Best Fleece Jackets for Women


Mountain Hardwear MicroChill 2.0

Mountain Hardwear MicroChill 2.0

A high-quality fleece jacket can both be used as a snug mid-layer in cold weather and as an outer layer when hiking in dry weather at moderate temperatures. It can also be used as casual wear in everyday life and is thus one of the more versatile pieces of hiking clothing. In comparison to other mid-layer/insulation fabrics, fleece has the advantage of being moisture-wicking and absorbing very little water (whether sweat or rain), which also makes it quick-drying and providing decent warmth even when wet. You should, however, not use fleece jackets as base layers as the fabric is too thick and has no natural anti-odor properties unlike Merino wool which is highly recommended for base layers. Fleece, nonetheless, is better than Merino wool for mid-layers as it has a better weight to warmth ratio (e.g. the warmth it can provide for its weight) – although not as good as down which will provide the most warmth for its weight. You should therefore go for a down jacket if you are looking for a very warm mid-layer.

You can read more about the properties of fleece in relation to other mid-layer fabrics in the article Comparison of Mid-layer Materials. Remember that any mid-layer mainly provides insulation rather than weather protection, so it should be worn under a shell layer like a rain jacket or softshell jacket if you are anticipating more than a little rain or wind on your hike.

1. Buying a Women’s Fleece Jacket – What is important?

Material

Fleece is not just fleece. There is a very big difference between the rolls of fluffy fleece you see in fabric and haberdashery shops to the high-performance fabrics used in quality outdoor clothing. These fleece fabrics are chosen for being moisture-wicking, breathable and having a good weight-to-warmth ratio. In general they can be differed from one another by two parameters; density and texture. In terms of density, there are three categories; lightweight (100 g per m2), mid-weight (200 g per m2) and heavy-weight (300 g per m2). The denser the material, the warmer the garment. Garments made of mid-weight fleece tend to be the most versatile as the heavy-weight fabric can be very bulky and thus harder to layer properly while garments of light-weight fleece offer inferior warmth. When it comes to texture, fleece can indeed be knitted into many different looking fabrics which will also have slightly different properties. Recently it has been very popular to use fleece with a grid pattern as it supposedly is better at trapping the body-warmed air and thus have a better weight to warmth ratio than similar fleece fabrics with a different texture. To get a better idea of how different and sophisticated fleece fabrics can be, you might want to take a tour of top manufacturer Polartec’s website.

Zipper

A zippered jacket provides the best possibilities for ventilation on the go, but if you are perpetually cold or just don’t care for the look of a zipper you might want to go for a pull-over fleece sweater or a half-zip version. In the selection below we included fleece sweaters that come both as zippered fleece jackets, pullovers and half-zip sweaters.

Hand pockets

As with all other insulation tops that can also be used as outer layers, it is a great advantage if your fleece jacket has pockets that you can warm your hands in or store minor items that you want to keep close.

2. The Best Fleece Jackets for Women Review

Best Fleece Jackets for Women

Best Fleece Jackets for Women

  1. Arcteryx Covert Cardigan
  2. Mountain Hardwear MicroChill 2.0
  3. Burton AK Lift Hoody
  4. Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket
  5. Sherpa Adventure Gear Sita

Comparison

Feature/Product Arcteryx Covert Mountain Hardwear MicroChillBurton AK Lift Marmot
Stretch
Sherpa Sita
FabricAlpenex Heathered Fleece (100% Polyester)Wick Q Microfleece (100% Polyester)Polartec Power Stretch Pro (95% Polyester, 5% Elastane)Jersey Stretch (93% Polyester, 7% Elastane)Polartec Thermal Pro (100% Polyester; 53% is recycled)
Fabric DensityMid-weightMid-weightMid-weight195 g/m2200 g/m2
Average Weight15 oz. (unhooded)6 oz. (half-zip) 11 oz. (hooded)11 oz. (unhooded)10 oz. (pullover)
Average Weight (Metric)435 g (unhooded)168 g (half-zip) 317 g (hooded)300 g (unhooded)269 g (pullover)
Arcteryx Covert Cardigan

Arcteryx Covert Cardigan

1. Arcteryx Covert Cardigan

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

The Arcteryx Covert Cardigan is perfect for those who want the warmth of fleece but not necessarily the fuzzy look of traditional fleece. Instead the Covert Cardigan looks more like a wool sweater as it is made of Arc’teryx Alpenex heathered fleece, a brushed back knit polyester fabric which has the look of wool, but also features all the benefits of performance fleece. These include being moisture-wicking, breathable and quick-drying. The Arcteryx Covert Cardigan is also available in a hooded version (which is only 30 grams heavier) and both models come in a wide range of stylish colors.

 

Pros:

  • A more elegant wool-like surface due to Arc’teryx Alpenex heathered fleece
  • Laminated sleeve pocket with laminated zip
  • Hand pockets with laminated zippers

Cons:

  • Weight

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Mountain Hardwear MicroChill 2.0

Mountain Hardwear MicroChill 2.0

2. Mountain Hardwear Microchill 2.0

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

We already mentioned the Mountain Hardwear Microchill fleece jacket in our list of the 10 best gifts for female hikers, but since then Mountain Hardwear has launched the Microchill version 2.0 which has some advantages over the original version. The flattering waisted fit is the same, but the fabric is now Wick Q moisture-wicking microfleece to keep you dry and comfortable besides warm and snug. It is also a lot lighter. The Mountain Hardwear Microchill 2.0 fleece jacket is both available with and without a hood as well as in a half-zip version and comes in a variation of colors, so there should be something for everybody whether you prefer bold or downplayed hues.

 

Pros:

  • Wick Q moisture-wicking microfleece
  • Flattering fit

Cons:

  • Half-zip version has no pockets

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Burton AK Lift Hoody

Burton AK Lift Hoody

3. Burton AK Lift Hoody

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

Burton is one of the best known brands for snowboarding equipment, but several of their garments can also be used efficiently for hiking. The Burton AK Lift Hoody is one of them as it is a good-looking yet high-performance fleece sweater made of Polartec Power Stretch Pro fleece. This fabric has a two-layered construction with a moisture-wicking inner layer covered in a four-way stretch nylon exterior. Therefore, the Burton AK Lift Hoody has a superior wicking and quick-drying performance – perfect for hikes where you want to give it your all. The cowl neckline will help to keep your neck warm, even if you are not using the hood. In case you are looking for more ventilation the Burton AK Lift fleece sweater is also available in a half-zip version.

 

Pros:

  • Sophisticated fabric
  • Articulated fit around the arms and shoulder for great freedom of movement
  • Welded zippered sleeve pocket

Cons:

  • No handwarmer pockets

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Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket

Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket

4. Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

The Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket might at first glance look like the top half of a regular tracksuit, but there is more than meets the eye – namely when it comes to warmth. As the jersey stretch fleece has a density of 195g/m2, it is on the brink of being mid-weight fleece and should therefore provide plenty of warmth without being bulky. The fabric is also more stretchy than others on this list as it includes 7% elastane which provides more freedom of movement. The Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket comes in monochrome versions such as black and red, but the majority of its color options are more funky with zippers and flatlock stitching along the collarbone and underarms in contrasting colors. The Marmot Stretch Fleece Jacket also comes in a half-zip version and a hooded version.

 

Pros:

  • Stretchy fabric for great freedom of movement
  • Bonded zippered sleeve pocket for small items

Cons:

  • Half-zip model does not have handwarmer pockets

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Sherpa Adventure Gear Sita

Sherpa Adventure Gear Sita

5. Sherpa Adventure Gear Sita Pull-over

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

Sherpa Adventure Gear is a smaller under-the-radar brand which makes some really high-performance garments. One of them is the Sita fleece sweater which both comes as a hooded zippered jacket and a pullover version with a cowl neckline for increased warmth. Both are made of 200 g/m2 Polartec Thermal Pro fleece which is known for being quick to dry, breathable and moisture-wicking. The fabric is also treated with anti-odor agents to inhibit the growth of odor-causing microorganisms. The Sherpa Adventure Gear Sita fleece jacket comes in white along with a range of stylish dark hues with drawcords and stitching in contrasting colors.

 

Pros:

  • Sophisticated fabric
  • Anti-odor technology
  • Slightly longer than other fleece jackets here

Cons:

  • Pullover version has no pockets

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