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Review Summary

I’ll start by saying, I believe Haven’s original garments produced over the past 2 years are some of the more underrated technical apparel pieces on the market today. Their utilization and curation of functional materials leaves me in anticipation for each season’s release. The militaristic aesthetic mixed with a dark color palette seems to align perfectly with the contents of my closet. 

Haven has long been a go to shopping destination for locals and visitors to the Vancouver or Toronto Canada area. Stocking some of the most exclusive brands from Japan and countries from afar, you are sure to find something unique upon the racks of their beautifully designed storefronts. It was not until recently that Haven took the strategic turn to develop and focus on their in-house brand of outerwear and everyday clothing.

After putting the Polartec® fleece guide jacket and ascent half zip through the various elements of all 4 seasons, I can confidently say that while these were the first pieces I’ve purchased from Haven, they won’t be the last. The usability of these moisture wicking fleece garments is off the charts no matter the weather. Chilly summer mornings are easily thwarted when worn unzipped while full on winter months are tackled by using either fleece piece as a thin insulating base layer. The thumb loop on each fleece is a nice touch for keeping sleeves in place and openings sealed off from any unwanted draft. The dark gunmetal YKK metaluxe zippers that can be found on the front as well as every pocket opening (3 on the guide jacket) glides super smoothly and adds a nice refined touch compared to plastic alternatives.

Aside from the high praise I have for the construction and functionality of these Haven Polartec® pieces, the style is what really does it for me. Typically fleece items from some of the prominent outdoor brands give off a mountain/hiking vibe, lacking some stylish form. These Haven Polartec® 100 fleece outerwear pieces appear as if they are ready to battle the mild elements that any urban environment can throw at you, followed by a casual night out. 

Review Ratings


  • Polartec® 100 fleece is the perfect weight for early mornings, chilly evenings, and mildly cold winters or as a base layer under a shell or jacket for more frigid temperatures
  • Zip enclosed chest and hand pockets come in handy for storing and securing everyday carry items on the fleece guide jacket
  • Elastic hem, cuffs, and collar edge provide a decently snug fit around each opening to seal off any unwanted drafts
  • Super lightweight making it easy for travel or any type of rigorous outdoor activities
  • Dark gunmetal YKK Haven branded metaluxe zippers operate smoothly, provide a very refined tactile feel, and truly create the desired aesthetic


  • Difficult to determine proper sizing. Some may need to size down as the 3/large fit slightly baggy on an average to athletic build
  • Price point is high for Polartec® 100, however, intricate details, form, and overall construction somewhat help justify cost
  • Sleeves can feel a bit long with extra stacking when not using integrated thumb hole

Haven Polartec® Fleece Guide Jacket

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Review Details

Haven Polartec® Fleece Jacket Sizing

I dipped my toe into (or rather, dove right in) the Haven winter 2021 collection that consisted of various different Polartec® 100 fleece items. Before I could pull the trigger to purchase 2 of the Polartec® fleece guide jackets (black and olive colors) and Polartec® fleece ascent half zip from the full range of items, I had to take a slight pause to determine the correct size for my build. Haven uses a numeric system for their sizing, ranging from 1-4. After mulling over the fit charts as well as some back and forth with Haven customer service, I landed on a size 3, or otherwise large. I’m 5’11’, 175 pounds with an average to athletic build and typically wear a size large in all t-shirts, button ups, hoodies and outerwear, so this seemed like a relatively safe bet all things considered.

haven polartec fleece jacket review green

My intended use for these Polartec® fleece jackets was both for layering as well as standalone wear throughout the year. With that in mind, I was hoping for a slim fitting fleece that would not prove too bulky in either scenario. What I found after trying on each Polartec® fleece was that there is a bit more looseness throughout the sleeves and torso than I had hoped for, however, it fits more snug than many of the other large outdoor brands fleece offerings. The overall length is spot on for my height and the size 3 certainly looks appropriate for my body type. I suppose where expectations stemmed from was my familiarity with the sizing of Reigning Champ which some may say is very slim. I unfortunately do not have a size 2 for context and with the rate at which these items sell out, I was unable to source one to determine fit. With future purchases I may try and grab one of each and will follow up with thoughts.

When layered under a Veilance Field LT jacket, there was zero noticeable bulk as a result of either Haven fleece. I can also confirm that because of the slightly loose fit, I’m able to wear the fleece over the top of a lightweight hoodie which is a silver lining. All in all, I’m quite pleased with the fit, however, part of me wonders what the size 2 may feel like.  

Haven Polartec® Fleece Jacket Construction

It should come as no surprise that garments coming out of Canada continue to feature some of the highest quality construction standards possible (IE: Arcteryx, Reigning Champ, Canada Goose, Wings+Horns, etc). The pride is felt in each and every piece I’ve purchased from one of these brands with longevity far exceeding average. Haven is certainly no exception. 

Polartec® 100 fleece is a super lightweight, moisture wicking, warm yet breathable fabric. Incredibly soft to the touch, Polartec® fleece is somewhat a jack of all trades when it comes to comfort, style, and functional usability. Both the guide jacket and the ascent half zip feature raglan sleeves that allow for full range of movement with seams that appear to be completely bulletproof. The ascent fleece also boasts under arm gussets which increases comfort and moveability for any type of outdoor activity.

haven polartec fleece jacket review green

One of my favorite features on both garments is the juxtaposition between this lightweight fabric and the heavy rigidity of the YKK metaluxe zippers. There is a nice tactile feel when operating each zipper and the dark gunmetal finish really creates the overall aesthetic. The zipper pulls have been Haven branded and can be found on the front zipper of each Polartec® fleece as well as the three pockets on the guide jacket. The guide jacket also features a two way front zipper allowing for flexibility in style and warmth/cooling. I imagine these details alone add a great deal to the cost of the jacket, but in my opinion, are totally worth it.

Surrounding the edges of each sleeve, the bottom hem, and around the neck stand collar of the guide jacket is a soft elasticized binding. This elastic finishing touch comes in black across the board providing nice contrast on the olive guide jacket and a nice complement on the black guide jacket. The sleeves and bottom hem are slightly taut for a secure hold around these openings, keeping body warmth contained and drafty air at bay. It’s important to note that the ascent pullover fleece only has this elastic accent on the cuff ends.

The overall craftsmanship that has gone into each Haven Polartec® fleece jacket is pretty remarkable. If well maintained through proper washing/drying and avoidance of pilling, these jackets should last for many years of brutal use. 

Haven Polartec® Fleece Jacket Style

One of the main reasons I purchased both the Polartec® guide jacket and ascent half zip was for the subtle military inspired simplicity. This same aesthetic was what once drew me to brands like Wings+Horns and Maharishi as I’m a sucker for over engineered designs in tonal black, olive, sand and grays.  

What I really enjoy about the guide jacket is the slightly innocuous chest and side pockets with metaluxe zipper enclosures. Stitching on the chest indicates the presence of a pocket with the asymmetry actually adding to the overall design. The two side hand pockets are more hidden from view with flaps enclosing each zipper. The 2 way full frontal zipper can be opened from top or bottom and allows for venting of body heat as well as flexibility in styling.

haven polartec fleece review black

The more simple Haven ascent half zip Polartec® fleece pullover varies slightly in cut to the guide jacket in that the front and back have a swoop down style. I generally prefer a flat hem for no other reason than aesthetics, but this has grown on me. I’ve noticed that it helps provide a bit more coverage across the lower back when stretching or sitting which is not a bad thing. The weight of this pullover fleece is also a bit lighter than the guide jacket due to use of a half zip and omission of pockets, making it perfect for light travel.

Both Polartec® fleece designs have a neck stand collar that does an amazing job at keeping the neck toasty when in the fully zipped position. I quite prefer this style to a traditional folded collar or crewneck as it adds to the warmth and layering effect when worn over a hoodie. Also found on both fleece jackets is the thumb hole integrated into each sleeve. The sleeve length is long enough to accommodate pulling the cuff down over the hand and securing in place with each thumb. This is a nice feature either when layered under another jacket or to just provide extra warmth and comfort. I will say, however, that the sleeves are a bit longer than I would typically prefer leading to a bit more stacking at the wrist. This might cause slight bunching for some when layered, but is certainly not a deal breaker.

haven polartec fleece review black back

Throughout the winter, these have been my go to Polartec® fleece jackets when running errands about town or when dining out. I tend to style them with black A.P.C. petit new standard denim or a nice olive chino. On the frigid days, I’ll either pair a lightweight Reigning Champ hoodie underneath the guide jacket or use the ascent half zip fleece under a Veilance Field LT jacket. The versatility of these Polartec® fleece jackets is endless.

Haven Polartec® Fleece Jacket Value

If you take a quick glance through the full range of seasonal products offered by Haven, it won’t take long to realize that the overall price point tends to skew on the higher side. At $395 for the Polartec® fleece guide jacket and $220 for the Polartec® fleece ascent half zip, you might think twice before fully committing to the purchase. I know I did. 

But I sure am glad that I did. As mentioned earlier, these pieces are made in Canada and include the quality, tailoring, and love that you would expect from most anything coming out of the country. Having owned and rigorously put these pieces through the ringer over the past 1.5 years, I have little to report on wear and tear. Each looks nearly identical to how it did when it came off of the showroom floor, just a bit more soft. The use that I have gotten out of these fleece garments up until this point, paired with the usable life that I foresee them having, gives some justification for the price.

Are there cheaper alternatives on the market utilizing the Polartec® 100 range? Absolutely. Will you receive the same fit, details, and construction that can be found throughout the Haven interpretations? Most likely not. I don’t think that these pieces are for everyone, however, if you're in the market for a four season lightweight piece of outerwear that will keep you warm and look good while doing so, then look no further. There’s a reason Haven continually sells out each season and I now have a strong understanding as to why.

Mentioned in this article:

Haven: Purveyors & Developers of Top Tier Technical Wear
Creating a brand in the highly competitive space that is menswear is not an easy task. Sustaining and evolving a brand over the span of 15+ years is incrementally more difficult.
Cozy Cotton: Reigning Champ Midweight Hoodie Review
Reigning Champ has amassed a cult following for one reason - simple details. Taking a basic garment like a sweatshirt and elevating the design to a wardrobe staple that I greatly look forward to wearing each and every winter is no simple task.
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