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Fleece jackets are easily the most used piece of apparel in our kid’s wardrobe. They use them daily in the chilly spring and fall weather, are always taken on summer camping trips and hikes in the mountains, and the kids live in them to keep them cozy under their ski coats in the winter.
Fleece jackets for kids are super versatile and every kid needs at least one in their wardrobe.
What We Love About Fleece For Kids
Fleece is one of my favorite fabrics as a mom, because it has so many qualities of high end fabrics (like merino wool), but with a budget price tag. You can find a kids fleece jacket for prices as low as $25, and they’re perfect for layering with kids base layers or under a ski coat. They can easily be a stand alone midlayer, or worn over a lighter ski mid-layer on a cold day.
Here are some of the best features of fleece jackets for kids:
- Fleece jackets trap body heat and help sustain warmth
- They repel water (they only absorb 1% of the materials weight)
- Fleece stays warm even when wet
- Fleece is very durable and is less prone to getting holes from wear
- Super affordable
Disadvantages of fleece coats for kids
The biggest disadvantage to fleece for kids is that it has a tendency to pill (get little small balls), over time. We find that poorly made fleece jackets or cheap fleece jackets are especially prone to this, and higher quality coats for kids are not.
Because fleece repels water, it can also be a little tricky to clean, so don’t go too long between washings, or you’ll get a bit of a FUNK! That being said, we rarely wash our kids fleece coats more than once a month and rarely have any odor issues.
It’s also good to be aware that since fleece is a synthetic fiber, it can melt, as one of our kids learned when a spark from the fire landed on their jacket, and melted a little hole in it!
Best Fleece Jacket Features For Kids
Not all fleece jackets are created equally. In fact, we’ve owned a lot of fleece coats for children that we end up donating after a month or two because the quality isn’t great.
Here are the top things to consider when getting a fleece jacket for kids
- Thickness. Some kids fleece is thick and keeps kids really toasty, while other fleece jackets are pretty lightweight. Think about where you’ll be wearing it before deciding which is best for your kids. In our family, each kid has 2 fleece jackets – one that’s lightweight for warm weather or layering in the winter, and another that’s thicker and can be worn on those cold bike rides to school in the morning.
- Outer Material: It used to be that all fleece jackets were just FLEECE. Now, there are plenty of kids’ fleece coats that have a fleece lining and a brushed or knit outer. These can be a great option for different situations, like when you want the warmth and functionality of a fleece, but you want a sleeker look. We’re sharing some of our favorite fleece lined jackets for kids below.
- Zipper: Some fleece jackets just have a 1/4 zipper while others fully open. If you’re getting a fleece for layering, we typically prefer the 1/4 zip, but the full zipper jackets are fantastic for wearing at other times.
Best Kids Fleece Jackets
As I mentioned, our family has gone through A LOT of fleece jackets (and with kids from 5-15, we’ve used A LOT). All of the jackets we’re sharing here are ones that we’ve used and love so much that we’d buy them again in a heartbeat.
Warmest Kids Fleece Jacket, Best Budget Kids Fleece Coat
Columbia Kids Jacket
We have owned MANY of these kids’ fleece jackets and the quality is fantastic. They are pretty basic but are hands down my favorite for kids. They are a thicker fleece and do an amazing job of keeping kids warm. We have one that’s been through 3 kids and lots of use and still not pilling, so I’d say that the quality is fantastic.
This is a jacket that keeps our kids warm when they’re out playing below freezing, and you can get a great deal on this children’s fleece jacket. The only downside to this jacket is that because it’s a little thicker, it doesn’t pack down as well, so it takes up more room in the kids backpacks.
The girls version of this coat is the Columbia Benton Springs Fleece and the boys Columbia Steen Mountain II – they are both almost identical, but with a few differences in the cut for boys and girls.
We’ve been wearing these fleece jackets for about 2 years and each of our 5 kids has one. This is not a traditional fleece because it has a textured fleece lining, but the outside is nice and smooth. What that means is that while it performs like a high quality fleece coat, it looks nicer than most childrens fleece coats. The outside of this jacket is smooth, and cleans up with water really easily (so mom can wipe the mud off before you go somewhere nicer). Our kids always wear this jacket when they want to be warm, but still look nice (ahem, when mom and dad say they need to look nicer).
The kids favorite feature is that they stretch so they’re the perfect piece for more active adventures. These also are pretty compact while still being on the warmer side (one of the warmest kids jackets we own). When we have extra cold ski days, these are the fleece coats that our kids wear under their puffy (we always layer the kids in a base layer, puffy and shell for skiing, and then add this fleece jacket on really cold days).
This is another nontraditional kids fleece because it has a knitted outer layer and a fleece lining. Our 9-year-old absolutely ADORES this jacket and mom loves that it looks great and a bit more stylish than how we typically dress (ahem, hiking pants and T-shirts).
Our son is SUPER hard on his clothes and I can honestly say that after 9 months of wear, this jacket still looks LIKE NEW! We’ll very easily be able to pass this down to his two younger brothers and I have no doubt that it will hold up wonderfully!
This jacket is made by Reima, and we love all the pieces that they make for kids. Their goal is to design kids clothing made for PLAY, so their kids clothing is extra durable and designed to help kids stay outside longer. This knit fleece hoodie is no exception and one we highly recommend.
This toddler fleece jacket is worn on repeat over here. Our youngest LOVES the fleece dino lining and we love that it’s easy for him to put on and EXTRA WARM. This toddler fleece jacket is a hybrid of a kids puffy jacket (outer quilted puffy material) and a fleece jacket (warm fleece lining). While this is technically a reversible jacket for toddlers, our son always wears the fleece side in because it’s SO COZY.
This jacket is super warm, so it’s more of an independent jacket, not great for layering in winter, but perfect for 3-season use!
This is the absolute perfect layering fleece jacket for boys. Our 15 year old absolutely loves this jacket and wears it with everything. In winter, it’s worn all the time on really cold days, as an extra layer, and is light enough that he can wear it all day when the school is extra chilly. This isn’t a super thick kids fleece jacket, but it does do a decent job of adding extra warmth. If you’re looking for a lightweight fleece jacket for boys that’s good for warmer conditions or layering in the cold, this is our top recommendation.
This is our favorite lightweight fleece jacket for girls. The color blocking adds some style, but true to Patagonia’s reputation, the quality is exceptional. We’ve had this for the last 3 seasons and still have no signs of pilling, which is fantastic. This is a great fleece jacket for warmer days, or when you need something packable to bring along just in case the weather turns bad (it rolls up nice and small). Best of all, this girl’s microfleece jacket is SUPER SOFT! It’s the kind of jacket that you want to put on in the morning and not take off until bedtime.
This thin kids fleece jacket is fantastic for layering for long ski days and is a really good fit. Our tween daughter loves that it’s semi-fitted without being tight, so she can feel feminine, but not have her coat too form-fitting.