Best for budget: Fleece Jackets reviewed

UP TO £50
At this price you get a basic insulation layer that will provide the warmth needed for hillwalking, but it will tend to lack the benefits of more expensive products. The fleece may be slightly thinner, so it’s not as warm as some costlier options. You may not get any pockets nor a hood. More subtle missing details may include no draught baffle behind the front zip, the front zip may only extend to the chest and there may be no zip garage to prevent the top of the zip from scratching your chin or neck area. This price band of fleece jackets is good for general hillwalking, though, and if you are on a tight budget you don’t need to spend more to be warm and comfortable on the hills.

FROM £51 TO £100
There is a clear improvement in performance in this price band compared to the lower-priced products. The fleece materials may be slightly thicker, and therefore warmer, or you may get additional benefits, such as a pair of well-placed pockets or a hood. The fleece materials may also offer additional wind resistance or breathability, or they may have a more durable outer face so they don’t snag on rocks so easily. In general, the jackets in this price bracket are well suited to more regular hillwalkers who will benefit from the small but incremental extras on offer.

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£101 AND ABOVE
In this price band the benefits are directed to more specific user needs. So you get more stretchy materials that may offer excellent levels of moisture management, along with higher levels of breathability, wind resistance or warmth. You will also have excellent pocket designs that allow easier access while wearing rucksacks and a hood that fits and moves very well with your head. The overall fit of these jackets may be more tailored to produce a closer and more athletic style, which better suits the needs of more active users, climbers and mountaineers. Hillwalkers can still benefit from these designs, though, if they can stretch to the price tags.


BEST FOR BUDGET UP TO £50


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Snugpak Impact Fleece Shirt £25

 

  • Men’s unisex design XS-XXL
  • Women’s see above
  • Weight 352g (size L)
  • Materials polyester fleece

IT'S GOOD This warm and cosy fleece provides the basic insulation needed for year-round hillwalking. While it doesn’t fully block the wind it provides a good balance between wind resistance and airflow to allow maximum breathability when worn under a waterproof outer layer. The fit is reasonably close, so you can wear it under layers easily. You get a short chest zip with a large internal baffle near the chin to stop scratching. 

HOWEVER As it only comes in a unisex design the fit range may not be as ideal for
some as other options, so it’s one to try before you buy. You only get a short front zip, so you cannot ventilate it as easily as a jacket style with a full-length zip. There are no pockets at all, so you will have to keep compasses, maps, and guidebooks accessible through other means. Like most fleeces, there is no hem drawcord. Of course you may be able to live without these benefits easily so consider whether they matter.

VERDICT A low-priced fleece top that provides the basic insulation hillwalkers will need, but it lacks many of the benefits of higher priced options.

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 4/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 3/5 
  • Value for money 5/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

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Berghaus Arnside Fleece £45

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-18
  • Weight 369g (size L)
  • Materials polyester microfleece

IT'S GOOD This is a lightweight fleece that offers a good level of insulation for milder hillwalking conditions. It allows airflow to ensure it doesn’t get too sweaty when worn under a waterproof jacket, but also resists wind a little too. There’s a full-length zip and two zipped pockets large enough to take an OS map. The pockets are placed slightly higher on the body than some other designs so you can access them a little easier while wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. It has a reasonable general fit. 

HOWEVER Pockets are slightly higher than on more basic designs, but they don’t have the best access when wearing a rucksack hipbelt. The front zip doesn’t get a draught baffle on the inside, or a chinguard at the top of it. Fit is acceptable but closer-fitting designs, or those with more adjustment than just elastication at the hem and cuffs, could be better for more regular users. There is no hood and this jacket is not quite warm enough on its own in winter. 

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VERDICT A perfectly adequate hillwalking fleece if you have a small budget. Has some useful pockets and good general performance. 

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 3/5 
  • Value for money 5/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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Craghoppers Timor / Caitlin £45

  • Men’s S-XXL (Timor)
  • Women’s 8-20 (Caitlin)
  • Weight 363g (size L)
  • Materials polyester fleece

IT'S GOOD This new jacket has
an additional chest pocket for stowing a compass or GPS receiver and this sets it apart from many others. It’s is great in summer and could be used in colder conditions if additional layers were worn underneath. The cuff and hem are elasticated and fit closely which helps to lock out the wind. The two main pockets are large enough for an OS map. The fit is slightly closer than some baggier styles, so overall, this is a good jacket for milder conditions.

HOWEVER The two main pockets are placed slightly too low on your body so their access is reduced when wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt, while the third pocket is placed a little too high on the chest as a rucksack shoulder strap tends to impede this more than necessary. Also the main zip doesn’t have an internal baffle to block out wind and there’s no chinguard at the top of the zip. The fit is closer than others, and the cuffs tended to ride up when scrambling, which left my wrists exposed. Others are a little warmer too.

VERDICT The chest pocket is useful and it’s a good general design but the pockets could be slightly better positioned.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 4/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 3/5 
  • Value for money 5/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

BEST FOR BUDGET FROM £51 TO £100


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Mountain Equipment Litmus Jacket £90

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 503g (size L)
  • Materials Polartec Thermal Pro

IT'S GOOD The use of Thermal Pro fleece makes this ideal for year-round general hillwalking as it offers good insulation and some wind resistance. It also benefits from a third chest pocket to stow a phone or GPS receiver while using the other two cavernous pockets for hand-warming or a map. All pockets are easily accessed while wearing a rucksack belt. Good details include a large internal flap behind the front zip to keep draughts at bay and a substantial zip garage to protect the chin from being scratched. 

HOWEVER It doesn’t have a hood, so on chilly days you need to pack a warm hat. Also, like many other fleece jackets here, there is no adjustment other than elastication at the hem or cuffs, so you need to try it before buying to check these areas fit well. For me, the cuffs were a little looser than would be ideal, and the sleeves were a little less well-fitted as some. So if you prefer a closer, more athletic fit then others are better. This is quite warm so in summer you may need to wear it with the front zip open, or choose an alternative thinner fleece.

VERDICT A good general fleece with excellent pockets if you don’t need a hood or want a more athletic fit.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 4/5 
  • Value for money 4/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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Berghaus Pravitale 2.0 Extrem Men's Fleece Hoodie £90

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 547g (size L)
  • Materials stretch fleece

IT'S GOOD The fleece in this jacket offers a good level of insulation for year-round use, as well as a slightly tighter knit to help block out wind. The outer face appears less likely to snag, too, than others. You get a hood for cold conditions and the front zip has a good windflap inside that protects the chin from the zip. The two OS map-sized pockets are high enough to allow access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. The fit is slightly longer than some and is neither overly close or overly baggy, making it a good style for hillwalking.

HOWEVER There is no women’s option or adjustment other than elastication at the hem, cuffs and hood and I felt I needed a slightly closer fit on the cuffs to be perfect. So one to try before buying. It’s perhaps a little warm for summer but would be ideal from early autumn through winter and into spring. Cuffs tended to ride up a little more easily than others that had a more athletic fit and performance. The price tag is reasonable for what you get, but of course you could spend less.

VERDICT Not perfect for every situation, but a good general all-rounder for most hill and mountain walking in the UK. A women’s option please!

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 4/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 4/5 
  • Value for money 4/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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Haglöfs Tornado £70

  • Men’s S-XL
  • Women’s XS-XL
  • Weight 417g (size L)
  • Materials Pontetorto Tecnostretch fleece

IT'S GOOD The Heron is a good general hillwalking fleece for year-round use. It has an abrasion-resistant finish on the outside, good wind resistance, a fluffy inside and a good level of insulation for typical mountain conditions. The two main pockets are OS map-sized and easy to access while wearing a rucksack. The hood fits well and there is a baffle behind the front zip to block draughts as well as a garage for the zip. The fit is not overly close so you can wear thin layers under it if needed. The non-hooded version for £90 is ideal for hillwalkers, too.

HOWEVER The price tag is a little higher than others. The hem was slightly looser than ideal and as there is no hem drawcord it’s worth trying before buying. There is no adjustment, just elastication, at the cuffs or hood. Others have more insulation or an additional chest pocket and, of course, you can pay less if you need less insulation. While this fleece isn’t perfect, overall the downsides are small. 

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VERDICT Suits the needs of most hillwalkers. While small details could be better, it’s still a good option in either hood or non-hood versions.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 4/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 5/5 
  • Value for money 4/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 72%

BEST FOR BUDGET £101 AND OVER


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Mammut Aenergy / Botnica Light ML Hooded Jacket £115

  • Men’s S-XXL (Aenergy)
  • Women’s XS-L (Botnica)
  • Weight 415g (size L)
  • Materials Pontetorto Tecnostretch and DryFast

IT'S GOOD The materials set this apart from others by being a tighter knit than more open-knit designs so it blocks more wind but is still breathable, while the outer layer appears more abrasion-resistant than others. The fit is quite close and athletic with the elastication locking out draughts and the hood and cuffs fitting well. You get two OS map-sized Napoleon-style chest pockets on the men’s style while the women’s option has two side pockets that are lower on the body. There is a nice big internal baffle behind the front zip to keep out the wind and protect the chin.

HOWEVER It’s not the warmest fleece jacket available, so while great for active users and in warm weather, for casual walkers and in cool temperatures it will need supplementing with warm layers. Some other fleeces are more wind resistant, so a windproof layer may be needed.There is no adjustment at the cuffs, hood or hem apart from elastication so try before you buy. 

VERDICT Close-fitting design for active users but it is not the warmest option and men need to decide if they want Napoleon-style pockets rather than hand-warming side pockets.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 4/5 
  • Value for money 2/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

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Berghaus Extrem 7000 Hoodie £130

  • Men’s XS-XL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 395g (size L)
  • Materials Polartec Power Grid

IT'S GOOD The Power Grid material has a grid pattern on the inside to improve insulation and an open weave to improve breathability so this works really well under a waterproof or windproof jacket. Extra reinforcement at the waist, forearms and hood improves durability. The hood, body and sleeves all fitted me closely, with tight elastication locking out draughts at the cuffs, hem and hood. Two main pockets placed high on the body allow easy access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. Nice touches include a balaclava section in the hood and a soft fleece chinguard at the top of the zip. The close fit is great for more athletic users. 

HOWEVER Casual walkers may prefer something less figure hugging. While it fitted me fine there is no adjustment at the hem, cuffs or hood apart from firm elastication, so try before buying. The material is quite an open weave so doesn’t block wind. The price tag is high for what you get.

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VERDICT A close-fitting, athletic design that’s great in mild conditions but needs a windproof or waterproof layer in a breeze and additional insulation in colder conditions.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5 
  • Comfort 4/5 
  • In use 5/5 
  • Value for money 2/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

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Salewa Ortles Full Zip Fleece Jacket £145

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-14
  • Weight 415g (size L)
  • Materials Polartec Power Stretch Pro

IT'S GOOD Polartec Power Stretch Pro is a superb fabric that provides plenty of insulation, exceptional stretch and wind resistance. It’s also more abrasion resistant than more open-knit designs. The result is a figure-hugging jacket without restriction of movement, and it’s warmer than many other fleeces making it good year-round option. You get two main pockets that are placed just high enough to allow access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt, and the front zip has an internal baffle to block draughts.

HOWEVER It’s a great fabric but it’s so pricy, especially when you consider there’s no hood or additional features apart from a couple of pockets. The material is very figure hugging and probably doesn’t need any adjustment at the hem or cuffs, but you don’t get any anyway so it’s one to try to be sure it fits and that you feel comfortable in its close, athletic fit. In summer it may be a little too toasty as it fits so closely – even with the front zip open it will tend to stay warm.

VERDICT A superb fabric that hugs the body and provides good warmth for British mountain use – but the price tag may freeze you in your tracks to the checkout!

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 5/5 
  • Comfort 5/5 
  • In use 4/5 
  • Value for money 1/5 
  • OVERALL SCORE 72%