Best Fleece Jackets for Men: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Got chilly spring & autumn adventures planned? There’s no better addition to your travel gear collection than one of the best fleece jackets for men of 2021.

Fleece jackets are perfect for providing quick protection from the cool night air. They’re light and can be worn as a mid-layer under a warmer jacket when temperatures dip even lower.

Looking for some cozy warmth that’ll take you from nights on the town to winter days on the ski slopes? Get prepared for your cool weather adventures with these top men’s fleece jackets reviews & buyer’s guide…

Best men’s fleece jackets of 2021: Top 12 reviews

With fall or spring around the corner, you can’t thrive without a go-to men’s fleece jacket. Other cold-weather outerwear like hardshell jackets or down jackets can feel bulky. Fleece jackets, on the other hand, are lightweight & convenient. They’re a happy medium between a full-on winter coat and lighter summer wear. (And they offer more warmth than a softshell jacket.)

Keeping that in mind, the fleece jackets we’ve selected below are light- to medium-weight. They all provide great fit, performance, and protection for travellers, hikers, and outdoorsmen. Any of these will be a fantastic choice in the cool temperatures of fall, spring & winter.

In a rush? Here are the best men’s fleece jackets of 2021 compared…

Image Product More Info
The North Face Denali
  • Fabric: Polartec 300
  • Fleece Weight: Heavyweight
  • Uses: Camping, Hiking
Best Style
Patagonia R1 Hoody Men Patagonia R1 Hoody
  • Fabric: Polartec Power Grid
  • Fleece Weight: Lightweight
  • Uses: Rock Climbing, Camping, Hunting
Best Lightweight
Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody
  • Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: Camping, Hiking
Best Weather-Resistance
Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0
  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: General Travel, Camping
Best Value
Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket
  • Fabric: Polartec
  • Fleece Weight: Lightweight
  • Uses: Hiking, General Travel
Best Design
Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket Men's Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket
  • Fabric: Polartec Power Grid
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: Camping, Hiking
Best Performance
Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody
  • Fabric: Polartec® Power Grid™ 2L
  • Fleece Weight: Lightweight
  • Uses: Active Travel, Trail Running, Hiking
Best Breathability
The North Face Campshire Hoody
  • Fabric: 86% polyester, 14% elastane with durable water-repellent (DWR) finish
  • Fleece Weight: Heavyweight
  • Uses: Camping
Best Warmth
Patagonia Better Sweater Patagonia Better Sweater
  • Fabric: 100% polyester knitted fleece
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: Casual
Best Everyday
Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
  • Fabric: Alpenex Heathered 100% polyester
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: Casual, Hiking
Best Style
Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover
  • Fabric: 100% polyester
  • Fleece Weight: Midweight
  • Uses: Casual
Columbia Titan Pass 2.0
  • Fabric: Polartec 200
  • Fleece Weight: Lightweight
  • Uses: Camping, Casual Travel

The North Face Denali

Fabric: Polartec 300

Fleece Weight: Heavyweight

Uses: Camping, Hiking

Best Style

One of these most fashionable choices among our top fleece jackets, The North Face Denali rocks out a classic full-zip style. It’s built with world-famous Polartec 300 fleece for a warmth like none other.

The Denali is perfect for any outing—whether you’re strolling through the wilderness or around town. This popular fleece features two hand warming pockets and two chest pockets. You’ll find plenty of storage space here to carry whatever you need when you’re out and about. There’s also an adjustable drawcord on the bottom hem. It keeps heat from escaping while blocking out the chilliest cold.

Along with keeping you warm, the Denali’s Polartec 300 fleece material is comfortable. So much so that you may even find yourself wearing this fleece jacket while lounging around at home on those chilly winter nights.

Since the jacket is slightly bulkier than other fleeces, it may not be suitable for certain outdoor activities. Rock climbing and other actions requiring extensive maneuverability would be better served elsewhere.

The jacket isn’t too bulky, however, to be used as an inner shell. It’s easily paired with a heavier jacket if you’re planning on going on an adventure to sub-zero destinations.

Overall, The North Face Denali is a high-quality fleece jacket that keeps you comfy and warm. It’s ideal for adventurers who are into camping and hiking and also stylish enough to wear out on the town.

Pros

  • Warm & comfortable Polartec 300 fleece
  • High-quality & durable

Cons

  • A little bulky & not suitable for activities that require a lot of movement
  • Slightly higher price point than other fleeces

Patagonia R1 Hoody

Patagonia R1 Hoody Fleece Jacket Men

Fabric: Polartec Power Grid

Fleece Weight: Lightweight

Uses: Rock climbing, Camping, Hiking

Best Lightweight

A staple half-zip jacket for mountain guides and outdoor enthusiasts, the Patagonia R1 Hoody has everything you could hope for. It’s built from lightweight materials and exacts extreme comfort & protection from cooler temperatures.

The R1 Hoody boasts Polartec Power Grid technology, a high-performance fleece material. It employs tiny squares to ensure you stay warm without increasing the bulk. The material is adept at keeping in the hot air while keeping chilly air out.

This fleece jacket features a balaclava-style hoody. You can zip it all the way up to cover the neck and parts of your face to ensure that cold air can’t get through. This is an excellent feature for skiers or those who experience high winds.

The Patagonia R1 Hoody is also extremely lightweight. At times, it can feel more like wearing a base or mid-layer rather than a full-on spring or fall jacket. If you’re planning to venture into extreme chilliness, you may want to wear the R1 Hoody under a warm hardshell or down jacket.

All in all, the Patagonia R1 Hoody is the ideal weight for most outdoor activities. It isn’t the most stylish fleece jacket in the bunch, but the simple design and cozy material make it a fine choice for casual wear.

Pros

  • Uses Polartec Power Grid technology for better warmth
  • Lightweight
  • Great option for layering as base or mid-layer

Cons

  • Basic design & style
  • Too lightweight for cold weather conditions

Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody

Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch

Fleece Weight: Midweight

Uses: Camping, Hiking

Best Weather-Resistance

The versatile Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody delights with a classic full-zip fleece jacket design we’ve all come to love. It’s the perfect fleece for most weather conditions. The jacket features a rare outer layer that stops water absorption.

This excellent fleece jacket uses Polartec Power Stretch technology. It helps protect from wind and rain better than most fleece materials. Compared to the Polartec Power Grid of the Patagonia R1, the technology is far better at keeping the elements where they belong: outside.

Much like the R1, the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody features a balaclava-style hood. It throws in extra protection from strong winds. There’s also a hard-faced outer layer on the jacket. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. While great for weather protection, it makes the Fortrez Hoody less breathable than other fleece jackets like the R1.

For colder nights, the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody makes a fine outer layer. Like most fleeces, however, this medium-weight full-zip coat works better as an inner-layer. At 13.2 ounces, it’s also a slightly heavier option.

Overall, the Arc’teryx Fortez Hoody is the ideal fleece jacket for camping and hiking. It’s especially awesome if you’re expecting light rain. With its attractive design, it’s also got great style for everyday wear.

Pros

  • Water and wind resistant thanks to the Polartec Power Stretch technology
  • Nice overall full-zip style

Cons

  • Not as breathable as other fleece materials
  • Premium price point

Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody

Fabric: Polartec® Power Grid™ 2L

Fleece Weight: Lightweight

Uses: Active Travel, Trail Running, Hiking

Best Breathability

Active travellers will love the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody. For combine warmth and mobility for your outdoor pursuits, this coat will be your saviour.

This full-zip jacket features a Polartec Power Grid fleece. It’s coupled with a Polartec Alpha insulation at the chest to dish out heat where you need it most. Yet, it still remains lightweight, & breathable throughout.

The hybrid fleece design is perfect for hikers carrying heavy gear. The uninsulated back panel and sleeves on this jacket wick away moisture while allowing sweat vapours to escape. In certain situations, however, this advantage is also the jacket’s downfall. It doesn’t do as well in cooler, windier conditions, especially when you’re not on the move.

When temperatures start to plummet, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody shows off its prowess as a mid-layer. The snug athletic fit works superbly underneath a warmer (or more weather-resistant) outer layer. It helps retain some heat while layering without being too bulky or sticky.

Pros

  • Lightweight construction
  • Excellent breathability for higher-octane pursuits

Cons

  • Not well suited for cooler temperatures
  • Minimal weather-resistance

The North Face Campshire Hoody

Fabric: 86% polyester, 14% elastane with durable water-repellent (DWR) finish

Fleece Weight: Heavyweight

Uses: Camping

Best Warmth

If comfort & warmth are at the top of your list, you can’t do much better than The North Face Campshire Hoody. Featuring a supremely soft 300-weight sherpa fleece, this pullover hoody wears like a warm hug on a cool autumn’s night. As its name implies, it’s the perfect companion for a camping trip in colder weather. It’s especially comfy for enjoying the outdoors later into the evening.

This quarter-zip fleece pullover is fitted with a large kangaroo pouch. In it, you can store an array of spring & fall camping & travel essentials. It’s big enough to stow away a pair of warm gloves or even a flashlight for evening excursions into the wilderness. Behind the pouch, you’ll get to keep your hands toasty in the silky smooth hand warmer pockets.

Of course, all that warmth comes at a cost. At 20.3 ounces, The North Face Campshire Hoody is one of the heaviest jackets on our list. For minimalist packers, this could be a dealbreaker. This fleece pullover could unintentionally force you into requiring larger volume luggage.

Pros

  • Superb warmth
  • Amazing comfort

Cons

  • Bulky & heavy

Patagonia Better Sweater

Patagonia Better Sweater

Fabric: 100% polyester knitted fleece

Fleece Weight: Midweight

Uses: Casual

Best Everyday

Only got room for one fleece jacket in your travel gear collection? Make it the Patagonia Better Sweater.

This classic full-zip fleece jacket has been a favourite for years. It stacks up with the best of ’em in style, comfort, and all-around wearability.

Made from 100% polyester, this fleece features heathered sweater-knit fabric. It’s as practical as it is stylish.

Unlike other models, the Patagonia Better Sweater fleece blends in within both urban and outdoors settings. It looks as at home searching for autumn leaves in Tokyo or hiking the trails of British Columbia in early spring.

On top of its pleasant aesthetic, the Better Sweater Fleece has dual-zipped handwarmer pockets for warmth. It’s also got a zippered chest pocket for a dash of extra storage.

Despite all its advantages, some wearers might find the more relaxed fit of the updated Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece odd. For some, the body may feel too long and boxy while, for others, the sleeves can feel too tight and long.

Pros

  • Versatile casual full-zip style
  • Practical & cozy fit

Cons

  • Odd sizing for some travellers

Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan

Fabric: Alpenex Heathered 100% polyester

Fleece Weight: Midweight

Uses: Casual, Hiking

Best Style

There’s hardly a more aptly named fleece jacket than the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan. Although this top performer is a fleece through and through, it’s disguised with a stylish wool-like finish. It lends it air of simple sophistication compared to other competing technical gear.

Like the company’s other products, the Covert Cardigan was built with the needs of mountaineers, climbers, and hikers in mind. The full-zip jacket’s high-performance Alpenex heather fleece offers excellent breathability & moisture-wicking. Better than most similarly-styled outerwear in fact. Thanks to the brushed backer, it’s also supremely comfortable against the skin. Infinitely more so than the wool it models its look after, which often leaves wearers feeling itchy.

The biggest drawback to the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan? Undoubtedly, the price. Like most of this Canadian company’s products, this comfy cardigan yields a premium. But with its stellar fit and better-than-average performance, it’s worth it.

Pros

  • Cool casual full-zip style
  • Excellent comfort

Cons

  • Premium price point

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Fabric: 100% polyester

Fleece Weight: Heavyweight

Uses: Casual

The Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover is one of the most popular fleece jackets of all time. It’s the perfect solution for travellers looking for a simple fleece to ward off the cold while indulging in some serious comfort.

The polyester fleece fabric is made from 80-86% recycled material (depending on the print). It’s soft and supple yet durable. The fleece’s double-faced construction keeps your body heat sealed. It’s superb at helping to keep you warm while resisting the elements.

For some situations though, the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover may be a little too much sweater. (Or not enough.)

The retro quarter-zip design & style is starkly minimalist. It features only a single chest pocket to store your essentials. Even so, the pullover is heavy and less packable than others among these best fleece jackets. It can also feel a little too warm at times.

For travellers needing a lighter-weight alternative, pick up the Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla instead.

Pros

  • Warm, soft & comfortable
  • Durable fabric

Cons

  • Heavy & less packable than other models
  • Minimal storage space

Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0

Fabric: 100% polyester MTR filament fleece

Fleece Weight: Midweight

Uses: General Travel, Camping

Best Value

Looking for a fleece jacket that won’t break the bank? The lightweight & inexpensive Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is your answer. Even at the lower price point, there’s plenty of versatility here. It comes in a number of different colours that are perfect for both casual wear and going outdoors.

For keeping you warm, this fleece jacket is basic. It’s most suitable for chilly autumn and spring evenings. It won’t do much to protect you on frigid winter nights, however, as the material is light. The inside is soft though, making this a comfortable fleece jacket, especially considering its price.

Many people may have a bit of trouble with the fitting of the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0. It isn’t trim-fitted, making it a little tough to use as an inner layer. Keeping in mind that the jacket isn’t too protective, it’s most suitable for casual wear and spring or fall camping trips.

Pros

  • Low-cost fleece jacket
  • Numerous colour options offered

Cons

  • Material is too lightweight for colder weather
  • Bulky fit limits use as a base layer

Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket

Fabric: Polartec

Fleece Weight: Lightweight

Uses: Hiking, General Travel

Best Design

Looking for a reasonably priced, quality fleece jacket for casual wear or layering? Look no further than the Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket. This top-notch fleece features high-quality material that provides comfort and keeps you nice and toasty all over.

The Marmot Reactor uses Polartec fleece technology, making it a versatile choice. The material allows it to stay lightweight while also keeping the cold out. This particular jacket is light enough to be a base for any outdoor activity, even in the most extreme weather.

Like most lightweight fleece jackets, the Reactor is not suitable as an outer layer on winter nights. The air will easily seep through the material in no time. It’s far better suited as a base layer when the temperatures become frigid. Some wearers may also find issues with the jacket’s fit. It can run a little loose. Be sure to take a good look the size chart before you buy.

Overall, the Marmot Reactor is a great fleece jacket at a reasonable price tag. It has an intuitive design with two hand pockets. There’s also a pocket on the arm sleeve that’s excellent for safely storing your car keys or wallet.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Uses Polartec technology

Cons

  • Not suitable for cold weather

Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket

Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket Men

Fabric: Polartec Power Grid

Fleece Weight: Midweight

Uses: Camping and Hiking

Best Performance

Like its R1 sibling, Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket is a top-notch fleece tuned to high-performance. It offers an elaborate ergonomic design using the same Polartec Power Grid technology. The result is a jacket with a comfortable and stretchy fit. (And better performance in the cold than the R1 thanks to its thicker material.)

The R2 blends high-performance with the look of a casual fleece jacket. It’s cozy and lightweight. At the same time, the jacket features fleece technology that provides superior protection from the cold. The R2 is one of the best fleece jackets for anyone looking for the best of both worlds.

Keep in mind that at over 14 ounces, this fleece jacket is slightly on the heavier side. It isn’t bulky enough, however, to become uncomfortable.

Overall, the Patagonia R2 Jacket is a smart option for both outdoor and casual use. The jacket’s high-quality material will ensure it will last you for years to come.

Pros

  • Thick material keeps air out
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Bulkier than others on the list

Columbia Titan Pass 2.0

Fabric: Polartec 200

Fleece Weight: Lightweight

Uses: Camping, Casual Travel

The Columbia Titan Pass 2.0 may look like a basic fleece, but there’s much more than meets the eye. This lightweight coat features two hand warming pockets and a chest pocket. Each provides you with extra storage space. It also employs Polartec 200-weight technology. The material is perfect for keeping you warm on cooler spring & autumn nights.

The Titan Pass 2.0 is versatile. You’ll love this fleece both for mundane activities in the city or adventurous pursuits in the wild. It has a simple, yet attractive, design with clean lines and two-tone colour options. Its look is noticeably more modern than its sibling, Steens Mountain. It’s a much better choice for fashion-forward travellers.

While the Titan Pass 2.0 performs well initially, there’s some concerns about its durability. You may see a drop in the performance of the jacket over time especially if you wash it often. However, the coat isn’t too expensive. It’s worth the investment if you don’t plan on wearing the jacket on extreme outings.

Overall, the Columbia Titan Pass 2.0 is best suited to average travellers venturing into the outdoors. On cooler nights, this fleece works great as a base layer as it’s fairly light.

Pros

  • Not expensive
  • Modern design & style

Cons

  • Durability issues

Final recommendations

  • Looking for an all-around performer? You can hardly do better than the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody. It features Polartec Power Stretch, a technology that repels the elements better than most standard fleeces.
  • Keeping your travel budget low? The Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is among the top value jackets providing decent warmth without breaking the bank.
  • Need a little more jacket for those chillier spring & fall nights without the bulk? Snuggle up with a Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket, one of the warmest midweight fleeces of these top performers.

How to choose a men’s fleece jacket: A quick buyers’ guide

If there’s one piece of spring & fall travel gear you don’t want to be without it’s a fleece jacket. When the summer heat hits its inevitable end (or when winter still lingers slightly in the air), you’ll love curling up with the spectacular comfort and warmth of a soft & fluffy fleece.

The problem then becomes: What should I look for in a fleece jacket?

Fleece jackets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are best-suited for chilly nights out by a campfire. Others are designed to keep you warm when you turn up the adrenaline on an autumn trail run.

Before you decide on which of the best fleece jackets above are for you, there’s a handful of things to consider. You’ll need to look at everything from expected weather conditions to the activities you’re planning to undertake.

Come to grips with everything you’ll need to know with this complete fleece jackets buyers’ guide…

Materials

What separates a fleece jacket from other outerwear is the fabric used to construct it.

The material was originally designed with sheep’s wool in mind. (Hence the name.) But the fleece you’ll find in these top-rated jackets has little in common with materials spun from nature.

(Other than providing similar next-to-skin comfort, of course!)

Most fleece textiles used in high-performance outerwear are made from polyester. It’s not a natural material, but a synthetic fabric derived from plastic.

Polyester consists of small fibres woven together into a piled fabric and cut into layers. Small air pockets form between the strands. They allow the material to seal in warmth better than natural materials like wool, hemp or rayon. (Natural materials, however, are often spun alongside polyester for various reasons including comfort).

While wool products have become all the rage as base layers, polyester-based fleece jackets perform better as an outer layer. This is thanks to its ability to repel moisture. This doesn’t mean that your fleece jacket can outperform a good rain jacket. But, in a pinch, it can keep you warm and relatively dry during a light rain or snow in cooler temperatures.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the downfalls of the fabric. Unlike synthetic materials used in other outerwear like softshells, fleece is far better at retaining heat than releasing it. As such, even the best fleece jackets may not be a good choice if you’re planning to crank up the heart rate. Intense cool-weather activities like autumn trail-running or skiing are better suited with a softshell.

This is why it’s important to choose a fleece jacket with a fabric density that matches up to its intended use. Fleece jackets generally fall into one of three densities:

  • Lightweight: 100g/m2
  • Midweight: 200g/m2
  • Heavyweight: 300g/m2

If you’re looking for a dash of extra warmth (or are turning up the heat with outdoor aerobic activity), stick to lightweight fleece. Travellers will benefit from the lighter materials, too. They tend to be more packable and weigh your pack down less.

When warmth is the main goal, heavyweight fleece is the way to go. The flip side of the coin is that these jackets are not very packable and can take up a lot of space in your luggage. Heavyweight fleece jackets can also wear a little too warm when the temperatures starts to rise.

For most travellers, midweight fleece jackets like the Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket are a good compromise. They balance the needs of weight, packability, and warmth.

Features

Aside from the fabrics, fleece jackets have a varying number of features. Depending on what your needs are, you’ll want to look at the following as you sort through the best fleece jackets:

  • Hoods: If you’re planning sportier or more technical pursuits, look for models with a helmet-compatible hood. This feature is a must for ice climbers and mountaineers. Most travellers, however, would be just as well served by a hoodless fleece jacket. They’re slightly more versatile. They’re easier to layer than their hooded counterparts and tend to weight less.
  • Pockets: When you’re standing around in cooler weather, a toasty set of hand-warmer pockets is a brilliant feature to have. Not all are created equal. For active pursuits in milder weather, opt for mesh-lined pocket. They’ll allow for better breathability. Otherwise, fleece-lined pockets are great for keeping your hands warm in cool biting temperatures.
  • Thumb Loops: For many, thumbs loops are a take-it-or-leave-it feature. For anyone planning to wear their fleece jacket as an underlayer or pairing it with a pair of warm gloves, thumb loops ensure the jacket stays put. It can provide full coverage and avoid bunching upwards.
  • Adjustable Hems: Many of the top models feature drawstring hems at the waist and cuffs. When tightened securing, these hems will stop cool winds from creeping in. They’ll also help the jacket better retain warmth.
  • Zipper Length: Fleece jackets offer several different front zipper configurations. Most people prefer the convenience of full-zip designs. They’ll allow you to get in and out of the fleece jacket more easily. Quarter-zip and half-zip jackets are also common among some of the best fleece jackets.

Fit

More important than anything is to ensure that your fleece jacket offers the right fit. While fit is subjective, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re planning to carry heavy gear atop your jacket, you may want to opt for a sportier and slimmer fitting jacket. The Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan or Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody are great choices here.
  • Likewise if you’re planning to use your fleece jacket as a mid-layer, avoid the looser boxier fits you’ll find in some of the heavier options. They tend to bunch up underneath your outerwear and become far less comfortable.
  • To ensure full coverage, you’ll need to pay attention to the torso length. Certain models are better for shorter torsos and vice versa. The easiest test when trying on your fleece jacket is to raise your arms above your head. With your arms fully extended, the jacket should not expose any areas of your back or stomach.
Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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