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Fleeces and Warm Tops
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Popular brands in this section... Fleeces and Warm Tops - Footnotes
Why do I need a Fleece / Soft Shell / Mid-layer?
At the heart of any layering system is the fleece or midlayer. The fleece is worn over the baselayer and under the outerlayer to provide essential
insulation. The fleece must therefore be able to tranfer moisture away from the baselayer and onto the outer jacket to maintain comfort.
What fabric(s) are Fleeces made from?
The main option for midlayer fabric is synthetic fleece. These are woven to form a material that is lightweight, durable and wicks moisture. The
woven structure traps air to give it excellent insulating properties. Such fabrics are naturally very durable and tend to have a longer life span
than most outer layers. Fleeces are manufactured in a variety of different weights and types as outlined below.
What's the difference between Midweight, Micro, Windproof and Softshell Fleeces?
1. Midweight Fleece
Probably the most versatile weight of fleece clothing, the midweight fleece has a soft feel and doesn't restrict movement. These midlayers can be
worn all day and are suitable for most uses - as an insulating layer in winter or even as an outer layer on a dry, cold day. A midweight fleece
jacket provides a good level of warmth combined with excellent breathability to keep moisture moving away from the base layer and on to the outer
2. Micro Fleece
The lightest version of fleece that is available. Microfleece is a thin and lightweight soft fleece that will move moisture effectively and
provide a low level of insulation. This makes it ideal for wearing on its own in milder conditions. For cold weather use, a micro fleece can be
worn as a base layer to provide additional warmth. One of the main advantages of microfleece tops is their low weight and bulk - they are much
more rucksack friendly than midweights.
3. Windproof Fleece
Windproof fleeces are very versatile. They are composed of windproof membrane sandwiched between two layers of fleece fabric. This resulting
material is durable, breathable, stops all wind and is highly water resistant. These attributes allow windproof fleece jackets to be used in a
variety of weather conditions - the wearer will seldom have to stop to add extra layers.
4. Softshell Fleece
The main objective of soft shell clothing is to reduce weight, maintain breathability and increase water resistance. Using softshell fabrics, it's
possible to abandon the traditional system of fleece midlayer and shell outerlayer by combined both in one jacket. Note that the more traditional
layering system may be better suited to UK weather conditions.
What features should I expect?
1. Scooped Back
Most outdoor activities require reaching and stretching of some sort. A scooped back prevents the jacket from riding up and exposing the lower
back. This can be uncomfortable as well as cold in the winter. Most mid layer jackets will feature a scooped back.
2. Self-fabric Cuffs
Providing a comfortable and pressure free sleeve, most jackets will have a self-fabric cuff. The prevent sleeves from riding up especially when
reaching and prevent cold draughts up the sleeve. They also make it very hard to look at your watch!
Many outer layer jackets feature a doubler main zip allowing a compatible fleece to be zipped into it. This enables the two garments to sit nicely
together which increases comfort.
An adjustable hem allows the ventilation of the jacket to be controlled. In colder weather the hem can be drawn in to hold in more heat.
Conversely, on milder days, the hem can be released to allow for better ventilation.
How do I look after my Fleece / Midlayer?
Fleece clothing is easy to care for and can be machine-washed. Follow the manufacturers instructions and never use fabric conditioner as this could affect the performance of the garment.