Whether worn as an outer layer for warmth without restriction, or as a mid-layer for added insulation during the winter months, a good fleece gilet can make all the difference.
However, with so many available these days the choice can be overwhelming. To help you find your perfect fit, here are our top tips on what to look for when shopping for a fleece gilet.
At a glance, the classic fleece-and-trim design can make it hard to tell one gilet from another. This gilet buying guide is here to explain the features & materials which make the difference between a gilet you’ll like, and one you’ll love.
A low-cost gilet will likely offer simple unlined polyester fleece and a synthetic trim. The zip may also not be backed, allowing heat to escape and cold wind to force its way through. That’s not to say lower-cost gilets aren’t feasible; if you’re on a tight budget, or if you expect to replace it in short order (such as for fast-growing teens), they can be a great option.
As the the price tag goes up you’ll find more advanced materials on offer. In return for your investment, these fleeces will prove more efficient or lighter-weight insulation, or an array of other specialities. Some (such as Polartec) even offer water-resistance so getting caught in a shower won’t leave you cold & sodden. You also start to see backed zips, windproof body linings, and more hard-wearing trims which ensure a long-lasting finish.
If your gilet is poorly fitted, draughts will remove the benefit for even great insulation. Your own size & body type will inevitably come into play here, as will personal preference for tailored vs. regular fits, collar size & shape, etc, but one fantastic feature that is worth looking for is an adjustable hem. This allows you to draw the bottom of the gilet at the waist in for a close, draught-free fit.
While not an essential, a two-way zip can also be a great feature. Unzipping the bottom centimetre or two can help the gilet fit more comfortably, particularly when sitting down.
Gilet pockets are usually a fairly standard affair; two front pockets are almost a given, with the choice of open vs zipped mostly a matter of personal preference. An internal chest pocket is also a common feature, and a particularly useful one if you have open front pockets. If maximum pocket space is of particular value to you, perhaps consider a shooting waistcoat.