This fall, I’ve already had three friends send me an email or text with the same question: “Which is the best fleece jacket?”
It can be a difficult question to answer, because there are so many Patagonia fleece jackets available, and because the best fleece jacket for you will vary widely depending on what you want to do with it.
Do you need a thin layering piece for wearing under a shell during foul-weather snowshoeing? Do you want a warm, casual pullover that you can wear beside the fire but will still keep you warm outdoors when combined with your favorite down jacket? Does it need to look nice enough to wear to dinner? Should it be windproof?
Well, we’re here to help you answer those questions. We’ll focus on Patagonia fleece jackets for different uses and different conditions. Which Patagonia fleece jacket best suits your needs and climate?
Casual Patagonia fleece jackets:
These Patagonia fleece jackets are warm, breathable, and most feature a regular fit for wearing casually or underneath your favorite shell jacket. Patagonia features many recycled fabrics in their fleece jackets, and all are recyclable through the “common threads” program… but it’ll probably be decades before you can successfully wear any of these styles out!
Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T pullover (women’s)
If there is a woman on your holiday shopping list, and she doesn’t already have this jacket, just stop reading now and go buy one. You can’t go wrong. The Re-Tool Snap-T — made from Polartec Thermal Pro fleece — is incredibly warm and comfy, and it looks great. There is also a version for girls, the Girls’ Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover! Sorry, guys; this one’s exclusively for women. Don’t worry, we’ve got some great options for you later on.
Why is the Patagonia Better Sweater a better sweater? Because the easy-care polyester fleece has a sweater-knit face, for the aesthetic of your favorite wool sweater with high performance and no hassle, that’s why. Timeless look, meet durability and moisture-wicking. There is a full Better Sweater collection of Patagonia fleece jackets, so I won’t try to link all of them individually; shop the site for the full selection of men’s and women’s Better Sweater styles.
Need a lightweight, recycled fleece jacket that’s windproof and piled high with thick fleece? The Patagonia Los Gatos Vest is the fleece for you. Formerly called the Los Lobos, this was one of our best-selling Patagonia jackets year after year. It looks fantastic, layers well with your favorite long-sleeve shirts, and comes in a jacket version as well (link above) if you’re just not the vest kind of girl.
To call the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T a classic understates the matter; this is one of the most popular fleeces of all time, and still one of the best-selling Patagonia fleece jackets. It’s simple, breathable, durable, comes in plenty of fun colors, and the polyester fleece is 86% recycled. Our “What is Synchilla?” article explains it best; Rock/Creek carries the complete Patagonia fleece collection.
Micro-D is the lightest weight fabric in the Patagonia Fleece Jacket collection, and another Patagonia staple. Ultra stretchy and breathable, the Patagonia Micro-D fleece jackets dry incredibly fast and are suited for use as a mid-layer or outerwear piece. If you’d prefer a full zipper, a hood, or want to buy one for the kids, check out the entire Patagonia Micro-D line at Rock/Creek. They even make a scarf out of this Micro-D fabric!
Technical Patagonia Fleece Jackets:
Are you in search of fleece insulation for active use climbing or backpacking or mountaineering, the kind that will fit comfortably beneath an alpine shell jacket and retain maximum warmth for minimum weight? The Regulator collection of Patagonia fleece jackets is your best bet. The numbers work just like Patagonia Capilene: R1 is the lightest, R4 is heaviest, so you can dial in just the right amount of heat retention for your activity and conditions.
Patagonia R1 jackets are made from a Polartec Power Dry fabric exclusive to Patagonia; this is a gridded fleece that’s incredibly efficient at trapping heat while still being lightweight and breathable. My R1 is my go-to fleece jacket for use as a mid-layer when hiking in cold conditions. Also available as a Patagonia R1 vest, Patagonia R1 hoody and Patagonia R1 full-zip jacket. Click here to browse the full Patagonia R1 fleece jacket collection, which features a slim fit.
Patagonia R2 Jacket (men’s)
The Patagonia R2 is the ultimate combination of form and function — stretchy, high-loft fleece traps heat where you need it, and stretchy side panels allow moisture to vent while you’re working hard in the backcountry. This is superior, lightweight warmth when worn under a shell jacket or down outerwear. Like the R1, the R2 is a slim fit garment and comes in a variety of flavors.
R3 makes the transition from slim fit to regular fit, allowing it to be worn more comfortably as an outerwear piece where necessary, but R3 is no less technical. Expanding upon the hi-loft aspect of the R2 series, the R3 delivers maximum thermal efficiency with a thick, fuzzy fleece. Made from Polartec Thermal Pro, with Polartec Power Stretch side panels and a drawcord hem, this is Patagonia’s warmest layering pieces, and one of the warmest fleece jackets you can find.
ALTERNATIVES to Patagonia Fleece Jackets
Of course, sometimes a fleece jacket may not be your best bet; there are situations where down insulation or synthetic insulation are better-suited. We won’t go into much detail there, but here are two suggestions to help you get started:
The Patagonia Nano Puff jacket was an instant classic, and for good reason. Compressible and lightweight, the synthetic PrimaLoft insulation keeps you warm even when wet, and it’s windproof to boot. The whole jacket stuffs into a small sack with a carabiner loop, making it perfect to take traveling or hiking. Also available as a pullover – shop the entire Patagonia Nano Puff collection at Rock/Creek.
800-fill goose down is the most efficient insulation in the world, offering maximum insulative value with minimum weight. Anytime you hear phrases like “ultralight” or “warmth-to-weight ratio,” you’re invariably talking about down insulation, and no one does it like Patagonia. This is an iconic, classic Patagonia jacket: durable, lightweight and effective. Like the Nano Puff, the Patagonia Down Sweater comes in a full range of style options.
And there you have it. Hopefully, this guide has helped you wade through the many options in Patagonia fleece jackets. Of course, if you need help deciding, you can email [email protected], call 888-707-6708 to talk to our customer service staff, or visit rockcreek.com and click the “live chat” button (when available) to talk to one of our experts; we’ll ask all the right questions and make sure you end up with the best fleece jacket for you.
Which Patagonia fleece is the right fleece for you? Check out our buyers guide: http://t.co/kZxqZ74zaV
— Rock/Creek (@RockCreek) November 7, 2013
Last updated: November 30, 2015