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What Is the Difference Between Fleece and Polar Fleece?

What Is the Difference Between Fleece and Polar Fleece?

When it comes to cozy warmth and comfort, fleece is a material that often comes to mind. But did you know that there are different types of fleece?

Two popular variants are fleece and polar fleece. At first look, they may appear similar, but there are important differences between them. Whether you're shopping for blankets, clothing, or outdoor gear, understanding these distinctions can help you make informed choices that suit your needs perfectly, especially when navigating through baleaf's All Fleece-Lined collection.

Understanding Fleece

Fleece, in its broadest sense, refers to a soft, insulating fabric typically made from synthetic fibers like polyester. It's known for its warmth-to-weight ratio, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties, making it a popular choice for sportswear, outdoor gear, and cold-weather clothing.

The history of fleece dates back to the late 1970s when Malden Mills, now known as Polartec, introduced the first synthetic fleece fabric. This innovation revolutionized the outdoor clothing industry by providing an alternative to wool, which was the traditional choice for warmth but lacked some of the performance qualities of fleece.

Fleece boasts a range of impressive features, making it a go-to fabric for comfort and practicality. Its incredible softness ensures it feels comfortable against the skin while its excellent insulation keeps you warm without adding extra weight.

Fleece is also highly breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape and keeping you dry during activities. One of its standout qualities is its quick-drying nature, unlike natural fibers that take longer to dry. Additionally, fleece is remarkably durable, maintaining its shape and integrity even after numerous washes. Its versatility is evident in its wide use across various products, from cozy jackets and leggings to warm blankets, making it a staple in many wardrobes and households.

What Is the Difference Between Fleece and Polar Fleece?

Types of Fleece

Over time, fleece has evolved into various types to cater to different needs.

Fleece comes in various types, each with unique characteristics tailored to specific needs.

Microfleece stands out for being very lightweight and soft, making it perfect for base layers and lightweight garments.

Polar fleece, on the other hand, is thicker and warmer, designed to provide excellent insulation in colder conditions.

Berber fleece is easily recognized by its textured appearance, which resembles sheep's wool, offering a distinct look and feel.

Lastly, Sherpa fleece boasts a fluffy texture similar to sheep's fleece, commonly used in blankets and outerwear linings for its plush comfort and warmth.

Polar Fleece

Polar fleece is a specific type of fleece that is thicker and more insulating than traditional fleece. It was developed in the 1980s by Malden Mills as a way to enhance the warmth and comfort of fleece fabric. The name "polar fleece" emphasizes its suitability for colder climates and outdoor activities where staying warm is crucial.

Polar fleece offers a variety of standout features that make it a top choice for cold-weather gear. Its thickness surpasses that of regular fleece, providing enhanced warmth that’s perfect for winter wear.

Alongside its impressive insulation properties, it ensures you stay cozy even in the chilliest conditions. Despite its thickness, polar fleece retains the signature softness of traditional fleece, making it comfortable to wear. Its versatility shines through in its wide range of uses, from jackets and vests to blankets and various cold-weather accessories, making it a reliable staple for braving the cold.

Key Differences Between Fleece and Polar Fleece

Despite being the same fabric that delivers warmth, fleece and polar fleece differ a whole lot.

Warmth and Thickness

Fleece is generally thinner and lighter, making it suitable for mild to cool temperatures, providing comfort without adding bulk. In contrast, polar fleece is thicker and more insulating, specifically designed to keep you warm in colder climates and during winter wear.


Fleece is used across a wide range of products from lightweight jackets to blankets and athletic wear, while polar fleece is primarily reserved for applications where extra warmth is needed, such as jackets, vests, and winter accessories.


Fleece offers good warmth and moisture-wicking properties, making it suitable for active use and keeping you comfortable during various activities. In contrast, polar fleece provides superior insulation and warmth retention, making it ideal for extreme cold and outdoor activities where maintaining body heat is essential.


Fleece can vary in thickness and texture but is generally lightweight and smooth, making it a versatile fabric suitable for various applications. In contrast, polar fleece is thicker with a plushier texture due to its denser construction, providing enhanced warmth and comfort for colder conditions.

What Is the Difference Between Fleece and Polar Fleece?

Choosing Between Fleece and Polar Fleece

When deciding between fleece and polar fleece, consider the following factors:

Climate, Activity Level, and Preference

If you live in a colder climate or need extra warmth, polar fleece is the better choice, offering superior insulation to keep you cozy. For highly active pursuits where breathability is crucial, standard fleece may be preferred as it provides good warmth without compromising on ventilation.

Additionally, personal preference plays a role as some individuals might favor the thinner feel of fleece over the thicker, plush texture of polar fleece, allowing for more flexibility and comfort based on individual needs and activities.

Care and Maintenance

Both fleece and polar fleece are convenient to care for, making them popular choices for everyday wear and outdoor gear. You can easily maintain their softness and shape by machine washing them in cold or warm water.

When it comes to drying, simply tumble dry on low heat to preserve their fabric integrity and ensure they remain comfortable to wear. It's important to avoid high heat settings to prevent any risk of melting or damaging the fabric, ensuring your fleece garments retain their quality and durability over time.

Warm and Comfy In Fleece

While fleece and polar fleece share similarities in terms of softness and comfort, they cater to different needs based on thickness, warmth, and intended use.

Fleece, with its versatility and lightweight nature, is suitable for a wide range of temperatures and activities. On the other hand, polar fleece excels in colder climates and winter conditions, providing superior insulation and warmth.

Whether you're gearing up for a winter adventure or cozying up at home, understanding these differences empowers you to choose the right fabric for your comfort and warmth needs. So whether you go for the thinner fleece or the thicker, warmer polar fleece, you can rest assured that both fabrics offer the cozy comfort and functionality that fleece enthusiasts have come to love.

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