Ah – fleece! It’s not fashionable right now, but it is dependable stuff.

I’m sure most of us have, by now, traded in our light and mid-weight fleece layers for minimalist loft jackets – like the Atom LT. The Atom LT is probably the most versatile jacket I own and it’s definitely the most well worn. However, its thin Tyono face fabric is not tough stuff. So if I’m working outdoors or bushwacking, I’m happier wearing something that’ll take some abuse, but which won’t restrict aerobic movement.

Aside from the various, newer, Power Stretch and grid type fleeces, the titular fabric is practically indestructible. Power Stretch has its place as a mid-layer, because it’s easy to layer – the smooth face allowing an outer to slide over with ease. Grid fleece, too, has its uses as a mid and is awesomely compressible. It will rip however, as I can attest from crawling through ragged brick ruins.

To be honest, I was expecting the Crye Precison LWF (or Light Weight Fleece) to be a Power Stretch type effort, and therefore exhibit an outer face which – while smooth – could be easily destroyed by some rough play.

Imagine my surprise when the item arrived and I realised it was a ‘hard face’ fleece.

A what?

The hard face concept was yet another attempt to make fleece current. I think it was sometime in the mid-2000s when someone (probably Malden Mills/Polartec) had the bright idea of reanimating the corpse, by adding a durable face to fleece. Triple Aught Design offered a hard face (I know because I bought one) as did many other companies.

Of course, competing with softshell – which was at peak popularity with dog walkers the world over – it died a death. In fact, some companies rebadged their hard faces as new softshell variants. It still didn’t take off.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea, and I was pleased when I realised that Crye had resurrected it. Yes, you can use the LWF as a mid layer, but that hard face is just begging for abuse. If you’re doing something high output in cold weather, this jacket could be for you.

What’s also impressed me is the quality of the LWF. It’s much better than Crye’s usual offer, which makes me wonder if Crye’s fleece-makers are more conscientious, or if the company uses a different OEM to make this fleece. The quality is right up there with the higher-end Far East made outdoor brands, like Arc’teryx and Patagonia. Straight, high count stitching and no loose ends are just some of the many indicators of high quality manufacture and finishing.

I would estimate that this is no more that a 100 weight fleece, so as its name suggests it’s at the light end of the insulation spectrum. The hard face does add some bulk when compared to standard 100 weight, but it also makes the LWF slightly wind resistant – something fleece per se isn’t good at.

On to the features.

The LWF has all of Crye’s usual design cues in the full zip and collar area:

  • High stand up collar
  • Branded hanging loop inside collar
  • Collar lined with kitten-soft wicking material
  • Tough, chunky, free-flowing YKK Vislon zip
  • Beard saving zip garage, lined with aforementioned kitten-soft fabric
  • Baffle inside zip, to cut wind

Like the Field Shell 2, the LWF has a branded zip pull.

The cuffs exhibit stirrup thumb loops:

Another Crye design cue – shoulders are raglan panels, cut for mobility:

The LWF has two zipped hand warmer pockets which are fleece lined:

Above the left pocket, more Crye tape branding:

But it doesn’t stop there – there’s also Multicam branding:

There’s a zipped, inside pocket on the left:

Lastly, the hem is cinch-able:

It’s simple, it’s competent and it’s well made.

Size is consistent with Crye’s other apparel. However, the fit is athletic which means some may be more comfortable sizing up. My normal Crye top size is large and this large fits well.

Want more Crye reviews? You can find a whole list of them here. The list is updated as more reviews are published.

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