A first rate fleece midlayer needs to be a staple in each hiker’s backpack. The very best climbing fleeces present a much-needed increase in light-weight heat on chilly days, will be worn at camp and whereas climbing, and received’t crush your soul if you take a look at the value tag. Artificial polyester fleece feels mushy in opposition to the pores and skin and is considerably extra reasonably priced than down or artificial insulated jackets.

Finest Fleece Midlayers for Backpacking: Fast Navigation

Decathlon Quechua MH120 | Finest Finances
Melanzana Micro Grid | Fan Favourite
Patagonia R1 Air Full-Zip Hoodie | Finest Patagonia
Arc’teryx Kyanite | Finest City to Path Fleece
Senchi Alpha 60 | Finest Ultralight Fleece
Rab Alpha Flash | Finest Totally Featured Alpha Fleece

Finest Fleece Midlayers FAQs:
Fleece vs. Puffy for Through-Mountain climbing: Which is Higher?
Options to Search for within the Finest Through-Mountain climbing Fleece Jackets
Fleece Applied sciences

Finest Fleece Midlayers for Backpacking FAQs

Mountain climbing Fleece vs. Puffy for Through-Mountain climbing: Which is Higher?

Many hikers do NOT carry a fleece and a puffy on the similar time. You ought to take each if you happen to anticipate chilly/unpredictable climate or if you happen to are likely to get chilled simply — in any other case, choose one or the opposite within the curiosity of conserving weight, funds, and pack house.

Puffies, particularly these insulated with down, have the next warmth-to-weight ratio than fleeces. As a result of they’re thicker, additionally they provide extra wind safety. Go together with a puffy if heat is your high precedence.


Nonetheless, nearly all backpacking puffies function skinny, delicate face materials that may put on skinny or snag if you happen to’re not cautious. Rain or sweat can wreck a down jacket. And whereas artificial insulated jackets are much less susceptible to moisture, they’re usually too heat for consolation whereas climbing.

Fleeces are straightforward to restore with a needle and thread, in contrast to most insulated jackets.

In distinction, fleeces are sturdy. They’re not vulnerable to snagging, and within the occasion of a rip, they’re straightforward to stitch up with a needle and thread. You possibly can wash your fleece within the laundry with the remainder of your garments, in contrast to a down jacket, which wants particular care.

They’re additionally skinny sufficient to be breathable and provide a full vary of movement, making them higher suited to heavy exercise. It’s no large deal in case your fleece midlayer will get moist as a result of it’s a hydrophobic materials that absorbs lower than 1 % of its weight in water and dries shortly. Additionally, they’re considerably cheaper than puffies.

Briefly: go along with fleece in order for you a sturdy layer you can put on whereas climbing or if that you must maintain a detailed eye in your funds.

What are some options to search for within the Finest fleece midlayers for backpacking?

Weight: Beneath 14 ounces.

Zipper: Full-zip jackets are well-ventilated and simple to tackle and off, however the zipper additionally provides weight and creates a chilly spot down the center. Pullovers are a ache to get on and off and may’t be unzipped to dump warmth, however the lack of zippers minimizes warmth loss. In the event you can’t determine, you possibly can cut up the distinction by going for a half-zip.

Hood: Provides to the load and value of the fleece, however the enhance is normally minimal, and also you get a variety of added heat in change. In the event you go for a hood, be sure it has a shock wire adjustment so you possibly can maintain it in place and seal out chilly drafts. Most of the fleeces on this record have each hooded and hoodless variations.

Pockets: Zippered handwarmer pockets are essentially the most purposeful, however kangaroo pockets (discovered on many pullover-style fleeces) work properly too. Having pockets largely issues if you happen to plan to put on your fleece round camp since, if you happen to’re sporting it on the path, you possibly can retailer issues in your backpack pockets as an alternative.

Match: A slim (not tight) match is finest as it can reduce chilly spots and lifeless airspace. Decreasing bulk with a trim match may even save weight. You’ll most likely solely have a base layer beneath this, so there’s not a lot justification for a free or saggy fleece past private desire.

Micro-grid sample: Most of the finest climbing fleeces function “micro grid” fleece. The grid sample is good for temperature and moisture administration because it improves wicking and air circulation. Micro-grid fleece is a good function for anybody who plans to hike of their fleece often.

Fleece Weights and Applied sciences

Fleece weight denotes the thickness and heat (and, sure, weight) of fleece. Light-weight, aka 100-weight, and midweight, aka 200-weight, fleeces are hottest for backpacking and different technical pursuits. Heavyweight (300-weight) fleece is just too cumbersome and heavy to be sensible for all however front-country use. Most hikers will desire a midweight fleece (particularly those that run chilly), however light-weight fleeces are applicable for ultralighters and hikers in sizzling climates who desire a slight increase in heat.

Many jackets on this record function some sort of Polartec fleece. Polartec dominates the fleece market and is well-known for its high quality and revolutionary textiles.

The Finest Fleece Midlayers for Backpacking of 2024

Patagonia R1 Pullover Males’s | Girls’s (Finest Patagonia Fleece Jacket)

best fleece midlayers backpacking

Finest fleece midlayers for backpacking: Patagonia R1

MSRP: $139
Weight: 11.7 ouncesmen’s | 9.7 oz. girls’s
Supplies: one hundred pc recycled polyester fleece
Measurement vary: XXS – XXL

The Patagonia R1 has been a thru-hiker staple for a few years. At nearly 12 ounces for a males’s medium, it’s not the lightest midlayer on this record, however the grid sample on the within of the material excels at moisture wicking and breathability.

It options an athletic match that’s excellent for layering and a scuba hood that can make you feel and look like a ninja. Along with the pullover featured right here, you may get the R1 as a full zip for extra versatility (girls’s model right here).

Like most Patagonia merchandise, you possibly can really feel good that you simply’re buying not only a high quality product, however one thing backed by an organization that values moral and sustainable manufacturing: the fleece is made with 93 % recycled cloth and sewn in a Honest Commerce licensed facility.

Supplies and Options

Polartec is the gold commonplace for fleece materials. The R1 options their Energy Grid materials, a cutting-edge grid materials that’s lighter, extra compressible, and extra breathable than conventional fleece. It’s made with 93 % recycled polyester and seven % spandex. The material is stretchy, which reinforces mobility and makes it straightforward to push the sleeves up.

The R1 Hoodie has two drop-in handwarmer pockets (not zippered) and a zippered chest pocket. It contains a tight-fitting scuba hood that gives full protection for the brow and backside half of the face beneath your nostril when totally zipped.

The consolation/performance of this jacket speaks for itself, but it surely additionally options a number of small, considerate particulars that set it aside from the competitors.

The cuffs are elastic and have thumb loops to maintain the sleeves pulled fully over your wrists, enhancing heat and luxury. The material has Patty’s proprietary “HeiQ” odor management to assist offset fleece’s pure tendency to retain disagreeable smells. Patagonia additionally sews this garment with offset seams that sit off the shoulder to cut back uncomfortable rubbing beneath your pack straps.

Professionals: Breathable; moisture-wicking; recycled supplies and Honest Commerce stitching; odor management; thumbholes; offset seams; scuba hood
Cons: Costly; heavy; hand pockets don’t have zippers; not particularly heat for the load

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Decathlon Quechua MH100 Males’s | Girls’s  (Finest Finances Through-Mountain climbing Fleece)

best fleece midlayer backpacking

Finest fleece midlayer backpacking: Quechua MH100

MSRP: $20
Weight: 7.9 ouncesmen’s L | 6.7 ouncesgirls’s M
Supplies: 100% recycled polyester
Measurement vary: XS – XXL males’s | XS – XXXL girls’s

What? Mountain climbing gear for simply $20?  You possibly can hardly discover first rate wool socks for $30, so the truth that you may get a whole ultralight fleece for that value is definitely unimaginable. It’s additionally light-weight and made with one hundred pc recycled polyester. Decathlon retains prices low by limiting advertising and marketing bills and protecting many of the manufacturing course of in-house.

The product picture featured above makes the MH100 look extra like a heavy-duty base layer, however whereas it does have an athletic match and a mushy brushed inside, it’s not slim sufficient to be sensible as a next-to-skin layer for climbing and tenting.

Supplies and Options

The MH100 is about as minimalist because it will get: no hood, no thumb loops, no fancy Polartec grid.  The material is properly stretchy, although, and it’s roomy sufficient for a base layer to suit comfortably beneath. The jacket’s brushed inside feels good and mushy and helps the layer entice warmth extra successfully. It additionally has two zippered handwarmer pockets.

Decathlon ensures this fleece for abrasion resistance, colorfastness, seam integrity, and resilience after repeat laundering.

Professionals: Loopy low cost; mushy brushed inside; ultralight
No hooded choice; light-weight fleece isn’t that heat; non-gridded fleece received’t breathe properly

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Melanzana Micro Grid Hoodie V2 | Fan Favourite

best hiking fleece

Finest thru-hiking fleece jackets: Melanzana Micro Grid V2.

MSRP: $86
Weight: 12.1 oz. (males’s massive) | 9.3 oz. (girls’s medium)
Supplies: Polartec Micro Grid (one hundred pc recycled polyester)
Measurement vary: S – XXL males’s | XS – XL girls’s

Leadville, CO-based Melanzana’s Micro Grid hoodie is a cult basic within the out of doors group. These fortunate sufficient to personal a coveted “Melly” are likely to sport it proudly on the path.

This fleece is heat, versatile, cozy, and reasonably priced. But it surely’s solely bought in-person at their retailer in Leadville, making Mellies very troublesome for many of us to return by. Nonetheless, we’re simply placing it on the market: it’s an amazing efficiency fleece that’s value protecting behind your thoughts in case a chance to go to the Melanzana retailer ever presents itself.

Supplies and Options

Melanzana’s iconic hoodie is a pullover-style fleece that includes a kangaroo pocket, raglan sleeves, and an adjustable scuba hood that gives glorious protection. It’s not the lightest fleece on this record, but it surely’s very heat—nearly too heat to hike in.

V2 is made with one hundred pc recycled post-consumer waste. Similar as earlier than, the V2’s recycled Polartec cloth is mushy, fast-drying, and extremely efficient at trapping warmth. There are not any zipper-induced chilly spots, and the daring grid sample enhances breathability.

We like that the kangaroo pocket has small openings that reduce gapping and maintain your belongings from falling out. The scuba hood can be a delight: it’s an uncommon function for a pullover, but it surely supplies glorious protection when pulled up and cinched, and when the hood is down, it features like a cowl neck to maintain your neck heat.

Professionals: Iconic model; made in USA; no zippers = thermal effectivity; kangaroo pocket; reasonably priced; a lot of colour choices; cozy scuba hood; comfy; very heat
Restricted in-store availability, no on-line availability; not the lightest; pullover design reduces air flow/ease of use; will be too heat to hike in; filling kangaroo pocket causes sag

READ NEXT – Melanzana Micro Grid Evaluation

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Arc’teryx Kyanite Males’s | Girls’s (Finest City to Path Fleece)

best fleece midlayers backpacking

Finest fleece midlayers for backpacking: Arc’teryx Kyanite

MSRP: $200 males’s | $180 girls’s
Weight: 15.7 oz. (males’s) | 12.1 oz. (girls’s)
Supplies: Polartec Energy Stretch Professional
Measurement vary: XS – XXL males’s | XXS – XXL girls’s

We love the way in which this jacket matches. It has nice vary of movement and is insanely comfy. Though costly, it might probably pull double responsibility as a climbing fleece and an off-the-cuff around-town jacket. The trim, athletic match is flattering, thermally environment friendly, and excellent for layering.

In the event you just like the look of the Kyanite however want it had been lighter/cheaper, try the hoodless Kyanite jacket (girls’s right here).

Supplies and Options

This jacket is stretchy. The fleece itself is Polartec Energy Stretch Professional, a mushy and four-way-stretchy polyester-elastane mix with a nylon face materials. The hem, cuffs, and hood are all certain with stretch cloth, as properly, and the underarm panels are gusseted to maximise consolation and vary of movement. That’s simply the extent of element we might count on from an Arc’teryx design.

The Kyanite additionally options huge, zippered handwarmer pockets that present loads of storage. Not like most jackets, these pockets sit largely above the extent of a backpack hip belt, so that they’ll nonetheless work even if you’re climbing. The balaclava/scuba-style hood received’t droop in your eyes and supplies nice safety when totally zipped.

At $180 to $200, the Kyanite is by far the most costly fleece on this record. Arc’teryx is an costly model; you get a variety of high quality in your cash, however nonetheless — budget-conscious hikers will wrestle to justify the price of this fleece in a market that’s already floodeed with extra reasonably priced choices.

Professionals: Heat; stretchy; flattering match; cosy scuba hood; articulated design; pockets nonetheless work with pack hip belt
Costly; heavy; slim reduce will not be comfy for everybody; non-gridded fleece received’t breathe properly

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Senchi Alpha 60 Hoodie Unisex (Finest Ultralight Fleece Midlayer)

best fleece midlayers backpacking

Finest fleece midlayers for backpacking: Senchi Alpha 60

MSRP: $85
Weight: 3.7 oz.
Supplies: Polartec Alpha Direct 60 (78 % recycled polyester)
Measurement vary: XS – XXXL

Previously often known as the Senchi Wren, the Alpha 60 is the lightest and most breathable fleece on this record. The one hassle (apart from being perennially out of inventory) is that it’s actually not meant as a standalone midlayer. The hoodie’s Alpha Direct fleece is so gentle and breathable that it doesn’t operate in addition to a midlayer by itself besides in high-output circumstances.

Layering an ultralight wind shell over high of the Alpha 60 will maintain the wind from reducing by with out including a lot weight, providing you with a extremely versatile, streamlined midlayer system that may be adjusted on the fly relying on circumstances. That ultralight versatility, mixed with the midlayer’s phenomenal next-to-skin consolation, is why Senchi has turn out to be a cult basic within the cottage gear trade over the previous few years.

Supplies and Options

Alpha Direct is Polartec’s lightest fleece as a result of the fibers are mushy sufficient to be worn straight in opposition to the pores and skin with out an intervening layer of backing cloth.

Alpha Direct doesn’t resist wind very properly, however by the identical token, it has unparalleled breathability. It’s handiest when paired with a windproof layer: go along with simply the fleece when sweating by a tricky climb, and throw the wind shell on high when the path ranges out and also you want extra heat.

The Alpha 60 has gusseted underarms and articulated sleeves for improved mobility. A balaclava hood and elastic bindings for the hood and cuff scale back drafts. For a considerably heavier fleece weight and a quarter-length zipper for air flow, try the Senchi Alpha 90 (previously the Lark) as an alternative.

Professionals: Delicate next-to-skin really feel; ultralight; very breathable; purposeful balaclava hood and articulated sleeves
Cons: Poor standalone wind resistance; no pockets; often out of inventory

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Rab Alpha Flash Males’s | Girls’s (Finest Totally Featured Alpha Fleece)

 Best fleece midlayers backpacking

Finest fleece midlayers for backpacking: Rab Alpha Flash.

MSRP: $145
Weight: 9.6 oz. (males’s) | 7 oz. (girls’s)
Supplies: Polartec Alpha polyester fleece, Thermic brushed again single jersey
Measurement vary: S – XXL males’s | XS – XL girls’s

The Rab Alpha Flash is a good choice if you happen to’re searching for one thing fancy, technical, and beneficiant within the heat division. It’s a fuzzier, loftier fleece than many on our record, although it’s additionally among the many lightest at below 10 ounces.

That is the best choice on our record for somebody looking for the UL/breathability advantages of Polartec Alpha however with extra of the options of a standard fleece, together with stretch panels, a pocket, and a full-length.

That is most likely the best choice on our record for anybody looking for a fleece that may take the place of their puffy. Significantly when paired with an ultralight wind shell, it’s heat and lightweight sufficient to compete along with your common insulated jacket, with all of the breathability, sturdiness, and moisture administration benefits of fleece as well. It’s additionally inexpensive than most puffies, although it’s on the expensive facet for a fleece.

Supplies and Options

Polartec Alpha is a grid fleece that was initially designed to be used by particular forces. It’s a high performer in breathability, compressibility, and thermal effectivity. It delivers constant, light-weight heat whereas wicking sweat for max next-to-skin consolation.

The Alpha Flash additionally incorporates Rab’s proprietary Thermic brushed again single jersey (a skinny, stretchy microfleece), within the sides, underarms, and chest pocket. These panels are light-weight and extremely breathable, so they assist to maintain the load down and maximize air flow.

As a result of Polartec Alpha is so breathable, you might have to pair it with a windproof shell (akin to your rain jacket) in breezy circumstances.

The jacket options flat lock seams, that are clean and low-profile (so no uncomfortable rubbing). It has a zippered chest pocket and an adjustable hem, however no handwarmer pockets and no hooded choice. That is on the costly facet for a fleece, but it surely’s an excellent worth contemplating its efficiency and options.

Professionals: Breathable; packable; light-weight; glorious warmth-to-weight ratio; versatile fleece facet panels
Costly; no hooded choice; no handwarmer pockets; finest when paired with a wind shell

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Extra of the Finest Gear of 2024

Why must you belief us?

As a result of we’re so extremely clever, in fact! Enticing, too. (To not point out extraordinarily humble).

But when that isn’t sufficient to impress you, there’s additionally the truth that everybody who contributed to this text is an skilled thru-hiker with 1000’s of on-trail miles below their belt. We’re gear nerds who love testing our tools on trails lengthy and brief, and we’ve examined dozens of climbing fleeces in pursuit of hotter backcountry days.

Furthermore, we do our greatest to remain plugged into the path group’s gear preferences (we’re undoubtedly these obnoxious folks on path who at all times need to know what everybody else is packing). Which means our picks for the most effective climbing fleeces aren’t simply our opinions: they’re primarily based on years of suggestions from the thru-hiking group.

Competence and backpacking proficiency personified.

Rachel Shoemaker and Alexander “GPS” Brown contributed to this record.

Featured picture: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).



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