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Finding the Perfect Men's Fleece

As temperatures start to drop with the onset of winter, a versatile men's fleece or pullover can become your new best friend for staying stylishly warm. The right fleece provides flexible lightweight insulation to combat chill while resisting wind, rain and snow. This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know to find the perfect fleece for your personal needs and style. 


At Cotswold Outdoor, men's fleeces come in a wide array of styles, features and fits to suit different requirements. When considering general silhouette and construction, the trusted zip-up fleece jacket remains a wildly popular choice year after year for good reason. The iconic full front zip closure allows you to customise ventilation on the fly as conditions and activity levels change.  


Zippered hand pockets give you a convenient place to warm frozen fingers or securely stash small essentials like phones, wallets and keys. Throwing on a classic mens fleece jacket over a base layer or under a waterproof shell jacket provides versatile insulation that traps heat without compromising range of motion.


For more casual everyday wear, a pullover fleece delivers understated style perfect for weekends and low-key use. Crewneck pullover men's fleeces have a laidback vibe ideal for layering over a T-shirt or base layer when you need extra warmth without restricting mobility. Quarter zip pullovers allow you to zip open the neckline for rapid heat dumping when building up a sweat, while keeping things sealed up to retain warmth in cold snaps. 


Half zip pullover men's fleeces provide the ability to customise ventilation and temperature regulation by zipping up or down as desired. Leaving the zipper partly down allows for some fresh air circulation while keeping the neck insulated for the best of both worlds. Zippered chest pockets on quarter and half zips give you convenient access to quickly stow small items or slip in warming hands.


Men's fleece hoodies represent another tried and true cold weather staple thanks to the extra coverage and insulation provided by the integrated hood. Throwing up the hood adds an invaluable extra layer of warmth for the head and neck when the icy winds start whipping.  


A full zip closure allows you to open up the jacket for rapid cooling when you get too hot, then quickly seal back up to keep the heat in. Fleece hoodies style well with jeans, joggers and trousers for everything from casual wear to outdoor excursions.


Sleeveless men's fleece vests are ideal for retaining core body warmth while allowing maximum freedom of arm movement, making them a top choice for vigorous activities like hiking, trail running and backcountry skiing. The lack of sleeves enables unrestricted range of motion without overheating. Fleece vests work well as a mid layer under a hard shell jacket or over a moisture wicking base layer. 


For the ultimate in head to toe insulation when braving frigid arctic temperatures, a longline fleece extending down past the knees delivers full coverage protection. Men's fleeces reaching the upper thighs also provide increased warmth compared to typical hip length styles thanks to the extra length. Cropped men's fleeces ending at the waist offer lightweight warmth while preventing overheating during aerobic activities.


In terms of ideal technical features, fabrics and construction have come a long way in developing functional fleeces that increase performance, protection and comfort in harsh weather. Many modern men's fleeces incorporate wind resistant material treatments and construction to prevent cold gusts from piercing through the fabric. This allows the fleece to retain precious body heat efficiently. 


DWR (durable water repellent) coatings or laminates applied to the exterior fabric cause moisture from light rain, snow, sleet and mist to bead up and roll off without compromising the garment's breathability. Moisture wicking technology draws interior sweat away from the skin to the outside of the fleece keeping you dry on the inside.  


Breathable interior fabrics like polyester or wool allow excess heat and water vapour to escape through microscopic pores, preventing the uncomfortable buildup of interior condensation. Plush fleece inner linings provide crucial next-to-skin comfort while trapping heat inside the jacket.


Multiple zippered hand pockets give you convenient access to ample secure storage for small items you need to keep close like phones, snacks, lip balm and gloves. Technical features like thumb loops, drawcord hems, and packable designs add heightened functionality and versatility. Thumb loops keep sleeves pulled down and cinched in place around the wrists sealing out cold air.  


Adjustable drawcord hem systems allow you to customise and fine tune the jacket length and fit for optimised coverage from the elements. Many modern men's fleeces compress down surprisingly small into included storage bags for easy packing. This allows you to stow them away in your backpack or luggage when not needed, then pull them back out and unfold when the temps drop.


Choosing the appropriate fleece weight makes a major difference in providing sufficient insulation and protection to suit your local climate and planned activities. Lightweight men’s fleeces typically utilise thin, breathable fabrics in the 100 to 200 gsm range. This makes them well suited to milder fall temps and high exertion activities that generate surplus body heat.  


They offer great flexibility of movement without overheating as you build up a sweat. Lightweight fleeces work excellently as a warm first layer beneath a jacket or standalone in cool weather above 55°F.


Midweight fleece fabrics provide increased insulation ranging from 200 up to 300 gsm for versatile performance across a broad temperature span. Midweight men's fleeces regulate body temperature efficiently during changing conditions and moderate activity levels. They deliver ample warmth in colder conditions from freezing down to around 30°F while allowing effective moisture management. 


Heavyweight and expedition weight men's fleeces utilise thick, dense fabrics over 300 gsm to provide elite insulation even in frigid arctic environments down to -15°C and below. These seriously toasty fleeces rely on plush fleece lining for ultimate cold weather protection even when inactive. For maximum adaptability, some fleeces strategically combine different weights of fabric.


Lighter, more breathable fabrics are used in areas prone to overheating like the sides, underarms and back. Warmer heavyweight fleece is utilised on the chest, pockets and hood for amplified insulation where you need it most. This hybrid approach provides customised warmth ideal for activities where your exertion level frequently varies. 


When trying on men's fleeces, dialing in the right fit makes a big difference for both aesthetics and performance. A tailored slim fit provides a sharp streamlined look designed to hug the body closely without impeding movement. Excess material is minimised to avoid getting caught on gear or vegetation during active pursuits.


A classic regular fit offers just the right moderate amount of room to layer comfortably underneath while avoiding a boxy silhouette. This versatile option flatters most body types. For an oversized, casual style focused on maximising freedom of movement, a relaxed fit fleece is the way to go. 


This roomy option provides plenty of space through the body and sleeves for unrestricted mobility, which is ideal for activities requiring expansive range of motion like climbing, hiking and snowsports. An extended size range and adjustable features like cinch cords, elastic or toggle hems allow you to really fine tune the fit for full coverage from the icy elements.


Consider coverage and overall length as well when selecting a fleece matched to your needs. Longer men's fleeces extending down past the hips or to the upper thighs provide increased protection from frigid winter air. The extra length blocks more surface area from exposure to cold and chilling winds. 


Cropped waist length men's fleeces ending around the belt line are perfect for very active pursuits where overheating is a concern thanks to increased airflow and ventilation. Standard hip length remains the tried and true sweet spot, hitting around the waist and pockets for great everyday versatility to and from the elements.



Mens Fleeces: Popular Brands

When it comes to outstanding outdoor brands crafting high end technical men's fleeces built to thrive in harsh alpine environments, a few industry leaders stand out from the pack. Renowned British brand Berghaus uses proprietary water repellent fabrics to create rugged performance men’s fleeces ready for any adventure. You’re certain to find a mens Berghaus fleece that fits your requirements.


Patagonia offers an extensive range of ethically and sustainably produced men’s fleeces featuring both relaxed and athletic slim cut designs constructed from recycled materials. A Patagonia fleece for men comes with comfort, style and peace of mind. The North Face has built a sterling reputation through expedition tested men's fleeces featuring windproofing, water resistance and innovative fabrics to support exploration of the most extreme environments. Explore Cotswold Outdoor for a mens North Face fleece.  


Other outdoor specialists such as Arc'teryx, Helly Hansen and Jack Wolfskin also produce premium alpine-ready men's fleeces purpose-built side by side with mountaineers, skiers and cold weather adventurers to perform in the harshest winter weather. Taking into account each brand's unique design ethos, custom fabric technologies and insulation innovations allows you to select a fleece aligned with your priorities, from sustainable production to weatherproof performance.


Columbia sets itself apart integrating patented heat reflective lining into trendy men's fleeces to retain warmth by reflecting back body heat energy inside the jacket. This innovative metallic dot lining provides excellent warmth for the weight across their range. 


With so many types, features and options to choose from, taking the time to carefully consider where and how you plan to use your new men's fleece is the key to zeroing in on your optimal match. Determine if you need supreme warmth or greater breathability, casual everyday versatility or technical performance before making your purchase.  


Ask yourself if you want comfort or weather resistance, style or function as primary considerations to narrow your priorities. With this comprehensive buyer’s guide laying out everything you need to know, you’ll be fully equipped with expert knowledge to find the ideal fleece to keep you insulated in style as soon as winter rears its icy head once again.

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