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Best Fleece Jacket: Staying Warm for The Winter

Best fleece jacket
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

When looking for the best fleece jacket, there’s a lot to consider.  A fleece jacket is intended to give you the lightest attire with the greatest range of motion so you can move about freely while out in the intensely cold winter weather.

You’ll want to choose from the leading fleece jackets on the market because you want to make sure that you’re not only comfortable, but that the jacket moves with you, and is thermally efficient.

Read on and find out more about fleece jacket features and what you need to give thought to when you are looking to make a fleece jacket investment for yourself or for another.

What’s That Fleece Made Of?

The design of the jacket falls second to the materials used to make it.  You don’t want a fabric that proves to be irritating to the skin because no matter how well the jacket fits if it is driving you crazy by making you want to scratch your skin off, then it is hardly worth the investment.

Fleece jacket

Soft, gentle, and fluffy are the desired characteristics of today’s fleece, and the softer the better.  In the ’70s, the consumer saw the first fleece jackets made of synthetic materials, and since that time manufacturers in the industry have put in a lot of time in developing fleece fabric options.  Some of the fabrics you might encounter in synthetic fleece options include:

  • Polyester
  • Cotton
  • Polyester/cotton blend

The ratio you will encounter in terms of materials varies from one jacket to another, but on average it runs about 60% cotton and 40% polyester.  The ratio makes it easy to identify fleece jackets that will prove long lasting will provide incredible warmth during the cold winter months.

Unlike down-filled coats that, once wet, can no longer promise you any degree of thermal efficiency, the above-mentioned materials can be added to a jacket to keep you warm. The spaces that form in the fabric also help to capture warmth and allow it to linger near the body.

There are benefits and disadvantages associated with the synthetic and fleece fibers and it would behoove you to know the difference between the two kinds of material as it can help in the buying decision.  Take a quick look at the pros and cons of synthetic materials versus genuine fleece:

  • Synthetic materials are very inexpensive so you can save a ton of money with this choice in your next coat. Not only are the synthetic materials less costly, you can usually get them with water-repelling properties integrated into the jacket.
    You will find, however, that this type of material proves to be a lot heavier than down materials, and the longevity of the synthetic fibers in the coat may come into question in the future unless you buy a brand that is well known for its remarkable manufacturing techniques.
  • If you desire 100% genuine fleece materials, these jackets are few and far between, as they are most costly to manufacture in terms of materials. A jacket with genuine fleece might even be a bit heavier than one made from synthetic options.
    If you want an item that is water and/or windproof, then this is not the type of fleece jacket for you. Yes, fleece is water-resistant, but not waterproof.

Breathability

If you’ve ever worn a coat or jacket that keeps all the heat in and lets none out, then you know you’ve worn a coat that does not breathe.

Breathability

When a coat or jacket has an exceptional breathability factor, you can count on it allowing out some excess body heat so that you won’t overheat and start sweating in cold weather.

Down cannot keep you warm if you happen to get it  wet, so no matter how good they feel, the down coat options are not a great winter weather option.

When choosing a fleece jacket for outdoor sports or activities, breathability becomes a factor you really can’t ignore.

The more you move around outside, the warmer you become, and soon, if you are not wearing material that breathes, you’re going to perspire like a monster.  Once you sweat, you might even start to get chills as the perspiration begins to evaporate naturally.

What about Weight?

You will want a lightweight jacket, especially if you are wearing the coat for vigorous outdoor activities.  The lighter the jacket, the better, as it will prove great for skiing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, and more.

Lighter jackets don’t have to compromise heat efficiency either, as there are special features that add to the increased thermal proprieties of today’s fleece wear.

One word to note, just as a lightweight jacket will make it easier for you to move around, bear in mind that some special features can be integrated into the jacket that can make the item more moveable, malleable, and flexible.

Angel wing movement, for example, allows for the free movement of the arms along the path of movement you would have if you have angel wings; thus, when you reach your arms up high, you can count on a well-fitting jacket to cling to the body properly and not climb upward when you move your body in certain ways.

Man with fleece jacket

Fleece jackets are well-liked because they give you the warmth of a heavy coat without the weight associated with it.  The jackets are soft to the touch, offer a relaxing fit, and they are easy to care for because they don’t run, shrink or unravel.

Polyester is one of the main materials in fleece making the jackets easy to wash and dry.  Best of all, the moisture wicking properties help to keep you dry and warm and the fleece materials make jackets water-resistant as well.

Extra Niceties

Some features you might not find on every fleece jacket, but these same special features prove to make the jackets that do have them just a little bit more enticing. Consider some of the extras below to enhance the functionality of the fleece jacket you buy:

  • Stand-up collar: A stand up collar allows you to pull up the collar to help keep the wind off the neck.  A fantastic feature if you forget your scarf.
  • Angel wing movement: Gives you freedom of motion without worrying about jacket ride up when lifting your arms.
  • Laminated Pockets: Let you keep things inside your pockets dry and secure.
  • Kangaroo Pockets: Large, pouch-like pockets mean more storage space for when you are on the go.
  • Zipper and sleeve pockets: Sleeve pockets deliver up even more space, and zippers secure everything inside. Some of these pockets even offer up extra hand warming features.
  • Ribbed sleeves: Cling the sleeve close to the skin so no air or wind can ride up into the sleeves.

Fleece Jacket Reviews of The Top Options on The Market

Below are the eight best men’s fleece jacket selections on the market today.  The reviews below are based on the features of the jackets, the level of warmth they deliver, and even their fashionable style is considered along with their overall function and longevity.

Prices are also included as an important consideration, but one you should consider secondary to the comfort a fleece jacket supplies.  Related fleece choices are also included so you can expand your buying options even further.

Patagonia R1 Fleece Jacket for Men

Patagonia R1 Fleece Jacket for Men

Weight: 12 ounces

Sizes: Medium and Large

Dimensions: 16 x 10 x 3 inches

Colors: Classic Red, Black, Forge Grey, Hunter Green, and Electron Blue

Specifications: Iconic design, breathable, made of Polartec Powergrid Materials; four pockets, slim fit, thermal efficiency, clean style.

Best Use: Climbing, Backcountry touring, expedition and alpine use.

Description: The R1 Fleece Jacket is priced between $119.99 and $313.85. The Polartec Power Grid design consists of two types of material: the jackets are made of 7% Spandex, and 93% recycled polyester.

The jackets come in a slim fit so they fit comfortably to the body thereby intensifying thermal efficiency.  The pockets are numerous, in fact numbering four, with two zipper hand pockets and two meshed in internal pockets on the inside of the jacket.

Related: The Patagonia Mens Lightweight Regular Fit Fleece Jacket is made of 100% polyester so you are assured long lasting, durable fabric and ease of care.  The jacket comes in multiple colors for ease of personalization. If you’d like a sleeveless option, you can choose the Patagonia Better Sweater Vest instead.

Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody – Men’s

Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody - Men’s

Weight: 1.3 pounds

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large

Dimensions: 14 x 11 x 3 inches

Colors: Carbon Copy, Nighthawk, Thalo Blue, Oxblood, Chipotle, Riptide, Mantis Green, Adriatic Blue, Anaconda, Azul, Basalt, and Stellar Orange.

Specifications: 100% polyester materials; multiple colors availability, flatlock seam construction, Phasic AR panel nests in the hood’s interior; abrasion resistant; Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology, smooth face, and phasic AR panels inside the hood allowing for use of a neck gaiter of balaclava. Plenty of pockets.

Best Use: Alpine conditions

Description: The Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody is priced between $134.99 and $533.17 is an attractive selection with a reasonable price.  The coat is easy to personalize with a huge choice of colors available.

The coat has Flatlock seam construction helping to ensure lasting comfort by eliminating any irritation to your skin when you are wearing it.

Perfect for alpine conditions: The coat is fitted with Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology: Elastic fibers with improved resilience to allow for stretching of the fabric and returning to its natural formation.

The latter feature ensures the jacket holds up well during performance-based activities and provides the benefit of easy product care, breathability, and moisture wicking properties in addition to the awesome stretch resilience.

The coat has a smooth face allowing for layers and moisture shedding.  The coat clings close to the body thereby enhancing moisture vapor transfer and intensifying thermal efficiency. You get a chest pocket and two hand pockets for lots of storage.

Related: The Arcteryx Atom LT Jacket has a similar design to the coat above and comes in a ton of color preferences for ease of personalization, and the Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket is abrasion resistant and capable of shedding both water and snow with ease.

Marmot Men’s Reactor Jacket

Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket

Weight: 12 ounces

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large

Dimensions: 19 x 16 x 2 inches

Colors: Black, Cobalt Blue, Cinder, Dark Fern, Team Red, Leaf, Dark Crimson, Green Lichen, Sunset Orange, and Blue Night.

Specifications: 10 colors, Angel-wing movement, Bonded zipper sleeve pocket, Limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, Polartec fleece, Wind flap, 100% Polyester Velour Micro Fleece, 100 weight fleece, Flat lock construction, Breathable, Moisture vapor movement non-restricted, Elastic draw cord hem inclusion, Machine washable, Quick drying, Polartec Material, and Quick-drying durability.

Best Use: Alpine conditions, extreme cold weather

Description: The Marmot Men’s Reactor Jacket is on the entry level end of pricing and this makes it more than affordable with prices ranging from $60.00 to $223.58.  You can easily personalize the purchase of the Marmot Reactor Jacket by choosing one of ten colors.

The coat offers Angel-wing movement so you can lift your arms up over your head without worrying about the annoyance of the coat creeping up your mid-drift. The Bonded zipper sleeve pocket ensures your storage remains safe inside the pocket.

The coat is made with Polartec 100% Polyester Velour Micro Fleece and features a wind flap to ensure superior warmth.  The flat lock construction ensures a snug fit against the body and thermal efficiency.

Though warm, the coat is breathable and the moisture vapor movement is not restricted in any way. You can ensure lasting comfort even in the coldest times by using the elastic draw cord hem to tighten up the coat and block out incoming air and wind.

Easy to machine wash and quick to try makes caring for the coat a breeze. The Limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer ensures you can buy with confidence.  This fleece jacket repels snow, water, and rain.

Related:  If you are looking for something more affordable with the same branding, you can opt for the Marmot Alpinist Tech JacketMarmot Alpinist Tech Jacket for men priced between $70 and $125; the coat is made of 100% Polyester Grid Fleece and comes in six colors.

Or, another alternative can be found in the Marmot Drop Line Fleece for Men, priced between $60.55 and $100.00, which is available in three colors; the lightweight coat is made of 100% polyester materials.

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket – Men’s

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket - Men’s

Weight: 14.8 ounces

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large

Dimensions: 24 x 15 x 3 inches

Colors: Black, Titanium, Greenscape/Utility Green, Azul, Dark Fire, Phoenix Blue, Hardwear Navy, Shark Black, Smolder and Red/Hardwear Navy.

Specifications: 97% polyester materials / 3% Elastane materials, Chest pocket, Comfortable, intensely warm, Lightweight, MicroClimate Zoning construction, Polartec Thermal Pro Body, Soft feel, strategically zoned fabric, thermally efficient, Upgraded from the original Monkey Man design, and Zipper handwarmer pockets.

Best Use: Alpine Conditions

Description: The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket is another affordable fleece jacket selection with a price tag ranging between $98.88 and $150.00.  The jacket features a MicroClimate Zoning construction which provides the coat with the ability to stretch, breathe, and provide maximum warmth.

The coat has a sizable chest pocket for storage of maps or other important items. This fleece jacket is an upgrade of the original Monkey Man design, which has toned down on the amount of down so you can layer other items with the coat instead.

The lightweight design makes this coat a coveted design, and the amount of thermal efficiency the jacket offers ensures you can endure the cold weather outdoors in maximum comfort.  Personalization of the coat is a breeze, just choose from one of 10 colors.

Related: The original Monkey Man Jacket is available in black and blue, but a thicker profile than the Monkey Man 200 Jacket. As an alternative, you can also try the Android II Jacket: available in seven colors, the jacket features an air shield core softshell made of polyester.

Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket – Men’s

Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket - Men’s

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large

Dimensions: 13.9 x 13.7 x 2.6 inches

Colors: Black, Cayenne, Dark Olympus, Poseidon, Oxblood, Mantis Green, Adriatic Blue, Magma, and Venom.

Specifications: 100% nylon materials, e3D patterning -athletic helmet compatible, best protection in wet and cold weather, chest pockets, engineered with N80p-X GORE-TEX hardware face fabric, internal laminated pockets, pit zippers with watertight features, quiet and soft materials, resist abrasion, snow, and sheds water, and it has a single sleeve pocket.

Best Use: Cold and wet weather, Alpine conditions

Description: The Arcteryx Alpha SV is priced between $508.90 and $749.00. This fleece jacket is made 100% nylon materials ensuring a comfortable fit and ease of care. The jacket is compatible with an athletic helmet and offers plenty of storage with dual chest pockets.

Each pocket is laminated inside to keep your personal items protected. You also get a single arm pocket.  The Arcteryx Alpha SV is quiet and soft when you move in it. Since it resists snow and abrasions as well as sheds water, you are promised a long-lasting fleece jacket to wear and you’ll remain warm and dry.

It also features pit zippers that are watertight to keep dampness out and to increase thermal efficiency.  The jacket is guaranteed waterproof and comes in a breathable standard fit in a 30-inch center back length.

Fully taped seams ensure the longevity of the jacket, and the selection has underarm zips for venting. It even comes with a lifetime warranty.

Related: the Arc’teryx Men’s Beta AR is available in as many as 14 colors and is made of durable nylon materials. The Arcteryx Alpha AR jacket is durable and features water-repellent properties.

The North Face Men’s Khumbu 2 Jacket

The North Face Men's Khumbu 2 Jacket

Weight: 2 pounds

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, and XXX-Large

Dimensions: 26 x 17 x 4 inches

Colors: TNF Black, Cardinal Red/Sequoia Red, Asphalt Grey, Coffee Bean Brown, High Rise Grey / Asphalt Grey, TNF Red / Asphalt Grey, Monster Blue / TNF Black, Scallion Green / Black Ink Green, Shady Blue-Urban Navy, Cosmic Blue / Cosmic Blue, Shady Blue / Urban Navy, Asphalt Grey-Asphalt Grey, and Coffee Bean Brown.

Specifications: Made of polyester; zipper closure; 300 weight classic fleece, midweight fleece; classic design, relaxed fit, midweight fleece; secure zip-hand pockets, cinch cord, and machine washable.  The coat comes with a lifetime guaranteed.

Best Use: Cold weather outdoors, when layering is preferred.

Description: The North Face Men’s Khumbu 2 Jacket is priced between $59.99 and $184.00.  The coat is manufactured out of 100% polyester materials so care for the coat is a breeze.  The unit is machine washable, warm, and perfect in situations when you want to layer attire.

A lifetime guarantee comes with the product so you can buy in confidence.  You’ll appreciate the relaxed, comfortable fit the classic fleece coat design and the cool storage pockets on this midweight fleece.

Related: The Gordon Lyons Full Zip Fleece offers the same relaxed fit and secure zip pockets, with a price well under $100.00 and a slew of color options.  The Chimborazo Full Zip Fleece is an excellent buffer against the brutal cold too and is also under $100.

Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket

Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Large Tall, X-Large, X-Large Tall, XX-Large, XX-Large Tall, XXX-Large Tall, and XXXX Large-Tall.

Dimensions: 25 x 18 x 3 inches

Colors: Tusk, Black, Charcoal Heather, Black/Grill, Collegiate Navy, Buffalo, Surplus Green,

Surplus Green/Charcoal Heather, Tradewinds Grey/graphite, Red Element, Black/Bright Red.

Charcoal Heather/Marine Blue and 25 more color options.

Specifications: 100% polyester materials; front zip; standing collar; machine washable; zipper closure; side entry pockets.

Best Use: Winter weather

Description: The Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece is priced between $59.99 and $184.00. The jacket is made of 100% Polyester MTR filament so it is easy to wash and dry. You get a jacket with front located zipper, and a standing collar that helps to keep the neck warm when brutally cold winds blow.

A stylish logo is on the front chest area on this soft, rugged, jacket that provides you with a fantastic classic fit and feel.  The coat is a universal standard fit. It is machine washable for ease of care.  The zipper closure helps keep your body warmth inside the jacket.

Related: The Cathedral Peak Front-Zip Fleece Vest is another affordable fleece option if you would prefer the absence of sleeves. Or you can opt for the full sleeve similar design in the Canyons Bend Full-Zip Fleece, which is made of polyester and features a hood.

PUMA Men’s Fleece Track Jacket

PUMA Men's Fleece Track Jacket

Weight: 1 pound

Sizes: Medium and Large

Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches

Colors: Black/White, Medium Gray Heather Black Cat, and Dark Grey Heather with Black Cat.

Specifications: 65% to 35% ratio of cotton to polyester material, zipper closure, zipper front, kangaroo pockets, machine washable.

Best USe: Winter weather

Description: The PUMA Men’s Fleece Track Jacket is a highly affordable and priced between $24.91 and $55.00.  The coat is made of cotton and polyester materials so the jacket feels great when you are wearing it.

The fabric is breathable keeping moisture out and heat inside. The jacket is easy to care for too as it is machine washable. The kangaroo pouch-like pockets mean you can carry a lot of items along with you and remain hands free when you do so.  The zipper front helps increase thermal efficiency.

Related:  As an alternative, you can opt for the Fleece Track Jacket which has a nearly equal ratio of cotton to polyester materials.

Or, if you prefer a fleece hoodie with a similar design, you can opt for the P48 Core Hoodie Fleece, where you get a jacket made of 60% cotton and 40% polyester materials.

The Right Fleece Jacket for Everyone

With so many options available on the market, finding a fleece jacket is not at all difficult.  Going into the search while understanding fleece jacket features and the benefits of such features can help you narrow down your search.

Choose your fleece jacket

The prices for fleece jackets range the gamut, so you can readily find one to suit your budget.  Affordability should stand as a second consideration though as your ultimate comfort when out in the cold, brittle, and sometimes downright brutal winter weather is of the utmost importance.

Have a recommendation you’d like to share with us? Please do so in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Elisa Blair

    Columbia Steens Mountain (they have female models, too) is truly an excellent product! It does it’s job effectively, as one of several layers and keeps me cozy by itself when it’s chilly. When I go climbing, and it’s too cold, I use it in tandem with a rain jacket 🙂
    Stitching and sewing were done correctly, and the fleece is great for warmth. Great for work or indoor, as well.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Fleece is a great material to keep us warm. It’s breathable, yet very lightweight! The Columbia brand has been consistent in making excellent jackets and I’m glad you chose it.

  • Ryan Freeman

    I love my Puma track jacket. Though it is described as a jacket, it’s more like a hoodless hoodie – it has that same feel to it. The inner material is nice and warm without being overly heavy. I wouldn’t wear this hiking though. With the other fleeces you’ve mentioned, this sticks out like a sore thumb but I do wear mine to the gym and just generally out and about. It’s pretty stylish too so I can get away with wearing it out with my wife!

  • Jerry Mueller

    Great jacket from gym to night out? Well, the Puma is stylish and if your wife likes the way you look wearing that jacket, then go for it! One of my favorite brands that has a great array of products.

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