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Fleece Tops

Top Picks

How we choose: The best fleece tops highlighted here were selected based on 114 reviews of 75 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

I've had this fleece since 5th grade. I'm now four years out of college (that's 15 years!) and it hasn't begun to show wear. Just buy one.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Lasts forever
  • Easy maintenance
  • Can wear in many different seasons
  • Polyester fleece made from recycled material

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not windproof
  • Not compactable
  • Fleece pills up a bit
  • Small chest pocket
  • Collects lint and hair like a boss

For those of you who still want to know more about this fleece after reading the opening summary, it is true...I've had this thing for 15 years and I've worn it in all sorts of weather doing all sorts of activities. Yard work, hiking/camping, wearing it to football games, you name it. This thing has been with me through lots of life — campfires with friends, long hikes for contemplation, a first date with my (at the time) future wife, and it collected all of the shedding hair from the puppy we brought home a few years back.

Read more: Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover reviews (5)

Patagonia R1 Pullover

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

The Patagonia R1 is the ultimate mountain shirt. It is great as an insulating piece in cold weather and a great stand-alone fleece in cool weather. It can be used for almost any cold weather activity. I personally used it mostly for backpacking and hiking, but I have also seen many climbers wearing R1 Pullovers and hoodies.

Reasons to Buy

  • Warm
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Deep zipper for additional venting
  • Comes in beautiful colors
  • Comfortable
  • Wicks moisture and drys quickly
  • Flattering fit

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price
  • Snug fit in chest
  • No pockets

The Patagonia R1 is a staple in my backcountry gear. It goes on every trip with me. I love it so much that I bought two! I wear it as a stand-alone fleece from 45-59 degrees. I could wear it while hiking/running at 20-40 degrees. I wear it as a baselayer (under a puffy) when the temperature drops into the 30's. It is a very minimalist piece that has no pockets, hood or adjustablilty, but it only weighs 9.7 oz. If you are interested in a hood, try the R1 Hoody. If you are interested in pockets and would like a little more room, try the R1 Full Zip Jacket.

Read more: Patagonia R1 Pullover reviews (4)

Patagonia R1 Pullover Hoody

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (11 reviews)

The R1 Hoody is one of Patagonia's iconic fleeces for a reason: Just the right amount of features, and expertly laid out. While the latest version (2021) isn't as warm as previous years, the added length and even better "mini gloves" are just too good to pass up.

Reasons to Buy

  • Uses two types of Polartec grid fleece for warmth and breathability
  • Very refined design has been updated consistently over ten years; stretchy, breathable, fitted for the mountains.
  • The thumb loops have morphed into super useful 'mini gloves'.
  • More breathable
  • Comfy on skin; no need for a base layer, if you so choose.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Perhaps too much of the lighter weight material is included now; it's noticeably less warm.
  • Metal zipper has no fleece flap to protect chin.

What's left to say about this—a clothing article bound to be included on the Mount Rushmore of Patagonia clothing (and perhaps on the entire outdoor industry's Mount Rushmore for that matter)? As it turns out, just a bit more! Patagonia has updated one of their iconic pieces. And, just as they've done throughout the past 10+ years of the R1 Hoody, they've continued making tweaks here-and-there. The basics of any R1 Hoody (now called the R1 Pullover Hoody on Patagonia's site) include the use of Polartec's comfy PowerGrid fleece, a snug-fitting balaclava hood, a deep 1/2 zip front, chest pocket, and thumb loops to keep it all in place.

Read more: Patagonia R1 Pullover Hoody reviews (11)

Patagonia R1 Air Crew

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A winning fleece layer from Patagonia. It’s light, soft, warm, and wicks moisture well. Despite the fluffy appearance, appears to be very durable. Great outer layer on cooler days, mid-layer for colder situations.

Reasons to Buy

  • Feels great
  • Adds warmth
  • Wicks moisture
  • Simplicity

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not a wind stopper
  • Price

INTRODUCTION Patagonia R1 fleece has been around for a long time. I first wore one twenty years ago. Light to mid-weight, extremely versatile for layering, it’s absolutely no surprise that it has remained, in evolved form, in Patagonia’s lineup. R1 Air Crew   The R1 Air merges the familiar R1 concept with a design idea the company has been using for a number of years, on and off, with its Capilene Air baselayers, formerly known as Merino Air—the yarn is fluffed up, creating more opportunities to wick moisture away and trap air if worn under a shell.

Read more: Patagonia R1 Air Crew review (1)

Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip-T

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

This warm base layer is perfect for those who go where it is really cold and those who just feel really cold whatever the temperature. It wicks, breathes, and dries well allowing it to handle the hot and steamy that cold weather activity can create. Can be combined with other layers as part of a passive insulation system, but excels in active applications.

Reasons to Buy

  • Warm deep pile fleece
  • Active fit moves with body
  • Side vent panels
  • Wicks and dries well
  • Hood and balaclava fit comfortably
  • Offset zipper runs nearly from ear to navel
  • Polygiene anti-microbial technology

Reasons to Avoid

  • Overwhelmingly hot if conditions change
  • Synthetic Stink Syndrome

                                           Active fit follows body contours.Specs: Hang Tag Weight 280g/9.9oz for Large Scale Weight: 309g/10.9 for Large (post testing) Sleeve Length: roughly 21" from pit to thumb hole, unstretched Back Length: roughly 26.5” from nape to hem, unstretched Back Length roughly 23” from yoke to hem, unstretched MSRP: $135 US           Sleeves that don't end at the waist and room for broad shoulders or barrel chests.

Read more: Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip-T reviews (3)

Swanndri Ranger Wool Bushshirt

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

It's extremely versatile and made well enough you'll only ever need to buy one.

Reasons to Buy

  • Wool
  • Wide temperature range
  • Top or mid layer
  • Tuck it in if you want
  • Sturdy
  • Durable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Wool
  • Might be too bulky for some
  • Might be too heavy
  • Not windproof

  Winter hike in Bryce Canyon NP. This was 2011 and I'd had it a couple of years. Still have it!   I'll just say up front, I'm a big fan of wool. It doesn't get stinky. Works when it's wet and wears a long time. The Swanndri Bushshirt is a great spring and fall shirt. It can be worn as a shirt with a heavier outer layer if you need extra warmth or it can be worn as an outer layer and with a hardshell over it if you need. It's plenty in most conditions if you're moving...think skiing, snowshoeing or hiking.

Read more: Swanndri Ranger Wool Bushshirt review (1)

Rab Nexus Pull-On

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The Rab Nexus Pull-On fleece jacket is a comfortable, light, and warm mid-layer that breathes well and has an adjustable deep chest zip. Minor complaints include some pilling after 18 months of use, and a little floppiness in the collar.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very light (9 oz)
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to layer
  • Warm
  • Breathes well
  • 1/2 length zipper allows lots of venting
  • Convenient chest pocket

Reasons to Avoid

  • Slim/athletic fit not suited for all
  • Wind gets through (like all fleece)
  • No other pockets as midlayer (chest only)
  • Some pilling/wear after 18 months of heavy use
  • Not for folks who like hoods and full zips

Rab is not as prevalent in the U.S. but I found this in a large coop online shop when searching for a lighter mid-layer. Previous fleece options for me were too bulky to pack along with a puffy, but now I can take both on cold weather trips as the Rab Nexus Pull-on fits the light fleece mid-layer option I was searching for—hoodless and not a full zipper. If you want a hood or full zipper there are other Rab models that fit that bill. Design, Construction, & Features The Rab Nexus Pull-On is well designed and constructed (if that is the right word for clothing), and the company backs it up with a lifetime guarantee.As with many warranties, its for the "usable lifetime of the product" which could mean a lot, but I guess otherwise they would...

Read more: Rab Nexus Pull-On reviews (2)

Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4-Zip

user rating: 4 of 5 (3 reviews)

Doesn't really catch your eye in the store, but trust me, you have to try this on. I am HOOKED on these sweaters!

Reasons to Buy

  • SO comfortable
  • Understated and classy
  • Very warm
  • Very durable
  • Suitable for casual or work

Reasons to Avoid

  • More colors!!!
  • A bit expensive, wait for sales or hit the Patagonia outlet

I saw these while strolling through the Patagonia outlet in Salt Lake City. Wasn't an eye catcher, more of a "I could use a black sweater" thing. I tried it on and fell in love. I then frantically searched the racks to find more. I bought several that day and have bought several more since. Looks like a sweater, but has a super comfy fleece lining that makes you feel like you're wearing your favorite sweatshirt. Works well for business casual environments/board meetings, casual wear. Super cute with winter skirts, sweater tights and boots.

Read more: Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4-Zip reviews (3)

The North Face Glacier 1/4 Zip

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

My girlfriend wears this pullover in all seasons in any situation where she thinks she might get cold. During the winter she uses it for running and casual outings out and about during the fall.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Tight enough but not to the point of uncomfort
  • Very warm for how light it is

Reasons to Avoid

  • No pockets

My girlfriend and I decided to hike a little of the Appalachian Trail. Nothing too hard or long just a little day hike on the trail. It was in north Georgia towards the end of winter. She bought a North Face quarter zip jacket. (Pink of course, that being her favorite color). North Face makes great jackets and this particular one she gets so much use out of. It's great for layering or just wearing by itself. It's fairly thin yet made of fleece so it gives it the quality of being a very warm jacket.

Read more: The North Face Glacier 1/4 Zip reviews (2)

Outdoor Research Shiftup Zip Top

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The women's Shiftup Zip Top by Outdoor Research is a versatile mid-layer that keeps me warm and comfortable across a wide range of outdoor activities. The hexagon fleece wicks moisture efficiently and feels comfortable against my skin.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Hood
  • Half-zipper for venting
  • Thumb holes

Reasons to Avoid

  • Hidden pockets are small

Testing Conditions: I tested the women’s Shiftup Zip Top as a member of the Trailspace Review Corps from late October 2017 through mid-February 2018 in and around the New Hampshire White Mountains. Temperatures during testing ranged from about -20 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.                                   Shiftup Zip Top Versatility: I’ve worn the Shiftup nordic skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, running, fat biking, backcountry ski touring, and alpine skiing in the frontcountry.

Read more: Outdoor Research Shiftup Zip Top review (1)

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