Years ago when I was in grade school, Old Navy’s performance fleece was literally, the hottest sh*t in the yard. I also remembered it being shockingly cheap both in price, and eventually, the realization of its performance, or the lack thereof. But hey, hype-driven fast fashion at its finest.
Admittedly, I haven’t really given fleece another chance since then. I became smitten with water/windproof shells, a Patagonia down jacket, and an assortment of hoodies to go along with my messenger bag. I guess you can say it’s so damn hip San Francisco.
But I gave fleece another go last November when I saw the Mission Workshop’s Bosun Fleece jacket. While it is not without quirks, it’s darn near close to being the layer for so many reasons.
At first glance, the Portugal-made fleece jacket is reminiscent of those rugged military fleece jackets that were meant to be worn in all-terrain. With its 305 gram per square meter shearling poly fleece construction and a tailored, fitted fit, the Bosun felt substantial in hand. I wouldn’t say it felt like wearing a boat anchor, but its weight was definitely noticeable.
I received mine a few days before a wildfire in Northern California and as I was packing for what turned out to be a week-long assignment, I brought it instead of my down jacket knowing I needed something more heavy duty. I ended up sleeping in it for two days in the back of my car and found myself reaching for it during the mornings and evenings when the temperature dropped to the 40s. I even wore it over my Nomex fire suit a few times in order to stay warm.
Then, along came a trip to Japan weeks later. The fleece on the Bosun is thick and fluffy so it takes up more space in my suitcase, but unlike many low-quality fleece jackets, it stayed fluffy and most importantly warm over time with zero maintenance required. I layered it with Mission Workshop’s lightweight but spectacular Orion waterproof jacket whenever it rained, and it worked out to be a fantastic modular combo. Those nylon shoulder reinforcements? They were great as I was able to trade my camera straps to shouldering a backpack and a Babybjörn all day without worrying about wearing out those areas. I also like the fact that its understated grey color doesn’t garner any attention, and enjoyed the useful zippered rear back pockets to quickly stash maps, baby-wipes, and in one occasion, a can of stone-cold Asahi.
I do wish there was more give to the non-adjustable cuffs, however. They were tight around my tiny wrists which can be quite annoying if you want to check the time or simply roll the sleeves up a little.
At $265, the Bosun is competitively priced against, and arguably more urban-looking than many of the hiking-focused fleece jackets currently on the market. With its robust construction backed with a lifetime warranty, the Bosun is built for the long haul for both urban and rural lifestyles plus anything in between.