The 11 Best Fleece Jackets for Women of 2021

Fleece is a cozy and smart layer for being outside in cooler weather

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There’s something oddly exciting about fleece jacket season. Taking out your fleece means it’s time for winter sports to officially commence. It means you’re going to bundle up and go on adventures, enjoying everything the cold weather has to offer. It also means you’re about to get really dang cozy in that soft, plush fleece you’re about to zip yourself into.

Fleece is one of the best options for staying warm and comfortable during the winter. No matter what activity you’re gearing up to do—even if that activity is reading next to a fireplace—there’s a fleece out there that can keep you warm and cozy throughout it all. To help you get psyched about fleece season, here are the best fleece jackets for each activity and weather need this year. Be warned: These jackets are so comfy, you might not want to take them off until spring. We won’t judge.

The Rundown
A classic blanket-like feel you’d expect from a sherpa-style fleece, but also an athletic cut to layer under a hardshell.
Wear the classic zip-up on its own or as a mid-layer under a puffy in cooler weather.
This lightweight, stretchy fleece is perfect for layering on a hike.
The material is also stretchy, so you can move freely and comfortably.
Best for Skiing and Snowboarding:
Kari Traa Rothe Midlayer Fleece Jacket at Karitraa.com
This mid-weight fleece makes for the perfect mid-layer under your waterproof puffy on the slopes.
Ultra-soft and is versatile enough to be your go-to fleece for a wide variety of situations.
Next-level coziness, plus its sporty look make this a fleece you’ll want to live in all winter long.
It has enough heft to insulate but is also made with a sweat-wicking material that helps manage moisture.
Made with 100 percent recycled material, it’s thick and warm but still keeps moisture away.
Everything you could ask for and more from a fleece hoodie.

Best Overall: The North Face Campshire Full-Zip Fleece

The North Face Campshire Full-Zip Fleece
What We Like
  • Soft sherpa material

  • Athletic fit

  • Super warm

What We Don't Like
  • None

The North Face has become a bit synonymous with fleece. Made of partially recycled polyester fleece, TNF's Campshire jacket is cozy and super warm. We like that it has a classic blanket-like feel you’d expect from a sherpa-style fleece, but also a more athletic cut that is slim enough to layer under a hardshell. Ribbed cuffs and a high collar help keep you toasty, while zip side pockets help to safely stash your stuff whether you’re on a hike, hanging out at the campground, or running errands around town. The length is also ideal—it hits below the hip bones, so you don’t have to worry about it riding up and your midsection getting cold. Reviewers love that it’s soft and warm but also stylish and that the material is thick but not at all bulky. Overall, it really is just right.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 16 ounces | Fleece weight: Heavy

Best Budget: Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket

Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket
What We Like
  • Zippered pockets

  • Classic fleece style

  • Lots of color options

What We Don't Like
  • No hood

You might want to scoop up a few of these fan-favorite fleece jackets from Columbia. The Benton comes in over a dozen colors and is budget-friendly enough to justify adding multiples into your daily rotation. It has a tapered fit but is still roomy, so it’s flattering without being too tight to layer. Wear the classic zip-up on its own or as a mid-layer under a puffy in cooler weather. Zippered hand pockets keep essentials close and safe. Thousands of reviewers gush over the value for the price, color options, and comfort factor of this widely loved seasonal favorite. It also comes in a wide variety of sizes, making it a great, staple fleece that works for all different body sizes and shapes.

Sizes: XS-3X | Weight: 19 ounces | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Best for Hiking: Jack Wolfskin Hydro Grid Fleece

Jack Wolfskin Hydro Grid Fleece
What We Like
  • High collar

  • Zip pockets

  • DWR finish

What We Don't Like
  • Few color options

This lightweight, stretchy fleece is perfect for layering on a hike. It’s soft, warm-but-breathable, and has a comfy lived-in feel—so the fabric easily stretches and moves with you. It’s also small enough to tie around your waist when you get hot without it feeling bulky. The hood is a nice addition, as are the zippered pockets that make it possible to keep essentials on hand without worrying they’ll fall out on the trail.

The outside has a durable water-resistant (DWR) finish, which doesn’t mean you’ll be dry in a rainstorm, but gives you a little extra protection if it does drizzle unexpectedly. Bonus: Jack Wolfskin puts a big focus on sustainability, so you can feel good knowing this fleece was made with that in mind.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 12.5 ounces | Fleece Weight: Light

Best Running: Outdoor Research Women's Vigor Quarter Zip

Outdoor Research Women's Vigor Quarter Zip
What We Like
  • Sweat-wicking

  • Thumbholes

  • Long hem

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers say it runs long and baggy

When you’re running, you want a fleece that keeps you warm but not too warm. This means it has to be made of material that wicks away sweat as it insulates. Outdoor Research's Vigor Quarter-Zip is the perfect fleece for that. The material is also stretchy, so you can move freely and comfortably. The long sleeves with thumbholes and front zipper pocket are nice touches that runners will appreciate. And the long hemline ensures the fleece doesn’t ride up and let in cool drafts.

This fleece is great as an outer on a milder (read: low wind) day, and you can easily layer it under a windbreaker on an extra brisk day. A quarter-zip is perfect for running since it allows you to quickly vent when you get toasty but not hot enough to take the whole thing off.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 8.4 ounces | Fleece Weight: Light

Best for Skiing and Snowboarding: Kari Traa Rothe Midlayer Fleece Jacket

Kari Traa Rothe Midlayer Fleece Jacket
What We Like
  • Relaxed fit

  • Stylish

  • Great pockets

What We Don't Like
  • None

This midweight fleece makes for the perfect mid-layer under your waterproof puffy on the slopes. It’s warm, it’s cozy, it has a great relaxed fit, and it’s stylish enough to rock aprés at a bar or wherever else your day on the mountain takes you. The ribbed elastic cuffs are a nice feature—they keep the sleeves from riding up when pulling on a coat over it, and they also add a stylistic touch along with the cool color block designs. Three external pockets with zippers are super convenient and keep all of your things secure throughout a day of activities.

We also love wearing this off the mountain, since it’s such a great combo of warmth and style.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Not Listed | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Best Lightweight: Merrell Women's Flux Lightweight Hybrid Zip Fleece

Merrell Women's Flux Lightweight Hybrid Zip Fleece
What We Like
  • Ultra-soft fabric

  • Thumbholes

What We Don't Like
  • No pockets

Sometimes you really just want a classic fleece that feels ultra-soft and is versatile enough to be your go-to layer for a wide variety of situations. This quarter-zip fleece is just that. Made of polyester polar fleece, it’s cozy, minimal, and lightweight, so you can throw it on when you just need a little extra warmth to take the chill off on a walk, hike, or run. 

The design is pretty simple—there aren’t even any pockets—which some people will appreciate. The fit is slim and the material has a good amount of stretch, so you can move comfortably no matter what activity you’re crushing. Since it’s so soft, it also makes a great extra layer to throw over your pajamas.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: Not Listed | Fleece Weight: Light

Best Eco-Friendly: prAna Polar Escape Half Zip

prAna Polar Escape Half Zip
What We Like
  • Ultra-fluffy

  • Made of recycled polyester

  • Oversized hood

What We Don't Like
  •  No zip pockets

If you doubt that recycled material can be softer than most other materials, this fleece is here to set the record straight. The best word to describe this fleece? Fluffy. Next-level coziness, plus a sporty look—half-zip, large front pocket, relaxed fit—make this a fleece you’ll want to live in all winter long. And let’s talk about the hood. It’s oversized and lined with the same fluffy fleece, so you can really bundle up into a little ball of warm, cozy goodness when that freezing weather hits. A drawstring at the bottom lets you adjust the hem: Tighten it up to trap in heat and give it a more bomber-esque look, or loosen it up for a longer, more relaxed style.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Not Listed | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Best Midweight: StoicTech Fleece Hooded Full-Zip Jacket

StoicTech Fleece Hooded Full-Zip Jacket
What We Like
  • High collar

  • Thumbholes

  • Zip pockets

  • Sweat-wicking polyester blend

What We Don't Like
  •  A little too baggy at the bottom

If you’re planning to wear your fleece as a mid-layer for outdoor activities this winter, you want to make sure it’s warm enough to keep you comfy over the course of a few hours but also breathable so you’re not sitting in sweat all day. Because we all know that warm sweats turn absurdly cold once you stop moving and your body cools down. 

This mid-weight option fits the bill. It has enough heft to insulate but is also made with a sweat-wicking material that helps manage moisture. It has a slim fit, making it easy to layer under a windbreaker or puffy, depending on what you’re tackling that day. Zip side pockets, thumbholes, and a high collar add to this jacket’s functionality.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Not Listed | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Best Trail to Bar: Stio Sweetwater Fleece

Stio Sweetwater Fleece
What We Like
  • Good moisture management

  • Extra-large collar

  • Stylish design

What We Don't Like
  •  Runs large

When you’re going straight from outdoor adventure to social events, this fleece half-zip is the perfect option. Made with 100 percent recycled material, it’s thick and warm but still keeps moisture away—perfect for achieving that ideal mix of warmth and comfort on a cold winter hike. While it’s made of fleece, it looks kind of like a big cozy cable-knit wool sweater and pairs well with pretty much everything, whether you’re in hiking pants, leggings, or jeans. The brushed interior feels soft and cozy against your skin, and the relaxed fit makes it easy to layer over other clothing if you’re really bundling up. We appreciate the drop-tail hem, which extends the warm fleecy goodness down past the rear—so needed when the temps are low enough.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 16 ounces | Fleece Weight: Heavy

Best Hoodie: Voormi Diversion Hoodie

Voormi Diversion Hoodie
What We Like
  • Weather-resistant

  • Durable

  • Adjustable features

What We Don't Like
  • Fabric is a bit stiff

It’s warm, it’s durable and it’s water-resistant—basically, everything you could ask for and more from a fleece hoodie. Voormi’s proprietary wool-nylon blend fabric technology makes this hoodie extremely durable, so it can hold up through all the wear and tear you subject it to. It’s warm, has zipper hand pockets, and has thumbholes, but the real reason we love it is that it has a DWR coating. So while it makes a great mid-layer, you can also feel confident wearing it as an outer even if some rain or snow is in the forecast. An adjustable hem and hood also make it easier to get the best fit and keep out the cold, while an internal chest pocket with a headphone port is a nice added feature.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 18 ounces | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Best Pullover: Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover

Patagonia Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover
What We Like
  • Elastic in the hem and cuffs

  • Fun colors and patterns

  • Snap collar design

What We Don't Like
  •  No side pockets

Patagonia’s fleece pullover is a classic for a reason. The recycled polyester fabric is warm and cozy, and it’s substantial but not bulky, making it a fan-favorite for everything from lounging around the house to hiking, yoga, running, and everything in-between. It’s great on its own, and also works well layered under a hardshell or puffy. The snap collar and front pocket design stand out among a sea of half-zips and give it the signature look. And like all Patagonia products, it's made with eco-friendly practices and worker well-being in mind. This pullover is Fair Trade Certified, so you can feel good knowing that the hands that touched it are being fairly compensated and working in positive conditions.

Sizes: XXS-XXL  | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Fleece Weight: Mid-weight

Final Verdict

The North Face Campshire Fleece (view at Backcountry) does all the essentials well: It’s ultra soft and warm, made of recycled materials, and has zip side pockets to keep hands warm or stash your snacks and belongings. You really can’t go wrong with it for both outdoor activities and everyday life. If you’re looking for something more heavy-duty that can hold its own in rain and snow, the Voormi Diversion Hoodie (view at Voormi) is the best option, since it’s made of the most durable and water-resistant material on this list. But you can’t go wrong with any of these options. So we recommend choosing your fleece based on how much warmth you need and what activities you plan to use it for most.

What to Look for in a Fleece Layer

Fit

Like most clothing products, the fit is important in a fleece layer. Consider what you'll most likely be using the fleece for. Will it be a lounger at the lodge? Then a more relaxed fit might be best. Will it be a layering piece in your cold-weather athletic clothing quiver? Then maybe a slim or athletic cut is the right option. Or perhaps you're looking for an all-around cold-weather item. Then a middle-of-the-road regular cut mid-weight fleece is right.

Thickness of the Fleece

Like fit, it's best to consider the purpose of your fleece when deciding on a light, mid-weight, or heavy fleece. But unlike fit, you might also want to consider your environment—or the environment in which you'll be using the fleece most. In general, a mid-weight is a solid option. That will be the most well-rounded and diverse option for many outdoor activities. However, if you're prone to being cold or will mainly use the fleece as a layer for skiing or snowboarding at the resort, a heavier option might be the way to go. Likewise, if you're prone to being warm or look to use the fleece for higher intensity activities like running, cross country skiing, or alpine touring, a more breathable and lightweight fleece may be your ideal choice.

Quarter-Zip vs. Half-Zip vs. Full-Zip

Most fleece layers will come in these options. And this really comes down to personal preference. At the risk of sounding like the proverbial broken record, consider your planned use for the fleece and how your body regulates temperatures. If you heat up quickly, you may want to look at a full-zip or half-zip to open up the hatches when you're moving quickly and sweating. But if you tend to run colder—or again, plan on using the fleece in less-intense activities—a quarter-zip would likely work.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is fleece, anyways?

    Classic fleece, sometimes called “polar fleece,” is typically made of polyester material. Lately, many outdoor brands are making fleece jackets out of recycled polyester. Sometimes fleece is fluffy, other times it’s matted down. It’s known for being really warm and cozy, durable, and for wicking away moisture (a feature of most polyester fabrics)—which is why it’s hugely popular as a mid-layer to wear under a puffy jacket during winter sports.

    Fleece is also a great option for an extra insulating layer during hiking, running, walking, and laying around the house on a chilly winter day. Fleece jackets come in many different weights, so you can choose the right amount of insulation depending on the weather and activity you’re wearing it for.

  • How do I clean, wash, and care for my fleece?

    Fleece jackets don’t need to be washed every single time you wear them but should be washed every couple of wears to remove oils and stains. If you wear it every day, washing it once a week is a good rule of thumb. You should also throw it in the wash if it smells or is visibly soiled. And don’t forget to wash all jackets before you store them for a long time so they don’t become permanently stained.

    Always follow the instructions on the tag for how to wash your fleece. Most fleeces can be washed in the washing machine, but some may recommend hand washing instead. Use a mild detergent, and skip the fabric softeners. Avoid washing your fleece items with lint-producing clothes like a cotton flannel or terry cloth towels—fleece can be a magnet for these things.

    To avoid pilling, do not put fleece in the dryer; instead, hang to dry.


  • Can fleece be an outer—how does it fit into my winter layering?

    Fleece is really warm, but it’s not typically wind- or waterproof. So a fleece of any weight can absolutely be worn as an outer, but might not cut it if it’s particularly windy or wet out. If that’s the case, you can layer fleece underneath a puffy or hardshell jacket that’s wind- and/or waterproof. When it’s worn underneath another jacket, the fleece is considered a mid-layer.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Amy Marturana Winderl has been testing and writing about outdoor gear for national publications for the better part of a decade. She loves a good outdoor adventure—but hates being cold. That’s inconvenient, considering she lives in central New York state, where it’s pretty much cold six months out of the year. She’s become a pro at properly layering for all the cold-weather activities simply so she could still enjoy hiking and running even when it’s freezing out.

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