5 Best Fleece Jackets in 2021 – Tested & Reviewed

One item of clothing we recommend any outdoor enthusiast to own? A classic fleece jacket. Honestly, there are few items in our wardrobe that we get as much wear out of our trusty fleece pullovers and jackets. Functional as a mid-layer, casual as an outer layer, or insulating as a base layer for winter sports: you can mix and match it to your delight. 

That is exactly why we chose to bundle our favorite options on the market in one ‘Best Fleece Jacket For the Great Outdoors’ overview. We’ve included styles for every preference and budget. Whether you’re looking for a soft, sweater fleece jacket or a heavy-duty, highly-durable rugged fleece for cold weather conditions: we’ve got you – and your torso – covered! 

In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
44 Reviews
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
  • FLEECE MATERIAL: A revival of our original, best-selling Monkey Man, this cozy jacket is made with lightweight Polartec High Loft fleece fabric that traps body heat for superior warmth.

And here’s an overview of the best fleece jackets on the market today:

Preview
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan Men's (Arbour Heather, X-Small)
Title
Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket
Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket
Gordon Lyons Fleece Jacket
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Covert Cardigan Fleece Jacket
Brand
Marmot
Columbia
The North Face
Mountain Hardwear
Arc'teryx
Material
Polartec Power Grid Fleece
250g MTR Filament Fleece
300 g/m² Poly Fleece
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Alpenex II Heathered Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
Title
Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket
Brand
Marmot
Material
Polartec Power Grid Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
Title
Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket
Brand
Columbia
Material
250g MTR Filament Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
Title
Gordon Lyons Fleece Jacket
Brand
The North Face
Material
300 g/m² Poly Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Title
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Brand
Mountain Hardwear
Material
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan Men's (Arbour Heather, X-Small)
Title
Covert Cardigan Fleece Jacket
Brand
Arc'teryx
Material
Alpenex II Heathered Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets

Our top 5 Best Fleece Jackets for the great outdoors are:

For this overview, we chose to focus on full-fleece jackets, not softshell jackets with only a fleece interior lining. We elected to only feature this type of fleece jackets, as its most compatible with layering systems – and can be worn as both a mid-layer and outer-layers. A minor con is that none of these fleece jackets is 100% waterproof or windproof. That is why recommend pairing them with a waterproof/water-repellent lightweight rain jacket and/or packable windbreaker with a DWR coating in bad weather conditions.

Discover the Best Fleece Jackets favorites below, and upgrade your wardrobe with this must-have outdoor essential: 

 

Best Fleece Jacket – Overview


 

Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket

Sale
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
87 Reviews
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
  • A high-performing fleece jacket that you can grab when you need an easy layer on the go
Looking for a quality and lightweight fleece that doesn’t break the bank? Then the mid-budget, full-zip Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket may be your perfect fit. Yes, this jacket isn’t as durable or warm as others on this list, but it also comes with a much more affordable price-tag: making it a budget-friendly alternative. Though affordable, the design is still produced with a great quality standard, and more than capable of keeping you comfy and warm in moderate conditions. 

The Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket is made of moisture-wicking Polartec Power Grid Fleece. This type of quick-drying fleece features a special grid-design structure, which simultaneously increases the ability to insulate while reducing the weight of the fabric and making it more compressible. This means that the jacket is lighter and more packable. Polartec Power Grid Fleece is also more breathable, as the grid design allows greater moisture-wicking and faster moisture evaporation. Keeping you comfy and dry on your backpacking and hiking adventures!

Flatlock seam construction

Other perks of the Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket include a flatlock seam construction, which prevents chafing and skin irritation. The style is also equipped with reinforced shoulders, reducing friction and abrasions when carrying your backpack or other outdoor gear. The jacket comes with a zippered chest pocket and two hand pockets (also with zippers) – enabling you to keep personal belongings close at hand. 

The Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket is ideal as a mid-layer or outer-layer. On colder days, you can use the built-in wind flaps behind the front zipper to block wind and drafts. When you get too warm on sunny days, simply take it off and wrap the ultralight fleece jacket around your waist/hips and voila: problem solved. As this full-zip Marmot fleece jacket only weighs approximately 12 oz, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it!

Any cons? Well, the Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket is not the warmest or most durable option on the market, and the fit can be a bit loose (similar to a relaxed fit) in silhouette, but considering it’s also half the price of high-end fleece jackets, we think that’s a fair trade-off. 

Pro

  • Affordable 
  • Highly-rated on Amazon
  • Very lightweight
  • Ideal as a mid-layer and outer-layer
  • Polartec Power Grid Fleece
  • Breathable and moisture-wicking
  • Full-zip front closure
  • Wind-resistance via built-in wind flap
  • Chest pocket
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Machine-washable

Con

  • Not the warmest/most insulating
  • Not the most durable or heavy-duty

 


 

Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Full-Zip Fleece Jacket

Sale
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
24,621 Reviews
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
  • SOFT FABRIC: This Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Full Zip 2.0 Fleece Jacket is crafted of ultra-soft 100% polyester MTR filament fleece for the perfect amount of warmth
Looking for an even more affordable option than the previously listed Marmot Men’s Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket? Then consider the basic but functional Steens Mountain Full Zip 2.0 Fleece Jacket by Columbia. This best-selling fleece jacket is great for casual wear, though it does lack some of the breathability to work as a mid-layer. That said, as an outer layer on chilly days, or simply as a soft layer to snuggle up in your tent, it works a treat!

The Columbia 2.0 Steens Mountain Full Zip Soft Fleece Jacket has a classic fit and is made of durable 250g MTR filament fleece, known for its warmth and comfort. The long sleeve silhouette features a collared neck that can be worn up or down, plus features a full-length zipper closure. The style also comes with two zippered pockets, enabling you to securely store your smaller personal belongings. 

Drawcord hem to eliminate cold spots

The soft-yet-rugged filament-fleece jacket is available in a wide size range and multiple colors. The 2.0 version of this Columbia staple is also enhanced with an adjustable cinch drawcord hem, allowing you to customize the fit slightly and help eliminate cold spots. We do recommend you to carefully consult the sizing/measurement chart before ordering, as some Amazon consumers report the sizing to run on the small side. 

Granted, thee Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket may not be the fanciest on this list, but if you’re looking for a basic yet functional fleece for casual, everyday wear – you simply can’t go wrong with this budget-friendly best-seller. Don’t just take it from us, because this fleece jacket has thousands of 5-star reviews to confirm its value! 

Pro

  • Very budget-friendly
  • A top-rated best-seller Amazon
  • Collared neck silhouette
  • 250g MTR filament fleece
  • Soft, comfy, and warm
  • Great for casual wear
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Machine-washable

Con

  • Not the most breathable
  • Not ideal as a mid-layer
  • Not waterproof

 


 

The North Face Men’s Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Jacket

The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
1,296 Reviews
The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
  • SUSTAINABLE FABRIC. Made with a recycled fabric blend, this jacket is soft, warm and good for the environment.
The sweater-knit, soft Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Fleece Jacket by The North Face is a firm-favorite amongst outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s no surprise why this style is so popular. Firstly, the fleece jacket adheres to the high-quality standard that The North Face is known for. Secondly, the jacket is made of a very soft 300 g/m² poly fleece with great insulating properties. 

The North Face Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Fleece Jacket delivers heavyweight warmth, yet offers lightweight comfort. The jacket provides plenty of insulation, without the bulk of traditional layers. The Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Fleece Jacket by The North Face has a standard-fit, which easily accommodates base-layers and mid-layers to fit underneath. The high-quality 300 g/m² poly fleece fabric has a soft, brushed inner face for extra comfort and warmth retention. 

Reverse coil zippers

Other premium design features of The North Face Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Fleece Jacket include reverse-coil zippers, both on the full-zip front closure and the zippered hand pockets. The jacket has a collar that can be worn up or down, whilst the zippered chest pocket provides additional storage space. Clean-up of the fleece jacket is also a breeze, as the design by The North Face is both machine-washable and tumble-dry safe. 

Durable, versatile, made of high-density warm fleece with a soft brushed interior, and with plenty of pockets: the Gordon Lyons Full-Zip Fleece Jacket is a solid choice for your backcountry adventures. Whether you take it backpacking, or simply throw it on during your regular grocery shop: this full-zip jacket won’t look out of place in any setting.

Pro

  • 300 g/m² poly fleece
  • Lightweight insulation without the bulk
  • Soft brushed inner facing
  • Great for casual wear
  • Reverse-coil zippers
  • Full-zip front closure
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Machine-washable
  • Tumble dry safe

Con

  • Not the most insulating
  • Slightly pricier
  • Not waterproof

 


 

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 

Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
44 Reviews
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
  • FLEECE MATERIAL: A revival of our original, best-selling Monkey Man, this cozy jacket is made with lightweight Polartec High Loft fleece fabric that traps body heat for superior warmth.
When it comes to softness, it’s difficult to beat the appeal of the Monkey Man/2 Jacket by Mountain Hardwear. This super cozy fleece jacket is plush and lush, adding a whole new level of comfort to your outdoor activities. The Monkey Man/2 is a newly released, upgraded version of the original Monkey Man jacket. Compared to its best-selling predecessor, the Monkey Man/2 jacket by Mountain Hardwear is now extra breathable and stretchy – thanks to the clever combination between Polartec fleece and Power Stretch paneling. 

This fleece jacket works great as both a performance fleece or a casual fleece, meaning you should get plenty of daily wear from it. The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 jacket is made of lightweight Polartec High Loft fleece. This type of fleece has a patented high loft fiber structure and is known to be ultra-soft and highly compressible. The Polartec High Loft’s extended polyester yarns create large air pockets to retain more thermal warmth, while still keeping the insulation lightweight. Even better: Polartec High Loft has the greatest warmth-to-weight ratio of all Polartec fleece fabric technologies.

Polartec Power Stretch paneling 

Another big perk of the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 jacket is the addition of Polartec Power Stretch paneling on the sides, hem, and cuffs of the jacket. Polartec Power Stretch is a performance-fit, moisture-wicking fabric with a 4-way stretch and excellent shape recovery. It’s also known for its great breathability, helping to keep you dry and comfy – whilst warm and insulated. Power Stretch’s outer surface has a low-friction finish, ensuring the versatile fabric can layer perfectly with others and resist abrasion on its own. 

Besides warmth and comfort, the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 fleece jacket also has your storage needs covered. The silhouette comes with two zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket, sufficient space for your smaller belongings. The long-sleeve style also comes with thumbholes at cuffs. 

Do note that the fuzzy, high loft Polartec fleece of the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 is reported to shed with repeated wear. Though fleece can always shed, the high loft-style is slightly more prone to it, meaning you will have to deal with some loose fluff or fuzz once in a while. However, for its superb quality, comfort, and softness, we think that’s more than a fair trade-off! 

Pro

  • Polartec High Loft
  • Polartec Power Stretch paneling
  • Super cozy and soft
  • Breathable and quick-drying
  • Outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Chest pocket with zipper
  • Highly-compressible
  • Long sleeves with thumbholes at cuffs
  • Machine-washable
  • Tumble dry safe

Con

  • May shed with repeated wear 
  • Not waterproof

 


 

Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan Fleece Jacket

If you’re looking for a superior polyester fleece with premium performance in cold weather conditions, consider the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan. Yes, we know the name suggests it’s not an outer layer, but don’t be fooled: this design is more than suited for wear as a fleece jacket. Granted, it’s a bit pricey, but for its outstanding thermal insulation properties, and extra-durable construction, we reckon it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about hiking and backpacking. 

The Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan is a full-zip silhouette with a regular fit. The design can be worn as a highly-insulating mid-layer underneath rain jackets or alpine gear and makes a great outer layer for casual wear. The jacket has a wool-like appearance mixed with a modern sweater look – resulting in a jacket that can take you from the ski slopes to the bar, without looking out of place. 

Alpenex II Heathered fleece

The secret to the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan’s great insulating properties is its premium fleece material and construction. The jacket is made of breathable and quick-drying Alpenex II Heathered fleece, which gives a super-efficient thermal performance. The silhouette’s stretch-knitted cuffs help keep warmth in and chill out. Whilst the dropped-back hem stretches far enough to keep your lower back shielded from the cold. The full-zip fleece jacket also features durable binding around the collar and on the hem and cuffs, plus has a flatlock seam construction to prevent skin irritation and chafing. 

The Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan has multiple pockets to keep your smaller belongings close at hand. These include a laminated sleeve pocket with laminated zip and two hand pockets with laminated zippers.

Aree there any cons? Well, mainly its price-tag, because the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan is not cheap. However, for its premium construction and excellent insulating properties, we think the pricing is quite reasonable. Also, note that some consumers on Amazon report that the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan isn’t as stretchy as true technical fleeces (for example the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody/Hooded Jacket) so if you want maximum stretch – this could be a bit too rugged. That said, most agree that the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan slimline fit is super comfortable, so we wouldn’t worry about this too much! 

Pro

  • Alpenex II Heathered fleece
  • Superior quality standard
  • Stretch-knitted cuffs
  • Dropped-back hem
  • Flatlock seam construction
  • Stylish wool-like appearance
  • Breathable and quick-drying
  • Laminated zippers
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Machine-washable
  • Tumble dry safe

Con

  • Expensive
  • Not as stretchy as technical fleece
  • Not waterproof

 


 

 

Verdict

Every fleece jacket on this overview is worthy of your time, money, and attention. Each can be ‘the best’, depending on your specific wants and needs. For example, if you’re on a budget, a basic yet affordable option such as the Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece Jacket could be the best match in your price range. Vice versa, if you want a fleece jacket with a superior quality standard, fancy construction techniques, and a fantastic warmth-to-weight ratio – a pricier option such as the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan could be a high-end fit. Rest assured, whether you want to spend a lot, or a little, there’s a quality fleece jacket to keep you cozy!

Other buying factors to consider when deciding on your ‘best’ match are the type of fleece (low-pile vs high loft), the number of pockets, the type of zipper (full-zip, reverse coil zippers, anti-snag, etc), and – of course – style and fit. High-performance fleece jackets tend to be slim-fitting and stretchier, whilst casual fleece jackets have a classic or relaxed fit.

Mid-layer vs Outer-layer

We also recommend you to consider what you plan to layer the fleece jacket with. For example, if you want a fleece jacket that can be worn as both a casual outer layer or an insulation mid-layer when paired with a rain jacket, look for a style with breathability. Cheaper fleeces tend to be less breathable, meaning they can make you warm and stuffy when you layer them with other clothing. A breathable fleece is more equipped to keep you comfy and dry, and often offers moisture-wicking properties.

Do note that for all fleece jackets in this overview, we recommend pairing them with a waterproof and/or windproof outer layer in bad weather conditions. Fleece fabric by itself is not fully waterproof or windproof, which is why a weatherproof jacket, such as a packable rain jacket, is a clever addition to your layering system.

Getting a great deal

In fairness, you can’t go wrong with any of these cozy fleece jackets. Each rate highly on comfort and value-for-money and all come with plenty of 5-star Amazon ratings to confirm their worth. All you need to do is decide which is ‘the best’ match for your outdoor requirements, and take advantage of these great days today!

 

Winner

Picking a winner is quite the challenge, as each fleece jacket has its specific appeal. That said, we can’t deny our preference for the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket. For us, comfort is a key priority when shopping for a fleece jumper, jacket, or vest. That is why the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket is top of our list, as it’s hard to beat the softness and snugness of this comfy high-loft fleece jacket.

Preview
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Title
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Brand
Mountain Hardwear
Material
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Full-zip front
Zippered pockets
Machine-washable
Quick-drying
Preview
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Title
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Brand
Mountain Hardwear
Material
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Full-zip front
Zippered pockets
Machine-washable
Quick-drying

In addition to softness, the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket has many other perks. For example, it’s High Loft Polartec fleece material has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of all Polartec fleece types, plus it’s quick-drying and breathable. Giving you maximum warmth and comfort for minimum weight – ideal for backpacking. The jacket is highly compressible, meaning it also takes up limited space in a backpack, making it more packable.

This hybrid between a performance fleece and casual fleece is also equipped with Polartec Power Stretch paneling, providing a snug yet comfy fit that is easy to layer with other clothing. We also like the sleeve design, which features thumbholes at the cuffs. Whilst the multiple zippered pockets provide plenty of space for small belongings.

The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket is available in a range of colors and sizes, ensuring there is a perfect fit for every preference. Granted, it’s not the cheapest fleece on the market, but for its outstanding quality, comfort, and performance, we think it’s still a steal for the price listed.

 

Tip: Want to expand your wardrobe with more outdoor clothing? Then check out our other overviews on hiking and backpacking apparel. We have many handy overviews, saving you time and money when locating the best deals on outdoor clothing. These include the best Down Jackets, Base Layer, Packable Rain Jacket, Vests, Hiking Leggings, and more! 

 

Recap

Preview
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan Men's (Arbour Heather, X-Small)
Title
Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket
Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket
Gordon Lyons Fleece Jacket
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Covert Cardigan Fleece Jacket
Brand
Marmot
Columbia
The North Face
Mountain Hardwear
Arc'teryx
Material
Polartec Power Grid Fleece
250g MTR Filament Fleece
300 g/m² Poly Fleece
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Alpenex II Heathered Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Marmot Men's Reactor Jacket, Black, Medium
Title
Reactor 100-Weight Fleece Jacket
Brand
Marmot
Material
Polartec Power Grid Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Columbia Men's Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Black, XX-Large
Title
Steens Mountain Fleece Jacket
Brand
Columbia
Material
250g MTR Filament Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons Full Zip, TNF Black Heather, M
Title
Gordon Lyons Fleece Jacket
Brand
The North Face
Material
300 g/m² Poly Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Mountain Hardwear Men's Monkey Fleece Jacket for Hiking, Skiing, and Everyday - Black - Medium
Title
Monkey Man/2 Lightweight Fleece Jacket 
Brand
Mountain Hardwear
Material
Polartec High Loft Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets
Preview
Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan Men's (Arbour Heather, X-Small)
Title
Covert Cardigan Fleece Jacket
Brand
Arc'teryx
Material
Alpenex II Heathered Fleece
Full-zip
Machine-Washable
Zippered pockets

 

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 2 Average: 5]
Samantha Bos

Samantha Bos

Samantha is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves exploring the great unknown. She’s traveled all across the globe to sample nature’s delights. And her travels have taken her to all corners of the world: from hiking the famous Inca Trail in Peru to ice-hiking on glaciers in Alaska. Besides hiking, Samantha likes to challenge herself with all kinds of outdoor activities. She doesn’t shy away from testing her limits. For example, navigating Grade 5 rapids whilst whitewater rafting in New Zealand, and avoiding close-encounters with bird-eating spiders and poisonous plants in the Australian rainforest. Currently based in Manhattan, New York, she’s traded in the real jungle for an urban jungle. But she tries to get out and explore nature in the surrounding Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Harriman State Park areas as often as she can. She shares her knowledge of hiking, backpacking, and outdoor activities in handy ‘Best of’ overviews. Bundling the best-value, top-rated products that will no doubt make every reader a ‘happy camper’.