The Best Tactical Fleece | Reviews & Buying Guide

Imagine you’re out for a long hike in the early spring, or you’re cycling late into autumn, or you need to be outside, but the days are getting colder. You need an outer layer, but you want to be able to move. You don’t want a constricting winter jacket or a thick parka getting in your way, but you need a material that will keep you comfortable.

There are many things to consider when picking outerwear for chilly days outdoors, but if you want something warm and comfortable, look no further than a trusty tactical fleece. ‘Tactical’ is carefully planned with a specific end in mind. Your thermal layer should be carefully planned.

A tactical fleece can be your outerwear or an extra layer under your favourite outerwear. It depends on what you’re doing and the temperature reading, but there are many advantages to having the right fleece. There’s a variety of fleece types out there, so how do you choose? We’ve made a list of the best tactical fleeces to get you started.

Top 8 Tactical Fleece Jackets

Check out our top recommendations for the best tactical fleece jackets.


1) Champion Glen Fleece

Padded and lined, Champion Glen makes a lightweight tactical fleece you can wear as an outer layer. The fit is loose, and that allows some extra give when choosing a size. There’s an inside pocket with a Velcro close, handy for tucking in your phone or wallet. You also have two external zippered side pockets. The cuffs are banded, and the hem is adjustable with a drawstring.

Champion Glen Fleece

Pros
  • Padded for extra warmth, but lightweight
  • Velcro interior pocket
  • Anti-pill treated fleece, which prevents those little balls (pills) of fabric from appearing
  • Sizes from S to 3XL
Cons
  • The loose fit makes it difficult to use as an underlayer
  • Not windproof. You need something extra if you expect high wind speeds

2) Rothco Spec Ops Tactical Fleece Jacket

Two words: tricot lining. You might be asking, what is that? It’s a type of polyester knit that makes for smooth, sturdy material. With tricot lining and a heavyweight fleece, you’re covered for cold days.

Rothco Spec Ops Tactical Fleece Jacket

You have your pick of zippered pockets with two small pockets on both upper arms, two large pockets on the front, and a small upper chest pocket. There is a drawstring waist and foldout cuffs to seal out the chill.

Pros
  • Thumbholes and foldout cuffs
  • Two square sleeve patches for customizing (95mm)
  • Hanging hook to save your fleece from falling off the coat rack
Cons
  • Not dryer friendly
  • If you need extra torso length, this might fall short

3) Magcomsen Military Tactical Fleece Jacket

You want a tactical fleece that’s easy to care for? The Magcomsen is anti-shrink and anti-wrinkle. Do you want to be warm even when you’re fighting the wind? Try a tactical fleece jacket with a windproof outer layer, and you won’t need another jacket when the breeze is blowing.

Magcomsen Military Tactical Fleece Jacket

As a middle-weight, you’re good to go for middle-vigorous activities like jogging and cycling, and you’ll still be warm if you slow your pace. The trend of sleeves with thumbholes and a drawstring waist is here too.

Magcomsen’s tactical fleece has exterior pocket space with two zippered chest pockets, two small zippered pockets on each arm, and a wide lower back pocket with zippers left and right.

Pros
  • Thumbholes
  • Windproof
  • Machine washable
  • Anti-pilling, anti-shrink, and anti-wrinkle for durability and easy care
  • Five available colours: black, grey, green, brown and blue
  • Two square loop shoulder patches for customizing (101mm)
Cons
  • No interior pockets
  • Chest pockets are high up, making it odd to tuck your hands inside

4) Tavasen Softshell Fleece Jacket

Did you want another windy day option but with a foldable hood? Tavasen’s tactical fleece offers a hood for extra protection from the elements, but when it’s in the way, you can fold it up and zip it into the collar.

Tavasen Softshell Fleece Jacket

If braving the wind isn’t enough, how about a little rain? Lightweight, waterproof, and windproof, you’ll have a lot of movement options.

Tavasen doesn’t shy away from zippered pockets with four sleeve pockets (upper and lower arms), two chest pockets, and a wide lower back pocket. There are also two small front-interior pockets. If you have a camping trip planned, packing a versatile tactical fleece jacket prepares you for whatever weather the great outdoors throws at you.

Pros
  • Windproof and waterproof
  • Two rectangular arm patches for customizing
  • Armpit flaps zip open for ventilation
  • Sizes from XS to 3XL
  • Six colours: Army green, black, grey, khaki, blue, and navy
Cons
  • Avoid a torrential downpour because it sticks to your skin when soaked
  • Lightweight fleece, not for freezing temperatures

5) Kefitevd Military Tactical Fleece Jacket

For another hooded option, try this hood with a stiff brim that stops water from dripping down or moisture breaching your collar when folded back.

Kefitevd Military Tactical Fleece Jacket

Kefitevd combines windproof and waterproof again with middle-weight fleece. You have Velcro cuffs and a drawstring hem for easy adjustments. One less arm pocket than the last entry on our list, with the left having only one lower arm pocket, but these front chest pockets are extra roomy.

Know your size, and don’t second guess for bigger, or you’ll be able to fit a second fleece inside.

Pros
  • The side pockets have metal rings for your keys
  • Two square arm patches for customizing.
  • Seven colours: Army green, black, khaki, brown, navy blue, royal blue, and grey
Cons
  • Waterproof for light rain and moisture, but not for drenching storms
  • The hood is not removable or foldable

6) Viper Tactical Fleece

If you’re looking for a tactical fleece to fit like a glove, you want a “sport fit.” Lightweight fleece, cozy fit, elastic cuffs with thumbholes, and an elastic waistband seal in warmth without turning into a sauna.

Viper Tactical Fleece

You can wear this on its own for warmer autumn days or easily slip on another layer, like a windbreaker or raincoat, for any weather. With Viper, you get a double-walled drawstring hood to keep the cool off your neck or pop it over your head to warm your ears.

Pros
  • Machine washable
  • Thumbholes, great for days you don’t want to wear gloves but need a little more from your sleeves
  • Two square sleeve patches to personalize (100mm)
  • Six colours: coyote, v-cam (camouflage), b-cam, black, and titanium
Cons
  • Kangaroo-style front pockets can be dangerous for storing breakable items
  • No other pockets

7) Inbike Tactical Fleece Jacket

What if you need something to keep you warm but in the dark, maybe jogging or cycling near traffic? Inbike has safety in mind by adding a reflective back strip.

Inbike Tactical Fleece Jacket

Water-repellent, windproof, and breathable, the middle-weight fleece material is sweat-wicking for keeping dry while keeping active. The hood is detachable, but that doesn’t mean detaching the collar—a nice inclusion if you want to keep air off your neck, but you don’t need a hood flapping behind you.

The design is sleek, with two concealed zippered pockets on the front. A small zipper on the upper right side of the chest opens to allow ventilation. The inner pocket is loose, so keep your more jangly and breakable items in the zippered outside pockets. The sleeves have elastic inner cuffs to keep heat in.

Pros
  • Long hem with drawstring for extended warmth
  • Detachable hood with drawstring
  • Safety feature: Reflective back strip
Cons
  • Loose inner pocket, not ideal for storing a wallet or a phone

8) Helikon Security Hood Patriot Fleece

If you’re thinking about below zero temperatures, you need a true heavyweight tactical fleece. You get a bulky, loose fit, but seal your heat inside with a drawstring hood, drawstring waist, and Velcro cuffs. A chin guard and two-way zipper with a wind flap add extra defence against the cold.

Helikon Security Hood Patriot Fleece

No tactical fleece is complete without zippered pockets, and Helikon has the usual suspects lined up: two upper sleeve pockets, two outer chest pockets, lower back panel, and one lover left sleeve pocket. You can wear this as a jacket for dry frosty days or under something with waterproofing for wetter cold days.

Pros
  • Hood with short fabric visor
  • Metal rings in chest pockets for keys
  • Reinforced elbows
  • Armpit zippered openings for ventilation
Cons
  • Waist-length torso. Match this with warm pants or risk freezing below the waist

What to Look for in a Tactical Fleece

Tactical fleece jackets are as versatile as the way you wear them. Here are a few things to consider when searching for the right fleece.

Material

Fleece was created as a wool replacement. Instead of shearing an animal, it’s made with oil. A petroleum polyester has the warmth of wool, but it can handle getting a little wet—but it’s always a smart play to check for that ‘waterproof’ label. Double-check if it says ‘waterproof’ or ‘water-repellent.’ Rain gear experts will tell you that this can be a big difference.

If you’re looking for fleece, you want 100% fleece. Some fleece jackets have more than one layer or have sewn-on other fabrics or Velcro. That’s fine. You don’t lose warmth points for style additions that aren’t 100% polyester. But the jacket, the fleece itself, needs that 100% polyester to be effective fleece.

Fabric Weight

If you’re going for an easy hike or you’re hefting a heavy workload outdoors, if you’re out enjoying a frosty early morning or sunny but cool midday, you’re going to need different fleece weights. Before you choose your fleece, decide if you want it to fit under a raincoat or if you need something thicker for dryer, crisp days.

Lightweight fleece is best for cool days when it’s above zero. It’s the most breathable of fleece weights, making it optimal for more rigorous outdoor activities. If you plan on doing a lot of outdoor jumping jacks, choose lightweight. Lightweight fleece is also useful for putting under other layers, like a waterproof jacket or windbreaker.

The in-between weight, a middle-weight, can be worn under other layers or worn on its own. If you can see your breath, you might want some extra warmth, but you don’t want to overheat. Middle-weight fleece is the best for activities that keep you out in the cold, but you’re moving, think of days skiing or long winter walks.

Heavyweight fleece is for when you’re out in the cold for long periods. If you’re out winter camping or outside for hours, you need heavier material to conserve as much heat as you can. You can wear a heavyweight fleece as a jacket by itself. These tend to be looser and bulkier, which makes it harder to stuff under most jackets.

If you need the warmth of a heavyweight, but you want it to fit under another layer, that’s where fit comes in.

Fit

One man’s medium is another man’s small. Unless you have a personal tailor, you know whether your usual size tends to be too short in the sleeves or not long enough in the back.

Lighter fleeces tend to be shorter in length to make it easier as an underlayer, but if you plan to make your fleece layer your only layer, you might want long sleeves or a long waist. Look for long cuffs or fold out cuffs if you want length.

Keep in mind your activity level. If your activity is casual or the weather is mild, something loose will be comfortable. If you’re jogging or doing a lot of movement, you want a tighter fit to prevent catching. It’s also easier to tug a waterproof layer or a winter coat over a snug fleece for long hours of ice fishing or bird watching.

Final Thoughts

Fleece has come a long way from being a replacement for wool, and there’s a lot it can do for you.

It can be your everyday outdoor wearable, or it can be an extra layer you save for occasions that need a heat boost. It can be sleek, or it can be bulky. If you’re planning an outdoor event, don’t pass over the common fleece without a second thought. Remember to check the material, the weight, and the fit before you pick.

You might want more than one tactical fleece to keep your options open. You can be ready for whatever weather. Think about staying warm and comfortable. If you’re cosy outdoors, the longer you can stay out there.


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