10 Best Fleece Jackets Reviewed & Compared
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Good for activity
Low profile for easy layering
- Arc'Teryx Delta LT
- The North Face Denali 2
- Arc'Teryx Covert Cardigan
- Patagonia R2
- Patagonia Better Sweater
- Marmot Reactor
- Black Diamond Coefficient
- Outdoor Research Deviator
- Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II
- Columbia Steens Mountain
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Arc'Teryx Delta LT
Good for activity
Low profile for easy layering
The Delta LT Jacket from Arc'Teryx is a great option for a versatile lightweight fleece. The slim design, breathability, and moisture wicking ability make it perfect for wearing alone during cool weather activity or fitting under a shell in colder temperatures. Added touches such as a nonlocking zipper and easily accessible pocket on the sleeve make this jacket practical for activity such as hiking and climbing. The sleeve design and longer hem are also good for coverage and range of motion during activities.Read more
This lightweight jacket offers some warmth as a standalone jacket but serves best when layered under a shell. It is comfortable and very breathable like your typical fleece but its moisture wicking properties help it perform better during activity.
The Delta LT has a trim fit that skims the body but has enough stretch to move with you. It is great for activity and fitting under a shell. The sleeve and underarm construction prevent sleeves from riding up and allows for better range of motion in the shoulders. Longer hem length provides more coverage during activity so you don’t constantly have to pull it down.
The front zipper features a nonlocking slider that can easily be unzipped with one hand. The jacket also features 2 side zippered pockets and zippered sleeve pocket that is easier to use when wearing a pack or harness.
This jacket is available in a variety of neutral and bold color choices for both men and women. It has a microgrid finish that makes it appear a bit more athletic but is still suitable for casual wear.
Arc'Teryx is a more expensive brand and this layer is no exception running around $140. Many users find the extra money is worth it for the high performance and quality design.
2. The North Face Denali 2
Great standalone jacket
Thicker fleece offers more warmth
4 zippered pockets- 2 chest and 2 side
Wind resistant chest panels
Made from recycled fleece
Does not pack down easily
The North Face Denali is a popular option for a standalone fleece jacket. The recycled fleece is thicker and abrasion resistant chest panels provide some blockage from the wind. This jacket is warm enough to be worn on its own through early winter. Additional features of 4 pockets and drawcord waist make it a convenient go-to jacket.Read more
The North Face Denali is one of the warmest standalone fleece jackets. It has a thicker fleece material and features abrasion-resistant panels over the chest and shoulders. This adds some wind protection and will keep you warm through early winter.
This jacket runs a bit long in the sleeves and seems to run big overall. The women’s version tapers in at the waist for a flattering and feminine fit. The men’s version is a bit roomier in the chest and cinches slightly at the waist. Both styles feature a drawcord at the bottom.
With 2 zippered pockets on the side and 2 zippered chest pockets, this jacket is convenient to be worn on its own. It is made from recycled fleece and has elastic wrist cuffs for added comfort.
In many areas of the United States, this jacket is a staple of fall and many people wear as far into winter as possible. It is available in many colors but the classic black is by far the most popular.
The price will range widely based on style and seller but this jacket typically runs well above 100 dollars. It is a bit expensive but you are getting a real jacket that can be worn on its own rather than a thin mid layer.
3. Arc'Teryx Covert Cardigan
Wool sweater appearance
Flattering slim fit
2 zippered hand pocket
1 laminated sleeve pocket
Full front zipper
Clean cuffs and seams
Not a lot of stretch for a performance fleece
The midweight Covert Cardigan has a classy wool sweater appearance with the soft coziness of a fleece. The brushed-back polyester finish, high-quality zippers, and clean stretch-knit cuffs make this jacket feel and look expensive. Despite the refined look, this jacket offers practical comfort and performance that can be worn on its own or easily layered. Users love the slim fit and breathability enough to justify the high price tag.Read more
This midweight jacket offers moderate warmth and good breathability. It dries quickly and multiple users find the weight and fit comfortable enough to fall asleep in.
Both men’s and women’s versions have a slim fit with the women’s version hugging in more at the waist.
This jacket features a full front zipper with two zippered pockets and a laminated sleeve pocket for added convenience. The Covert Cardigan does not have as much stretch as some other performance fleeces but it does have underarm gussets for improved range of motion through the shoulders.
The exterior brushed-back knit polyester gives this jacket a luxurious look more consistent with a wool sweater than a fleece jacket. Shoulder seams and stretch-knit cuffs create a clean and well-constructed appearance. There are not as many colors options as some of the other jackets listed but users seem to be happy with the range available.
The Covert Cardigan is typically priced about $180 making it one of the most expensive options on our list. Users find the high-quality zippers, comfortable fit and luxurious look makes the price justifiable.
4. Patagonia R2
If you are looking for something warm, then the Patagonia R2 fleece jacket is it--it doesn't just look warm and cozy, it is! This is a great option for those of you who live in colder climates but don't want to sacrifice your daily outdoor runs.Read more
This jacket uses patented directionally knit Polartec Thermal Pro fabric, which ensures it is really warm without sacrificing breathability. This jacket can be worn as a single layer or it can be layered for ultimate comfort and warmth.
The jacket's technical fit is perfect for those who need full range of motion and flexibility when you move. It's perfect for hikes and treks since it comfortably fits under outer layers and hiking packs.
This one is a compressible and packable jacket that you can take with you in your pack and have it ready to go when you need it. It is breathable thanks to its side panels as well as moisture-wicking and fast drying because of the material it is made of. All of its pockets are zippered and its seamless design improves the overall comfort the jacket provides.
While it is one of the priciest jackets on our list, this jacket does its jobs well. It will keep you warm and dry while also ensuring you get the breathability you need. It looks and feels great--and is the coziest jacket here.
5. Patagonia Better Sweater
Looks high quality & stylish
1 zippered pocket
Can be difficult to pull off/on
The Better Sweater from Patagonia offers excellent warmth and a clean and sporty style. Both the performance and appearance make it a great option for cool city weather as well as outdoor adventures. It is a bit pricey but the high quality is easy to see and feel in the clean design and long-lasting softness of the fleece interior. The quarter-zip style is great for style and warmth but some users find it is not the best option for taking on and off frequently.Read more
This heavy pullover will keep you very warm. The fleece interior and sweater knit exterior create a thicker material that insulates really well in the cold while still maintaining the breathability of fleece.
Both the men’s and women’s styles have a slim fit and seem to run a bit small. Many users recommend ordering a size up to make pulling it on and off easier.
The men’s pullover has a deep zippered pocket on the left chest and the women’s version features a pocket on the left arm.
The Better Sweater pullover is available in a variety of heathered colors for both men and women. The knit exterior has a very clean but sporty look that is right at home in both the city and the outdoors.
The price will range based on style and seller but this pullover typically runs around $140. Patagonia tends to be more expensive but users are not disappointed by the quality and appearance of this jacket. The thick material feels and looks expensive and reviewers find it maintains the soft fleece feel longer than your typical sweatshirt.
6. Marmot Reactor
Not the most stylish
Better for layering
The Marmot Reactor is one of the more affordable fleece jackets on our list--but it's still one of the best out there. This one will keep you warm during those cold days and comes at a lower price than others on our list!Read more
This lightweight jacket uses 100 SeriesA low loft fleece--which makes it a great option for layering. It will help keep you warm and dry and won't weigh you down.
This jacket has a nice secure fit and comes in sever color options. Its raglan sleeves allow for optimal range of motion so you can move around as needed.
This jacket is lightweight, breathable, and designed to be hydrophobic--it also uses DWR finish to increase its water resistance and allow it to dry quickly when it does get wet. It allows for full range of motion and is a great layering option since it comfortably pairs with other layers. It has several zippered pockets, including hand warmer pockets so you can stuff your stuff in them.
Pretty affordable, especially when compared to the prices of other jackets on this list.
7. Black Diamond Coefficient
Several color options
Zippered chest pocket
No side pockets
The Black Diamond Coefficient fleece jacket is a lightweight jacket that's perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those of you looking for a jacket you can use every day and take with you on your favorite trails as well.Read more
This jacket is made of 100% polyester and is designed to be lightweight, durable, and warm. It is a great option for cool weather or as a mid layer to layer with other jackets and sweaters to keep you warm while you are out.
The Black Diamond Coefficient jacket provides an athletic fit, which allows it to provide a secure fit that isn't tight or uncomfortable.
While this is a pricey jacket that looks great and comes in a few color options to choose from. While it doesn't have side pockets, it does have a zippered chest pocket so you can store small valuables.
8. Outdoor Research Deviator
Several color options
Pockets don't zip up or close securely
This jacket is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts and trail runners looking for a warm, but lightweight, fleece jacket that won't weight them down while they are out on a run or a hike. They come in several color options to choose from, and there is also a hoody option if you prefer a hoody!Read more
Thanks to the jackets Hybrid-Mapped construction, it is both warm and breathable. It is designed to dry quickly and retain warmth--so you don't get cold when it's snowy or wet out.
This jacket provides a secure, athletic fit that isn't too tight or too loose. It comes in several color options to choose from as well, so you have style options.
It has two shells--one made of Nylon and the other made of polyester; the liner is also made of polyester. It has side and back panels for optimal breathability--and the jacket is also moisture-wicking and fast drying. It comes with thumb holes and open side pockets.
The prices for this jacket varies depending on the retailer and color you want. Overall, it can be much more affordable than other jackets on our list, but the price does rise if you are depending on what you want.
9. Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II
Cozy and soft
2 zippered hand pockets
1 zippered chest pocket
Lightweight and breathable
Side stretch panels for increased range of motion
Fuzzy look is not for everyone
Does not add a lot of warmth
The Monkey Man Grid II stands out for the ultra soft coziness that can be seen in its furry exterior. The proprietary Polartec Monkey Phur and grid pattern offers a good warmth to weight ratio for this lightweight jacket. Side panels enhance breathability and range of motion making this a good option for cool weather climbing.Read more
The Monkey Man Grid II is more lightweight and breathable than other versions of the Monkey Man jacket. Patented Polartec High Loft Grid Monkey Phur provides a good warmth to weight ratio. The grid pattern reduces bulk and enhances breathability. Hardface fabric panels down the side add stretch and breathability where you need it most.
This jacket fits closely to the body without being as snug as some of the other performance jackets. It does have a longer single adjustment hem that is easy to cinch on the move. Some users do not find the single adjustment as customizable as jackets that feature drawcords on both sides.
The sleeves on this jacket are a bit longer and feature thumb holes for comfortable hand coverage. Two zippered handwarmer pockets and a zippered chest pocket are compatible with a climbing harness.
The signature Monkey Phur fabric has a very fuzzy appearance that draws a bit more attention than your standard fleece. It is great for outdoors and casual wear but may be too casual for an office commute.
This Mountain Hardwear fleece ranges between $100 and $160. It is not a budget option but users love the ultra-soft plush fabric.
10. Columbia Steens Mountain
2 Zippered Pockets
Full Front Zipper
Many Color Options
Not the most durable
This basic fleece from Columbia is a great budget option for a full-zip fleece. It is very lightweight and breathable but offers good warmth when layered with a long sleeve. Users love the flattering fit, drawcord waist and 2 zippered pockets. It is available in a wide range of colors and is a good go-to jacket for around town wear.Read more
The Columbia Steen is fairly lightweight. It is one layer of fleece with no lining or windbreaker so you can expect it to be very breathable. The thin nature does mean that it does not offer much protection for wind or rain so it is best used in moderate temperatures or layered beneath a rain shell.
This jacket runs a bit large but when sized appropriately has a trim fit that allows for layering. It has a slightly longer length that extends a few inches below the waistline and has a drawcord at the bottom for a more secure fit.
This fleece has two zippered pockets at the sides and features a full-length front zipper.
Available in 18 colors, this jacket gives you some good option when it comes to style. The fitted silhouette is flattering and most users find this to be a great fleece for any occasion.
This jacket is one of the less expensive options ranging in price between $30 and $60. The design is simple and it does not provide a lot of warmth but it is an easy and affordable fleece jacket.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Fleece jackets vary in weight of the fleece and how much warmth it provides. Polartec is one of the main manufacturers of synthetic fleece and they measure the weight of their materials at 100 for lightweight, 200 for midweight and 300 for the heaviest. Fleece can serve as a great insulating layer but it also has the added benefit of being breathable which comes in handy when wearing multiple layers. Most fleece jackets are not designed to block the wind so layer accordingly when you expect a breeze.
Windbreakers or polymer materials are actually better when you’re expecting to be running through wet environments. Fleece can work to repel some water, but it won’t have the same impact as other fabrics when it comes to protecting against rain and snow. It can also absorb some of the moisture, making the fabric heavier and uncomfortable. When expecting extreme weather conditions, make sure that you plan and dress accordingly.
The fit of fleece jackets ranges from the loose fit of a bulky sweater to the snug athletic fit of a performance jacket. Consider what layers you already have when choosing your fleece to be sure it will fit over or under the items you plan to wear it with.
When running you don’t want clothes that you have to worry about. This means that you don’t want things that are flapping around every time you take a step, and you don’t want something so restrictive that it feels like you can’t breathe. Each person will have a certain comfort level when choosing their clothing. Make sure that you buy your fleece slightly larger so that you can put it over your other garments, but not so large that it acts like a bulky coat.
It’s also important to consider friction when purchasing clothes for running. You’ll be making a lot of repetitive motions and if the fabric is rubbing at certain areas it can lead to blisters or chafing. Always consider the way that the fleece jacket will be used and what areas of the body it will come into contact with.
Features will vary between casual and performance fleeces. Technical fleeces intended for climbing and backpacking may have additional pockets on the chest or sleeve for easy accessibility when wearing a harness. More casual features will just have pockets that are perfect for warming hands when out running errands.
The perfect fleece jacket for running may have sleeves that are long enough to pull up your hands, thumb holes, or even a secure pocket for your phone or music device. Many also have slots for headphones, in order to protect them from the elements. Trying to carry an iPod and stop the wires from the headphones from getting tangled while you’re navigating a rough terrain can be both inconvenient and dangerous. A good fleece jacket will have features that can simplify your run and make it easier for you to get around. Look for ones that are specifically designed for your outdoor activity.
Style is important for garment but may be especially important if you are considering wearing your fleece as an outer layer. Many fleece jackets such as the Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket or the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan make efforts to hide the athletic nature of their jackets with clean lines and good-looking materials making them better suited for city wear. If you are just looking for something cozy when hanging out at camp or layering under a ski jacket, style may not be as important of a factor.
Fleece is one of the most popular materials for several reasons. Not the least of these is the cozy and soft appeal of the fabric itself. It’s great for insulating your body from the cold, and as a light layer when you don’t need something to protect you against extreme conditions. Fleece is both lightweight and versatile, and it looks great!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Although rare, it's possible for some individuals to have an allergic reaction to fleece. If you develop a skin rash or feel itchiness or intense heat long after fleece has made contact with your skin, you may be suffering from this condition. Fortunately, you may still be able to wear fleece if you are allergic so long as you layer it appropriately.
Although fleece is effective as layering apparel, you want to be careful about limiting exposure to water or other forms of moisture. The most ideal place to wear fleece is in the middle layer; that way, it doesn't risk exposure to moisture from the elements or moisture from your body's sweat.
Other Factors to Consider
Fleece jackets tend to fall into one of two categories: casual or performance. Casual fleeces are a bit bulkier and place their focus on coziness and comfort. They still work well for layering during skiing or hiking but are not as streamlined as their performance counterparts. Performance fleeces place more emphasis on technicality. They are typically less bulky and can pack down easily. Performance fleeces also have additional features to allow for better range of motion through the arms and wick away sweat a bit better.
Performance fleece are also designed to prevent them from catching on things as you run by. This can be a serious problem if you’re trying to hike or need to navigate a rocky terrain. A runner who gets hooked on a tree branch or a piece of foliage can end up getting jerked right off their feet. It’s a matter of safety to make sure that clothing fits well and that it doesn’t flap around the body throughout the run. This can also affect visibility if the jacket has a hood or a turtleneck the needs to be folded up.
Functionality of a full zipper vs a pullover is an important consideration when choosing a fleece. Full zips have a bit more weight and bulk from the full length zipper down the front and may let more breeze through along the zipper. However, they are much easier to take on and off than a pull over. If you are looking for a layer that you plan to leave on when it gets cold, a pullover is a great option. However, if you will constantly be changing layers, a full zip is your best bet.
Runners understand the importance of having both versatility and usability in their wardrobe. Because of this, fleece jackets have become increasingly popular among those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Not only are these jackets lightweight and cost-effective, they’re also easy to clean and pretty durable. The soft texture of the material combined with its breathability makes fleece jackets the perfect accessory for runners everywhere.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. However, common recommendations include washing your fleece inside out without linty or abrasive items to prevent piling and static. Additionally, fleece that has been treated with some water- resistant coating should avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
Most fleece jackets are not water resistant so they will not keep you dry and will lose some of their insulating properties as they get wet. There is no harm in getting your fleece wet but it is best to layer with a waterproof rain layer or ski jacket when there is high likelihood of precipitation.
Some materials may only retain their softness if you don’t put them through certain cycles or expose them to certain temperatures. Always make sure that you’re reading your tags and doing a little bit of research before tossing your favorite fleece in with other clothes that may damage it.