Reviews You Can Rely On

Wrangler Authentics 1/4 Zip Review

A functional, fashionable fleece at an unbelievably friendly price point. This layer will work for most shoppers on a budget
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Wrangler Authentics 1/4 Zip Review
Credit: Zach Lovell
Price:  $26 List
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Manufacturer:   Wrangler
By Zach Lovell ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 24, 2024
63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 17
  • Warmth - 25% 6.0
  • Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Breathability - 20% 7.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 5.5
  • Weight - 15% 7.4

Our Verdict

The Wrangler Authentics ¼ Zip is one of the least expensive fleece jackets available on the market today. With relatively decent breathability and a casual style, this layer boasts incredible value with a price point that is nearly 10 times cheaper than some options in our review. The 100% polyester construction held up well in testing, but we wish Wrangler had added at least one pocket. We'd recommend this fleece to anyone shopping on a tight budget for a layer that can be used in urban or mountain environments. For more technical and higher-end fleeces, check out our article on fleece jacket men.
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible value
Breathable
Casual aesthetic
REASONS TO AVOID
Moderate warmth
No pockets

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award    
Price $26 List
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$60 List
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$30 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
63
77
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63
62
Star Rating
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Bottom Line A breathable fleece that’s several times cheaper than the competitionThis lightweight and breathable fleece with excellent performance at a price that's hard to beatA budget-friendly design that offers comfort and warmthThis soft and comfortable fleece comes at a great price and is warm and decently cozyFor a decent all-purpose fleece at an exceptionally low price point, look no further than this full-zip model
Rating Categories Wrangler Authentics... Outdoor Research Vi... REI Co-op Trailmade Columbia Steens Mou... Amazon Essentials F...
Warmth (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.5
Comfort (25%)
6.0
7.5
7.0
6.5
5.5
Breathability (20%)
7.0
8.5
5.5
6.0
5.0
Layering Ability (15%)
5.5
7.0
6.0
5.5
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.4
8.5
8.2
6.0
6.0
Specs Wrangler Authentics... Outdoor Research Vi... REI Co-op Trailmade Columbia Steens Mou... Amazon Essentials F...
Measured Weight 12.5 oz 13.2 oz 11.1 oz 16.6 oz 16.5 oz
Type Midweight Lightweight Midweight Midweight Midweight
Main Material Body: 100% polyester Body: 94% polyester, 6% spandex Body: 100% nylon
Accents: LYCRA spandex
Body: 100% polyester Body: 100% polyester
Hood Option? No Yes No No No
# of Pockets 0 3 4 2 5
Features Quarter-length zipper, double fleece layering on back Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding Spandex binding along hem, cuff, and collar; double-layer collar None Zippered chest pocket

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wrangler Authentics ¼ Zip is the ultimate dime-priced fleece. You could buy nearly 10 of these over several years for the price of one high-end layer. While there are some performance considerations, this casual-style option pleasantly surprised our reviewers and is worthy of your time if money is tight.

Performance Comparison


wrangler authentics 1/4 zip - we tested every fleece, including the wrangler authentics, in both...
We tested every fleece, including the Wrangler Authentics, in both urban and outdoors settings.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Warmth


We tested this metric by putting boiling water in a bottle and putting it inside the fleece, measuring how long it took for the water to get to 150°F using an infrared thermometer. We also tested wind resistance with every fleece by standing in front of a fan on the same settings. Finally, we took notes about each option's warmth while conducting several weeks of field testing. The Wrangler scored below average in this metric.


The Wrangler Authentics kept the bottle above 150°F for one hour and five minutes. This isn't the best score, but it surprisingly offered decent wind protection, collectively maintaining enough warmth for many uses, especially in more temperate climates or in urban settings. Other options in our review, during the bottle test, lasted over 20 minutes longer, so we'd look elsewhere if you need the warmest fleece. When considering most people will use an over jacket of some kind, the Wrangler Authentics is certainly adequate for budget shoppers.

wrangler authentics 1/4 zip - for many, the heat retention of this garment will be adequate for...
For many, the heat retention of this garment will be adequate for their needs.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Comfort


We measured the amount of bunching each fleece has around the neck, stomach, chest, and arms. We also assessed coverage when moving your hands overhead to see how well each garment adapted to movement. If you're engaging in anything from mountain sports to yard work, it can be incredibly annoying to have a jacket expose your skin while you're working hard. Finally, we sized up the fleece-to-skin comfort of the inner fabric. The Authentics scored towards the bottom in this metric, but when considering its price, we felt like it performed relatively well.


The Wrangler Authentics showed bunching around the armpits and stomach, though the coverage was fairly decent. With hands overhead, the bottom of the fleece rode up slightly, otherwise protecting the wearer even in a contorted position. Some will find the feel of the inner fabric to be on the slightly scratchy side, but a long-sleeve base layer is a quick and easy fix for those with sensitive skin. The biggest consideration in this metric will be the baggy fit, which will either be a positive or a negative depending on the shopper.

The baggy fit offers decent coverage, but some may prefer a more slim fit.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Breathability


We took each fleece on similar adventures with the same effort. We were pleasantly surprised by the Wrangler, which scored above average in testing.


While this option has a much less technical fit, it does allow for excellent airflow from underneath, with a fairly baggy waist. The inner brushed polyester even somewhat wicked moisture away to the face fabric, keeping our testers from overheating while in the field. The intended design of the Authentics may have been for more casual use, but we were able to use it for climbing and skiing in multiple venues. There are very few features on many fleece jackets for breathability, and this option is no different, only offering a ¼ length zipper for ventilation.

wrangler authentics 1/4 zip - the baggier fit actually aided in this garment's breathability.
The baggier fit actually aided in this garment's breathability.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Layering Ability


We awarded 15% of the total score to layering ability, given that most fleece jackets will be used in combination with other layers. We sized up each product's ability to fit layers under or over it before assigning scores. The Wrangler Authentics landed towards the back of the lineup, but there were only a few points spread between the best and worst options.


With the more baggy fit of the Wrangler Authentics, it was slightly restrictive to put some layers over it that had a more athletic cut. Loose, relaxed fitting over layers worked well, and for many users, this will be an easy next-to-baselayer option to work with, depending on how it fits you and what jackets you'll use over it. For putting layers on underneath, it can handle a thicker base layer or two, and a vest. The Authentics definitely runs a bit large, so consider going down a size.

wrangler authentics 1/4 zip - we were able to wear one or two baselayers underneath and easily fit...
We were able to wear one or two baselayers underneath and easily fit outerlayers over- as long as they weren't too slim fitting.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Weight


We weighed each fleece on the same scale. This fleece, impressively, came in above average in this metric.


At 12.51 ounces, the Wrangler Authentics offers reasonable weight and is unlikely to overload most users. We loved how easily it fit in a backpack when the days warmed up. It is a very easy fleece to take with you on any adventure, whether in the city or outdoors.

wrangler authentics 1/4 zip - wrangler did an excellent job keeping this layer light. the strap...
Wrangler did an excellent job keeping this layer light. The strap holding this layer together weighs .05 ounces, putting the actual weight at 12.51 ounces.
Credit: Zach Lovell

Should You Buy the Wrangler Authentics?


This layer is worth your hard-earned cash if you need the cheapest fleece available that still delivers some performance. It isn't the most technical layer, with a lack of pockets and a very relaxed fit, but it offers truly unbeatable value for someone wanting a fleece for around-town hangs and occasional mountain trips.

What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?


If you want to stay in the same price range as the the Wrangler Authentics, take a look at the Amazon Essentials Full Zip, which has a more technical aesthetic. If you're willing to spend more, the Outdoor Research Vigor Grid Full Zip Hoodie is a high-performance option without the high price.

Zach Lovell