Walking

The Official Fleece Guide: Types, Weights, Waterproof, Warmth

This may sound melodramatic but a good fleece really can make or break your autumn-winter (even spring) wardrobe.

When living somewhere with weather as unpredictable and ever-changing as the UK, it’s important to layer up wisely and have options that won’t weigh you down but will come in handy when it gets a bit too chilly. It’s also important to carry versatile clothing that does many jobs in one to save you carrying a ton of things around ‘just in case’. Enter: the fleece.

While many may associate fleece with a cosy zipper-that’s-not-quite-a-full-jacket, this is just one type of many fleeced-up clothing that would even bring you comfort in the middle of a snowstorm. So, what can fleece look like? Does it change in weight? Does the weight affect its warmth? How is it so warm?

We have the answers to all of your burning questions below, so c’mon – get your fleece on!

First, What is Fleece Made Of?

The main benefit of fleece is its effectiveness at trapping body heat and sustaining the warmth. The synthetic fabric is generally made out of polyester but can also sometimes be made of cotton. Polyester is a man-made material composed of two petroleum products that can be manufactured from recycled plastic (bonus points!). Polyester fleece is also extremely durable and moisture-resistant, so it just keeps getting better.

In the past, natural wool garments were the go-to for anyone looking to combat the cold and stay warm outdoors. However, due to its mass availability and affordability, fleece has since become favoured over wool as it’s warmer and generally much more lightweight.

Its texture is still modeled on natural wool to achieve the ultimate comfort blanket texture that will never let you down in the cold.

Advantages Disadvantages
Extremely soft and plush Flammable
Flexible, lightweight and comfortable Not windproof
Durable Can’t withstand washing at very high temperatures, tumble drying or ironing
Highly breathable Prone to attracting dust, lint, pet hair etc. due to high amounts of static electricity
Moisture-resistant
Remains insulating when wet

Is Fleece Waterproof?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: no it is not, although it doesn’t matter too much as it doesn’t greatly impact how effective fleece is.

Due to fleece being moisture-resistant and highly breathable, it will stay strong and good for longer, even if whoever is wearing it is particularly sweaty one day, for example. Also, while the super soft material is not waterproof to withstand torrential rain, it remains insulating even when wet so if you were caught in the rain it won’t suddenly switch off its magic powers.

However, it should be noted that fleece must be dried very carefully as it is flammable and cannot handle heat too well if the temperature is too high. So, if caught in the rain, ensure that you do not tumble dry or iron it, and if drying over a radiator make sure that it isn’t too warm, as it could burn the fleece.

Is Fleece Vegan?

As our fleece is made from polyester or cotton – or sometimes a combo – it is wool-free and therefore vegan-friendly.

For those conscious of their clothing being vegan, you certainly don’t need to freeze when it gets chilly as fleece (sometimes referred to as synthetic wool) is the most comforting and heat-trapping fabric, yet completely ethical. Designed with enough thickness to keep you warm, you don’t have to sacrifice on style, colour or price to be happy with your clothing.

Weight

Fleece is categorised by weight – in gsm, or grams per square metre – which can be quite confusing as you might not see weight measured in that format everyday but we can explain. The first ever fleece manufacturer split garments into groups defined by how many grams of fleece constituted a square metre.

There are four main measures that will let you know how light or heavy the fleece in question is, so take a look below:

Fleece Weight Description Typical Use
<100gsm Ultralight Summer walking in cool weather
100 – 200gsm Lightweight General wear, walking in temperate weather
200 – 300gsm Mid-weight Outer layer in everyday wear or mid-layer in layering system
>300gsm Heavyweight Outdoor activities in Arctic conditions

Types of Fleece

There are many different types of fleece nowadays, with new variations being introduced onto the market each year. Here we take a look at the three major kinds so you can better match your next fleece garment purchase to your needs.

What Is A Microfleece?

Microfleece is the thinnest and most lightweight type of fleece. These are the original mid-layers that are worn over base layers and under waterproof jackets. Microfleece provides the lowest level of insulation yet the highest breathability, so they’re ideal for active pursuits in weather that isn’t too cold.

Generally, any fleece up to 200gsm is considered a microfleece. They allow for the greatest flexibility when doing physical exercise, as the build isn’t too thick to restrict movement. The very light weight is the highlight feature of this type of fleece, and it’s also frequently chosen as an outer layer when outdoor conditions are mild.

Additional features such as multiple pockets and a large hood are unlikely to be found on microfleece as the scope is to keep it simple and very lightweight.

The Tron Men’s Half Zip Microfleece is 130gsm, for example, and is designed with Airtrap fabric to enhance its benefits while being lightweight. This microfleece is anti-pilling and made to build up heat then maintain it as it traps in warmth.

Mid-weight Fleece

Mid-weight fleece covers the middle ground of the spectrum. This fleece can easily be worn as an outer layer on hikes and treks when the weather is chilly. Mid-weight fleece is much warmer than lightweight fleece and has higher insulating properties, as well as being more comfortable and breathable.

This type of fleece will offer less flexibility than microfleece but is thick enough to be a good everyday outer layer in cool conditions and a mid-layer when the temperature dips and you have to pair it with a base layer and waterproof jacket, as long as you’re not pursuing high-energy activities.

Any fleece between 200gsm and 300gsm is considered to be a mid-weight fleece.

Heavyweight Fleece

Heavyweight fleece is at the top of the range of fleece weights, coming in at 300gsm or more. This type of fleece is best suited for very cold conditions where physical activity is limited.

Heavyweight fleece is the least flexible of fleeces, but also the warmest and most insulating. This can be stifling if worn when exercising or exerting yourself physically, as you’re bound to overheat quickly. The only exception is when you’re outdoors in very harsh climates close to polar or Arctic conditions, where you’ll be needing as much insulation as you can get.

Heavyweight fleece makes for a great outer layer in cold weather too, and can be staggeringly warm. Our Lovell Kids’ Full Zip Fleece Hoodie is 300gsm, making it a real titan of cold defence.

Textured Fleece

Textured fleece tends to share the same weight range as heavyweight fleece, yet boasts a patterned outer. This is mostly for decorative purposes, although textured fleece tends to be even softer to the touch and comfier than regular fleece.

Often luxurious-looking and velvety, textured fleeces are the dressiest of the lot and are ideal for putting on as an outer layer when out roaming in the cold, or even as a mid-layer when the chill increases.

Features

Fleece clothing normally has multiple features which add to its versatility and comfort. Here are some common features you’ll find:

Anti-Pilling

Anti-pill fleece is fleece that has been treated to prevent bobbling, or little balls – or pills – of thread from forming on the surface of the fabric. This is an especially valuable feature as it keeps the garment looking brand new and bobble-free for very long, which adds to its longevity.

Pilling is the result of abrasion when washing and drying, as well as excessive rubbing against other surfaces. Avoid causing too much friction on fleece as this will contribute to the wear and tear of the garment.

Full Zip or Half Zip?

Fleece jumpers and jackets commonly have either a full zip running from the neck to the hips, or a half zip that starts from the neck and stops somewhere on the chest. This helps you take off the fleece easily if you’re feeling too warm, or even let in a bout of fresh air to ventilate your body.

Chin Guards

Chin guards are also a very common feature on fleece jumpers and jackets. This raised collar provides additional protection against wind and cold, giving fleece its traditional look.

When hiking, it also helps prevent debris from entering through the gap between the collar of your jacket and your neck.

Adjustable Hems

Fleeces sometimes have adjustable hems in order to fasten properly. An adjustable hem means you can restrict the passage of air into the garment and seal it in a more windproof and airtight structure.

AirTrap®

Our AirTrap® technology is specially engineered to enable total freedom of exertion. Its unique structure made specifically for fleece creates countless airspaces that trap and hold your body heat to keep you 100% protected against inclement weather. AirTrap® clothing is soft, breathable and anti-pill all the way.

Last updated: September 5, 2018 at 8:57 am

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