Whether logging miles on neighborhood trails or tackling multi-day backpacking trips, hikers need versatile insulation that stands up to rigorous outdoor use.
Your fleece jacket acts as a valuable second layer, providing warmth without bulk.
But with so many fleece options on the market, how do you identify the best jackets for your unique needs and body type?
In this guide to the best fleece jackets for women, we break down the best options currently on the market, considering weight, breathability, and weather resistance.
Let’s get started.
Weight: 6.84 ounces (194 grams)
Material: 94% polyester (recycled), 6% elastane
✅ Relatively affordable
❌ Fits large
❌ Not enough pockets
The RAB Ascendor Light Hoody is a versatile and lightweight insulated midlayer ideal for alpine pursuits. Its snug hood and slim fit help trap warmth during high-altitude activities.
The insulation provides efficient warmth without overheating, thanks to its impressive breathability. This packable and adaptable jacket makes a great year-round companion for mountain adventures.
However, the minimalist design comes with some functionality drawbacks. With only one small chest pocket, there is no convenient storage for essentials. The lack of hand pockets or interior pockets limits the ability to quickly access food, gloves or other small items during ascents.
Overall, the impressive warmth and breathability may outweigh the pocket shortage for some users, but others may desire more storage options.
Weight: 12.17 ounces (345 grams)
Material: 53% polyester, 38% nylon, 9% elastane
✅ Durable material
❌ Relatively expensive
The Arc’teryx Kyanite midlayer is a reliable choice for hiking and outdoor activities thanks to its thermal performance, durability, and soft comfort.
The stretchy, moisture-wicking interior provides freedom of movement while keeping you cozy on chilly hikes. The ScubaHoodTM adds extra warmth without bulk, and the versatile fit layers smoothly under a shell.
The exceptionally soft and cuddly interior feels great against the skin, making it comfortable to wear over just a t-shirt in cold weather.
The hood is highly effective at trapping warmth even in windy conditions, working well as an alternative to a hat.
For those seeking a warm, soft, and versatile midlayer, the Arc’teryx Kyanite ticks all the boxes. Its comfort and performance make it a hoodie you’ll want to reach for on every outdoor adventure.
Weight: 11.46 ounces (325 grams)
Material: 93% polyester, 7% elastane
✅ Good moisture control
❌ Relatively heavy
❌ Not enough pockets
The Montane Protium Hooded Fleece excels as both a mild weather outer layer and part of a winter hiking layering system.
Its moisture-wicking capabilities and heat regulation make it reliable for managing perspiration during aerobic pursuits, while also preventing chills when stopped.
The fleece performed exceptionally well under a hard shell in damp conditions, wicked moisture, and retained warmth to prevent freezing after stopping.
The smooth outer face, flatlock seams, and four-way stretch allow for ease of layering between other garments. The hood fits nicely under a helmet and the generous cut blocks drafts. The size felt true-to-size in the test.
The main gripe is the single chest pocket, which angles awkwardly across the chest. It is uncomfortable when holding multiple small items like a phone, compass or snacks. Side pockets or an interior stash pocket would improve functionality for those who need to carry more than just a phone or keys during their adventures.
Overall, the Montane Protium Hooded Fleece is a versatile performer that regulates moisture and warmth excellently.
Weight: 15.9 ounces (451 grams)
Material: 100% polyester (recycled)
✅ Very warm
❌ A bit heavy
❌ Fits small
The Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket is a versatile and eco-friendly option for the trail, crafted from 100% recycled polyester fleece.
It provides warmth without overheating, making it suitable for different seasons and layering purposes.
Features like a wind flap, raglan sleeves, and multiple pockets add convenience. This jacket keeps you cozy and stylish while minimizing environmental impact thanks to its recycled fabric.
The snug arms might make it tough to layer clothes underneath, as they’re only roomy enough for thin shirts. But the torso fits looser, which might not match well. This could limit layering choices, especially if you like wearing thicker layers.
While the eco-friendly fabric and overall design are excellent, the arm slimness reduces adaptability and convenience for some wearers.
Weight: 10.9ounces (309 grams)
Material: 100% polyester (recycled)
❌ Average quality
The REI Co-op Trailmade women’s fleece jacket is a camp-friendly layer that provides cozy warmth beneath your shell. Made from 100% recycled polyester, it balances sustainability with functionality.
The lightweight fleece insulation offers all-day comfort with its soft, warm feel. The classic, relaxed fit accommodates different body types.
Design details like the double-layer collar, zipper windflap and spandex binding on the cuffs and hem add protection. Convenient zippered and drop-in pockets provide security for small items.
The fleece keeps you warm for its price, but the sewing on the arms and waist seems rushed and low-quality. The edges are left raw instead of being neatly finished. Adding a drawstring at the waist could make it fit better.
Overall, this fleece jacket makes a practical and eco-friendly warmth layer for the trail at an appealing price point.
Midlayers play a vital role in maintaining the balance of warmth, breathability, and versatility in your clothing system. Warmth is the name of the game, trapping your body heat to keep you cozy in chilly conditions. However, they’re not just about warmth; midlayers also let moisture, like sweat, escape, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable.
Fleece jackets are versatile midlayer options, providing different levels of insulation for active and stationary use. When choosing a fleece, consider the following:
The ideal fleece balances warmth, breathability, weather protection and packable versatility. Test different styles to find the optimal balance of features and fit for your hiking needs.
If you want to learn more about becoming an expert in choosing the right hiking midlayer, check out our detailed post for all the ins and outs.
When selecting a fleece jacket for travel and outdoor activities, look for lightweight, windproof, and waterproof fabrics that provide warmth without overheating. Breathable, moisture-wicking fleeces that allow sweat to escape are ideal for aerobic activities, while heavier insulating fleeces excel for stationary use in cold weather. Consider an adjustable hood, thumb holes, and zippered pockets to seal in warmth. A trim technical fit enables layering under a shell, while a looser casual style provides stand-alone warmth and comfort. Choose durable, abrasion-resistant fabrics for rugged conditions. The right fleece balances warmth, breathability, weather protection and packable versatility for your intended use.
Layering with a fleece jacket allows you to adjust your level of warmth and coverage. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer top to keep your skin dry. For colder weather, add an insulating midlayer like a fleece pullover or zip jacket, allowing breathability and warmth. The fleece jacket can be worn on its own or topped with a waterproof, windproof outer shell for stormy conditions. On cooler days, just pair the fleece jacket with a base layer. For ultimate warmth, combine the fleece jacket with base layers on top and bottom and a protective outer shell. Adjust your layers by venting with zippers or removing pieces to prevent overheating during aerobic activity. Following these simple layering principles will keep you comfortable in diverse weather conditions.
For extreme cold such as subzero temperatures, high-loft fleece jackets provide superior insulation for static activities. Heavyweight and polar fleece jackets with insulating linings are ideal outer layers when participating in cold weather sports like skiing and snowboarding. They trap body heat while blocking the wind and snow. Many feature hoods and powder skirts to seal in warmth along with zippered pockets, adjustable cuffs, and technical features for optimal performance on the slopes. Water-resistant coatings prevent snow from compromising the insulation. High-loft fleece jackets allow adequate mobility while keeping you warm when facing frigid conditions and biting winds during winter. Choosing the right cold weather fleece jacket is crucial for comfort and safety in harsh alpine environments.