Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece Pullover Review 2023

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This is a review of the Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece Pullover, a top-of-the-line fleece pullover that promises to offer year-round comfort and versatility. Designed for an active lifestyle, the Daybreaker is advertised as a versatile and reliable layering option suitable for a wide range of sports and activities.

In this review, we will take a closer look at the features, pros, cons, and overall performance of this budget-friendly fleece pullover. So, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a comfortable and stylish fleece top for everyday wear, keep reading to find out if this half-zip fleece top by Helly Hansen is the right choice for you.

With black Helly Hansen Daybreaker Half Zip Pullover in the mountain

Quick specs: Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece Pullover

Price: $60

Weight: 270 g (9.52 oz), 280 g (9.88 oz) for ‘Black’, and ‘Navy’ respectively in men’s size XL

Material: 100% Recycled polyester

Where to get it: Amazon | Helly Hansen | Campmor | Moosejaw

Notable features:

  • Polartec polyester fleece (recycled), which is a bluesign-approved material.
  • Sturdy YKK zipper with a zip pull end for customized ventilation and easy on and off when wearing gloves; plus a zipper garage for extra comfort.
  • Flatlock seams and stitching, which reduces bulk and minimizes friction and chafing, providing a smooth and comfortable feel.
  • The chest of the pullover features an embroidered HH logo.


  • Classic fleece top with streamlined construction – straight and comfortable cut that fits well and feels very comfortable.
  • Lightweight garment made from soft and breathable fleece fabric; has excellent moisture-wicking and quick-drying abilities.
  • Versatile and ideal for an active lifestyle. Can be comfortably worn in a variety of temperatures, environments, and activities, making it a practical choice for everyday wear both indoors and outdoors.
  • Works best when worn as a second layer over a base layer (in cold weather) as it’s efficient at trapping air close to the body for extra warmth, however, it can be worn on its own too (in mild cold weather).
  • Competitive price as the Daybreaker offers excellent value for money – an attractive option for budget-conscious customers who do not want to compromise on quality.
  • The rich color palette offers a wide range of vibrant and sophisticated hues to choose from, allowing everyone to find the perfect shade to complement his/her personal style and preferences.


  • Cannot be worn on windy days without a wind-resistant or windproof outer layer as the wind gets through the Daybreaker with ease.
  • Would prefer the torso to be a bit longer. The sleeves are the perfect length and their length is good even for taller people than the author (186 cm) but it can be a bit too much for shorter people.
  • Will keep you warm all the time. Yes, this can be a problem in mild cold weather or even on colder days when the level of exertion is too high. It is one of the warmest garments of this type we’ve ever worn.
  • The fabric is fairly abrasion-resistant but may not be the most abrasion-resistant option available.

Women’s Version: Available -> Amazon | Helly Hansen | Campmor | Moosejaw

Dressed in all-black in the mountain
Wearing all-black, including the ‘Black’ Daybreaker, like a ninja on an early morning mountain hike


We had an opportunity to test the Daybreaker for the last three months. During this time, this fleece pullover has been tested in various temps (from -7°C to 10°C or approximately 19-50°F) and environments. And now we can share with you our conclusions regarding this mid-layer.

It is soft, comfortable, and super breathable – perfect for a wide range of cold weather indoor and outdoor activities. From casual walking throughout town to mid or high-intensity activities in the mountain, the Helly Hansen Daybreaker pullover gets you covered. Our conviction is that this is a great fleece top that works best as a mid-layer in a multi-layered system. It’s ideal for cold weather and can be worn in mild cold or cool weather on its own. As with every garment, it has its drawbacks too. You can find more about the advantages and disadvantages of this top in the detailed analysis below.

Detailed review

Material, construction, and durability

The Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece Pullover is crafted from 100% recycled polyester fleece fabric, making it an environmentally-friendly choice. The fabric used in this fleece top is Polartec, which is a bluesign-approved material that meets the criteria for sustainable textile production. If unfamiliar with Polartec, it has been one of the main entities behind the invention of polyester fleece in the 1980s (known as Malden Mills at that time). They continue to be a leading manufacturer of high-performance fleece fabrics today.

The synthetic fleece fabric used in the Daybreaker is stretchy, incredibly soft, and has a non-itch feel. As is typical for fleece, it’s also very breathable and easy to care for. The flatlock seams and stitching provide a more comfortable overall experience by reducing wear, tear, and bulk.

We’ve had no issues with the Daybreaker’s construction so far, and it seems to be solid and durable. The fabric seems to be fairly abrasion-resistant but we advise against activities that involve bushwhacking or encounters with prickly vegetation. It’s too early to tell how well the Daybreaker will hold up over time, but we’ll continue to wear it and provide updates in the future.

Weight and packability

When it comes to weight and packability, typical fleece tops used as mid-layers come in a range of weights. The lightest designs weigh around 200 g (7 oz), while the heaviest ones can weigh more than 400 g (14 oz). However, this particular fleece top falls on the lighter side, with a weight of 270 g (9.5 oz) for the black pullover and 280 g (9.9 oz) for the navy blue Daybreaker, both in men’s size XL. It’s worth noting that we don’t know the reason for the slight difference in weight between the two colors.

Overall, the weight of this fleece top places it among the mid to lighter all-around fleece tops, which is great news for those looking to travel light. And while it’s not the most compact and compressible option out there (as is the case with most fleece garments), it’s still fairly packable.

Despite its somewhat limited packability, the lightweight warmth that the Daybreaker half-zip fleece top provides makes it an excellent choice for cold and winter days and pursuits. It strikes a good balance between weight and warmth, making it a versatile piece of clothing for various outdoor activities.

Dressed in blue fleece top
The ‘Navy’ color is just one of the many options available

Fit and comfort

When it comes to fit and comfort, this fleece top seems to be a winner. We found out that size XL fits well a man who is 186 cm or 6’1″ tall and weighs around 99-100 kg or 218-220 lbs. The sleeves were the perfect length, and the overall fit was comfortable without any restrictions. The stretchy fleece fabric and non-restrictive cut make it easy to get a perfect fit, which is especially helpful for layering. However, we’d have preferred the garment to be an inch or two longer.

The Daybreaker half-zip fleece pullover comes in a range of colors. The two colors shown in this review are ‘Navy’ and ‘Black’. There are several more colors including different green shades – ‘Malachite’, ‘Darkest Spruce’, and ‘Jade 20’, blue shades – ‘Azurite’ and ‘Deep Fjord’, and yellow/orange shades – ‘Mead’ and ‘Deep Canyon’, etc. With such a wide color palette, you’re sure to find a color that suits your personal style and preferences. Seems that whether you want to stand out or blend in, there’s a color for every occasion and environment, from casual town walks to camping or forest/mountain hiking.

One thing to note is that there are several labels sewn into one of the seams that provide information about the manufacturer, material content, and care instructions. While these labels may be informative, they could cause some discomfort and friction, particularly when using the Daybreaker as a base layer. Fortunately, you can avoid any discomfort caused by the labels by removing them.

Warmth and layering

The Daybreaker half-zip is extremely warm, which is a great feature for colder weather and outdoor activities. It offers a very high warmth-to-weight ratio, making it an excellent choice for those who want warmth without added weight. However, in mild cold weather or during high-intensity hiking, overheating can be an issue since the heat production may be higher than the capacity of the garment to release the heat.

The stretchy fabric and good length of the Daybreaker allow for easy layering, accommodating a base layer without any restriction or discomfort. When worn in temperatures around -5°C (23°F), a lightweight merino or all-synthetic base layer, a thin jacket, a pair of gloves, and a hat or headband are all that is needed to stay warm. If walking at a relatively fast pace, you should feel warm enough without needing more clothes.

However, when walking fast in temperatures between 0°C (32°F) and 5°C (41°F), the apparel mentioned above can be too warm, and overheating may occur at some point. The half-zip design of the Daybreaker provides an option to control airflow and avoid overheating, which is good. But you’d also need your jacket to have some features to improve airflow (such as underarm ventilation zips). It’s essential to consider the weather conditions and your activity level when layering with this fleece top.

With Navy fleece half-zip top in snowy conditions
The Daybreaker feels nice and warm in most conditions on and off the trail

At temperatures around 7-10 degrees Celsius (45°F to 50°F), the Daybreaker top can be used as a base layer. In still weather, no outer layer is necessary, and most users will feel sufficiently warm. However, in sunny weather without shade, you may feel uncomfortably warm.

If the temperature is above 10°C or 50°F, we would not recommend using this fleece top on its own as it may be too warm for physical activity. Wearing this fleece in such temperatures may result in feeling too warm while being active.

Breathability and ventilation

The Daybreaker fleece half-zip top boasts good breathability and ventilation properties, making it a great choice for a range of activities in different weather conditions. The fleece fabric has excellent air permeability, which can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending on the weather conditions and level of exertion. In still weather, this fleece top provides good heat retention, while in windy conditions, it works well as a mid-layer under a wind-resistant outer layer. However, in windy conditions without a suitable outer layer, the wind gusts may compromise the insulation properties of the fleece, making it less effective at regulating body temperature.

The zipper on the garment has a zip tab, which makes it easy to operate even when wearing gloves. This is particularly helpful in cold weather when gloves are essential to keep the hands warm. The heat-regulating performance of the fleece is generally good, offering light warmth without risking overheating in most situations. However, during high-intensity activities, such as hiking or skiing, the fleece may not be sufficient to prevent overheating without sweating excessively.

Moisture management and drying speed

The moisture management and drying speed of the Daybreaker are excellent. The polyester fleece fabric is designed to wick sweat away from the body and transfer it to the outer surface of the garment, allowing for quick evaporation. This top feels warm and doesn’t feel clammy even when damp (remember that fleece is a synthetic alternative to wool).

Its fast drying speed means that this garment can be ready for use in no time. The fast drying speed of the Daybreaker can be attributed to its lightweight design and the fact that polyester fleece does not retain or absorb too much moisture – the so-called ‘hydrophobicity‘. After washing, the fleece can be air-dried for as little as one hour in mild weather. This not only reduces the environmental impact of the product but also extends its lifespan.

Zipped versus unzipped black fleece mid-layer
Just zip or unzip this mid-layer when you need to conserve warmth or avoid overheating respectively


The price of the Helly Hansen Daybreaker Half Zip Fleece Pullover is $60, which is already quite competitive compared to other high-quality fleece tops with similar features. However, it can also be found on sale for as little as 50-70% of its original price, i.e. it can be found in the $30-40 range, making it an excellent budget-friendly option.

To give you an idea of how it compares to other fleece tops in the market, let us introduce some of the best models today.

The Mountain Hardwear Polartec Power Grid is a technical mid-layer half-zip fleece top made from Polartec recycled polyester fleece, polyester fleece, and elastane, with stretch binding at the collar and hem, thumb holes at cuffs, and a zippered chest pocket with reflective logo. It comes at $140 and weighs 344 g (12.1 oz) for size M.

The Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0, on the other hand, is a classic fleece jacket with a streamlined design that offers a regular fit. It works well as part of a layered system or as everyday wear. It is a budget-friendly option that costs $65 (which is equal to the regular price of the Helly Hansen Daybreaker Full Zip Jacket) but can be found for $35-45 when on sale.

The Marmot Drop Line 1/2 Zip is a half-zip fleece top that is great for chilly weather. It weighs 383 g (13.5 oz) for size M, which is closer to full-zip jackets than lightweight fleece half-zips. Made of quality material, comfortable and stylish, it has a flatlock-seam construction designed to minimize bulk and eliminate irritation and chafing. It comes with a zippered chest pocket with an integrated media port and a collar lined with Marmot’s DriClime mesh material for added comfort in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. It is priced at $90.

Lastly, the Spyder Bandit Half Zip is another high-quality fleece top that combines the classic sweater look with a modern twist. It has stretch fleece underarms, a brushed microfiber inner collar, a zippered front chest pocket, and brushed microfiber hand pockets, among others. Despite its relatively heavy price tag of $99, this is one of the fleece tops worth checking. It can be found for as little as $50 or so on sale.

No doubt the Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip fleece top has an excellent price-to-quality ratio making it one of the best budget-friendly options on the market.


We find the Daybreaker Half Zip by Helly Hansen an excellent choice for anyone looking for a versatile and comfortable mid-layer for a wide range of outdoor activities. Its soft and breathable fleece fabric provides excellent moisture management and quick-drying properties, ensuring that you stay warm and dry even during intense physical activity. While the lack of sufficient abrasion resistance may limit its use in certain rugged environments, the Daybreaker’s exceptional comfort, value, and quality make it a standout among other fleece tops on the market. At its price point, this fleece pullover offers exceptional value for money, and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular fleece tops for outdoor enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for a reliable and comfortable mid-layer that won’t break the bank, we highly recommend the Helly Hansen Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece Pullover.


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