The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Fleece Jacket for Women

Monday May 11, 2020

To bring you the best fleece jacket review, we first selected the top-selling and highest-rated models out there. We focused on technical models designed for active use in the outdoors and also tested a few non-technical options. We've tested all the way from the cold climates of Canada to the warm deserts of Nevada, and many places in between. We rated each on six different metrics, assigning scores based on both subjective and objective performance. Each fleece was worn for at least three months, with our award winners being continually tested throughout the year. Many women test each jacket, with our main tester gathering data and providing you with our results.

The sun might be shining  but the desert is cold in the winter. We tested these jackets through different areas all throughout the US. From Las Vegas to Northern Ontario  we've put them through the test in a variety of seasons.
The sun might be shining, but the desert is cold in the winter. We tested these jackets through different areas all throughout the US. From Las Vegas to Northern Ontario, we've put them through the test in a variety of seasons.

Warmth


This test is simple. After evaluating the materials, fabrics, and features, we wear each in cold weather. We wear them on their own and in a layered system, noting which option provides the best overall warmth.

Testing the Patagonia R1 in the cold climates of Alaska in early Spring. Here we take our fleece off when the sun beats down to dry off after a particularly sweaty 9-mile backcountry tour.
Testing the Patagonia R1 in the cold climates of Alaska in early Spring. Here we take our fleece off when the sun beats down to dry off after a particularly sweaty 9-mile backcountry tour.

Comfort


Comfort and coziness are key to wear all day. We look at the plushness and thickness of fabrics, note great features (like thumb loops), and wear each for many days. We note any odd areas of fit and how the fleece feels for wearing, many days on end. We also sleep and lounge in each one to see which our testing team prefers.

The big pockets of this fleece offer lots of storage space.
The big pockets of this fleece offer lots of storage space.

Breathability


We snowboard, hike, bike, and run in each of these fleeces. We also look at the fabric composition and porosity to determine which offer the best and worst in breathability. They are testing in both a layered system and on their own.

This fleece offers exceptional breathability while running  backpacking  and skiing throughout the seasons.
This fleece offers exceptional breathability while running, backpacking, and skiing throughout the seasons.

Layering Ability


We simply layer clothes over and under! We try each fleece with many different types of base layers and jackets. We also look at the relative friction of face fabrics, and which are smooth, and which are rough.

How well do harnesses  backpacks  jackets  and base layers articulate with each fleece jacket?
How well do harnesses, backpacks, jackets, and base layers articulate with each fleece jacket?

Ease of Movement


How well can you move? We take the time to climb, hike, and move in each one. We note if the fleece moves with the body, or stays rigid, requiring constant adjustments while tackling adventures.

We test the movement of fleece layers by climbing and really moving in them! Here we are up Ginger Cracks  a 600-ft multi-pitch route in Red Rocks  Nevada.
We test the movement of fleece layers by climbing and really moving in them! Here we are up Ginger Cracks, a 600-ft multi-pitch route in Red Rocks, Nevada.

Weather Resistance


Yup! We wear these in stormy, nasty weather, in addition to objective tests done at home. To test water resistance, we spritz each with water to see how long it takes the fabric to absorb the water. When we can't find a mountain to climb (which is hardly ever), we simply stand outside in windy conditions (with a thin base layer) to see how well the jacket protects us.

Our water tests involve actually spritzing and pouring water onto fleeces to test their relative absorption.
Our water tests involve actually spritzing and pouring water onto fleeces to test their relative absorption.