How to choose the right fleece

Originally named polar fleece when it was developed in 1979, the aim of fleece was to outdo wool. These days it’s a key piece of clothing that will keep you warm and comfortable in the outdoors.


Fleece is made from synthetic material named after the natural fleece coat on sheep. Ironically, it's commonly made from polyester and recycled polyester and it’s a remarkable material given how soft and wearable it is.

Your typical fleece acts as a midlayer between your base and outer. It’s effective at trapping body heat and sustaining warmth. Fleece is an insulating fabric made from hydrophobic fibres, meaning it repels water and still insulates you while not getting too heavy when wet.

Advantages of wearing fleece

Fleece can be warmer than wool while offering breathability and resistance to wind. Other key benefits of choosing to wear fleece are that it's:

  • Relatively lightweight compared to wool
  • Machine washable
  • Capable of drying quickly
  • Comfortably soft without being itchy
 
Image of a woman wearing the black Omata Fleece Jacket Jacket in an outdoor environment.Image of a woman wearing the black Omata Fleece Jacket Jacket in an outdoor environment.
The Omata Fleece Jacket is a great mid or outer layer fleece offering warmth in colder temperatures.

Weight considerations

When fleece was first manufactured, garments were divided into groups according to their weight. This categorisation is still in use today and fleece continues to be described in grams per square metre (gsm).

Lightweight

Fleece that weighs less than 200 gsm is deemed lightweight. It can also be defined as microfleece.

Lightweight fleece offers you a high level of breathability. It’s your original midlayer. Wear it over your baselayer and under your waterproof shell.

You’ll want a microfleece for active pursuits in mild weather – ideal when you need flexibility during exercise.

Midweight

Covering the middle ground of the range of fleece are the midweights. Between 200 and 300 gsm, midweight fleece has less flexibility than microfleece. It can be used as an outer layer in cooler conditions or as a midlayer when you also need a jacket and a baselayer.

Compared to lightweight fleece, midweight fleece is:

  • Significantly warmer
  • A better insulator
  • More comfortable and breathable

Heavyweight

A heavyweight fleece is one that tops 300 gsm. It’s best suited in very cold weather when you’re not getting too physical. 

Choosing a fleece for your activity

Fleece is so popular because it's so versatile – it can be used for a variety of outdoor pursuits, domestic and international travel, and of course, everyday wear.

Hike fleece

Fleece is a must-have addition to your hiking kit. You'll reach for it when you cool down on lunch stops, on those cool and gusty summits, or during unpredictable weather conditions.

In any case, it's always a sensible idea to have a warm layer in your backpack in the unlikely scenario you get lost. You'll be grateful for it if you have to spend an unexpected night on the trail!

Factor in your individual weather conditions and consider these before your next hike.

  • Ridge Pullover - Designed with mountains and hills in mind, the Ridge is areliable layer in the outdoors and provides lightweight warmth when the conditions change.
  • Trailhead Fleece Jacket – A classic fleece for on the trail or about town, it’ll offer you great warmth for weight. The Trailhead is made from REPREVE fabric, and helps divert plastic bottles from landfill.
Image of a woman wearing the red Ridge fleece in an outdoor environmentImage of a woman wearing the red Ridge fleece in an outdoor environment
The Ridge 100 Fleece Pullover is made with Polartec® Repreve, using 85% recycled content to create breathable, lightweight warmth with a low carbon footprint.

Travel fleece

Lightweight, breathable, and snuggly to boot, you’ll definitely want a travel fleece for your next overseas adventure. From in-transit to day hikes to exploring the city streets, a good fleece will see you through:

Image of a woman wearing the Benhar Fleece as she stands in front of a snowy backdrop.Image of a woman wearing the Benhar Fleece as she stands in front of a snowy backdrop.
The Benhar Fleece Jacket is a jersey face marle fleece that’s lightweight and breathable, great to wear on warmer days or to layer in the mountains.

Outdoor lifestyle fleece

We all need a trusty, reliable warm layer to pop on while we're walking the dog, trimming the roses or just watching the footy. For a fleece that keeps you warm outside (without all the bells and whistles) there's a few options.

  • Acota Hooded Jacket – stretches with your movements whether you’re an outdoor sportsperson or just watching from the sidelines.
  • Baffin Island Fleece Jacket – this seriously warm, seriously snuggly fleece pays homage to our original design. Same retro look (with more modern styling) the Baffin now features durable water repellancy to repel light rain off its surface.

Everyday fleece

Fleece isn't just for outdoor pursuits. Some fleece is meant for everyday use. Here are a couple of good all-rounders you can wear every day of the week.