Fleece has come a long way from simple polar fleece in block colours and startling prints. Discover the full extent of its diversification of function in our extensive range and equip yourself to be warm and comfortably dry at all times outdoors.
What would we do without fleece? This soft, comfortable and breathable man-made fabric is almost ubiquitous outdoors these days, despite only having been in existence a few decades. That’s testament to its effectiveness as a midlayer as well as its value for money; there’s little to beat a fleece for breathable warmth, quick-drying ability and sheer comfort on the move.
From the days when fleece meant either a polar fleece jacket or straightforward pullover, we’ve seen an explosion of technology that’s given us specialised fleece fabrics for all sorts of applications. Four-way stretch, knitted faces, textures for extra breathability and super-efficient long piles are just a few of the options now on the table to increase performance and comfort in outdoor use.
All work on the same principle: synthetic fibre threads are knitted together upright in a sheet, heat-treated to bond them together, then sheared off so the ends are exposed and therefore fuzzy. Because the fibres are hydrophobic, the fleece absorbs little liquid so it dries extremely quickly, whilst the perpendicular structure allows water vapour to escape easily. The threads are also much, much lighter than equivalent wool threads, so fleece is significantly more thermally efficient than any wool or in fact any natural fabric.
The differences between fleece fabrics come from altering the density and length of pile, the style of knit and the material used to make the threads. Variations in these combine for hundreds of different fabrics, each with its own balance of breathability, durability, warmth, stretch and compressibility. That’s before even considering the individual garments! Design has also come a long way. From thumbloop cuffs to stretch-bound under-helmet hoods and everything in between, there’s a combination of features and fit to support every outdoor application and freedom of movement has never been so good.
So whether you’re after a plain and simple microfleece midlayer jacket for warmth, a technical, wicking fleece top to wear next to skin, or something comfy to chuck on for the journey home, you’ll find it in our selection of great fleece layers.