Fleece material refers to either the woolen fleece of sheep and similar animals, or to the modern day man-made fleece material that has largely replaced its woolen predecessor.
Originally, fleece is the mat of wool formed by shearing a sheep in a continuous operation. The average fleece weighs from 5 to 10 lb (2.3-4.5 kg); in highbred wool sheep such as the American Merinos a ram's fleece may reach 30 lb (13.6 kg). The weight lost in cleansing fleece of grease before sorting the wool is called shrinkage.
Traditionally, insulation underneath the top layers of clothing came from wool. While wool has many features to commend it, this type of fleece has largely been superseded by its modern day counterpart, manmade "fleece".
fleece is a polyester velour material that creates air pockets, thus trapping air and retaining body heat. There is currently a wide range of fleece materials available. Note that while you may obtain fleece material at real bargain prices, remember that you do get what you pay for. Less expensive fleece materials do not retain their insulating qualities and non-pilling appearance after repeated use and laundering. Furthermore, they start off with less insulating properties for their bulk.
Fleece materials are available in a range of weights to provide the right level of insulation for your outdoor activity. Generally, they are graded as 100, 200 or 300 weights in order of thickness and insulating ability. Fleece material products are now also available with a water and wind-repellent surface that sheds rain and snow, making fleece material appropriate for use as an outer shell layer in some conditions.
Advantages of fleece material:
** Provides warmth without the weight and bulk of traditional insulating fabrics
** Very breathable to provide comfort in all activities
** Dries quickly to minimize heat loss
** Machine washable
** Versatile; appropriate for a broad range of activities
** Available in light, medium, and heavy weight constructions to provide a choice of insulation level