As the weather turns chilly, if you decide to head out onto trails at a higher elevation like Alpine treks or just fancy an evening stroll you need to keep the cold at bay for a more enjoyable hike or run. One key item we recommend all outdoor enthusiasts should have is a fleece which is why we have put together a list of our Top 5 Fleeces for 2015 to help get you on the right track.
Like all types of outdoor clothing, fleece jackets come in different styles and are made with various fabrics and fibres; some of which suit certain conditions better than others so there is plenty to choose from and at various price ranges. One of the great aspects of fleeces is the versatility as they are a garment that while being functional in their own right also work well as part of a layering system when the weather gets really cold, plus many are becoming lighter in weight with each advancement of synthetic fabrics so can be easily carried during the warmer months in case of showers or if you plan to trek through during the night time.
As with our other Top 5 guides we have looked at our favourites from the past year and chosen a selection that offers a variation to suit as many needs as possible while all being very comfortable to wear, fit well and perform. In addition we’ve awarded specific ones with factors like affordability, looks and overall performance to help find the right fleece for you.
Our Top 5 Fleeces
The North Face 100 Glacier Quarter Zip Fleece
This is a lightweight garment that cleverly works in just about any temperature as it uses the popular Polartec Classic 100 fabric to both provide lasting insulation and protection from the wind while wicking moisture away from perspiration and light rain fall. It is also a durable fabric that is designed to stop piling up while also resistant to colour fading yet remains very soft to the touch for lasting comfort. The Quarter chest zip is a YKK zipper for durability that functions well as when closed it gives respite from the cold around the neck, yet if it gets to warm, simply unzip and it aides cooling.
Rab Power Stretch Fleece
The Rab Power Stretch Fleece is designed for the most active and demanding outdoor sports as its main fabric is a Polartec four-way stretch that is more form fitting than most as it will conform to the body to flex and move as you do. This Rab fleece insulates, is breathable and is moisture wicking as well so is perfect for varied weather conditions and to help with overall comfort it has Flatlock seams, a high collar which also helps against the cold, a chin guard and thumb loops to prevent the sleeves from moving while running. It even has a handy chest pocket that like the venting chest zip is made from tough YKK.
Jack Wolfskin Pine Cone Fleece
If you can’t resist winter treks and trails the Jack Wolfskin Pine Cone Fleece is a better option to keep you warmer while being extremely functional. The main fabric used is Nanuk 300 Twinloft fleece which is designed to act like animal fur so traps and retains heat with greater effect than standard materials while areas that are likely to be compressed by a backpack like the shoulders and others that get the most strain and wear such as seams and sleeve exteriors are made from durable Nanuk 200 as it is hard wearing and completely effective while under pressure. If the weather gets too unfavourable for a fleece it even has a system zip that allows it to be combined with a Jack Wolfskin shell jacket for even better function and protection.
Montane Volt Fleece Jacket
Packed with plenty of features and better suited to all year-round the Montane Volt Fleece Jacket is designed to comfortable in any climate. The main fabric is Polartec Thermal Pro Honeycomb which traps body heat and air for improved reliable and lasting insulation while remaining very lightweight while Polartec Classic Micro is used around the neck, forearms and side panels. All of the handy pockets which includes microfleece hand warmer pockets, a right hand map pocket and concealed chest security pocket plus the main zip have YKK Reverse coil zippers as they last much longer than regular ones. Some of the other features like Lycra on the cuffs and hem for a better fit and durable Flatlock seams add well to the lasting performance.
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid Fleece
The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid Fleece is also suited to year-round wear but gives a bit more flexibility in terms of an adjustable fit by having dual hem drawcords and design wise has a modern casual look to it so would be suitable worn everyday too. A grid pattern of Polartec High-loft Monkey Phur fleece insulates very effectively and equally across the fabric while MicroClimate stretch fabric has been placed in areas that require the most flexibility while maintaining warmth, but also help cool you down if needed as well. This fleece jacket also has thumb loops for better heat retention for your hands and also handwarmer pockets which are almost a common feature of active wear.
As each of our Top 5 Fleeces for 2015 have some unique aspects from each other they should hopefully provide a better idea over which may more suit your individual needs as ultimately you know exactly what environment and the time of year you’ll be hiking and trekking in. There are of course other factors we have considered in helping you find the right fleece jacket such as the most affordable, best performing and the most fashionable as these factors can be just as important as technical fabrics so each of these three has been looked out in detail:
Best Value: The North Face 100 Glacier Quarter Zip Fleece
At just under £40 The North Face 100 Glacier Quarter Zip Fleece may well be the cheapest of our Top 5 but by no means is that reflected in the quality. It may not be insulating enough to be worn as an outer layer during winter but it will do so during the other seasons while being breathable if you do get too warm, plus the overall lasting durability makes it more than value for money.
Best Performance: Jack Wolfskin Pine Cone Fleece
Of the Top 5 the Jack Wolfskin Pine Cone Fleece includes the most features and function that has resulted in a great garment that works well in warm or cold conditions alike. Not only does it more effectively retain heat but unlike a number of outer garments it is designed to do so while being compressed by other gear. The tough seams mean it will have a good overall run even at your most active, plus the option to link it to another jacket for better warmth and/or waterproofing is an added bonus.
Best Looks: Montane Volt Fleece Jacket
Granted, in designing a fleece it is more about the performance and function than fashion and many follow a similar overall design but different cuts and features like hoods and collars but the Montane Volt Fleece Jacket we thought visually looks the best of the bunch. The zips and panel sections besides being functional are incorporated into a modern style which in certain versions of the Volt are used in contrast for eye-catching effect.
If our Top 5 Fleece 2015 guide has helped you decide the most appropriate for your favourite treks and trails you can find them and many others at webtogs.com today.