Chris Townsend reviews a lightweight fleece with technical credentials (Best Buy)
The Bentu is a lightweight fleece made from a water-repellent and wind-resistant polyester with a PFC-free Nikwax water-repellent treatment. The fabric is directional and pushes moisture away from you, so it is good at wicking quickly, even in humid conditions. The weather resistance means it’ll cope with drizzle, light rain and light winds better than most fleeces. It’s still a midlayer though and a shell is needed in stronger winds and heavier rain. It is designed to be combined with Páramo’s Bentu Windproof (the combination is effectively waterproof) though it works well under other shells, both windproof and waterproof. The fabric is a little warmer than a light microfleece though not too warm for cool summer weather.
The design is excellent. The Bentu is longer than many fleeces and has an extended back. There’s a close-fitting snug double-fabric collar and three large pockets, all lined with Páramo’s mesh Pump Liner, which enhances the wicking properties. The chest pocket is just big enough for a map. The cuffs aren’t tight so the sleeves can be pushed up for ventilation and cooling. The fabric is slightly stretchy and the cut is such that the garment allows easy movement while being quite close-fitting and the hem doesn’t ride up when you stretch. The chunky front zip is two-way and there’s a chinguard at the top.
The price is quite high for a light fleece but the technical fabric has properties that means it outperforms more basic fleeces.