Best fleece jackets 2022: keep the cold out with cosy, lightweight layers

Wrap up in one of the best fleece jackets for men and women, and stay warm even in the coldest weather

Included in this guide:

Best fleece jackets: man in snowy mountainscape wearing a fleece
(Image credit: Getty)

Without one or more of the best fleece jackets, your outdoor wardrobe is seriously lacking. A decent fleece is an incredibly versatile piece of clothing; warm, quick-drying, lightweight and easy to care for, it's also robust and hard-wearing.

A good fleece will take all kinds of punishment in all manner of environments, whether you're out walking the dog, scrambling up and down mountains or sitting around a campfire. When you're confident that rain isn't on the cards, it can replace a jacket altogether, but if the skies look questionable they form a great layering piece to add warmth beneath one of the best lightweight waterproof jackets, and to sit on top of one of the best base layers.

The main thing to look out for in the best fleece jackets is the material weight. Lighter fleece is a good choice for layering, while heavier weights are more suitable for use as a top layer. There are all sorts of styles to choose from, from simple cardigan-style jackets with a full zip, through to mid-zip cagoule-style options that may feature hoods, integrated buffs, thumb loops and even pit zips.

Many of these extras may be surplus to your requirements, and may even get in the way; you don't really want a hood if you're planning to use your fleece as a layer, while thumb loops can be useful in some situations and utterly pointless in others. But we've gathered together a good selection of the best fleece jackets for you to choose from; scroll down to find the best option for you.

The best fleece jackets to buy now

arcteryx Kyanite fleece in navy and bottle green

(Image credit: Arc'teryx)

1. Arc'teryx Kyanite AR hoody fleece jacket

The best fleece jacket for layering and all-round wear

Specifications
Weight: 415g
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: no
Reasons to buy
+ Clean lines+ Stretchy, versatile layer + Hood for extra warmth 
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey option

You're properly spoiled for choice in terms of shapes, sizes and styles if fleece, but if you don't want to get bogged down in details and would rather just plump for something that's just right, we reckon that the Arc’teryx Kyanite AR Hoody will suit most people nicely. It's simply designed but with plenty of attention to detail, and features Polartec Power Stretch Pro material that's comfortable and hardwearing without weighing you down, so you can layer it under a shell top without worrying about overheating.

The hood is simple but effective, 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. This boosts morale even without an extra layer in windy or cold conditions, a nuclear option when the cold really bites. Overall, simplicity is the key to the Arc’teryx Kyanite AR Hoody, and it’s also the reason you’ll find this useful in almost every situation, keeping the weather off and the warmth in – sometimes, simple is best. 

Berghaus Pravitale MTN 2.0 Hooded Fleece Jacket in pale grey

(Image credit: Berghaus)

2. Berghaus Pravitale MTN 2.0 Hooded Fleece Jacket

The best fleece jacket for mountaineering and hitting the slopes

Specifications
Weight: 480g
Pockets: 3
Waterproof: no
Reasons to buy
+Harness compatible pockets+Latest tech+Thumb-loops for warm wrists

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. The 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. In short, a simple but effective winter warmer.

Jack Wolfskin Grizzly DNA fleece in red and teal blue

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

3. Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly fleece jacket

The best fleece jacket for serious warmth in the outdoors

Specifications
Weight: 595g
Pockets : 3
Waterproof: no
Reasons to buy
+Weather resistant +Super-warm +Pit-zips for ventilation 

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. Check out our Jack Wolfskin DNA Grizzly fleece jacket review for more info.

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in black

(Image credit: Patagonia)

4. Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket

The best fleece jacket for those who want an eco-friendly choice

Specifications
Weight: 638g
Pockets: 3
Waterproof: no
Reasons to buy
+Made from 100% recycled polyester+Looks good+Flat-seam construction

For anyone after a more 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.

The North Face TKA Kataka fleece, in sage green with black details, front and back view

(Image credit: The north Face)

5. The North Face TKA Kataka fleece

The best recycled fleece jacket for urban use

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
-Only a half zip

The North Face's TKA 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.

man modelling Columbia Basin Butte Fleece

(Image credit: Columbia)

The 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.

Keela Genesis Waterproof Fleece Jacket

(Image credit: Keela)

7. Keela Genesis Waterproof Fleece Jacket

The best fleece jacket for keeping you dry in the rain and snow

Specifications
Weight: 840g
Pockets: 2
Waterproof: yes
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Breathable+Ideal for bad weather

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). 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...

Choosing the best fleece jacket for you

The biggest question when buying a fleece jacket is how warm you need it to be, and therefore whether you plan to wear it as an actual jacket, and/or as a breathable midlayer. Heavier weight fleeces are lovely and warm on their own, but if worn as a midlayer they can get too hot, as well as being feeling bulky and restricting movement. 

Lighter weight fleeces make excellent winter-weight base layers, as well as handy autumn jackets. It’s also worth considering whether a hood is necessary. While a hood adds warmth on the coldest of days, they 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 midlayer, 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.

Mark Mayne
Mark Mayne

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.