fleece vs puffy debate

6:22 p.m. on September 22, 2015 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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relatively warm insulating layer that lets air pass but provides warmth under a shell.  do you prefer fleece (patagonia r1/R2/R3, basic polartec, or something else) or puffy (patagonia nano air, arcteryx atom or similar), and why?

any particular jackets thrill you in particular?

i have some views, but i'm keeping my powder dry for now.  

12:56 a.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
Joseph Renow @jrenow
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I have been very open about my love of fleece...it is cheap...durable...dries fast...breathes...absorbs less water/dirt/oil...and did I mention that it is cheap and dries fast?

I use puffy gear too...but I cannot recall ever bringing puffy gear without some form of fleece too.

5:31 a.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
Joe Hanley
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+1 with Joseph, nothing beats fleece!

1:15 p.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
balzaccom
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We use both.  Fleece is great, but we take along a puffy as well, because if it gets really cold, nothing beats down.

 

Then again, we have a couple of nice alpaca hoodies that we got in Peru for $15 that work really well, too.  As good as fleece, very lightweight, very warm.  And cheap---if you don't include the cost of the ticket to Huaraz!

5:35 p.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
Joseph Renow @jrenow
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balzaccom...fleece beats down in heavy cold rain I promise...see the link below for Skurka's take on the matter:

http://andrewskurka.com/2012/stupid-light-not-always-right-or-better/

5:44 p.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
balzaccom
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I agree.  But down beats fleece in the snow, at least where we hike.  We take both, as I noted.

 

If nothing else, they both make really good pillows at night!

6:28 p.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
whomeworry
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Fleece will allow better air circulation, as it is not covered by a shell fabric.  It will also dry out faster, both because of lack of shell covering, as well as fleece fibers do not absorb water. 

I prefer fleece if it is likely I will wear the garment when sweating.  But in other circumstances - for example lounging at camp - I love my down puffies and pants. 

I am with Paul - I take both.

Ed

9:17 p.m. on September 23, 2015 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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great discussion/opinions!

just to clarify - i tend to agree when we're talking about a puffy down jacket or synthetic fill with a highly wind-resistant shell - down sweater, patagonia nanopuff, the north face thermoball.  however, there are puffy jackets out there where light synthetic fill is sandwiched between wind-permeable layers - air blows right through them.  (jackets that didn't exist when Skurka wrote that piece, i suspect).



1:05 p.m. on September 25, 2015 (EDT)
ppine
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There are some lines of clothing that are very durable, warm, and light like Sitka. They are primarily marketed to hunters, but worth taking a look at. They are manmade materials made to handle a lot of sweat, wind and rain. Check them out. I have a light jacket that weighs maybe 3 ounces that always goes in my pack even in summer.

3:41 a.m. on September 26, 2015 (EDT)
Tom D
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I've got two TNF down parkas, a Columbia fleece jacket I've owned for years and a synthetic liner for a hard shell. All 4 have their merits. The fleece is the most versatile. I wear it around town year round, worn it skiing and winter camping in Yosemite. I'm wearing it in my photo. The down parkas are for cold weather. One is good to -20F or colder. The liner is new so untested except for some mild weather but it seems fairly warm. 

If you can only go with one, unless you intend to be in extreme weather, I'd go with fleece. You don't need an expensive brand; my Columbia is one of the best things I've ever bought in terms of value.

8:26 p.m. on September 26, 2015 (EDT)
FlipNC
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I agree about not needing to go expesnive...last 3 years I have used a 7 dollar fleece I found in Costco for my Iate spring or early fall trips.  I switch to a better fleece as the temps drop but that little find is one I still use when it is going to stay above freezing.

I take a puffy vest on most trips lbut generally prefer the fleece.

6:17 p.m. on September 29, 2015 (EDT)
Chimney Rock
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I've been a fleece advocate for many, many years .... for so many of the reasons stated previously in this thread.  On occasion I also pack a lightweight down vest.  This combo, along with my base layers, has served me well while backpacking primarily in the eastern US.

Recently, we backpacked the 42 mile stretch of the Teton Crest Trail, out through Paintbrush Canyon .... which routinely sees temp lows below freezing in September.  For the trip, I purchased the Patagonia Down Sweater and could not have been more pleased with the product.

I've long known about the insulating properties of quality down, but I was pleasantly surprised at the jacket's breathe-ability, even during strenuous ascents.  I'm a big believer in down jackets again, especially for colder conditions. (and it makes a good pillow when tucked into it's built-in stuff pocket)

9:14 a.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
TJ1984
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This summer, I have been using a combination of windstopper vest, with high loft fleece jacket. This was comfortable down to about 38 F. Its a fairly good combo for humid weather or when there is the potential for rain.

High loft fleeces are more expensive than the standard stuff, but still less than a puffy of equivalent quality. Pair it with a good wind shell, and you have a very versatile combo for 3 season use.

9:38 a.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
ppine
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A combination of wool and fleece is very dependable in all weather. I have always liked down which is great as long as it is dry.  For wet conditions, it is best to leave the down at home.

8:46 p.m. on September 30, 2015 (EDT)
TheRambler
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Sounds like i am the outcast here. While i like fleece, i rarely ever use it. Its heavy, and for is weight to warmth ratio its a nogo for me. i usually always have a nano puff with me, but when the real cold sets in i use a wool sweater and a waxed cotton down jacket. Who says you cant use down in the rain? I love that llbean waxed cotton down jacket. One of the best things i have ever bought. Tough as nails, very water resistant/ borderline waterproof, fairly breathable, and warm as heck.

10:58 a.m. on October 1, 2015 (EDT)
ppine
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Thanks to Rambler. I have never seen one of those waxed cotton down jackets.  I have been wearing Filson waxed cotton cruisers for many decades. They are a little heavy for backpacking. Okay on the body, but heavy in the pack.

June 7, 2020
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