A fleece jacket is the perfect addition to any hiking outfit. In colder weather it’s a great mid-layer piece, while at hotter temperatures, it can be used instead of wearing an additional outer layer.
To help you choose the best fleece jacket for your next hike, we have assembled the following list of the best fleece jackets for hiking.
For its light weight, our overall favorite is the Better Sweater from Patagonia. If you’re like us and prefer lighter weight gear that doesn’t get in the way of your hike, then this is the option for you. The Better Sweater is made out of just 1.06 pounds of polyester material!
Take a look at the comparison table below before moving on, it might help you make a quick decision based on the most important specs.
Patagonia Better Sweater
1.06 Pounds/ 0.5kg
Columbia Steens Mountain
Nautica Kid's Fleece
Best for Kids
60% Cotton/40% Polyester
SCOTTeVEST Hoodie Microfleece
Jack Wolfskin Wolf Fleece
The Better Sweater earned its name by combining a sweater-knit exterior and fleece interior in its construction to ensure that it is both easy to wear and lightweight.
It is completely moisture- wicking for those more rigorous hikes and features a vertical chest pocket for convenient storage for objects such as keys or cash.
This fleece jacket is dyed with a low-impact process in order to reduce the use of dyestuffs, energy and water compared to traditional methods.
Chafing is eliminated through the use of a flat-seam construction which also provides additional weight savings.
Patagonia Better Sweater is great for novice hikers that are just starting out and want a lightweight garment.
Columbia Menll Steens Mountain ultra-soft 100% polyester MTR filament fleece fabric will make you want to keep it on forever.
Combine that with its collared neck and zippered closure and you have the perfect jacket for a hike on a cold day.
This jacket is winter-ready, making it a nice layering piece to protect against cold gusts.
Columbia Menll Steens Mountain is better suited for more experienced hikers that are more likely to go for hikes in colder weather.
There’s really not much to say about the Nautica Fleece Hoodie, except that it works. It really does everything expected of it. Which is, first and foremost, keeping the little ones warm.
It’s entirely machine washable, so don’t worry about junior playing in the dirt.
The primarily cotton construction ensures that it is a bit more durable than most other children’s offerings.
Made to be more durable, so Nautica Fleece Hoodie can keep up with the overly active lifestyles of younger trekkers.
Made from microfleece, SCOTTeVEST Hoodie is a super-soft feeling jacket.
This hoodie also features SCOTTeVEST’s patented personal area network, which is a network of hidden conduits that can be used to connect wires to devices while they are in your pockets.
Speaking of pockets, there are many. 21 to be exact! All of them are pickpocket-proof and designed to fit different types of devices.
It’s the most versatile option on the list as it can be used in the gym during your morning workout routine or while exploring the most challenging hiking trails you know. It simply keeps up on all fronts.
SCOTTeVEST Hoodie is one of the most expensive options on the list and, is probably best suited to pro hikers. It’s a good investment for those looking for a lasting weekly hike companion that is strong and durable.
The company uses their proprietary wolf fleece material on this piece, which offers instant warmth from the moment you put the Jack Wolfskin Wolf Fleece jacket on up until you take it off.
Its versatility makes it great to be used as part of a layering system. This can be done either by using it as your insulating layer for good wicking performance or purely as a base layer.
It can be slipped into during rest breaks to maintain your body temperature or during the evening to prolong your outdoor activities.
Jack Wolfskin Men's Wolf 1/4 Zip Fleece is the best option for those who want to wear the jacket indoors as well as outdoors on hikes. The material perfectly adapts to both conditions very quickly.
The perfect fabric for a fleece jacket should be moisture-wicking, breathable and have a good weight-to-warmth ratio. Heavier material generally translates into a warmer jacket, but as soon as it gets too heavy you will feel that the jacket is bulky and harder to integrate into your layering system.
Fleece knitted with a grid pattern is generally the best choice. It’s designed to trap body heat, which boosts the weight-to-warmth ratio of lighter materials significantly.
You will also need a very durable material. When hiking, you can expect things to get rough and if your jacket can’t keep up with you, it could ruin the entire experience.
As we mentioned before, breathability is important. But be careful of jackets with too much breathability as this will hinder their ability and result in them being unsuitable for use as an outer layer.
Many novice hikers underestimate the importance of the zipper. A zippered jacket is great for ventilation on the go, but those more concerned about the cold could opt for jackets without zippers to boost the amount of body heat captured.
The quality of the zipper system also plays a big role. When hiking, you can expect that the zipper will be used quite a lot, especially with garments that are used as insulation layers.
As the temperature heats up during your hike, the insulation layer could be removed, temporarily or for the remainder of the hike. When you get close to reaching your destination and temperature starts to drop, it will have to be put back on.
So look for quality zipper systems as you can expect to use them quite a lot.
Another feature that is often overlooked is hand pockets. Not only do they serve as a method of protecting your hands from extreme cold, but also as storage compartments for the many items of gear that hikers tend to use.
The pockets should be conveniently placed in order for easy access even if you’re wearing other equipment.
Weight is one of the most important aspects when it comes to hiking. While a few extra pounds here and there might not be an issue in day-to-day life, it could make all the difference during a tough hike.
That’s why most hikers try to keep everything to a minimum, their gear included. Unfortunately, vital parts of the attire such as a mid-layer fleece jacket simply cannot be left behind. Therefore, hikers go for the next best thing, finding the most lightweight option that offers the best features.