WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES WHICH SOME VIEWERS MIGHT FIND UPSETTING

(most of these pics were taken by Anne)

Fleece. I love it. Come winter, from morning to night,  I am seldom to be found without one. These are from Marks and Sparks. I need to point out that these are not pyjamas. I don’t wear anything in bed. These are what I wear from when I get up to when I get properly dressed. They are instantly cosy.

I do not have moobs by the way; its just the way the fabric bunches around the chest area.

Fleece is also a stable part of my walking wardrobe. If you want to know why so many walkers use fleece and about the history of the material I would suggest that you click on this link to Backpackers.com. 

For much of the year, my top layer when walking is usually a fairly lightweight Berghaus fleece. This has two zipped side pockets and two deep inside pockets that amply accommodate an OS map.  The bottom has a couple of toggles to make it snug around the bum.  If it gets too warm then  I can stuff it in my backpack.  If it gets wet or windy then I put a waterproof over it.  Fleece is made of polyester (basically mucked around with petroleum, so not very ecologically sound) which I don’t think absorbs water but because the fabric has lots of air pockets it can still get sodden if you are getting rained on.

On really cold days, though, my Berghaus doesn’t keep me warm enough so I was very pleased when the PR people for OutdoorSupply ( invited me to review one of their products. I had not even heard of them, so after a very enjoyable salivate in their comprehensive Outdoor section, I plumped for a Jack Wolfskin Westfjord jacket (they call it a vest).

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

Seen here over my lightweight Craghopper fleece jacket.

This is a heavy-duty fleece, weighing in at 868 grammes compared to 546 for the Berghaus fleece.

Part of the additional weight is down to a very cosy hood that has two adjustable toggles to get it nice and tight round your face.

 

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

Nice to see that I have hair on the back of my head; I like the silver look of it.

The jacket is especially warm since not only is the main fleece much thicker than the Berghaus, its sleeves, hood and torso have additional faux sheepskin linings.

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

The weather has been a bit rubbish of late and I am a bit of a fair-weather walker so I have been wearing it for a few weeks on non walking outings and on brisk walks around our lane and the woods in temperatures from freezing to around 7 degrees centigrade.  In general use it has been super.

It has two, not very deep but chunky-zipped side pockets…..

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

My hand is fully in the pocket

… and two breast pockets, also with good, chunky zips.

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

But these are really quite shallow

The cuffs are elasticated,

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

No toggles, though

but in my experience without having any way of adjusting the cuffs they could well become a bit loose in time.  There’s no bottom of jacket adjustment for tightness, though, which I think is poor for what is quite an expensive item.  And there are no inside pockets, which I also think is cheap of Wolfskin.  So with no pocket deep enough to contain an OS map this rules it out  for many walkers who, like myself, want to carry both map and GPS (readers will know that even with both I can still get lost).

Jack Wolfskin Westfjord fleece jacket or vest

Just not deep enough!

Staying with walking, though, I actually found its basic warmth just too effective! After an hour’s brisk walk in 7 degrees with some gentle slopes I was overheating in the torso and my back was getting damp (and I wasn’t wearing a backpack). I do think that a lot of hogwash is talked about the “wicking” quality of fabrics – in my experience if you are working hard enough to sweat then you will get damp- but this certainly wasn’t “breathing” (the specs sensibly don’t claim “breathability” or wicking for the jacket).

And when I returned to the car I needed to take the jacket off very quickly to avoid uncomfortably over-heating.

Conclusion: a really nice warm fleece for going out and about in cold weather but you might just melt if you go inside without taking it off and, sadly, not one for energetic walking. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)