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, but costs you more money.
This super warm fleece kept us warm even on cold days at elevation.
The Osito 2 is one of the warmest layers that we tested. 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.
The fleece used on this jacket is very warm and soft to the touch. We also liked the two-tone color options.
We love the soft and fuzzy feel of this jacket. The hi-loft fleece is always comfortable against your skin and never feels rough. These little details really add to the comfort of this jacket. The hand-warming 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).
The high collar helps trap warmth and is very comfortable.
What makes this jacket so warm also makes it a lot less breathable. 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 an excellent mid-layer for stationary winter sports, but not a great option for very active or aerobic ones.
We like the fleece-lined pockets from a comfort perspective, but it doesn't help with breathability.
We had mixed feelings about the layerability of this piece. It's certainly easy to layer other pieces of clothing under the Osito, and because of the roomy cut, we could wear other fleeces 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.
Fitting the Osito over another fleece mid-layer is no problem.
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.
This jacket doesn't have great range of motion in the arms - the arms are a little on the short side particularly when raising our arms overhead.
This jacket offers better wind protection than most simply because it is so thick. It doesn't have the same "Hardface" construction, 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 other thinner fleece options.
Water didn't really bead up on this jacket, but because the fleece is so thick it will provide a bit more protection than a thinner one.
The Osito retails for only $100, which is a nice price point 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, making it a great value option.
When the temps are above freezing, we like wearing the Osito as our primary outer layer. It keeps us warm and still blocks the wind.
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.
We love the look and feel of this jacket. It's flattering and casual without being too "muppet-like."