Technically speaking a mid-weight fleece is an upper body garment with a Polartec rating of 200g (or the equivalent in a different fabric). They are intended to be worn as either a mid layer under a shell, or as a top layer for activities in cool conditions.
The fit of a mid-weight fleece should be snug enough hang off you, but big enough for you to have a full range of movement without it lifting up.
The anatomy of a fleece is fairly easy to grasp, in simple terms fleece fabric is composed of plastic fibres which act as an insulator by trapping air, this air then warms up and keeps you nice and cosy.
Because fleece is made out of plastic it is possible to create it using recycled materials, so if your environmentally minded, you will be pleased to know that many brands now offer fleeces made out of no less than 50% recycled material.
Polartec Vs other fabrics
There was a time when practically all fleeces were made using Polartec fabric, nowadays we are seeing more and more manufacturers using different brands of fleece material. Obviously Polartec has been tried and tested and is the trusted material of so many major manufacturers, but the new fleece fabrics on the market are able to do pretty much the same as the Polartec equivalent.
Cheap Vs Expensive
Essentially a fleece is a fleece right? So why pay £100 when you can pick one up at the supermarket for a tenner? It all depends on what you want from your fleece, a cheap fleece will keep you warm, but it wont have the breathablility and moisture wicking properties of a more expensive top of the range product. You will also find that the fleeces sold down the market will loose their appealing softness after the first few washes, and you the fabric will start to ball up and look nasty.
A good understanding of how you should layer your garments is invaluable and will allow you to keep warm and dry. The three layering system is, at its simplest form – base layer, mid layer, shell. So this could be: technical wicking base layer, mid-layer fleece, waterproof jacket. It is important that the materials you wear are up to the job you give them, all of your clothes should be breathable to reduce sweat build ups, and they should also have good wicking properties to get moisture away from the body. The 3 layering system works as a conveyor belt would at transporting moisture away from the body – moisture wicks from the base layer to the mid layer and then to the shell.
One of the most important factors with any item of clothing will be it's weight, and a fleece is no exception to this. We all want something that offers great performance, but if it's too heavy too carry then you can forget it, just because a sheet of metal is wind proof you wouldn't want to take it up a mountain would you?
Whether your a space saving hiker or not it's good to have a fleece that packs down as small as possible and allows room in your pack for other more important items.
It is important that when buying a fleece you try it on for size, as I have found out, manufacturers sizing varies. The right mid-weight fleece fro you will be big enough to allow for free movement without lifting up.