No woman’s travel wardrobe is complete without one of the best fleece jackets for women. When it comes to fashionable warm outerwear, nothing beats a fleece jacket.
Fleece jackets are made from modern materials and are lightweight and cozy with a great warmth-to-size ratio. They’ll keep you comfortable whether you’re going on an early morning run, leisure nighttime walk around town, ski getaway, or any other outdoor adventure without sacrificing style.
Not sure where to start your search? Check out these reviews for the best women’s fleece jackets of 2020…
Table of Contents
- Best women’s fleece jackets of 2020: Top 10 reviews
- How to choose a women’s fleece jacket: A quick buyers’ guide
Best women’s fleece jackets of 2020: Top 10 reviews
Choosing a fleece jacket can be an uphill task. There’s a vast selection on the market today, but the quality differences between brands & models can often be sizeable.
There are many important factors to consider to ensure you get the right women’s fleece jacket for your needs including size, weight, warmth, and packability.
Fleece jackets are available in a variety of styles and sizes to suit different needs and preferences. You’ll want to buy a fleece that will not only keep you cozy, but that will also fit conveniently in your bag or suitcase.
To help you choose the right fleece jacket for your needs, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations ranging between everything from the most affordable to the warmest & most versatile options for travellers.
In a rush? Here are our top picks for 2020…
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Fabric: Polartec® Power Grid
Top Uses: Casual
If you are looking for a fleece jacket that is both warm and breathable, and also offers easy layering and great ease of movement, you can’t go wrong with the Patagonia R1 Hoody.
This jacket features lightweight, breathable Polartec® Power Grid fleece. The fleece is stretchy, compressible, and sturdy to keep you warm and comfortable.
It would be difficult to find a better lightweight layering piece than the R1 Hoody. It’s perfect to wear during various outdoor endeavours from skiing to hiking in cold weather.
This jacket is equipped with thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place. Moreover, the hood can zip into a balaclava to protect your neck and lower face from the biting cold.
You can also pull the same half-zip zipper down to your belly button to let in some cool air when it gets too hot. The gridded design also helps with venting.
A notable shortcoming of the R1 hoody is that it’s not resistant to wind and water. That means you may need to pair it with a rain or wind shell if you want to use it in stormy weather.
If you’re looking for something you can use as an urban outwear, the R1 Hoody isn’t an option either as it has nothing to write home about when it comes to elegance.
Nonetheless, if you want something to use while undertaking an intense exercise in cold weather, you can rest assured that the R1 Hoody will keep you warm and regulate your body temperature to ensure you’re comfortable throughout.
- Highly breathable
- Not resistant to wind and water
The North Face Osito 2
Fabric: Polyester Silken
Top Uses: Multisport
If you’re looking for something to wear under your shell on chilly days, you can’t go wrong with The North Face Osito 2.
This fleece jacket is warm and excellent for layering during colder spring & fall days.
Featuring a tailored waist, oversize collar and comfy stretch cuffs, the Osito 2 is a top jacket for cool-weather hikes and walks. Besides having a soft and comfortable hi-loft fleece, this jacket also retains a lot of heat for its weight.
Thanks to its voluminous cut, you can wear the Osito 2 over a base layer. It also fits snugly over your winter jacket without leaving you feeling too confined.
If you’re looking for something breathable, however, then The North Face Women’s Osito 2 isn’t the best option.
This jacket is designed to trap your body heat. During intense activities like hiking, expect to get a little sweaty. Moreover, the arms on this fleece are somewhat shorter and may undermine the ease of movement.
Nonetheless, The North Face Osito 2 will give you the much-needed warmth while hiking in cold weather. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable & warm around-town layer.
- Soft and cozy material
- No breathability
- Poor ease of movement
Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan
Fabric: Alpenex Heathered 100% Polyester
Top Uses: Outdoors, Casual
Despite its apt name, you don’t need to be a secret agent to love wearing the Arc’teryx Covert Cardigan.
This high-performance jacket is spun with Arc’teryx’s own Alpenex heathered fleece, a polyester fabric that’s deceptively wool-like in its look and feel.
One thing that stands out with this coat is the comfort. It features a brushed polyester back knit that adds warmth and is impressively soft when pressed up against the skin.
Unlike many other fleeces, the Covert Cardigan looks at home on the city streets as on the hiking trails. Even with its cool casual style though, it’s built with outdoor pursuits in mind.
Although it’s often marketed as a mid-layer, the Covert Cardigan is not one of the most breathable picks here. For activewear, look, instead, to other options like the Patagonia R1 Hoody or Outdoor Research Deviator Insulated Hoody.
- Hip casual style
- Warm & comfortable
- Not as breathable during active pursuits
Sherpa Adventure Gear Sonam
Fabric: Polartec Thermal Pro with Repreve
Top Uses: Casual, Backpacking
If you want to look beyond the usual big outdoors brands, the Sherpa Adventure Gear Sonam is a choice that not only offers supreme comfort but will give your conscience an uplift. Based in Nepal, this boutique outdoors outfitter is well-known for creating high-quality sustainable products while giving back immensely to the the community.
The sleek Sherpa Adventure Gear Sonam features a lightweight two-sided Polartec fleece that feels soft & supple against the skin. The hoody’s fabric along with its slimming fit is designed both to be stylish and to hold in warmth. On top of that, 53% of the materials are recycled and bluesign-approved to verify the company’s sustainability practices.
While designed with the adventurer in mind, the Sonam is also a superb pick for wearing casually and backpacking. The fabric seams are strategically placed away from rucksack shoulder harnesses for stellar comfort while stomping around. The built-in media system is also a great feature for women who love casual walks in the city to the beat of their favourite tunes.
- Unique stylish design
- Built from sustainable materials
- Limited availability
Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody
Fabric: Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology
Top Uses: Climbing, Hiking
If you’re looking for a faithful companion when the weather takes a turn for the worst, the Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoody might become one of your favourite pieces of spring/fall travel gear. This top-notch hoody rocks out with a warm & cozy Polartec Power Stretch fleece. What’s unique is the fabric’s use of Hardface technology, designed to repel water, block wind, and resist abrasion.
Despite being a top performer in regards to weather-resistance, the Fortrez Hoody is still, after all, only a fleece jacket.
It won’t protect you from the elements as well as a good-quality rain jacket or even a softshell jacket; it slides in, however, as a great option for alpinists and other active travellers who’d like a fleece that’s got great mobility and better than average protection in harsher elements—even if at a higher price point.
- Decent weather protection
- Good mobility & comfort
- Premium price point
Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody
Fabric: Polartec Power Grid
Top Uses: Multisport, Rock Climbing
If you’re looking for a breathable jacket for your outdoor sport adventures, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody is a fantastic choice.
Winner of Backpacker magazine’s 2015 Editors’ Choice Award, this jacket features Polartec Power Grid fleece, a lightweight fabric that’s offers some of the best breathability in its class.
Even if things start to get toasty, the addition of Polygiene technology to the fabric adds a dash of odour protection to the mix for extra freshness.
Of course, there’s a trade-off here. The lighter weight of the Deviator Hoody’s fleece makes it one of the “cooler” choices among these recommendations. As such, it’s far more comfortable to wear either on warmer spring or mild fall days or as a mid-layer on chillier ones.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a slight dash of warmth to complement a trail run or strenuous hike in cooler weather, it’s hard to get find something more suitable than this breezy fleece jacket.
- Highly breathable
- Not suitable for cooler temperatures
- Slim fit makes it hard to add thicker base layers
Patagonia Better Sweater
Fabric: Polyester (bluesign® approved)
Top Uses: Casual
If you’re looking for a go-everywhere fleece jacket for women, which you can you use for anything, including around-town outwear and light outdoor activities, you should consider investing in the Patagonia Better Sweater. This jacket boasts a sweater-knit face and soft interior to keep you warm and comfortable.
Moreover, it is elegant and comes in a variety of colours so you can get something that suits your specific taste. It also features a stand-up collar with zippered garage to ensure your chin feels comfortable.
However, there’s a catch.
Many previous customers have claimed that the Better Sweater lets the wind in and ages faster than expected. Nonetheless, it is a great choice of fleece jacket for the price if you are to consider its versatility against other options.
You can easily layer this jacket under a shell. It’ll serve you well when going to work in a cold morning as much as it would while you’re out on a skiing expedition. If you’re looking for a slim fit fleece jacket, however, it may not be a good choice for you.
- Stylish look
- Versatile performance
- Allows a lot of wind in
- Ages quite quickly
REI Co-op Fleece Jacket
Top Uses: Multisport
If you’re looking for a modest and inexpensive fleece jacket that will keep you warm on cold nights, you might want to consider the REI Co-op Fleece.
This jacket is about four times cheaper than the most high-end options available. You should realize, however, that you’ll always get what you pay for.
As such, you shouldn’t expect much from the REI Co-op Fleece regarding design and technology. Even so, it’s got a few features to ensure it can serve you for a long time. Namely, the jacket sports a polyester fleece fabric with front-to-back softness and anti-pill finish that delivers long-lasting comfort. The fleece also comes with zippered hand pockets where you can keep some of your personal effects.
But unlike higher-end models, the polyester fleece on this coat has little venting and performs poorly in terms of breathability. For active travellers, the REI Co-op Fleece isn’t necessarily your best option.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something to drop in under budget, this fleece makes an excellent choice for things like keeping yourself warm at the peak when you go mountain climbing. On the other hand, keep in mind that the REI Co-op fleece is quite bulky, and may take up a substantial amount of space in your bag.
Overall, REI Co-op is a viable choice of fleece jacket for enduring the rigours of camping and working outdoors during cold weathers. You won’t have to worry about damaging it, as much as you would with the more expensive fleeces.
- Poor breathability
Fabric: Polartec® Classic 100
Top Uses: Multisport
If you’re looking for something to wear as an insulating mid-layer in winter or as outerwear for cool, dry weather, the Marmot Flashpoint will do just that without leaving a dent in your wallet. It is made of luxurious microfleece, making it less bulky while remaining warm. The fleece is also effective at managing moisture.
You can easily use the Marmot Flashpoint as a warm outer layer, as it is roomy enough for base layers underneath. You can also wear it comfortably as a mid-layer under a ski or rain jacket.
The Marmot Flashpoint offers some great features for its price. One notable feature is the thumb and arm pocket equipped with a media slot where you can keep your headphones. The jacket is quite thin and breathable, making it an excellent choice for wearing while active in low temperatures.
But this fleece is not without some shortcomings.
The Marmot Flashpoint may not deliver the kind of warmth you need in frigid weather. It also doesn’t have a hood, further taking away from its warmth.
Nonetheless, the Flashpoint is, overall, an awesome lightweight fleece jacket that you can easily carry in your daypack for a sunny hiking expedition where you might encounter low temperatures as you approach a hill peak.
- Media slot in sleeve pocket
- Not so warm
Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover
Fabric: Deep-pile Polartec® Thermal Pro
Top Uses: Casual
If you’re looking for a quintessential women’s fleece jacket for camping—or one that you can layer on and under while walking around town—the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover will suit the bill. This fleece jacket delivers impressive warmth and comfort while still maintaining some breathability.
Thanks to the space provided by its boxy cut, you can comfortably wear a couple layers under the Snap-T Pullover. Moreover, this fleece fit snugly under a windbreaker or rain jacket.
Another great feature in this jacket is durability. It doesn’t lose its softness easily even after numerous washes.
It is worth noting, however, that the Snap-T Pullover may not be a good choice for intense activities. It’s not quite as breathable as most of its pricier counterparts. The cut of the jacket may also restrict movement during intense activity.
Nonetheless, if you are looking for something to keep yourself warm after a day in mountains, the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover would be a fantastic option. Moreover, it’s available in at least 30 options, so you can easily find one that suits your needs perfectly.
- Warm and comfortable
- Kangaroo handwarmer pocket keeps you toasty and your essentials close by
- Little breathability for intense activities
How to choose a women’s fleece jacket: A quick buyers’ guide
If you’ve never purchased a fleece before, you’re in for a treat! In terms of comfort, many would say that fleece jackets are in a league of their own. Their soft fabrics can feel like a gentle hug on a cool night and be as blissful as the warmth they provide.
But not all are built the same.
There’s a multitude of things to consider before dropping your hard-earned cash on one of these top performers. The jacket you choose will depend on a number of things from what conditions you’re expecting face to what you’re planning to do while wearing it.
What differentiates a fleece jacket from other outerwear is the material. While the first thing that might come to your mind when you hear “fleece” is sheep’s wool, other than a similar degree of “fluffiness,” fleece has little in common with its natural namesake!
Most modern high-performance fleeces are spun from polyester, a synthetic material derived from plastic. These polyester fibres are woven—sometimes alongside natural materials like wool, rayon, or hemp—into a piled fabric with layers of cut fibres. Because of the small air pockets between the threads, the material holds in more warmth than other weaving styles.
One of the most unique characteristics of fleece compared to other materials like wool is that it’s able to repel moisture. Although it won’t protect you as well as a good rain jacket, it can keep you warm and dry if a cool rain or light snow rolls in.
Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword. Compared to other jacket styles (like softshells), fleeces tend to be less breathable. During intense aerobic exercise, the fabric’s natural moisture-repelling properties seal in sweat vapours and can leave you feeling sticky.
To combat this problem, it’s important to choose a fleece jacket with the correct fabric density. Most fall into one of three categories:
- Lightweight: 100g/m2
- Midweight: 200g/m2
- Heavyweight: 300g/m2
For milder temperatures or heavier aerobic activity, you’ll want to go with lightweight; for cooler temperatures, heavyweight is most fitting.
For most travellers, however, a midweight medium-density fleece is the most sensible pick. Heavyweight fleeces tend to be less packable while lightweight fabrics might not give you the warmth you need in a pinch.
Besides the materials, there’s a number of features that you’ll need to sort through. A few things to keep in mind include:
- Hoods: Some of the sportier or more technical jackets will include helmet-compatible hoods. Unless you’re planning on ice climbing or mountaineering, go for a hoodless fleece; they tend to be more versatile as you can more easily wear them as a mid-layer.
- Pockets: Since fleece jackets are designed for cooler weather, a good set of hand-warmer pockets is a great feature to have. When you’re shopping around for a jacket to take you into the colder months, you’ll want to ensure that the pockets are fleece-lined; likewise, opt for mesh-lined pockets if intense active pursuits are your jam.
- Adjustable Hems: Many top-performing coats will feature drawstring hems at the waist and cuffs to help you seal in the warmth. It’s especially important if you’re planning on mostly wearing your fleece as outerwear in cooler weather.
Perhaps most important of all is the fit of the jacket. What you’ll notice is that most of these top picks are now designed with the female figure in mind. Unlike men’s models, women’s fleece jackets are usually more tapered at the waist and flared closer to the hips for a form fit.
This is particular important if you’re planning on carrying gear as “squarer” cuts can tend to get a little uncomfortable under the weight of a shoulder harness or hip belt.
Another thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the torso length. Some jackets feature a shorter sportier cut. While this is fine for trail running or other active pursuits where you need more mobility, more casual wearers may find that the jackets don’t provide enough coverage at times, especially if you’re planning to carry a backpack.