For chilly spring & autumn adventures, there’s no more essential addition to your travel gear collection than one of the best fleece jackets for men of 2020.
Fleece jackets aren’t just perfect for providing quick protection from the cool night air; they’re also 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…
Table of Contents
- Best men’s fleece jackets of 2020: Top 12 reviews
- The North Face Denali
- Patagonia R1 Hoody
- Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody
- Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody
- The North Face Campshire Hoody
- Patagonia Better Sweater
- Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
- Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover
- Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0
- Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket
- Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket
- Columbia Titan Pass 2.0
- Summary: The top fleece jackets of 2020
- How to choose a men’s fleece jacket: A quick buyers’ guide
Best men’s fleece jackets of 2020: Top 12 reviews
With fall or spring around the corner, you truly can’t survive without a go-to men’s fleece jacket. Whereas other cold-weather outerwear like hardshell jackets or down jackets can get bulky, fleece jackets are lightweight & convenient, and a happy medium between a full-on winter coat and lighter summer wear with more warmth than a softshell jacket.
Keeping that in mind, the fleece jackets we’ve selected below are light- to medium-weight and provide the fit, performance, and protection that travellers, hikers, and outdoorsmen need to tackle the cool temperatures of fall & winter.
In a rush? Here are the best men’s fleece jackets of 2020 compared…
The North Face Denali
Fabric: Polartec 300
Top Uses: Camping, Hiking
One of these most fashionable choices in our top picks, The North Face Denali features a classic full-zip style built with world-famous Polartec 300 fleece.
The Denali is perfect for any outing—whether you’re strolling through the wilderness or around town. It features two hand warming pockets and two chest pockets, giving you plenty of storage space to carry what you need when you’re out and about. There’s also an adjustable drawcord on the bottom hem that keeps heat from escaping while ensuring the chill is blocked out.
Along with keeping you warm, the Denali’s Polartec 300 fleece material is comfortable. So much so that you may even find yourself wearing it while you lounge around at home on those chilly winter nights.
Since the jacket is slightly bulkier than other fleeces, it may not be suitable for activities such as rock climbing or any other action where extensive maneuverability is required; it 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 is ideal for adventurers that are into camping and hiking while also is stylish enough to wear out on the town.
- Warm & comfortable Polartec 300 fleece
- High-quality & durable
- A little bulky & not suitable for activities that require a lot of movement
- Slightly higher price point than other fleeces
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Fabric: Polartec Power Grid
Top Uses: Rock climbing, Camping, Hiking
A staple half-zip jacket for mountain guides and outdoor enthusiasts, the Patagonia R1 Hoody has everything you could hope for from lightweight materials to extreme comfort to protection from cooler temperatures.
The R1 Hoody boasts Polartec Power Grid technology, a fleece material that 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 jacket in the bunch, but the simple design and cozy material make it a fine choice for casual wear.
- Uses Polartec Power Grid technology for better warmth
- Great option for layering as base or mid-layer
- Basic design & style
- Too lightweight for cold weather conditions
Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody
Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch
Top Uses: Camping, Hiking
Delighting with a classic full-zip fleece jacket design we’ve all come to love, the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody is perfect for almost any weather conditions with a outer layer that stops water from being absorbed.
This top fleece jacket uses Polartec Power Stretch technology to protects you from the wind and rain. Compared to the Polartec Power Grid of the Patagonia R1, this technology is far better at keeping the elements where they below—outside.
Much like the R1, the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody features a balaclava-style hood for extra protection from strong winds. The jacket, however, has a hard-faced outer layer, making it little 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 far better as in inner-layer. At 13.2 ounces, it’s also a slightly heavier option.
Overall, the Arc’teryx Fortez Hoody is ideal for camping and hiking, especially if you are expecting light rain. With its attractive design, it’s also got great style for everyday wear.
- Water and wind resistant thanks to the Polartec Power Stretch technology
- Nice overall style
- Not as breathable as other fleece materials
- Premium price point
Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody
Fabric: Polartec® Power Grid™ 2L
Top Uses: Active Travel, Trail Running, Hiking
Active travellers needing a dash warmth for their outdoor pursuits will absolutely love the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody. Built from a Polartec Power Grid fleece coupled with a Polartec Alpha insulation at the chest, this full-zip jacket dishes out heat where you need it most while remaining lightweight, & breathable throughout.
The hybrid design is perfect for hikers carrying heavy gear. The uninsulated back panel and sleeves on this jacket wick away moisture while allow 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 the temperatures start to plummet, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody shows off plenty of 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.
- Lightweight construction
- Excellent breathability for higher-octane pursuits
- 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
Top Uses: Camping
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, especially for enjoying the outdoors later into the evening.
This quarter-zip pullover’s large kangaroo pouch can store an array of spring & fall camping & travel essentials whether it’s a pair of warm gloves or 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 pullover could unintentionally force you into requiring larger volume luggage.
- Superb warmth
- Amazing comfort
- Bulky & heavy
Patagonia Better Sweater
Fabric: 100% polyester knitted fleece
Top Uses: Casual
When you’ve only got room for one fleece jacket in your travel gear collection, you certainly wouldn’t be put out in the least if it was the Patagonia Better Sweater. This classic full-zip fleece jacket has been a favourite for years, stacking up with the best of ’em in style, comfort, and all-around wearability.
Made from 100% polyester, this fleece features heathered sweater-knit fabric that’s as practical as it is stylish.
Unlike other models, the Patagonia Better Sweater blends seamlessly in both urban and outdoors settings; it’ll look as at home searching for autumn leaves in Tokyo or hiking the trails of British Columbia in early spring.
On top of its overall pleasant aesthetic, the Better Sweater has dual zipped handwarmer pockets as well as a zippered chest pocket for a dash of extra storage.
Despite all its advantages, some wearers may find the fit of the updated Patagonia Better Sweater a little odd. For some, the body may feel too long and boxy while, for others, the sleeves can feel too tight and long.
- Versatile casual style
- Practical & cozy fit
- Odd sizing for some travellers
Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
Fabric: Alpenex Heathered 100% polyester
Top Uses: Casual, Hiking
There’s hardly a more aptly named fleece jacket out there 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 that lends it an 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 better breathability & moisture-wicking than most similarly-styled outerwear. 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 leaves many 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 for its stellar fit and better-than-average performance.
- Cool casual style
- Excellent comfort
- Premium price point
Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover
Fabric: 100% polyester
Top Uses: Casual
One of the most popular fleece jackets of all time, the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover is the perfect solution for travellers looking for something simple to ward off the cold while dousing themselves in some serious comfort. The polyester fleece fabric, made from 80-86% recycled material depending on the print, is soft yet durable. The fleece’s double-faced construction keeps your body heat sealed in 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, featuring only a chest pocket to store your essentials. Even so, the pullover is heavy and less packable than others here and can feel a little too warm at times.
(Travellers needing a lighter weight alternative, however, can pick up the Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla instead.)
- Warm, soft & comfortable
- Durable fabric
- Heavy & less packable than other models
- Minimal storage space
Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0
Fabric: 100% polyester MTR filament fleece
Top Uses: General Travel, Camping
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 with a number of different colours offered that are perfect for both casual wear and going outdoors.
In terms of keeping you warm, this fleece jacket is fairly basic. It’s most suitable for chilly autumn and winter nights, but won’t do much to protect you on frigid nights as the material is somewhat 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 possibly spring or fall camping trips.
- Low-cost fleece jacket
- Numerous colour options offered
- Material is too lightweight for colder weather
- Bulky fit limits use as a base layer
Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket
Top Uses: Hiking, General Travel
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, making it better suited as a base layer when the temperatures become frigid. Some wearers may also find issues with the jacket’s fit as 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 and a pocket on the arm sleeve which is excellent for safely storing your car keys or wallet.
- Good value
- Uses Polartec technology
- Not suitable for cold weather
Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket
Fabric: Polartec Power Grid
Top Uses: Camping and Hiking
Offering a more elaborate ergonomic design over the R1 with the same Polartec Power Grid technology, the Patagonia R2 Fleece Jacket provides a comfortable and stretchy fit with better performance than its streamlined brother thanks to a slightly thicker material.
The R2 blends high-performance with the look of a casual fleece jacket. It’s cozy and lightweight, but at the same time features fleece technology that provides superior protection from the cold, making the R2 a wise choice 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 so bulky, 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.
- Thick material keeps air out
- Bulkier than others on the list
Columbia Titan Pass 2.0
Fabric: Polartec 200
Top 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 feature two hand warming pockets and a chest pocket providing you with some extra storage space. It employs Polartec 200-weight technology which is perfect for keeping you warm on cooler spring & autumn nights.
The Titan Pass 2.0 is reasonably versatile; you’ll love it 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, so it’s a 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, so it is worth the investment if you don’t plan on wearing it on extreme outings.
Overall, the Columbia Titan Pass 2.0 is best suited to average travellers who sometimes find themselves venturing into the outdoors. On cooler nights, this fleece works great as a base layer as it’s fairly light.
- Not expensive
- Modern design & style
- Durability issues
Summary: The top fleece jackets of 2020
- Looking for an all-around performer? You can hardly do better than the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody featuring Polartec Power Stretch 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 while others are designed to keep you warm when you turn up the adrenaline on an autumn trail run.
Before you decide on which of of top-rated jackets above is for you, there’s a handful of things you’ll need to consider from the expected weather conditions to the activities you’re planning to undertake.
Come to grips with everything you’ll need to know with this complete buyers’ guide…
What separates a fleece jacket from other run-of-the-mill outerwear is the fabric used to construct it.
Although originally designed with sheep’s wool in mind (hence the name), the fleece you’ll find in these top-rated jackets actually has little in common with materials spun from nature.
(Other than providing similar next-to-skin comfort, of course!)
When you’re talking about fleece in terms of the textiles used in high-performance outerwear, most are made from polyester, a synthetic fabric derived from plastic.
Polyester consists of small fibres woven together into a piled fabric and cut into layers. The small air pockets that form between the strands allow the material to seal in warmth better than natural materials like wool, hemp or rayon (although these are often spun in along with the polyester for various reasons including comfort).
While wool products have become all the rage as base layers, polyester-based jackets perform better as an outer layer 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 temperature.
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, they aren’t the best choice for anyone planning to crank up the heart rate with more intense cool-weather activities like autumn trail running or skiing.
This is why its of the utmost importance 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 just a small dash of extra warmth (or are turning up the heat with some outdoor aerobic activity), you’ll want to stick to lightweight. Travellers will especially benefit from lighter materials as 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 between weight, packability, and warmth.
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:
- Hoods: If you’re planning sportier or more technical pursuits, you may want to 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 a slightly more versatile choice as they are easier to layer than their hooded counterparts and tend to weight a little less.
- Pockets: When you’re just 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 pockets as they’ll allow for better breathability. Otherwise, fleece-lined pockets are great for keeping those hands warm in cool biting temperatures.
- Thumb Loops: For many, thumbs loops are a take-it-or-leave-it feature. For those who are planning to wear their fleece jacket as an underlayer or are pairing it with a pair of warm gloves, they can ensure that the jacket stays put to 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 and help the jacket better retain warmth.
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 like the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan or Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody.
- Likewise if you’re planning to use your fleece jacket as a mid-layer, you’ll want to avoid the looser boxier fits you’ll find in some of the heavier options. They can 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; fully extended, the jacket should not expose any areas of your back or stomach.