Testing lightweight fleece pants backpacking

Ultralight fleece pants for backcountry camp-wear and cold-weather layering

The best lightweight fleece pants for backpacking should keep your legs comfortably warm while camping in cold weather, all without being a chore to carry. As such, this list focuses exclusively on lightweight, and ultralight fleece pants for 3-season use.

Compared to merino base layer tights, backpacking fleece pants have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio, and generally deliver a superior performance. If you are expecting evening temps to drop below freezing, we instead recommend down pants. And while you’re here, don’t miss our guides to merino leggings, lightweight fleece jackets, Alpha Direct hoodies, and hiking pants.

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Quick Picks

Ultralight Fleece Pants

Lightweight Fleece Pants

Lightweight Fleece Pants Comparison Table

Model Price ($) Weight (oz) Material
Outdoor Vitals Highline 80 4.0 Brushed fleece
Vado Apparel Alpha Direct 125 5.0 Alpha Direct
Outdoor Research Vigor 89 7.6 Grid Fleece
Mountain Hardwear Microchill 75 8.9 Microfleece
Patagonia R1 Daily 129 9.7 Brushed Fleece
REI Trailmade 59 11.2 Microfleece
Outdoor Research Trail Mix 99 11.3 Grid Fleece

Most Versatile Fleece Pants

Patagonia R1 Daily Bottoms

Patagonia R1 Daily Bottoms

9.7 oz | $129 

Patagonia’s R1 line is arguably the most famous fleece of all time, but you may not have worn the R1 Daily version. This is a flat faced exterior version of R1, with a fuzzy, brushed interior. Note, it’s still stretchy, but it’s not grid fleece. That means increased warmth at the expense of decreased breathability. These slim-fit pants are great for wearing around camp, or on cold mornings. Use them as a base-layer when temps drop really low. But they look great too and are perfect athleisure wear for around town or at home.

Best Value Fleece Pants

REI Trailmade Fleece Pants

11.2 oz | $60

Made with 100% post-consumer recycled polyester, you can’t fault the REI Trailmade Fleece Pants which deliver midweight warmth for just $60. The relaxed fit and fuzzy, soft warmth is perfect for hanging out around camp on a crisp fall night. We love the addition of hand pockets, and the minimalist drawcord cinch waist. At 11.2 ounces, they aren’t the lightest, but they’re almost certainly the most affordable.

Best Lightweight Fleece Pants

Mountain Hardwear MicroChill Jogger

Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jogger

8.9 oz | $75

We nod to the Mountain Hardwear Microchill Jogger for an exceptional blend of low weight, fuzzy warmth, and an affordable price tag. What’s more, they’re made with 100% recycled polyester! Sure, fancier grid fleeces are more breathable, but if your intent is wear these and camp, then there’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned, classic microfleece. Technical details here include two hand pockets, one rear pocket, and a flat waistband with external drawcord.


Best Lightweight Fleece Leggings

Outdoor Research Vigor Bottoms

Outdoor Research Vigor Bottoms

7.6 oz | $89

For a versatile pair of grid fleece tights, choose the Outdoor Research Vigor Bottoms. These slim fitting tights are comfy to wear around camp or sleep in. But thanks to their exceptional breathability, they do double duty as running attire, or for layering underneath a shell in nasty weather. Did we mention that they’re super stretchy? That’s thanks to the 14% Spandex makeup. They’re also comprised of 46% recycled nylon for quick drying performance. We appreciate the bonded side pocket, which can store a phone. Nice add on!

Best Ultralight Fleece Pants

Vado Apparel Alpha Direct Pants

5.0 oz | $125

If you haven’t heard of Alpha Direct before, here’s what to know about this wonder-fabric. It’s the most breathable fleece on the market, with the highest warmth-to-weight ratio and the fastest dry time. It’s also the least durable, and has virtually zero wind resistance. While most AD pants are utterly minimalist, the Vado Apparel Alpha Direct Pants have a reasonable feature set. This includes a flat elastic stretch waistband, dual hand pockets, and a zippered back pocket for securing small items like a credit card. These ultralight fleece pants are available at the 60 and 90 gsm weight, and we strongly recommend choosing 90 gsm.

Best Ultralight Fleece Leggings

Outdoor Vitals Highline Thermal Leggings

Outdoor Vitals Highline Thermal Leggings

4.0 oz | $80

Thanks to their exceptionally low total weight and high warmth-to-weight ratio, the four ounce Outdoor Vitals Highline Thermal Leggings have become our preferred summer camp legwear. The brushed interior surface of these ultralight fleece tights makes them soft, cozy and warm. The TORAY fabric is 100% polyester, which has sufficient stretch and zero elastane to slow down dry time. Their only feature is the gusseted mesh crotch, but that’s fine by us! Note, these run small, so size up if in between. Read more in our full length Outdoor Vitals Highline Thermal Leggings Review.

Coziest Fleece Pants For Camping

Outdoor Research Trail Mix Joggers

Outdoor Research Trail Mix Jogger

11.3 oz | $99

At 11.3 oz, the Outdoor Research Trail Mix Joggers aren’t the lightest pair of performance backpacking fleece pants, but they’re certainly the coziest. Constructed with thick, mid-weight grid fleece, these joggers do a very effective job of keeping your legs warm while still offering good breathability and quick dry. The Trail Mix jogger is also versatile in the sense that they do even better for car camping, and generalized winter athleisure wear. Features include two hand pockets, one zippered rear pocket, and drawcord waistband.

wearing backpacking ultralight fleece pants

Best Lightweight Fleece Pants For Backpacking Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide to lightweight and ultralight fleece pants for backpacking. We hope you’ve found the pair you’re looking for! Fleece pants are a handy garment to have in your legwear quiver, and we highly recommend picking some up for use in spring and fall. Happy camping!

2 replies
  1. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    If an AD garment was going to be strictly used underneath a top/bottom layer, or just for sleeping, would you still go with 90 over the 60? Warmth/Durability that much better compared to the .5-1.0oz weight “penalty” per item?

    Reply
    • Jaeger Shaw
      Jaeger Shaw says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Good question. There’s a few too many variables here with your body temperature, intended climates, etc, to answer that question confidently. I would frame it more as 90 gsm is the most versatile and universally appealing option, and would definitely recommend your first AD garment be 90 gsm. It would still work great for layering and they’re very comfy to sleep in. That would give you a good sense for what it’s like, and if you find it to be a bit too warm, perhaps you pick up a 60gsm down the road. In a fully optimized scenario, having a quiver of options would be nice, as is true with most outdoor gear.

      Reply

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