Best Fleece Jacket For Hiking – Expert Review (2021)

Updated on November 9, 2020

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.

Best Fleece Jacket For Hiking (Top Picks)

Patagonia Men's Better Sweater 1/4 Zip Pale Khaki Sweatshirt MD

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Columbia Men's Standard Steens Mountain 2.0 Full Zip Fleece Jacket, Collegiate Navy, Medium

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Top Hiking Fleece Jackets (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 12 fleece jackets for this article. Below are the best fleece jackets for hiking that made our short list.

  1. Patagonia Better Sweater - Best Overall
  2. Columbia Steens Mountain - Editor's Choice
  3. Nautica Kid's Fleece Full Zip Hoodie
  4. SCOTTeVEST Hoodie Microfleece - Best Value
  5. Jack Wolfskin Wolf

Read our complete buyers guide for fleece jackets for hiking.

Best Overall Fleece Jackets for Hiking

1. Patagonia Better Sweater

Patagonia Men's Better Sweater 1/4 Zip Pale Khaki Sweatshirt MD

5/5 Overall Rating

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. 

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Main Features
  • Raglan sleeves
  • Silhouette hugging design
  • Zippered left-chest pocket
What we like
  • Great mobility
  • Quality feel
  • Flat-seam construction
What we dislike
  • Workmanship not up to par in terms of seam construction
Key Takeway

Patagonia Better Sweater is great for novice hikers that are just starting out and want a lightweight garment.

2. Columbia Steens Mountain

5/5 Overall Rating

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.

Main Features
  • Collared neck design
  • 2 Side zippered security pockets
  • Modern classic fit
What we like
  • Security pockets to keep items secure
  • Super strong seams due to reinforced stitching
What we dislike
  • It doesn’t feel like real fleec
Key Takeaway

Columbia Menll Steens Mountain is better suited for more experienced hikers that are more likely to go for hikes in colder weather.

3. Nautica Kid's Fleece Full Zip Hoodie

4.5/5 Overall Rating

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.

Main Features
  • Split kangaroo pocket
  • Drawstring hood
  • Full zip
What we like
  • Quality feel due to 60% cotton make up
  • Entirely machine washable
What we dislike
  • Possible shrinking can be expected, if not washed as instructed
Key Takeaway

Made to be more durable, so Nautica Fleece Hoodie can keep up with the overly active lifestyles of younger trekkers.

4. SCOTTeVEST Hoodie Microfleece

4/5 Overall Rating

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.

Main Features
  • Thumbholes in the cuffs
  • Weight Management System
  • Unisex
What we like
  • Personal area network
  • 21 Pickpocket-proof pockets
What we dislike
  • Material could be thicker
Key Takeaway

 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.

5. Jack Wolfskin Wolf

3.5/5 Overall Rating

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.

Main Features
  • Wolf fleece material
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
What we like
  • High quality fabric
  • Extremely warm
What we dislike
  • Some users report that the garment starts to lose its color after a few washes
Key Takeaway

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.

Fleece Jacket Buyer’s Guide


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.

Hand Pockets

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.

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