4 Most Popular Fleece Types Explained

4 Most Popular Fleece Types Explained 4 Most Popular Fleece Types Explained gearweare.net

When you’re looking for clothing to keep you warm and comfortable, you’ll encounter a lot of different types of materials – especially different types of fleece. You’ve likely wondered – What is microfleece? What is sherpa fleece? What is bonded fleece? The list goes on…

There is a lot to discuss with eleven different types of fleece. Each type of fleece has its own specific benefits. Today, we will talk about the most popular types used in outdoor clothing: polar fleece, microfleece, cotton fleece, and polyester fleece.

Let’s dive right in.

What Is Polyester Fleece?

Let’s start out with the most common type of fleece you will encounter. Polyester fleece is a general term. Almost any type of fleece can be called polyester fleece if made from polyester fibers. It is more durable than cotton fleece and doesn’t shrink when washed.

Depending on how this material is spun and mixed with other synthetic materials, many other sub-divisions of fleece, with different names, are also polyester fleeces.

Synthetic fabric fleeces are known for being water repellent, breathability, dry quickly, and continue to provide warmth even when they are wet.

What Is Polar Fleece?

Polar fleece is one of the most popular kinds of fleece. Another common name for it is arctic fleece. It provides great warmth in cold weather and is available in different thicknesses. The thicker it is, the warmer it is. But also, the thicker it is, the stiffer it is.

This type of fleece is known to be very durable and resistant to pilling. There is a very popular brand of polar fleece called Polartec. Since the invention of Polartec fleece, many other companies have created a similar, dare we say exact, product.

What Is Cotton Fleece?

I’ll give you one guess. Yes! Cotton fleece is made from cotton. It is made from natural fibers, not synthetic fibers. One great advantage is that fleece made from cotton is more breathable without compromising warmth.

The one downside is that cotton tends to shrink when you wash it. If you buy a garment made from this material, you should consider sizing up.

What Is Microfleece?

As the “micro” in the name implies, microfleece is thinnest than other types of fleece. It is very comfortable and flexible. It’s a common material for layering pieces and gym clothes. However, this brings up the common question, is microfleece warm?

In comparison with other types of fleece used in outerwear, microfleece does not insulate. It only weighs about 200 grams per square meter.

When comparing fleece vs. microfleece, it comes down to the weight and thickness of the materials. If you will not be in a harsh environment, a microfleece is a great alternative to a thicker option.

What Is the Difference Between Flannel and Fleece?

Perhaps it is because the names are similar, or maybe because they are both cozy, but these two fabrics often get mixed up. Noting the differences is important because they each provide different comforts. In this comparison, we are referencing general polyester fleece.

  • Flannel gets softer over time
  • Fleece is more durable
  • Flannel is more breathable but isn’t moisture wicking
  • Fleece provides more insulation
  • Flannel is more likely to shrink

Which Is Warmer Flannel or Microfleece?

These two fabrics are actually woven at about the same thickness, weighing less than 7 ounces per square yard. In general, microfleece is warmer than flannel because it is less breathable, allowing less insulation to escape.

In terms of comfort, flannel’s soft texture wins.

Is Microfiber the Same as Microfleece?

This is another popular mix-up. Microfiber is a fabric that is often spun differently from fleece fabric, leaving a textured feeling. It is incredibly absorbent. This makes it a great option for towels, swim covers, or even cloth diapers.

Microfleece has wicking abilities, not just absorbency abilities. This means it absorbs the liquid and releases it. Microfleece has a much softer, nicer feeling on the skin.

Why Is Fleece So Warm?

The science behind it is easier than you might imagine. Most synthetic fleece garments are actually made from recycled plastics. They are melted down, treated, and combined appropriately. After this, they are more or less put through a strainer (technically called a spinneret) which hardens the liquid and forms strings.

These strings are then carefully woven, creating a pile surface, or layer of cut fibers, on each side. This allows the warmth created by your body to find small air pockets. The material holds onto them and provides a warm bubble around you.


We’ve covered a lot of information here and answered many questions, including “why is fleece so warm?” and “what is microfleece?”. Overall, most fleeces are going to do a great job at keeping you warm. Depending on the excursion you’re planning for, you might opt for a cotton fleece over a polar fleece.

Lastly, another major reason we love this material is the fact that polyester fleeces can easily be made from recycled materials. These fleeces allow you to stay warm and benefit the Earth while doing it.