What is the best fleece for your outdoor needs?
An important part of the layering system is the fleece jacket or gilet. Fleece jackets acts as a mid-layer, between the outer-layer (typically a waterproof jacket) and a baselayer (or base layer). Fleece materials has a wide range of properties and to help learn about the layering system and a fleeces in more detail visit the outdoor clothing help and advice page here.
How do fleeces insulate?
The most important aspect of a fleece is that it keeps you warm. Fleeces do this by holding air in a pile fabric that is warmed by your body. Polyester has important properties for fleeces as it can be breathable, wicks moisture away from the body and can be lighter than fabrics with similar properties. Fleeces act as an important part of the layering system…
Fleeces aren’t typically waterproof, although they can be water repellent. Softshell jackets are a good alternative if you’re looking for something that can be slightly more water resistance. They can be harder-wearing and are often designed for active outdoor people looking for a warm breathable layer.
Windproof fleeces are a especially helpful for reducing or removing that horrible windchill factor when in exposed areas or in cold conditions. Windproof fleeces prevent the warm layer of air between you layers from literally being blown away, leaving a cold layer of air.
The importance of a fleece
One of the most important aspects of clothing when in the outdoors is the warmth that it provides. Fleeces do this spectacularly, and often with little weight and dry-time. The other layers, baselayers and outerlayers, provide a degree of warmth but they are not designed specifically for the job.
Which is the best fleece?
The best fleece is the one that is most suited to your needs. This means that if you’re a very active outdoor sports person, then your needs will be different to someone who wants a fleece for walking their dog.
- Fleece weight, typically 100-300
- Windproof fleece
- Sleeves or no sleeves (gilets)
- Height of collar
- Thumb hoops
- 1/4, 1/2 or full zip fleece
- Relaxed fit or active fit fleece
- Lightweight or full weight fleece
- Piling resistance
- Shoulder protection pads for carrying a backpack and elbow pads for reduced wear
- Hand pockets and chest pockets
- Reduced seams in friction areas (shoulders when you’re carrying a backpack)
- Stretchy fleece or rigid?
- Fleece Jacket
- Fleece Gilet
- Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner
- Fleece Vest
- Fleece Pullover
- Fleece Hoodies
- Fleece Shorts
- Fleece Trousers
- Fleece Scarf
- Fleece Hats
- Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner
…think about how you’ll be wearing it with other outdoor clothing or casually, or maybe how you’ll be using it and in what weather conditions. A range of mens fleeces and womens fleeces are available here.
If you’re looking for a warm mid-layer, as well as softshells and fleeces you can also choose from a synthetic or down insulating jacket – these are considered to be the ultimate in keeping yourself warm in severe cold conditions. Each form of mid-layer has their own benefits of which we’re more than likely to touch on in this blog. Please contact us if you need help immediately with anything related to this or other blog posts, or if you’ve got any suggestions of your own.
If you like this post, check-out other resources including: waterproof clothing advice, baselayer advice or general camping advice.