A lightweight and comfortable midlayer for cold weather and outer layer for warmer outings, the new North Face Borealis 1/4 zip fleece has been a great piece to have around in the 30-40 degree temperatures we’ve been having here in Utah as late. Soft and comfortable, the Borealis has performed well.

About the North Face Borealis 1/4 Zip Fleece

The North Face designed the Borealis 1/4 zip fleece for aerobic use. This lightweight, durable fleece wicks sweat and moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable on long runs or rides. Built with stretchy elastane overlay panels at sides, lower back, and cuffs to allow unrestricted movement.

  • Training fit
  • Carbon from Bamboo technology
  • 100% recycled fleece
  • Elastane panel from sleeve cuff to waist
  • Reverse flat-locked seams
  • Napoleon patch on pocket
  • Continuous hem-to-cuff gusset
  • Monkey thumb cuffs
  • Drop-tail hem
  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 30
  • Colors: Mountain Blue (tested), Lunar Ice Grey, Black
  • MSRP: $65

The North Face Borealis 1/4 Zip Fleece Review

On 40-degree trail runs, the Borealis was just right with a long-sleeve lightweight base layer. It acted well as both an insulator with light wind protection. This is a lightweight fleece pullover with a ton of flexibility. Depending on the weather, it can be a base layer, mid layer or outer layer and the athletic cut keeps things streamlined.

I’m a big fan of the monkey thumb cuffs for a “half glove” in a pinch. Sometimes you head out for a run and it doesn’t seem too cold. Maybe it’s sunny, but then either the sun ducks behind the clouds or you enter a shady area and you need just a little extra wind protection on your digits… batta bing, enter the value of the monkey thumbs. Just slip the cuff over your thumb and you’ve got most of your hand covered with the quick ability to tuck your fingers under there as well. Another benefit is the elimination of the dreaded glove gap.

The elastane insert–from the cuff to the armpit and then down to the waist–is lined with wicking fleece and feels just like the rest of the jacket, but provides a little extra abrasion resistance with its smooth surface. This was best appreciated while running as your arms swing back and forth without catching on the body of the jacket.

I wore the North Face Borealis with a lightweight Merino wool base layer under the Sierra Designs Mantra Fusion jacket for an afternoon of skiing at Sundance Resort. Temperatures were in the mid-20’s with snow showers and steady ridgeline winds. Under these conditions, I was left wishing for a down or synthetic vest to keep me just a tad warmer. I wasn’t freezing, but it did get a bit uncomfortable on the long, windy chairlift ride.

Good Borealis

  • Monkey thumbs add versatility and coverage
  • Flatlock seams reduce bulk and improve comfort
  • Stretchy fabric inserts improve abrasion resistance and piling
  • Good cut… not super-athletic, but not oversized either
  • Excellent pricepoint
  • Breathes very well
  • Great for athletic layering
  • Just enough wind protection in a pinch

Bad Borealis

  • Chest pocket is oddly-shaped and uncomfortable for items you’d typically haul (like an iPhone)
  • Careful in the dryer… the fleece is sensitive to heat (mine has a new waffle pattern on the front from the dryer)
  • Sleeve cuff diameter is way too big

The Bottom Line: North Face Borealis 1/4 Zip Fleece Crew

For the money, the North Face Borealis midweight fleece is hard to beat. It is a versatile performer with excellent breathability that is well-suited as outerwear for cool weather or as an insulation layer in the cold.

Buy Now: Find The North Face Fleece at REI

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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