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Why grid fleece?


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  • #3501221
    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member

    @bpeugh

    Locale: Midwest

    I have a few grid fleece pieces and I guess they are okay but I find myself reaching for a pile or micropile fleece almost always.  Is it that the grid fleece is more breathable while the pile variants are warmer or?  Maybe i just like the way they feel.

    #3501222
    BCap
    BPL Member

    @bcap

    When most people speak of grid fleece they are referring to something like the powerdry that the R1 uses.  It is my understanding that they are claimed to be bit more breathable, but in my experience the practical nature of that link seems tenuous.  I’m not saying it isn’t true, but just that the realistic difference is probably ‘in the noise’ so to speak. At this point the choice to go gridded vs not gridded (for a similar weight fleece) is probably dominated as much by current fashion as anything else. The R1 is, in my opinion, not optimized for warmth to weight… instead it is optimized for comfort, style and breathability (obviously I am only considering fleece category items here).  For dayhikes I take a R1 (gridded), for backpacking I always take a vanilla fleece (e.g. the REI quarter zip).  I am confident that others will disagree with this assessment.

    #3501226
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    I am confident that others will disagree with this assessment.

    Indeed…but with a caveat :)

    In my experience, gridded fleece works best under a wind blocking layer.  Take a gridded Cap4, or Expedition weight, garment as an example…hold it up to the light and you can see right through the grid lines, i.e. between the tufts.  Wear this in a breeze and you’ll immediately know just how breathable it is :)

    Under a wind blocking layer however, it traps as much dead (warm) air as any “vanilla” fleece, and at a reduced weight. Example: MH Microchill zip neck 100wt fleece (no hood) in XL: 11 oz.  Patagonia Cap 4 zip neck Hoody in XL: 8.5 oz. (all weights personally measured from items in my wardrobe). Additionally, gridded fleece makes it much easier to regulate your temperature simply by opening up or removing your 2 oz wind shirt.

    So if you intend to wear the fleece as the outermost garment, I totally agree that a standard fleece is superior.  But as a mid-layer, or a sleeping layer, the gridded fleece is, in my opinion, a significant improvement.

    #3501235
    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member

    @bpeugh

    Locale: Midwest

    I agree with BCap but also find that the same thing works with pile type fleeces if you add a shell JCH.

    #3501238
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    Brett – Yes, there is no doubt that warmth is enhanced with a wind blocking layer regardless of the mid-layer fabric type.  What I am trying to say is that in that configuration, gridded fleece provides comparable warmth to traditional fleece at a reduced weight…that is the value.  It will matter to some, and not to others.

    #3501256
    Edward Barton
    BPL Member

    @porosantihodos

    Locale: Boston

    Another thing about grid fleece is that if you turn it inside out it traps less air and is less warm, giving it a broader useful temperature range. I do this often with the thermal weight pata hoody once I warm up on a hike or run. It works well to extend the level of exertion I can achieve while still wearing it comfortably. This works to a lesser extent when wearing a shell, but still to some extent, because less air is trapped directly against the skin. Any moisture you wicked from your skin is also more easily evaporated once you turn it around, because it’s now facing out, and because the greater surface area on the grid side is better at transferring moisture than the flatter face fabric.

    The grid side also clings less to the skin when the fabric is wet, so it stays warmer when wet than a lower surface area face. Trad and micro fleece also have good surface area, so it’s not until either is very soaked that I’ve noticed a real difference – an infrequent but important scenario.

    I think because grid fleece is more breathable, it also dries faster when worn without a shell.

    #3501260
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    The grid side also clings less to the skin when the fabric is wet, so it stays warmer when wet than a lower surface area face.

    While I have yet to prove this in practice, I had assumed that the grid fleece would work better under a rain shell in cold weather. Edward’s observation lends credence to this theory.

    #3501265
    Paul S.
    BPL Member

    @pschontz

    Locale: PNW

    Grid fleece is no good when soaked due to the amount of spandex. You can shake water out of a classic fleece but a grid fleece absorbs water and dries much slower.

    I’ve tested my REI fleece pull over in wet conditions many times. I can wear it as my only layer in cold rain stay warm. It’s hydrophobic and only hard rain is enough to get through. When it water gets through it’s like someone pouring water down your back, but not a feeling for a soaked shirt clinging.

    I did this once with a grid fleece and got very cold due to it clinging and retaining water.

    The other main difference has been covered: fleece resists some wind so it works well without a wind shirt. grid fleece blocks almost no wind so doesn’t do much for you in windy conditions. Grid fleeces make nice base or mid layers in high exertion and regular fleece is more versatile as a mid and outer layer.

    #3501289
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    This discussion makes it clear why I have not been happy with my grid fleece pullover as an outer layer. I’ll try pairing it with a windshirt.

    #3501417
    Edward John M
    BPL Member

    @moondog55

    I think I’ll call you on that PaulS

    Moisture absorbtion of Spandex is very, very low, greater than polyester but still only 0.75 to 1.3% of fibre mass

    Even if the Spandex is 11% by weight of the total garment weight [ and my Patagucci Ninja top is 7%] this can only be a gram or two of water

    What you describe must be due to other factors and I have not noticed it myself.

    I do agree that gridfleece makes  much better underwear/base/secondary layer rather than a warm layer due to its ability to ventilate and pass water vapour more easilly

    #3501427
    BCap
    BPL Member

    @bcap

    I don’t know the details, but spandex surely feels wetter for longer.  I made the mistake of using lycra binding on some jackets and that lycra takes at least twice as long to dry as the rest of the jacket.  Having said that, I am assuming the spandex content is in the face fabric of the powerdry and so it shouldn’t feel wildly different to your skin even if it retains a bit more water.

    All in all it seems like most people agree on the big points though.  For high exertion stuff gridded fleece is probably better, but for general warmth and moisture buffering a normal fleece is probably better.

    As an aside, I just used this fleece with this pattern and put in a deep (2/3) front zip and I’m liking it better than my REI 1/4 zip or my R1.  Unfortunately, the curry color is hideous and my wife won’t let me wear it in sight of other humans.

    #3501429
    Luke F
    BPL Member

    @fowler

    I think grid fleece makes a great baselayer, but a mediocre midlayer.

    A higher pile fleece, and I believe even classic fleece, is warmer for weight whether under a shell or not. For me the advantage of a close-fitting, single sided gridfleece is fantastic wicking and good durability since the face is smoother, which also means less sticks to it as well. The smooth face also makes it very easy to layer over.

    If the grid fleece is worn too loose or over another layer I think most of its advantages are moot and you are better off with a different material.

    #3501433
    Edward John M
    BPL Member

    @moondog55

    Luke F I thought so too until I tried my ninja top over the new UL Patagonia Everyday base layer, I think it works because the new weight fabric is so lite and fits so tight

    I do this especially on multi day trips where rinsing base layers is almost essential in mixed company

    I do find tho that I can’t wear the ninja top unless it is well below freezing and I do wear it with a semi-wind barrier  or a full-on windshirt over it  now normally

    #3501472
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    Lots of differing views/experience here.  Seems hard to rectify the differences.  Science doesn’t change depending on the person, but personal preference does…I’m beginning to think that may be the primary differentiator.

    #3501556
    Paul S.
    BPL Member

    @pschontz

    Locale: PNW

    It’s definitely more than just the spandex content; the fit of typical grid fleeces bares half of the responsibility.  Since most are fitted tight for maximum wicking performance you have full contact with the fabric at all times.  When the fleece is soaked you have wet fabric against your skin which sucks tons of heat off of you.  Grid fleece is designed to wick and breathe, but overwhelm it with moisture and it becomes a liability.  But don’t underestimate the spandex content; you’re going from a 100% hydrophobic material to a material that retains water.

    Anecdotal Evidence to provide context to my thoughts:
    Last winter I tested the REI Fleece Pullover vs. Thermal Capilene grid fleece on two different occasions in near-identical conditions: snow covered trail in the forest with snow melting from the trees dripping lots of water, and light snow turning to light rain.  Somewhere around 36 F.  There’s no opportunity to dry anything unless you generate a large amount of body heat (e.g. SEAL style layer over with puffy synthetic jackets).

    In the Thermal Capilene I started with my rain jacket but become too hot so I hiked in just the Capilene the whole way up.  I kept warm despite the snow dripping off the trees and precipitation.  Near the top it was more exposed and turned to rain so I got wet.  As I descended I began to get quite chilled so I donned my rain jacket and sealed it up completely.  That was barely enough to stay functional but I was close to my car so I continued to see if I would dry out or warm up.  If I had more than a couple miles I would have needed to change clothes or I’d get hypothermia.

    In the REI Fleece Pullover I did the same hike, same conditions.  I hiked the whole time with a fleece and merino 150 weight t-shirt underneath. On the way down again I was soaked.  The wet t-shirt clinging to me was chilling me but not as bad as if it was with the Capilene Thermal.  I removed the wet t-shirt and hiked the rest of the way with just the fleece on and was comfortable.  Classic fleece doesn’t cling and thus doesn’t suck heat away.

    #3501578
    Anton Solovyev
    BPL Member

    @antonsolovyev

    Locale: Colorado, Utah

    I have a few grid fleece pieces and I guess they are okay but I find myself reaching for a pile or micropile fleece almost always. Is it that the grid fleece is more breathable while the pile variants are warmer or? Maybe i just like the way they feel.

    The classic fleece is the way to go. I stopped by at REI tonight to pick an item at 20% sale and detoured into the clothing section. There wasn’t a single real fleece item, except for Patagonia Synchilla.

    The “other” fleeces (grid, etc) are heavier, colder, not as nice to the touch and don’t even look good when worn. I think we have to wait for the design pendulum to swing back and for vendors to come to their senses. Too bad they can’t just leave a good thing alone and keep making it year after year.

    Mountain Hardwear still has their microchill line. It works really well.

    #3501594
    BCap
    BPL Member

    @bcap

    Just curious, has anyone made a chart of CFM vs CLO (w/ and w/o a windshell) for various fleeces?  I’m guessing that data doesn’t exist… It wouldn’t address the water issue, but would address many of the opinions given in this thread.

    #3501595
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Gridded fleece “supposably” (to quote Joey from Friends) is warmer by creating small air pockets between the pile mini squares. And it likely is warmer with a bit less weight than plain “Polar Weight” thermals.

    BUT… that grid etches little squares into my skin, especially my forearms. And by the end of the day it itches like he!!. So I’m never buying it again B/C I don’t want to wear the garments inside-out to solve the problem.

    #3501604
    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member

    @bpeugh

    Locale: Midwest

    I know I don’t use my grid OR Radiant Hoody since I got my microfleece MH Microchill LIte Hoody.  It just feels warmer.  Same reason I use the regular MH Microchill Lite 1/4 zip or the EMS Classic Micro 1/4 Zip.  And for a jacket I would rather use my Pat R2 or a MH Monkey Man could be used.

    #3501687
    KRS
    BPL Member

    @krshome

    Locale: Virginia USA

    Brett im in the same boat. Last year I bought the Patagonia Thermal Hoody and this year I bought the R1 Hoody. As a base layer i love the thermal hoody, but the R1 as a midlayer is to tight and doesn’t stretch like classic 100 fleece. I like the way classic fleece fits much better for that reason alone, as far as the moisture movement the grid fleece might be better but comfort out weighs that for me. I have not soaked the grid stuff yet so as far as dry times go i cant compare, but I have never had a problem with regular fleece. I kinda feel that it has some benefits but with some drawbacks. Ill just say one is not better than the other. they both have there place. I would just like to see better versions of both.

     

    #3501739
    Hoosier T
    BPL Member

    @jturner140

    Locale: Midwest

    The thermal weight hoody (re capilene 4) is one of my my most cherished items. BUT, without the utilization of my Houdini it would be practically useless. IMO, a wind shirt is a necessity to make a grid fleece usable in a wide range of conditions.

    #3501980
    Martin D
    BPL Member

    @natlife

    I really like grid fleece as a mid layer. I have a 5.8 oz MEC T3 that I wear over a 6 oz Cloudveil (Costco) merino base. I used a North Face Progressor hybrid hoodie for the outer layer this past Saturday (100gsm PL1 front and back panels, ~25-30 CFM ripstop arms and sides). Hiked 18 miles over 11 hours in the Adirondacks in temps from 5 to 10F and I was right in that sweet spot where you’re neither cold nor clammy. Only had to throw on a nano puff when stopping along with an OR down beanie.

    #3502135
    Katherine .
    BPL Member

    @katherine

    Locale: pdx

    “BUT… that grid etches little squares into my skin, especially my forearms. And by the end of the day it itches like he!!. So I’m never buying it again B/C I don’t want to wear the garments inside-out to solve the problem.”

    Eric — If you really wanted to make a go of grid fleece, I’ve been pondering why the fleece of my new Melanzana dress is grid-side-out. (It performs perfectly well while sitting in a local coffee shop, snarfing down baked goods, and pretending to work!)

    #3503702
    Armand C
    BPL Member

    @vb242

    The majority of my fleece jackets are a grid design and typically used as a mid-layer.

    I find them to be lightweight, low bulk and comfortable against the skin. The lack of bulk makes for great layering under everything.

    I think the biggest selling point is the amount of warmth you get for the weight.

    #3508211
    Paul S.
    BPL Member

    @pschontz

    Locale: PNW

    Another difference in wet weather performance that came to mind as I walked in the rain today is that the typical rain drops don’t penetrate a classic fleece whereas with a grid fleece the rain drops can hit between the fleece squares and get your skin wet right away.

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