With the constantly fluctuating temperatures and types of weather that come with spring, it can become a challenge to pick out the right jacket when going outside. Whether there’s a slight spring breeze or a sudden deep freeze, two types of jackets you may reach for are fleece and down jackets.
Both types serve different purposes—it doesn’t hurt to keep both jackets nearby when the weather is shifting. If you struggle with knowing when to wear each one, know the differences between a fleece versus a down jacket and what to choose before leaving for your next outdoor adventure.
The biggest difference between fleece and down jackets lies in the warmth that both provide you. While the materials themselves are both extremely breathable and warm, fleece jackets keep you cooler when the weather is warming up; they’re the perfect jacket for dewy spring mornings or cool, windy days.
On the other hand, down jackets retain warmth due to the quality outer shell that protects the feathery, heat-capturing insulation within. Down jackets often contain an inner layer to protect you from the cold. Down by itself is breathable; however, the shell may not be breathable.
Because polyester fibers make up the construction of fleece jackets, they are extremely sufficient at repelling water—both inside and outside of the jacket. This makes the fleece jacket durable against both sweaty workouts and pop-up showers, so long as you wash and dry it properly afterward. While fleece won’t keep you dry in wet weather, it won’t become damaged by the moisture.
When down gets wet, it loses its ability to capture and retain warmth until the jacket is fully dry. Many jackets solve this dilemma with a water-resistant shell, but even the toughest shell can leak if exposed to enough water. If the down inside of your jacket becomes wet, let it dry for a few days before using it again.
A fleece jacket functions well as an outer layer of your workout outfit; it won’t protect you from water, but it won’t get damaged either. Many down jackets come with waterproof shells to protect you from light rain.
Polyester is a man-made material, which lowers the price of even a high-quality fleece jacket compared to a down jacket. Though polyester is plastic, many companies—such as Patagonia—have added fleece that they’ve made out of recycled material. Some fleece items weave natural fibers, such as wool, into their construction.
Since down is a natural material sourced from waterfowl, down jackets require more effort to create than fleece jackets. Each type of down comes with a different price tag—but it’s important to look for a brand that provides products with ethically-sourced down. Canada Goose apparel is famously filled with ethically-sourced goose down to keep you feeling warm without worrying about the treatment of the bird the jacket came from.
Fleeces are the less expensive option, and some brands offer fleece jackets made from recycled polyester. Though more expensive than fleece, down is a natural resource and many brands are transparent with the ethics of their down.
Knowing what to choose between a fleece versus a down jacket doesn’t have to be a hard decision. Find the jackets that match your style and needs by browsing the collections at Escape Outdoors!
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