No longer the preserve of dads, climbers and middle-aged ramblers, fleece jackets are making a comeback. But which brand to choose?
Fleece has come a long way since it was first invented in the ‘70s. After five decades of tinkering, there’s a whole range of considerations to take into account. Thick pile or lightweight polyester? Sherpa or stretchy? Hoods or pockets? The best fleece jacket brands offer ranges that can be worn both as an outer layer on warmer days and as a mid-layer underneath a shell jacket or thick coat in colder climates. They’re comfy and cosy too. It goes without saying that temperature-regulating fabrics are essential (no one wants to overheat in a fleece), but brands must also prioritize functional design too, such as inside pockets, thumb loops and hardwearing cuffs. With so many brands to choose from, we’ve cherry-picked five of the best fleece jacket brands for men and women based on price, design, feedback and editorial option.
It took over a decade of experimentation for founder Yvon Chouinard to create a fabric that was both warm and moisture-absorbent. Eventually, he invented fleece. The signature Pagatonia Pile Fleece Jacket was released in 1977 and five decades on the brand is still setting the benchmark for quality and design. The brand boasts some serious eco-credentials too. It’s been named a UN Champion of the Earth, thanks to initiatives such as the ‘earth tax’ and commitment to recycling and reusing. There are now dozens of fleeces to choose from, ranging retro thick pile to 100% polyester.
Find out more at Patagonia.com
This millennial brand started life as an outdoor clothing brand for climbers, so you could say they’re experts in cold weather. There are more than two dozen men’s fleece jackets and hoodies and over 30 women’s fleece jackets to choose from, available in a wide range of colours, patterns and designs. All jackets combine easy warmth with style, made with premium 100% recycled fabrics. The TKA range, available for men and women, is one of the most popular models, delivering lightweight, breathable warmth in a ludicrously cosy package.
Find out more at TheNorthFace.com
This boutique brand comes from the snow-covered peaks of the Wasatch Mountains in the USA, famed for its relentless weather and challenging conditions. Specialising in outerwear, KÜHL clothing is made to move with you, through stretch panels, reinforced pockets and cuffs. There’s a good range of fleece jackets to choose from, each featuring high-quality technical fabrics for superior warmth, comfort and durability. The Interceptor is hard to beat, with its Alfrapaca gold performance fleece, Kashmira side panels to increase breathability and signature thumb loops for easier layering.
Find out more at Kuhl.com
This Canadian brand offers an excellent range of all-around fleece for men and women. Fleece jackets are made with high-performance weather protection and materials designed for maximum versatility for multiple activities. Take the Convert Cardigan. This full-zip jacket is well structured, comfortable and versatile, thanks to sleek styling and a woolly appearance. Equally, the Kyanite doesn’t look place in any environment – from the office to the mountains. Polartec engineering helps regulate temperatures too. Fleece jackets sit at the upper end of the price spectrum, though they might cost you less in the long run given how hard-wearing they are.
Find out more at Arc’Tyrex.com
UK-based Rab is an expert in keeping people cosy. While the brand offers a wide range of outdoor gear, from hats to sleeping bags, fleece jackets have long been one of their staple sales. The brand offers close to 30 fleece jackets for men and 24 fleece jackets for women, available in a wide range of colours, weights and styles. Fleeces are affordably priced – most under $100 – and are designed to last a lifetime. In theory, garments are “designed by climbers, for climbers”, but the jackets are so stylish that they won’t look out of place on the high street either.
Find out more at Rab.equiptment.uk