As part of our Yosemite gear testing package, Columbia gave us a Heat 360 1/2 Zip fleece to test out. Though I actually ended up not including the garment in my over stuffed backpack for the trip, the fleece has been my go to piece this summer and fall, worn as an extra layer for most of my outdoor adventures including hiking, climbing, and camping.
The Heat 360 fleece is extremely lightweight, while giving you the warmth of a much heavier fleece. An Omni-Heat thermal reflective layer is printed directly onto the back of the fleece fabric, working to reflect and retain your own body heat. The inner polyester lining also employs Columbia's Omni-Wick technology to help remove any moisture if you begin to work up a sweat.
The Columbia fleece has a nicely tailored, athletic fit and will not add a ton of bulk to your layers. Tapered cuffs and hem help the fleece easily slide underneath a shell or even lightweight down jacket if the weather turns colder.
The fleece fabric is extremely soft and comfortable. After numerous washes the fabric tends to get a bit piley, which may actually add to its warmth. You could say the fleece ends up looking kind of like a well loved stuffed animal or a well loved piece of gear in your arsenal.
Reflective detailing on the front zipper adds some extra visibility and the half zip length lets you quickly dump heat if you are getting too hot. A small zippered pocket on the sleeve is handy for storing some snacks or your lip balm for the day.
As the Heat 360 fleece is designed with an athletic fit, your normal sizing will be form fitting, but offer plenty of room to wear a base layer underneath. I really like the tailored fit and the design has a kind of sporty European feel. I even wore the fleece out to dinner around the outdoor centric towns in the Dolomites and Bavarian Alps.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a stylish and warm mid-layer without the bulk, the Columbia Heat 360 1/2 Zip fleece fits the bill.
The Heat 360 1/2 Zip fleece comes in both a men's and women's version and in a variety of color combinations, retailing for $80. The brighter colors look great in outdoor photos!