10 Best Fleece Jackets Reviewed & Compared

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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. Whether you live in a temperate climate or one that’s extremely brutal, these jackets can work as a standalone piece of outerwear or as a way to layer against the cold. For the most part, they don’t take up a lot of space and they’re not particularly bulky. This means that they can be worn underneath other articles of clothing with very little discomfort. They also don’t add a huge amount of weight to your apparel, which is pretty important for runners who don’t like to be weighed down.

We’ve gathered together the best fleece jackets for runners in order to make the decision a little bit easier. Our list is compiled of public reviews and our personal experience with the products. We adhere to pretty strict criteria when choosing the products that we put into our reviews and we want our audience to have the best of the best. The fleece jackets that made the cut are guaranteed to be the perfect options for runners everywhere!

Last Updated: July 28, 2018
By Patricia Howard:

We updated our list and nearly doubled the amount of info available in this post. There's more to read in the criteria, and additional research to benefit our readers!

Arc'teryx Delta LT
  • Arc'teryx Delta LT
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight & Breathable
  • Price: See Here
The North Face Denali 2
  • The North Face Denali 2
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Thick Fleece for Warmth
  • Price: See Here
Arc'Teryx Covert Cardigan
  • Arc'Teryx Covert Cardigan
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Performance Fleece
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Fleece Jackets

 

1. Arc'Teryx Delta LT

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.
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Warmth:
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.

Fit:
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.

Features:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Good for activity

Lightweight

Breathable

Moisture wicking

Low profile for easy layering

Cons

Price

2. The North Face Denali 2

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.
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Warmth:
The Northface 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.

Fit:
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.

Features:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Great standalone jacket

Thicker fleece offers more warmth

4 zippered pockets- 2 chest and 2 side

Wind resistant chest panels

Drawcord waist

Elastic cuffs

Made from recycled fleece

Cons

Heavy

Does not pack down easily

Expensive

3. Arc'Teryx Covert Cardigan

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.
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Warmth:
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.

Fit:
Both men’s and women’s versions have a slim fit with the women’s version hugging in more at the waist.

Features:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Wool sweater appearance

Performance fleece

Very comfortable

Flattering slim fit

2 zippered hand pocket

1 laminated sleeve pocket

High quality

Full front zipper

Clean cuffs and seams

Cons

Price

Not a lot of stretch for a performance fleece

4. Patagonia Better Sweater

4. Patagonia Better Sweater
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.
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Warmth:
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.

Fit:
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.

Features:
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.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

Very warm

Looks high quality & stylish

1 zippered pocket

Quarter Zip

Cons

Price

Can be difficult to pull off/on

5. Mammut Runbold Midlayer

5. Mammut Runbold Midlayer
This is probably one of the most stylish and functional fleece jackets out there. The Mammut Runbold Midlayer is designed with runners in mind. It’s both lightweight and acts as a temperature shell against cold weather and excessive wind. The jacket itself is made to be extremely soft and was designed with flat seams to make it increasingly comfortable.
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Super-soft fleece with mélange look on the outside and waffle pattern on the inside
FreshTech antimicrobial treatment is included to stop sweat and bacterial buildup from turning into an unpleasant odor or source of infection.
It's made with an adjustable hood that can help to protect your eyes from wind and rain.
It has 2 standard side pockets used for hand warmth and storage.
Flat seams sewn to prevent chafing and discomfort.
Flatlock sems come in acontrasting colors to add to the overall style of the jacket.
Pros

Melenge fleece exterior with waffle pattern interior for better breathability and style

Close fit with comfortable seams

2 zippered pockets

Cons

The product can get pricey at over $100

Some complain that it doesn't offer as many pockets as other jackets

6. Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T

6. Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T
This Patagonia pullover is perhaps the most recognizable fleece out there with its many color blocked options and iconic snaps. It has a relaxed fit that is easy to pull on over multiple layers and the proprietary Synchilla fleece maintains its soft feel longer than most budget options. The price is a bit high for a casual fleece but users love the comfortable feel and durable design. This is a jacket you can keep for years.
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Warmth:
Patagonia uses its signature 200 weight Synchilla fleece for this pullover. The Synchilla Snap-T provides midweight warmth and an outstanding soft next to skin feel.

Fit:
The relaxed fit fits like a loose sweater with plenty of room to accommodate lower layers.

Features:
This simple sweater features a snap chest pocket and 4 snaps up the collar. There are no hand pockets or other features.

Style:
This iconic pullover is easily recognizable as Patagonia with its signature chest pocket, color blocking and loud patterns. It is not a high fashion look but is very popular among outdoor enthusiasts.

Value
At around $120, this pullover is a bit expensive for a casual fleece. Users find the price tag worth it for the ultrasoft Synchilla fleece and classic Patagonia look.
Pros

Soft Synchilla Fleece

Made from 90% recycled polyester

Classic Patagonia Style

Relaxed fit for layering

Cons

No hand pockets

Expensive for a casual fleece

7. Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II

7. Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II
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.
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Warmth:
The Monkey Man Grid II is ligherweight and more 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.

Fit:
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.

Features:
The sleeves on this jacket are a bit longer and feature thumb holes for comfortable hand coverage. Two zippered hand warmer pockets and a zippered chest pocket are compatible with a climbing harness.

Style:
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.

Value:
This Mountain Hardwear fleece ranges between $100 and $160. It is not a budget option but users love the ultra soft plush fabric.
Pros

Cozy and soft

2 zippered hand pockets

1 zippered chest pocket

Thumb holes

Lightweight and breathable

Side stretch panels for increased range of motion

Packable

Cons

Fuzzy look is not for everyone

Does not add a lot of warmth

8. Columbia Steens Mountain

8. Columbia Steens Mountain
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.
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Warmth:
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.

Fit:
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 draw cord at the bottom for a more secure fit.

Features:
This fleece has two zippered pockets at the sides and features a full length front zipper.

Style:
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.

Value:
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.
Pros

2 Zippered Pockets

Full Front Zipper

Inexpensive

Many Color Options

Flattering Fit

Drawcord Waist

Cons

Very Thin

Not the most durable

9. Fjallraven Keb

9. Fjallraven Keb
This Fjallraven fleece stands out for its high quality fleece and wool fabric blend. It is a versatile piece that has a good amount of stretch, athletic hood and chest pocket perfect for outdoor use. The impeccable fit, stylish shoulder panels and leather zipper pulls make this jacket look high class. Users who splurge on this jacket are not disappointed by the durability and attention to detail in this attractive fleece. However, it is one of the most expensive options on this list and the style does not work for everyone.
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Warmth:
The wool blend on this fleece keeps you warm in colder temperatures and the moisture wicking properties keep you dry and comfortable when you work up a sweat. This Fjallraven jacket is an excellent performance layer for any outdoor activity.

Fit:
This performance fleece fits snugly but not too tight and can easily be layered over or under another layer. The material has much more stretch than your typical fleece. Users recommend sizing down if you are looking for a more body hugging fit.

Features:
The Keb Fleece features a zippered chest pocket and a hood for outdoors use. Unfortunately, there are no hand pockets on this jacket.

Style:
The impeccable fit and quality materials give this jacket a high-end sporty look. Additional details such as reinforced G-1000 shoulder panels and leather zipper pulls enhance this style.

Value:
The price on this jacket will range but it retails around $175 to $200 making it one of the most expensive items on this list. Buyers forget about the pricetag quickly when they experience the great fit and high quality design and materials. This is a true performance layer that will keep you warm and wick away moisture but maintains the soft feel of fleece.
Pros

Wool-fleece blend

Performance stretch material

Zippered chest pocket

Hood

Luxury details such as leather zipper pulls

Flattering fit

Moisture wicking

Lightweight

Cons

No hand pockets

Expensive

10. Columbia Benton Springs

10. Columbia Benton Springs
This casual fleece is a good budget option for women wanting to stay cozy through the fall. The design is basic but the material is soft and comfortable. Users love the relaxed fit and zippered hand pockets. It is affordable and available in a wide range of colors but some users find it a bit too breathable when worn with short sleeves.
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Warmth:
This midweight jacket is ideal for fall and early winter. The fleece material feels thick and cozy with two hand warming pockets. It is still very breathable and is best when layered with a long sleeve shirt.

Fit:
This jacket has a slim cut but a more relaxed fit. It tapers in at the waist but there is more room through the torso than many of the performance fleeces.

Features:
The casual nature of this jacket means there are few features to speak of. It does have two zippered hand pockets that are good for warming hands or storing a phone.

Style:
This fleece has a flattering cut and is available in 13 colors. It is very casual and comfortable appearing for wearing at home or around town.

Value:
Price ranges on this jacket but it can generally be found for much less than 80 dollars. This is a good budget option for those seeking a casual fleece that feels cozy but remains breathable.
Pros

13 color options

Cozy comfort

Relaxed fit

Inexpensive

Full front zipper

2 zippered hand pockets

Cons

No technical features

Not the most flattering design

Lower warmth to weight ratio

 

The Specs We Used to Determine the Best Fleece Jacket

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! We’ve used a variety of different specifications to come up with a list of the best products out there.

Warmth

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.

Fit

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

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

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.

Other Things to Consider

Casual vs Performance

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.

Zipper vs Pullover

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.

FAQs

Q: How do I care for my fleece jacket?

A: 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. 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.

Q: Can I wear my fleece in the rain or snow?

A: 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.

Sources

  1. Switchback Travel, Best Fleece Jackets of 2018, Web Article, Sep 13, 2018
  2. Real Simple, The When-to-Wash-It Handbook: Winter Edition,
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