Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece review: all the warmth of fleece in a lightweight, stretchy package

This light, stretchy mid layer boasts a great warmth-to-weight ratio for easy layering on chilly hikes or as your outer layer on mild days

Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece
(Image: © Future)

Advnture Verdict

When it comes to layering, you want maximum insulation with minimum bulk, and this lightweight, stretchy pullover is excellent for dynamic adventures where you want to be able to move freely as well as active travel


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    Great warmth-to-weight ratio

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    Stretchy and breathable

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    Soft against the skin

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    High collar

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    Bluesign certified


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    No thumb loops

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    Hem not adjustable

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 Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece: first impressions 

Not all fleece jackets are created equally, and while it’s impossible to imagine the outdoors without a bulky fleece to keep you warm in frigid temperatures and act as an outer layer for dry autumn nights, sometimes you just want to the benefits of fleece in a more streamlined package. The Kolbenberg Half Zip is the latest in the wave of lightweight fleeces that manage to make toasty base layers, effective mid layers and light summer outer layers.

This pullover-style fleece is slim-fitting but leaves enough room to wear over a base layer for frigid adventures. The thin material makes it easy to layer while great stretch means your movements are never hindered when you’re scrambling around in the backcountry. The smooth face fabric holds up well against rogue velcro and overgrown trails, while a brushed grid fleece is soft against your skin if you’re wearing this as a first layer.


RRP: $89.95 / £75 (women’s £70)
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: S - XXXL Men’s, XS - XXL Women’s
• Weight: 7.7 oz / 220 g (women’s small)
• Materials: 95% polyester, 5% elastane
• Colors: Guava, Sangria red, Dolphin, Phantom, Strong red, Black olive, Cold coffee, Wild brier
• Best use: Hiking, Climbing, Winter sports 

Despite how light it is, the high collar is great for sealing out drafts, however the hem doesn’t cinch tight on a windy day. That said, it’s thin enough that you can tuck it in to your hiking pants and on that note, you can easily wear it with a harness for rock climbing too. It’s Bluesign-approved, though there aren’t any details on what makes this piece sustainable on the brand’s website and a small zipped chest pocket is probably too small to carry much beyond a car key, but we appreciate the thought.

With a great warmth-to-weight ratio and good breathability for more dynamic pursuits, we’ll be packing this versatile fleece on many adventures to come based on its performance this winter.

Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece: in the field 

Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece

This pullover-style fleece arrived about a month ago, and straight away, I had a feeling it was going to get a lot of wear (Image credit: Future)

As a hiker, I love the benefits of fleece, but since I moved back to Scotland where I have to layer more carefully year-round, I’ve started to get pickier about my fleece. After all, in the arid Rocky Mountains where I used to live, my fleece could easily be my outer layer since it never got wet, and I didn’t mind a little bulk. When I’m wearing a fleece along with base layers and shell jackets, however, I need it to have a slimmer fit.

This pullover-style fleece arrived about a month ago, and straight away, I had a feeling it was going to get a lot of wear. Between hiking and a fair bit of travel, I’ve barely had it off.

Here’s how it performed:  

Sizing and fit  

I usually wear a small and that’s what I tested. It fits me perfectly, with just enough room that I can raise my arms overhead and wear another long-sleeve underneath if I want to, without being excessively baggy. It’s a little looser around the middle, which I prefer, and with the high neck is quite flattering. 

Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece

It's neither tight nor baggy;great for layering (Image credit: Future)

Comfort and temperature regulation

If a fleece was really uncomfortable, they’d have to be doing something really wrong, and this one is soft against my skin which means I can wear it as a base layer if I want to. Stretchy fabric means it doesn’t restrict my movements. 

Fleece is meant to be warm and, while it’s been very cold here lately, I’ve found this to provide a good layer of insulation. I recently tested it out on a cold and very steep hike where I always work up a sweat. I was able to wear this as a base layer with a waterproof jacket over it and be warm enough.

Unfortunately, the waterproof jacket I was testing over the top of it wasn’t very breathable, but that allowed me to test out the moisture-wicking capabilities of this fleece as well as it’s breathability and it probably saved my hike. When I took my jacket off, all the moisture had built up on the inside of the jacket while my fleece was barely damp and dried quickly.

I have an even thinner fleece than this that I’d probably choose for really cold trail running, but in general for high aerobic pursuits in really cold weather, I think the warmth-to-weight ratio is great, especially when you factor in the breathability.

Weight and packability 

This isn’t the lightest fleece pullover I own, but it’s super light and rolls up smaller than a water bottle, meaning it can easily be shoved into a daypack for emergencies, or inside a ski boot if you’re heading out on a ski vacation. 

Closeup of microfleece fabric

The brushed grid fleece lining means you can wear it against the skin (Image credit: Future)

Odor control and durability 

In general, fleece gets stinky with use, but perhaps due to the fit I haven’t found this one to be too appalling. Often I can only wear a fleece once before I have to wash it, while this one can withstand several days of wear. The face fabric is pilling and abrasion resistant and it’s not so thin it’s going to fall apart, though the added stretch might mean it loses its shape a little sooner than other similar tops. 

Other features

This fleece doesn't have a hood, and I'm glad, because if I needed one I'd be wearing it with a hooded jacket anyway. It comes in a full zip version if you prefer. The only real feature is a small, zipped chest pocket which I haven't found a use for, but on a cool summer walk or a very cold trail run I suppose I could put my car key in there. In general, I'm a fan of a chest pocket but this one isn't really big enough to be that useful. 

It also doesn't have an elasticated hem which does mean a really harsh wind can sneak up it, but because it isn't bulky I'm able to just tuck it into my trousers if need be.

Jack Wolfskin Kolbenberg Half Zip Fleece: the bottom line 

If you’re seeking a lightweight fleece that you can wear at different layers and across a variety of activities without overheating or adding too much bulk, this is a flattering and good quality fleece at a reasonable price. If you want something so light that you’d happily wear it for a winter trail run, check out the Montane Protium Lite Pull On, which is similar, but even lighter. 

Julia Clarke

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.