PAKACLOUD Fleece Pullover

PAKACLOUD Fleece Review

A softer, warmer, and more sustainable fleece pullover

December 13, 2023 – Wow, just wow, the PAKACLOUD Fleece is next level soft. What’s more, it’s warmer, more breathable, and far more sustainable than traditional petroleum-based microfleece. This is a killer all-purpose mid-layer with the performance chops to cross over into non-technical backcountry-use. Immediately upon trying it on, PAKACLOUD stole the number one slot in our daily fleece-wear lineup. Dang this pullover is awesome! Shop now.

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  • Price: $165
  • Weight: 15.6 oz (men’s large, our measurement)
  • Fabric Weight: 252 gsm
  • Fabric Composition: 42% Baby Alpaca, 30% Recycled Polyester, 14% Merino Wool, 14% Recycled Nylon
  • Pros: Softest fabric you’ve ever felt. Warm. Breathable. Durable. Quick-drying. Good looking.
  • Cons: Unnecessary hem cinches. Small hand pockets. Mid-weight. Unisex sizing.

See more of our favorite alpaca wool products in our PAKA Brand Spotlight.

close up on pakacloud fleece textile for review

PAKACLOUD Fleece Fabric

Starting with the fabric itself, PAKACLOUD Fleece is something of a wonder-textile. According to the tag, it’s made with a mixture of 42% baby alpaca, 30% recycled polyester, 14% merino wool, and 14% recycled nylon. This composition reduces the shed of microplastics, and each fabric offers an assortment of benefits. Alpaca and merino are both soft, warm, breathable, moisture wicking, sustainable, and odor resistant. Nylon and polyester, both recycled, offer maximum quick dry properties (alpaca already dries quickly) and enhanced durability.

Part of the magic of alpaca fleece is the “hollow medullated air pockets (found within each strand of fiber), which reduce heat transfer and creates an insulating buffer compared to synthetic fibers.”

Formulating an assumption based on close visual inspection, there is a woven core that provides the textile’s structure (likely the nylon and/or polyester component) to which the brushed alpaca/merino wool strands are affixed. This places each material where it is most effective, and is a brilliant advancement in textile technology. Our compliments to PAKA.

The end result is that PAKACLOUD is warmer than traditional fleece, and PAKA’s testing indicates 2X the CLO value (an insulative property test using fabric over a hot plate). We’ve seen an overview of their study results, which tested 252 gsm weight PAKACLOUD against 260 gsm weight generic 100% polyester polar fleece. The PAKACLOUD scored a CLO 1.20 which is more than double the 0.51 of the polar fleece.

Based on early wear testing, we agree PAKACLOUD is warmer than a comparably thick traditional fleece, while also being much softer and more breathable. However, while the sensation we feel while wearing it outside is definitely warm, we would not describe it as 2x warmer. Perhaps we’re spoiled on top of the line performance outdoor fleeces, and their testing compared against a budget non-technical fleece textile. Or maybe there’s something about the lab testing was conducted that happened to favor PAKACLOUD. The testing was conducted by a neutral third party called IDFL, but paid for by PAKA.

Either way, we’re in full agreement that PAKACLOUD outperforms traditional fleece of comparable gsm fabric weight by virtually every measurement and perception. But we’d be super curious to see how it compares to top of the lines fleece textiles from major outdoor brands and and name-brand textile innovators like Polartec.

Lastly, as always, PAKA smashed it out of the park with regard to sustainability. All of the petroleum based nylon and polyester fabrics are recycled. The cinching hardware is built with a corn byproduct. And alpaca wool and merino wool are natural, bio based, and 100% sustainable. What’s more, PAKA is also a certified B Corp, and their brand employees in Quechua, Peru, make 4x the local living wage. 1% of proceeds are donated to the betterment of young women in Peru. Anything you buy from PAKA is a win for mother earth, and the PAKACLOUD Fleece Pullover is no exception.

Close up on open zipper of pakacloud fleece pullover

Features Set, Fit, and Potential Improvements

The PAKACLOUD Fleece Pullover that PAKA sent to us is extremely pleasant to wear, not just because of the fabric, but also because of the holistic garment design. When it comes to fleece and mid-layers in general, we always prefer pullovers to full zips. So there’s an immediate win out the gate.

We tested a men’s large, and it fit very much true to size with a relaxed drape for maximum comfort. The material is also lightly stretchy to easily accommodate movement.

Two zippered hand pockets situate on the lower sides of the garment, but we do have a bone to pick here. First off, they’re definitely smaller than average. From zipper to interior stitch line, they are only about 3/4 the length of a fully extended hand, meaning you have to ball up your fist to get them all of the way in.

An easy improvement to this system would just be to make them larger. But if they really wanted to score, the best possible design would be to eliminate the zippered pockets all together and merge them into a pass-through kangaroo-style pocket – our preferred configuration. And well we’re at it, how about converting it into a hoodie? It seems inevitable that they’ll make this into a hoodie, and we await that launch with baited breath.

Lastly, a quick note on the two corn bioproduct-based hem cinching mechanisms. Very nifty sustainability flex! There’s one on each side of the bottom hem, and they allow wearers to batten down the hatches, so to speak. However unlike with puffy jackets, we basically never use this feature on fleeces or mid-layers, and they are more likely to interfere and chafe against a backpack’s hip belt than to help you stay warm. A better design here would have been to switch them out for an elastane hem, as is found in the cuffs, or to just allow it a natural unimpeded drape.

close up on corn-based cinching mechanism

PAKACLOUD Fleece Review Conclusion

The PAKACLOUD Fleece Pullover is seriously innovative, warm, and exceptionally comfortable alternative to traditional 100% petroleum based fleeces. For all-purpose use, we recommend PAKACLOUD extremely highly. You and everyone who touches this incredible garment will be impressed by how much it raises the bar. Good luck settling for traditional fleece after you’ve tried PAKACLOUD.

See more of our favorite alpaca wool products in our PAKA Brand Spotlight.

textile composition