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Stashing an easy-to-layer fleece jacket into your suitcase or travel bag is a never a bad idea. Since it’s lightweight and has an excellent warmth to size ratio, this unassuming closet staple will keep you cozy whether you’re going on an early morning hike or an adventurous nighttime stroll around a city.
Buying a fleece jacket is no easy task, given how many there are out there and how quality is often lacking. Besides warmth, the most important factors in a travel fleece jacket include size, packability, and weight. You want one that will fit comfortably on you and in your suitcase. Versatility is key, as you'll need something that you can wear with or without a shell and in all kinds of (sometimes inclement) weather. Below, we’ve rounded up the best fleece jackets out there, from budget-friendly selections to one with 29 pockets that will have you leaving your bag at home.
Best Overall: Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket
Look no further than Patagonia’s Better Sweater for a stylish, warm fleece jacket that layers well and includes ample pocket space. The contoured shape of the fleece makes it easy for you to wear a shell jacket over it or a shirt underneath without feeling tight or uncomfortable. The jacket sports a full-knit exterior and warm fleece interior. Adventurers who prefer to travel light won’t need to worry about carrying a bag. Whether you need to stash snacks or secure your phone, there is plenty of storage room, including two hand pockets, two interior drop-ins and a zippered left-sleeve pocket. When the temperature rises, the full-front zipper allows you to open the jacket with no issue. Travel in style by selecting from muted colors such as stonewash, black, pale khaki, dark walnut, bleached stone, nickel/forge grey, classic navy, filter blue and classic red.
If you worry about the carbon footprint of your travels, gear up with Patagonia. In producing this jacket, the brand uses a sustainable dye process that prioritizes consumer safety and minimizes the impact on the environment.
Best for Budget: Columbia Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket
Columbia is a go-to brand for affordable fleece jackets. The Steens Mountain Front-Zip Fleece Jacket is a solid pick if you have a strict travel budget. Starting at $22, you can get a warm layering piece with filament fleece lining and zippered pockets for storage. In hot weather, simply unzip the front. Most reviewers agree that the fit is perfect, so you won’t need to size up or down. The jacket is also low maintenance—it’s machine washable and requires no special care. Choose out of over twenty colors, from vibrant hues like super blue and rust red to understated shades like charcoal heather and tusk.
Best for Kids: Nautica Boys' Fleece Full Zip Hoodie
The soft and warm Nautica Boys’ Fleece Full Zip Hoodie is a great travel companion for children. The hood makes this piece great for staying warm during outdoor trips with light rain or snow. Kids can also put away snacks and small toys into the large front pouch. Cleaning the cotton and polyester blend jacket is easy—just toss it into the washer, a must for a children's jacket. When your vacation is over, the full zip works well for everyday wear to class on chilly days. The color selection, which ranges from classic black to teal and suits any gender despite being marketed towards boys.
Best for Breathability: Arc'teryx Delta LT Jacket
It goes without saying that fleece jackets should keep you warm. Still, for vigorous activities like hiking or sailing in chilly weather, it’s nice to have a breathable jacket. Made from Polartec Classic 100 Micro Velour Small Grid, the air-permeable Delta LT feels soft against the skin and also wicks moisture. By itself, the jacket provides a light layer of insulation in cold weather and also works as a light mid-layer under a shell. Its fit is trim, great for heavy exercise since it allows for a wide range of motion. The sleeves do not ride up when you bend your elbow and gussets under the arm make it easier for you to extend your reach. You won't be limited in color selection, either: Choose from black, grey, green, blue, navy blue, and red.
Best for Windy Weather: Patagonia Adze Jacket
When traveling, a puffy jacket guarantees warmth and wind protection, but it won’t be a small addition to your luggage. For a lightweight, packable option, check out Patagonia’s Adze Jacket.
At around $200, it’s an investment piece. The Polartec Windbloc stretch-woven polyester shell deflects wind, repels water and provides vital breathability. The microgrid fleece interior retains heat to keep you warm. Additionally, you can pull on the drawcord hem to expel drafts and seal in heat. The jacket includes two hand pockets and one internal chest pocket. Color selection is limited but the range of hues is solid. Choose from black, wax red, and forge grey/feather grey. Sizewise, the jacket runs a little large according to reviewers, so it’s a good idea to size down.
Best for Cold Weather: The North Face Denali 2 Jacket
The North Face’s Denali is an iconic hiking jacket. It consists of at least 50% recycled Polartec 300 fleece with and has a durable water-repellent finish. Designed for cold weather, Polartec 300 will keep you warm since it's one of the heaviest and loftiest fleeces. The jacket sports plenty of storage space, coming with two hand pockets, two chest pockets and even includes a media pocket. Like others on the list, it has a hem cinch for heat retention for chillier hikes. The selection flaunts sixteen colors, including coffee bean brown/TNF black, cardinal red/asphalt grey and brandy brown/urban navy.
Best for Storage: SCOTTeVEST Men's OTG Jacket - 29 Pockets
Travel bag-free with this SCOTTeVest jacket that includes an impressive 29 pockets. Stash various items like keys, gadgets, snacks, batteries and camera accessories into the pockets. The RFID blocking pocket blocks 13.56 MHz frequencies, so that your credit cards and passport information stays safe from high-tech thieves. You’ll even be able to store tablets and small laptops like Microsoft’s Surface inside of the oversized interior pocket. Worry about looking bulky? Even when your pockets are full, the jacket will remain streamlined thanks to the No-Bulge pocket design. When you’re on hikes, this jacket allows you to keep all your gear, like bottles, compasses and maps at the tip of your fingers.
Besides the functionality of its many pockets, this jacket also has a heavyweight fleece interior to keep you warm during your nippy winter trips. Plus, the nano-treated and machine-washable exterior repels water and resists stains, so you won't need to worry about it getting dirty.
Best for Saving Space: Jack Wolfskin Men's Gecko 1/4 Zip Fleece
At 8.3 ounces, the quarter-zip Gecko slips easily inside your travel bag when you need to peel it off. It consists of super light 100-weight polyester microfleece, perfect as a versatile layering piece beneath shells or over shirts. The fleece has excellent wicking performance, which ensures temperature regulation so that you feel comfortable and avoid becoming too hot or too cold. It’s relatively affordable, with most of its options costing around $30. While many fleeces come in muted colors, this jacket is available in a wide range of colors with cheerful hues like ruby red, bright pumpkin and coastal blue.