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Fleece Vests

Top Picks

How we choose: The best fleece vests highlighted here were selected based on 27 reviews of 18 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a fleece vest that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Black Diamond CoEfficient Vest

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Black Diamond Coefficient Vest is a worthy addition to the gear list for anyone venturing out to cool or cold places. It serves well as a mid-layer in colder weather, or even as a top layer in moderate to warmer temperatures and while active. It’s compact, and light, so it's easy to carry along. It's also durable so it can be counted on out on the trail.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Warm
  • Versatile (good various backcountry activities, as well as in the front country

Reasons to Avoid

  • I almost always find issues with gear. However about all I can say as a con of this item is that I wish it wasn't bright orange (though if worn as an outer layer, it would be good for use in the hunting season)

The reviewer getting ready for a hike along the California coast updated 20-Apr-2014 with confirmed weight Review Conditions Due to personal circumstances which cropped up shortly after accepting this review assignment, my ability to take time off to “head for the hills” was severely limited for much of the review period. Therefore it turned into more of an extended review lasting over six months. I used the vest for hiking and snowshoeing on (and off) the trail. Additionally, although it doesn’t formally count for Trailspace reviews, I also used it in front-country conditions while attending a multi-night photography workshop on the northern California Coast (including pre-dawn and late night outings), during a coastal cleanup project...

Read more: Black Diamond CoEfficient Vest review (1)

Patagonia Synchilla Vest

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

A wardrobe staple. Recycled, lightweight, versatile, durable. An extra layer of warmth, which doesn't impede your shoulder movement.

Reasons to Buy

  • Multi purpose
  • Feather light
  • Washes well
  • Needs no special treatment—durable
  • Recycled fabric
  • Tough fastenings
  • Cosy, to the touch

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not inexpensive to buy
  • Not wind proof
  • Not a rain jacket

I like a vest/gilet/sleeveless them what you will. I don't live in a warm climate but I go outdoors every day and don't always appreciate the restrictions of heavy and bulky clothing. If I'm cutting wood, paddling, or walking with poles, my arms are going to keep themselves warm. If I'm working, with arms above my head, the tradeoff of warmth for flexibility is often a good one. I have padded gilets, waxed cotton ones, shell vests, and a wind vest. It's only a matter or time, before I buy one, with a hood;-) The great benefit of a Patagonia, is that it breathes better than a shell, so makes a great mid-layer, or active external garment, if the northerlies aren't blowing.

Read more: Patagonia Synchilla Vest reviews (2)

Patagonia Retro Pile Vest

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A versatile insulator. From cutting the chill on a spring day to augmenting core warmth on really cold ones, this soft, comfortable fleece does the job. Don't expect it to stop any wind, as even a mild breeze runs right through this, unless you wear it under a shell. Brand new, it sheds until you wash or tumble dry it, and durability/pilling could be a longer-term issue.

Reasons to Buy

  • Soft feel
  • Warm
  • Versatility
  • Details—pockets and hang loop
  • Highly breathable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Initial shedding
  • Nearly no wind resistance
  • Pilling

OVERVIEW I had been eyeing the Retro Pile Jacket when I received this as a gift. Mine is size XL and weighs 14.4 ounces on an electronic scale. As the photo shows, three pockets—two large lower ones, one smaller one at the chest. All, including the front zipper, are large-tooth YKK zippers with sewn-on nylon pulls. If looking like sheep doesn't suit you, it's also available in a number of other colors. Whereas the Retro Pile Jacket reportedly has a more athletic fit, the vest is true to size, generously sized actually, so it's easy to wear over the heaviest base layers I own.

Read more: Patagonia Retro Pile Vest review (1)

Patagonia Classic Retro-X Vest

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Great vest. Looks and is very comfy. Can wear as casual vest around town but works fantastic for hiking. I wore this vest as my primary hiking layer (over nylon shirt) for my hike up to the Everest basecamp. Wore pretty much the whole way up, alone up to maybe 4000m. Definitely windproof. Seems a little stiff straight out of the package, but loosens up wonderfully with some use, but still maintains windproof capabilities. Only issues—this is more designed for casual use, around camp, and not as high-tech mountaineering layer.

Read more: Patagonia Classic Retro-X Vest reviews (2)

Patagonia Better Sweater Vest

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

The Better Sweater Vest is a slimmer fleece-like vest that functions well for both outdoor and casual pursuits.

Reasons to Buy

  • Capable in multitude of scenarios (outdoors or casual)
  • Slimmer fit
  • Soft trim around openings
  • Holds shape
  • Warm
  • Easy to launder

Reasons to Avoid

  • Just a wee bit short in torso length
  • Lint attractor (perhaps more noticeable with dark color)
  • Starting to pill after one year

Conditions: In January 2015, I put a call out for recommendations (link to thread) to the Trailspace community for good-quality vests that could pull double duty; warm enough for cold season layering, stylish enough for occasional wear in business casual situations. After looking at many suggestions and weighing prices, I settled on the Patagonia Better Sweater Vest. Fortunately, I found it at my local gear store on a end-of-season sale.  I’ve worn the Better Sweater Vest for an entire year now in spring, fall, and most commonly in winter months in the mountains of central Pennsylvania.

Read more: Patagonia Better Sweater Vest reviews (2)

The North Face Denali Vest

user rating: 4 of 5 (4 reviews)

One of my better vests, I usually go to if I want to wear a vest even though I have other vests. Does what it needs to do very well.

Reasons to Buy

  • Many pockets that are placed in the right spots

Reasons to Avoid

  • Wind goes through it, but can be stopped with a light shell

Got it in size XXL. Had to send it in for worn out zipper pulls, but that was after many years of use. I only had to pay postage to send it back to the mothership North Face manufacturer. Repairs are free. 

Read more: The North Face Denali Vest reviews (4)

More Reviews of Fleece Vests

Trailspace reviewers have shared 27 reviews of 18 different fleece vests.

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Other Types of Vests

Find more vests reviewed in these related categories:

Down Insulated Vests

Synthetic Insulated Vests

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