I know what you mean about how thin and flimsy most fleece has gotten. I too love the good old heavy fleece.
I have several of the Columbia fleece tops and have been really happy with them. They're about the nicest one's I've found. I'm always cold in the winter so I practically live in fleece. The Columbia's are really nice looking and do a good job of keeping you warm (I layer them over a turtleneck or even a really thin fleece shirt on a particularly cold day).
It's not as heavy as my old one, but it is definitely just as warm! The material is different but it's easier to wear/feels less bulky and is definitely very toasty. I found mine on sale at a local outfitter store, but I'm sure they are available most places. I also love the fun colors! (I got the Larimar Blue)
Was just struggling with this thought myself yesterday.
I still wear one of the few thoughtful gifts my XDH bought me when we were first married, 25 years ago! while riding - a Lands End fleece pullover - blue/green, kind of a Nordic pattern. And around the house a Beans sky blue fleece pullover. They are so soft, and warm, and I hope they'll last for life!
Fleece these days is not only thin, but feels weird - gives me goosebumps - doesn't get soft.
And what happened to pockets? I bought several fleeces on sale last year from Lands End during a 30% off sale - they are extremely light, with not a pocket in sight. Fine for wearing perhaps in spring/fall. But useless in winter.
Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!
I will probably be wearing these two fleeces at "the home" when it's time.
How can there be so many currents in such a little puddle? National Velvet
Yes, I think so on the weight. I have a Patagonia fleece pullover from 1991 (which used Malden Mills fleece - not sure if they still do). I love the thing, wear it ALL the time, and the only signs of wear are a bit of fraying on the binding at the cuffs. I remember thinking it was SO expensive, and I got it at an outlet store, but I think I got my money's worth. I have lots of LLBean fleece too and it holds up well.
Although Polartec 300 is great--I too used to wear a Patagonia fleece in Polartec 300--the technology has evolved, and I really encourage you to look at some of the newer Polartec fabrics. The US Army's Extended Cold Weather Clothing System has moved from Polartec 200/300 to Polartec Power Dry + Polartec Thermal Pro. The Marines and the Navy choose Power Dry + Wind Pro, and I'm a huge fan of Wind Pro too. It's 4 times more wind resistant than Polartec Classic, and that makes a HUGE difference to my winter warmth outdoors. http://polartec.com/markets/military/
My winter barn getup is Irideon Wind Pro winter breeches + a Mountain Hardwear Wind Pro fleece. The Wind Pro fleece sees daily use, including during my "day job," and it's going on its fourth year. It's built to an almost-Patagonia-like quality standard. I think I paid around $85 on clearance for it, but it would have been worth double that price. http://www.polartec.com/shelter/polartec-wind-pro/
For Polartec fabrics on a budget, Sierra Trading Post, Cabelas, and Google Shopping are your friend. Just type in your Polartec poison of choice (Polartec 300, Wind Pro, whatever) and feast your eyes.
I work in outdoor retail and I've been eyeing that Patagonia Re-Tool for aaaages! It's super comfy, warm, and doesn't pill after 2 washings. I need to just break down and buy it.
The thing is, materials are constantly evolving. Yeah the new stuff feels thinner but depending on what you choose, you can find warmer, wicking, wind-blocking fabrics that beat the pants off the fleece of the 90s.
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
I have a fleece jacket from EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) that I absolutely LOVE. It's thick, warm, cozy, comfortable, and looks absolutely great. I live in that thing. It's the "North Face" style that's popular now with the stretch panels on the sides in a contrasting color, but way less expensive. You can get out-of-season colors on sale for cheap! HUGE thumbs-up for EMS fleece!
Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique