High quality clothing gives you confidence as you head outdoors, allowing you to concentrate on performance and enjoyment. This handy guide will explore the history, developments and benefits of one vital fabric: fleece.
Different conditions and activities call for different levels of insulation, weight and breathability. Identifying the right fleece for your needs is an important part of your planning. Engineered to optimise insulation and weight, a fleece layer will help you stay safe and comfortable when temperatures drop. Naturally breathable, fleece will allow perspiration to escape when you are working hard.
By considering the construction, technology and latest developments, this article will help you to make informed choices when buying a fleece.
Why is fleece so warm?
Fleece is a synthetic material that keeps you warm by trapping body heat close to the skin. In cold conditions, fleece will slow down the thermal energy loss from your body to the air around you. Engineered to achieve the effective insulation of wool, lightweight fleece is ideal for active use.
Wool has long been known for its strong insulating properties. By trapping pockets of air close to the body, the rate of heat transfer is reduced. This keeps you comfortably warm in cold environments. Wool provides insulation and remains breathable when you start to sweat, and is hard to beat for natural fabrics.
However, wool has several disadvantages. Firstly, wool becomes heavy when wet, making it less suitable for outdoor activities; fleece holds less water. Secondly, it is not machine washable. And thirdly, it’s generally quite expensive, especially for fine merino wool.
This led to the development of polar fleece, commonly known as fleece, in the 1970s. Engineered from polyester, the aim was to create a lightweight fabric with the insulating properties of wool without the need to rely on sheep. The technology has remained largely the same since its inception. Modern fleece will keep you warm, remain breathable, dry quickly and is softer on the skin than wool – and it’s machine washable.