The Best Fleece Jackets of 2022

Columbia’s Benton Springs Full-Zip and The North Face’s Denali 2 are stylishly functional.

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Best Fleece Jackets of 2022


Fleece jackets are a staple for cold-weather days and chilly nights. The moisture-wicking fabric is made from polyester and resembles natural wool in appearance, feel, and characteristics, so a good-quality fleece jacket is the perfect layering piece for skiing, winter hiking, or running. And with three types of fleece weight to choose from—light, medium, and heavy—there is certainly a fleece jacket to match your style preferences.

Columbia's Benton Springs Full-Zip is our favorite fleece jacket for women, and the classic North Face Denali 2 is our top pick for men. Functionality and versatility make these two jackets stand out in a sea of fleece designs. Both are perfect for various activities and weather conditions and will last you for years. If you’re looking for something else to add to your wardrobe, check out more of our favorite fleece jackets, including hooded, lightweight, and budget options.

Here are the best fleece jackets to add to your wardrobe:

The Best Women's Fleece Jackets

Best Overall: Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket

Columbia Benton Springs Fleece Jacket


Why We Love It: This incredibly soft jacket has a universally flattering silhouette and zippered pockets.

What to Consider: It has a slightly slim fit, so order a size up if you're planning on wearing more layers underneath it.

Patagonia may get the most credit for helping to invent the modern fleece jacket in the late 1970s, but it’s Columbia that contributed the most to the mass market with the creation of its MTR (maximum thermal retention) fleece in the early 1990s. The fabric, with its quick-drying, hypoallergenic, and non-pilling qualities, was an immediate success, and the company continues to use it widely in its products. If you've never owned a classic Benton Springs fleece jacket before, then now is the time to get one (or two, since they come in so many colors).

This best-selling, customer-favorite jacket is truly a styling powerhouse. Its lightness makes it the perfect layering piece that can double as a sweater or an outer layer. The fabric is so incredibly soft and breathable that you can wear it over a short-sleeved T-shirt or a tank top. Since fleece was created with active lifestyles in mind, the fabric is also moisture-wicking. It has a slightly slim silhouette that looks elegant and structured. The two side pockets are zippered, giving you peace of mind about carrying valuables on the slopes or even in your day-to-day life. The elastic hemline on the sleeves is another practical feature that helps trap heat so you will stay toasty in the winter. Last but certainly not least, the length of the jacket is just perfect—it hits right around the hipline, so it doesn't restrict your movements in any way. 

Sizes: XS-XXL, including petite, standard, and plus | Fleece weight: Medium | Weight: 8.8 ounces

Best Budget: Amazon Essentials Long-sleeve Polar Soft Fleece Jacket

Amazon Essentials Long-sleeve Polar Soft Fleece Jacket


Why We Love It: It comes in over 30 color and print options.

What to Consider: The sleeves may be a bit too long for some customers.

Amazon's fleece jacket is a budget-friendly wardrobe staple that is comparable to similar but more expensive versions from big-name brands. It’s cut from mid-weight and super-soft polyester fleece that will keep you warm once temperatures start dipping. The jacket has a high collar that's similar to a turtleneck for extra skin coverage and a slightly fitted silhouette. We recommend you go a size up if you plan to wear it as a top layer. 

The contoured side seams definitely up the elegance factor of this casual jacket. Two deep zippered side pockets complement the classic design and will help you carry small valuables such as credit cards and keys. You'll be forgiven if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of colors and prints this jacket comes in—choose from trendy olive green and plaid to classic black, navy, and white options that can be dressed up or down.

Sizes: XS-6XL | Fleece weight: Medium | Weight: Not listed

Best Hoodie: Outdoor Research Women's Trail Mix Hoodie

Outdoor Research Women's Trail Mix Hoodie

Outdoor Research

Why We Love It: The waffled grid adds texture to the hoodie.

What to Consider: It has a loose fit.   

Hoodies are a wardrobe must-have for a reason (Cool looks and functionality? Sign us up!), and this Outdoor Research design comes with a few extra features that will make it your go-to jacket. The fabric is treated with a thermoregulating coating that ensures comfort in every condition and during every activity. The material adjusts to your body temperature to keep you cool and dry when you're active and warm and cozy when you're watching the snow fall with a latte. The jacket is lined with soft and lightweight fleece that is breathable and quick-drying and keeps moisture away. Another bonus is that the fabric delivers SPF 30, so pack this hoodie if you're heading for a long hike out in the sun. Design-wise, there is also a lot to love about this fleece hoodie. The long sleeves have thumb holes for extra coverage, and the back is slightly longer than the front without restricting your movements.

Sizes: XS-XXXL | Fleece weight: Medium | Weight: 12 ounces

Best Lightweight: REI Co-op Groundbreaker Fleece Jacket 2.0

REI Co-op Groundbreaker Fleece Jacket 2.0


Why We Love It: The stretchy hemline at the cuffs and waist keeps the cold out.

What to Consider: The jacket has a slim fit that can make layering underneath difficult.

Nothing compares to the feeling of warm fleece against your skin, regardless of the season. So if you're in the market for a year-round fleece jacket, this lightweight option from REI is the real deal. The company has updated its original Groundbreaker style in a thinner fabric that's lightweight but doesn't compromise on warmth and coziness. Pack it for an evening trip to the beach in the summer, or wear it under your jacket while you hike your favorite mountain in the winter. 

Additional features like side zip pockets for small valuables and a high collar for extra skin coverage complement this versatile fleece jacket. We are also fans of the classic hip-length silhouette and the stitching detailing that gives it a cooler look. 

Sizes: XS-XL | Fleece weight: Medium | Weight: Not listed

Best for Running: Eddie Bauer Sandstone Backbone Grid Hoodie

Eddie Bauer Sandstone Backbone Grid Hoodie


Why We Love It: It features a lightweight, water-resistant shell.

What to Consider: It comes at a higher price point than similar jackets.

A fleece jacket is a welcome addition to your running ensemble, especially if you're working out on a chilly fall morning or in the winter. But most jackets have a major issue—they tend to overheat you after a while. This one by Eddie Bauer does not. It features a breathable, lightweight polyester shell that repels water and moisture, making it the perfect choice for overcast days. Another great feature is that the soft shell is stretchy, giving you a lot of freedom in moving around—whether you are warming up before your running session or doing stretching exercises afterward. The jacket is lined with soft fleece for extra warmth without compromising the product's breathability.

This zip-up also comes with thumb holes and three zip pockets that are deep enough to hold your valuables while running. The hoodie silhouette is another reason to add this fleece jacket to your wardrobe—it will keep you dry on a rainy day. 

Sizes: XS-XXL | Fleece weight: Lightweight | Weight: 10.6 ounces

Best for Hiking and Skiing: The North Face TKA Attitude Quarter-zip Fleece

The North Face TKA Attitude Quarter-zip Fleece

The North Face

Why We Love It: The waistline length is convenient for active lifestyles.

What to Consider: The quarter-zip design doesn’t allow you to fully open the jacket for airflow.

Having an extra layer on the ski slopes is a must since weather in the mountains can change unexpectedly. The North Face fleece jacket delivers comfort and warmth without the bulk that would slow you down. Its most notable feature is the slightly cropped silhouette — the hemline reaches the waist, allowing you to move freely on the ski tracks or hiking trail. 

The jacket is equipped with a zip kangaroo pocket that's accessible from both sides, a stand collar (read: no scarf necessary!), and an elastic cuff and drawcord to keep the snow and cold out. Feeling hot? The quarter-zip allows you to quickly cool off without removing the jacket entirely.

We also love the softness and the colors that this functional fleece jacket comes in—check out the beautiful rose and mint green shades. It’s cut from cozy fleece made from recyclable materials.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Fleece weight: Midweight | Weight: Not listed

The Best Men's Fleece Jackets

Best Overall: The North Face Denali 2 Jacket

The North Face Denali 2 Jacket


Why We Love It: It’s compatible with The North Face shells, so you can easily zip them together to make a complete winter jacket.

What to Consider: It’s warmer than lightweight fleeces, so it might not be the best summer option. 

The North Face's Denali jacket has a dedicated following among those with an active lifestyle. But even if you're not into daily workouts or intense hikes, having this fleece jacket in your wardrobe will make your outings much more pleasant. It’s durable, made of high-quality fleece fabric, and packed with helpful design features.

The classic fit includes a high reinforced collar, straight cut, and waist-length hemline, making it the perfect layering piece. The shoulders, chest, and lower back sleeves feature another fabric layer for added protection and durability. The duo of chest and side pockets—all zipped—give you plenty of space to carry small valuables. Feel free to wear your fleece jacket even on a rainy day, as it’s treated with a water-repellent coating. The elastic cuffs and drawcord hemline will keep the elements out while delivering maximum warmth and comfort, and the lightweight fleece fabric is made from recycled polyester

Sizes: S-XXL | Fleece weight: Heavy | Weight: 16.9 ounces

Best Budget: Amazon Essentials Full-zip Polar Fleece Jacket

Amazon Essentials Full-zip Polar Fleece Jacket


Why We Love It: It’s made of a good-quality fleece and has loads of features.

What to Consider: The fabric is lightweight, so you will need something else on top of it in frigid conditions.

You really don't need to break the bank to find a good-quality, durable, and warm fleece jacket. Amazon's line of menswear essentials include this polar fleece with many of the features of high-priced jackets. The zip-up has roomy side pockets for your phone, credit cards, and earbuds. The high collar allows you to dress it up or down—as a casual cardigan or a more formal blazer-like jacket, depending on the occasion. The sleeves were designed extra-long so tall gentlemen don't have to go a size up for the perfect sleeve fit. And since Amazon offers this affordable fleece jacket in various colors and prints, you’re sure to find one that is right for you, whether you are looking to make a statement or simply want a multi-functional everyday jacket.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Fleece weight: Midweight | Weight: Not listed

Best Hoodie: Eddie Bauer Camp Fleece Riverwash Pullover Hoodie

Eddie Bauer Camp Fleece Riverwash Pullover Hoodie

Eddie Bauer

Why We Love It: It’s lined with ultra-soft brushed fleece.

What to Consider: The style comes in mostly bright colors and is not available in black or navy.

A fleece hoodie should be, first and foremost, cozy. It should have a comfy, lived-in feel from the first time you put it on, and that’s exactly the experience you can expect from Eddie Bauer's Camp Fleece Riverwash pullover hoodie. The fabric is a blend of breathable cotton and polyester, and the hoodie is lined with soft, lightweight fleece to keep you warm without overheating. The classic cut includes a three-piece hood with a drawstring and elastic cuffs and hemline. We love that the company has used new pigment technology that gives the hoodie a faded vintage look at the seams, making it appear that you've had it in your wardrobe for years. The style is available in various attention-grabbing colors for those with a penchant for bold looks.

Sizes: S-XXXL | Fleece weight: Lightweight | Weight: Not available

Best Lightweight: The North Face TKA Glacier Quarter-zip Pullover

The North Face TKA Glacier Quarter-zip Pullover


Why We Love It: The sweater-inspired style makes it the perfect mid-layer.

What to Consider: It doesn't have pockets.

A lightweight fleece jacket is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you will own. It can double as a sweater and an outer layer, making it a four-season option. This fleece pullover from The North Face works great as a mid-layer. It features a quarter-zip, which makes cooling off after an intense hike a breeze. You can also wear it as a turtleneck with the collar up for extra warmth. The standard fit features a mid-hip length and elastic cuffs. We love the color-block design of the jacket, too—it has a timeless appeal and adds an interesting visual element.

Sizes: S-XXXL | Fleece weight: Lightweight | Weight: 7.6 ounces

Best for Running: Patagonia Men's R1 Fleece Pullover Hoody

Patagonia Men's R1 Fleece Pullover Hoody


Why We Love It: The high collar and hood will protect your face in windy conditions.

What to Consider: Some customers may find the slim fit too snug around the arms.

Running activates upper-body muscles, which means you need a jacket that doesn't restrict your arms and shoulders. This Patagonia best-seller delivers the best in activewear—it regulates your body temperature, keeps you comfortable at all times, and gives you the freedom to move as much as your workout requires. 

The lightweight fabric is lined with fleece, making it perfect for athletic activities once temperatures dip. It's made from a blend of recycled polyester and spandex, and it's designed in a moisture-wicking grid pattern that traps heat to warm you up. The chest zip pocket will comfortably fit a phone, cards, and a key. This fleece hoodie comes with a quarter-length front zip that allows you to cool off after a workout session.

Sizes: XXS-XXXL | Fleece weight: Midweight | Weight: 11.7 ounces

Best for Hiking and Skiing: Columbia Steens Mountain Full-zip 2.0 Fleece Jacket

Columbia Steens Mountain Full-zip 2.0 Fleece Jacket


Why We Love It: The lightweight fleece fabric is breathable and dries quickly.

What to Consider: The sleeves don't have thumb holes.

A lightweight fleece jacket is the perfect top layer for winter sports enthusiasts, because it keeps you warm without overheating. This one by Columbia was definitely made to accompany you down the ski slopes or while hiking in the mountains. The mid-weight polyester fleece fabric the company developed in the early 1990s is hypoallergenic, super-soft, breathable, and warm. Lastly, it’s machine-washable, so cleaning it doesn't require a trip to the dry cleaner.

Keep your valuables in the two zip pockets, or use them to warm up your hands while out and about in the winter. The drawcord hem will keep the snow and cold away, while the high collar means you can forgo a scarf. 

Sizes: S-XXL | Fleece weight: Midweight | Weight: 8.8 ounces

Tips for Buying a Fleece Jacket

Consider layering when choosing a fit

Fleece jackets are the quintessential layer pieces. You can wear them under a water-resistant shell or rain jacket on a hike or over a base layer while skiing. So before you click “add to cart,” make sure that the jacket's cut is layer-friendly. That means you should probably stay away from oversize silhouettes, because it would be difficult— and pretty uncomfortable—to wear anything else over them. Just don't go in the other direction and choose a fit that's too tight—you'd still want to be able to wear at least a lightweight T-shirt under it. 

Pick versatile colors

A fleece jacket can be a styling powerhouse if you choose it in the right color. Neutrals and earthy palettes in beige, olive green, gray, light brown, burgundy, navy, and camel are all shades you can easily combine and layer over other colors to end up with a stylish look. 

Decide whether a quarter, half, or full zip is right for you

Most fleece jackets have a zipper closure that varies in length, so deciding which one is right for you will significantly narrow down your choices. To do so, consider your lifestyle. A full-length zipper will give you the most styling flexibility (you can wear it as a top jacket or a sweater) and freedom. They are also the most versatile style of all. Half-length zippers are great for working out and active lifestyles, because they allow you to cool off without having to unzip your jacket all the way down. And finally, a fleece jacket with a quarter zip is perfect for those who put warmth at the top of their list and are looking for a sweater-inspired look.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What exactly is fleece?

    Fleece is a synthetic alternative (read: cheaper and animal-friendly) to natural wool shearling. This lightweight and very soft fabric is usually made from polyester but keeps most of the qualities of natural fabrics, such as quick-drying, anti-perspiration, moisture-wicking, and breathability. That's why sportswear clothing is often lined with a thin layer of fleece—to make it extra-warm without overheating the body.

  • Are fleece jackets waterproof?

    While a fleece jacket will keep you dry if you wear it while it's drizzling outside, it won't hold up against a rainstorm. (For that, you will need a proper water-resistant shell.) That's why many brands design rain jackets lined with fleece fabric that offer warmth while the outer material shields you from the elements.

  • How do I wash a fleece jacket?

    It's easy to wash your fleece jacket at home, but you still have to keep a few things in mind before tossing it in the machine. If the fabric is stained, you can spot-treat it with soap or a stain remover. (Never use bleach on it.) If you notice that the fabric sheds quite a bit, you can use a lint roller on it before you wash it. Then turn it inside out, and wash it with a mild detergent in cold or cool water on the gentle cycle. While drying it in the air is the best option, if you must use the dryer, choose the air-dry or no-heat option.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L writers like Dobrina Zhekova use their personal experience, customer recommendations, and professional expertise to research and select the best-looking and most functional apparel. Here, Dobrina put her fashion and outdoor experience to work and curated a list of fleece jackets to fit every style and budget.

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