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Best Fleece Jackets for Backpacking & Hiking [2022] BikeHikeSafari


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This is a gear review about the best fleece jackets for hiking and backpacking in 2022.

When you are out hiking or backpacking, sometimes you need a fleece jacket that will keep you warm. They are also generally lightweight, take up very little room in your backpack and work as a great mid-layer for backpacking between your Base Layers, Down Jacket and Rain Jacket.

In this article, I will uncover the best fleece jackets that you should be looking at in 2022.

Best Hiking Fleece Jackets 2022

The Best Hiking Fleece Jackets of 2022 are:

Best Fleece Jacket 2022– Overall

Patagonia R1 TechFace Jacket

Patagonia R! Techface fleece jacket

Weight: 11.5oz / 326grams
Material: Recycled Polyester Blend Fleece
Pros:

> The dual-adjust cord-lock system at the hem to trap heat.
> Slim fit to reduce bulk and sag
> 69% of the polyester has been recycled.
Cons:
> Due to the slim fit make sure you get the correct size.

The Patagonia R1 TechFace is the next generation of their Regulator fleece with its warm, stretchy material that is very breathable. The comfort of this performance fleece has had a recent update, benefiting from weather resistance and abrasion resistance.

The Patagonia R1 TechFace is a sleek and low bulk design, complete with snag-resistant cuffs, which means this fleece hiking jacket will not restrict movement when worn under your outer layer. The fit of this backpacking fleece is particularly slim to prevent bulkiness, so make sure you check the sizing guides to find your perfect fit. The dual-adjust cord-lock system at the hem can be tightened to sit snugly against the waist to trap in heat and prevents chilly wafts up the midriff. Everything has been done to ensure this fleece backpacking jacket fits close to the body to trap warmth.

The Patagonia R1 TechFace is a good option for those who like to be environmentally conscious as 69% of the polyester it is made with has been recycled.

There is a choice of styles, there is one without a hood and half zip or full zip and hood.

Overall, the Patagonia R1 TechFace is the best fleece jacket for backpacking, casual wear, and travel on the market.

Best Lightweight Fleece Jacket 2022

Patagonia R1 Air Jacket

Patagonia R1 Air fleece jacket

Weight: 10.2oz / 289grams
Material: Hollow Core Fleece
Pros:

> Large range choice.
> 100% recycled polyester fleece.
> Lightweight
Cons:
> No pockets for hands, just a very small chest pocket

Patagonia’s prestige and superior quality guarantee them multiple spaces on the list of the best fleece available.

The Patagonia R1 Air range is made from a 100% recycled polyester fleece blend, perfect for lowering your carbon footprint. It is a lightweight and breathable technical fleece, perfect for high-exertion activities in colder conditions. The fleece is also quick-drying with woven binding at the hem and cuffs which gives added stretch for a superior fit.

The range extends to a full-zip hoody, a zip-neck option, and a crew neck so you are bound to find the best fleece layers that suit your needs.

Overall, the Patagonia R1 Air is the best lightweight fleece jacket for backpacking and hiking.

Best Heavyweight Fleece

Patagonia Better Sweater

Weight: 22.5 oz / 638 grams

Material: Knitted Fleece 100% recycled
Pros:

> 100% recycled fabric
> Flat seams are used to reduce bulk and seam chafing
> Comfortable
> It’s Patagonia!
Cons:
> Not Windproof – This jacket is best worn as a fleece-layer alongside something else.

Patagonia is a well-known company in the fleece jackets industry. They have lots of designs and of their most popular designs is the Better Sweater. As you can see Patagonia has taken some of the top spots in this gear review. They are at the top of their game when it comes to fleece jackets.

The Patagonia Better Sweater is suited for daily wear and more extreme outdoor activities. These jackets are also the perfect fleece for backpacking.

The Patagonia Better Sweater is made with 100% recycled polyester knitted fleece that also has a fleece interior. The cuffs are made with shape-holding micro-polyester jersey trim, alongside flat seams that eliminate chafing and bulk.

These jackets come with two zippered hand warming pockets and a security pocket too.

Overall, the Patagonia Better Sweater jacket is comfortable to wear, comes in a range of colors to suit everyone, and is one of the best fleece jackets on the market for wearing around town.

Most Comfortable Fleece Jacket

Arc’teryx Kyanite AR Hoody Jacket

Arc'teryx Kyanite Hood fleece jacket

Weight: 13.4oz / 380grams
Material: Polartec Power Stretch Pro
Pros:

> Great comfort and mobility.
> Two hand pockets with zippers
> Stretchy fleece fabric
Cons:
> Slim fit so check sizing

The Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody offers stretch fleece with enough insulation to make it perfect to use as a layering piece during cold conditions, or as a standalone piece when the climate is milder.

The breathable and lightweight design is incredibly soft, meaning it can be worn next to the skin. But like most fleece layers it is best to be used over a quality backpacking base layer.

With enhanced moisture-wicking properties and stretch technology for ergonomic freedom, you are guaranteed all-day comfort with the Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody.

Comfort is also a given with the chin guard to stop chin and neck zipper chafing, as well as a low-profile hood to limit bulking under your outer shell layer. There are also two hand pockets with zippers that are secure enough to store all small essentials or are perfect for warming up chilly fingers.

Overall, the Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody is another one of the best fleece jackets for hiking and backpacking. If you are a fan of Arc’teryx, you will love this jacket.

Best Ultralight Fleece Pullover 2022

Macpac Nitro Fleece Hoody Pullover

Macpac Nitro fleece pullover

Weight: 4.9oz / 140grams
Material: Polartec Alpha Direct Fleece
Pros:

> Ultralight
> Fast wicking material will transfer moisture away from the skin
> The lightweight fabric is machine washable and fast drying
> Best in class warmth to weight ratio
Cons:
> Only available in Australia and New Zealand
> The hood feels best when worn under an outer layer.
> Feels delicate (but is stronger than it looks)

A Macpac Nitro fleece pullover is a good choice as the company works with the New Zealand Alpine Team, so you know that your fleece pullover is going to be the best around.

Macpac’s Nitro performance fleece is perfect for hiking in the mountains. Weighing in at only 4.9 oz / 140 grams this super lightweight jacket is made with military-grade insulation that many people say, including myself, is the lightest, most insulated fleece layer they have tried. A big statement but that is how highly I rate these hiking fleece jackets.

It features a small zip pocket at the chest for easy storage and thumb loops to keep the sleeves in the right place. It also features a hood that is nice when worn underneath a rain jacket or down jacket when you really need insulation from the cold.

The patented Polartec Alpha Direct fibers are so efficient that the need for a backing fabric is gone and is suitable for wear directly against the skin if you choose. But it is better to use one of the Best Lightweight Base Layers that you can afford underneath it.

The Polartec Alpha fabric is incredibly light and has the best warmth to weight ratio of any jacket other than a down jacket, but with significantly better breathability.

Overall, this is the best ultralight fleece pullover for backpacking. Unfortunately, this product is only available in Australia and New Zealand, but other manufacturers take note, this is what all ultralight fleece pullovers should look like.

Best Budget Fleece Jacket 2022

REI Co-Op Groundbreaker Fleece 2.0

REI Co-Op Groundbreaker 2.0 backpacking budget fleece

Weight: Not specified

Material: Fleece
Pros:

> Good fit
> Durable and well made
> Affordable
Cons:
> Very thin

The REI Co-Op Groundbreaker Fleece 2.0, are very affordable fleece jackets that are also lightweight and easy to pack for any journey. And it looks quite similar to the Patagonia Better Sweater. But the looks are where it ends.

This is a durable jacket that will last you a couple of years of hard wear. You can wear this jacket all year round in a range of temperatures and weather conditions.

This is a thin jacket, made from polyester, with stretch binding cuffs and hem. This allows you to keep the warmth in and the cold out.

Overall, the REI Co-Op Groundbreaker Fleece 2.0 jacket is built well and is very comfortable to wear, and is one of the best budget fleece jackets on the market in 2022.

Hiking Fleece Jackets

Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft

Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft fleece jacket for backpacking and hiking

Weight: 13.4 oz / 380 grams

Material: Polartec High Loft Fleece
Pros:

> 64% Recycled Materials
> Warm
> Soft to touch and is very comfortable to wear.
Cons:
> Some people think the arms are too long
> Not Windproof

The Polartec High Loft fleece by Mountain Hardwear is a lightweight and easy-to-pack jacket. It retains warmth and is also super soft to the touch.

The Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft Fleece is made with a blend of 97% polyester and 3% Elastane, which are made with recycled materials. This jacket has a standard fit, with integrated stretch fleece panels down the sides, cuffs, and hem of the jacket.

Therefore, this allows the wearer more movement while wearing the item of clothing.

Zippers are used to do the jacket up and are also used on the chest pocket to keep your belongings safe. The Polartec High Loft fleece is ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking or just running general errands.

Overall, this is a very high-quality fleece for hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

Kühl Interceptr Jacket

Kuhl Interceptr Jacket with fleece blend

Weight: 19.2 oz / 544 grams

Material: Alfpaca fleece and Kashmira blend from Kuhl (acrylic/polyester blend)
Pros:

> The Interceptr Jacket has thumb loops on each sleeve
> This jacket has a good fit for most people
> This jacket has four pockets
Cons:
> Not windproof

The Kuhl Interceptr Jacket is ideal for mild fall to spring weather conditions. However, once the weather really drops or the winds really pick up, this is where you need another layer. This is the same for all the jackets in this review.

The Kuhl Interceptr jacket is made up of a mixture of polyester and acrylic, alongside Dynamik stitching, which reduces the bulk of the garment and less chance of rubbing.

With this jacket, there are a total of four pockets, all with zippers that allow you to store all your belongings safely. I like the addition of a couple of extra pockets.

Also, another feature that you will find on the sleeves of this jacket is thumb loops to keep the sleeves pulled all the way down.

Overall, the Kuhl Interceptr is one of the best fleece blend jackets on the market.

Outdoor Research Vigor Plus Full Zip

Outdoor Research Vigor backpacking Fleece Jacket

Weight: 18.6 oz / 527 grams

Material: Fleece Blend
Pros:

> This jacket has a hood to keep your head warm
> Lightweight
> This jacket uses a hybrid construction. The upper half of the jacket is made with a spandex/polyester mix, while the lower half of the jacket has a grid-style fleece.
Cons:
> This jacket is quite thin

The Outdoor Research Vigor Full-Zip Hoodie is a lightweight fleece jacket that has been designed with thermoregulation ActiveTemp technology.

This means that this jacket has been designed to manage the body temperature of the wearer and adjust the temperature in the different climates that they are in. 

Like the previous jacket, the Outdoor Research fleece also comes with thumb loops to keep the sleeves pulled all the way down and help keep the hands warm.

Alongside that, this garment also has a hood which is a personal opinion as to whether it is better or not.

As well as that, there are your typical two zip hand pockets and security zipped chest pockets for you to put your personal belongings into.

The Outdoor Research Fleece is great to wear alongside another garment. This jacket can be worn by itself, but in colder conditions, the jacket does struggle to retain heat in very cold weather which is the same as all the other fleece jackets in this review.

Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T

Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T is one of the best fleece jackets for backpacking

Weight: 14.3 oz / 405 Grams

Materials: Mid Weight Sychilla Fleece
Pros:

> Extremely comfortable to wear
> This jacket is very thick and warm
> Versatile enough to be used in almost any outdoor excursion
Cons:
> This is a very simple jacket and basic-looking jacket

As mentioned above, Patagonia is a well-known brand in the fleece market. The Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T is easy to throw on before heading out for a bike ride or a hike.

It is also a great piece of gear to put on after a day of skiing or just something to use when traveling.

You shouldn’t expect any fancy features or added extras with this product. It is simply a thick and really warm yet cozy jacket. This is a loose-fitting jacket, with a snap-shut front pocket.

However, other than that, this jacket will definitely keep you warm and comfortable while you are out and about in those cooler climates.

Overall, the Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap T is a nice warm fleece jacket for hiking.


Other Fleece Jackets to Consider

Here are some other fleece jackets yet to be reviewed. Most will be added to the list once they have been reviewed.

  • Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan – The Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan is another hiking fleece worth considering
  • Rab Capacitor – The Rab Capacitor is a worthy option that I am reviewing at the moment
  • The North Face Denali 2 – The North Face Denali 2 is a good heavyweight fleece for colder weather conditions
  • Arc’teryx Delta LT Fleece – The Arc’teryx Delta LT Fleece is another light hiking fleece jacket that I am currently reviewing.
  • Fjallraven Keb Fleece – The Fjallraven Keb Fleece is being reviewed at the moment and may be added to the list
  • Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 – The Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is a worthy option from one of the best outdoor clothing companies.

Buyers Guide

Fleece jackets are great items of clothing to own. Not only are they comfortable to wear, but they provide warmth to the wearer in colder climates. They are ideal to either wear by themselves on those crisp mornings or as another layer while up on the slopes.

This is a casual piece of clothing, and if you are known for your outdoor activities, you most likely have a fleece jacket that is your go-to when the weather starts to get colder.  And most of them are made from recycled plastics. Ever wonder where your recycled plastic water bottles might end up!

In this buyer’s guide, we have mentioned a couple of things to look out for when you are buying your fleece jacket. 


Features to Consider

Zips, pockets, full zip, or pullover, there are several things to consider when looking for the right fleece jacket for you.


Full Zip or Pullover

In this article, we have given you examples of both full zip and pullovers. When it comes to a full zip fleece jacket, you do have the option to have more pockets on your jacket. You don’t commonly see many on a pullover.

However, pullovers are popular as they are normally more lightweight than a full zip and pack down a lot smaller for carrying. When it comes to a full zip or a pullover, this is down to personal preference.

Both have their pros and cons, but it depends more on your personal style and which one you choose. Both styles will help you keep you warm. In my opinion, full zip is better and gives better options to vent heat on warmer days or when hiking up a hill.


Pockets

Two hand warmer pockets are standard for most of the fleece jackets in this review. While having hand pockets is good, it is also important to have them either high enough or low enough to be accessible when wearing a backpack.

Some have a chest pocket or two chest pockets. Most chest pockets are small and not even big enough to fit a standard-sized smartphone.


Wind Proof

A fleece jacket is usually worn when layered with a waterproof jacket or coat. As when they are worn by themselves, most of them aren’t very windproof. Very few use a windproof membrane to keep the wind from taking away the heat.

Fleeces are considered very breathable, yet a lot of them let the wind in, which causes the wearer to lose any heat they had created to keep themselves warm. Best to use a windbreaker or ultralight rain jacket to stop the wind.

Therefore, it isn’t the end of the world if you buy a fleece jacket that isn’t windproof, as you will most likely be pairing it with another jacket.

However, you do need to remember that it isn’t windproof when you decide to wear it by itself. You don’t want to wear it by itself on days when it is cold and there is a strong breeze in the air, as the jacket will give you no benefits. 


Breathable

Fleece is very breathable and has the ability to transfer moisture to the outer layer to be swept away by the wind. But not as good as most people think and certainly not as good as some marketing material might have you believe. But it does have the great ability to keep you warm when wet.


Warmth

Generally speaking, the fleece jacket is not meant as a winter jacket but more of a mid-layer fleece jacket for cool weather. It is well suited to be worn with Baselayers, down jackets, and rain jackets. The heavier the fleece weight of the jacket the warmer it is as a general rule. But high tech fabrics such as fleece blends and Polartech Alpha offer more warmth and have a very good warmth-to-weight ratio.


Fit

When it comes to any item of clothing, the fit is really important. When it comes to fleece jackets there are different fits that you can buy, therefore, it is critical to see what fit your jacket is that you are buying and make sure that the fit will match up with its intended use.

If the jacket has a more casual use, then you may want to look into a roomier fit, that isn’t too tight. While if the jacket is meant for bike touring or skiing you may want to look for a better-fitting jacket.

That will help keep in your heat and is easier to move in.

As a result, when buying your fleece jacket, think about what use it will get. If you aren’t sure, then try and find a middle ground where the jacket is still well-fitting, but also a tad lose.

You may find in this instance that a pullover is much more preferred in this scenario. 


Weight

For the most part, fleece is not really that heavy but it is not ultralight either. The exception to this is the newer fabrics such as Polartec Alpha which is my favorite choice. But this ultralight fleece comes at the cost of durability. Lightweight fleece, midweight fleece, and heavyweight fleece are all heavier than Polartec Alpha Fleece but more durable.


Price

A fleece jacket can be one of the cheapest items of clothing you buy or it can be rather expensive. A lot will depend on if you want a technical fabric or a basic fleece. I suspect if you are reading this you are more interested in a technical fleece layer and will be considering weight, comfort, warmth, fit, and breathability more than some people. When heading into the backcountry, you get what you pay for.


Conclusion 

In this article, I have suggested the best hiking fleece jackets that you can get your hands on right now in 2022. Out of all of these jackets, you will find the perfect one to fit your needs. 

The Best Fleece Jackets for Hiking in 2022 are:


Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Look For In A Fleece Jacket?

There are a lot of things to look out for when buying a fleece jacket. However, the main ones we would suggest you look out for are the following:

Warmth
Weather Resistance
Weight

A lot of jackets will have added extras like thumb loops, pockets, and hoods. These are also great things to look out for, but you don’t want the extras to be more important once the main thing this jacket should be doing is keeping you warm.

Therefore, once you have found some fleece jackets that will keep you warm, then you can look into the added features the jackets pose. 

Should A Fleece Be Tight Or Lose?

A fleece jacket is normally worn over items of clothing, so it should be easy to wear over them. However, the jacket shouldn’t restrict any movement.

Usually, a fleece jacket will be worn as a mid-layer, therefore it should be a snug fit, but not too tight to restrict movement and be uncomfortable. 

Why Do People Wear Fleece?

Typically, people wear fleece as it is a really soft material, which is very comfortable to wear. Not only is it soft to wear, but it helps retain heat, but also is moisture resistant.

Therefore, fleece is comfortable to wear and should keep you warm, but not overheat you. 


Best Fleece Jackets

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