Feb 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm #1299385
I've got a Columbia fleece, and it's terrible. Huge zippers let in tons of wind, so it's useless on it's own. It's not very warm, and it's showing wear at every hem.
Can anyone recommend a good fleece layer I can wear as part of a winter system?
-Inexpensive (less than $100 is a huge plus!)
A lined softshell would work as well.
Let me know what you guys are using!Feb 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm #1955328
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Maybe it is just me, but I have found windproof fleece useless in the backcountry. It is too hot to hike in, its heavy, and it doesn't dry quickly. I think you would be better suited with a "regular" fleece and windshirt.
I do think any fleece that is made out of Polartec fleece is much better than the knock off stuff. I know Campmor, LL Bean, Cabelas, and others offered cheap fleeces made from real Polartec, though fit generally suffered. I would look at the "Web Specials" section at Patagonia.com, they generally have top notch fabrics and fit.
Good Luck!Feb 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm #1955331
I actually hike in Fleece in deep winter, and I think it's an important layer to have when you expect to get wet. Despite all my fleece's shortcomings, my system of Fleece- Down jacket- Shell demands the insulation properties of fleece.
I found a steal on Arcteryx fleece on backcountry. I don't think I can pass up the Rolls Royce of fleeces. However, I'm a shopaholic, so I'll take any advice you guys are dishing out on other brands and variations! I still want a windproof one for really tough winter conditions!Feb 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm #1955335
Mark CashmereBPL Member
I am a big fan of the TNF Windwall 1 jacket which I use around town. It started as part of my hiking system too which is similar to your layering (base-mid-insulation-shell) as I am sure many others use as well. Since then I have switched it out for a Mountain Hardwear Super Power Hoody which utilizes Polartec Power Dry fabric and I appreciate the addition of the hood at this layer over the Windwall jacket. It is also a little less bulk since this layer tends to come off and go on the most while hiking it seems.Feb 17, 2013 at 1:07 pm #1955336
Have you replaced a hat with the hood? Because that's very interesting. My current headgear system right now is an OR Peruvian windstopper hat (extremely low profile/bulk) and in extreme conditions I put an Arcteryx Contrail hat right over it, and it's pretty near impossible to get cold with that except around your face.Feb 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm #1955342
Mark CashmereBPL Member
I wouldn't say I have completely eliminated a hat as most of the time still carry an OR skullcap too, but I definitely don't need to hunt for the hat while hiking if I have the hoody on unless it is really chilly. The hat can be a little constrictive at times so I like the option of the hoody also. There is an older post on BPL regarding which layers people prefer having a hood versus hoodless (with the assumption/suggestion that not every layer needs a hood) – I like a hood on the mid/fleece layer and shell with my base and insulation layers hoodless. I am not a SUL'er so a couple extra ounces for a hat most times makes sense to me. The hat also plays into my sleep system since I am less hair-endowed.Feb 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm #1955346
Yeah. I thought about combining the hat and fleece with a hoodie to save weight, but there are areas where I can't cut ounces in terms of comfort as well.
When sleeping, I can't wear a balaclava. I've tried like five. I have no problem with most hats, however, but I can't sleep when my face is cold. I recently picked up the Patagonia Micro scarf, which should be about as heavy as a balaclava (maybe slightly more).
My worry with a hooded fleece is that I wouldn't be able to use it while sleeping, since when down it'd bunch up around my neck and when up, it'd constrict around my ears, since my head is slightly larger than average. I'm gonna keep off the hoodie train until I can try on a few at an REI next time I'm in the Boston area.
I looked at the Patagonia R1 Hoodie (which I have heard whisperings about) but I hesitated since the balaclava-style hood didn't look comfortable (given the above mentioned difficulties) and the material looked thin- really thin. I don't know how much warmth I can expect out of that.
At 50% off, hopefully the Arcteryx Caliber Zip Neck does the trick for me. Looks thicker and tougher than the R1.Feb 18, 2013 at 1:56 pm #1955686
Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
The North Face TKA 100 is on sale XL for $30 at ar-gear.
It's under 10 ounces, but should be a good wicking mid layer?
If I was looking for something like this, I would get a tnf windstopper hybrid jacket.
You can get them for under $100.Feb 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm #1955695
Dan DBPL Member
@txbdanLocale: Boston, MA
Since you said "very warm" i'd probably rule out the Patagonia R1.
My Patagonia R2 however is probably my favorite article of clothing. It fits me like a glove, i wear it almost every single night around the house when its cold out. I wear it around town in the spring and fall. it looks "nice" and is ridiculously light and comfortable.
I wear it and a light baselayer under a shell skiing/snowboarding. I wore it plus a baselayer all the way up to the treeline on a 10F hike up Mt. Washington.
Its definitely not windproof, but its breathability is why i like it. There isn't "fur" under the arms and along the sides which lets it breath a little better. It also eliminates the clumpiness of the fur under the arms.
I tried 2-3 different fleeces at REI before i found this one. I LOVE it.Feb 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm #1955707
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Lands End carries Aircore (hollow fleece fiber = warmer + lightweight) and they also have a windproof fleece. I have the windproof- I find it too warm for an active layer unless it's extremely cold out. It doesn't breathe at all (I guess that's the point of windproof). The windproof layers are heavier, FYI. Not being a UL company, I don't think LE lists their weights but I give them a thumbs up for quality and their warranty is top notch. Sears carries LE – if you have a nearby Sears you could look there.Feb 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm #1955745
Try a melanzana microgrid hoody
If your stuck on a technical fleece look that makes you look like you are from the future, you wont like it.
If you want a great piece of comfortable gear you will live in for a week on the trail straight, you will love it.
Their hood design is the cats meow.
It cinches around your face to turn into a balaclava
keeps neck/head very warm for sleeping.
Wear mine everyday almost. Almost have worn elbows thru, its time for another.
It is not windproof. Fleece needs to breathe when used as a midlayer.
Hem is not adjustable, but you can run a shock cord/toggle thru it if desired to make it so, but its not needed. Just more added wt.Feb 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm #1955755
Richard FischelBPL Member
i think it hits all your highlights and with their current sale it would be close to your $100 price point. i havn't tried the top, but the spec's look good. other than a power stretch hoodie i've pretty much moved away from fleece.Feb 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm #1955760
Clint N.BPL Member
Another in the melanzana line-up that might be of interest is the Wind Pro 200 Hoodie. It's constructed of wind pro fleece and should be quite warm and somewhat wind resistant but more breathable than fleece jackets with the membranes to block wind. They sell for only $79.Feb 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm #1955770
i think you should just get a simple, clean, and cheap fleece. 100 weight, and then get a nice windshirt w/ hood. a much better fit for any system/season than a big bulky expensive fleece that will do many things but none of them well..Feb 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm #1955772
The Melanza is very nice. Interesting hood, too. Thanks for the info!Feb 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm #1955780
Clayton BlackBPL Member
I love my First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie. They have a non-hoodie also. Cuts wind, breathable, quick drying, super comfy. Meets the $100 mark.Feb 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm #1955804
Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Melanza fit is useless. Nice fit for laying around, but has no tech (hiking) fit what so ever.Feb 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm #1955808
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Getting a powerdry polertec product like an R1 or equiv plus a wind shirt works very well. I wear an MEC T2 baselayer plus the MEC Vega (R1 equivalant), plus a windshirt down to about 0f while active and have a down puffy for breaks.
I dont see value in a windproof fleece as the weight added is more than a windshirt and regularfleece.Feb 19, 2013 at 7:02 am #1955958
@flutingaroundLocale: Rocky Mtn. West
You might want to look at the military Polartec fleece if you want affordable. I got mine for $35 and have been loving it this winter:Feb 19, 2013 at 8:09 am #1955977
Randy MartinBPL Member
+1 on the R2. I think the idea of fleece with a wind blocking membrane is a bad idea. Fleece has two big positive benefits, 1] insulates when wet 2] highly breathable fabric.
Having a wind blocking membrane removes item 2. If you need to cut wind then put a shell over your fleece. However, there are times when NOT cutting the wind is beneficial, like when you are working hard. I know you have started another thread about the purpose of windshirts. I would say that the combination of the R2 and a winshirt shell is your best and most versatile combination.Feb 19, 2013 at 10:52 am #1956030
I came here to support the Patagonia R2, and I'm glad a few others are as well. Again, not windproof but other than that it's just an amazing piece of gear. Adding to what's already been said my favorite thing about it has been that it adapts. I can exert energy in it and it will breathe ridiculously well (for a fleece), but when I stop moving it insulates. Patagonia designed it to work like fur and I find that it does just that. I have an eVent shell that I wear over it when I go skiing (ie high wind) and it works like a charm)Feb 19, 2013 at 11:49 am #1956048
You could also ditch the windproof fleece idea and spend a bit my on a Paramo Jacket, which would give you a highly breathable and wind / waterproof garment which does almost everything for you…Feb 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm #1956052
I wear my Backcounty Shift jacket (now the Stoic Microlith) as a mid-layer in winter. It weighs a pound, layers really well, is totally windproof, and is breathable enough for moderate activity. The full zip is nice if you are working hard. Dries really quickly too, which is nice for shwackin in the snow.
Edit- Microlith, not Monolith.Feb 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm #1956146
Steven McAllisterBPL Member
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
I am a big fan of the Melenzana design. It is not windproof, which I like. It breathes well and dries fast. If I need windproof I put a wind-layer over the top.
The hood on the Melanzana is the best design I've seen. It can be a scarf, a hood, or a highly breathable almost balaclava.
I sleep in mine and can cinch it up with only my mouth and nose exposed.
The grid fleece is lighter than standard fleece, doesn't hold as much water when wet and under a windshirt, warmer in freezing rain because of the lack of water in the fabric.Feb 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm #1956513
Ended up settling a bit. I looked at the R1 but it was a little too lightweight. The gridded fleece is not as warm, though, it depends on what you're looking for. I wanted a bit more warmth.
The Melanzana fleece turned out to be a little too heavy in the end.
I ended up making a sacrifice- Windproofness. Instead, I'll supplement my fleece with a windshirt. So, I won't need adjustable cuffs and hem because I'm not trying to lock down against the wind. Overall, I save weight.
The fleece I got is an Arcteryx Caliber Zip Neck Sweater. It weighs in at 10.9oz, versus the Patagonia R1 pullover's 11.3oz, so I actually save a little weight and this material is not gridded. It feels thicker and warmer for no weight penalty (but you have to pay for it.)
Still, I slipped underneath the $100 mark by finding this on sale. It looks sharp, too- added bonus!
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