Available in men’s and women’s styles, Cotopaxi’s Sambaya Stretch Fleece Jacket is a great example of how far fleece has come.

Unlike the bulky fleece jackets of my past, this cozy, comfy coat is super soft on the inside and has plenty of stretch to allow me total freedom of movement. Like! Made out of Polartec® Power Stretch® Pro™ fabric, the Sambay Stretch Fleece Jacket is both warm and has good breathability.

Of course, with an unusually hot summer I have not had many chances to wear the Sambay Stretch Fleece Jacket other than a few chilly nights where the temperature didn’t go much below 60 degrees F (but the wind off the water made it feel more like 50 degrees F). Still, when I became active I could tell the jacket breathed pretty well. On its own I’ll wear it in temps down to 45 degrees F over a short-sleeved top. When winter hits, the Sambay Stretch Fleece Jacket will be an ideal mid-layer under my rain shell for Seattle’s miserable rainy days where temps can drop to freezing.

I like the design of the jacket; its raglan-style sleeve gives me a custom fit around the shoulders and offsets seams so I don’t get any pressure points or rubbing when I wear a pack. The collar zips nice and snug to protect my neck, and thumb holes well help me keep my hands warm when I forget my gloves, which is all the time. When the usual winter temps are above freezing it’s easy to blow off gloves and just snuggle my hands into the sleeves.

The Sambay Stretch Fleece is pretty smooth; there’s nothing to get snagged on branches or tangled with my pack straps. There’s a small zippered chest pocket with a small zipper head and two hidden, zippered hand pockets. I love how Cotopaxi designed these pockets. The zipper and pull tag are completely protected and out of the way under a stiff flap of fabric. The pockets are average size; they hold my wallet and phone and that’s about all I want to stash in the jacket to keep the bulk down.

I found a good fit in a women’s size XL, a size larger than usual. Then again, I’m about 30 pounds heavier than the last time I tested a size L. I like that the jacket is neither baggy nor snug, but somewhere in between. It fits and feels like a fleece cardigan because the sleeves have no extra material and the jacket is streamlined. I like that. Still, it’s roomy enough that I don’t feel constricted.

Available in women’s sizes XS-XL in black, blue, and light blue with contrast green sleeves. The men’s Sambay Stretch Fleece is available in sizes S-XXL in black, read, and tan with green sleeves. There is also a hooded version in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Bottom Line: Comfy, breathable, warm jacket for fall and for winter layering.

Manufacturer’s Site: Cotopaxi.com

$119 at Cotopaxi.com