HikingGears tipsTips for beginners Practice TipsFamily, babies & childrenSnow & cold weather Where to go ?Hiking responsiblyNature Explore
To stay warm, the famous "fleece" is available as a gilet, hoodie or jacket...
On the other hand, there are cotton blend hiking jumpers... it's sometimes difficult to find your way through so many options.
We'll help you make the right choice!
Jumpers and fleeces are perfect as a second layer to keep your body warm, whether you’re hiking or in your daily life.
The choice of a hiking jumper or fleece garment depends on 3 main criteria:
The intensity of your effort, which will require more or less breathability and zips to regulate your temperature
The weather outside, especially the temperature and rain, which will require more or less warmth and water-repellency
The duration of your hike or trek, which will require more or less compactness to fit in a backpack
Before we get started, let's start with a not-so-slight detail: we're going to talk about jumpers AND fleece.
A jumper can be made of fleece, and a fleece is not necessarily a jumper.
WHAT IS IT?
Fleece is a "highly insulating polyester fibre", and a jumper is a "wool or cotton knit covering the upper body, which is pulled over the head".
OK so far, even for those at the back of the class🤓?
Great, now we can start!
Have a good read 😀
The choice of fleece clothing is extremely wide: from the ultra-warm, ultra-thin jacket to the plush sweater that makes you feel like you're in your duvet.
Jumpers, on the other hand, have become such a classic that they all seem to look the same... no wonder it's sometimes difficult to distinguish the different levels of quality and choose one model over another.
So let's start by looking at the basic characteristics of jumpers and fleeces to get a clearer picture.
Feeling "a little chilly"?
A jumper or fleece jacket can give you that extra bit of warmth and a soft feeling of comfort.
The key is to wear it as a second layer, which has a thermal insulation role.
If the term "second layer" doesn't ring a bell, you can read this article on the three layer technique.
Above a cool temperature, the fleece alone is recommended if it’s not raining.
If you ever find yourself in a light rain, remember to check that your fleece is water-repellent (i.e. water droplets will "slide off" the material as long as it's not raining too hard), or add a thin waterproof layer on top.
For "athleisure" use (for the non-English speakers in the room, this is a contraction of ""athlete"" and ""leisure"": a sort of cross between sports and urban fashion), you should choose fleece jumpers and jackets designed for cooler weather, i.e. between 4 and 13°C.
You don't need a super-compact fleece, because you don't have to pack it in a backpack. You can then opt for thick, soft fleeces that will make you feel like you're walking around wrapped up in your duvet.
Normally, you won't be going for an indoor sports session. So you won't particularly need a fleece with zips, which are used to regulate the temperature during intense exercise by letting in more or less outside air. Beyond the warmth, it’s ultimately the look and your body shape that will determine your choice!
Curved shape: ideal if you want something a little more aesthetic, if you like to wear your clothes close to the body or if your 3rd layer (coat or other) is already quite thick.
Loose fit for a relaxed silhouette: ideal if you don't like tight fits, if you have an "A" or "H" shape, if your first layer (your first garment against the skin) is quite thick, or if you just like to have your top below your hip drop.
On the aesthetic side of things, the finish is what will guide your choice.
Do you like hoods? Do you prefer a full zip to wear your fleece as an open jacket or a half zip to wear it as a jumper? Do you need pockets to put your keys or even your mobile phone in? Do you like colours or basic all-purpose items? Are you a little cold, but not that cold? Perhaps a gilet (which keeps most of your vital organs warm, without restricting the freedom of movement of your arms) would be more appropriate, especially in the mid-season?
In short, choose the finishes and models of fleece clothing that suit your lifestyle and style.
If you are looking for a fleece that can be used for hiking as well as for outdoor work (for example, the terrace you started 3 years ago and then left aside... or gardening), you will need warmth without necessarily needing the same technicality as for a fleece for trekking at 2,000 metres of altitude. You don't need a super thin fleece, because you don't have to pack it in a backpack.
The above-mentioned temperature criteria still apply. However, we recommend a fleece jacket with a zip or inserts that help wick away perspiration, rather than a jumper. This lets you manage your temperature changes between exercise and rest phases. You should also opt for a hybrid fleece jacket with a windproof material in the chest area, with as many pockets as possible.
A jumper that isn’t designed for sports will not necessarily be brushed on the inside, and therefore less warm.
There is also a good chance that it will be very windy and not sufficiently insulating.
Whereas at Decathlon, all our jumpers and fleeces are designed according to the constraints of the sport practised, by design teams who are adept at hiking, and tested in the laboratory and in the field!
Are you getting ready for a hike on the beach or in the woods with your family? If there is no gradient, your effort will be less intense so you can choose a country walking jumper, comfortable and suited to this type of exercise. If you prefer hikes with gradient, your effort will be more intense and you’ll perspire more. For hikers in the mountains, to avoid staying in damp fabric or being too hot, choose a breathable fleece instead.
Zips are mainly a means of circulating air and therefore cool you down after a big effort. They are all the more useful when the effort is intense. They are complemented by the breathability of the material, which will help wick away perspiration. Together, they will prevent you from getting hot, but also from sweating too much then being cooled down by your own perspiration and therefore getting cold.
If you're going on a day trip or one that lasts several days, and you know that the temperatures are going to be changeable, that the sun is going to be temperamental and that your effort is going to vary, opt for a technical fleece. It will adapt better to the outdoor conditions than a simple jumper. In addition, some fleeces are very thin and will easily fit in your bag. What's more, a fleece will dry more quickly than a jumper containing cotton.
Are you undecided between a down jacket and a fleece? The down jacket will be more windproof and water repellent than a fleece.
However, the advent of hybrid fleeces has changed all that! There are fleeces with waterproof inserts on the shoulders, lower sleeves and hood.
This means you don't necessarily need an extra layer if a few flakes fall.
Check out our hybrid fleece jackets for adults with a body-mapping design to give you warmth where you need it.
You know more about choosing your jumper or fleece depending on your purpose: sipping hot chocolate by the fire in a chalet (or elsewhere, but you get the picture), or hiking in different temperatures and terrains.
We wish you beautiful and comfortable adventures (inside and/or outside) with your jumper or fleece!