Layered for anything
Heard of the layering system? It’s the most effective and adaptable way of dressing to stay warm and dry outdoors. When fully layered-up, a fleece sits in the middle, between the baselayer (a wicking T-shirt) and a shell (a waterproof jacket). It insulates your body by trapping warm air, but should also let water vapour (from sweat) escape.
I want something warmer
Most of the fleeces we’ve tested are on the lighter side, but will see you good throughout the year (in combo with proper layering). But for the depths of winter, nothing beats the shaggiest pullover you can get your hands on. For maximum insulation, look for the fleeces dubbed heavy or double pile. You’ll sometimes see fleeces graded 100, 200 or 300-weight, ranged from the lightest to the thickest and warmest.
Shield me from the wind
To combat the chilling effect of wind, some fleece-makers innovate to seal out as much out as possible, without inhibiting breathability. Polartec’s Wind Pro fleece boasts a super-tight knit to do this. Taking a different approach, Windstopper (from the minds behind Gore-Tex) is a totally windproof membrane, often combined with fleece fabric. In gloves or a hat (not covered by a jacket), wind resistance is a valuable trait.