Update: we’ve revised our guide to Patagonia fleece jackets for Fall 2012! Read on.
This fall, I’ve already had three friends send me an email or text with the same question: “Which is the best fleece jacket?” It can be a difficult question to answer, because there are so many fleece jackets available, and because the best fleece jacket for you will vary widely depending on what you want to do with it. Do you need a thin layering piece for wearing under a shell during foul-weather snowshoeing? Do you want a warm, casual pullover that you can wear beside the fire but will still keep you warm outdoors when combined with your favorite down jacket? Does it need to look nice enough to wear to dinner? Should it be windproof?
Well, we’re here to help you answer those questions. Since we’re about to launch our final Patagonia sale of the Fall 2012 season, and Patagonia is one of our favorite and most popular brands, we’ll focus on Patagonia fleece jackets for different uses and different climate conditions. Which Patagonia fleece jacket best suits your needs and style?
Patagonia fleece jackets for everyday wear:
These Patagonia fleece jackets are warm, breathable, and most feature a regular fit for wearing casually or underneath your favorite jacket. Patagonia features many recycled fabrics in their fleece jackets, and all are recyclable through the “common threads” program… but it’ll probably be decades before you can successfully wear any of these styles out!
Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T pullover (women’s)
If there is a woman on your holiday shopping list, and she doesn’t already have this jacket, just stop reading now and go buy one. You can’t go wrong. The Re-Tool Snap-T — made from Polartec Thermal Pro fleece — is incredibly warm and comfy, and it looks great.
We recommend the Snap-T pullover version shown at left, but we also carry the Patagonia Re-Tool Full-Zip Jacket and Patagonia Re-Tool Hoody. This holiday, there is also a version for younger girls, the Kid’s Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover!
Why is the Patagonia Better Sweater a better sweater? Because the easy-care polyester fleece has a sweater-knit face, for the aesthetic of your favorite wool sweater with high performance and no hassle, that’s why. Timeless look, meet durability and moisture-wicking.
There is a full Better Sweater collection of Patagonia fleece jackets, so I won’t try to link all of them individually; click here to view men’s and women’s Better Sweater styles.
Need a lightweight, recycled fleece jacket that’s windproof and piled high with thick fleece? The Patagonia Retro-X is the fleece jacket for you. It looks fantastic, and layers well with your favorite long-sleeve shirts.
Don’t like vests? That’s OK: the women’s Patagonia Retro-X Fleece Jacket and men’s Patagonia Classic Retro-X Fleece Jacket are available too, and don’t forget the BRAND NEW Men’s Classic Retro-X Cardigan and Women’s Retro-X Cardigan…
To call the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T a classic understates the matter; this is one of the most popular fleeces of all time, and still one of the best-selling Patagonia fleece jackets. It’s simple, breathable, durable, comes in plenty of fun colors, and the polyester fleece is 86% recycled.
If you enjoy having warm hands, you might check out the Marsupial version, and there are vest versions as well: the men’s Patagonia Synchilla Vest and women’s Patagonia Synchilla Vest. To shop every Patagonia Synchilla style, click here!
Patagonia Los Lobos Jacket (women’s)
The Patagonia Los Lobos jacket might be the coziest Patagonia fleece jacket out there. Deep pile fleece, handwarmer pockets, simple lines and a below-the-hip cut keep the winter chill out for good. Please note: this garment is cut with Patagonia’s “slim fit.”
Try the women’s Patagonia Los Lobos vest if you prefer the versatility of a sleeveless piece, or the men’s Patagonia Los Lobos Jacket — which incorporates a hood and stretchy, breathable sleeves / side panels — if you’re a man, of course.
Micro-D is the lightest weight fabric in the Patagonia Fleece Jacket collection, and another Patagonia staple. Ultra stretchy and breathable, the Patagonia Micro-D fleece jackets dry incredibly fast and are suited for use as a mid-layer or outerwear piece.
If you’d prefer a full zipper, a hood, or want to buy one for the kids, click here to shop the entire Patagonia Micro-D line at Rock/Creek. They even make a scarf out of this stuff!
Patagonia Pelage Jacket (women’s)
At first glance, it might seem a stretch to call the Patagonia Pelage Jacket a fleece jacket at all… but that’s exactly what this is, a “curly” polyester fleece with unique vintage styling and windproof performance. The asymmetrical front and glamorous cut add to the retro feel, and make no mistake about it: this is a seriously warm fleece jacket meant for taking out and about!
This was new for 2011 and sold out super fast; the Girls’ Pelage Jacket version has also been extremely popular. Don’t wait1
Patagonia Fleece Jackets for technical wear
Are you in search of fleece insulation for active use climbing or backpacking or mountaineering, the kind that will fit comfortably beneath an alpine shell jacket and retain maximum warmth for minimum weight? The Regulator collection of Patagonia fleece jackets is your best bet. The numbers work just like Patagonia Capilene: R1 is the lightest, R4 is heaviest, so you can dial in just the right amount of heat retention for your activity and conditions.
Patagonia R1 jackets are made from a Polartec Power Dry fabric exclusive to Patagonia; this is a gridded fleece that’s incredibly efficient at trapping heat while still being lightweight and breathable. My R1 is my go-to fleece jacket for use as a mid-layer when hiking in cold conditions.
Also available as a Patagonia R1 vest, Patagonia R1 hoody and Patagonia R1 full-zip jacket. Click here to browse the full Patagonia R1 fleece jacket collection, which features a slim fit.
The Patagonia R2 is the ultimate combination of form and function — stretchy, high-loft fleece traps heat where you need it, and stretchy side panels allow moisture to vent while you’re working hard in the backcountry. This is superior, lightweight warmth when worn under a shell jacket or down outerwear.
Also available: the women’s Patagonia R2 vest. Both the R2 vest and R2 jacket, like R1, are slim fit garments.
R3 makes the transition from slim fit to regular fit, allowing it to be worn more comfortably as an outerwear piece where necessary, but R3 is no less technical. Expanding upon the hi-loft aspect of the R2 series, the R3 delivers maximum thermal efficiency with a thick, fuzzy fleece.
Made from Polartec Thermal Pro, with Polartec Power Stretch side panels and a drawcord hem, this is Patagonia’s warmest layering pieces, and one of the warmest fleece jackets you can find.
Is the Patagonia R3 jacket not warm enough for you? Really? Try the Patagonia R4 jacket, then. This one has a regular fit, as well, and is the warmest fleece outerwear piece Patagonia makes.
Fundamentally, this is a high-loft exterior fleece with a windproof middle layer and an R2 gridded fleece interior. It’s like a sandwich of warmth and happiness. Stretch fabrics, sonic welding and micro-stitching reduce bulk for a trim silhouette.
ALTERNATIVES to Patagonia Fleece Jackets
Of course, sometimes a fleece jacket may not be your best bet; there are situations where down insulation or synthetic insulation are better-suited. We won’t go into much detail there, but here are two suggestions to help you get started:
The Patagonia Nano Puff jacket was an instant classic, and for good reason. Compressible and lightweight, the synthetic PrimaLoft insulation keeps you warm even when wet, and it’s windproof to boot. The whole jacket stuffs into a small sack with a carabiner loop, making it perfect to take traveling or hiking.
Also available as a pullover and hoody — click here to shop the entire Patagonia Nano Puff collection.
800-fill goose down is the most efficient insulation in the world, offering maximum insulative value with minimum weight. Anytime you hear phrases like “ultralight” or “warmth-to-weight ratio,” you’re invariably talking about down insulation, and no one does it like Patagonia. This is an iconic, classic Patagonia jacket: durable, lightweight and effective.
Like the Nano Puff, the Patagonia Down Sweater comes in a full range of styles. Click here to shop all of the options!
And there you have it. Hopefully, this guide has helped you wade through the many options in Patagonia fleece jackets. Of course, if you need help deciding, you can email [email protected], call 888-707-6708 to talk to our customer service staff, or visit rockcreek.com and click the “live chat” button to talk to one of our experts; we’ll ask all the right questions and make sure you end up with the best fleece jacket for you.