From backpacking to backcountry skiing, this merino light wool fleece offers up a hard-to-find mix of comfort, technical performance, sustainability, and style.
There’s nothing I hate more than hiking halfway up a mountain on a cold morning just to find my fleece soaked through with sweat, chilling me to the bone. You shouldn’t have to carry a spare fleece in the backcountry and your gear shouldn’t be a liability.
That’s why I’ve been relying on the Ortovox Fleece Light Jacket. From backpacking to backcountry skiing, this merino light wool fleece is ultra-breathable and ultralight. It keeps me warm and dry, and it is the only midlayer you will need.
Ortovox’s minimalist construction and high-quality materials make it like a second skin that keeps me warm in the backcountry without overheating. It has everything you need in a midlayer and nothing that you don’t.
Ortovox also takes an active role in sustainability by being part of the Sustainability Action Plan 2024 and working to offset carbon output.
The Fleece Light Jacket is one part of the Ortovox gear ecosystem that includes jackets, bib pants, and even avabags. We tested the Fleece Light Jacket out in the backcountry of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains this fall to see how it stands up
In short: Made with sustainable and responsible wool from Tasmania, the Merino Fleece Light Jacket is an ideal all-around fleece for a range of activities. With the Ortovox Wool Promise, you are guaranteed to protect animals, nature, and people with this fleece as well as your skin.
Ortovox Fleece Light Jacket Review
Ortovox Fleece Light Jacket Specs
- Weight: 318 g/11.21 oz.
- Materials: Merino wool
- Pockets: Two front pockets, one upper arm pocket
- Thumb loops
- Ergonomic cut
- Protective collar
Versatility in Mountain Climes
Founded in 1980 south of Munich, Germany, Ortovox has roots in backcountry skiing gear such as avalanche transceivers. The brand is still somewhat under the radar in the U.S. compared to brands such as Patagonia and The North Face.
From testing the jacket hiking on West Maroon Pass near Aspen to the Eagle River outside of Beaver Creek, Colo., the fleece has been a mainstay in my pack and on my back. It proved easy to layer with, and worked great on its own as a light jacket.
After 12 miles and nearly 3,000 vertical feet of hard hiking near Aspen, I wore the fleece comfortably all day. The Fleece Light Jacket performed through a freezing cold morning and continued to do so after the sun came up, raising temperatures at high elevations with no cover.
While similar to a Patagonia R2 layer, the Ortovox is more compact and breathes better making for an easy choice when packing for the next backcountry adventure.
As seen in the name, this fleece is very lightweight. The entire jacket weighs less than a can of beer and fits easily in any pack. Ortovox optimizes this fleece for packs, which means it compresses and fits nicely in the body of a pack or an outside pocket for easy access.
Inside, the fleece feels soft and comfortable thanks to the polyester and virgin wool lining blend.
While it kept me warm hiking through Colorado’s high country this fall, it also breathed nicely and kept me toasty and dry. The thin fleece almost acts like a second skin moving with me as I hiked. The material stretched with me and never inhibited movement.
Normally I wear an XL, and while this was a perfect fit length-wise, the XL felt a bit tight. Make sure to check out Ortovox sizing and consider sizing up to ensure that the regular fit works.
The sleeves have thumb holes, which is great when layering the fleece into a backcountry outfit, and it has two hand pockets for storage or to keep your hands warm.
And not for nothing, this fleece looks really sharp. It stands out during après at the slopes, considering how sleek and style-forward it is. It comes in five distinct colors, and the tonal separation on the shoulder and pocket makes the fleece pop.
The “secret sauce” in this fleece is the wool that Ortovox touts as part of its Ortovox Wool Promise or OWP.
The Fleece Light Jacket is made of 67% polyester, 26% virgin merino wool, and 7% elastane. The lining is 72% polyester and 28% virgin wool.
Ortovox sources its sustainable merino wool from ethical sheep farms. Since 1988, Ortovox has incorporated all-natural fibers from the first through the third layer of all of its clothing. The company doesn’t produce garments without using sheep’s wool fiber.
The benefit is the technical combination of natural wool with innovative fibers that result in comfortable clothing for outdoor adventures. Ortovox works with the Bennett family in Tasmania who are merino sheep farmers. Tasmania is the growing ground for more than 95,000 sheep serving as the raw materials for Ortovox garments.
The OWP provides a new level of transparency for consumers about where their wool comes from, which helps the dealer and even the sheep in the long run.
Protect the Climate
You can also rest a little easier knowing Ortovox takes steps to protect the climate with climate-neutral goals. The company has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2024 with a three-step process of calculating, reducing, and offsetting its carbon output.
Ortovox creates 60% percent of its products in the European Union and incorporates recycled materials in the products and packaging. In addition, Ortovox works with Climate Partner to help offset carbon emissions.
In addition to helping the planet, Ortovox also is a Fair Wear member company, working to improve working conditions and the lives of the people producing the clothes. From macro to micro, that translates to an ethically and sustainably produced fleece that won’t break down in the backcountry.
While the Fleece Light Jacket works great for fall hikes, it will really shine in the backcountry this winter. Having a lightweight, breathable layer to keep your temperature regulated while hiking up steep slopes and skiing down powdery peaks is key to a good day.