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The flexibility of a fleece top is not to be under-estimated. It really can be all things to all people. But, as thoughts turn to spring and getting out under canvas for the first time in 2018, it can be a potentially chilly prospect.

Spring is the perfect time for a quick round-up of some of the various kinds of fleece that are out there. Indeed, you’ll find a mix of end-of-line bargains as well as swanky new stuff at this time of the year. They’re definitely more likely to be worn as mid-layers as the camping season gets under way, under a warm and fully waterproof jacket. And there’s no reason a fleece shouldn’t look good, too.

SNUGPAK IMPACT FLEECE SHIRT £24.95www.snugpak.com Is this really a shirt? Definitely a mid-layer – rather than an out-and-out fleece top, if you get that drift. Whatever, it’s definitely great value. You get a double-sided brushed fleece fabric that’s treated for anti-pilling on both sides as well as promising breathability and moisture-wicking properties.Colours are Pebble Grey or Black. Typical weight is 360g (for a Medium). Sizes range from XS to XXL. Feel free to match it to Snugpak’s Contact Beanie Hat (£9.95).Key features Unisex, anti-pilling finish, half-length zip, high collar, chin protector, branded zip pulls, machine washable (30deg)

REGATTA MONS III £40www.regatta.com Representing the slightest of steps up from the currently popular Mons II range. Regatta keeps it all straightforward in this full-length zipped model. The 140gsm microfleece material is a stylish ministripe design, in a choice of colours (men's – Pepper/Seal Grey, Light Grey/Seal Grey, Lime Green/Seal Grey Reflective, Oxford Blue/Seal Grey; Women's – Light Steel/Light Steel, Paisley Purple/Ultra Purple, Horizon/Horizon, Flamingo Pink/Bright Blush), with stretch binding to the collar, cuffs and hem to keep things in shape, plus stretch panels to the sides and underarm areas, to allow for restriction-free movement.Key features Men’s and women’s styles, 100% polyester main fabric, 90%/10% polyester/Elastane panels, two zipped pockets, elasticated hem and cuffs

CRAGHOPPERS SELBY/SELINE £45www.craghoppers.co.uk Men’s, women’s. Full- (aka Interactive) or half zip. Huge range of colours. A constant best-seller. Craghoppers has things covered with the Selby (for men) and Seline (women) line-up. Latest news is the microfleece fabric now incorporates recycled materials from the plastic bottles that are in the news for the damage they’re causing to our planet. Featured here is the male half-zip variant (typically, it’s some £10 less than the full-zip variant). Microfleece is a fabric that’s as soft and light as wool, with hydrophobic fibres that will retain less than 1% of their weight in water, also maintaining breathability – ideal for cooler as well as warmer conditions.Key features Recycled polyester microfleece, lifetime guarantee



MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE IDRIS £49.99www.mountainwarehouse.com Keenly priced, but offering everything you’d want in a soft-touch, lightweight, easy-packing, quick drying, breathable half-zip top. It boasts a knitted effect finish, too. It’s also available in full-zip format, with the Idris name also going over to women, with cowl neck and half- and full-zip offerings. All that’s missing are pockets. At the time of writing, this men’s Idris was on a special promotion at £24.99, with available sizes from S to XXXL. There’s no guarantee that price won’t have gone back up, but whatever – it’s a bargain.Key features Microfleece fabric, anti-pill, zip-up collar, machine wash (40deg)

COLUMBIA TITAN PASS 1.0 £50www.columbiasportswear.co.uk From Columbia’s Titanium collection – and featuring the company’s best in terms of fabrics and features – this is just the sort of fleece to have handy as we usher out winter and look forward to balmier spring weather. It uses Polartec 100 synthetic stretch fabric, the lightest it produces. with a half-zip. There’s just the one pocket – on the upper left arm. Sizes are S to XXL, with four colours. The identical specification women’s equivalent is the Titan Pass II 1.0.Key features Polartec Microfleece 100 shell, Tactel nylon taffeta trim, single zipped pocket, machine washable (40deg), pill resistant

DIDRIKSONS CIMI £60www.didriksons.com Nice and snuggly, is the description here. And who are we to argue? This is a polyester knitted top with a soft brushed lining, using ThermalSystem fabric that Didriksons claims is 100% wind- and waterproof – so it really can be considered as an outer garment as well as a mid-layer to be worn under a coat. Sizes are 34-44, with the Dark Aqua Green here one of four colours. Male equivalent is the Carlo. Didriksons is a member of SIWI (Stockholm International Water Institute) in its home country of Sweden (more at www.swedishwaterhouse.se).Key features Four-way stretch fabric, flatlock seams, two zipped side pockets, fixed hood, chin guard

SPRAYWAY MANX £65www.sprayway.com Classic, but a bit different. That’s how Sprayway explains this zoned fleece hoodie, with its knitted style main sections and more traditional fleece panelling (it’s quicker drying than the 200 knitted material). Perfect for layering, there’s just the one colour choice – Blazer – with the detailing of red zip tags. For a Medium size, back length is 70cm, weight is 381g. Maya is the women’s equivalent. Sprayway is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (see www.fairwear.org).Key features 200 weight knitted style, 100 weight fleece panelling, Elastane-bound hood, two zipped pockets, two internal stash pockets, drawcord adjustable hem, machine washable (to 30deg)

FJALLRAVEN OVIK £130www.fjallraven.com An instant favourite here at Camping Towers, thanks to its knitted effect main fabric as well as details such as the drawstring hood, protective zip flap, elasticated cuffs and drawcord adjustable hem. With a knitted exterior and soft-brushed inside, the recycled polyester fabric is produced using the SpinDye process – fibres are spun and dyed simultaneously, so a lot less energy and water are needed. In addition, key areas are reinforced by Fjällräven’s G-1000 fabric. Men’s and women’s versions are available. Typical weight is 540g for a Medium.Key features SpinDye recycled polyester fabric, two zipped hand pockets with mesh lining, fixed hood

HAGLOFS HERON HOOD £90www.haglofs.com In men’s and women’s versions (four colour choices each), also with a single-layer hood (as here) or without (for some £20 less), and ideal for anything from everyday wear up to mountaineering. Four-way stretch fabric (it’s 8% Elastane) means minimal restriction when you’re active, but it’s also fast-wicking, so there shouldn’t be any build-up of sweat. Flatlock seams are also offset away from, for example, the shoulders, so there’s no chance of chafing, for example when you’re carrying a backpack. Typical weight is 400g (Large).Key features Ponterto Tecnostretch Bluesign-approved fabric, flatlock seams, chin guard, two zipped pockets, machine washable (40deg)

MUSTO TIDAL POLARTEC £150www.musto.com Polartec is a Big Name, widely credited with inventing modern synthetic fleece back in 1981, since when it has blossomed out to an extensive range of fabrics to suit all camping occasions. As well as top quality here, you get superior features such as flatlock seams (you’ll barely notice them, and you won’t get any unwanted rubbing). Ideal for wearing when temperatures start to lift post-winter, this will also protect in light rain.Key features Men’s and women’s versions, flatlock seams, two hand pockets, zip guard, auto-locking zip, stretch binding to hem and cuffs, funnel neck

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