This flattering, high-collared fleece wraps you in cozy warmth on cold hikes while keeping your arms free and has great eco-creds to boot
Two-sided fleece is super warm
Four deep pockets
High collar looks good and adds protection
100% recycled, and recyclable
Women’s sizing only
Only two colors available
High collar may not be to everyone’s taste
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BAM Bamboo Women’s 73 Zero Fleece Gilet: first impressions
Are you in the market for a mid layer that doesn’t hinder your movements or make you feel like you’re hiking in a straitjacket? This women’s gilet might be just the ticket for those seeking superb warmth, a little bit of style and with an eco-conscious approach to outdoor gear. Though BAM is better known for their bamboo products, they’ve opted for two-sided fleece here which provides instant comfort on a frigid, windy mountain when this is layered over a base layer and under a shell jacket, and the high collar keeps you extra snug. Stash gear in the deep inner pockets and use the hand-warming pockets to keep your digits from freezing while you walk.
• List price: $110 / £79
• Gender specification: Women’s
• Sizes: XS - L
• Weight: 330g / 11.6 oz (women’s small)
• Materials: Polyester
• Colors: Biscuit / Black
• Best use: Hiking, camping
The 73 Zero Fleece Gilet is so-called because it’s part of BAM’s 73 Zero Take back scheme. Not only is it manufactured using 100 percent recycled polyester, they’ll take it back and recycle it at the end of its lifespan. However, this sturdy garment should last you for many years to come.
We can’t find much to fault it with, especially as it’s not as bulky as some other fleece gilets, we only wish there was a men’s version too. If you need an extra layer but hate the sensation of multiple sleeves that restrict your arm movement, you’ll want to seriously consider this planet-friendly vest for hiking, camping, dog walking and wearing around town in cold weather.
BAM Bamboo Women’s 73 Zero Fleece Gilet: in the field
For absolutely no logical reason, I’ve never thought of myself as a gilet (or bodywarmer, or vest) person. So when I was offered the chance to test out this one, I decided it was time to take a plunge into the unknown. After all, I hike in cold weather, I love staying cozy year-round and I do quite like the idea of less sleeves when I’m layering. I’ve been wearing this fleece vest practically every for about two months – on cold hikes up chilly Scottish Munros, for breezy beach walks on a recent family holiday and around town.
Here’s how it performed:
Size and fit
I am typically a size small and that’s what I tested. I’d say I could probably have gone down a size for a slightly more flattering fit (I’m currently wearing it over two sweaters quite comfortably), but as it is, it works great for layering as I usually wear it over a wool base layer and then throw a waterproof jacket on top for hiking.
It’s got a trendy, slightly boxy fit, coming down to about mid-hip and when it’s zipped all the way up it comes up to my bottom lip.
Insulation and breathability
This fleece really makes me feel instantly toasty the minute I put it on. We’re having a really cold fall here in Scotland and it’s been a bit of a revelation to me that I can just wear this with my base layer and a waterproof jacket and stay really comfortable on cold hikes. I also love that I don’t get sweaty in it when I’m tackling steep inclines, because of course my armpits can breathe and I can always unzip (though I never do).
Weight and packability
Because it’s my first gilet, I don’t have anything to compare this to in my own closet, but it’s really light – actually not far off the weight of some of the down gilets my colleagues here at Advnture have tested.
Fleece is never as packable as down, but because this lacks sleeves it’s definitely feasible to roll it up and put it in a daypack for milder weather, which is obviously good because you can’t tie it around your waist. However I can’t really see a situation where I’d carry it and not wear it.
Comfort and storage
Between the soft, teddy-bear fleece, high collar and hand pockets, this gilet feels a bit like wrapping myself up in a Labrador puppy. It’s superbly cozy, and I wear it at home most of the time now winter is on the way, which is so much better than wearing a jacket indoors.
When it is warm enough for me to not need a shell on top, I love the two deep inner pockets to carry my phone and even a map.
Durability and value
Fleece in general is a robust fabric, especially when you follow the care instructions and because this has that teddy bear-type appearance, it doesn’t show pilling the way a smoother fabric would. It should last for years and years, and if it does reach the end of its life before you do, you can send it back to BAM for free and they’ll recycle it for you.
It’s not the cheapest or priciest gilet we’ve tested and a decent price that’s affordable to most people looking for good quality gear, especially when you consider how versatile it is (it can be an outer or mid layer).
BAM Bamboo Women’s 73 Zero Fleece Gilet: the bottom line
Superbly warm and functional, ideal as a mid layer in winter and an outer layer on dry spring and fall day, and flattering enough to wear for daily use, we can’t recommend this gilet enough.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.