The Synchilla is easy to throw on before heading out for a walk or bike ride, and perfect for wearing out on the town after a day skiing. Of the two available Synchilla versions, we like the lightweight best, which is about 4 ounces less than the regular but surprisingly thick and warm.
Fit is a little baggy for our taste. We love the heavyweight fabrics, which provide the most warmth and wind protection of any jacket on this list. The weight fleece is thick and made to last, and the shoulders and chest feature nylon panels that resist light wind and moisture. For moderate fall and early winter days, the Denali 2 can be your only outer layer.
Keep in mind The North Face Denali 2 is the heaviest and bulkiest fleece on this list. At nearly 25 ounces and lacking in any real compression abilities, this is not a jacket that is easily stowed away in a pack.
A great value for a full-zip fleece jacket. Not as warm as other options. What do you sacrifice by going with a fleece like the Marmot Reactor?
In addition, the fit is a little loose and mobility falls short compared with higher-end fleeces with more bells and whistles. But for most uses, the Reactor will hold up just fine and is a great value. For an even cheaper option from Columbia, see the Steens Mountain 2.
Cozy and very agile. Design is on the technical side for daily wear. The jacket breathes exceptionally well, has a tough face fabric, and offers great mobility. If you plan on really getting after it this fall and winter, the Fortrez Hoody can be your Swiss Army Knife fleece jacket.
Keep in mind that virtually everything about the Fortrez Hoody is built for active use, from the stretchy fabrics and athletic fit to the serious hood that fits snugly around the neck and chin. If you only plan on wearing your fleece around town, the Fortrez probably is too much jacket.
Classy looks and versatile performance. Lets a lot of wind in and ages somewhat quickly. Patagonia has more fleece options than just about any other gear company, ranging from the casual Synchilla Snap-T to the performance Regulator R series. Sitting conveniently in the middle is the popular Better Sweater, which can be used for anything from daily wear to light outdoor activities.
More, the Better Sweater is stylish and comes in a multitude of colorways that will make just about everyone happy. More, the Better Sweater has a tendency to let wind in and age a little more quickly than it should. But we do love the versatility: For a slimmer fit and added stretch panels on the side, see the Performance Better Sweater. Fantastic performance and technical features. What are the downsides of the CoEfficient Hoody? More, you only get a single chest pocket and the fit is very snug fit—similar to the Fortrez above.
But as an all-out performance piece for high-output activities, the BD CoEfficient is at the top of its class A great value for a quality full-zip fleece. Quality materials and good looks. Pricey and no hand pockets. In typical fashion, this jacket has a high-end look and feel that few brands are able to emulate.
For the build, Fjallraven uses a unique polyester and wool blend that does a nice job at keeping you warm while still retaining a decent amount of moisture wicking ability and stretch.
The end result is a very comfortable and functional fleece that also looks the part. Like many Fjallraven products, the Keb Fleece toes the line between casual and performance use. Great mix of performance and casual features.
Pricey for not a lot of warmth. With a gridded finish on the exterior, soft touch interior, and premium weight fleece, the Delta LT wicks moisture and breathes exceptionally well. For lightweight, cozy, and efficient warmth, the Delta LT is the whole package. As a performance midlayer or if you like a semi-trim cut, we prefer the Delta LT over the Marmot Reactor above.
But we give the edge overall to the Reactor because of price: Even with the large price gap, we really like the Delta LT—just not enough to rank it any higher. Combination of warm high-loft fleece and performance R1 fabric. Not very wind or water resistant.
Patagonia discontinued their R3 this year, making the R2 their new go-to fleece for active outdoor pursuits in the cold. The jacket features a combination of high-loft fleece over the core of the body and stretchy material on the side panels, sleeves, and cuffs the same fabric that makes up the popular R1. This combination gives the jacket the breathability, light weight, and freedom of movement of a baselayer, but the core warmth of a thick fleece.
Although the R2 is relatively light and packable for a fleece, synthetic and down jackets that offer similar warmth are lighter, pack down smaller, and provide more wind and water resistance. Furthermore, whereas the R2 is sized relatively trim, these other jackets are made to layer on top of bulky baselayers. But on the other hand, the R2 breathes better than a puffy jacket, has a cozier feel, and offers a more casual look.
For a dedicated high-output fleece, check out the R1, which takes away the high-loft R2 fabric and adds a hood for a truly lightweight and performance-oriented layer. Great price and good warmth. Shorter lifespan than a premium model.
A value-minded fleece like the Titan Pass does come with a few compromises. The Polartec fleece is comfy and warm, but it is prone to pilling up after extended wear and washing. See the Men's Columbia Titan Pass 2. Super soft and cozy. Fleece sheds over time. And you should expect some fleece to shed as something this fuzzy tends to rub off on occasion. But in terms of coziness, this fleece is right near the top. A lot of warmth and weather protection in a lightweight package. Not durable, lacks the coziness of many fleece jackets.
The result is a jacket that is warmer than others of similar weight, but equally breathable and packable. We consider the Deviator a staple part of our layering lineup, but over the years it has disappointed us in a few ways.
For one, the 7D ripstop nylon sealing in the insulation is unsurprisingly not very durable. Secondly, the fit of the Deviator has not impressed us—one size feels too short, while the other seems overly baggy.
But for active insulation during a hike or a fleece jacket to wear in basecamp, the Deviator is definitely deserving of a close look.
Lack of hood and chest pocket detract from performance. The Los Padres jacket is just one of a couple on this list that combines wool into the fleece for extra warmth even when wet and added breathability. Unfortunately, the omission of a hood and zippered pockets keep it from being up there with the top performers. Tons of colors and sizes. Soft, inexpensive, and offered in a ton of sizes and colors, the Steens Mountain is a very popular budget fleece.
First and foremost, this is a very simple jacket: For its weight and bulk, the Steens Mountain does very little to trap warmth or keep out wind, nor is it super breathable. Thin and lower build quality. Rounding out this list, their Co-op Fleece Jacket is another good example of a legitimate budget option. But realistically, the Co-op Fleece Jacket is not high-end in nature. But this jacket certainly is competitive with the Marmot Reactor and Columbia Steens Mountain, which makes sense given its reasonable price point.
The majority of people wear fleece jackets for their unbeatable combination of coziness and warmth. They are terrific for layering on chilly evenings, wearing around the cabin, and underneath your ski jacket.
There were many differences between the types of material used on the products that we tested, with some even having multiple types on one jacket. The simple fleece pile of old has now morphed into many new and different kinds, from hi-loft and silken "raschel" fleeces to gridded fabrics.
Polartec, the leading synthetic material manufacturer, now makes more than two dozen different types of fleece, and almost all of the models that we tested were made with Polartec brand material. Fleece keeps you warm by trapping warm air around your body in the spaces between the fibers. The hi-loft fabrics have thousands of hairs that can trap and retain warmth, and even a relatively thin jacket like the Patagonia R2 kept us warm thanks to its hi-loft material. Some thinner jackets, like the Patagonia R1 Hoody , were relatively warm for their weight, thanks to increased coverage from thumb loops and full face balaclava.
The thinner Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody was not a particularly warm jacket, but when the wind kicked up the "Hardshell" coating on the fleece made it retain warmth better than other more porous models. Another feature that helped to seal in warmth was a cinch cord hem like the one found on The North Face Denali Jacket.
Cinching down the bottom of the jacket on cool and windy days prevented updrafts and minimized heat loss. This is one attribute that makes fleece jackets unique from other types of outdoor gear, so it is a major purchasing consideration.
We might not think about how cozy a ski or rain jacket is, but when it comes to a layer that we will often wear against the skin, we need it to feel good! When we were evaluating for comfort, we considered each product's details, like whether the zippers scratched the skin and if the pockets were lined with fleece. We paid attention to how fit affected our comfort and recorded which fleeces had cozy thumb loops and hoods.
Finally, on the models that stood out for their lack of coziness, like The North Face Denali Jacket , we took note of the qualities that made them less comfortable. Sometimes comfort is sacrificed for performance. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is not particularly cozy, but it is a technical beast, and we love it anyway. The zipper ends at the navel and doesn't sit under a waistbelt, eliminating any bunching or pressure points in that area.
The silky material on the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was also very comfortable against the skin, and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was so comfortable that we could wear it all day long without it bothering us at all. There are many reasons why you'll want to consider layering ability when purchasing a fleece jacket. We considered how easy it was to wear a base layer underneath each piece and how easily we could wear it under a shell or insulated jacket.
And we also wore or tried to wear each model under a climbing harness and a backpack. All of these are important characteristics to consider when selecting your next fleece jacket.
When it came to using these models as a layer under a shell and insulated jacket, the lightweight and midweight fleeces excelled, as they tended to be cut closer to the body and have a slimmer profile, along with thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody , as well as the Patagonia R1 and R2, easily fit under an insulated ski jacket without any restriction in the arms.
The Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was a little too bulky to fit under a backpack but still layered easily with baselayers and outerwear. As for the jackets being their own outer layer, some models, like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody , had room for a light base layer underneath but not much else due to a tight fit in the shoulders.
The Denali was the opposite, as it could fit any of the other fleeces we tested underneath it. The Marmot Flashpoint also had a roomier cut, and we could layer both over and under it. When it comes to layering under a pack or climbing harness, there are some other construction details to consider, like seams and zippers.
Most of the models that we tested had a raglan style sleeve construction, where the seaming at the shoulder cuts across horizontally off the shoulder, moving the seams out of the way of pack straps. This is to avoid having the straps of your pack dig the seams into your shoulders. This is a nice construction detail and selling point, but not an immediately obvious difference. While you might start to feel the seams digging into you after hours on the trail with a heavy pack, we weren't able to discern a difference during a minute hike with a pound pack.
When choosing a fleece jacket to wear under a pack or climbing harness, our testers found that the more streamlined the fit, like on the Patagonia R2 Jacket , the better. Otherwise, the material tends to bunch up around the waist and become uncomfortable, like on the Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was just a hair too short in the torso and tended to ride up under our harnesses and hip belts.
When gearing up for outdoor activities in cold weather, ease of movement is another key consideration. If you're using a fleece for a technical winter activity, usually you'll be wearing it underneath a shell or, in really cold weather, an insulated jacket.
So we tried on these fleeces under a tight-fitting soft shell, a down jacket, and an insulated ski jacket. Not surprisingly, the lightest and thinnest pieces, like the Marmot Flashpoint , Patagonia R1 and Outdoor Research Deviator , made the best mid-layers. Less bulk made for a greater range of motion in our shoulders and arms and didn't leave us feeling like a stuffed sausage. Another standout was the Patagonia R2. The contrasting panels of stretch fleece on the sides increased the ease of movement.
These are the layers you put on after a climb, not during. Making fleece material more breathable has been a decades-long process for the outdoor gear industry. The original Patagonia fleeces were great until you started hiking in them and your sweat puddled up on the inside, leaving you cold and clammy.
With the advent of newer, high-tech materials, those days are a thing of the past. The technical models that we tested all have different means to wick the moisture generated from your exertion away from your body and out of the material.
The fleece in the Outdoor Research Deviator and Patagonia R1 has grid lines that provide a lot of ventilation. In the Patagonia R2 and Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover , the material is more lofted with microscopic holes throughout to allow moisture to escape. Each of these systems seems to work very well in their own unique way — the main downfall being that whatever allows moist air to escape will also allow cool air back in.
The uniform fabric on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody didn't allow for as much breathability as the other technical options, but it did provide more protection from the wind. It seems as though you do have to make a choice when purchasing one of these layers, and that is whether breathability is your main concern or protection from the wind. If you are looking for a cross-country skiing layer, opt for breathability, but if you need something for alpine climbing, protection from the wind would be a greater concern.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody does give you a little bit of both, as the lightweight grid fleece in the back vents well, while the synthetic insulation and nylon shell in the front helps to break the wind a bit. Most of the women's fleece jackets that we reviewed provided very little protection from the wind.
Although we typically recommend using this type of jacket in conjunction with a shell or wind breaker, if you're looking for a do-it-all option, the "Hardface Technology" on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody does an excellent job of cutting the wind on a blustery day, for a fleece that is.
The material is still relatively thin, and it does not provide the same wind blocking protection as a dedicated wind jacket. You can read our Women's Wind Breaker Jacket review for more information on the many uses of that layer. Not surprisingly, models like the Patagonia R2 that were the most breathable were also most susceptible to the wind.
If you carry a breathable fleece into the backcountry, make sure to always bring along a shell in case the wind picks up. As with wind protection, very few products that we tested provided any protection from the rain. While fleece is naturally hydrophobic the fibers don't absorb water like cotton does , water can still saturate through the material and get you wet.
It is still not designed to keep you dry in a heavy rain, but the finish does make it more versatile than any of the other models we reviewed. The North Face Denali Jacket has nylon panels on its shoulders, and water did bead up and roll off that jacket, so it will keep you drier in a light rain. The nylon shell on the front of the Outdoor Research Deviator also repels water, but the arms and back do not.
While these models might give you a bit more time to find shelter if you get caught out in a storm, it's best to always carry an impermeable layer with you on your adventures. This is a bit of a subjective category as everyone's style is different. Some people like wearing bright colors and don't mind looking like a Muppet, and others prefer more muted tones. If you live in a mountain town, the de rigueur fashion is technical fleece jackets and Sorels at the bar.
In a big city, you might still wear a casual fleece jacket around town but want it to have a more stylish look, like the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. So, we polled our friends both male and female and asked them to weigh in on their favorite stylish pieces to try and form a consensus. We'll note here that we rated style "by fleece standards," recognizing that fleeces are not the sexiest piece of clothing you'll ever wear.
One of the sleekest models reviewed was the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody. The smooth face and trim cut is flattering, and this model received a lot of compliments for its looks. It hints at the original fleece pullovers of old, without the neon color schemes and super boxy cut.
Most of the models were cut with a tapered silhouette to be more flattering, except for The North Face Denali. It still has a boxy cut circa the 's fashion, and it was not a tester favorite. While we didn't rate the jackets based on their fit since fit is different for everyone , there were significant differences in the way that some of the pieces were cut, even within a single brand.
We have noticed that on most of The North Face models, the arm length tends to run short, much to the annoyance of our testers with long wingspans. To compare the different fits, check out the composite images below, which includes photos of each fleece on one model. The fleece jacket's ability to resist moisture, retain warmth and dry quickly makes it the perfect addition to the active woman's gear list. With the array of different models on the market, it can be tough to pick just one.
It is our goal to help you make your selection by reading through our extensive tests and ratings. You can also check out our Buying Advice article for more information on fleece material and construction, and some extra tips on what to look for when purchasing your next one. The Best Women's Fleece Jackets of Displaying 1 - 5 of 9. Updated May We've recently updated our review to make sure we have all the latest and greatest options for you to check out.
We still love the Patagonia R1 and it's our favorite overall option for layering and other cold-weather activities, but we were impressed by all of the three new models above and they each won an award as well.
Keep reading below to see why. See all prices 3 found. See all prices 4 found. See all prices 5 found. We tested the different models based on their warmth, comfort, breathablity, layering ability, ease of movement, wind and water protection, and style and fit. High-loft fleeces have thousand of tiny hairs that help trap warmth.
They are also soft to the touch. The North Face Osito was one of the warmest layers in our review. It worked well as a warm mid-layer on the ski hill, or as an outer layer on not-too-cold days. Here we're wearing it over the Patagonia R1.
And if you are looking for a combination fleece/shell jacket, check out The Best Softshell Jacket for Women Review. The "Hardface Technology" on the Arc'teryx Fortrez helps block the wind, and the hood and face gaiter help keep you warm and protected on a blustery day. A zippered jacket provides the best possibilities for ventilation on the go, but if you are perpetually cold or just don’t care for the look of a zipper you might want to go for a pull-over fleece . Discover the best Women's Fleece Jackets & Coats in Best Sellers. Find the top most popular items in Amazon Best Sellers.