Gear Review: The North Face Polar Hooded Fleece - Backpacker

Gear Review: The North Face Polar Hooded Fleece

This fleece will keep you warm, light, and unrestrained.

[best fleece]

“This jacket is warmer than it looks,” says one tester. “Throwing it on is like plugging in an electric blanket: Heat immediately radiates toward you.” Credit the Polartec Power Shield High Loft, which is a warm, water-resistant, wind-blocking softshell fabric backed by a gridded fleece. “I wore it ice climbing at Hidden Falls in Colorado, and remained warm while belaying in the teens,” he says. “Range of motion, whether swinging arms with ski poles or reaching high to swing an axe, is unencumbered, thanks to the relaxed, layer-friendly fit and the stretchy underarm panels.” (Those panels are also highly breathable to aid in heat management.) “The hood is fully adjustable, so it works with or without a helmet, and it never impeded my peripheral vision,” says another tester who wore it ski-touring up Colorado’s Cameron Pass. Quibbles: It’s pricey, and both less compressible and heavier than a puffy jacket. $299; 1 lb. 7 oz.; m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL;