The warm months of summer are, unfortunately, coming to an end. As the weather starts its slow descent into cold and bitterness, it’s time to start preparing your wardrobe. Finding the perfect layers for fall and winter outfits can be tricky, as there are many options to consider. However, the most popular items each and every year tend to be fleece and puffer jackets. But did you know that there are many key differences between these two types of garments?
Fleece jackets are increasingly popular among activewear, casualwear, and streetwear enthusiasts. Fleece clothing might be extremely versatile in respect to the fashion industry, but the fabric itself is even more interesting and special.
Fleece is a synthetic material and joins the long list of lab-created that emerged in the last ceetury, beginning with tree bark fiber “silk.” Fabrics such as rayon and nylon followed suit and offered consumers a comfortable, functional clothing option. In 1979, fleece was officially invented; it was light, highly durable, and ultra cozy. Patagonia, which at the time was a much smaller brand, recognized the potential of fleece, specifically for outdoor and activewear. Fleece was never officially patented by its inventor, Aaron Feuerstein, which is why we see so many fleece items in the fashion and clothing industry today.
If the fleece is a lab-produced material, what exactly is its composition? The main ingredient is threaded plastic, otherwise known as polyester. The polyester fibers that are surprisingly soft to the touch are indeed made from recycled plastic items like straws and cups! These fibers are made by mixing petroleum and other petroleum derivatives, such as ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. The created polyester fibers are then spun, dyed, knitted, napped, sheared, and finally covered with a waterproofing chemical.
So why is this synthetic fabric so popular among consumers? For one thing, fleece is extremely soft. It’s so cozy that it’s a great option for a top layer in the fall or a midlayer in the winter. Fleece is similar to an insulating material in that it provides warmth without being heavy like wool. This lightweight build is another benefit of fleece, and many active individuals use it for hiking, climbing, camping, and other outdoor activities.
Since fleece is very flexible and comfortable, it doesn’t limit your range of motion. Fleece garments are also very simple to clean—while other cold-weather gear may require dry cleaning, you can simply wash fleece like any other wardrobe item. Lastly, fleece is incredibly water resistant. The polyester fabric naturally repels moisture and even keeps your internal body temperature at a happy-medium level. There aren’t many fabrics out there that offer this level of versatility.
Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the history, basics, and benefits of fleece, let’s explore the ins and outs of fleece jackets. First and foremost, fleece is most commonly used for jacket products. You won’t find many fleece shirts! As stated above, the versatility of this material makes it an excellent option for a cold weather layer. Fall is perhaps the best time of year to bust out your fleece jackets since they provide enough heat to keep you protected without leaving you a sweaty mess. Even so, fleece jackets are totally suitable during the harsh winter months.
Patagonia is perhaps the one brand known most for its fleece products. Items such as the Patagonia Better Sweater fleece shirt jacket are a fashionable and functional addition to any fall/winter outfit. However, plenty of other manufacturers take advantage of all this fabric has to offer. Some use it as the main material for clothing design, while others add fleece linings to winter coats and other layers. Regardless of your choice, fleece is preferable for trudging through the coldest times of the year.
Puffer jackets are just as popular as fleece clothing and share many similar benefits. They’re both excellent insulators, comfortable to wear, and protect you from the elements. Plus, puffer jackets have staked a place within trendy, modern streetwear and urban culture.
You probably know exactly what a puffer jacket is—its namesake is a dead giveaway. However, the design of puffer jackets is quite complex and very interesting. Puffer jackets feature a quilted pattern on the exterior, usually in roll-like patterns (diamond-shaped quilting is also popular). The stitching creates “puffs” on the jacket’s exterior, giving it its distinctive look. Those sections are made puffy thanks to down insulation and related synthetic fibers that are stuffed inside. The higher quality of the stuffing, the better protection that jacket provides.
To understand exactly how a puffer jacket provides such excellent insulation, you have to learn about down. Down is the layer of fine feathers found on birds. Duck and goose down is the most common option for clothing because these feathers are the most suitable for winter clothing. The air pockets that they create within the puffs keep warm air inside and cold air out. It’s also a highly lightweight material that offers some breathability.
So why are puffer jackets so popular? For some, the iconic design of the clothing makes it a desired, urban look for the wintertime. Modern puffer jackets are usually oversized and brightly colored, adding to the streetwear style. But for most individuals, the protective characteristics of down insulation and puffer jacket design make these garments the best winter coat or fall layer option. Whether running errands around town or summiting a mountain, this can come in handy. The warm and light material is so popular that most people choose puffer clothing over wool and leather. Plus, the quilted design helps break wind, reducing the chances of winter-related skin injuries.
As you can see, the two types of jackets have a few key differences. Fleece is a more versatile fabric that offers some protection from the elements without overheating. It’s also extremely comfortable and soft to the touch and does an excellent job of wicking moisture. On the other hand, puffer jackets utilize a specialized design and specific insulation materials to create the perfect winter coat.
Ultimately, the most significant difference between the two that you should know relates to the application. Fleece jackets are better suited as fall layers, while puffer jackets are preferred in the coldest months of the year. There are some exceptions, however. Many fleece-lined jackets are suitable for the winter, and puffer vests are exceptional for outdoor casual fall wear.
Understanding the key differences between fleece and puffer jackets can better prepare you as you shop for fall and winter clothing. We at Escape Outdoors carry top-of-the-line, seasonal clothing that keeps you looking your best while staying comfortable, even during outdoor activities.
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