When the temperature dips, we’ve got you covered with our reviews of the best fleece jackets on the market right now. All of the lightweight fleece jackets that made our list are well-made using top quality fleece and are sure to make colder months much more bearable.  

Incredibly lightweight and soft while also being an excellent insulator, fleece offers warmth without bulk and a fleece jacket is a great way to stay comfortably warm whether you’re lounging indoors, commuting, running or enjoying the great outdoors. It also makes a cozy and breathable mid-layer in the winter. Below are the top rated options to choose from.

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The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Lightweight Mens Fleece Jacket


The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Lightweight Mens Fleece Jacket

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Summary

A non-insulated fleece shell, The North Face Apex Bionic 2 is the perfect men's lightweight and packable fleece to keep you warm and dry without bulk when you’re active outdoors or pack in your backpack just in case the temperature takes a dip. It is a stylish jacket that will also complete business-casual and casual wear. 

Warmth and Comfort

Though lightweight, this fleece does a fair job of blocking the cold, moisture, and wind and you can also layer it underneath a heavier jacket in sub-freezing temps. Features like Velcro adjustable cuffs and front zipper ensure the wind or the cold won’t enter your sleeves or even your neck as it has a high collar.

Pockets and Extras

For storage, it features zippered pockets on the sides and on the chest. The North Face is one of the leaders when it comes to quality outdoor clothing for chilly conditions. This is a quality jacket built to last and you will be able to enjoy it without worrying about wear and tear.

  • What Makes This Hiking Fleece Stand Out
  • Packable and lightweight fleece shell
  • Wind and water resistant
  • Stylish jacket for casual wear
  • Velcro adjustable cuffs and high collar
  • Zippered side and chest pockets
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MODEL & ACCESSORY SPECS

Best Uses: Hiking, Climbing, Camping, Business Casual
Sizes: XS to XXXL
Waterproofing: 1 of 10
Warmth: 2 of 10
Insulation: None
Length: 35 inches

How To Choose A Fleece Jacket – Buying Guide

How_To_Choose_A_Fleece_Jacket

Material

Although fleece is typically made from polyester, not all fleece jackets are created equal. It is important to ensure that the option you choose is crafted using only top quality materials. How the material is woven can affect the feel and warmth of the fleece jacket.

For example, a tighter weave will keep the heat better and create a warmer jacket than a looser technique. The type of material used also affects how soft and comfortable against the skin the fleece feels.

Weight

This material is a happy medium when it comes to weight. It is much lighter than materials like wool but can be heavier than cotton. However, not all fleece jackets weigh the same. Some are super lightweight while some are heavier. You will need a heavier fleece when watching soccer games in the winter than you will when hiking in the spring.

A lightweight packable fleece jacket will be good for mild conditions and makes a good hiking fleece as it won’t weigh you down. A heavier fleece will offer the insulation and thickness needed to keep you warm in frigid winter conditions. 

Pockets

Pockets on a fleece jacket come in handy. They offer a warm place to keep your hands warm and also provide storage space for essentials you want to bring along with you.  Most fleece jackets offer at least two zippered pockets. Some fleece jacket brands even go the extra mile by making pockets on the inside as well.

You can also find tactical fleece jackets with upwards of 7 or 8 pockets allowing you to keep more sensitive items separate from others and items you need handy within easy access. For example, the screen of your smartphone can scratch easily so having a separate pocket for your loose change and keys and EDC tools will be ideal.

Warmth

Warmth is the most important part of a fleece jacket. Fleece is an excellent insulator and one of the warmest materials you can get. In fact, it is nearly as warm as wool without the added weight and scratchy feeling. When evaluating warmth, keep in mind what you’ll be using the jacket for and what kind of conditions you’ll be wearing it in.

If you are planning on hiking or being active, you’ll need a much less warm lightweight fleece than if you were less active. If you are not planning on being as active or want a jacket for frigid winters, you’ll definitely need the warmest heavy weight fleece jacket you can find.

Breathability

Fleece keeps you warm by keeping the warmth from your body trapped inside the jacket. When your body warms up, you can start sweating especially when you’re active, which is what you want to avoid. This can cause you to get your clothes wet which can, in turn, make you cold.

To avoid this, the best warm fleece jackets are also breathable. They seal in heat but still allow air to circulate and perspiration to escape through the material. Some companies add a breathable and moisture wicking lining to keep the moisture away from your body.

Weather Resistance

This is the hardest factor to incorporate into fleece jackets. Companies try to make their fleece jackets as breathable and insulating as possible, which doesn’t help the weather resistance. The good thing is that fleece has some natural weather resistance properties. While fleece isn’t technically waterproof by nature, it does cause liquids to naturally bead on top of it.

Fleece also won’t retain water and dries quickly, which makes jackets made from this material great for outdoor and survival situations. Some water and wind resistant fleece jackets feature a water repellent coating on the exterior to help block elements like wind and rain. If the jacket you like doesn’t have the best weather resistance, you can pair it with a waterproof and windproof outer shell.

Drying

Fleece is one of those unique fabrics that water beads on top of but once soaked through holds water in the fibers. The best thing about this material is that it’s also quick drying. When drying fleece after washing, you will want to avoid your drying machine.

Instead, we recommend hanging your fleece to dry. This will prevent it from shrinking and pilling. Your fleece may take longer to dry but drying it this way will greatly lengthen the lifespan of your coat. If you prefer to use a drier, make sure to do so on low heat.

Layering

If you are going to be in a cold climate, you will want to layer your clothes and jackets. A fleece sweater makes a perfect mid-layer when bundling up. If you are planning on wearing your jacket underneath a wind/rain coat, you’ll want to ensure it has a slim fit and isn’t too bulky.

If you will be wearing your jacket as outerwear and adding a tee shirt or pullover beneath it, choose a jacket with a more relaxed fit or opt for a larger size to accommodate the layers.   

Fit

You will want a jacket that fits perfectly so it will work well for you. This can be hard if you’re shopping for a jacket online as you can’t try it on. To combat this, companies usually provide a size chart with the specific measurements for their jackets.

You can then measure your chest, arms and waist and compare your measurements to their sizing chart to determine you best size. If you plan to use the fleece pullover as a mid-layer, choose a form fitting one. If you’re going to add some layers beneath the jacket, you can go a size up so you have room for layering. 

Extras

The added features that your jacket comes with will be the difference between a good and a great fleece coat. We recommend deciding on what features you need and want first and use that to help guide your decision.

A hood is one of the most important features that can really transform a fleece. A lot of heat is lost through the head and neck. A hood will seal in the heat and seal out wind and rain. On the downside, having a hood can make it difficult to layer. For sealing in warmth and sealing out the elements, drawstrings on the hood and bottom and wrists allow you to pull your jacket tighter.

Having longer sleeves that extend down your fingertips works to keep you warmer. Having thumb holes will ensure the sleeves stay put especially when skiing or cycling. If you will be layering the jacket, you may want to consider one with a full front zipper as opposed to a pullover fleece. This aids in ventilation as you can simply unzip or fully zip it depending on the temperature.

Durability

One of the main draws to this material is how strong and durable it can be. It naturally has stain resistant technology. This will go a long way in ensuring your jacket looks new for longer. Polartec hardface fleece is extremely durable as it can resist abrasion. 

The only weakness with fleece is that it is known to pill. This can cause your jacket to show some wear, especially in the armpits and any area prone to rubbing. Choosing a top rated warm fleece jacket and taking proper care of it can help you avoid this issue. Reading fleece jacket reviews can also tell you whether the jacket you’re considering is prone to piling, fading or shrinking. 

Type

There are a few different types of fleece that you should be aware of as you search for the best warm fleece jacket. The best type of fleece to choose will depend on the temperatures you will be wearing it in as well as the activity level you plan to partake in. There are three different types of fleece or more specifically weights: lightweight, midweight and textured fleece.

Microfleece: This is the lightest and thinnest type of fleece thus excellent for layering and year round use. It is a comfortable breathable outer shell on warmer days and a great mid layer fleece in the winter. The low profile design makes it popular amongst athletes and those who enjoy brisk exercise such as backpackers.   

Midweight Fleece: This is what we focused most on in this article. It is more of your everyday material as it offers a bit more insulation while not being overly bulky. Warm and breathable, this type of fleece is ideal for moderate amount of movement such as short hikes and walks and as a mid layer fleece as well. 

Heavyweight Fleece: Also referred to as textured fleece or fully fleece, this type is the thickest and heaviest fleece and features the recognizable waffle pattern. Offering the most insulation of the three types, it is the warmest and ideal as a thermal fleece for extreme cold and winter.

FAQs

What_Is_Fleece

Q: What Is Fleece?

A: Fleece is a synthetic material made out of polyester. Some types of fleece are a blend of polyester and another material such as cotton. It is a soft and lightweight material with amazing thermal benefits. A fleece jacket is also referred to as a fleece.

Q: Do Fleece Jackets Keep You Warm?

A: 

Yes, a fleece jacket will keep you warm even better than traditional wool and without weighing you down or causing discomfort. Air pockets within its structure assist in trapping in heat making fleece a very good insulator and fleece jackets incredibly warm.

How warm a fleece is will also depend on whether it is a lightweight, mid weight or heavy weight type of fleece. Heavyweight fleece is the most insulating and thus the warmest type of fleece suitable for even frigid winter conditions.

Related Review: Fleece Jackets For Women

Q: Why Is Fleece So Popular?

A: 

What makes fleece so popular is its superior insulating properties and lightweight feel, which provide warmth without bulk and make it perfect for a wide range of weather conditions, outdoor activities and even everyday casual and indoor wear.

Fleece also has the added bonus of being incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. That it is a highly durable material also adds to its appeal and popularity.

Q: What Type Of Fleece Should I Get?

A: 

For everyday use and for most outdoor activities, a midweight fleece is your best bet. This type is the most versatile as it is lightweight and warm enough to be worn as either an interior insulator or an exterior shell.

If you will be running or hiking and need the thinnest and lightest fleece pullover, you may want to opt for a lightweight microfleece. If you want the warmest type of fleece to keep warm in the winter, a thick heavy weight fleece is what you will need.

Q: Is Fleece Waterproof?

A: 

No, fleece isn’t waterproof but it doesn’t tend to absorb water easily. It has good water resistance properties and is good enough for light rain. It. You will often see water beading on top of it, especially if your jacket has a water repellent coating. Being a breathable fabric, it does allow water to soak through the fabric during heavy and prolonged downpours. 

Related Post: How To Waterproof A Jacket

Q: Do Fleece Jackets Shrink?

A: 

Yes, a fleece jacket can be prone to shrinking if it is not taken care of properly. To ensure this won’t be a problem, we recommend choosing a top rated warm fleece jacket. The best fleece jacket brands usually pre-shrink the fabrics to prevent shrinking.

We also recommend using a gentle cold water cycle for washing and hanging your fleece to dry. This will work to avoid any shrinking. If you must tumble dry, you will want to stick with a low heat setting.

Q: Can I Stretch A Fleece Jacket?

A: 

Not, fleece isn’t prone to stretching. Fleece is made from polyester, a material that is known for its superior resistance to stretching. This makes it very important to get a size and fit that is ideal for yo

Q: Why Does Fleece Pill?

A: 

What causes fleece to pill is that it is made using incredibly short fibers. Pilling occurs when these short fibers begin to rub due to friction. When the threads rub, they push to the surface creating small balls that sit on the top of the fabric. The balls are called pills and thus the name. You will find pilling in the areas of most friction, which in jackets is under the arms.

To prevent wear caused by pilling, fleece jacket brands that make the best fleece sweaters and jackets incorporate an anti-pilling finish to their fleece products.   

Due to the amount of friction the jacket is exposed to in the washing machine, you will find your fleece showing signs of pilling after every wash. It is wise to reduce the frequency of washing and always wash on a gentle cycle. You can also use garment bags to reduce how much friction your jacket receives in the wash.

Globo Surf Overview

Whether you need to stay warm and cozy when lounging indoors, stay warm without bulk when running or need a packable warm jacket you can stow in your bag when commuting or hiking, a fleece jacket will suit your needs. As a warm all-weather jacket, it will take you from cool spring days to chilly winter ones. The snuggly warmth and feel it provides keeps the chill out and hugs you in comfort.

The best fleece jackets we’ve featured here are all exceptional and we have no doubt that they will make your outdoor activities and winter months much more comfortable and enjoyable. With our fleece jacket reviews and buying guide, we are confident you now know what makes a good fleece jacket and will be able to make the best purchase for your specific needs.

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Have you ever used any of the warm fleece jackets from our list? Let us know how you liked it in the comment section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!