This fleece is simply fantastic: not only does it keep me nice and warm, but it’s also got these wonderfully stretchy inserts!
I’m sure this is how many of us feel when we go on our first outdoor adventure in our brand new fleece. That’s probably why fleece is the go-to fabric for almost every outdoor activity – and rightfully so!
However, as great as fleece is, there are a few basic things you should consider when caring for your fleece garment. So, here is the most important information on how to do so.
What is fleece anyway?
Fleece was developed and introduced at the beginning of the 1980s by Malden Mills under the name of Polartec, and today, America remains the global leader in fleece.
It is a velour fabric that is mostly made of polyester. Today, they use recycled PET bottles as a base. Fleece also has something called a weight rating, which refers to the different thicknesses of fleece, measured in grams/square metre. The most common are 100, 200, 300 fleece.
What kinds of fleece are there?
Fleece is very popular as a thin mid layer underneath a hardshell jacket. The insulating fleece ensures that sweat is reliably transported from your base layer to the outermost layer of clothing where it can spread out and evaporate if exposed to air. The Polartec Classic is a great example and is extremely versatile, durable, and well-insulated.
Thermo fleece can be seen as a further development of the classic fleece. It has excellent insulating properties and is thus perfect as a super-warm jumper for an evening outdoors. It retains the majority of its insulating properties, even when it gets wet from snow, rain or sweat! So, you won’t have to worry about keeping your fleece dry, as you would with down. Just the right thing for cold and wet weather! Another great fleece for these conditions is the very warm Polartec Thermal Pro, which is used for a variety of extremely comfortable jackets and jumpers.
Power Stretch Fleece
Power Stretch Fleece is used for functional shirts, jumpers and hats and boasts excellent stretch and moisture transfer. Pontetorto Tecnostretch, for example, is super elastic and wicks moisture away from the body in no time at all, thereby allowing it to evaporate on the outside – the perfect thing for mountain running and high-intensity cardio!
In addition, there are a number of other name-brand fleeces that can be worn together or that are fitted with additional insulating material like PrimaLoft in order to take advantage of the best qualities of each of the fabrics.
What do you need to keep in mind when wearing fleece?
Fleece is made of synthetic fibres, which are very sensitive to direct heat! Thus, you should keep the following in mind:
- Be careful around open flames when cooking (especially on a white gas stove)
- Try to keep your fleece away from flying sparks so that your beautiful garment doesn’t end up getting any ugly burn holes
- Fleece is more prone to static electricity, which is definitely not for everybody
How to wash fleece
If you’re wardrobe or rucksack is just full of this miracle fabric, you’re probably wondering how to care for it properly. Well, here you go:
- Always wash fleece according to the instructions on the garment
- If possible, use a front-loading washing machine, as top loaders tend to be a bit too abrasive
- Close all zips before washing, so that the teeth will be spared and last a bit longer
- Turn the garment inside out before washing to reduce pilling
- Select a gentle cycle if possible
- Use a mild detergent
- Do not use fabric softener so that your garment will stay fluffy!
- Wash your garment at a very low temperature
- Try not to subject your precious fleece to a high spin speed
There are just as many different fleece fabrics, water and wind resistant treatments and combinations thereof as there are washing tips. Fore this reason, it is extremely important to read the care instructions.
But, the following tips are all quite general, so you can apply them to any fleece garment. After all, you probably don’t carry around all of the ripped-off labels indicating how to wash your fleece on your trips, right?
There is a variety of smudges and greases stains you can collect over the course of a trip. You have to act fast, though:
- Blot the stained area with plenty of water
- Then rub in (thoroughly) some washing-up liquid
- Then wash the garment in warm water using mild detergent
Other than that, there are some more useful tips and tricks on the topic of treating stains here. But, be careful: they’re only suggestions and do not necessarily apply to your particular fleece garment! If you’re unsure, it’s best to just contact the manufacturer of the garment.
In order to minimise the environmental impact and to save energy, we recommend line drying your garment instead of using a not-so energy-efficient washing machine:
- It’s best to line dry your garment whilst it’s still damp
- Just let it dry in a well-ventilated place
- If possible, do not tumble dry or dry it on a radiator
The clothesline is an absolute classic: it’s simple, convenient and effective. You’re bound to have rope or cord in your pack, so with that and your tent and trekking poles, you can build a makeshift clothesline for your fleeces in no time.
What do you have to do to get the most out of your fleece?
Well, to be honest, not much. Fleece is generally very resistant and thus perfect as an outdoor garment. If you consider the abovementioned suggestions, take the necessary precautions when washing and drying the fleece and keep it away from direct heat sources, you and your fleece will enjoy a long and happy life together!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.
There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 15/12/2015.