The Best Hiking Fleece Jackets of 2022

Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

When you are hiking, mountaineering or trekking you are often exposed to challenging weather conditions and thus it’s good to have high-performance clothing. A fleece jacket is a very useful garment because it provides insulation and can be worn either as an outer layer in dry weather or as a mid-layer in wet or windy conditions. Fleece jackets are 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 if they get 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 pack smaller than fleece jackets. Therefore, in very cold weather down jackets and jackets with synthetic fill are better. Nevertheless, fleece jackets are a better option in moderate conditions.

In this article we selected the best fleece jackets for hiking to make your buying decision a little easier. As fleece jackets provide very little protection against rain and wind, we recommend that you also read our review of the Best Hiking Rain Jackets or the Best Hiking Softshell Jackets.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.
This selection includes primarily men's products. For women's products check out the Best Fleece Jackets for Women.

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

Material:

Fleece jackets are made of polyester fleece (also called polar 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 a density of 100 g/m2 will be significantly less warm than a jacket made of fleece with a density of 300 g/m2. When it comes to texture, the latest trend is achieving a grid pattern. Polyester fleece fabrics with a grid pattern are better at trapping the body-warmed air and thus provide a better warmth-to-weight ratio.

Polyester fleece fabric is typically very breathable and pleasant to the touch. Furthermore, as it absorbs very little moisture (less than 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 which make them more stretchy.

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.

You can find more information about insulation materials in our article Comparison of Mid-Layer Materials.

Weight:

Like all other hiking and mountaineering equipment, a fleece jacket should be lightweight. Fleece jackets don’t have as good a 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) and insulation. In this review we only listed lightweight fleece jackets which provide superb warmth.

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 to allow easy access even when you are wearing a climbing harness, backpack (hip belt) or similar gear.

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2. The Best Hiking Fleece Jackets of 2022 Review

Best Fleece Jackets

Best Fleece Jackets

The Best Hiking Fleece Jackets – List

  1. Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft Jacket
  2. Arcteryx Delta LT Fleece Jacket
  3. Outdoor Research Baritone Hoodie
  4. Marmot Drop Line Fleece Jacket
  5. Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody

Comparison:

Scroll Horizontally
Feature/Product Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft JacketArcteryx Delta LT Outdoor Research Baritone HoodieMarmot Drop Line JacketPatagonia R1 TechFace Hoody
Weight (Metric)13.4 oz. (379 g )9.9 oz. (280 g) 17.6 oz. (498 g)13.8 oz. (390 g)14.1 oz. (400 g)
MaterialPolartec High Loft, Polartec PowerStretch Polartec Classic 100 82% polyester, 18% spandex Polyester Sweater Heather 92% Polyester Fleece, 8% Spandex
Pockets33233
HoodNoNo (also available with)Yes (also available without) NoYes (also available without)
Also available asVestHoodie, pull-over (half-zip)Pull-over (quarter-zip)Pull-over (half-zip)Zippered jacket (without hood)
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Fleece Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft Jacket

1. Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

The Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft (previously named Monkey Fleece Jacket) is a very warm jacket which is very popular among hikers and mountaineers. As the name implies, the jacket is made of Polartec High Loft fleece fabric which has a highly lofted structure to trap the body-warmed air more efficiently. The Polartec High Loft fabric is also very breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. The jacket also features an adjustable hem, two zippered hand pockets, one zippered chest pocket and thumb holes. The hand pockets are placed higher to allow easy access when you are wearing a climbing harness or a backpack with a hip belt. The thumb loops prevent the sleeves from riding up during technical activities such as climbing. The Mountain Hardwear Polartec High Loft jacket is a great option for every hiker, mountaineer or trekker.

Women's Version: Available - Mountain Hardwear Women's Polartec High Loft Jacket

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Insulation
  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Side panels

Cons:

  • /
Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

Arcteryx Delta LT Jacket

2. Arcteryx Delta LT Fleece 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 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 provides good warmth-to-weight ratio due to the lofted fiber structure which creates thermal air pockets to efficiently retain the body-warmed air. Besides the superb material, the Arcteryx Delta LT jacket also offers great functional details. The jacket is equipped with a full-length front zipper with a chin guard, drop back hem, two zippered side pockets and a sleeve pocket. The hand pockets are well-placed and thus allow easy access even when you are wearing a climbing harness or a backpack. The sleeve pocket is equipped with a reflective zipper so that you can easily find it in the night. The Arcteryx Delta LT jacket is a great option for hikers, mountaineers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts who want a thin fleece jacket for highly aerobic activities. The Arcteryx Delta is also available in a zip-neck version.

Women's Version: Available - Arcteryx Women's Delta LT

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Insulation (thin)

Video

Outdoor Research Baritone

Outdoor Research Baritone Hoodie

3. Outdoor Research Baritone Hoodie

Suitable for:

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

The Outdoor Research Baritone Hoodie is another great fleece jacket. The jacket is made of a very stretchy material and thus it provides great freedom of movement. On the inside it has a soft and brushed surface which feels very nice against the skin and efficiently traps the body heat to keep you warm in cold conditions. The fabric is also quick drying and breathable. The Baritone jacket uses ActiveTemp technology which adjusts the warmth of the jacket depending on your activity level. The jacket also has two hand pockets and a hood. The only downsides of this jacket are that it is a bit heavier than competitive products and doesn’t have thumb holes. The Baritone Hoodie is also available as a quarter zip-neck.

Women's Version: Available - Outdoor Research Women's Melody Hoodie

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • ActiveTemp technology
  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Soft and comfortable material

Cons:

  • Weight
  • No thumb holes
Marmot Drop Line Jacket

Marmot Drop Line Jacket

4. Marmot Drop Line Fleece Jacket

Suitable for:

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

The Marmot Drop Line jacket is made of a fleece fabric with a density of 175 g/m2 and is thus a relatively warm fleece jacket. Therefore, it can be used as an outer layer even on relatively cold days. The jacket is made of Marmot’s own polyester fleece fabric which offers great moisture-wicking properties, dries fast and is highly breathable. It is also equipped with a zippered chest pocket, comfortable DriClime collar and stretch cuffs. This fleece jacket is best for those who need a reliable and warm mid/outer layer for their hiking and mountaineering trips.

Women's Version: Not available

See our selection of the best fleece jackets for women instead.

 

Pros:

  • Warmth
  • Comfortable DriClime collar
  • Durability

Cons:

  • /

 

Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody

5. Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing

The Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody is designed for extended versatility in shifting mountain conditions. It is made of recycled polyester fleece and spandex. Polyester fleece provides warmth while spandex makes the garment stretchy for good freedom of movement. The fabric has a grid structure which enhances the thermal efficiency as well as increases the breathability and moisture-wicking performance. It is also DWR treated and thus provides some basic weather resistance. Besides the outstanding material, the jacket features articulated fit, two climbing harness compatible hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket. The hem is adjustable, and the hood is compatible with most climbing helmets. The Patagonia R1 TechFace Hoody is a great choice for hiking in moderate and cold weather.

Women's Version: Available - Patagonia Women's R1 TechFace Hoody

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Weather resistance
  • Stretchy material
  • Freedom of movement
  • Helmet compatible hood

Cons:

  • /

3. Questions and Answers

What is a fleece jacket made of?

Fleece jackets are made of polyester. The polyester thread is woven into a fabric and then brushed to achieve greater volume in the fibers. Fleece can also be made of recycled plastic bottles or recycled old fleece material. Many companies are becoming increasingly eco-friendly and utilize this method.

Are fleece jackets good for winter?

Fleece jackets are best for moderate temperatures. They provide good warmth but not as good as down jackets or jackets with synthetic insulation. In very cold weather you will simply be better off with a down jackets or a synthetic jacket.

Is fleece warm?

Fleece is typically warmer than wool but not as warm as down or synthetic fill (same thickness of material).

Is fleece warmer than wool?

Yes, a 12-ounce fleece jacket will be in most cases warmer than a 12-ounce wool jacket. However, note that fleece fabrics can differ wildly in quality and warmth.

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.