Fleece – the essential outdoor wear

Fleece – the essential outdoor wear

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The fleece has become the staple wear of outdoor clothing.

Whatever your outdoor activity, when you want to be warm almost everybody has a fleece. From gardening to mountain walking the fleece is as versatile as a wooly hat. The fleece has replaced the wooly jumper for work and leisure wear, even indoors.

There are thick fleeces, thin fleeces, technical fleeces, hooded fleeces and very simple basic fleeces. There are fleeces with a full zip, quarter or half zip, and pullovers that have no zip at all.

Fleeces are made from Polar fleece, this is a soft insulating fabric made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Created by Maiden Mills, Massachusetts (now Polartec) in 1979. As an alternative to woolen products. The fabric was not patented so many vendors manufacture the fabric across the world.

The fleece is very popular with walkers and climbers, it is light and warm fabric, that does not absorb water, and when it is wet retains its warmth. Easy to slip into a backpack, a fleece can be worn as an outer garment or as a mid-layer in a three layering system.

Here are three examples from leading outdoor brands

1.Jack Wolfskin Gecko Fleece




This micro fleece is thin, light and soft. It has a half length zip to help you to regulate your temperature. Made from 100% polyester.

My thoughts

The Gecko is a basic fleece. It is thin, light and very soft to wear. It is a fleece that I might wear on a chilly summer’s evening, or around a hostel. Because the gecko is light and not bulky it does not take up much room in a bag. The arms and the body are a good length.

It can be worn as a mid layer, but it would not offer enough warmth in really cold weather.


2.Berghaus Pravitale 2.0 Hooded Jacket



The Pravitale is a hooded fleece jacket, with a full length zip. The stretchy fabric enables the fleece to move freely with your body, so that it is ideal for active outdoor pursuits. The sleeves have thumb loops to help keep your hands warm and stop the sleeves from riding up your arm.

There are two front-venting, zipped hand pockets that are harness compatible, and a bonded left sleeve pocket.

My thoughts

The Pravitale is the thickest of the fleeces reviewed, it has a robust feel to it. Slightly heavier than Gecko it is more suitable for colder weather. I like the full length zip at the front, and the body length. The lining has a classic fleece feel to it, which always feels cozy. I like the thumb loops as well, I always think they are a small extra that go a long way to help keeping your hands warm.

A useful fleece to slip on if you were belaying on a climb, especially with it’s ‘stretchability’, or to wear as a mid layer on a cold winter days hike. Although it is a bit bulky to carry in your backpack.

I am not really convinced about the sleeve pocket, what you can fit in it is pretty limited. It is big enough for a compass,phone or GPS.

3.The North Face Incipient Hoodie Jacket



The Polartec®Power Grid™ fabric of the Incipient hoody has great wicking ability, to keep you dry. While the Micro grid inner retains heat and reduces weight. The helmet is close fitting to be worn under a climbing helmet. There are two hand warmer pockets which are harness and pack friendly and one chest pocket.

My thoughts

The Micro Grid lining of the incipient fleece means that it is thinner than the Privitale but warmer than the Gecko. The fleece has an ‘athletic’ feel to it, for the more adventurous of the ‘oudoorers’. The incipient is ideal as a mid layer for cold day walks, scrambling and climbing. It is not so bulky in your backpack.

The fleece also has a full length front zip, I like this because it means the fleece is easier to slip on than a pullover, and there is greater temperature control for the wearer.


1.Jack Wolfskin Gecko Fleece

  • Fleece pullover
  • Versatile
  • TECNOPILE MICRO: Very light 100 weight microfleece
  • 100% Polyester
  • Weight: 235g
  • Price: £29.75
  • Features: basic fleece
  • comment: Light, simple, good for chilly temperatures
  • Buy now; Jack Wolfskin Gecko Fleece

2.Berghaus Pravitale 2.0 Hooded Jacket

  • Flat-locking stitching throughout for low profile seams
  • Snug and comfortable close-fitting hood
  • Reverse coil YKK zip
  • Thumb loops keep you covered even at full stretch, stop draughts
  • Bonded zipped left sleeve pocket
  • Two front-venting handwarmer pockets
  • Stretch bound cuffs and hem
  • Weight; 510g
  • Price: £72
  • Features: Thick warm fleece with hood
  • Comment: Good fleece for cold days on its own, or as a mid layer, or for belaying
  • Buy now: Berghaus Pravitale 2.0 Hooded Jacket

The North Face Incipient Hoodie Jacket

  • Micro grid inner retains heat and reduces weight
  • Sleek scuba hood fits close to the head and under a helmet
  • Harness and pack friendly hand pockets
  • Chest pocket
  • Fabric, body: 207 g/m2 42% polyester, 37% nylon, 21% elastane stretch fleece with micro grid backer
  • weight: 420g
  • Price: £108
  • Features: Good warmth to weight ratio
  • Comment: Where weight, warmth and bulk are important, this is an ideal fleece.
  • Buy now: The North Face incipient Hoodie Jacket
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Content Writer

I just love walking, have done since my first precarious steps in nappies. Being outdoors is definitely better than in, whatever the weather.

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