The Best Fleece Jackets of 2024

Are you chilly? Fleece may be in your future. The synthetic fabric is synonymous with cozy, and we’re pretty sure cozy is the ultimate goal. Fleece is that surprisingly versatile fabric that can perform for high-energy activities and around-the-house lounging. It can be dressed up, dressed down, made retro, or turned urbanite. With key qualities of warmth, breathability, and water resistance, we find fleece a necessity in our gear closet.

We’ve got the best fleece jackets for you, below. And we’re sure that no matter what Backpacker Type you are, there’s a fleece you’ll fall for.

Fleece Jacket Comparison Table

Best Fleece Jackets MSRP Weight Fleece Weight See It
Patagonia R1 Hoody $159 12 oz. Lightweight Women’s, Men’s
The North Face Denali 2 $179 24.7 oz. Heavyweight Women’s, Men’s
Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket $139 16.4 oz. Midweight Women’s, Men’s
Arc’teryx Delta Jacket $160 8.8 oz Lightweight Women’s, Men’s
Marmot Reactor $99 11.4 oz Lightweight Men’s, Women’s (Flashpoint)
Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T $119 14.3 oz Midweight/Heavyweight Women’s, Men’s
Patagonia R2 TechFace $179 7.6 oz Midweight Women’s, Men’s
The North Face Campshire $149 16.9 oz Heavyweight Women’s, Men’s
The North Face Alpine Polartec 200 Half-Zip Pullover $109 1 lb 2 oz. Midweight Women’s, Men’s
Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody $179 18.7 oz Midweight/Heavyweight Women’s, Men’s
Columbia Steens Mountain 2 $60 16 oz. Midweight Men’s, Women’s (Benton Springs)
PAKACLOUD Fleece $165 0.41 kg. Midweight Unisex
Yellowstone Geysers Trail High Pile Fleece $140 16 oz. Midweight Unisex

The Best Fleece Jacket for Climbing

Patagonia R1 Hoody

patagonia r1 hoody best fleece jackets

The Patagonia R1 Hoody is perhaps the most iconic active fleece in the world. Used by climbers, hikers, backpackers, and general outdoor enthusiasts for nearly 20 years, this fleece is usually a staple in most gearhead closets. The R1 Hoody features Polartec Power Grid, unique to Patagonia, which is small checkered squares of surprising warmth that feel good against the skin and allow ample breathability. The jacket is quite minimal, with a single 3/4 zipper that allows heat venting, and one zippered chest pocket. The hood fits right around the head and discreet thumbholes round out the warm yet light layer. The R1 Hoody is Fair Trade Certified and the fabric is bluesign approved, and it comes with Patagonia’s lifetime guarantee.

Patagonia R1 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Style


The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a high-performing active fleece. This works wonders as a midlayer around camp and as an outer layer while moving through chilly backcountry or while climbing. A baclava style hood, thumb holes, and extra long hem make it highly versatile, while the quarter zip allows for heat venting or solid protection.

This layer goes just about anywhere, and will last a lifetime.

Read Full Review See Women's Patagonia R1 Hoody See Men's Patagonia R1 Hoody

The Best Fleece Jacket for Warmth

The North Face Denali 2

North Face Denali 2 best fleece jackets

The North Face Denali 2 is the second edition of a world-famous fleece. Known for its equal parts rugged and cozy, the Denali 2 uses 300-gram fleece (the heaviest kind around!) to create an exceptionally comfy and warm jacket. The Denali 2 then uses 70D nylon fabric on the chest and arms to create thorough windblocking, which is a notorious issue with fleece. This is coupled with two zippered hand pockets, two zippered chest pockets, and elastic jersey cuffs. If you want a super warm and wind-blocking fleece outer layer, this is nearly the best you’ll find.

The North Face Denali 2 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The North Face Denali 2 is a heavyweight, heavy-duty fleece jacket that comes with four zippered pockets, large wind-blocking elements over the chest and arms, comfortably jersey cuffs, and a seriously cozy fleece. It will last nearly a lifetime, and is warmer (and heavier) than most fleece jackets out there.

Read Full Review See Women's North Face Denali 2 See Men's North Face Denali 2

The Best Fleece Jacket for Casual Use

Patagonia Better Sweater

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket best fleece jackets

The Patagonia Better Sweater is our go-to heathered fleece jacket. It is made of 100% polyester knitted fleece, has two zippered hand pockets, and the men’s version has a zippered chest while the women’s has a zippered bicep pocket. The range of colors, fit, and warmth for 200-weight fleece is excellent, and it’s Fair Trade Certified with bluesign-approved fabric. Not overly styled, not overly heavy, not overly light, and with a small amount of wind blocking — this fleece is nice enough to wear out, durable enough to wear outdoors, and cozy enough to wear in the house.

Patagonia Better Sweater Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The Patagonia Better Sweater is a cozy, fine-looking fleece that fits in well in any urban environment. It’s heathered design appeals to the eye as much as the skin, and wearing it is truly like wearing your favorite sweater. The jacket has high quality zippers, cozy hand pockets, and a chest or arm zip for small items. The perfect mid-layer for chilly days around town, or an excellent outer layer for moderate weather when you a want a durable and warm jacket on-hand.

Read Full Review See Women's Patagonia Better Sweater See Men's Patagonia Better Sweater

The Best Lightweight Fleece Jacket

Arc’teryx Delta Jacket

Arc teryx Delta-Jacket-Black

The Arc’teryx Delta Jacket is a supremely lightweight fleece. That makes it great for layering. This is a solid fleece for brisk shoulder-season days, as well as a mid-layer for all of your active outdoor excursions. Climbers, mountaineers, trail runners, take note. This may be the one you’ve been looking for.

For how light this fleece is, it has a great warmth-to-weight ratio. The Polartec Powder Dry gridded fleece design does well to keep the heat in, but it also allows for all sorts of movement, which again makes it a standout for active pursuits.

See Women's Delta Jacket See Men's Delta Jacket

The Best Fleece Jacket for Backpacking and Hiking

Marmot Reactor

Marmot Reactor best fleece jackets

The Marmot Reactor is a fleece jacket that’s all about function. It has an active fit and is made for high-output activities, which means it’s a 100-weight fleece that is meant to fit close to the body. The newest version uses Polartec Power Grid Fleece, a departure from the original Classic, which gives it more breathability and stretch, but a less cozy feel. It has a zippered chest pocket and two zippered hand-warmer pockets, and reinforced shoulders for use with a backpack. This fleece is a good balance between cost, weight, and function for those who want something that can layer well on long hikes or backpacking trips. The women’s version of this jacket is called the Flashpoint, and as of publishing this guide it still uses the Polartec Classic 100 fleece.

Marmot Reactor Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The Marmot Reactor fleece jacket is a standout lightweight fleece for high out put activities like hiking and backpacking. Cozy zippered hand-pockets, a reinforced collar, and easy movement throughout allows the jacket to layer well, or be your primary defense against cold.

Read Full Review See Men's Marmot Reactor See Women's Marmot Flashpoint

The Best Fleece Jacket for Camping

Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T

Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T best fleece jackets

The Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T harkens back to the original fleece, called the Synchilla, which was debuted by Patagonia decades ago. This is the lightweight version, but it’s fashion and function remain the same: one giant sweater of cozy. The Lightweight Synchilla is made of 100% recycled fleece, and is Fair Trade Certified sewn. It has four snaps at the top for when it gets real chilly, and one breast pocket with a snap for storing very small items. And that’s it! The fleece material is quite fuzzy, and it tends to shed, so watch out. The style is also distinctive, and very retro. Overall the warmth of this Lightweight Synchilla is between 200- and 300-weight, but we find it’s an excellent sweater for around the house on really cold days, or around town on cool days. Note the baggy fit, so it doesn’t layer very well.

Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T is a classic fleece designed for maximum coziness. It has a single breast pocket with a snap-t button, and three buttons up the color. That’s pretty much it.

The sweater is slightly baggy and uses midweight fleece for a good balance of warmth and actual weight when worn, and it is Fair Trade Certified sewn, in addition to 100% recycled polyester fleece. Warm, cozy, and perfect for lounging around the fire.

Read Full Review See Women's Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T See Men's Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T

The Best All-Purpose Fleece Jacket

Patagonia R2 TechFace

Patagonia R2 TechFace

The Patagonia R2 TechFace fleece jacket is hybrid fleece that aims to hit a number of lifestyles, and does so with aplomb. The latest update makes this more like a softshell jacket than a fleece, but it’s still fleecey enough for us.

With the upgraded TechFace design, this jacket is now more wind and water-resistant thant previous iterations, giving it the edge over other fleece jackets in that it can hold its own on foul-weather days. The fabric is also abrasion-resistant, so it won’t snag easily, and the partial binding at the hem helps hold in warmth. If you want a bit more jacket out of your fleece, this is your best bet.

Patagonia R2 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The Patagonia R2 is a solid and rugged do-it-all midlayer jacket. It’s got enough pockets to be useful and is so soft you’ll never want to take it off.

Read Full Review See Women's Patagonia R2 See Men's Patagonia R2

The Coziest Fleece Jacket

The North Face Campshire

North Face Campshire

The North Face Campshire is well-named, in that it’s perfect around camp and might make people think of the Shire, that famed land of Hobbits. (You will look like a Hobbit in winter!) The Campshire uses 330-gram Sherpa fleece, which is crazy cozy, soft to the touch, and quite warm. We like it as a hoodie with its large kangaroo pouch, though it’s offered in many different styles.

This thing is baggy and bulky and definitely not technical, but it is literally made for sitting around a campfire or your apartment when a cold snap comes around. The 1/2 zip allows you to vent a bit, and the kangaroo pouch is zippered to keep items in, with a small snap closure on top to reveal a secret pocket. The hoodie version is the coziest of all.

See Women's North Face Campshire See Men's North Face Campshire

The Best Basic Fleece Jacket

The North Face Alpine Polartec 200 Half-Zip Pullover

Crafted with care, the North Face Alpine Polartec 200 half-zip pullover boasts remarkable flexibility with its 4-way stretch and adjustable hem. Its innovative design includes a water-repellent overlay, ensuring durability and protection from the elements. What sets it apart is its eco-conscious approach: engineered for disassembly and recycling, it’s destined for a sustainable second life as raw materials for future products by The North Face. Constructed from recycled polyester, it prioritizes environmental responsibility. The fabric’s 4-way mechanical stretch enhances comfort and longevity, while a non-PFC durable water-repellent finish adds further resilience. Features like the reverse-coil zipper, secure-zip pockets, and embroidered logos reflect both style and functionality. With its standard fit and thoughtful construction, it’s a versatile choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

See Women's - The North Face Alpine Polartec 200 Half-Zip Pullover See Men’s - The North Face Alpine Polartec 200 Half-Zip Pullover

The Best High-End Urban Fleece Jacket

Arc’teryx Kyanite Hoody

The Kyanite fleece is your go-to for rapid climbs, skiing, chilly hikes, and fending off the morning chill. Whether worn as a standalone or midlayer, it provides warmth coupled with unrestricted movement and plush comfort. Featuring Polartec Power Stretch Pro, it boasts a durable nylon face for abrasion resistance, a luxuriously brushed interior, and an impressive four-way stretch. The streamlined fit ensures unhindered comfort and effortlessly layers beneath a shell, while the discreet hood adds an extra layer of warmth. Perfect for various activities, the Kyanite effortlessly combines functionality and comfort.

See Women's Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody See Men's Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody

The Best Budget Fleece Jacket

Columbia Steens Mountain 2

Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 best fleece jackets

The Columbia Steens Mountain 2 is a wildly popular fleece, mostly for the price and coziness. It has a full zipper, two zippered hand pockets, and uses 200-weight fleece that’s been brushed soft for a delightful feel. While we think the Columbia Steens Mountain 2 is a solid choice if you want a cheap fleece, we don’t love that it sheds, and we find it pretty bulky overall. That said it comes with a warranty and Columbia often has it on sale for nearly 50% off, so if you want a simple fleece you can’t go wrong.

Columbia Steens Mountain 2 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Breathability


The Columbia Steens Mountain 2 is a go-to inexpensive fleece from a large brand. It has a durable full main zipper, two zippered hand pockets, and a very plush midweight fleece for maximum coziness and decent warmth. Some of the hardware, like the hem cinch, doesn’t use the highest quality materials, and may break with heavy use. The fleece also tends to pile quickly, so you may have to wash and treat it carefully. Typically on sale, and styled as a loose fit.

Read Full Review See Men's Columbia Steens Mountain 2 See Women's Columbia Benton Springs


Designed as a superior alternative to synthetic fleece, PAKACLOUD outperforms it by providing twice the warmth while using less material, resulting in unparalleled natural cloud-like comfort. Ideal for a range of activities including cozying up, camping, brisk walks, skiing, snowboarding, and even embodying an alpaca, its composition includes 42% Traceable Alpaca, 30% Recycled Polyester, 14% Merino Wool, and 14% Recycled Nylon. Setting it apart from synthetic alternatives, PAKACLOUD exhibits exceptional odor resistance and moisture-wicking properties, reducing the need for frequent washing.


Yellowstone Geysers Trail High Pile Fleece

The Yellowstone Geysers Trail High Pile Fleece, tailored for outdoor escapades, boasts an enhanced thickness, showcasing two high pile-lined pockets, elastic cuffs, and a snug elastic waistband to ensure warmth on your adventures. With its spacious fit designed for effortless layering, this fleece is crafted from 100% recycled polyester fleece, certified by GRS (Global Recycled Standard), promoting sustainability. Offered in both Blue Bone and Green Colorway options, it’s easy to care for with machine wash instructions recommending cold water and small loads with non-abrasive fabrics.

See Yellowstone Geysers Trail High Pile Fleece

Fleece Jacket Features

Like any outdoor product, there are a variety of features to consider when making your choice. Below are the fleece jacket features we think matter the most. And, if you want a deeper explanation of what fleeces fit for what Backpacker Types, see our informative guide to fleece!


The Columbia Steens Mountain 2 fleece. Casual, cozy, simple.

Performance vs Casual Fleece

In the above list you may be able to spot the performance fleece jackets from the casual ones — typically you can tell just by the fit and style. Fleece is versatile in that it can warm you up, is water resistant, and it breathes. The level of warmth and breathability depends on the thickness of the fleece used (also called fleece weight), and of course other materials used in the construction of the jacket.

Performance fleece typically uses a thinner fabric, has a higher breathability, and is much more form-fitting, which allows it to be used in a layering system. These fleeces, like the Patagonia R1 and Marmot Reactor, are not known for extreme warmth, but when paired with a baselayer and down puffy or rain jacket, they become excellent insulators.


The Patagonia R1 is is a high-end athletic fleece. It has a 1/4 zip for venting, thin material for layering, and a scuba hood for fending off the cold. Note that it’s layered with a down puffy on the right.

A few other key identifiers in performance fleece are hem cinches, thumb holes, a full-length or 3/4 quarter zipper for venting, offset panels that breathe better or stretch, and any wind-blocking material. See the full list of fleece features in our informative guide.


Thumbholes are clutch when layering in the cold.

Casual fleece typically uses a thicker fabric, with less breathability, and it’s often relaxed or baggy in style so you can wear it as an outer layer. These traits increase optimum coziness, and are usually styled to be worn around town or in the house next to a roaring fire (that good life!). The Patagonia Synchilla Lighweight Snap-T and North Face Denali 2 are prime examples of this — large baggy fleeces that are super warm, and look good.


The Patagonia Synchilla Lightweight Snap-T is the ideal cozy-at-home sweater.

Other identifiers in casual fleece are kangaroo pockets (because for some reason kangaroos are the ultimate in cozy animals), exceptionally fuzzy fleece fabric, and heathered fleece, which is much more stylish.

Pro Tip: Some fleeces tread a good middle ground. These are usually the “midweight” fleeces, like the Patagonia R2, which is quite warm yet has paneling for extra breathability. If you want a do-it-all fleece, look for the midweight ones in a styling you can get on board with.

Fleece Weight

Fleece weight is a semi-generic term that the outdoor industry uses to help understand the thickness of fabric used in a given fleece product. The three categories are Lightweight (100 g/m2), Midweight (200 g/m2), and Heavyweight (300 g/m2). Polartec, the leading manufacturer of fleece, helped to define these categories with their Polartec Classic 100, 200, and 300 offerings.


A wide variety of fleece fabric weights, from 100 on the left to 200 heathered in the middle to 300+ towards the end.

These definitions are not hard and fast, because sometimes a product has different fabric patterns (like thinner sides for breathability and a thicker chest for warmth), and sometimes a product uses an in-between weight, like 240 g/m2. That said, it’s a good rule of thumb to use. We’ll break it down below.

Pro Tip: “G/m2” means grams per meter squared, and is an industry-standard way of writing the thickness of fabric. Look for a number preceding this to see how thick your fleece will be!

Lightweight Fleece (100 g/m2)


The full-zip version of the North Face TKA 100 Glacier. A 100-weight fleece with basic, cozy material.

Lightweight fleece is the thinnest material of the three. (Duh). Common traits for Lightweight fleece are:

Midweight (200 g/m2)


The Patagonia Better Sweater, a midweight fleece.

Midweight fleece is the middling of the three, and describes jackets that have decent warmth while still retaining breathability. Common traits for Midweight fleece:

Heavyweight (300 g/m2)


The North Face Denali 2, a heavyweight fleece with windblocking sections.

As you can probably guess, Heavyweight fleece is the thickest of the three. The cold stays out, and the sweat stays in! Common traits for Hevyweight fleece:

Wind and Water Resistance

Any jacket worth its salt in the outdoors needs to be able to deal with wind and water on some level. Fleece can handle them both, but only so well.

Fleece has decent water resistance, and is typically coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to help moisture automatically bead off. It’s a naturally hydrobophic material, meaning it doesn’t want to get close to water. This helps with breathability, as sweat doesn’t tend to soak the fabric but instead bead off.


Heavyweight fleece trying to resist the garden hose.

All this said, a fleece jacket won’t do well in a full rain storm. It will get soaked, and it will be uncomfortable. More comfortable than a down jacket, but still, not great.

Pro Tip: Hiking in a lightweight fleece with a rain shell on is one of the best ways to stay warm and relatively dry in a cold storm.

Fleece has notoriously poor wind resistance. Often fleece jackets are describes as “super warm right up until that breeze came through!” This is just a symptom of the fabric, which naturally lets air through. While this is great for breathability, it’s not the best for warmth.

To counteract this, you’ll see many fleece jackets with wind-blocking fabric. For instance, The North Face Denali 2 has large panels of different material to block wind in key areas.


This giant chest panel on The North Face Denali 2 blocks wind very well, and keeps your core warm.

Pro Tip: Due to the wind issue, many outdoor folk have multiple fleeces. Thicker thread doesn’t really correspond to increased wind resistance, so you’ll really want that wind-blocking material if you plan to use it outside often without another layer.

Fleece Breathability

Breathability is the commonly touted benefit of fleece, as it’s an insulator that you can hike in. Other insulators, like synthetic insulated jackets or down jackets, are typically not very good at this (with some major exceptions), so fleece shines.

The fabric itself lets air in and out, which means it can keep you cool even has you heat up. The fabric is also hydrophobic, which means your sweat won’t cling to it (and then soak it), like sweat typically does with cotton or other fabrics.


The Marmot Reactor breathes well and has reinforced neck fabric to keep that delicate part of you warm. This is the old version, which has since been updated with grid fleece.

A fleece in shoulder season is a highly versatile layer, especially for those who want to hike hard.

How to Buy Fleece Jackets

Purchasing a fleece can be as simple as walking into a department store and leaving with some synthetic cozy. While you can do that if you want, we think it’s better to be clear about what your activity intentions are with the jacket, find the fabric weight and style that suits you, and then narrow it down by brand or individual product.

Obviously, we’ve listed our favorites above, but there are a few other considerations when it comes to buying fleece.

Big Brand vs Small Brand Fleece

There’s an elephant in the room of this article, and its name is Brand. Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, Marmot, Columbia — these are some of the largest apparel brands in the outdoor industry and the only brands we list above.

Are there other brands making decent fleece? Yes. Why haven’t they made the list? Mostly because on these lists we strive to find the “best” by performance for each of our Backpacker Types, but part of being the best is about making consistent product lines over many years. The products above have years of reputation behind them, and aren’t one-off lines that may come and go.

The other reason is that for most outdoor lovers looking for fleece, they either want a big brand name jacket, or they really don’t care who made it. Fleece is unique in that a $10 find at a thrift store will perform as well as the two cheapest fleeces on this list — and that’s what a lot of people want.

If you want something higher-end, which we do list here, then get the brand name.

Finally, we do list Patagonia a high number of times. They kind of invented fleece as we currently know it, and we believe they have the most varied and applicable collection to our difference Backpacker Types, thus the many listings.

Thrift Stores

As mentioned above, fleece does not have to be expensive. With some products, we tell you it really is best to buy from a well-reputed brand and to get it new. With fleece, it’s less important — unless you’re looking for fleece that’s built for extreme activities like climbing and alpine mountaineering — then it matters.

Our team constantly finds basic fleeces (and even some advanced ones) at thrift stores. They are relatively equal to the cheaper fleeces on this list, often use Polartec Classic 100 or 200 fabric, and function very well. Fleece washes well and lasts a long time, so if this sounds like an option that suits you, definitely go for it.

Recycled Fleece

The final bit about buying fleece is for the green-hearted readers. Do you care about the planet? We do. Do you care about buying clothing that is sustainable? We do.

Many of the fleeces listed above are made with recycled material — water bottles usually — and we feel that this is an important part of buying a brand-new fleece. Fleece itself is plastic, so every time it gets tossed it becomes another piece of plastic in the landfill.

Many brands have spent the last decade converting their classic fleece lines to recyclable fleece to reduce overall carbon footprint, and encourage cleaner manufacturing processes for the planet.

It’s not easy to tell if an older fleece is made from recycled material (like the ones in the thrift store), so just make sure that the brand-new ones you buy are recycled. Affiliate Policy: This guide contains affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. He believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. Follow his adventures and stories on Instagram.

6 responses to “The Best Fleece Jackets of 2024

  1. I am 85 yrs old, get cold very easy, living in Northern IN. weather can change very quickly.

  2. Azumisays:

    You consider the North Face Denali 2 to be “The Best Fleece Jacket for Warmth” and yet you gave it less stars for warmth than the Patagonia R1 hoody…

    Make it make sense…

  3. Erniesays:

    I’ve got two Marmot Reactors. One with a hood and one without. I have had them for at least a decade and both are still going strong. Warm enough on cool days and thin enough to layer on those really cold days. I have had people compliment me on the hoodie one as I walked by because they liked the looks of it. No complaints from me about the Marmot Reactor.

  4. R. A. Kuehnsays:

    Patagonia, North Face, Arc’Teryx and a token Colombia. Certainly with the vast amount of garments to choose from narrowing it down to a few is a big ask. However you most certainly overlooked some that compare as well as better. Absolutely you should have had at least one from Stio.

    1. Hey there. You’re right! It is a tight list, but we do love Stio! If you’re interested in a lightweight layer from Stio, take a look at our Deep Dive on the Stio Sidecut Tech Hoodie.

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