Best fleece jackets 2024: embrace the chill with our top mid-layer picks

The best fleece jackets are essential for any outdoor activities in moderate or cold weather

Best fleece jackets 2024: Quick links

People spending time outdoors wearing Finisterre clothes and wetsuits

(Image credit: Finisterre)

01. Best overall: Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip
02. Best full-zip: Finisterre Axiom
03. Best for mountaineering: Berghaus Pravitale
04. Best eco-friendly: Patagonia Better Sweater
05. Best lightweight: Fjallraven Vardag Lite
06. Best for warmth: Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly
07. Best for skiing: Columbia Basin Butte
08. Best waterproof: Keela Genesis
09. Best urban: The North Face TKA Kataka
10. Best premium: Arc’teryx Kyanite AR

As winter settles in and the temperatures drop, it's time to layer up and embrace the warmth of the best fleece jackets. These versatile garments are like a warm hug on chilly days – lightweight, quick-drying, and incredibly hard-wearing.

Pair your fleece jacket with the best base layers for maximum warmth, and don't forget to layer up with the best waterproof jackets when the snow starts falling. With the right combination, you'll be ready to take on whatever the winter weather throws your way.

When choosing the perfect fleece jacket, consider the material weight – heavier fleeces for outerwear and lighter weights for layering. From classic zipped cardigans to stylish cagoule-inspired designs with extra features like hoods and thumb loops, there's a fleece jacket for every style and preference.

So, grab your favourite fleece, bundle up, and get ready to conquer the winter chill in style!

Best fleece jackets to buy now

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Best overall

Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best fleece jacket overall

Specifications

Weight: 393g/13.9oz (men's medium)
Pockets: One external chest pocket
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Eye-catching design
+
Kangaroo pocket to keep hands warm
+
Sustainably made

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most technical garment
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No reinforced areas on shoulders

The Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket is a straightforward garment that'll keep you warm without weighing you down. It looks cool and will help liven up any gorp-core outfit, thanks to its vibrant colours and contrast zippers. Cotopaxi's Abrazo Half-Zip Jacket is a brilliant option if you need a cosy, lightweight fleece with excellent sustainability credentials. Cotopaxi is the way to go if you like to wear brands other than The North Face/Patagonia.

Read our full Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket review.

Best full-zip

man wearing Finisterre Axiom fleeceT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Finisterre)

2. Finisterre Axiom Full Zip Fleece

Best full-zip fleece jacket

Specifications

Weight: not stated
Pockets: 3
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Reinforced elbow patches
+
Looks cool
+
Made from recycled polyester

Reasons to avoid

-
No black or navy option
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Looser fit not as good for streamlined layering

We think the best fleece right now is the Finisterre Axiom. The relaxed fit, functional design and cosy fabric make it an excellent all-rounder, whether you're off camping or just walking the dog. In line with Finisterre's eco-friendly ethos, this is made from fully recycled polyester, with recycled nylon elbow patches and zipped hand and chest pockets for storing valuables.

The fit is looser than others in this guide, with elasticated hip and cuff hems and a snap popper collar to keep the heat in. It's a more versatile shape that'll work well as a standalone jacket, but it might not be as good for streamlined layering. It's also only available in teal and yellow colourways, so those wanting a sombre black or navy will need to shop elsewhere (Finisterre does do other fleece jackets in less colourful shades). Customers praise the quality, comfort and warmth. 

Best for mountaneering

Berghaus Pravitale MTN 2.0 Hooded Fleece Jacket in red and navyT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Berghaus)

3. Berghaus Pravitale MTN 2.0 Hooded Fleece Jacket

Best fleece jacket for mountaineering

Specifications

Weight: 480g
Pockets: 3
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Harness compatible pockets
+
Latest tech
+
Thumb-loops for warm wrists

Reasons to avoid

-
Some say a snug fit

If you're heading for the hills, the Berghaus Pravitale could be the best fleece jacket for you. It's a mid-weight jacket that can also be put to use as a winter mid-layer, and it'll see you right when temperatures fall, thanks to its hood and thumb loops. These thumb loops are excellent for anchoring mid-layer sleeves, protecting the wrist from cold, but also great as emergency fingerless gloves when you’re moving fast.

Two harness-compatible pockets also act as vents if needed, and a shoulder pocket is ideal for a ski pass. The hood is designed to be close-fitting, which is a winner when it comes to keeping the heat in. It's difficult hard to find anyone who has anything bad to say about this fleece, although a handful of customers said it was a bit of a snug fit, so that's perhaps something to bear in mind when deciding whether to size up or down. Check for a Berghaus discount code before you buy. 

Best eco-friendly

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece JacketT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Patagonia)

4. Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket

Best eco-friendly fleece jacket

Specifications

Weight: 638g
Pockets: 3
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Made from 100% recycled polyester
+
Looks good
+
Flat-seam construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Bit chunky for layering

For anyone after an eco-friendly fleece, Patagonia has been a great choice for a number of years, and its Better Sweater Fleece Jacket is a great example of that commitment. Not only is it made of 100% recycled polyester, the fabric is all Bluesign approved and Fair Trade Certified sewn, and it's coloured with low-impact dyes. And beyond the eco-cred, this one's a fantastic piece of design.

It's full of thoughtful little touches like the micro-polyester jersey trim at cuffs and hem that protects the main fabric from abrasion, along with flat-seam construction that removes chafing points and reduces bulk, both highly desirable in a fleece mid-layer. Overall, if you wear your ethics on your sleeve, then make sure the sleeve is this one. And it won’t let you down in the cold either. Like the Finisterre though, it's perhaps a little chunky for streamlined layering. 

Best lightweight

Fjällräven Vardag Lite Fleece in Laurel Green and Alpine BlueT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Fjällräven)

5. Fjällräven Vardag Lite Fleece

Best lightweight fleece jacket

Specifications

Weight: 313g
Pockets: 1
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and packable
+
Great for insulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one pocket

For a lightweight and versatile fleece jacket that's suitable for all manner of outdoor activities, Fjällräven's Vardag Lite Fleece is a great all-rounder that you can wear as a top layer or, more likely, put on underneath a shell for some welcome insulation. Made from 100% recycled polyester, it's light enough to stuff in a bag to be pulled out when you need it, and it features elasticated sleeve cuffs and a drawcord adjustment at the hem, as well as a half-length zipper on the front. Its single-zippered kangaroo pocket won't be to everyone's taste, but that shouldn't be a problem if you're layering it underneath a more full-featured shell.

Best for warmth

Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly Fleece JacketT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
Best fleece jacket for warmth

Specifications

Weight: 595g
Pockets : 3
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Weather resistant 
+
Super-warm 
+
Pit-zips for ventilation 

Reasons to avoid

-
Too warm for layering

Looking for maximum warmth? You'll probably want the Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly fleece; while most of the fleeces listed here will work nicely as a mid-layer, this one would be strictly overkill unless you were planning on an arctic adventure. It gets its warmth from its Polartec Classic 300-weight fleece material, not to mention an additional layer of windproofing around the neck and shoulders; thankfully, there are also pit zips for when things get just a bit too toasty.

However, as an outer layer that breathes pretty well, is enormously warm, and will keep all but the worst of weather at bay, it rather lives up to its namesake. It’s not hard to imagine a host of outdoor situations where the Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly fleece would come in handy, many involving chopping wood and watching the campfire blaze – which sound pretty good to us, frankly.

Read our full Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly fleece jacket review

Best for skiing

Columbia Basin Butte FleeceT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
Best fleece jacket for skiing

Specifications

Weight: 400g
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
Extra Warm
+
Lots of comfort
+
High neck for protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Too hot for many situations

Comfortably straddling the gap between heavyweight and mid-weight fleece in terms of warmth, the Columbia Basin Butte Fleece packs in some smart features to keep things cosy. Insulated panels across the top of the torso, lined with Columbia's own Omni-Heat reflective material, give this fleece a bit of visual flair as well as turning up the heat without weighing you down.

The result is a breathable but warm fleece that’ll be most at home in very cold conditions as a mid-layer, but perfectly capable of standing in as a technical jumper equivalent wherever needed. The only penalty is the slightly-less-pleasant texture of the upper torso section, although the inside collar is neatly lined with microfleece to combat that issue. Check out our Columbia Basin Butte Fleece review for more of what we thought.

Best waterproof

Keela Genesis Waterproof Fleece Jacket

(Image credit: Keela)

8. Keela Genesis Waterproof Fleece Jacket

Best waterproof fleece jacket

Specifications

Weight: 840g
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Waterproof
+
Breathable
+
Ideal for bad weather

Reasons to avoid

-
Main zip isn't water resistant

With most fleeces, you're not really bothered about them getting wet because they dry out so quickly, but if you really want to keep the damp out, then take a look at the Keela Genesis. Keela has incorporated hydrophilic film technology into the lining, resulting in a fleece that's breathable and waterproof (and a favourite with mountain rescue teams). Reviews say it's very effective, although the lack of water-resistant zip or storm flap is a bit of an oversight. The outer fleece is durable mid-weight Zetland 100 with a DWR coating, and with reinforced shoulders and deep pockets, this has ‘ready for bad weather’ written all over it.

Best for urban wear

The North Face TKA KatakaT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: The North Face)

9. The North Face TKA Kataka fleece

Best fleece jacket for urban wear

Specifications

Weight: not stated
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: water-repellent

Reasons to buy

+
Water-repellent finish
+
Make from 100% recycled materials
+
Binding on sleeve cuffs to keep drafts out

Reasons to avoid

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Only a half zip
-
Very oversized

If you're after a stylish fleece jacket to keep you cosy in the city, head to The North Face. TNF's Kataka fleece is another eco-friendly option, made entirely from recycled polyester fleece with an overlay of recycled nylon, and it's the ideal option for urban adventures. With a non-PFC water-repellent finish, secure zip pockets and a binding on sleeve cuffs to keep drafts out, it's geared towards Spring and Autumn use and is designed to be warm, lightweight and quick to dry. Beware, it is an oversized fit, though, so don't be tempted to size up.

Best premium

arcteryx Kyanite fleece in navy and bottle greenT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Arc'teryx)

10. Arc'teryx Kyanite AR hoody fleece jacket

Best premium fleece jacket

Specifications

Weight: 415g
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: no

Reasons to buy

+
 Clean lines
+
 Stretchy, versatile layer 
+
 Hood for extra warmth 

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey option
-
Pills easily

If you don't want to get bogged down in details and want something simple but effective, we reckon that the Arc’teryx Kyanite AR Hoody will suit most people nicely. It's exactly what this respected outdoor brand is known for; simply designed, high-performance outdoor wear with a premium price tag. This fleece jacket has been designed with plenty of attention to detail and features Polartec Power Stretch Pro material that's comfortable and hardwearing without weighing you down.

You can layer it under a shell top without worrying about overheating (although beware, a number of customers have reported that it pills easily, which won't affect its performance but does look unsightly). The hood is designed to be low-profile and layered rather than a standalone, protective shelter as you’d expect on a shell. That said, there’s plenty of extra warmth on offer, the hood trapping all that heat from the body. 

How to choose the best fleece jacket for you

When buying a fleece jacket, the biggest question is how warm you need it to be and whether you plan to wear it as an actual jacket or as a breathable mid-layer. Heavier-weight fleeces are lovely and warm on their own, but if worn as a mid-layer, they can get too hot and feel bulky and restrict movement. Lighter-weight fleeces make excellent winter-weight base layers and handy autumn jackets. It’s also worth considering whether a hood is necessary.

While a hood adds warmth on the coldest days, it can lead to overheating if used in high-intensity pursuits. When not used, they can result in an uncomfortable extra layer around the neck, which can, in turn, get in the way of a shell hood. Finally, if you plan to use your fleece as a mid-layer, avoid the most robust waterproof and windproof membranes, as these tend to be on the bin liner end of breathable. However, in an outer softshell-style jacket, both are handy attributes.

FAQ

Is fleece sustainable?

Most fleece jackets are made of polyester, a.k.a. plastic. When bought from respectable companies, such as Patagonia or Finisterre, you can count on your fleece being made from recycled plastic, but plastic nevertheless. The best way to ensure your fleece is sustaible is to wear it as long as you can by looking after it and repairing it instead of throwing it in the bin as soon as it gets dirty.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.

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