Looking for a fleece jacket that is really warm but also somewhat layer-able? Check out The North Face Osito 2 Jacket. It is comfortable, and the soft hi-loft fleece feels great against your skin. It provides a lot of warmth for the weight and looks stylish to boot. It is a bit bulky but can still layer well under a roomy shell thanks to its tapered cut, and it's an excellent choice for winter snow sports. This is more of an outerwear and cold-weather piece, and not a hi-tech fleece for really active pursuits like winter running or ski touring. If you need something for those applications, check out our Top Pick for Breathability, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody. And for a warm, all-around technical fleece jacket, the Patagonia R1 Hoody is a great choice and our Editors' Choice winner. But for a warm, around-town or après ski option, the Osito 2 is our Top Pick, and it rings in for a reasonable $100 as well.
The North Face Osito 2 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Warm, soft and comfortable
Cons: Not very breathable, poor ease of movement
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The North Face Osito 2 Jacket is made with a lofted raschel fleece. TNF calls it a midweight fleece but it felt more like a heavyweight one to us in terms of its warmth. It comes in sizes XS to 3XL and many color choices. Note that some TNF winter jackets come with an Osito as the removable insulation layer. It's currently used on the Women's Boundary Triclimate Jacket ($260), so if you are in need of a shell and a fleece layer, this might be a good two-for-one option for you.
The Osito 2 is one of the warmest layers that we tested. Only The North Face Denali 2 Jacket felt warmer.
The hi-loft fleece does a great job of trapping your body heat, and there is plenty of it. There's also plenty of room underneath for a base layer or even some of the other models in this review, which will help you stay a lot warmer.
We love the soft and fuzzy feel of this jacket and gave it a 10/10 for comfort.
The hi-loft fleece is always comfortable against your skin and never feels rough like the REI Co-op or TNF Denali sometimes do. The little details also helped bump up this model's comfort score. The pockets are lined with soft microfleece, and there's a zipper guard that prevents you from having the zipper up against your face when you fully zip up the high collar (which is also soft).
What makes this jacket so warm also makes it a lot less breathable, and it received a low score for this category. Unfortunately, this is often the tradeoff you have to make with a fleece jacket, and it's hard to have something that is highly breathable and warm at the same time.
The fleece pile is so thick that there's no real way for your moisture to exit other than through the front zipper. Sometimes fleece jackets have mesh-lined pockets to help with breathability as well, but these are fleece-lined and don't help much. The Osito is a great mid-layer for stationary winter sports, but not very active or aerobic ones.
We had mixed feelings about the layerability of this piece and didn't score it very high overall for layering.
It's certainly easy to layer other pieces of clothing under the Osito, and because of the roomy cut we could wear the Outdoor Research Deviator, Patagonia R1, and even the Patagonia R2 underneath it with no problem. The issues came when we tried to layer it under an outer shell like a rain jacket or a hard shell. There's a lot of material in this piece, and unless your outer layer is similarly roomy, you might feel a bit squeezed. We did find it comfortable to wear under a shell with some extra space, but because women's outer layers are often cut with a trim fit, it didn't work with all of our layers.
Ease of Movement
Like many of the bulkier fleeces in this review, the Osito didn't have the best ease of movement. When you lift your arms, the whole jacket moves with you, and there's not a lot of range of motion in the shoulders. The material doesn't have a lot of stretch to it either.
We also felt a bit constricted if we had this on over a base layer and under a shell. If you are looking for something that you can run or climb in with a full range of motion, then look for a model that has some stretchy fabric added into the blend, like spandex or elastane. The Patagonia R1 and Rab Nucleus Hoody have stretchier fabrics that move with you better than this one.
This jacket offers better wind protection than most simply because it is so thick.
It doesn't have the same "Hardface" construction as the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, so if you need something for alpine locales with lots of windy weather, check out that one instead. The fleece doesn't offer that much resistance to water, though it will take a bit more time for it to get wet than a thinner fleece like the Marmot Flashpoint.
We like the style of the Osito and gave it high marks for this category. We've tested many versions of the Osito jacket in recent years, and we like the current styling and look better than previous versions.
It's easy to look like a muppet is a plush raschel fleece jacket, but the fabric on this one has a matte look, and the fibers are two-toned and alternate between a dark color (blue in the model we tested) and a silvery/white. The effect is subtle and mutes down the stuffed-animal look. The silhouette is tapered, and it has a nicer cut that The North Face Denali 2. This layer doesn't look all that "techy" or "outdoorsy," and you could easily wear this around town without looking like you just dropped in from the trails. If the "fur" is still a little much for you, then check out the Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan, which looks more like a wool jacket.
The Osito 2 is a toasty layer that will keep you warm on cold days. This jacket works well both as an outer layer and as a mid layer for skiing and snowboarding if your outer shell is roomy enough, or as a standalone jacket for warmer spring conditions.
The Osito retails for only $100, which is a nice pricepoint compared to many of the more technical fleeces that we tested that are in the $160-190 range. Considering that you'll probably have several different fleeces in your closet (since they don't all work for each activity you might need one for), we appreciate not having to pay too much for this one. If you want to save even more money, check out the REI Co-op Fleece, which retails for only $50. It's a pretty basic fleece jacket, but it is warm as well, and the price is hard to complain about.
The North Face Osito 2 Jacket is not a very technical model and it won't breathe or move like some of the other fleeces in this review. But sometimes what you want or need is a simpler layer that will keep you warm on freezing days. This was a great layer for the slopes, and it looks good on the deck at the end of the day too.
— Cam McKenzie Ring