Raglan sleeves the seams are off the tops of the shoulders are preferred for wearing under a pack for long distances. We also have women's-specific reviews of almost every type of outer layer out there, should you be looking for something else.
The Marmot Flashpoint is a lightweight model that gets the job done without breaking the bank. We had great success layering with this piece; there's enough room for baselayers underneath, and it layers well under a rain or ski jacket.
There are some nice features for the price point, including thumb holes and an arm pocket with a slot for your headphones. All of the new material technology going into apparel these days is great, but sometimes it is nice to have a relatively inexpensive layer for getting out in. It's fairly thin and breathable, which is great for when you are active in cold weather, but it is not very warm overall. The lack of a hood also makes it less warm than a model that has one.
But this is a great lightweight option that you can stash in your pack for sunny hiking days where you might reach a cooler summit.
Because it is so thin, it packs down compactly and it is a great emergency layer to always keep in your daypack. Marmot Flashpoint - Women's. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody has definitely "deviated" from a traditional fleece jacket.
The Deviator has lightweight fleece in the arms and back but has a synthetic panel in the front that is covered by a light ripstop nylon. It's like your fleece, wind, and synthetic insulating layers all got together and merged into one. The result is a lightweight layer that is highly breathable for days when you are moving fast on the trail. The Deviator is not all that warm. It's best used as part of a layering system as opposed to an outer layer for keeping you toasty.
It's also cut so tightly that we could wear much under it, but it was certainly easy to wear it under other layers. We also wished it was an inch or two longer in the torso, particularly when wearing it under a climbing harness. Those small issues aside, if you are looking for something to wear while being super active anytime the temps are cold, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody is your best bet.
Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody - Women's. If you're in the market for a basic and inexpensive option, it doesn't get much more basic or inexpensive than the REI Co-op Fleece. It's made with a plain fleece pile of old, with little venting or breathability options. You want to put this one on at the summit only, and not wear it while being active. It's also on the bulky side, meaning it takes up a lot of room in your daypack and the cut it somewhat boxy.
It didn't layer well under a rain jacket or other shell and is best used as a standalone outer layer only.
If you're looking for something to beat up while camping or doing yard work in the winter, pick up one of these and save your expensive fleeces for more intense pursuits. The North Face Osito 2 Jacket is a warm layer that's great for layering with during the winter.
If you need something to wear under your shell for cold days on the ski hill, the Osito 2 is an excellent choice. The hi-loft fleece is soft and comfortable, and the jacket is very warm for its weight. The cut is roomy enough to wear over a base layer, and it still fit well under our winter jacket without leaving us too confined. The Osito 2 is not a breathable model — its job is to trap your heat in freezing weather, so you will build up quite a bit of sweat if you also try to wear it while hiking.
It also has slightly shorter arms and less ease of movement than a more technical option. But it will keep you warm on the hill or the deck once the lifts close, and makes for a great around-town layer as well. The North Face Osito 2 - Women's. If you're looking for a classic fleece for camping or around town, the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover is an excellent choice.
This pullover is warm and cozy, while still offering a bit more breathability than a heavier fleece, like The North Face Denali. While the cut is slightly boxy, that does leave room for extra layers underneath, and you can still wear it under a rain or wind jacket. It only weighs a pound and is easily stashed in your day or backpack for an extra summit or evening layer. It's not as breathable as the more "hi-tech" options that we tested, like the R1 Hoody , and the cut doesn't give it the best ease of movement.
This is the layer to don after the activity is over and not during. But we need to wear something warm in those times too, and we love the styling nod to the original Patagonia fleece jacket. The Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover has updated color combinations, and with over 30 different choices to choose from, you're sure to find one that works for you.
Fleece jackets are now a staple of any outdoor enthusiast's gear cache. This synthetic material has some great properties for active women, such as the ability to resist moisture, retain warmth, and dry quickly. This review will help you decide on what criteria to look for in a fleece jacket, and which model might be the best for you. Over half a dozen hard-charging ladies provided their feedback and testing for this review, and their decades of outdoor experience and honest comments helped shape the opinions expressed below.
After months of testing these nine different models in a variety of conditions, we scored their performance in a total of eight different metrics. Below we'll break down the different testing categories one by one and let you know which were the standout performers in each. We'll also discuss the differences between the most and least expensive options and give you some tips on what look for when buying on a budget. The primary purpose of a fleece jacket is to keep you warm, and we made this the most important category that we evaluated each model on.
We found that success in this area came down to four criteria: There were many differences between the types of material used on the products that we tested, with some even having multiple types on one jacket. The simple fleece pile of old has now morphed into many new and different kinds, from hi-loft and silken "raschel" fleeces to gridded fabrics. Polartec, the leading synthetic material manufacturer, now makes more than two dozen different types of fleece, and almost all of the models that we tested were made with Polartec brand material.
Fleece keeps you warm by trapping warm air around your body in the spaces between the fibers. The hi-loft fabrics have thousands of hairs that can trap and retain warmth, and even a relatively thin jacket like the Patagonia R2 kept us warm thanks to its hi-loft material. Some thinner jackets, like the Patagonia R1 Hoody , were relatively warm for their weight, thanks to increased coverage from thumb loops and full face balaclava.
The thinner Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody was not a particularly warm jacket, but when the wind kicked up the "Hardshell" coating on the fleece made it retain warmth better than other more porous models. Another feature that helped to seal in warmth was a cinch cord hem like the one found on The North Face Denali Jacket. Cinching down the bottom of the jacket on cool and windy days prevented updrafts and minimized heat loss. This is one attribute that makes fleece jackets unique from other types of outdoor gear, so it is a major purchasing consideration.
We might not think about how cozy a ski or rain jacket is, but when it comes to a layer that we will often wear against the skin, we need it to feel good! When we were evaluating for comfort, we considered each product's details, like whether the zippers scratched the skin and if the pockets were lined with fleece. We paid attention to how fit affected our comfort and recorded which fleeces had cozy thumb loops and hoods.
Finally, on the models that stood out for their lack of coziness, like The North Face Denali Jacket , we took note of the qualities that made them less comfortable. Sometimes comfort is sacrificed for performance. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is not particularly cozy, but it is a technical beast, and we love it anyway.
The zipper ends at the navel and doesn't sit under a waistbelt, eliminating any bunching or pressure points in that area. The silky material on the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was also very comfortable against the skin, and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was so comfortable that we could wear it all day long without it bothering us at all. There are many reasons why you'll want to consider layering ability when purchasing a fleece jacket. We considered how easy it was to wear a base layer underneath each piece and how easily we could wear it under a shell or insulated jacket.
And we also wore or tried to wear each model under a climbing harness and a backpack. All of these are important characteristics to consider when selecting your next fleece jacket. When it came to using these models as a layer under a shell and insulated jacket, the lightweight and midweight fleeces excelled, as they tended to be cut closer to the body and have a slimmer profile, along with thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody , as well as the Patagonia R1 and R2, easily fit under an insulated ski jacket without any restriction in the arms. The Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover was a little too bulky to fit under a backpack but still layered easily with baselayers and outerwear.
As for the jackets being their own outer layer, some models, like the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody , had room for a light base layer underneath but not much else due to a tight fit in the shoulders. The Denali was the opposite, as it could fit any of the other fleeces we tested underneath it. The Marmot Flashpoint also had a roomier cut, and we could layer both over and under it.
When it comes to layering under a pack or climbing harness, there are some other construction details to consider, like seams and zippers. Most of the models that we tested had a raglan style sleeve construction, where the seaming at the shoulder cuts across horizontally off the shoulder, moving the seams out of the way of pack straps.
This is to avoid having the straps of your pack dig the seams into your shoulders. This is a nice construction detail and selling point, but not an immediately obvious difference.
While you might start to feel the seams digging into you after hours on the trail with a heavy pack, we weren't able to discern a difference during a minute hike with a pound pack.
When choosing a fleece jacket to wear under a pack or climbing harness, our testers found that the more streamlined the fit, like on the Patagonia R2 Jacket , the better. Otherwise, the material tends to bunch up around the waist and become uncomfortable, like on the Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover. The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody was just a hair too short in the torso and tended to ride up under our harnesses and hip belts.
When gearing up for outdoor activities in cold weather, ease of movement is another key consideration. If you're using a fleece for a technical winter activity, usually you'll be wearing it underneath a shell or, in really cold weather, an insulated jacket. So we tried on these fleeces under a tight-fitting soft shell, a down jacket, and an insulated ski jacket. Not surprisingly, the lightest and thinnest pieces, like the Marmot Flashpoint , Patagonia R1 and Outdoor Research Deviator , made the best mid-layers.
Less bulk made for a greater range of motion in our shoulders and arms and didn't leave us feeling like a stuffed sausage. Another standout was the Patagonia R2. The contrasting panels of stretch fleece on the sides increased the ease of movement. These are the layers you put on after a climb, not during. Making fleece material more breathable has been a decades-long process for the outdoor gear industry. The original Patagonia fleeces were great until you started hiking in them and your sweat puddled up on the inside, leaving you cold and clammy.
With the advent of newer, high-tech materials, those days are a thing of the past. The technical models that we tested all have different means to wick the moisture generated from your exertion away from your body and out of the material. The fleece in the Outdoor Research Deviator and Patagonia R1 has grid lines that provide a lot of ventilation. Please enter a minimum and maximum price.
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Shop for Women's Fleece Vests at REI - FREE SHIPPING With $50 minimum purchase. Top quality, great selection and expert advice you can trust. % Satisfaction Guarantee. The Columbia Women’s Fleece Vest is the ultimate cozy, versatile layering piece built from an earthy heathered fleece featuring an array of pretty colors. Take On The Elements: Fleece Vests For Men & Women. This winter, cozy up with a thermal fleece vest. Find your new winter-weather go-to accessory. Mix, match and layer your fleece vest with your winter wardrobe—and brave the elements in style. A sleek, black fleece vest goes with just about everything, and bold purples, greens and blues.