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Buying Guide: Fleeces

We all know that we should get a fleece but which one? Do you go for a really thick fleece to keep you warm no matter what or do you go for a lightweight fleece that will keep you warm but only when moving fast. Now the easy answer is to get both and not risk it, but if you have a read of our buying guide you might be able to find the perfect fleece to suit all your needs in one.   

Fleece lifestyle

Why do I need a fleece

A fleece is a fantastic layering piece that is considered a 4-season garment, A fleece is a fantastic layering piece that is considered a 4-season garment depending on which activity you are doing letting you have an insulated midlayer which can be paired with a waterproof or another insulated layer for even more warmth during the winter. A fleece is also perfect for high aerobic activities in colder temperatures without overheating.  

Materials and construction

Fleeces used to be known as a bulky and itchy layer back in the 80s but times have changed fleeces have they have become lighter, softer without losing any of the warmth. A lot of brands are now using recycled materials such as plastic bottles to make fleeces.

Synthetic   

Fleeces made from synthetic material are made from a polyester fibre called Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This material is known for being lightweight, soft whilst still delivering great warmth, PET fabrics are also hydrophobic this means it actively repels water and holds less than 1% of its weight in water, the fleece will retain its insulating properties in wet weather. Other benefits to using synthetic material is the excellent breathability, quick drying and is easy to care for requiring no additional technical care instructions when being machine washed.

Synthetic Fleece Material

Amount of warmth

Fleece weight refers to the level of thickness and loft the material used in the fleece construction, so the higher the weight the warmer the fleece will be. This shouldn’t be the only deciding feature you use to determine the warmth of the fleece; technology has come a long way the fabric and design of the fleece must also be considered when choosing a fleece we will discuss these in the features section below.

100g/m2 is a lightweight fleece, this weight will lean more towards breathability and performance, letting you stay warm whilst still venting heat. They will also pair perfectly with any outer layer like a waterproof because they aren’t bulky.

200g/m2 is the most common fleece weight because of the versatility. They can be worn by themselves to keep off the chill and can still fit under an outer layer. This fleece weight is the one most commonly used with 3-in-1 jackets.   

300g/m2 are big, fluffy and cosy if you’re looking for a fleece that is going to keep you warm then one of this weight is perfect. Unfortunately for this great warmth you are trading off breathability and adding bulkiness to design.

Types of Fleece

Which fleece do I need?

Depending on the activity or your lifestyle different fleeces will suit the needs of different activities. Below are a list of activities and what fleece will suit it best.

Hiking – Midweight 200g/m2

When on the hill you will want to keep warm when resting, whilst still giving you great breathability when moving again. The midweight design is a perfect all rounder for this activity giving you the versatility you need to go at the pace you like.

Running – Lightweight 100g/m2

When moving fast on the hills during cold conditions you need to stay warm but to perform at your best you don’t want to overheat. A lightweight fleece will ventilate heat when moving but when you’ve stopped you will be able to hold off cold chills and wind, just don't hang around too long or you will start to feel the cold again.

Winter Walking – Heavyweight 300g/m2

Staying warm when walking in the winter is going to be one of your top priorities so having a warm fleece will be an essential layer when out on the hill. Even with the bulky design, you won’t need to worry about that because you are unlikely to take it off so won’t be feeling the weight of it a fleece in your pack

Features

Close fitting hood

The close fitting hood will let you wear with a hood up whilst wearing a helmet which is perfect for when you’re climbing and biking so you can retain warmth but still have a comfortable fit. With a close fitting design, the hood will retain the warmth effectively and you won’t have wind chill creeping in the jacket.

Interactive zip

Some fleeces have interactive zips with this type of zip will be able to link with a waterproof jacket seamlessly making it perfect for the winter when it's raining and cold. Be aware that not all fleeces and waterproofs have interactive zips or can be combined together so be sure to double-check the specification to find out if your fleece can be combined. 

Pockets

Fleece pockets are commonly lined with another warming fabric to help heat up your hands in chilly temperature. Pocket will also be placed in various places around the fleece to accommodate certain needs, some will have higher front pockets which will let you wear it with a harness, a chest pocket for storing easy access essentials such as a phone, these pockets sometimes double as a stowaway sack for lightweight fleeces.

Thumb loops

Love it or hate thumb loops can be useful when trying to get a snug fit, this is perfect when you're moving fast and want to prevent bunching, so you will commonly found on lightweight fleeces.

Diagram of a Fleece

With this information we hope you will be able to make an educated decision on deciding which fleece will suit you best. you may find that you're going to need multiple fleeces and who doesn't love more gear. 

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