evening, go for a long walk after a Sunday roast and generally keep walking to stay fit and healthy. We’re everyday people just like you, so everything we recommend is chosen with comfort and style in mind as well as its technical performance.
Our selection of fleeces included micro fleeces and fleece jackets as well as a variety of price ranges and a number of well known outdoors brands. So hopefully there will be something for everyone.
As per our other reviews, we’re going to award 3 prizes from our Top 5 for Best Value, Best Performance and Best Looks. Naturally, all the needs of a walker will be taken into account, because nobody wants a high performance fleece that feels like a bin bag when they put it on.
So let’s look at the fleeces in our Top 5, explain why we think they’re so good, why you might want them and if why you should want them depending on what you need them for.
Our Top 5 Fleeces
Regatta Thompson Microfleece
It’s worth mentioning that a micro fleece is a softer, thinner and stretchier version of the more common polar fleece jacket. This Reggatta micro fleece in particular is warm and lightweight. And while it won’t protect you up Kilimanjaro, it’s idealfor everyday wear and keeping warm as you walk the dog. Considering the extremely low price we were very impressed with the quality. It also features regatta’s anti-pill finish to be harder wearing and easy to care for while quickly drying as well.
Hi Gear Bracken Overhead Midlayer Top
For a few pounds more this Hi Gear midlayer top (it’s still a fleece) is a little thicker with a better fit around the shoulders. The improved fit makes it ideal to wear on its own or in the winter over a base layer and/or underneath a waterproof jacket if it turns really cold. Meanwhile the extra anti-pilling keeps it in good condition for far longer. If you’re on a budget, we’d recommend paying just that little bit more for the added comfort and better fit.
Berghaus Spectrum IA Fleece Jacket
Now we’re getting on to the good stuff. Berghaus is one of the best outdoor brands and while they aren’t as fashionable as The North Face, when it comes to quality, their products are definitely on par. So this midweight fleece jacket is lightweight and warm while being very comfortable with a great fit and is designed to combine with the Berghaus Blencathra Waterproof Jacket or the Berghaus Cornice 2 IA Jacket. Because it’s a midweight fleece we recommend it for colder conditions around the middle to end of Autumn and into Winter but with its full length zip, you can always wear it open if you get too warm.
The elasticated hem will keep cold out and heat in while two hand warmer pockets also give you great storage and warmth, or ventilation if you need it. And while more affordable jackets often suffer from a poor quality zipper (we all know how frustrating that can be!), we haven’t had any problems with the zip on this one. Overall, this is a great fleece jacket for the hills while definitely being stylish enough for the town.
Rab PowerStretch Zip Top Fleece Midlayer
Definitely a fleece for the winter, this Rab PowerStretch fleece is made with Polartec fabric for added warmth as well as a high, scooped hem collar and long cut arms with thumb splits to get your hands into for even more warmth. Then there’s a deep front zip for breathable venting when you really need it. It’s also flat seam sealed for more comfortable layering. So if you’re serious about your walking and outdoor adventures this is a great fleece that you can layer up as you need it. It’s suitably stylish for everyday wear as well. However, it does have a slim fit, so if you have a bit of a gut, be prepared to breath in!
The North Face Windwall 1 Windproof Fleece Jacket
Styled like their best selling waterproof jackets, this stylish wind blocking fleece from The North face is every bit as lightweight and comfortable as you’d expect while featuring a full length zip and brushed mesh lining for extra breathability. The fit is excellent and bulk free too.
It’s as though The North Face built this fleece jacket just for the British weather, because it gives you all the warmth of a fleece while providing the wind resistane of a hardshell jacket. It’s also excellent as part of a layering system for when we get into Winter. Style and purpose with extra features for a very fair price considering everything you get inside.
Whether you’re taking a casual stoll in the cool evenings, taking your dog for a walk it cold weather or an outdoors expert, we’re certain that each of our top five fleeces has something for you.
No doubt you’ll already have a good idea about what you’re looking for in a fleece based on where you’re walking, when and how often. So to summarise, we’ve created three awards to help you prioritise what’s important to you in a good quality fleece.
Best Value: Regatta Thompson Microfleece
Cheap, cheerful and pleasantly comfortable too. We were very impressed with the quality of the fabric and the fit, even if the zip does tend to stick a bit. If you’re on a tight budget, or you’re just tight fisted, then this Regatte microfleece is an excellent choice.
Best Performance: North Face Windwall 1 Windproof Fleece Jacket
We could have give the award for Best Performance to the Rab PowerStretch fleece, but it just feels so unnecessarily technical unless you’re a hard core outdoor adventurer. If you’re going walking when it’s cold and windy, then the North Fave Windwall is the ideal choice, being both warm, comfortable and highly wind resistant. Honestly, what more do you need?
Best Looks: North Face Windwall 1 Windproof Fleece Jacket
Normally we don’t like to give a single product more than one award, but when so many fleeces look the same, it’s the little differences that cound. North Face clothing always looks fantastic, not just because of the logo, but because the materials tend to be just that tiny bit better and the fit just right as well.
Hopefully our guide has given you a good idea of what you can get for your money as well as what you need for your walks. We picked each fleece featured here from GOoutdoors.co.uk who have shops dotted across the UK, while being one of the cheapest outdoor retailers. Their delivery time for online orders is astoundingly fast too.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more top 5 guides as the Summer ends and Winter arrives.