Solid (Standard) Fleece vs Grid Fleece

A 100 wt fleece is my go-to layer in all four seasons.

The versatility, durability, breathability,  price, and functionality of this humble piece of clothing make it a crucial part of my kit.  For $20 or less, I have a light and trail proven product that I can’t fathom being outdoors without.

On the way to the 10th Mtn Division Hut. December 2017. PCO Anton S.

There are other products gaining traction that seem to peform better than the basic fleece pullover in some ways.  But at a much higher cost. And I question the long-term durability versus my humble fleece pullover I’ve bushwhacked, ski toured, scrambled, and did rough camping with over many seasons, miles, and nights in the backcountry.

In Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona.

So, yes, I am an advocate of the basic fleece pullover as a standard part of my kit.

Now that I’ve praised the fleece pullover, the astute reader may notice there are two different types of fleece.  These two types? Solid (standard) fleece and Grid fleece.

What are the differences between solid and grid fleece?

 

The solid (standard) fleece is found in almost every discount store, thrift store, and most outdoor stores. You know the type: fuzzy, fluffy,  and comfy.  The modern equivalent of everyone’s favorite sweater.

A solid fleece breathes reasonably well, is moderately wind resistant, dries quickly, is durable, and warm for its weight compared to a traditional sweater or sweatshirt. I wear my fleece pullover on the larger side, so it ventilates well.

At the Utah / Colorado border near Gateway, CO on the completion of my Walk Across Southern Utah.

A grid fleece is somewhat newer versus the standard fleece. A grid pattern with elastane stitching is woven into the fabric. The breathability is better than the standard or solid fleece and that is the main selling point.   The grid fleece does not dry as well versus the solid fleece due to the elastane stitching, does not block the wind as well, and is not quite as warm for its weight. The grid fleece, however, is a superior layer when worn under a shell due to its breathability versus standard fleece.  As with any base-type layer, grid fleece works better when the layer is more form fitting.

Grid Fleece pullover from Walmart

The price of grid fleece is very comparable to standard fleece at this point. Discount stores sell grid fleece for a reasonable price. And ECWCS pullovers for the military are made of high-quality Polartec fleece and are sold at a competitive price.  I have made good use of the Gen 3 Level II grid layers found inexpensively on eBay when winter backpacking.

So which layer to wear?

 

I think a solid or standard fleece is a more versatile layer overall. It can be worn as a light jacket by itself very easily.  And the standard or solid fleece seems to do better in the wind and drizzly conditions.  Size the fleece up a bit for maximum ventilation, and the versatility is enhanced.

However, if you tend to wear a fleece as a base-layer or as a mid-layer under a shell, the grid fleece is going to work better for your needs due to its breathability.

In Summary

 

Wear grid fleece if breathability is the focus; standard or solid fleece if a more well-rounded layer is needed.

I tend to wear my fleece as a light jacket when moving, so the solid fleece works better for my needs. For the rare very extreme cold weather when moving, the military grid fleece layers work well under my other layers. And it works well at night or in camp under my wind layers.

In the end, it does not matter all that much, really, however. 🙂  Wear what is most comfortable for you, what is available, and your aesthetic preference.

Share

One Reply to “Solid (Standard) Fleece vs Grid Fleece”

  1. I shudder to think what would happen if I were to wear both.

    The grid fleece has been very comfortable during our recent arctic weather.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe without commenting