French Terry vs Sweatshirt Fleece

Before I start the great debate I want to say that both fabrics are comfortable. Don't kill yourself trying to figure it out.

All sweat shorts are made of either french terry or sweatshirt fleece. There is a slight exception with velour, but that's for another story.

So what is the difference? And does it matter?

French terry and sweatshirt fleece are similar, but the differences can take them from your favorite Sunday shorts to your donation pile.

Both fabrics are comfortable, the difference is in how the fabric is finished. Sweatshirt fleece has shredded yarn loops on the inside. This is what makes the fleece nice and fuzzy.

With French terry, the yarn loops are kept intact. This makes french terry higher in absorbancy and more breathable.

As a rule of thumb: sweatshirt fleece keeps you warm and french terry keeps you cool.

This is because french terry will most likely fall in the lightweight category. Sweatshirt fleece will be a heavier material.

That said, this is not always the case. Make sure to reference the chart below to see where your fabric ranks.

Fabric TypeGrams Meter2 (GSM)*Ounces Per YardAlso Seen As
Lightweight210 - 250 gsm7.4-8.8 ounces100W
Mediumweight260 - 300 gsm9.2-10.6 ounces200W
Heavyweight330 - 400 gsm11.6-14.1 ounces300W

*This is the standard unit for fabric weight. Used both in the United States and internationally.

Fabric weight is important because that determines how thick your shorts are. The higher the GSM the thicker the fabric, and the warmer and heavier your shorts will be.

Most companies do not display fabric weight - I guess they think it isn't important.

But now you know that fabric and weight are most important parts of deciding what sweat shorts to buy.

The good thing is that most companies will tell you if you send them a simple email.

Which Fabric Wins?

Below is a chart I created to help you decide which fabric is right for your legs.

French TerrySweatshirt Fleece
Absorbancy27X Weight in WaterYes
Fabric WeightLightweightMiddleweight to Heavy
Fabric Makeup100% Cotton or Cotton/Poly100% Polyester or Cotton/Poly
Body TempKeeps Body CoolKeeps Body Warm
Wicks MoistureYesYes
Best SeasonFor SummerFor Winter
InsideLoopsFuzzy
LaundryCan ShrinkCan Ravel/Pill up
DriesLongerQuickly
ComfortableYesYes
Working OutYesNot Ideal

As you can tell, both fabrics are comfortable and get the job done.

It is now your decision which fabric suits your needs.

With that, I leave you with this final quote: "French terry is best for summer and sweatshirt fleece is best for winter."

I hope this article helped guide you on your purchasing journey.

Remember, there are no bad sweat shorts. Only bad jeans.

Stay comfortable. Stay awesome.

Michael