I carry a fleece pullover year round on day hikes and backpacking trips. Fleece is warm, it wicks extremely well, it doesn’t shrink in the wash, and needs no special care. A fleece pullover will keep you warm when it’s wet, it dries quickly, your body heat is enough to dry it out when damp, and fleece layers very well under a rain shell or wind shirt. But a 100 weight fleece pullover is often not quite warm enough for winter hiking, especially when the temperatures dip below 20 degrees.
That’s when I break out the Montane Volt, an exceptionally warm fleece pullover that I’ve been wearing, nearly continuously, since it arrived three months ago. Weighing just 14.4 ounces in a men’s XL, it’s made with Polartec Thermal Pro Honeycomb Fleece over the chest, back, and tops of the arms, zoned with Polartec 100 weight fleece along the sides of the torso and the bottom half of the arms. The combination provides unrestricted freedom of movement in the arms, good for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, while venting extra heat and sweat along the sides.
I have to warn you. The Volt is simply too warm to wear in anything above 30 degrees (unless you’re sitting still in my cold house.) It really shines when the air starts to be bitingly frigid and I frequently find myself stripping off my shell because I can wear the Volt as an outer layer all by itself.
There are also some extra venting options on the Volt Pull-on that make a noticeable difference for releasing extra heat. The center zipper is several inches longer than a typical 1/4 zip fleece sweater making it a 1/2 zip and providing more airflow to your lower chest. The zipper is bi-directional so you can keep it zipped up around your neck, while still venting your torso. There’s also a large mesh-backed chest pocket that can be zipped open for even more airflow and which is also handy for storing a smartphone if you use it for GPS navigation.
The Montane Volt Pull-on is also a very stylish sweater and quite wearable to parties and the pub, just make sure you don’t accidentally leave it somewhere because you’ll never get it back!
Disclosure: Montane provided the author with a Volt for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.