The Best Five Hiking Fleece Jackets for 2017


Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Hikers, mountaineers and trekkers are often exposed to challenging weather conditions and thus require clothing that provides good performance. A high-quality fleece jacket is a very useful piece of hiking clothing as it provides insulation and can be worn either as an outer layer (moderate temperatures, dry weather) or as a mid-layer (low temperatures, rainy weather). Fleece jackets are known for being very comfortable, quick-drying, moisture-wicking and breathable. Due to these qualities, they are perfect for wearing directly over a base layer. They also provide good warmth even when exposed to moisture (high humidity, rain etc.) and are less expensive than other insulated garments such as woolen sweaters, down jackets or jackets with synthetic insulation. However, down jackets and jackets with synthetic insulation have a better warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility (they can be packed very small) than fleece jackets. Therefore, in very cold weather down jackets and jackets with synthetic fill are preferred (sometimes worn over a fleece jacket) while in any other weather fleece jackets offer better comfort and performance.

In this article we selected and reviewed the best five fleece jackets for hiking in order to make your buying decision a little easier. We were especially looking for products that provide good warmth while being lightweight and well-packable. As fleece jackets provide very little protection against rain and wind, we recommend that you also read our reviews of the best 3-layer rain jackets and best 2.5-layer rain jackets. If you prefer a softshell jacket over a rain jacket check out our review of the best softshell jackets instead. Those who are planning to hike in very cold conditions might also want to check out our reviews of the best down jackets (for dry weather) and best jackets with synthetic insulation (for humid weather).

If you are looking for women’s fleece jacket, please check our Best Fleece Jackets for Women review.

This selection was updated on the 17th of January 2017.

1. Buying a Hiking Fleece Jacket – What is important?

Material:

Fleece jackets are made of polyester fleece which is a soft and fuzzy fabric that comes in different textures and densities (normally from 100 g/m2 to 300 g/m2). Different textures and densities offer different levels of insulation – for example a jacket made of fleece with the density of 100 g/m2 will be significantly less warm than a jacket made of fleece with the density of 300 g/m2. When it comes to texture, the latest trend is a grid pattern. Polyester fleece fabrics with grid pattern are better at trapping the body-warmed air and thus provide a better warmth-to-weight ratio.

Polyester fleece fabric is generally very breathable and pleasant to the touch. Furthermore, as it absorbs very little moisture (up to 0.4% in its own weight), it also dries very fast and efficiently wicks moisture away from the skin. Some fleece fabrics include elastane fibers to increase the stretch.

A popular manufacturer of polyester fleece fabrics of different densities and textures is Polartec – its fleece fabrics are known for great thermal efficiency and thus highly popular in the outdoor clothing industry.

More information about insulation materials can be found in our article Comparison of Mid-layer Materials.

Weight:

Like all other hiking and mountaineering equipment, a fleece jacket should be fairly light. Fleece jackets don’t have as good warmth-to-weight ratio as down jackets or jackets with synthetic insulation but on the other hand they are also intended for different weather conditions (moderate to cold weather). However, they can be combined with a thicker insulated jacket in very cold weather for better moisture-management (perspiration) as well as insulation.

In this review we only listed lightweight fleece jackets that provide superb warmth. All fleece jackets in this review weigh less than 400 grams.

Pockets:

It is a great benefit if a fleece jacket is equipped with pockets for storing hiking and mountaineering accessories – especially when you use it as the outer layer. The pockets should be conveniently placed in order to allow easy access even when wearing a climbing harness, backpack (hip belt) or other equipment.

2. The Best Five Hiking Fleece Jackets for 2017 Review

Best Hiking Fleece Jackets

Best Hiking Fleece Jackets

  1. Patagonia R1 Full-Zip
  2. Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II
  3. Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket
  4. Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody
  5. Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jacket

Comparison:

Feature/Product Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid IIArcteryx Delta LT Black Diamond Coefficient Mountain Hardwear
Weight380 g 357 g 280 g 367 g312 g
MaterialPolartec Power Grid Polartec High Loft Polartec Classic 100 Polartec Power Dry100% Polyester
Pockets42312
HoodNoNoNoYesNo
Patagonia R1 Full-Zip

Patagonia R1 Full-Zip

1. Patagonia R1 Full-Zip

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

 

The Patagonia R1 Full-Zip jacket is highly popular among hikers, trekkers and mountaineers as it has a superb weight-to-warmth ratio. The jacket is made of Polartec Power Grid fleece which has a density of 180 g/m2. The fabric features a grid structure which enhances the thermal efficiency as well as increases the breathability and moisture-wicking performance. The fabric is also very stretchy, durable and treated with Polygiene agent for increased odor control. Besides the outstanding material, the jacket also features raglan sleeves for freedom of movement, two zippered hand pockets, two internal mesh pockets and thumb loops. The hand pockets are positioned slightly higher so that they allow easy access when wearing a backpack with hip belt or a climbing harness. The full length front zipper comes in handy when increased ventilation is required. The Patagonia R1 Full-Zip jacket is an amazing jacket for hiking in moderate and cold weather – it’s also not too thick to be worn under a rain jacket or an insulated jacket (in very cold weather).

 

Pros:

  • Insulation
  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking

Cons:

  • /

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Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II

2. Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

 

The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II is another very popular jacket that is highly appreciated among hikers and mountaineers. The jacket is made of Polartec High Loft fleece which has a highly lofted structure in order to trap the body-warmed air more efficiently. The thermal efficiency of the fabric is further increased by its grid structure. The Polartec High Loft fabric is also very breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II also features stretchy and highly breathable side panels for freedom of movement and ventilation, an adjustable hem, two zippered hand pockets and thumb loops. The hand pockets are placed high in order to allow easy access when wearing a climbing harness or a backpack with hip belt. The thumb loops prevent the sleeves from riding up during technical activities such as climbing. The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Grid II jacket offers similar performance as the Patagonia R1 Full-Zip jacket and is thus a great choice for every hiker, mountaineer or trekker.

 

Pros:

  • Insulation
  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Side panels

Cons:

  • /

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Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

3. Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

 

The Arcteryx Delta LT fleece jacket is extremely light (it weighs merely 280 grams) and thus best for those who want a high-quality insulation layer for highly aerobic activities. The jacket is made of Polartec Classic material (with the density of 152 g/m2) which is known for being comfortable, highly breathable, quick-drying and pill-resistant. In addition to that the Polartec Classic fabric also offers good warmth-to-weight ratio due to the lofted fiber structure that creates thermal air pockets in order to efficiently retain the body-warmed air. In addition to its superb material, the Arcteryx Delta LT jacket also offers great functionality. The jacket is equipped with a full length front zipper with chin guard, drop back hem, two zippered side pockets and a sleeve pocket. The side pockets are well-placed and thus allow easy access even when wearing a climbing harness or a backpack. The sleeve pocket is equipped with a laminated zipper so that you can easily find it in the night. Due to the Polartec Classic material, the jacket also offers basic water and wind resistance. The Arcteryx Delta LT jacket is highly recommended for hikers, mountaineers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts who need a thin fleece jacket for highly aerobic activities.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Can be comfortably worn under an insulated jacket

Cons:

  • Insulation (thin)

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Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody

Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody

4. Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

 

The Black Diamond Coefficient jacket uses a fabric with higher density (205g/m2) than the Arcteryx Delta LT jacket (152g/m2) and is thus a little heavier, but on the other hand it also provides better insulation. Therefore it can be used as an outer layer even on relatively cold days. It is made of the Polartec Power Dry fabric which offers great moisture-wicking properties, dries fast and is highly breathable. The fabric uses a bi-component knit construction in order to efficiently transfer the moisture to the outer surface and to reduce the conductive heat loss. The Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody is also equipped with a zippered chest pocket, stretch cuffs and a (thin) hood. The stretch cuffs offer great freedom of movement while the thin hood fits perfectly under a climbing helmet. This fleece jacket is best for those who need a reliable and warm mid/outer layer for their challenging hiking and mountaineering trips.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Convenient hood

Cons:

  • /

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Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jacket

5. Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

 

The Mountain Hardwear Microchill jacket is perfect for those who want a simple but reliable and warm fleece jacket that can be worn either as an outer layer or as a mid-layer. The jacket is made of Microchill fleece (100% Polyester) which efficiently wicks the moisture to the outside and dries fast. The material is also breathable and provides great warmth. The jacket features two zippered side pockets and a dual hem drawcord. The drawcord allows you to tighten the jacket at the bottom and thus decrease the heat loss. The side pockets could, however, be placed a little higher in order to allow easy access when wearing a backpack or a climbing harness. The Mountain Hardwear Microchill is a great jacket for the price and we would recommend it to recreational hikers and mountaineers.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Warmth

Cons:

  • /

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