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Full-Zip Fleeces: How to Choose the Perfect Style

For adaptable and cosy attire, zip-up fleece jackets are a vital inclusion in any closet. Whether you seek a pragmatic layer for outdoor pursuits or a chic yet practical garment for daily use, full-zip fleeces present an ideal fusion of cosiness, functionality, and style.


Our selection encompasses a diverse array of fleeces from brands including The North Face, and distinctive designs from Patagonia, all crafted to address a range of requirements and style preferences. Read on for key tips to buying a full-zip fleece.


What to Look for When Buying a Full-Zip Fleece



Polyester Fleece

The most common fleece material is polyester fleece, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyester fleece is lightweight, quick-drying, and designed to insulate heat while allowing moisture to escape. It's a very versatile, affordable, and durable material that provides reliable warmth and comfort. 


Polar Fleece

Polar fleece is a premium polyester fleece designed to mimic wool's insulation properties while being more lightweight. It has an exceptionally soft texture and will keep you very warm thanks to the dense pile of fibres. Polar fleece is also highly breathable.   


Cotton Fleece   

Cotton fleece has all the comfort of cotton combined with fleece insulation. It's heavyweight, super soft, breathable, and gives a relaxed look and feel. Just keep in mind cotton takes longer to dry than synthetic fabrics.



The thickness and weight of the fleece will determine its intended use and warmth level. Some terms used to indicate fleece weight include ultralight, lightweight, mid-weight and expedition-weight. Ultralight fleece offers a very lightweight, breathable layer ideal for high output aerobic activity. This is not intended as an outer layer in cold conditions.


Lightweight fleece provides a versatile weight that provides moderate insulation and is great as a standalone piece in autumn/spring or a mid-layer in winter. Midweight fleece provides substantial warmth while remaining fairly lightweight. This works well as an outer layer for cold weather activities.  


Lastly, expedition-weight fleece is an extremely thick and warm fleece designed for frigid environments. It’s ideal as an outer layer in harsh winter conditions.    



Fleece jackets are available in different fits to suit your needs. Regular fit is a classic everyday fit that offers room to layer underneath. Slim fit is a more tailored cut that hugs the body while allowing full mobility. Oversized fit provides a relaxed loose fit for maximum comfort and freedom of movement.   


Consider what activities you'll use the fleece for and choose a fit that aligns with your needs. If layering under the fleece, size up for a more comfortable regular or oversized fit.   




Full Zip    

A full-length zipper allows you to totally open the fleece for venting and easy on/off. This is an essential feature for high-output aerobic activity. Full zips also allow you to layer the fleece over other garments more easily.   


Hand-Warmer Pockets

Cosy fleece-lined pockets help keep hands warm in cold weather without the need for gloves and are convenient for keeping small items secure as well.   



Some full-zip fleece jackets feature an integrated hood for extra warmth and weather protection, some of which cinch down to fit snugly over a helmet or hat when needed.  


Thumb Loops  

Thumb loops integrated into the cuffs help seal in warmth and keep sleeves from riding up. This can be a very useful feature for active pursuits.   


Reflective Detailing

Reflective strips and logos allow for visibility in low light, which is ideal for early morning/evening walks and runs.  


The Many Benefits of Full-Zip Fleeces   


Warmth Without Weight

The fluffy pile of a fleece traps body heat extremely effectively to provide serious warmth without cumbersome bulk. Fleece manages moisture well to keep you dry and locks in warmth even when wet. This makes it ideal for highly aerobic activities where moisture management is key.    


Ultimate Comfort  

Fleece feels extraordinarily soft against the skin and allows for unrestricted mobility. Unlike bulky sweaters and rigid outerwear, fleece moves with you without restraint. This flexibility makes fleeces ideal for everything from hiking to casual wear.


Easy Layering Ability  

The zippered front combined with lightweight fabric means fleece layers comfortably under or over other garments. Wear it over a base layer and under a shell jacket to dial in warmth and protection from the elements. The zip also allows for venting to prevent overheating.   


Dries Quickly

Fleece fabric and construction are designed to allow moisture to evaporate rapidly. While fleece won't keep you dry in pouring rain, it does dry very fast by design. This makes it well-suited to activities where getting wet is expected but staying wet is not ideal.   


Packs Easily    

High-quality fleece is able to compress down surprisingly small without losing its loft and insulation. This makes it a great just-in-case layer to stuff in your backpack, glove box, etc. Fleece also weighs very little so won't tax your carry capacity.


The Best Brands for Full-Zip Fleeces   

For outstanding fleece jackets known for quality construction and cutting-edge technical fabrics, here are just a few premium outdoor brands that stand out from the pack.


The North Face

This revered American brand has an expansive line of innovative fleece designs trusted by outdoor enthusiasts. From ultralight breathable layers to heavyweight expedition-weight fleece, The North Face offers a style for every activity and environment.    



The pioneering sustainability-focused company utilises recyclable materials and responsible manufacturing processes without compromising on performance. Patagonia's fleece jackets feature premium insulation paired with their signature rugged durability.   



This Canadian brand engineers award-winning outdoor apparel designed for alpine environments. Arc'teryx fleeces integrate top-tier fabrics with articulated patterning to create unrivalled warmth, comfort, and mobility. Expect a precision fit and resilience that lasts.    


The exceptional quality and construction of these brands’ fleeces ensure years of reliable performance under demanding conditions.   


Caring for Your Full-Zip Fleece   

Guard against pilling and breakdown of insulation by washing fleece only when necessary using a gentle, detergent-free wash. Tumble dry low and avoid direct heat which can scorch synthetic fibres.  Outdoor and active pursuits can embed odours in fleece fabric, so try to wash less frequently but thoroughly, using special technical wash formulas to eliminate locked in smells without wearing down fibres prematurely.   


Pilling is common with fleece as fibres break and tangle into little balls on the surface. Carefully shave pills using a sweater stone, pill razor, or electric fabric shaver to restore a smooth uniform finish without damaging the jacket. Allow freshly laundered fleece to fully air-dry before packing away to prevent moisture retention which can lead to mould and mildew. Store folded loosely rather than on hangers to minimise creasing.


Make Minor Repairs  

For small holes and tears, fleece is easily repaired at home using special adhesive repair patches and tape. Seal frayed edges with a lighter to prevent additional unravelling. Heavily worn or damaged fleece with decreased insulation value should be retired from active duty and demoted to more casual use. Replace beloved and well-used fleeces every few years to maintain optimal warmth and functionality.   


Full-Zip Fleece Styles  

As a versatile garment, the full-zip fleece jacket complements a wide range of personal styles. Pair it with anything from jeans to performance base layers to make it distinctly yours. A full-zip fleece adds a sporty accent to any smart-casual outfit whether you're dressing it up or keeping it low-key. Try layering it over a collared shirt or merino sweater with dark denim or khaki trousers and leather boots or trainers. Choose a solid colour fleece in black, grey, olive, or navy for an elevated look.   


Leaning into the athletic heritage of fleece will give you a cool sporty vibe. Complement the jacket with joggers, leggings, tech tees, and running shoes to nail the athleisure aesthetic. Bold colour blocking and athletic brand logos reinforce the laidback gym outfit feel.


For the classic après-ski look, combine your fleece with winter staples like Nordic sweater layers, relaxed jeans, snow boots, and knit beanies. This snow bunny style says you take outdoor fun seriously but know how to unwind fireside with friends when the day is done.    


The Many Occasions for Full-Zip Fleeces

When hiking, camping, mountain biking and backpacking, a full-zip fleece is the perfect mid-layer under a shell jacket to manage exertion and elements. The zip front allows you to dump heat quickly when your activity level spikes so you don't end up soaked in sweat.   


In autumn and spring when days are cool rather than cold, a full-zip fleece makes for a great lightweight outer layer to take the edge off brisk air. The athletic cut flatters the figure for around-town errands and meetings. Brisk walks with the pup are made pleasant in a toasty fleece. The jacket blocks wind and seals in body heat without restricting arm movement, which is essential for handling the lead and treats. Large hand pockets allow you to keep essentials close.   


Fend off aggressive office AC and frigid cubicles wrapped in the cosy comfort of fleece. There’s no need to sacrifice style for comfort with such a variety of fleece designs. The lightweight fabric layers nicely under blazers and allows for full arm mobility.


Full-zip fleeces also make perfect fireside layers, absorbing ample heat from flickering flames while blocking cool air at your back. High collars keep necks nice and warm as you reconnect with fellow outdoor enthusiasts.   


Whether you shred downhill or explore cross country, a technical full-zip fleece is crucial cold weather gear. Look for wind resistant material with moisture wicking ability. Multiple pockets secure goggles and gloves when not needed.   


With the wide variety of fleece jackets available today, finding one suited to your personal needs and style is simple. Choose from smart-casual everyday designs to heavyweight expedition-ready looks. As we’ve mentioned, take into account important factors like insulation weight, features, and intended use. Premium outdoor brands offer exceptional construction and cutting-edge technical fabrics to consider for rugged performance. With appropriate care and maintenance, a quality full-zip fleece is a wardrobe staple that will provide years of reliable warmth and comfort wherever your adventures take you.

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