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Thread: What's the Ultimate Fleece Jacket?

  1. #1
    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    What's the Ultimate Fleece Jacket?

    Any recommendations for the ultimate fleece jacket out there? I'm looking for an upgrade to the L.L. Bean fleece I used for hiking for all of last winter.

    I know North Face has their ultrapopular 300-weight Denali jacket, and Mountain Hardwear has their Windstopper Tech Jacket, but what other options are there? Or are those 2 the best there is?

    Thanks!

    - Greg

  2. #2
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Best for what? I couldn't hike in either of them, way too warm. I think most of us have at least 2-3 fleece jackets of different weights and windproof-ness. I've got 100, 200, and 300 weight, plus a softshell and several vests. In winter I throw a down jacket in my pack for camp or summits, not a fleece jacket.

    The Denali jacket is nice, I have one, but it's no warmer than any other 300 weight fleece jacket out there. One of my jackets I picked up at the Gap for $8 and it's worked as well as any of the others. The Denali has some nice features (pit zips, zipping into a jacket, quality sewing) but basically, fleece is fleece.

    -dave-

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bobby's Avatar
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    I just ordered a High Peaks Pinnacle 2 fleece jacket from Campor. It has pit zips, several pockets, full zip front.
    "Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic." Crash Davis -"Bull Durham"

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky
    but basically, fleece is fleece.
    There is good quality fleece that will last and junk that looks ok in the store but falls apart rapidly under normal use. Anything made my Malden Mills is good (Polartec), anything made in China is suspect. And there are probably some other manufacturers...

    In general, the standard outdoor gear manufacturers will use good fleece.

    Doug

  5. #5
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    North face is NOT the best jacket out there. I also agree with dave M, I own many jackets of varieing density and a shell as well, all used in various combos depending on conditions. Now to the precise question at hand. I own a Patagonia retro-X jacket, made from recycled plastic bottles (great for the envior) and has a wind bloc liner. This is a warm coat I use in cold conditions. Its my personal opinion that Patagonia makes the absolute BEST fleece jackets out there, want to see my patagonia shinchilla from the 80"s?

  6. #6
    Senior Member HighHorse's Avatar
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    agreed with sierra.
    patagonia makes some of the best fleece in the game. i have also had a MH windstopper tech jacket and liked it very much, as well as a denali, which i didn't like as much. as far as patagonia goes, you can't go wrong with the retro (shaggy); for active stuff R2 would be good, for warmth R4 would be good, and R3 is a decent blend of the two.
    Things outside you are projections of what's inside you, and what's inside you is a projection of what's outside. So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you're stepping into the labyrinth inside. Most definitely a risky business. -Murakami

  7. #7
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Greg - another consideration might be the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man fleece jacket Monkey Man . It has a really high warmth to weight ratio, compresses better than most fleece and makes a great middle layer. There are two potential negatives:
    1. It is definitely designed for the trail, not for wearing around town. I find it kind of ugly, actually.
    2. Definitely not windproof. It should be worn under a wind layer if there is any breeze at all.

    I also agree re. Patagonia. Always good stuff, but sometimes pricey. Check for their web specials, including a nice deal on their R2 fleece for $75.00:Patagoinia sale

    I have the Patagonia Micropuff pullover. It is not fleece per se, but is a really warm 11-12 ounce option. Compresses much better than fleece, too. Note: the sizes for the Micropuff run somewhat big.

    Regards,
    Marty
    So when you reach the bottom line
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    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    IMHO nothing beats polypropylene for warmth to weight ratio, wicking ability and quick drying. Its only down side is it has a "plasticky" feel to it. But I hike in it all the time and the only time I do not like the feel is in the first minute or so after I put it on. Back in the early 1980's I had a polypropylene, cardigan type, zip-up, sweater, it was made by "Chuck Roast". I used it when sailing. It dried in a flash, weighed next to nothing, and was very warm (in no wind conditions).

    Down sides: 1) wind went right through it (no big deal, I carried a light weight shell) 2) it had that odd plastic sort of feel when you first put it on, 3) it looked very cool and interesting and was subsequently stolen 4) the Chuck Roast folks discontinued the line .

    Consider a couple of layers of polypro long sleeve t-shirts.
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
    TW72:60/72, WADK46: 18/46, 52WAV:16/52, Cat35:9/35(39)

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox
    IMHO nothing beats polypropylene for warmth to weight ratio, wicking ability and quick drying. Its only down side is it has a "plasticky" feel to it.
    Don't forget that polypro has the highest stink factor of any of the materials...

    And that it shrinks if overheated during washing and drying.

    the Chuck Roast folks discontinued the line .

    Consider a couple of layers of polypro long sleeve t-shirts.
    Methinks that everyone (or at least almost everyone) discontinued polypro in favor of polyester. Works about as well, is softer on the skin, withstands hot water, and has almost as high a stink factor...

    Doug
    Who still has 2 sets of polypro long underwear, but uses polyester.

  10. #10
    Senior Member truepatriot09's Avatar
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    For base layers nothing beats wool. And with SmartWool and/or Icebreaker you can get super soft merino wool base layers and have no itch factor. And compared to plastic base layers it won't stink. Wool rules.

    The best fleece jacket is to skip the fleece and go with down or a primaloft mid-layer. Primaloft pieces are sick. They insulate better than fleece (dry or wet) and usually the shells they come in have some sort of dwr on them so you don't have to break out the shell right away if it starts to precipitate.

    For me fleece is now simply for lifestyle and every day wear. It's heavy and packs poorly. A fleece pullover or vest looks great with some jeans or when you head out to rake the leaves or go apple picking. When in the mtns...it doesn't make much sense anymore.
    I love big dumps.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky
    Best for what? I couldn't hike in either of them, way too warm. I think most of us have at least 2-3 fleece jackets of different weights and windproof-ness. I've got 100, 200, and 300 weight, plus a softshell and several vests.... -dave-
    I agree also with DaveMetsky, in fact a burst out laughing when I read his comment about owning more than 3.

    One thing I would like to point out though, I like a great bargain on fleece also and I find that the walmart/el-cheapo fleeces for $9.99 - $12.99 keep me warm under a shell and are also great for keeping one in the trunk as a spare. I do find the zippers are very cheap (as well as the stitching) and never last more than a season or two before they wear thin, so I usually buy "Snap T Neck" style 100 or 200 weight pullover fleeces from Walmart.

    I avoid 300 weight - Too bulky for me.

    Every 3-4 years I buy a good windproof zipper fleece from Campmor, Bean REI or EMS - End of season deeply discounted - buy for the next season.

    I personally love the full zip windproof fleeces with zippered pockets and pitzips for all around every-day use.
    I also carry a Polarguard 3-D jacket for around camp when winter camping (sometimes I bring a down jacket).
    Rick

  12. #12
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    Don't forget that polypro has the highest stink factor of any of the materials...
    This may be a plus.

    You see, since a somewhat serious fall a few years ago (while hiking alone), my wife has been pushing me to always hike with other people. I prefer hiking alone, so by wearing my polypro, I'm building up a set of people who refuse to hike with me. Not too much longer, and I'll be able to tell her that I have to hike alone, because I'm the only one who will hike with me.

    Best fleece, is a home made one, made from Malden Mills fleece, and put together to my exact specifications. (eg one pit zip (who needs two?)
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

  13. #13
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    Don't forget that polypro has the highest stink factor of any of the materials...
    The only ones that will hike with me are dogs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete_Hickey
    I prefer hiking alone, so by wearing my polypro, I'm building up a set of people who refuse to hike with me. ...
    Maybe we could hike alone together?
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
    TW72:60/72, WADK46: 18/46, 52WAV:16/52, Cat35:9/35(39)

  14. #14
    Senior Member sleeping bear's Avatar
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    My EMS boiled wool sweater beats any fleece I've ever owned hands down.

  15. #15
    Senior Member truepatriot09's Avatar
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    Wool is the best! Plus it's much more environmentally friendly than any synthetic. Synthetics are simply plastic...man made. They don't degrade well and to 'beat the stink' companies add things like silver oxide to the garment, which really only delays the stink by an hour or so, and also then introduces more chemicals to an already chemically piece of fabric.

    Wool is natural, it performs better than any synthetic and when you're done, it degrades faster and naturally. Go Wool!
    I love big dumps.

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