Best Fleece Jackets – 2021 Edition
Fleece jackets are a staple of any established winter wardrobe. What makes fleece ideal is that it is lightweight, wicks away moisture, and is incredibly breathable. You can wear it as a casual coat on cool spring days, or layer it under your winter coat for a really fantastic base layer. This magical fabric is able to wick moisture away from your body where it quickly evaporates on the surface.
We made sure to select designs made from quality materials that are easy to toss into the wash and come in a wide variety of sizing options to ensure that you get the right fit. In this guide, we have selected some of our favorite fleece jackets to keep you warm and comfortable no matter where your adventures take you!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Made from Merino wool
Easy to wash
Top 13 Fleece Jackets
1. Smartwool Hudson Trail
Made from Merino wool
Easy to wash
Smartwool knows a thing or two about keeping wearers warm and comfortable. If you are willing to spare no expense for the best of the best, the Hudson Trail Fleece is one of your best options. It is made from a blend of materials that are designed to wick away moisture and retain heat without weighing you down.Read more
The most notable feature of this design is that it is composed of a blend of high-quality materials. It is made from a blend of 54 percent polyester, 38 percent Merino wool, and 8 percent elastane. Merino wool is an excellent addition to the material (and the reason for the higher price point) because it works to keep your warm and dry without weighing you down.
Some fleece options have the reputation of being a little stiff and unforgiving. The addition of 8 percent elastane allows for a more comfortable fit that moves with you for a better range of motion. It is also incredibly durable, and able to be tossed into the washing machine when needed. Users love how lightweight and soft this design is, and it is ideal for brisk fall mornings or even to be worn in the winter as well.
If you are in the market for a super soft design that is incredibly durable, this option from Smartwool is a great choice. The use of Merino wool works to keep you incredibly warm without weighing you down and is also the reason it boasts a much higher price point when compared to other designs on our list (but we promise it is well worth it!).
2. Columbia Granite Mountain
Easy to wash
Shorter than expected
Looking for something built for cooler climates? Granite Mountain from Columbia is made from thicker materials that will keep you warm when the temperatures plummet. It is important to note that it is a little bit heavier than some of the other options from Columbia, which means that it is perfect for cold weather. Plus, it comes in unique designs unlike anything else out there.Read more
What makes this design unique is that it is composed of a thick layer of 100 percent polyester fleece that works to hold in heat in cooler climates. Users love that it is incredibly soft and comfortable, and boasts a hip drawstring to help hold in heat. It also has zippered pockets to safely store your gear.
The full-zip design boasts a quality zipper with a safety guard that limits the chance it will get stuck when you take it off and on. A high neckline sits just under your chin but isn’t too stiff that you won’t be able to fold it down when you need to breathe a little bit. Users find that it runs a little small, so be sure to buy a size higher than normal.
If you are in the market for a heavy-duty option that is made for cooler climates, this design from Columbia is an excellent option. It is made from quality materials that hold up well over time and is a cinch to toss into the washing machine as needed.
3. Camel Crown
Easy to wash
Many color options
Camel Crown may not have the immediate brand recognition as brands such as Columbia or The North Face, but the affordable price point makes it worth checking out. We loved this design because it is made from high-quality materials that hold in heat and are incredibly comfortable. Plus, it is easy to wash and comes in a wide variety of color options.Read more
One of the things that users love most about this option is that it is composed of 100 percent polyester fleece that you can feel good about washing over and over again. Users found that even after multiple washes it is resistant to pilling, and maintains its softness over time. Plus, it is made from static-free materials that won’t shock you in cool dry climates.
We also like that this full-zip option boasts a quality zipper that won’t snag, and has a high collar that works to keep your neck warm. It comes in a wide variety of neutral and bright color options so you are sure to find a color to match your personal style. It also is made from tight-knit materials that work to wick sweat away from the body where it evaporates quickly on the surface.
If you are in the market for something that comes in at an incredibly affordable price point, this is a great option. It is made from quality materials that hold up well over multiple washes and works to keep you warm and dry in all types of climates.
4. The North Face Denali
Polartec 300 fleece
Drawcord bottom hem helps to retain body heat
The North Face Denali is a classic. This thing hasn’t changed a bit and doesn’t need to. This isn’t a ultra-lightweight, hyper engineered performance jacket. This is a well constructed, long lasting fleece jacket that performs well for many different uses.Read more
This is probably the warmest option on this list. The Polartec 300 fleece material is great for most cold environments, especially those where you tend to stay active and move around. The high collar and zip cord adjustable bottom hem also help with keeping the warmth trapped inside the jacket. For even harsher elements, the Denali is compatible with some outer shells from The North Face. There are snaps on each cuff which are used to secure the jacket inside of a compatible outer shell.
This is a heavier fleece, so you’re probably not going to wear it while lounging around the house. Keep in mind that the drawcord in the bottom hem tends to ride up when climbing, backpacking or other activities that require a lot of movement. Also, this model seems to be a bit on the shorter side.
This model features overlays made with a durable nylon material, which covers the shoulders, chest and elbows. This provides some added abrasion resistance to keep the jacket lasting longer. Most people who have picked one of these up can tell you that it will last for quite a while.
5. The North Face Osito 2
Soft raschel fleece
Fleece lined pockets
Not very breathable
The North Face women's Osito 2 jacket is one of their most popular lightweight fleece jackets, and for a good reason too. The fleece is soft and warm, made to last, and the overall design is very stylish.Read more
The North Face uses fleece for both the outer shell as well as the interior, providing proper insulation, though breathability is limited as a result. The lightweight material and roomy fit make it great for layering without feeling cumbersome.
The fit is feminine yet roomy and runs true to size. Both the outer and interior are made of high-pile raschel fleece that's soft on your skin. The pockets are fleece lined as well to keep your hands toasty.
While this jacket isn't water resistant, the thicker material means it'll take a bit more time for it to get wet than some thinner fleeces. Caring for this jacket is easy as well as it's machine washable and dryable, and the polyester fleece means it won't shrink either.
6. Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0
If you are a sucker for a soft sweater, the Steens Mountain 2.0 is one of the softest designs out there on the market. It is composed of incredibly soft materials that not only feel wonderful against your skin but also work to hold in moisture. It may cost a little bit more than some of the other designs that we have seen, but the added durability, design choices, and comfort make it well worth the slightly higher price tag.Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack is that it is composed of 100% polyester MTR filament fleece. This style of fleece boasts a tighter knit that is not only super soft but maintains it’s like-new feel over time. This style of fleece is less resistant to pilling, and holds its shape incredibly well, even after it is washed a few times.
We also like that this design boasts smart features that keep you warm and comfortable. A high zippered neckline works to hold in warmth, and it is soft enough to fold over when needed. It comes in a tone of design and color options so you will be sure to find an option that perfectly fits your personal style.
If you are in the market for a stylish and durable design that comes from a trusted brand, this option from Columbia is a great choice. Users love that it is composed of a tight-knit that is incredibly soft and maintains this high degree of softness even after multiple trips around the washing machine.
7. Columbia Fast Trek 2
Lots of pockets
True to size
Sleeves can run long on larger sizes
The Women's Fast Trek 2 has a warm and lightweight construction, lots of pockets to keep things nearby, and a stylish fit that looks good whether you're out on a run or staying inside.Read more
The lightweight fleece is great at providing insulation and heat retention without being too bulky. This is a lightweight jacket so you may need some extra layering in the event of low temperatures. Made from a 4-way stretch polyester outer it allows for a more relaxed feel, and the fleece inner is unbelievably soft.
The Columbia Fast Trek 2 comes in sizes ranging from extra small to extra large, and typically run true to size. The cut is flattering, and when fully zipped the collar comes quite high to keep your neck protected.
The outer material is 100% polyester, making it both long-lasting and easy to care for. It won't shrink or fade, and you won't have to worry about the inner or the outer pilling over time.
8. Black Diamond Coefficient
Full length zipper
Sleeves are too long for some
This fleece is a slim-cut and lightweight (367 grams) option. Reviewers boast the versatility of this fleece jacket and use it as both a base and a mid-layer. The PolarTec Power Dry fleece of this jacket will keep you warm. Added features such as an under-the-helmet hood and thumb loops work together to hold in warmth as well.Read more
The most loved feature of this jacket is its versatility and breathability. It is a perfect weight to wear on the slopes, under a shell, or running errands around. It is lightweight and compressible, making it incredibly portable. The inside of this jacket is soft and feels great against the bare skin.
This is a slim fit jacket. It is thin and compact, but still well insulated. Most reviewers agree that this fleece fits true to size. It's available in S-XL and in 3 different colors, including black, rust, and denim.
As with all of Black Diamond's products, this jacket is super durable. Whether you choose to believe in this or not, you will definitely be convinced by Black Diamond's warranty. If you are not satisfied with your item, they will replace, refund, or repair it.
9. Arc'teryx Covert
Stylish and durable
Good Front Zip System
Mid Range Fleece
Not for extremely cold climates
This great fleece has multiple uses, wear it to ski as an under jacket, a hiking trip, or even as a casual stylish jacket. When your out camping, this is the jacket to slip on during a chilly evening while you are sitting by a nice campfire.Read more
Because of its fleece mid-weight construction, it is not a jacket to wear on its own in extremely cold weather but it can be worn under another jacket in very cold conditions to provide an insulating double layer of warmth. If you choose to wear the jacket as a layer under another clothing item, the body-hugging fit ensures that the materials will not ripple or bunch up and cause discomfort.
Very comfortable fit, the design hugs the body while allowing a nice level of flexible body movement. The full zip feature pulls up nice and high to keep in body warmth.
A nice performance jacket with casual functionality and comes in at 18.70 ounces, so it’s light and not cumbersome, the fleecing sits at mid-weight, you get two secure pockets for carrying whatever you need. A clean cut design without frills or gimmicks and deserves to be seen as a good all-purpose jacket for singular use or for wearing as an additional layer.
10. Arctix Journey
Very long sleeves
This design from Artix is made from quality materials that are easy to care for, and holds up quite well over multiple washes. It is composed of fleece that is resistant to static and works to regulate your body temperature in a myriad of climates. Plus, it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.Read more
What makes this design unique is that it utilizes moisture-wicking technology that works to keep you dry and warm. Fleece has a reputation of being a little too hot and this material lifts sweat up and away from the body where it quickly evaporates on the surface. This material is so durable you can even toss it into the washing machine with warm water.
It offers a full-zip with quality zippers that users found don’t get stuck easily. A high collar is stiff enough to cover your neck, but it is also able to be folded down as well. It is composed of 100 percent polyester and is also pill resistant so it will look like new after subsequent washes.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this design from Artix. It is made from quality materials that are pill resistant, and are able to be tossed into the washing machine with warm water. Plus, it comes in at an affordable price point that won’t break the bank.
11. Marmot Reactor
Easy to layer
The Marmot Reactor is an inexpensive fleece for an adventurer who needs a warm mid-layer without any frilly extras. This jacket is an efficient lightweight fleece with very good breathability.Read more
It is an excellent insulator; because of the surprising warmth and it's lightweight feel, it makes an excellent mid-layer. It will keep you warm without making you feel bulky. It also features Angel Wing Movement, allowing you to raise your arms without lifting up the bottom of the jacket.
No fleece is expected to hold up against heavy conditions like rain or snow because they are primarily meant to insulate. But, the Marmot Reactor fares better than most other jackets on our list when it comes to repelling mist and light rain.
THERMA-STAR brushed fleece
Looking for something that is a little more affordable? What we loved about this option from Starter is that it comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank, and it doesn’t skimp on materials used. This lightweight option is designed for more chilling spring or autumn afternoons, and not so much for harsh winter weather.Read more
What users love most about this design is that it is incredibly lightweight and easy to wear. It is made from THERMA-STAR brushed fleece that is incredibly soft and also works to hold in the heat without weighing you down.
We also like that this design boasts smart features like zippered pockets to store your extra gear. It has a high neckline that is able to be folded down, and a chest pocket that is ideal for phones or car keys for safe storage.
If you are in the market for something that comes in at an affordable price point to wear in the spring or layer under a winter coat, this option from Starter is an excellent choice. We love that it is lightweight and easy to wear, and boasts smart features to make your life a little easier.
13. Tommy Hilfiger Classic
Many color options
Looking for the perfect blend of style and performance? This stylish design is composed of quality materials that are a cinch to toss into the washing machine. It comes in a wide variety of color options, and users find that this design fits just as expected when using the sizing chart provided. It may cost a little bit more than most, but we feel that it is worth every penny!Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it has a slightly longer fit when compared to other designs that we have seen. It is made from 100 percent polyester polar fleece that is incredibly lightweight as well as warm. Plus, it has a few extra features not found on other designs.
What makes this option stand out from the rest is the inclusion of a lined hood. A high zippered neckline and the addition of a hood work to really keep you warm when the temperatures drop. It also has elastic banding on the cuffs to work to hold in warmth.
While this design does a fantastic job of keeping you warm without weighing you down, it also has a stylish design. It is offered in unique colors that include various shades of white, red, and blue that are sure to generate quite a few compliments this winter!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
We wanted to be sure that the best and most suitable choices provide an acceptable, if not exceptional, level of warmth to the wearer.
We looked for features such as a fairly secure waist, well-fitting collar or hood, and snug fitting cuffs. These are a few things that help greatly in retaining body heat. We also looked at the material. We wanted to know whether it is high-quality fleece or poorly made fabric that allows the wind to breeze right through.
Who wants to spend a lot of money on a jacket that is uncomfortable?
We didn’t just pay attention to whether the jackets were comfortable as a stand-alone piece of outerwear. We also wanted to know how comfortable and adaptable the fleece jackets were when paired with other garments. We tested if the lightweight fleece jackets bunched up when worn underneath a hard-shell, whether the cuffs were too tight, whether there were parts that seemed to fit too snug or too loose.
This has less to do with overall comfort, and more to do with functional fit, especially when performing specific activities such as rock climbing, alpine climbing, and even intense trekking.
You don’t want to wear something too loose, an extra loose fit that tends to bunch up under the rest of your winter gear.
We also took note of the reviewers' thoughts about the fit. Whether or not the jackets ran true to. Overall you want a jacket that is going to fit comfortably and the best way that you will ensure this is by checking the customer reviews.
Whatever option you choose, it has to stand up to anything that you intend to throw at it.
The stitching should be strong, the material should be durable enough regardless of the weather conditions outside. Again, customer reviews are key when it comes to this criterion as reading reviews will tell you how well the jackets held over time.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you know that you will be adding and removing layers throughout the day, look for a lightweight fleece jacket with a full zipper. A jacket with a zipper is super easy to put on and take off!
Fleece works best as a mid-layer. Having a comfortable, lightweight shirt underneath is perfect. Depending on the weather, you could have anywhere between 3 and 10 layers.
Other Factors to Consider
While this is a less important feature for some jackets, it sure is convenient. Some fabrics are naturally moisture wicking and others are treated with a DWR finish. If you know that you will be spending a lot of time in a cold and rainy environment, check the materials and finish of the jacket. This didn't make our main criteria list because many of the best fleece jackets for are thin enough to be layered and it would be simple to throw a rain jacket over your fleece lined jacket.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why is fleece so popular?
Fleece is popular because it insulates, it’s very comfortable against the skin, and has good durability.
q: I have read comments in which front zip systems are described as good for body heat control, is this really true?
When a jacket is fully zipped up and closed, your body will not only retain more heat but depending on the breathability of the fabric, the heat inside the jacket will build up. By using the zip system to adjust and open your jacket you allow heat to escape and air ventilation as well so that your body temperature can stabilize.
q: What are the advantages of shell jackets?
Shell jackets work through adding mid layers of clothing along with base layers. These jackets do not have built-in insulation and are designed to protect from the rain and the wind.
q: Which materials are best at preventing from water and wind?
Waxed coated materials are highly resistant to rain and wind. Very tightly woven synthetic materials are also known as good protectors against water and cold chilly wind getting to you inside your jacket.
- Fleece Guide: How to Choose a Fleece, Website ,