The best fleece jackets 2024: warm mid layers for your wild adventures

The best fleece jackets provide cozy warmth and breathability for adventures all year round. They really come into their own during the winter months, either as an important part of an adventurer's layering system or as a stylish outer layer for everyday use. When the summer months roll back around, mountain hikers will still value their warming qualities on the ridges and summits.

Usually made of lofty polyester pile, fleece is a synthetic fabric that comes in a variety of different forms, from lightweight microfleece to the super-fluffy high-loft type. In pretty much all instances, fleece is lighter than a wool sweater or pullover, while being more affordable and more durable than a down jacket.

For cold weather pursuits, the best fleece jackets should be paired with a moisture-wicking base layer and a protective outer layer like one of the best waterproof jackets. The number of fleece jackets you wear will depend on how cold it is. Remember, where warmth is concerned, many thin layers are better than one thick one.

Our testers have enjoyed wearing the best fleece jackets in a variety of backcountry settings to deliver this guide. We rate the Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover as the best option of all, but all the jackets in this guide represent a sound investment.

The quick list

This is the quick list, a snapshot of the best fleece jackets available in 2024. To delve deeper into the features and qualities of each featured fleece, see our more detailed reviews further down the page in this guide.

The best fleece jackets 2024

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

The best fleece jacket overall

best fleece jacket: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover

A very eco-friendly, mid-weight fleece top, ideal for use as an outerlayer in fall and spring, and a midlayer through winter (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best fleece jacket overall

Specifications

Fabric: Recycled PrimaLoft Bio (100%)
Gender availability: Men’s and Women’s
Sizes: Men’s: XS–XXL; Women’s: XS–XL
Weight (Men’s large): : 284g / 10oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Fired brick / Hot spot Women’s: Black / Fired brick / Glacier

Reasons to buy

+
Made from biodegradable, 100% recycled material
+
Warm
+
Extremely breathable
+
Comfortable 
+
High neck
+
Good storage, with large zipped pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
No thumb hoops
-
No hood
-
Sizes quite small
-
Quite pricey

A stylish and functional fleece top, the midweight Halfmoon Bio Pullover from Artilect makes for "a fantastic outer layer during dry days and nights in the shoulder months," according to our expert tester. We also found that, as the evenings and mornings get a bit chillier, it makes for an excellent midlayer, worn under a wind- and waterproof shell during cold and wet winter days spent hiking in the hills. 

Although most people will wear this fleece over the top of a baselayer, we found the Halfmoon pullover to be luxuriously comfortable next to the skin, and it’s highly breathable. The materials are 100% recycled, as all good fleeces should be, but Artilect also state that the PrimaLoft Bio fabric is biodegradable in landfill and ocean environments at the end of garment’s life – a circular process, where the specially developed fibres ‘return to materials found in nature’, which takes it to a higher level of eco-friendliness.

It’s worth noting that this top tends to size quite small, which can be useful when used a midlayers, but if you’re in doubt, go for a size bigger than you usually take.

Read our full Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover

The best lightweight fleece jacket

best fleece jackets: Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody

A lightweight, versatile mid layer that oozes quality and coziness (Image credit: Kieran Cunningham)
The best lightweight fleece jacket

Specifications

Sizes (men's): XS - XXXL
Sizes (women's): XS XL
Weight : 425g / 15oz (men's)/365g / 12.9oz (women's)
Colors: Black, labyrinth (teal gray), Cobalt Moon, Paradox (grey), Rhapsody (maroon)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
+
Rugged nylon face fabric
+
Great next-to-skin comfort

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Hem isn't adjustable

The Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody "strikes the perfect balance between warmth, weight, mobility, and moisture management" according to our expert reviewer. It’s made with plush Polartec Power Stretch Pro fabric that combines rugged nylon face fabric with a plush, brushed interior to prove oodles of next-to-skin comfort with above-average ruggedness and durability. The Kyanite also has four-way stretch fabric, gusseted underarms, and uses articulated patterning to provide for a fuller and freer range of movement. This all makes it one of the best mid layers out there for climbing and scrambling, which we were doing plenty of during the test period. 

Other endearing features include a handy interior pocket that can accommodate most phones or compact cameras, an ergonomically shaped 'ScubaHood' that doesn’t flap in your eyes despite the lack of a cinch, and a 'No Slip Zip' that prevents inadvertent opening. While the fit on the Kyanite is fairly trim and figure-hugging, there’s more than enough stretch in the fabric to accommodate a fuller midriff. All in all, it promises reign for a long time as one of the best lightweight fleeces on the market.

Read our full Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody review

The best fleece jacket for winter

best fleece jacket: Patagonia Better Sweater

A durable fleece jacket as likely to be seen in the boardroom as on the trail  (Image credit: Craig Taylor)
The best fleece jacket for winter

Specifications

Fabric: 100% recycled polyester
Sizes (Men’s): XS–3XL
Sizes (Women’s): XXS - XXL
Weight : (Men’s medium) 17.8oz / 505g
Colors: Various

Reasons to buy

+
Great for many occasions
+
Warm
+
Environmentally friendly
+
Handy chest pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for strenuous activity
-
Boxy fit
-
Not the cheapest

This is "a sleek and fantastically warm fleece pullover that works just as well on your morning commute as it does deep in the backcountry" according to our hiking expert. In fact, he goes as far as to say that "the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece is an awesome bit of kit". 

Sleek and functional, it’s a stripped-back version of Patagonia’s ever-beloved Better Sweater Jacket. Featuring a straight fit that doesn’t ride up when you move, it’s comfortable, warm and understated. On test, we found it kept us warm on backcountry escapades and gave us a “cool” look in the office. It features a durable zipper that can be left open for some breathability or zipped up tightly to your chin for maximum warmth. 

Unlike on other zips that come up so high, however, the large YKK zip on the Better Sweater doesn’t rub on your chin or irritate you in any way, and the soft-brushed fleece liner around the inside of the neck feels soft and gentle when zipped tight.

Read our full Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece review

The best fleece jacket for durability

Klättermusen Balder Zip fleece jacket

This warm mid layer exudes style and class, giving it more appeal than most synthetic technical fleeces (Image credit: Klattermusen)
The best fleece jacket for durability

Specifications

Fabric: Recycled wool (46%), polyester (36%), polyamide (16%), other fibers 3%
Sizes (men’s): XS–XXL
Sizes (momen's): XXS–XL
Weight : 380g/13.4oz (men’s size L)
Colors: Dark moon, dusty green, charcoal, sorrel red

Reasons to buy

+
Durable and well-made
+
Sound eco credentials 
+
Very warm
+
Comfortable, with great fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively heavy
-
Not the most breathable
-
Not as quick drying as pure synthetics
-
Expensive

Rather than being fully synthetic, the Balder is made from an unusual blend of recycled wool, polyester and nylon. This ensures softness yet also durability, as well as improved sustainability. The wool is sourced from an Italian supplier, which spins new yarn from offcuts and old garments. It’s a typically considered and conscientious approach from the Swedish brand, which is known for its strong environmental stance as well as its high-performance technical gear. This jacket is designed for cold weather use, so delivers high levels of warmth. On test, our expert discovered that it's "cosy, luxurious and not at all itchy". 

It also breathes better than you might expect for such a heavyweight layer. The overall cut is well tailored, with a trim fit, long arms and a scooped rear hem for good all-round coverage. The shaped cuffs cover the wrists and the backs of the hands well. The collar is snug and locks in heat very effectively, without feeling constrictive. The main zip and the hand pockets have chunky pull tabs that are easy to grip while wearing gloves. Overall, it’s a mid layer that offers good technical performance and which is stylish enough to wear as part of your everyday winter wardrobe too.

Read our full Klättermusen Balder Zip review

The best value fleece jacket

Man wearing Revolution Race Fusion Fleece

Soft yet durable with a great tailored fit, this hybrid fleece jacket is a thoughtfully designed bit of cold-weather kit (Image credit: Revolution Race)
The best value fleece jacket

Specifications

Fabric: Knitted fleece (100% polyester) with stretch fleece panels (92% polyester, 8% elastane)
Sizes (Men’s): XS–XXL
Sizes (Women's): XS–XXL
Weight (Men’s size L): 595g/20.98oz
Colors: Black, anthracite, rifle green, deep teal

Reasons to buy

+
Durable
+
Warm yet breathable
+
Comfortable, with great fit
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Hand pockets lack zips
-
Double-layer cuffs soak up moisture

The Fusion Fleece is a chunky, heavyweight insulator that is designed to be worn as outerwear or as a conventional mid layer – it worked well as both during our testing period. As such, it employs a hybrid construction, using a heavy-gauge fleece with a knit face as the main fabric, interspersed with lighter stretch fleece panels. This gives it what our expert tester says is "a stylish and contemporary look while boosting performance in terms of overall warmth for weight, breathability, moisture management, comfort and fit."

It’s also been made with durability in mind, with an anti-pilling fabric treatment and double-layer stretch cuffs, so it ought to offer good long-term value – and has a reasonable price point to match. It doesn’t skimp on features either, with a full-length reverse-coil main zip, which has a soft chin guard and is backed with a baffle. You get a zipped chest pocket and two open hand pockets. The cuffs also incorporate thumb loops – always a handy feature, as far as we’re concerned – while the hem has a drawcord adjustment.

Read our full Revolution Race Fusion Fleece review

The best fleece jacket for style

Man wearing Páramo Enduro Fleece jacket

Thin but effective fleece offering lots of style and plenty of versatility (Image credit: Páramo)

6. Páramo Enduro Fleece

The best fleece jacket for style

Specifications

Fabric: Polyester (100%) treated with Nikwax TX.Direct for water repellency
Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
Weight: 436g / 15.4oz (men’s size L)
Colors: Steel marl / blue

Reasons to buy

+
Wind and rain resistant 
+
Pockets suit backpacks and harnesses
+
Full-length zip
+
Stylish

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the warmest fleece jacket

According to our expert tester "this handsome, highly functional fleece is happily at home everywhere from climbing crags to remote trailheads and urban bars". However, don’t be deceived by its good looks – there are lots of non-compromising technical features on this top. The Nikwax material is relatively thin, but it’s wind and rain resistant, making the garment perfect for missions when you’re not sure what the weather has in store. 

We liked the fact that there are plenty of pockets on this top, so if you do wear it as an outerlayer, you have multiple storage options. The design and cut of the garment is excellent, giving it some real style and our movement was completely uninhibited on test. The hood is intended to go under a helmet, and the pockets are arranged so you can still access them while wearing a harness or backpack. 

As always, Páramo’s production methods are very environmentally conscious, with no PFC or polyfluorinated compounds used and the whole top can be recycled with Páramo after it has reached the end of its useful life. The Enduro is made in Bogotá, Colombia, by the Miquelina Foundation, which employs vulnerable women.

The best fleece jacket for eco creds

Mammut Innominata Light ML fleece jacket

Lightweight fleece for fall adventures and early morning starts (Image credit: Mammut)

7. Mammut Innominata Light ML

The best fleece jacket for eco creds

Specifications

Fabric: Polartec fleece (100% polyester outer with polymide and elastane elements)
Sizes: Men's: S–3XL / Women's: XS-XXL
Weight (men’s size L): 325g/11.5oz
Colors: Men's: iguana / ice / black / granite; Women's: highway / grape / marine

Reasons to buy

+
Great warmth for weight
+
Very packable 
+
Durable
+
Made from 100% recycled material

Reasons to avoid

-
No hood
-
Inner pouches have a hole at the bottom

This mega-light Mammot fleece "proves invaluable in multiple outdoor scenarios" according to our hiking expert. Easy to carry, we found its warmth-to-weight performance ratio is off the charts, especially when worn as a mid layer, when the thermal properties of the Bluesign-certified Polar Fleece fabric really come into their own.

It has a high neck, with a full-length zip that tucks neatly into a little chin-protecting garage at the top to avoid snagging bristle, beard or skin. The cuffs and hem are elasticated, giving an improved fit and preventing drafts from getting in, and there are external thumb hook loops on the wrists, to avoid sleeves being pulled up when an outer layer is put on over the top.

The top has reinforced shoulder panels, which increase its durability when regularly worn in conjunction with a backpack. It has two hand pockets on the outside, both of which zip shut, and there are a couple of large pouches on the inside, big enough to stash a sheet map or even a bottle of water. The polar fleece fabric is made from entirely recycled material, so the enviro creds of this top are superb.

The best fleece jacket for breathability

Outdoor Research Vigor Full-Zip Hoodie fleece jacket

Lightweight, stretchy and super-breathable, a great all-action mid layer (Image credit: Outdoor Research)
The best fleece jacket for breathability

Specifications

Fabric: Grid-back fleece made from polyester (94%) and elastane/ spandex (6%)
Sizes (men's): S–XXL
Sizes (women's): XS-XL
Weight: 340g/12oz (men’s size L)
Colors (Men’s): Black, lichen green, madder red, twilight blue / Black, Cascade blue

Reasons to buy

+
Super breathable 
+
Elastic-bound hood
+
Three useful pockets
+
Thumb loops

Reasons to avoid

-
Gives only modest warmth 
-
Some concerns over long-term durability