How to Choose a Fleece Jacket - Moosejaw

How to Choose a Fleece Jacket

Fleece is warm and fuzzy and provides excellent warmth. It's an ideal layer for a wide range of seasons and activities. This guide breaks down everything you need to know when choosing a fleece jacket including fabric types, weights, styles of jackets, and the best times to wear them.


A go-to you can count on, fleece offers a lot of happiness when the weather is cool. The best part is, it's a versatile, year-round piece. So long as you're a little chilly, wear fleece in any season you want. Warm yet breathable, you can count on fleece through spring, summer, fall, and winter. There are adjustments to be had for sure, for example, skip the heavyweights in the heat of summer, but more on that later.


Fleece is breathable which means air is free to pass through. While this may seem counterintuitive for an item that is meant to keep you warm, it's actually very helpful. Hot air from your body can escape, so you won't overheat. You want this to happen since physical activities like hiking, climbing, biking and more cause your body to heat up, so fleece allows that heat to release out while still helping warm your body from the cold temperatures. It even lets a little cool air through to maintain your optimal comfort level.


Fleece is light, breathable and ideal for layering. Yep, it can totally be worn alone with just a t-shirt, but you can also pull a shell over top to create your very own system of protection against the cold. Regardless of what weight you choose, it's light in weight overall, making it easy to stuff it in your pack if the weather takes a warm turn.

Fabric Types

If you have no idea what fleece is, I'm here to help. Fleece in the days of past mostly referred to the coat of wool on an animal such as a sheep. While this is still true, in the outdoor world, if you hear the word fleece, we're probably referring to the fabric synthetic fleece. Often made from polyester, Polar fleece is the most common you'll find. You may also have heard of Silken raschel fleece, which is quite literally silky and has a high pile or Sherpa fleece, which has a thicker pile and kind of looks like fluffy sheep's wool on the outside. Some options are derived from recycled materials for the sustainable-conscious and others have stretch blended in for increased movement.


The weight of a fleece refers to loft and warmth. Some want one fleece to rule them all. Others prefer a different level of warmth for hot, mild and cold seasons. It really depends on you and what makes you comfortable. In general, there are 3 options to choose from, the higher the weight, the warmer it is, but it also gets heavier.

Lightweight, 100 Weight: The thinnest and lightest option of them all, ideally for weather that is not too hot and not too cold. Think fun adventures that require a lot of movement such as cool hikes or early morning climbs. For cool days when it's too cold to go without a jacket, but you'll be heating up fast so you can't have something too thick or heavy.

Midweight, 200 Weight: It's.... in the middle. Not too light, nor too heavy, it's the most versatile option. If you're looking for a do-it-all, a midweight is there for you. Chilly campfire evenings, fall hikes and even hanging around the office when the AC is blasting.

Heavyweight, 300 Weight: The big Kahuna. Pretty much a winter-only piece, or if you're in super-cold weather. It's thick, cozy and insulates well.


Style is the form of fashion that cuddly fleece comes in and there are a whole boatload of options out there. Full zip, half zip, quarter zip, and crew top. Hood or hoodie. There are even cardigans and wraps. The most versatile is the full zip, as you can close that front zipper or leave it hanging open to release the heat. It's all about the personal comfort and daily style that you wish to exude. I prefer a half or quarter zip pullover, but I might change my mind next week, so I keep a variety of options in my closet.

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