What is Polartec Fleece? What is it made of? What are the differences in Polartec fabrics?

Polartec fleece is an insulating textile that was originally manufactured by Malden Mills Industries (now Polartec LLC). Originally starting out as a manufacturer of wool outfits for soldiers in the US Military, Malden Mills went on to develop the Polartec fabric in 1979, and in 1981 this synthetic fabric was named "One of the 20th Century's Greatest Inventions" by Time Magazine. Patagonia worked with Malden Mills to produce their Synchella Fleece Top from this new textile fabric.

Polartec Logo

Polartec fleece is a soft sythetic fabric made from polyester fibres that provides warmth without weight and is hydrophobic (absorbs less than 1% of water), making it ideal for use in the outdoors. It can be made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, and recycled fleece. The fabric was not patented, so many other companies now produce the fabric.  Lower quality polyester fleece is prone to pilling, and sheds more microfibres that cause water pollution.

There are over 400 different types of Polartec fabrics the most well known ones are:

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