The answer is that they're both great articles of outdoor clothing and work best when paired together. But there is undoubtedly a flannel crowd vs. a fleece crowd, so let's explore which one works best for outdoor adventures.
What is Flannel?
Let's start with the materials. High-quality flannel is often constructed with wool, which keeps it soft and durable. It's one of the most durable materials on the market, making it so beloved by outdoor enthusiasts. Wool is sturdy and known to protect in subzero elements. It can also wick away moisture in the rain and regulate body temperatures. It's a one-size-fits-all type of material and the perfect piece of outdoor gear.
There are many advantages to wearing flannel shirts. Because it's so strong, it can act as an insulator when paired with other outdoor clothing, such as fleece, soft-shells, rain jackets, and down jackets. In warmer climates, it can be worn on its own without any layering and keep your body regulated. It works well in nearly every sport across all terrains and seasons, and even as casual wear.
Although it's moisture-wicking, which is great for sweat and mist, flannel shirts aren't waterproof or water-resistant. Nor are they wind-resistant, so to protect your body and skin, they're best used as a layer unless you're in warmer temperatures.
What is Fleece?
Fleece, on the other hand, is usually made with synthetic fibers. At times, manufacturers will include wool or hemp, but it's mostly made out of polyester. What makes it so soft is the weaving and brushing of the fabric, which also creates exceptional insulation when worn under a soft-shell or down jacket.
Fleece is very similar to flannel as outdoor gear because it's best when layered. However, fleece tops do perform a bit better than flannel shirts on their own. As outdoor clothing, it can support you better in many different sports, including hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. It's the perfect layer to put on and take when elements shift, and it also works in more casual environments.
Have you ever experienced a sudden gust of cold wind while wearing a fleece? Sometimes you're okay, but most fleece is weaved and breathable, so wind cuts right through it. It can't protect against rain either, so it's another material mostly used for insulating. However, it's excellent when it lines other pieces of clothing, like jackets and pants.
The Verdict: Flannel or Fleece?
Both. We know that's not a proper answer, but fleece and flannel are both excellent pieces of outdoor clothing. They genuinely shine, though, when combined. When you wear flannel shirts under fleece sweaters or jackets, they both work as an insulator and as better protection against wind and light rain.
When you're looking for the best outdoor gear, it's always essential to consider apparel that keeps you safe, warm, fresh, and comfortable. Both fabrics work for many sports. You can rely on flannel and fleece for camping, hunting, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, and more.