What Is Sherpa Fleece?

Fleece is a popular material with a lot of people that want the fluffiness of sheepskin or wool without turning to the real thing. This could be down to comfort, as some find wool to be rough and itchy sometimes. Others may do so for ethical reasons, preferring a synthetic fiber to an animal by-product. Or, it could be a simple matter of cost. However, you may find yourself with a choice between sherpa and fleece. So, what is the difference here, and is one better than the other.

What Is Sherpa Fleece?

Simply put, sherpa fleece is a fabric that looks and feels more like sheepskin than a more standard fleece. The name comes from the sherpa guides in Nepal that wear something similar to stay warm on the mountains. You often get the fluffier pelt on one side and denser backing. The material composition is similar to fleece, but you may find that this is warmer and more luxurious. However, the applications of sherpa can be more limited. You won’t get the same range of fleece coats and sweaters that are so popular right now. You also get a different feel from a sherpa blanket to a microfleece blanket. 

What Are The Similarities Between Sherpa Vs Fleece?

Let’s start with the similarities between these products and why it is so easy to get them confused. Sherpa and fleece are both,

a) alteratives to animal-product fleeces, either with polyester or a polyester/cotton blend. 

b) warm fabrics with the potential for insulation in the winter

The first similarity here is that you have two fabrics that use alternative materials to mimic wool. Some people love wool and will happily find woolen sweaters and knitted items for that soft feel and better insulation in the winter. However, others feel that farming sheep for wool is unethical and would rather have a made-made or plant-based alternative. Fleeces are perfect because the combination of fibers replicates the look and density of a real sheepskin lining or wool garment. Some fleeces materials are purely polyester while others are polyester and cotton blends. 

This similar purpose also means that you can use sherpa and fleece fabrics in similar ways. Both have density and softness to the pile of fibers that feels good against the skin and traps enough air for insulation. The difference comes in the ability to do so because of the length of that pile.

What Are The Differences Between Sherpa And Fleece?

However, there are some important differences in the structure of these materials that can affect their properties. The biggest difference between the two is that you get a longer fiber and more realistic sheepskin pile on the front of the sherpa and a dense weave as a backing. It is this fluffier feel that makes sherpa so popular, with many believing that it is the softer and therefore the most appealing option when it comes to winter wear and blankets. 

The science checks out here and you can find that this is a practical option for a blanket, even if it is more expensive or harder to find. The longer fibers and sheepskin effect of sherpa can trap even more air for greater warmth. Some assume that this also makes the material softer. But, that isn’t necessarily true, especially when compared to another type of fleece. 

How Does Sherpa Compare To Microfleece? 

Microfleece is an interesting alternative material that you can find in synthetic garments and blankets. Many people love to use microfleece because of the soft fibers and the more luxurious feel that you can get. It is a practical choice that isn’t going to be too thick nor too cool. The synthetic material also means that it comes in a range of colors for home decor. The material doesn’t pill too badly and holds up well with the right care.

However, you don’t get the same feel or look in microfleece as you will with sherpa. After all, the aim here is to replicate the pelt of the sheep as closely as possible without using the real thing. So, those that like the natural look can appreciate the natural wool color and the texture of sherpa more than something that looks completely man-made. 

Where Can You Find Sherpa For Use In Clothing Or Around The Home?

This more specific purpose for sherpa is where we come to one of its possible disadvantages. The most common application is as a lining for jackets, where that fluffy white lining provides a little more insulation and makes the item a bit more fashionable. Again, it allows wearers the chance to replicate the look of an authentic jacket with sheepskin lining, but without the cruelty. You may also get some throws or blankets in sherpa, but not so many as fleece. 

Fleece, meanwhile, is a little more practical in that we can create thick jackets out of the soft material rather than simply using it as a lining. These fleece coats and pullovers are denser and a little cheaper in quality. But, you can get different colors and prints. Some brands have taken advantage of the growing trend for fleece by using it in some stylish cuts for fashionable coats. Other wearers are embracing the more ironic side with the animal designs and oversized fit. 

Then, if you want a throw for the sofa or a blanket on your bed in winter, you may have more luck with fleece or microfleece. There are some very nice sherpa blankets, but options are more limited and they can be pricier. 

Sherpa Vs Fleece: Which Is Better?

There will be those that love sherpa that claim it is the far superior option when it comes to its feel and warmth. This is no doubt due to that fluffiness and the closer links to the real sheepskin material. However, others appreciate the feel and practicality of fleece. Fleece is still soft and great for homeware, especially if you choose microfleece. There are pros and cons to both so get a feel for them and see what works for you.