These are my first impressions of a fleece I received for review from Go Outdoors. A full review will follow when I’ve had a chance to use it over the coming months.
To me a fleece is a basic standard piece of clothing for any walking activity (or other outdoor activity such as bird watching, etc). When walking I layer up in: base layer — fleece top or jacket — windshirt or waterproof. I’ll use a micro-fleece in the warmer months and a midweight fleece when there is a nip in the air.
I’m not a big shopper and my current thicker fleece is now about 8 years old and looking a bit worn. Actually, now that I look at it, I see it’s worn so thin, it’s barely warmer than an auld semmmit!
So when I was offered this Berghaus Women’s Activity Jacket IA (Midweight fleece) to try I said yes! Just in time for our winter.
The technical blurb says this fleece jacket is constructed from recycled Polartec Thermal Pro 200.
All I really want from a mid-weight fleece is to be kept warm, and dry from the point of view of any sweat being wicked away. So how did this Berghaus mid-weight fleece suit me?
The jacket is big! Bigger than I’d normally choose. I’d not used Berghaus clothing before so I measured myself and followed the size chart on the website to order the correct size. When this arrived it swamped me. The sleeves were half covering my hands, the back was longer than my waterproof shell jacket and the chest was loose. It sort of fitted (with room to spare) across the bust, but then it gaped out in front over my ribs – not the best fit for trapping warm air on my torso. In fact it felt like a man’s fit (I’ve been walking long enough to remember when you could not buy women’s outdoors clothing and simply had to go for Men’s Small). I returned it and chose a size smaller, but still it’s an ‘roomy’ fit for me. Again is is longer than my previous fleece jacket, but at least it is just shorter than my shell jacket. Now some people may wish a jacket that covers their bum (and indeed I came across one reviewer who noted this as a positive), but I prefer a shorter jacket with a more ‘fitted’ fit. This women’s size 12 fits my son who takes a Men’s Small.
The cuffs on this jackets don’t have any fastenings, however there are quite close fitting, while still being stretchy enough to allow for the sleeves to be pushed up on those days when I overheat slogging uphill.
There are two zipped hand-warmer pockets that are accessible below the level of the waist band on my daysack, but would not be accessible with the hipbelt on my backpacking rucksack.
The zipped collar is a good fit – it can be zipped up fully when there is a cold wind, without feeling like I’m being strangled (on other jackets this has been a problem).
As to be expected the jacket is quite big and bulky, but as mentioned I tend to just use this in the colder months. Apart from the odd unseasonally-warm spring days, I’ll be wearing it most of the day, or if removed I I’ll manage to stuff it in my larger winter daypack.
The IA (InterActive) part of the name simply means it can be zipped into a Berghaus shell. There are wee elastic thingies on the sleeves to fasten the sleeves and I presume the zips are compatible. I don’t have a Berghaus shell to test this. I’ve never understood the desire to zip fleece and shell together anyway.
I’ve used this fleece now for several short walks and it makes a fine casual jacket. I’ve used on it’s own it over a thermal base layer; with a windshirt on top; and occasionally with a waterproof shell on top. It’s certainly warm enough for our winter, and in fact was almost too warm when the temperature was not much under 10°C in this unseasonally mild spell we’re having.
So far, apart from the ‘casual’ fit, the only negative to me, is the colour. Or lack of colour! I wouldn’t normally choose black for a jacket.
This fleece jacket is currently available at GO Outdoors for £67.50. I acknowledge that there are cheaper basic fleece jackets available. In fact you can buy basic fleece jackets just about anywhere on the high street, but I know not all fleece jackets are equal. There are differences in terms of fit, useful features, wear and price. I have been supplied with enough value brands as part of work uniforms over the years to recognise good and poor fit and how well they stand up to constant wear. (I seem to have been inflicted with poor-weather since starting working in the environmental/tourism field, and therefore wear these jackets almost every day.)
I recognise that some people would rather spend less, on the understanding that they may be replacing their fleeces more often. I prefer to buy quality stuff and hang on to it.
This jacket is one of many women’s fleeces and mid-layers available at GO Outdoors
A similar range for you guys can be found here.
The whole Berghaus range at GO Outdoors is here. (Why so much black Berghaus?)