For backpacking, a person’s “go-to” layer tends to various forms of lightweight puffies with an ~3oz down-filled puffy the standard for three-season backpacking.
However, in earlier times, a 200 wt fleece filled a similar role. Warm, durable, and inexpensive. But also bulky and heavy compared to other options.
Many people, myself included, find their typical use of fleece is a light 100 wt version that fills different niches for backpacking, ski tours, or similar activities.
But I think for a general outdoors use, a 200 wt fleece still fills an important niche.
They are inexpensive, comfortable, durable, and still work well in varied conditions beyond backpacking.
Back in 2010, I purchased a generic $25 fleece that turns out is made by a uniform company. It is not Polartec, but it does not matter: It works.
And I’ve been using it in all four seasons quite often this past decade for many trips. It is what I wear instead of my more fragile puffy jackets for cool to moderately cold conditions when camping, it layers over my 100 wt fleece easily, and fits under my beater down coat efficiently, too. For unusually cold ski tours, the 200 wt fleece breathes very well, also.
Additionally, it is a garment perfect for throwing on traveling to the trailhead when I don’t want to dig out my puffy, and I keep it stashed in the car to change into post-trip. And it looks more discrete than a shiny hipster puffy, too. The small rural towns where you find yourself in on the way to and from trips don’t seem to enjoy the “puffy convention” look as much. 😉
For quick camping trips before or in between backpacking jaunts, the simple fleece jacket serves a similar function. And when the weekend means hikes based out of camps, I prefer this fleece to a down puffy when back in camp in the evening. Again, a fleece is nearly indestructible and much easier to clean to boot, too. In the ample pockets, I always have stashed my a light fleece hat and my wool liner gloves.
I think this type of garment makes an excellent long term purchase that will last a long time, find many uses, and is not expensive.
You can purchase the latest shiny thing for your outdoor trips and travels. Or you can buy something you’ll have and use for many years to come.
Where to get? Your local thrift store probably has one for sub-$15. Or pick one up for $25 or less even in 2020. Fleece is a commodity item. You don’t need to get an expensive one. Again, mine came from a uniform company, and I still wear it almost every weekend. And will for a while to come.