The industry of outdoor and tactical wear has many garments marked or called fleece. Yet, they can all look extremely different and what they do can differ just as much. Do you know what to look for to get the best fleece for your specific needs?
This fleece buying guide will help you figure out the exact fleece from Tactical Distributors you need for your next adventure.
Fleece itself can either be naturally made, or a created synthetic fiber that is flattened, or pressed down then brushed hard on both sides. The brushing is what gives fleece its raised, napped and fuzzy texture. This not only makes fleece incredibly soft, but it also creates insulation where warm air can be trapped in the airspaces made by the brushing. The fleece traps the air while fleece fibers also act to wick away moisture from the body.
Natural fleece is made of sheep's wool, and the wool fleece is most often found in footwear, gloves and jacket collars. The majority of fleece fabrics used in layers or shells tend to be synthetic, so let's take a look at those.
There are 3 types of fleece that will no doubt be of interest to those who are extremely active. Lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. These correspond to 100 weight, 200 weight, and 300 weight fleeces.
- Lightweight fleece is best used over a base layer in damp or cool (but not cold) weather.
- Lightweight is low bulk, highly breathable, good for when you generate a lot of heat or sweat and especially easy to pack in a backpack.
- Midweight works best as an outer layer in cooler weather but when you are less active. Thicker than lightweight and more insulating.
- Midweight can still be used as a layer under a shell jacket
- Very breathable
- Good when you aren't going to exert too much, and thus generate less heat
- Heavyweight is almost always outerwear in cold dry weather for when stationary or less active. Hunters, for example, would benefit from this.
- Generally too bulky and warm for extreme sports or activities
What are you looking for in your fleece? When considering features, shop for the activities you know you'll be doing often.
- Pockets may be the most basic of all features, and your fleece should have them. Rock climbers typically do better not to have handwarmer pockets as they are obtrusive under a harness. Hikers or campers may appreciate them as they wander around and place their hands inside to keep warm. Chest pockets are always essential no matter what, as they offer easy access to lighters, topo maps, compass, and other crucial tools.
- Hoods – Hoods are an excellent addition. Forgot a hat? Pull up your hood. If your hat is not warm enough, the extra layer of protection from a hood is excellent for extra warmth.
- Extreme snow conditions or snow sports should consider a cinch corded waist for extra protection from snow seeping into clothing as well as a hard shell. Elastic hems are excellent for hobbyists and mountaineers who like to take it easy.
- Size and fitting. Nothing is more frustrating than ordering a new fleece, then having to return it. Measure your sleeve length as well as torso length to ensure your fleece works under a shell, backpack or harness.
The last consideration before buying your fleece is, of course, personal preference: style and looks. Whether you're trudging up a mountain, going on a ski tour or training in harsh conditions, having a fleece that fits well not only makes you look good and feel good but also being able to access your gear loop unhindered can help avoid major safety concerns.
We're exceptionally proud to offer a wide variety of the industry's highest and most well-rated fleece for every event, occasion, and situation. If you have any further questions about our exclusive selection of fleece jackets, feel free to contact us any time.