Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Fleece Jackets for Men

Tuesday May 9, 2023

After extensive research, we select the best fleece jackets from the top manufacturers to test them in the wild. Each model went through the wringer, getting worn in everyday environments and extreme conditions. From skiing to backpacking to walking the dog, our testers wore and evaluated each jacket from the Rockies to the Sierra to New England to determine the best for various use cases.

We ranked each jacket against the others, testing them side-by-side. Then we compared the performance of each. After our testing phase, we rated each model in five different categories: warmth, comfort, breathability, layering ability, and weight. Ratings were determined through a combination of field use and controlled testing.

fleece jacket men - our jacket testing took each piece to the extremes: hiking, biking...
Our jacket testing took each piece to the extremes: hiking, biking, running, and climbing
Credit: James Lucas


We gauged our warmth scores by hiking, running, scrambling, and climbing in various weather. From warm, sunny days to cold, rainy nights, we wore each fleece during early morning scrambles, late evening hikes, and afternoons heading to the gym. We hiked hard uphill and then made casual downhill strolls during windy evenings, foggy afternoons, and rainy mornings. We also measured each jacket's level of heat retention by tracking how quickly warm water cooled when tucked in the sleeve of the jacket.

fleece jacket men - the r1 air hoody is one of our favorite fleeces for its combination...
The R1 Air Hoody is one of our favorite fleeces for its combination of warmth, comfort, and breathability.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


To evaluate the fit and comfort of each model, we noted how the fleeces felt on the body. We compared the fit and feel when brand new and after a reasonable break-in period. We noted if we sensed any oddness in the material, the patterning, or the features like the zippers, hoods, and pockets and how they felt against the skin and while used. We also checked to find any distinctive tightness while moving, any areas where the fabric felt too loose and bunchy, and we looked for features that might be impacted by different body types.

Some models like the REI Hyperaxis 2.0 have a super stretchy material like spandex or elastance in the fabric blend.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


For our breathability scores, we noted how much airflow and sweat-wicking power each piece had. We ran up hills, skinned up mountains, climbed long routes, bouldered with friends, and took long walks. We paid close attention to the moisture-wicking ability of the material and the fleece's design for how well the piece breathed while still keeping harsh wind out. We even took a high-powered fan and tested each fleece's ability to withstand the gusts.

The grid pattern of the Pierogi Hoody has lots of "streets" and "avenues" that facilitate breathability and air flow through the jacket.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Layering Ability

How well a fleece works with different jackets became a crucial part of our testing. Layering involves the ability of the individual piece to work both with lighter garments underneath and heavier pieces on top. We tried each fleece over a light shirt, by itself, and under a heavier shell. We tested how well it moved while running, skiing, and climbing to determine if each garment bunched or caught. We ranked how well each garment functioned individually and paired with other pieces.

The Hyperaxis 2.0 has thumb loops that prevent the sleeves from bunching when adding a layer over the top.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


This one is pretty straightforward. We pulled out our scale and weighed each model. We also assessed in the field and in a container of known volume how much space each jacket took up when packed down.

fleece jacket men - we put each fleece on the scale to see which ones are worth their...
We put each fleece on the scale to see which ones are worth their weight in warmth.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch