If you need something to wear under your shell for cold days on the ski hill, the Osito 2 is an excellent choice.
We paid attention to how fit affected our comfort and recorded which fleeces had cozy thumb loops and hoods. Finally, on the models that stood out for their lack of coziness, like The North Face Denali Jacket , we took note of the qualities that made them less comfortable. Sometimes comfort is sacrificed for performance. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is not particularly cozy, but it is a technical beast, and we love it anyway.
The zipper ends at the navel and doesn't sit under a waistbelt, eliminating any bunching or pressure points in that area. The silky material on the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was also very comfortable against the skin, and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was so comfortable that we could wear it all day long without it bothering us at all.
There are many reasons why you'll want to consider layering ability when purchasing a fleece jacket. We considered how easy it was to wear a base layer underneath each piece and how easily we could wear it under a shell or insulated jacket. And we also wore or tried to wear each model under a climbing harness and a backpack.
All of these are important characteristics to consider when selecting your next fleece jacket. When it came to using these models as a layer under a shell and insulated jacket, the lightweight and midweight fleeces excelled, as they tended to be cut closer to the body and have a slimmer profile, along with thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody , as well as the Patagonia R1 and R2, easily fit under an insulated ski jacket without any restriction in the arms. The Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was a little too bulky to fit under a backpack but still layered easily with baselayers and outerwear. As for the jackets being their own outer layer, some models, like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody , had room for a light base layer underneath but not much else due to a tight fit in the shoulders.
The Denali was the opposite, as it could fit any of the other fleeces we tested underneath it. The Marmot Flashpoint also had a roomier cut, and we could layer both over and under it. When it comes to layering under a pack or climbing harness, there are some other construction details to consider, like seams and zippers. Most of the models that we tested had a raglan style sleeve construction, where the seaming at the shoulder cuts across horizontally off the shoulder, moving the seams out of the way of pack straps.
This is to avoid having the straps of your pack dig the seams into your shoulders. This is a nice construction detail and selling point, but not an immediately obvious difference. While you might start to feel the seams digging into you after hours on the trail with a heavy pack, we weren't able to discern a difference during a minute hike with a pound pack. When choosing a fleece jacket to wear under a pack or climbing harness, our testers found that the more streamlined the fit, like on the Patagonia R2 Jacket , the better.
Otherwise, the material tends to bunch up around the waist and become uncomfortable, like on the Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was just a hair too short in the torso and tended to ride up under our harnesses and hip belts. When gearing up for outdoor activities in cold weather, ease of movement is another key consideration.
If you're using a fleece for a technical winter activity, usually you'll be wearing it underneath a shell or, in really cold weather, an insulated jacket. So we tried on these fleeces under a tight-fitting soft shell, a down jacket, and an insulated ski jacket. Not surprisingly, the lightest and thinnest pieces, like the Marmot Flashpoint , Patagonia R1 and Outdoor Research Deviator , made the best mid-layers. Less bulk made for a greater range of motion in our shoulders and arms and didn't leave us feeling like a stuffed sausage.
Another standout was the Patagonia R2. The contrasting panels of stretch fleece on the sides increased the ease of movement. These are the layers you put on after a climb, not during. Making fleece material more breathable has been a decades-long process for the outdoor gear industry.
The original Patagonia fleeces were great until you started hiking in them and your sweat puddled up on the inside, leaving you cold and clammy. With the advent of newer, high-tech materials, those days are a thing of the past. The technical models that we tested all have different means to wick the moisture generated from your exertion away from your body and out of the material.
The fleece in the Outdoor Research Deviator and Patagonia R1 has grid lines that provide a lot of ventilation. In the Patagonia R2 and Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover , the material is more lofted with microscopic holes throughout to allow moisture to escape. Each of these systems seems to work very well in their own unique way — the main downfall being that whatever allows moist air to escape will also allow cool air back in.
The uniform fabric on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody didn't allow for as much breathability as the other technical options, but it did provide more protection from the wind.
It seems as though you do have to make a choice when purchasing one of these layers, and that is whether breathability is your main concern or protection from the wind. If you are looking for a cross-country skiing layer, opt for breathability, but if you need something for alpine climbing, protection from the wind would be a greater concern.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody does give you a little bit of both, as the lightweight grid fleece in the back vents well, while the synthetic insulation and nylon shell in the front helps to break the wind a bit. Most of the women's fleece jackets that we reviewed provided very little protection from the wind.
Although we typically recommend using this type of jacket in conjunction with a shell or wind breaker, if you're looking for a do-it-all option, the "Hardface Technology" on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody does an excellent job of cutting the wind on a blustery day, for a fleece that is. The material is still relatively thin, and it does not provide the same wind blocking protection as a dedicated wind jacket.
You can read our Women's Wind Breaker Jacket review for more information on the many uses of that layer. Not surprisingly, models like the Patagonia R2 that were the most breathable were also most susceptible to the wind.
If you carry a breathable fleece into the backcountry, make sure to always bring along a shell in case the wind picks up. As with wind protection, very few products that we tested provided any protection from the rain. While fleece is naturally hydrophobic the fibers don't absorb water like cotton does , water can still saturate through the material and get you wet.
It is still not designed to keep you dry in a heavy rain, but the finish does make it more versatile than any of the other models we reviewed. The North Face Denali Jacket has nylon panels on its shoulders, and water did bead up and roll off that jacket, so it will keep you drier in a light rain.
The nylon shell on the front of the Outdoor Research Deviator also repels water, but the arms and back do not. While these models might give you a bit more time to find shelter if you get caught out in a storm, it's best to always carry an impermeable layer with you on your adventures. This is a bit of a subjective category as everyone's style is different. Some people like wearing bright colors and don't mind looking like a Muppet, and others prefer more muted tones. If you live in a mountain town, the de rigueur fashion is technical fleece jackets and Sorels at the bar.
In a big city, you might still wear a casual fleece jacket around town but want it to have a more stylish look, like the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. So, we polled our friends both male and female and asked them to weigh in on their favorite stylish pieces to try and form a consensus.
We'll note here that we rated style "by fleece standards," recognizing that fleeces are not the sexiest piece of clothing you'll ever wear. One of the sleekest models reviewed was the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody.
The smooth face and trim cut is flattering, and this model received a lot of compliments for its looks. It hints at the original fleece pullovers of old, without the neon color schemes and super boxy cut.
Most of the models were cut with a tapered silhouette to be more flattering, except for The North Face Denali. It still has a boxy cut circa the 's fashion, and it was not a tester favorite. While we didn't rate the jackets based on their fit since fit is different for everyone , there were significant differences in the way that some of the pieces were cut, even within a single brand.
We have noticed that on most of The North Face models, the arm length tends to run short, much to the annoyance of our testers with long wingspans. To compare the different fits, check out the composite images below, which includes photos of each fleece on one model. The fleece jacket's ability to resist moisture, retain warmth and dry quickly makes it the perfect addition to the active woman's gear list.
With the array of different models on the market, it can be tough to pick just one. It is our goal to help you make your selection by reading through our extensive tests and ratings. You can also check out our Buying Advice article for more information on fleece material and construction, and some extra tips on what to look for when purchasing your next one.
The Best Women's Fleece Jackets of Displaying 1 - 5 of 9. Updated May We've recently updated our review to make sure we have all the latest and greatest options for you to check out. We still love the Patagonia R1 and it's our favorite overall option for layering and other cold-weather activities, but we were impressed by all of the three new models above and they each won an award as well.
Keep reading below to see why. See all prices 3 found. See all prices 4 found. We tested the different models based on their warmth, comfort, breathablity, layering ability, ease of movement, wind and water protection, and style and fit. High-loft fleeces have thousand of tiny hairs that help trap warmth. They are also soft to the touch. The North Face Osito was one of the warmest layers in our review. It worked well as a warm mid-layer on the ski hill, or as an outer layer on not-too-cold days.
Here we're wearing it over the Patagonia R1. Features like a balaclava hood help keep you warmer even if the layer itself is not that warm. Fleece-lined pockets help keep your hands warm and cozy. Sometimes comfort comes down to tiny details, like zipper guards at the neck or flat lying seams. Thumb loops are a great feature that helps keep your sleeves in place when layering and offers more coverage and warmth on cold days.
The ability to add and remove layers while being active in the mountains is key to staying warm, dry and happy. Raglan sleeves the seams are off the tops of the shoulders are preferred for wearing under a pack for long distances.
Also, note the flat seams on the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, which reduce irritation under a pack as well. We liked wearing the low profile Patagonia R2 Jacket while hiking with a pack on cold days. It's a breathable and streamlined layer that won't bunch up under a waistbelt. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody has stretchy fabric added to the material blend to give you greater ease of movement in the shoulders and arms. If you plan on wearing your fleece jacket for activities where you'll need a lot of movement in your arms, like climbing or cross-country skiing, look for a model that is made with a small percentage of spandex or elastane.
Fleece pile itself is not very stretchy, so a little extra stretch will go a long way. The North Face Denali Jacket is a great layer to wear while belaying, but not while climbing.
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Shop for Women's Fleece Vests at REI - FREE SHIPPING With $50 minimum purchase. Top quality, great selection and expert advice you can trust. % Satisfaction Guarantee. The Columbia Women’s Fleece Vest is the ultimate cozy, versatile layering piece built from an earthy heathered fleece featuring an array of pretty colors. Take On The Elements: Fleece Vests For Men & Women. This winter, cozy up with a thermal fleece vest. Find your new winter-weather go-to accessory. Mix, match and layer your fleece vest with your winter wardrobe—and brave the elements in style. A sleek, black fleece vest goes with just about everything, and bold purples, greens and blues.