Are fleece jackets good for winter?
Most middle layers are made from synthetic fabrics, though some are of wool. This is a real workhorse of a layer; it has to wick away sweat, keep you warm, dry, breathe and block out light rain, because when you’re active in good weather this will be your outer layer.
Fleece jackets are ideal mid-layers. Fleece, made from polyester, comes in different weights and weaves, though all will trap body heat and wick away moisture. Hardface fleeces are generally the thinnest and most durable. They also have light water resistance, so are ideal as stand-alone jackets when the weather is fair. Micro fleeces are thin and pliable but are designed to be used as part of a layering system, so don’t offer any additional weather protection. Fluffy fleeces are usually a lot bulker and not really designed to be used when space and weight are an issue on an adventure.
Some fleece jackets have additional material technologies to offer wind resistance though if you’re looking for a stand-alone mid-layer, a soft-shell jacket might be a better option.
Are soft-shell jackets good for winter?
During the autumn and spring seasons, fleece mid-layers are the ideal choice. They offer lightweight insulation and very low weight and bulk. But during the winter, you may need a little more protection from your mid-layer. Cue the soft-shell jacket.
Soft shells combine technologies and functionalities from the hard-shell layer and fleece mid-layer to deliver a do-it-all mid-layer. Although they’re not waterproof, many are windproof. They tend to have a water-resistant overlay over the shoulders, or a water-resistant treatment applied directly to the fabric. They are made to be kept on while active, so are breathable, sweat-wicking and quick-drying. And they usually have lightweight insulation, most often made from synthetic materials, either throughout the jacket or over the core – where you need it most. As such, they are incredibly versatile and a good investment piece. On milder, dry days you can even use them as your main outer jacket.