Fleece comparison

Cheap fleece vs. expensive fleece

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11/03/2007 at 13:29
I've not bought a 'technical' fleece for 13 years. Could someone suggest what I am missing out on by spending £5 in M&S on a fleece as opposed to, say £45 on a North Face 100 weight fleece?

Is it simply the cut, pocket placement, etc. Will it be warmer? Last longer?
11/03/2007 at 13:55
Pocket Placement, Size of pocket ie map size, techincal fit so it doesn't just drag around the body, probably some sort of DWR water proof protection, maybe more windproof, lighter, more abrahsive. If your gonna pay up to £50 for a fleece your best shopping around checking out all possible websites to find a windproof on offer.
11/03/2007 at 16:55
£4 from Tesco is a good everyday fleece. I would not use it for backpacking or potentially harsh conditions. However why use high grade technical kit for a 2 mile walk or cycle ride into town.
11/03/2007 at 17:41
mmm interesting. I would feel that a cheap fleece wouldn't have the cut and not a lot of thought put into the Position of pockets and to where the seems go.
It's been ages since i had a cheap fleece and it was marginaly warmer than a sweatshirt, And it was as thin not very windproof.
The next step was another cheap fleece a regatta at about 20 quid. This was warmer and thicker, But still let the wind through like a seive. The collar was a little better but not amazing.

But having two expensive fleeces (Berghaus Hobart, ME Windstopper guide) The extra cost seems to show better. The Zips have soe thought to being placed so they can be opend when wearing a backpack. The collars are better fitting and i feel the do fit better. It's not constricting or being overly baggy.
Both are windproof with the Berghaus using Polartec Windstopper fabric, and the ME using Gore windstopper. The berghaus has a thicker fleece coating so it is an overall warmer jacket but the ME is great for when being on the move and needsomething just to stop the wind going through you.
The Polartec fabric is much softer and a lot more pliable than the Gore but it isn't to an extent where it feels like wearing a Survival bag.
The boon of the windproof fabric is also that they are waterproof so a passing rain shower isn't going to get you wet.

You get what you payfor. The more being spent means better fabrics and better fit.
12/03/2007 at 17:06
For an ordinary fleece I'd just go for the cheap ones. The Campri microfleeces I bought for £5.99 seem just as good as the North Face ones I owned before. My own preference for use on the hills is a wind resistant fleece, such as Polartec's Wind Pro or Lafumas TechnoWarm Wind (I've a hunch these are the same thing) - these are rather less windresistant, but much, much more breathable than the WindBloc fleece I used before. Even with these though I didn't pay over the odds - my Lafuma was about £30 in a sale.
13/03/2007 at 12:19
I agree - if we're talking "standard" fleece the cheap ones seem to perform just as well as the expensive ones. OK, they may not have the same cut, maybe don't look as good and may be more prone to pilling, but they do the job very well.
13/03/2007 at 12:36
TK Maxx is full of simple zip neck mircofleeces from Eoro ski brands, they look good.
But, heavy fleeces and those with only 'hand warmer' pockets are the work of satan.
Best simple fleeces, Haglofs Single/Solo and Mammuts Aconcagua Pull.
13/03/2007 at 12:47
Ooooooo, the Haglofs Triton :o) Hand-crafted by angels, it is. I don't know whether to wear it or frame it.

"Simple" fleeces work best in combination with a decent windproof, eg Montane Featherlite, IMHO.

I practically live in Berghaus Yukon's.
13/03/2007 at 14:44
If a cheap one is only £4, get one and see if it does what you want it to do. If not, think why and get a better one =)
13/03/2007 at 14:45
It depends whether you just mean a basic fleece, or want something better.

I've had £2 fleeces in the sale in Tesco, and they are OK for what they are, but you get no frills. Just a fleece jumper.

The fleece I wear on the hill (and pub, and everywhere else it seems) is the Haglofs Triton hoodie. For the extra money (I paid £45 in the sale, I think it was about £80ish retail) you get:
stretch panels
underarm mesh for venting
chest pockets, mesh lined for venting
hood that works with a helmet and moves with your head
anti-pilling material on the cuffs so it doesn't look scruffy quickly.
And it's much, much thinner than any cheap fleeces I have seen; important if you run very hot.

Very sadly, I don't think it's available now, having been replaced by the Gemini from Haglofs, which is nowhere near as good.
13/03/2007 at 17:21
£5 M&S fleeces will probably be in a 200 weight fabric; too hot for most use, in my experience. The ones I've seen are also a rather harsh, stiff fabric which I find doesn't breathe as well as the better quality fleeces.

Then, as others have said, the cut is unlikely to be as well thought out for active use. Pockets will be hip-mounted, so obscured by pack strap, sleeves will be a standard jacket cut, so will impede arm raise, and give a lot of cuff pull. M&S fleeces are also cut for the 'fuller figure', IME, rather than the racing whippet hillwalker <cough>.

That said, I'm always one for a bargain, so would never automatically rule out any source just because it's cheap; assess it against your needs, cut, quality of materials and manufacture, and buy it if you think it meets them. The Tesco's women's fleece pullover I saw a while back looked a good quality, soft fleece, for £4.

As for membraned windproof fleeces: get a shelled micropile instead (e.g. Rab VR Trail). Or wear a microfibre windshirt (e.g. Pertex) over the top of a 100 weight fleece.
13/03/2007 at 21:09
I got a free fleece with my national geographic subscription, and it does me proud jsut as a mid layer, i wanna invest in a 'soft shell' fleece at some stage. They sound pretty good.
21/05/2007 at 01:30
I've just bought a Helly Hansen Particle Jacket from the nearby factory store for £20 and the difference is quite surprising. The HH feels lighter, fluffier and warmer than the M&S one. It also feels less sweaty which I assume means increased breathability. It's made from their prostretch fabric (8% elastic the label claims) so I don't know if the stretchiness affects how it feels. It does feel very nice.

I also tried on a powerstretch fleece (different shop) which was gorgeous. I'm wishing I'd bought it now.

What I'm saying for those interested is that there is a difference between cheap and expensive fleece, and it appears to be worth paying for!
21/05/2007 at 01:46
M&S fleeces don't seem to wick or breathe like technical fleeces, they have no "give" and they pill badly on the inside. I thought they were good value until I tried more expensive ones at which point I came to realise that they are crap for anything more than everyday wear.
I have a couple of Primark fleeces which seem to be somewhere between a 100 and a 200 weight fleece. They are warm, non pilling and surprisingly wind resistant. However, I love my Craghopper Corey fleeces more than anything.
I would never pay the exhorbitant prices demanded for some of the more fashionable, "big name" brands because it's just the name that you are paying for.
So if you want to feel sweaty buy M&S and if you want to feel really, really sweaty buy a membrane lined fleece.

"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy the handicapped and submariners. " ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

Edited: 21/05/2007 at 01:53
21/05/2007 at 08:41
I have a fleece top that has the name 'classic' on it, that's it.. can't give you a brand.. if I know my mom though it's probably M&S.. she bought it me as a birthday present.. I think when I was about 24.. there abouts... still keeps me warm, still looks good and I'll be 43 in September.
I get the techo stuff, but basically, I sweat like mad if I wear stuf and I get a cold if I don't.. I'd still rather be warm and sweaty than cold and dry.
21/05/2007 at 09:31
Depends what you mean by 'cheap'. A few years back own brand fleece - non-Polartec - used to pill badly, that's not the case generally with stuff from budget outdoor brands these days, standards are generally up.

Polartec, in turn, have started producing more interesting, more expensive premium products like their Thermal Pro fleeces which give better warmth to weight ratio and, erm, 'interesting' textures.

If you want something that's wind resistant as well, Polartec's Windpro is similar to the old ME Ultrafleece in that it's densely woven so significantly more windproof than standard fleece. Windpro looks nicer than Ultrafleece as well, but it's expensive.

Cut is something else altogether. Depends on what you're looking for and intended use. If it's just an extra insulation layer to go under a loose-fitting walking jacket in cold conditions then as long as it's not too baggy then it won't matter - all it's doing is trapping warm, body-heated air after all. If you want to use it with a climbing harness or a close-fitting technical shell, want pockets that are outdoor friendly etc, then you're more likely to find that with a more technical brand, though even then there's no guarantee...

Regatta sell Polartec 100, 200 and 300 fleeces at very reasonable prices if you're looking for a compromise between price and quality btw. Very good value and genuine Polartec fleece.

OutdoorsMagic Reviews Editor | jon@outdoorsmagic.com 

21/05/2007 at 09:47
The Campri microfleeces I bought for £5.99 seem just as good as the North Face ones I owned before.

I've got one of the Campri microfleeces and it seems every bit as good as more expensive ones I have from other manufacturers.

Having said that I also still use a Berghaus fleece jacket that must be well over 10 years old (probably more like 15 in fact) and still looks as good as the day it was bought.
21/05/2007 at 10:56
If you are lucky you can find very good quality fleeces in TKMaxx at very reasonable prices. I got a toasty Sprayway Zone 2 Polartec Thermal Pro for about £20 (normally £80) and have often seen some very good Lowe Alpine ThermalPro fleece at a similar price.
21/05/2007 at 18:06
Funny when i used to work in the clothing industry new man made fleece retailed at a much more expensive price than a cotton poly mix yet the cost of the material per sq metre was much much less. this has meant in recent times that the price of fleece has plummeted allowing every clothing shop to carry decent polyester garments. standard 100 fleeces are available from most shops therefore buying a branded one for £20-£30 seems illogical - but buying into a more technical fleece makes more sense. however why not in this case consider a light synthetic with a DWR for not much above the cost of a technical fleece.
30/08/2007 at 23:21

I am considering a high quality pullover fleece, but the Primark ones I have bought in the last year have been fab. I have washed them many times and they are as soft aas they were the first day I bought them. The one I bought 4 years ago is not so soft but is nigh on windproof, at £4 each, they have been bargains. Fo sheer style, I feel that you can't beat a black short zip fleece from either The North Face or Mountain Equipment. When I am rich I will invest in a full set off ME stuff...........or maybe TNF!


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