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Fleece reconsidered
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Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Thanks Jeffs! on 04/10/2013 15:16:24 MDT Print View

I swear by two light syn shirts. I have yet to try long sleeve tee and a short sleeve pairing. Two long sleeves would be too hot for me.

My theory:
One syn Tee, for me, is too chilly in all but summer due to the high evap rate. Two shirts slows this process down and cuts the wind also. They will still dry quickly in sun or light work loads. I used to do a light wool Tee under a syn tee but that was either too hot or too wet.

Too wet meaning it didnt dry quickly enough.

I do have some Smartwool Sleeves which are awesome to start hiking in because you can pull them off while hiking when you get hot. You're literally pulling off a hot layer of clothing- it works fast. But to put them back on you have to strip down to bare arms and sometimes its cold and I don't wanna do that.

Sooner or later I'm going to get a Under Armour long sleeve tee and pair it with a s/s tee to see if works better.

The sleeves are sweet though because I can cover just my forearms, or even pull them over my hands, but since I got the OR Metamorph gloves I havent been wearing them as much.

I guess that was thread drift... sorry.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Fleece reconsidered? on 04/10/2013 17:03:35 MDT Print View

Im not sure it ever really drifted far enough away to call it reconsidered. Most of the big names still make fleece Prods and honestly I dont know that comparing fleece to a puffy is really that relavent(soft shells are a different story). As most people have already stated they use the two garments differently and warmth to weight ratio is not even close?

I would say that most 100 wt fleece sweaters are atleast as heavy as my UL Patty down sweater. I have been shopping for a fleece lately(R1, R2, various Arctyrex ones same with tnf) and all of them are heavier. None are even close to as warm(I have one R1 already)

Also people keep talking about combining it with a wind shirt. Alot of the wind shirts that I have seen on the market have the same material as the shell fabric on the UL puffies. So I honestly cant say that a wind shirt fleece combo would breath better and even so your adding another 2-7 oz on top of the already heavier fleece.

I like fleece but disagree with comparing it to a down puffy. I never grab one instead of the other because to me they do not represent the same part of a layering system.

I completely agree that it is better than a soft shell. But I have never really been a fan of those personally. I dont even own one and I have multiples of everything else.

Lately Ive been liking Certain PolarTec items. The ones that remind me of the old polypropolene long sleeve insulating layers. Its very similar to fleece.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Fleece reconsidered on 04/11/2013 09:17:26 MDT Print View

> BTW, I tried a couple soft shell jackets this winter and found them
> useless. Great around town, but just a cold boat anchor on the trail.
> I finally came to the conclusion that they fit in the same slot as a
> Levi jacket, but synthetic instead of cotton. A windshirt and a 100w
> fleece will kick any soft shell in the derriere.

Except when:
1) you need more durability
2) a windshirt isn't breathable enough
3) a fleece breaths too much
4) layering/delayering to meet changing conditions is impractical

Just make sure you don't get a laminate-based softshell - no breathability.

Skiing, climbing and mountain biking are where softshells excel. You couldn't pay me to use a fleece/windshirt over a softshell for this kind of stuff. The noise factor with windshirts for skiing and mountain biking is a pretty nice bonus as well.

#1 and #4 means that they also work very well for pants. I use softshell pants for backpacking almost exclusively.

As for lightweight fleeces, this one is about as light as I've ever seen:

Competes with the Montbell Thermawrap, IMO.

Edited by lindahlb on 04/11/2013 09:22:30 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Fleece roconsidered on 04/11/2013 11:16:52 MDT Print View

Brian said - "As for lightweight fleeces, this one is about as light as I've ever seen:

Competes with the Montbell Thermawrap, IMO."

So Brian are you saying its as light as the Thermawrap or as warm or both?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
There is no right way. :) on 04/11/2013 11:17:46 MDT Print View

Funny, I actually prefer a fleece and windshirt combo for backcountry skiing.

Versatility. Versatility. Versatility.

Which is what you CAN'T do with a puffy or softshell for that matter . The insulation and shell are one product. (Which is also why I don't like windblock fleece). I make the comparison as many people use the 'mini-puffies' in place of what fleece (or a wool sweater) was used for.

My softshell is for around town and alpine climbs.

Never did get into MTB so can't speak to that.

As for fleece never getting that far away. Of couse the manufactuters still make it. It is a best selling item for 'around town' and what I call 'outdoor as lifestyle' with a nice profit margin, but my point is that it has fallen out of favor for overall backcountry use. At least that is what it seems to me.

Finally, I've laid out why I still prefer fleece. Glad you have had different results. For me, personally, I'll stick to fleece for the conditions stated. I'd like to think I've done enough where I feel comfortable with my choices and reasoning. ;-)

Edited by PaulMags on 04/11/2013 13:13:33 MDT.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
ski layer on 04/11/2013 15:22:09 MDT Print View

Paul- As long as you're comfortable in your gear thats all that counts.... Thanks for the discussion though.

By the way my prefered ski gear is my alpha sv jacket(snowing), sv bibs, patty base layer, REI polar tec vest or R1. But im in the sierras and its not that cold. I went to bridger bowl in Montana and had to wear my puffy under my sv it was so cold. The snow was so light it was like snow boarding on baby powder.

Happy trails.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: fleece on 04/11/2013 15:51:03 MDT Print View

Fleece can mean many different things. When I say it I mean a 200-300 weight fuzz pile, with no membrane. R1, 100 weight polartec, and various "soft shell" wovens can be handy but have different primary purposes.

Usefully defining soft shell is of course even worse.

The primary problem with down and synth puffy layers is moisture from within. Synth deals with it better, but when compared to fleece dry times under less ideal conditions are still not so good.

Ideally you'll only wear the puff for breaks, and have opportunities to dry the residual (usually back) moisture the layer does accumulate. If you're out in consecutive days of moist weather with no respite, and especially if you get cold and tired and need to hike in the puff layer (which will eventually happen), even synthetic fills will come up lacking.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Fleece on 04/11/2013 16:47:55 MDT Print View

"Fleece can mean many different things. When I say it I mean a 200-300 weight fuzz pile, with no membrane"

That's my personal definition as well for this discussion.

"The primary problem with down and synth puffy layers is moisture from within.


If you're out in consecutive days of moist weather with no respite, and especially if you get cold and tired and need to hike in the puff layer (which will eventually happen), even synthetic fills will come up lacking."

Find this to be true, too.

As others said more succinctly than I: For active wear - fleece. For breaks- puffies.

In winter and/or cold and rainy conditions, I feel the fleece luv. :)

In the mainly dry conditions I see here in the American Rockies and southwest during three season backpacks, I take my puffy and leave the fleece for car camping. A few sparks in my beater fleece around the camp fire is no big thing. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 04/11/2013 16:52:50 MDT.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Great thread on 04/12/2013 11:00:39 MDT Print View

Very interesting thread. Since I enjoyed reading all the posts so much, I'll make a contribution to it. I have been replacing synthetic insulation with down for the majority of my gear choices that are used for sleeping or in-camp or on-trail breaks.

However, for hiking insulation, I use no down, as many have said.

As far as fleece is concerned, whether I bring any depends on what I expect to encounter and how sure or unsure I am about those expectations. The higher my perceived risk of cold wet conditions, the more likely it is that I'll bring some fleece.

I will put in a plug here for merino wool (I like Icebreakers) in winter, since I can wear it for days without ever taking it off and it does not get stinky in the process.

My favorite winter system for backpacking in the Eastern woodlands that I frequent with daytime temps usually ranging from mid teens to mid 30s in general, is this: I wear a mock zip neck merino base layer (Icebreaker 240 wt). To this I add a Golite windshirt, followed by a Marmot Driclime windshirt (essentially a thin fleece with attached windshirt) with a DIY hood, and a fleece ear band, a Possumdown beanie, and merino gloves. I have a down puffy ready to take out of top of pack during breaks if I get chilly.

This gives me tons of options by shedding and adding layers as needed. The extra Golite windshirt only weighs 3 oz and lets me have just a thin wind layer over the merino, which is frequently all I need once I get warmed up and the day warms up. It also makes it very easy to get the DriClime on and off since it is slippery, and the inner fleece of the DriClime is not. By the end of the day, some sweat will have accumulated in my merino layer, at least over the back where my pack was. Once the pack is off, as I'm getting my shelter set up and gear organized, much of the moisture in the merino layer gets pushed out by body heat. By the time I hit the sack, my hiking layers are usually dry enough to be sleeping insulation if its cold enough to need them for that. More often than not, it is, especially if I am using a sleeping quilt. I would think that a fleece layer could probably replace the merino layer in this system.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Fleece and wool on 04/12/2013 17:31:50 MDT Print View

I prefer wool over fleece, though they are close IMHO.

I use wool-baselayers and sometime fleece over the top. Down reserved for puffy and sleeping bag.
Usually with a thin merino LS shirt and a heavier merino over that I'm good if active. I have a light EB FA wind jacket to cut the breeze and an eVent rain-shell if things are thought to be nasty.

Unlike many, I put the windshell on over the puffy, so that heat trapped in the down isn't as affected by the wind.

Fleece, for me, is almost too much. I "sweat easy" and even with a little activity can overheat quickly.

And since I "sweat easy" it futhers my case for merino.... *laugh*


Daniel Fish

Locale: PDX
... on 04/18/2013 09:19:07 MDT Print View


Edited by on 06/09/2013 09:18:31 MDT.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
+1 beater gear on 04/18/2013 10:00:54 MDT Print View

The great thing about wool and fleece is that you can score secondhand sweaters for $5 at goodwill, salvo, etc. my favorite backpacking mid-layer is a TNF grid fleece that I picked up at a secondhand shop one day when I forgot my jacket at home. It is warm enough but not too warm, wicks well, layers well, and when I retire it I will have more than gotten my money's worth out of it.

I have a hard time shelling out a hundred bucks for a new piece of icebreaker, ibex, etc when an old lambswool sweater will do basically the same thing and I don't have to baby it. on long trips, ul merino knits simply wear through too fast. I am all for natural fibers, but for extended use under my pack straps everyday, synthetics and blends offer better bang-for-buck. Merino is a very short-staple fiber compared to other varieties of wool; its main appeal over other wools is its softness, not its durability. I will note however that Ibex has a great lifetime guarantee; I have had excellent experiences returning some pretty shredded wool baselayers and receiving replacements no questions asked.

Fleece, on the other hand, is both soft and lasts forever. I have some "vintage" pieces in my closet that are going strong after 20 or so years :-)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: +1 beater gear on 04/18/2013 10:13:47 MDT Print View

I wear "REI" fleece vest my wife got from Goodwill

My previous fleece vest died because the zipper quit working - came unzipped in the middle. I could have replaced zipper but it was cheaper to get "new" one and there were other wear areas in the old vest.