A decent fleece middle layer should be the staple food of every hiker's backpack. The best hiking fleece jackets provide much-needed lightness and warmth on cold days, can be worn during camping and hiking, and won't overwhelm your soul when you see the price tag or weight loss. Synthetic polyester fleece is soft to the touch and much cheaper than down or synthetic insulation jackets.
Our selection of the best mountaineering fleece jacket: Patagonia R1 full-zip hoodie | The most versatile decathlon Quechua MH120 | Best budget Melanzana microgrid | Fan favorite Arc'teryx Kyanite | Best Arc'teryx Fleece Lightheart Gear Fleece Hoodie | The most customizable mountain hardwear Microchill | The best ultra-light Rab Alpha flash | The most breathable
Frequently asked questions about trekking wool: wool and fluffy backpacks: which is better? Find the best trekking wool jacket features Fleece Technologies
Hiking wool or fluffy backpacks: which is better?
Many hikers will not carry wool and puffiness at the same time. If you anticipate cold/unpredictable weather, or you are prone to catching cold, you should take both at the same time-otherwise, in order to save weight and backpack space, choose one of them.
Puffies, especially those that are insulated with down, have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than down. Because they are thicker, they also provide more wind protection. If keeping warm is your top priority, choose fluffy.
However, almost all of the puffy backpacks use thin and delicate fabrics, and if you are not careful, you may wear them thinly or trip over them. Rain or sweat will ruin a down jacket. Although synthetic insulated jackets are not susceptible to moisture, they are usually too hot to be comfortable when hiking.
Unlike most insulating jackets, wool is easy to repair with needles and thread.
In contrast, wool is durable. They are not easily hooked, and if they are torn, they are easy to sew with needles and thread. You can wash your wool with your clothes in the laundry room, unlike down jackets, you need to be very careful. They are also thin enough to breathe and provide a full range of exercise, making them more suitable for heavy activities. It’s no big deal if your woolen middle layer gets wet, because it is a hydrophobic material that absorbs less than 1% of its weight in water and dries very quickly. In addition, they are much cheaper than puffies. If you want a durable jacket that you can wear while hiking, or if you need to keep an eye on your budget, choose wool.
Zippers: Full-zip jackets are well ventilated and easy to put on and take off, but the zippers also add weight and create cold spots in the middle. Pullovers are cumbersome to wear. You cannot open the zipper to dissipate heat, but no zipper can minimize heat loss. If you can’t decide, you can split the difference by choosing a half zipper.
Hood: Increases the weight and price of wool, but the increase is usually small. In exchange, you will get a lot of extra warmth. If you choose the hood, make sure it has a shock cord adjustment device so that you can hold it in place and seal the cold wind. Many of the wools on this list are available in hooded and hoodless versions.
Pockets: The zippered hand warmer pocket is the most practical, but the kangaroo pocket (found on many pullover fleece) is also very useful. If you plan to wear a cardigan around the camp, pockets are the most important, because if you wear it on the road, you can store things in your backpack pockets.
Fit: Slim fit (not tight) fit is best because it can minimize cold spots and dead zones. Reducing the volume through slim tailoring can also reduce weight. You may only have a bottom layer under it, so there is not much reason to choose loose or loose wool (of course, this is beyond your personal preference).
Micro grid pattern: Many of the best hiking fleece fabrics use "micro grid" fleece. The grid pattern is ideal for temperature and humidity management because it can improve wicking and air circulation. For those who plan to wear woolen sweaters for hiking, the microgrid woolen sweater is a great feature.
The fleece weight indicates the thickness and warmth retention of the fleece (and of course the weight). Lightweight or 100-weight, medium-weight or 200-weight fleece is most popular with backpacks and other technical pursuits. Heavyweight (300 weight) wool is too large and heavy to be practical for everyone except for its use in front-line countries. Most hikers will want medium-weight wool (especially those who are afraid of the cold), but lightweight wool is suitable for hikers who want a little warmer in ultralight and hot climates.
Many of the jackets on this list use a Polartec fleece fabric. Polartec dominates the wool market and is known for its quality and innovative textiles.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Patagonia R1.
Patagonia R1 is a lightweight wool that is very popular among hikers. At 11 ounces, it is not the lightest wool on this list, but the grid pattern inside the fabric is excellent in terms of moisture wicking and breathability. It is characterized by a sporty version, which is very suitable for stacking, and a diving helmet that makes you look and feel like a ninja. In addition to the full zip provided here, you can also use R1 as a pullover to reduce weight.
Polartec is the gold standard for fleece fabrics. R1 uses Power Grid material, which is a cutting-edge grid material that is lighter, more compressible and more breathable than traditional fleece. The fabric is elastic to enhance mobility and easily push up the sleeves.
The R1 Hoodie has two built-in hand warmer pockets (unzip) and a zippered chest pocket. It has a tight-fitting diving cap that can completely cover the forehead and the lower part of the face under the nose when the zipper is fully closed.
The comfort/functionality of this jacket is self-evident, but it also has a few small and thoughtful details that make it stand out from the competition. The cuffs are elastic and have thumb loops, allowing the sleeves to be completely put on the wrist, enhancing warmth and comfort. The fabric has Polygiene permanent odor control, which helps counteract the natural tendency of wool to retain unpleasant odors. Patagonia also sewed offset seams off the shoulders on this dress to reduce uncomfortable friction under the backpack straps.
Advantages: breathable; moisture wicking; recycled materials and fair trade sewing; odor control; thumb holes; offset seams; diving cover. Disadvantages: expensive; heavy; hand pockets without zippers; not particularly warm weight.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Decathlon Quechua MH120.
What? Hiking equipment is only $20? It's hard to find decent wool socks that retail for $20, so it's incredible that you can buy a whole wool at this price. It is also very light and made of 100% recycled polyester. Decathlon reduces costs by limiting marketing expenses and keeping most of the production process in-house. The product images shown above make the MH120 look more like a heavy-duty base layer, but although it does have a sporty fit and soft brushed interior, it is not slim enough to be used for hiking and camping.
MH120 is very simple: no hood, no thumb loop, no fancy Polartec technology. However, this fabric has good elasticity and is spacious enough to allow the bottom layer to fit comfortably underneath. The brushed interior of the jacket feels comfortable and soft, helping to absorb heat more effectively. It also has two hand warmer pockets with zippers. MH120 uses 100% recycled materials and paint dyeing process, which can save water and energy compared with traditional dyeing. Decathlon guarantees that this fleece fabric has abrasion resistance, color fastness, seam integrity and elasticity after repeated washing for two years.
Advantages: crazy cheap; recycled materials and liquid dyed fabrics; soft brushed interior. Disadvantages: no hood option; lightweight wool is not so warm; small operation.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Melanzana Micro Grid.
The Micro Grid hoodie from Melanzana in Leadville, CO is a classic in the outdoor community. Those who are lucky enough to have the coveted "Melly" tend to sport proudly on the track. This wool is warm, versatile, comfortable and affordable. Unfortunately, it is only sold in their own store in Leadville, which makes it difficult for most of us to find Mellies. Nonetheless, we just put it there: it's a high-performance wool, and it's worth keeping in mind in case you have the opportunity to visit the Melanzana store.
Melanzana's iconic hoodie is a pullover fleece sweater with kangaroo pockets, raglan sleeves and adjustable diving caps for excellent coverage. It is not the lightest wool on this list, but it is very warm-almost too hot to walk in. The high-performance Polartec Micro Grid wool effectively absorbs heat, especially since there are no cold spots caused by zippers to deal with. The lattice pattern also enhances breathability.
We like kangaroo pockets, which have small openings to minimize gaps and prevent your items from falling. The diving hood is also pleasant: this is an unusual feature of a pullover, but it provides excellent coverage when pulled up and tightened, and when the hood is down, it functions like a round neck, allowing you Keep your neck warm.
Advantages: iconic style; made in the United States; no zipper = thermal efficiency; kangaroo pocket; affordable; a variety of color options; comfortable diving cap; comfortable; very warm. Disadvantages: limited in-store supply, no online supply; not the lightest; pullover design reduces ventilation/ease of use; may be too hot to walk in.
Read our review of Melanzana Microgrid.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Arc'teryx Kyanite.
We like the way this jacket fits. It has a large range of motion and is very comfortable. This piece is expensive, but it can double as a mountaineering wool and a casual city jacket. The slim, sporty version is pleasing to the eye, warm and efficient, and is ideal for stacking.
If you like the look of Kyanite, but want it to be lighter/cheaper, check out the hoodless Kyanite LT jacket. It will not be as warm as this layer, but it is $40 cheaper and weighs only 9.9 ounces.
This jacket is elastic. The wool itself is Polartec Powerstretch Pro, a soft four-way stretch polyester-elastic fiber blended fabric with nylon fabric. The hem, cuffs and hood are made of stretch fabric, and the underarm panels are designed with gussets to maximize comfort and range of motion. This is just the level of detail we expect from Arc'teryx design. One caveat: Since this jacket seems to be easy to exercise, we prefer raglan sleeves instead of traditional shoulder-connecting sleeves.
Kyanite also has a huge zippered hand warmer pocket, which provides plenty of storage space. Unlike most jackets, these pockets are mostly located above the backpack belt, so they can still be used even when you are hiking. The balaclava/scuba hood will not droop your eyes and provides excellent protection when the zipper is fully closed.
Advantages: warm; flexible; a pleasing fit; comfortable diving cover; articulated design. Disadvantages: expensive; heavy; slim tailoring may not be suitable for everyone.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Lightheart Gear fleece hoodie.
Lightheart Gear's fleece hoodie is eerie reminiscent of the Melanzana Micro Grid listed above, but it is a few ounces lighter and can be purchased online. If you like Melly's appearance, but you are one of the many people who can't get started, then this is a good choice.
The design, material and price of this jacket are very Melanzana style. Both pullovers have raglan sleeves, a diving cap that can also be used as a hood when not pulled up, and a kangaroo pocket. Both use Polartec micro-mesh wool to lock in warmth while maintaining breathability. Lightheart also provides thumb holes and customizable colors on the cuffs. We bleached the $60 surcharge for custom sewing, which increased the price by 80%.
Advantages: custom color; kangaroo pocket; raglan sleeves; light; diving cover is very comfortable; no zipper = no cold spots. Disadvantages: custom colors cost an extra $60; not super warm; no zippers make getting on and off the car more difficult.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jacket.
If weight reduction is your top priority, then this is the wool for you. It is difficult to find performance wool as light as this bad boy. Microchill is not the warmest middle layer on the list, but because of its very thin wool, it is the lightest. It is perfect for hikers who run warm, people who want to use it as a supplemental jacket instead of a separate middle layer, and people who only plan to take it out in warm conditions. If you want an affordable product that can be used as a heavy-duty base layer, Microchill is also available as a pullover for a low price of $30.
This jacket is made of 100% polyester Velous Micro Fleece, which is skin-friendly and soft. It is very thin, very suitable for adding a touch of light warmth in cold weather. We want this lightweight layer to be very simple, but Microchill incorporates some nice features such as zipper handbags, adjustable hem and elastic cuffs.
Advantages: ultra-light; zipper hand warmer pockets; adjustable hem. Disadvantages: not very warm; no hood option; expensive considering the warmth.
Best hiking fleece jacket: Rab Alpha Flash.
If you are looking for fancy, technical and generous things in the thermal department, Rab Alpha Flash is a good choice. It is fuzzy and more advanced than many of the wools on our list, although it is also the lightest, less than 10 ounces. For anyone looking for a substitute for fluffy wool, this may be the best choice on our list: it is warm and light enough to be comparable to ordinary thermal jackets, while having all the breathability, durability and durability of wool. Moisture management advantage, start up. It is also cheaper than most puffies, even though it is at the high end of the wool price range.
Polartec Alpha is a mesh flannel originally designed for special forces. It performs well in terms of breathability, compressibility and thermal efficiency, providing consistent, light warmth, while wicking perspiration, and maximizing close-fitting comfort.
Alpha Flash also uses Thermic brushed back single-knit, thin, stretchy wool on the sides, underarms and breast pockets. These panels are lightweight and breathable, so they help reduce weight and maximize ventilation. Since this piece is very breathable, you may need to pair it with a windbreaker (such as a raincoat) in breezy situations.
The jacket has flat-lock seams, which are smooth and low-profile (so there is no uncomfortable friction). It has a zippered chest pocket and an adjustable hem, but there are no hand warmers and hood options. This is on the expensive side of wool, but considering its performance and functionality, it is a good value.
Advantages: breathable; can be packaged; light; excellent warmth-to-weight ratio; flexible fleece side panels. Disadvantages: expensive; no hood option; no hand warmer pockets.
Of course, because we are very smart! It's also very attractive (not to mention extremely humble).
However, if this is not enough to impress you, then there is also the fact that everyone who contributes to this article is an experienced trekking hiker who has already traveled thousands of miles. We are equipment fans and like to test our equipment on trails of different lengths. We have tested dozens of hiking wools in pursuit of warm wild weather.
In addition, we will do our best to understand the equipment preferences of the forest road community (we are definitely the nasty people on the forest road who always want to know what other people are packing). This means that our selection of the best hiking fleece is not just our opinion: they are based on feedback from the hiking community for many years.
The embodiment of ability and backpacking ability.
Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).
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Patagonia's mini D 1/4 zipper fleece has no pockets or hood, but it is another lightweight option. The average price for men is $59 and 9.1 ounces. I think it is warmer than my R1, so I chose it for backpacking trips. R1 is used for car camping or walking at home IMO
My R1 is my first choice for autumn hikes, and it is always under my winter hard shell. Oops, I wore it when my son was born (it was cold in the hospital). It breathes well and is very warm when active in cold temperatures. If it is less than 40, you may need to wear shells or puffiness around the camp after you finish all the hiking energy. The half zipper forms a deep V shape for heat dissipation and makes getting on and off the car easier.
The weight on the Mountain Hardware Microchill Jacket is a complete lie. I recently ordered a men's large size based on the advertised weight of 5.9 ounces. Imagine my frustration when it arrived. It weighs 11.5 ounces. -Almost twice the weight of the advertisement! Please note that the claimed weight is a blatant example of false advertising.