Fleeces are an essential part of any walking wardrobe, with a great layering capacity. Perfect for spring or autumn, or cooler summer evenings, these are ideal to pop on on top of your t-shirt. In winter, they are also an ideal layer under a waterproof jacket to give an extra element of warmth. We’ve tried and tested our top 5 choices for 2017, and put a list together to get you on track.
Fleeces are known for their fluffy, wool-like texture, and most people just imagine them to be created from “recycled plastic bottles”, but do not consider that they come in various fabrics and fibres, so there’s still plenty of choice for variety regarding temperature, performance and fit. Fleeces are suitable for hikes and runs, or simply to wear potting around the garden or the city, so you need the right fleece for you. As with all of our guides, we’ve chosen our favourite fleece for value for money, appearance and performance to help you make the best choice.
Top 5 Fleeces 2017
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 features 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.
The North Face are renowned for their walking gear, so their fleeces are an excellent go-to choice for hiking. The full-length zip means it’s easy to take this jacket and on off, which is perfect for varying temperatures. It provides insulation for when the weather begins to turn cooler, but the lightweight design is ideal to pack or carry when it’s hot, and won’t weigh you down on the trail. The Polartec Micro fleece provides the classic fleece style, but the simple features keep the design modern for the fashion-conscious, and provides often much needed insulation. The 159g Polartec is mid range, meaning this fleece is suitable for a variety of temperatures on its own or as a layer, and is quick-drying should you be caught in the rain. The jacket features a Shockcord hem for secure fit and easy adjustment, and is great for controlling heat loss. Two front zip pockets are ideal for essentials or cold hands, and the 30+ Ultra-Violet Protection factor is vital for sunny weather by protecting your skin from harmful rays.
La Sportiva’s fleece comes in a soft brushed interior and sleek, durable exterior to work easily as a standalone layer. This jacket includes integrated abrasion-resistant reinforcements on the pockets to eliminate any chance of losing your gear, and has flat pocket construction for a smooth, comfortable design, along with flap seams to reduce irritation during movement. The jacket comes in a 4-way stretch fabric for supreme freedom of movement which makes the jacket ideal for running or fast hikes. The main innovative feature in this brightly coloured jacket is the Bluesign approved Polygiene antibacterial and odour treatment, making it ideal for warmer weather or high-performance trails.
Rab’s Baseline Jacket is created from a high wicking and quick drying Polartec Power Dry fabric, designed as a slim fit to accommodate a base layer underneath, and is suitable for adding jackets during wet or cold hikes. The thumb loops keep the jacket in place during fast movements, and also enables it to stay flat as a layer. With an under helmet hood ideal for climbing, a chin guard and a zipped pocket, this has been created for the ideal base layer fleece.
The Mountain Equipment fleece is a great choice for long rock routes and classic alpine ascents with the lightweight stretch file. Two zoned weights of fast drying Pontetorto grid fleece and Active Fit in the Eclipse Hooded Jacket create a low bulk insulation layer ideal for long trips with changing weather with the ability to wear waterproof jackets over the top. The 187 fleece is nearer the top end for insulation, meaning it is warm without being bulky, and 154 fleece features in key areas to keep your body cooler. With integrated thumb loops to keep the jacket in place when moving, coverstitched seams for comfort and less irritation, helmet compatibility and a Polygiene treatment to reduce odour, this jacket certainly comes packed with innovative features.
As each of our Top 5 Fleeces for 2017 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 Full Zip Fleece
Even if this was not quite the cheapest fleece, it would still be awarded best value with its simple features and timeless, durable style which means you can wear it over and over. It may not be suitable for cold winter days, but can easily be worn as a layer at this time, and is ideal for other seasons with the breathable and UVP features.
Best Performance: Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Mens Fleece
This fleece is ideal for both layering and wearing alone with high insulation and breathability wear you need it. With added features such as the sought-after Polygiene treatment, coverstitched seams and stretch fabric, you can go on high movement adventures without restriction or fear of odours.
Best Looks: La Sportiva Voyager 2.0 Mens Fleece
We love the retro styling of the Voyager fleece, with a sleek exterior and both practical and stylish incorporation with the panel sections and contrasting zip. This design is eye-catching, which is good for both fashion and standing out on mountains or woodlands should you become lost.
We hope our 2017 guide to fleeces has helped you decide which fleece is the ideal choice for your treks and trails, but if you’re still unsure, there are plenty on webtogs.com to choose from.