Of all the versatile layers at our disposal, we find ourselves reaching for a long sleeve fleece more often than not, regardless of the season. Fleece pullovers are warmer than a classic cotton zip sweatshirt and are versatile pieces to wear while out and about in shoulder seasons; they’re also the perfect midweight, midlayer component to a cold weather layering system.
Though full-zip fleece jackets are popular, we gravitate towards the different formats that a pullover fleece offers: hoodies, crewnecks, quarter-zip and half-zips, and anoraks—we’re here for all of them. Through the selection of fleece styles we’ve collected, we’ll cover a variety of features, including pockets, adjustability, and even different materials like lightweight polar fleece and deep-pile sherpa fleece. Now, let there be warm, lightweight, soft fleece for all.
The Best Fleece Jackets and Sweaters for Men and Women
Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover
It feels appropriate that we kick this list off with the certified GOAT classic fleece pullover sweatshirt that Patagonia first introduced into their catalogs in 1985. The brand’s Synchilla fleece (a portmanteau of ‘chinchilla’’ and ‘synthetic’) uses recycled polyester that serves lightweight warmth with a touch of sustainability. Featurewise, there’s not much going on aside from what the name implies; a run of quarter-length snaps and a single chest pocket. Throughout the years, the Snap-T has come in a wide palette of solids, color blocks, and some wild prints, so definitely consider a vintage option (though the current incarnation is available in more inclusive sizing, from XXS up to 3XL).
Topo Designs Mountain Fleece Pullover
Colorado mountain lifestyle brand Topo Designs modeled their heavyweight pullover fleece zip sweater after classic vintage pieces with their own modern updates. The half-length zipper stands up a tall collar exposing a DWR nylon lining that also reinforces substantial elbow/forearm panels. A single zip chest pocket secures small valuables and slide-in side pockets for quick hand warming. Like all Topo pieces, this fleece comes in some pretty great colors in addition to black for the chic urban dwellers.
Arc’teryx Kyanite AR Hoody
This performance fleece zip hoodie slots takes a typical fleece hoodie and ups the ante with a Polartec microfleece fabric and slim fit suitable for layering under a sturdier waterproof rain jacket or water resistant softshell jacket. The jacket’s streamlined hood shape ensures compatibility with bike or alpine helmets and a pleasing palette of solid tones should appeal to a variety of individual styles, including a pleasing Bordeaux red that should provide just enough high-visibility in the backcountry.
Manastash Bigfoot Jacket
When Manastash originally launched in 1993, it focused on basics like t-shirts and long-sleeve tees for men and women made out of hemp. Since then, it’s branched out into an entire Japanese-designed line with crunchy numbers like this mega-soft, deep-pile sherpa zip up fleece jacket. The relaxed fit makes for easy, casual layering with stylized zip pockets at the chest and hands adding some flair, as well as function. Zippers along each cuff surprise feature of accessibility–why roll up your sleeves when you can just unzip them?
Prana Hurricane FZ Fleece
The spirit of the 80’s zip fleece jacket comes through on this one, and especially in the teal colorway we’ve zeroed in on here. The jacket’s shoulder yoke panels are backed up by recycled nylon to add some weather and abrasion resistance, with a patterned trim tape contributing to an already-strong mountain styled piece. We appreciate the brand’s move to unisex sizing here, providing an equal colorway selection while other brands make tough and sometimes misguided choices between what’s offered in a women’s fleece vs a men’s fleece jacket.
Women’s: Unisex sizing
Battenwear Lodge Crewneck
Battenwear’s Lodge fleece layers come in both a full-zip Cardigan style ($250) and this ultra-cozy crewneck. Both feature a Polartec’s deep-pile shearling fleece made from 100% recycled polyester, dual hand pockets, and a branded chest zip. But, the loose-fit fleece crewneck sweatshirt version earns slightly higher marks for providing extra coverage.
Women’s: Unisex sizing
Mountain Hardwear HiCamp Fleece Pullover
The HiCamp collection from Mountain Hardwear pulls together a number of outerwear pieces made from high-loft sherpa fleece, including a fleece hoody, fleece vest, shell jacket, and the featured fleece pullover featured here. The quarter zip stands up a mock neck to keep chills out with three cargo pockets: a pair of chest pockets and an open kangaroo pocket to keep hands warm. And, if you’re not satisfied by a plain solid color fleece, check out one of the fun patterns the HiCamp fleeces come in.
Senchi Designs Lark Hoodie
Portland-based Senchi Designs proves that ultralight can be fun, fashionable, and functional with its lightweight fleece pullover hoodies. The Lark model features a half-zip for easy on-off and venting, but the Wren ($75) offers the same silhouette without the zipper and a lighter-weight Polartec Alpha Direct fabric ideal for high-energy activities. Feature-wise, the Senchi hoodies are pretty bare bones, but that’s certainly part of how they keep the gram count down.
Women’s: Unisex sizing
OG Seattle outdoor lifestyle brand Kavu’s pullover fleece is a brand bestseller that offers some of the most fun color block palettes and prints of any fleece around. Snaps secure a small drop-in chest pocket and quarter-length neck opening while dual zip side pockets hold onto keys, phones, etc. To stave off premature wear, nylon panels reinforce forearms from the elbow down to the elastic trimmed cuff.
Women’s: Unisex sizing
The North Face Denali Anorak
TNF’s Denali fleece is an absolute classic banger, so much so that it hardly needs our humble mention to keep proving its success. Like the classic Denali Jacket ($179), its hooded zip pullover cousin features the same Polartec fleece armored with strategic panels of nylon to provide light weather resistance. A pair of zip chest pockets (one vertical, one lateral) and dual zipped hand pockets offer secure storage all around.
L.L.Bean Sweater Fleece Pullover
America’s favorite Maine outfitters know their brand heritage well, and they’re certainly not afraid to wield it to their advantage. Case in point, they’ve taken their knitted fleece pullover and treated it with the Birdseye print from their classic Norwegian fisherman's sweater. The quarter snap neck makes for easy layering on land and out to sea with kangaroo hand pockets warming hands on both. Fear not, land lovers, the pullover comes in a buffalo plaid suitable for any cabin retreat (and plus sizes including XXL and XXXL for any and all body types).