Are you looking for the best hiking jacket? With a massive range of climates and biomes, there is no one size fits all hiking jacket. With that in mind, we’ve selected our favorite hiking jackets in various styles.
The best hiking jackets should keep the sun off your shoulders during the day, keep you warm in the evening, be comfortable against your skin, and keep you dry during those unexpected downpours. They pretty much need to be prepared to have the wringer thrown at them, whether that’s weather, mud, rain, snow, or rock. Oh yeah, and be light and packable enough that you can stuff it in a hiking backpack.
It may seem like a lot to ask from one jacket, but some strong contenders exist. Many of the best hiking jackets will meet all these specifications and more, depending on the climate. We break down hiking jackets into four categories hard shell, down, softshell, and mid-layer. That way, you can find the perfect hiking jacket.
The Four Types of Hiking Jackets
It’s tough to decide on the proper classification of what constitutes a hiking jacket. It is particularly true given the fact that you can hike in literally any climate. It’s walking in nature essentially, so wherever our two feet can take us is where our clothing needs to go.
A hardshell jacket is what most of us are familiar with in terms of a jacket. It’s a durable jacket that is thin and designed to be waterproof. Shell jackets protect against the wind and rain. The most common exterior is a treated Nylon that is layered to create a breathable yet waterproof layer.
Down jackets pack as much warmth as possible in a lightweight jacket. The jackets pack down exceptionally well, provides decent weather protection and a lot of heat. They are a cold-weather staple and great to have on a backcountry trip as temperatures drop at night.
Softshell jackets blend features such as lightweight, breathability, warmth, and windproof and water resistance. Wear the jacket as part of a layering system with a shell jacket on the exterior for exceptional weatherproofing.
Mid-layers are a mixed bag category as the jackets here range from synthetic downs to fleeces. The general premise is for them to supply some warmth and water resistance. These are more the everyday jackets perfect for running errands around town.
Hard Shell Hiking Jackets
|Arc’teryx Zeta SL Gore-Tex Jacket||Lightweight, Waterproof, Premium, Great Features, Room for Layers||Expensive||$299|
|Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket||Reliable Performance, Excellent Price, Durability, Packable||Lackluster Ventilation, A Little Noisy With Movement||$149|
|Helly Hansen Odin Worlds Jacket||Exceptional Quality, Durable, Breathable, Waterproof, Value For Quality||Expensive, Heavier||$450|
|Marmot PreCip Eco-Rain Jacket||Lightweight, Affordable, Solid Value, Weatherproof||Lacks Pockets, Poor Ventilation, Clammy Lining||$100|
|Outdoor Research Helium Jacket||Ultralight, Packable, Waterproof, Cuffed Sleeves||Doesn’t Breath Well, Warmth||$159|
|REI Co-op Drypoint GTX||Lightweight, Waterproof, High Quality, Great Features||No Pit Zips or Ventilation||$249|
Arc’teryx Zeta SL Gore-Tex Jacket
- Price: $299
- Weight: 10.9 oz.
- Material: GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite® Plus
- Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
- Best Features
- Room for Layers
- Great Weight to Performance
- Sporty Look
- Decent Ventilation
There’s nothing better than a lightweight hiking jacket that you don’t even know it’s there until you need it. Arc’teryx’s reputation precedes it; with the features and mindful construction, the brand is well-known. It’s no wonder that their jackets ended up on our list of best-hiking jackets. It is my summer jacket in the Canadian Rockies, and unless you’re into winter mountaineering, it’s a solid year-round choice.
Not only is this jacket waterproof and windproof, but it’s also snow-proof to a point. If you plan to see a lot of snow, you’ll want a lower waist cut, a thicker shell, and more full sleeves. With snow in mind, check out the Zeta AR series, which are high-priced shell jackets. This hiking jacket features two layers of Gore-Tex finished with a durable, water-repellent finish that means you stay dry.
The hiking jacket is packed with technology and specialty fabrics, making it a top-of-the-line investment. It’s the top-rated jacket for weatherproofing, so it will stand up to any harsh elements you may throw at it.
More subtle details like the underarm gussets and the lightweight velcro cuff tighteners make staying comfortable and keeping the moisture locked out easier. Thanks to careful attention to fit (streamlined and flattering) and construction, this hiking jacket is equal parts practical and current – two things that will never go out of style.
The Arc’teryx stands out from the crowd for its weight-to-performance ratio and reliable fit. It packs down well and can fit in almost any size backpack, whether I’m on a lightweight day objective or a multiday thru-hike in the mountains. It’s one of the best hiking jackets for women and men!
Patagonia Torrentshell Hiking Jacket
- Price: $149
- Weight: 12.1 oz.
- Material: Nylon
- Waterproofing: H2No Performance
- Reliable Performance
- Excellent Price
- Feature Rich
- Lackluster Ventilation
- A Little Noisy With Movement
Calling all eco-shoppers: this Patagonia packable hiking jacket is made from 100% recycled nylon fabric and is an excellent hiking jacket for women and men. This jacket will be your best friend, fully waterproof, wind-sealed, and breathable. Not only is the jacket packable, but so is the visor hood.
When it’s not raining hard enough to need a little face awning, simply roll it up and tuck it into the stowaway compartment. The neck has a microfleece lining, so staying toasty and comfortable is guaranteed.
Lined pockets keep your hands toasty when you’re out and about, and velcroed cuffs help keep the cold from sneaking in the back door. Zippered underarms allow you to air yourself out when the going gets a little too warm. You have several color options (many of them horizontally two-toned), which you can be a little more selective about based on your personal preference.
Helly Hansen Odin Worlds Jacket
- Price: $360
- Weight: 16 oz.
- Material: Helly Tech Professional Fabric
- Waterproofing: 20,000gm WP
- Exceptional Quality
- Helmet Compatible
- Value For Quality
The Helly Hansen Odin is an excellent shell and hiking jacket. The jacket has a thick shell that provides plenty of protection and ventilation pit-zips that allow temperature management. It proves itself to be versatile. While in the summer you may use it for hiking, in winter it’s great for backcountry skiing. The robust shell impressed us with the supple yet durable rubbery finish.
The jacket is exceptional at protecting from the elements with solid material and quality seams. The feature set provides deep front pockets, an adjustable storm hood, wrist adjustment, waist cinch, and a breast pocket. It’s a well-rounded jacket that feels ready to tackle the most inclement weather. We put it through the wringer in the Canadian Rockies and have yet to find shortcomings.
While the $450 price tag is certainly not cheap, it offers decent value compared to its competition. Its quality is on par with that of the Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket at hundreds of dollars less. Its only downside is that it is slightly heavier than other jackets on this list, mainly due to its 3-layer, 100% polyamide 70D X 70D face & 100% polyurethane back.
Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket
- Price: $100
- Weight: 11.4 oz.
- Material: Ripstop Nylon
- Waterproofing: 2.5 Nanoproof
- Solid Value
- Decent Performance
- Lacks Pockets
- Poor Ventilation
- Clammy Lining
This lightweight hiking jacket boasts any feature you could need when the wet weather hits, so it’s no surprise it cuts the best lightweight jackets. To make it only better is the tremendous value you get with this jacket as you get a lot of rain jackets for the price. It boasts excellent features like a hood drawstring, fully waterproof coated nylon fabric, and armpit zips for ventilation. A slight hi-lo silhouette covers your back and allows for protection below a backpack on your waist.
Deep front pockets with snap buttons are perfect for holding more than your average pockets (it’s nice to be able to keep your backpack where it belongs). It also comes in some friendly color options. Marmot makes a lot of great rain jackets when it comes to packability, value, and function. Not everyone needs a rain jacket that will hold up to an ocean wave or downpour. It scratches that itch between wanting a cheap packable jacket and getting a quality piece of gear — it’s less than half the price of the Arc’teryx jacket.
Outdoor Research Helium Jacket
- Price: $159
- Weight: 6.3 oz.
- Material: Nylon
- Waterproofing: 2.5L Pertex Shield+
- Cuffed Sleeves
- Slim Cut
- Doesn’t Breath Well
- Not Great For Casual Use
Regarding ultralight jackets, it’s tough to beat the Helium II from Outdoor Research. It weighs only 6.4 ounces, is super comfortable, and offers excellent protection for such a light package. The Pertex waterproof material is very effective for waterproofing and can easily save you from a rainstorm.
Do not expect a lot of features as there is one chest pocket, and the jacket has no hand pockets. The main zipper is minimal, and the hood adjustment is a single pull cord.
The Helium is the most packable hiking jacket on this list, but it’s not well suited to city use, given its style. However, this is an excellent choice if you need an emergency rain jacket in your luggage or backpack.
REI Co-op Drypoint GTX
- Price: $249
- Weight: 10.5 oz.
- Material: 3L GORE-TEX
- Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
- High Quality
- Great Features
- No Pit Zips or Ventilation
We recommend many REI products because they have yet to let us down and are excellent hiking jackets for women and men. Their Drypoint GTX is a fantastic offering for those seeking a top-of-the-line technical coat that doesn’t break the bank, disclosure it’s still expensive. However, with this jacket, you’re getting a tremendous value of a waterproof/weatherproof shell jacket.
The jacket shell is durable and protects against the elements while the interior remains soft and dry. We like the features such as hand pockets, waist cinches, vents, a comfortable hood, and cuff adjustments.
If you’re not an avid outdoor enthusiast, don’t fret, as this hybrid hiking jacket blends elements for everyday and technical hiking jacket. You’ll notice it mainly in the cut of the jacket. Most importantly, this jacket is lightweight and can easily roll up into the hood for travel days riding in your daypack.
Women’s Drypoint Hiking Jacket
Men’s Drypoint Hiking Jacket
Down Hiking Jackets
|Down Jacket||Pros||Cons||Avg Price|
|Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket||Superior Warmth, Lightweight, Style, Cut, Packable Sack, Insulation, Fit||Price, Slim Fit For Some Builds||$380|
|Patagonia Down Sweater weather||Comfortable, Style, Cut, Wardrobe Staple, Casual Use||Waterproofing, Not Super Warm||$229|
|REI Coop Down Jacket 2.0||Light, Comfortable, Unbeatable Price.||Loose Fit, Warmth||$99|
|Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket||Superior Warmth, Company Ethos, Lightweight, Super Comfortable, Warm Hood, Cinch Waist, Weatherproof||Bulky Fit, Not Waterproof, Expensive||$339|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 ||Comfortable, Warm, Style, Ultralight,||Slim Fit, Not Technical, Not Waterproof, Expensive, Durability Issues||$325|
Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket
- Price: $380
- Weight: 10.8 oz.
- Material: Nylon (Arato 10)
- Fill: 3.4 oz. of 850-fill down
- Superior Warmth
- Packable Sack
- Slim Fit
A sleek design and an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio make the Cerium LT a winner. You can wear the jacket as a mid-layer or a stand-alone, with the only drawback being durability regarding branches or sharp points.
It’s filled with a high-quality 850-fill-power down. The shell is rated 10D, making for an incredibly light outer layer at only 10.8 oz in total weight. If we’re only judging packing power regarding jackets, the Cerium takes the cake.
I love the high-tech design feature of composite mapping. Arc’teryx has effectively added a small amount of Coreloft synthetic insulation to areas prone to moisture. The synthetic material is vitalized around the shoulders, collar, cuffs, and, most importantly, underarms.
They are well-loved by outdoor enthusiasts and put to the test daily. It shouldn’t be surprising they have a loyal client base. The Cerium jacket would be a solid choice for the more active travelers for their winter wear. It has become my go-to down jacket and what we use for sports in the Canadian Rockies. It’s easily the best packable down jacket, but you’ll have to pay for that performance.
Women’s Hiking Jacket Cerium
Men’s Hiking Jacket Cerium
Patagonia Down Sweater
- Price: $229
- Weight: 13.1 oz
- Material: Recycled Ripstop Polyester
- Fill: 3 oz. of 800-fill down
- Wardrobe Staple
- Casual Use
- Roomy fit
The Better Sweater was the first down jacket I bought, becoming a staple in my wardrobe. I love that the jacket blurs the line between casual and performance perfectly. Whatever scenario you’d need, a down jacket for the Down Sweater will be up to the task. I use the jacket as a mid-layer for skiing, traveling around Europe, and casual walks in the neighborhood.
We also love Patagonia’s commitment to sustainable practices and activism. The jacket shell is 100% recycled polyester, and the fill is traceable goose down. Its casual looks feel appropriate everywhere, and it does a beautiful job of keeping you warm.
The down jacket uses a nylon 20-D shell on the spec side of the things, and the insulation is 3.4 oz of 800-fill power goose down. The down does an excellent job of handling wet conditions due to the DWR, which provides a hydrophobic quality.
It is comfortable and well suited for city wear, weekend trips, or mountain summits. The Patagonia Down Sweater is versatile! It’s been Patagonia’s best-selling product for years because it feels equally at home in the mountains and city while not breaking the bank.
Women’s Patagonia Down
Men’s Patagonia Down
REI Coop Down Jacket 2.0
- Price: $99
- Weight: 10.5 oz.
- Material Recycled Nylon
- Fill: 650-fill down
- Unbeatable Price
- BlueSign Approved
- Loose Fit
It is the most affordable packable down jacket on this list. REI has designed a great jacket that is perfect for casual use and cool climates. It’s a down jacket that only costs $100, which is about as inexpensive as they come in the down jacket world. When REI first released this down jacket, it flew off the shelves and has been in high demand ever since. Its closest competitors in quality come in at about double the price.
The jacket is lightweight at only 10.3 ounces and packs up nicely. Warmth is its only downfall, but the 3 ounces of 650-fill-power down will keep you warm in cool climates. It’s not the warmest jacket by any means on this list, but it gets the job done, especially at the price point.
When it comes time to move to the next destination, the jacket packs up into the left pocket and occupies minimal space in your luggage. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle light rain, snow, and wind.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable, no-fuss jacket that will handle travel, light winter sports, and cool days. It’s a lightweight, packable down jacket that’s under $100; tough not to love that price point.
Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket
- Price: $339
- Weight: 10.6 oz
- Material: Pertex® Quantum®
- Fill: 3.7 oz. 900+ Fill
- Superior Warmth
- Company Ethos
- Super Comfortable
- Warm Hood
- Cinch Waist
- Bulky Fit,
- Not Waterproof,
If you need a warm jacket, it’s tough to do better in terms of weight vs. warmth than the Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket. This down jacket features 2.8 ounces of 900-fill down with a down hood and an insulated draft tube behind the zipper. The jacket design effectively retains your heat.
While it may not be best for climates with a light chill, it is perfect for cold weather. Our only gripe with the jacket is the slightly bulky fit. It also has a very technical appearance and isn’t as appealing for wear around town. However, for the price, it’s tough to beat the warmth and weight.
Feathered Friends is in Seattle, Washington, and hand makes every jacket order. Their goal is to make ethical down garments for those who seek out the best performance. Be warned, it takes up to a week to receive the down jacket, if not longer in peak season. However, you’re supporting a passionate outdoor business. Also, you can only order their jacket through their online store (they ship internationally) or in Seattle.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
- Price: $325
- Weight: 7.7 oz.
- Material: 7D & 10D Nylon
- Fill: 2.8 oz. of 800-fill down
- Not Technical
- Not Waterproof
- Durability Issue
Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer 2 can take you from the airport to the backcountry. It has less warmth than the competitors but features a slim cut in an ultralight package. The lightweight nature is due to a 7D ripstop nylon shell and 2.8 ounces of 800 fill-power down.
The 800-fill power down has Q.Shield moisture-resistant hydrophobic down. Water-resistant down combined with Mountain Hardwear’s ripstop nylon does a great job protecting from elements like wind and light precipitation.
With darker, more subtle colors, a slim cut, and the classic puffed ribbing, it’s a sharp-looking jacket. While this packable down hiking jacket won’t replace a heavyweight jacket, it is exceptional in its ability to compress. Despite that, it is an excellent jacket for standalone winter travel gear. It’s a perfect option for those obsessed with as light as gear as possible.
Women’s Ghost Whisperer
Men’s Ghost Whisperer
Soft Shell Hiking Jackets
|Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody||Arc’teryx Fit, High Quality, Durable, Performance||Lacks Insulation||$249|
|The North Face Apex Bionic 2||Casual Style, Warmth, Durable, Price, Comfort||Boxy Fit, Lacks Hood||$149|
|Patagonia Airshed Pullover||Ultralight, Versatile, Packs in Pocket, Excellent Ventilation||No Insulation,|
|Black Diamond Dawn Patrol||High Quality, Durable, Performance, Value||Slightly Off Fit||$199|
|Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody||Ultra Lightweight, Comfort, Versatile, Packs Down Incredibly Small||Lacks Warmth||$159|
Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody
- Price: $249
- Weight: 19.2 oz.
- Material: Double Weave (56% Nylon, 34% Polyester, 10% Elastane)
- Arc’teryx Fit
- High Quality
- Lacks Insulation
- Not Waterproof
Arc’teryx knows how to deliver a premium product and often takes the top spot in categories if not for the price. The Gamma LT is a tremendous softshell hiking jacket. It brings fantastic performance with quality materials and a great fit that moves with your body.
The Gamma offers a lot of breathability, comfort, and durability. When it’s cool out, I often feel comfortable wearing the Gamma while hiking uphill. Even in a great hardshell jacket, I still feel a little clammy.
It’s also a sharp-looking jacket that feels at home in the mountains or running errands in town. It’s so great you can even wear it as a ski jacket. We love a piece that feels this universal, thus better value despite a high price tag.
If strong protection from heavy wind or rain is not needed, I consider a softshell your go-to hiking jacket. Granted, replacing a hardshell is tough when you’re caught in heavy rain.
Women’s Gamma LT Hoody
Men’s Gamma LT Hoody
The North Face Apex Bionic 2
- Price: $149
- Weight: 24 oz.
- Material: Polyester
- Casual Style
- Boxy Fit
- Lacks Hood
It is one of Natasha’s favorite jackets, and her first version has lasted almost a decade. It’s more of a casual jacket, but most people are only hobbyists and don’t need the performance of an Arc’teryx jacket. The Apex Bionic is a great casual soft-shell jacket with a relaxed fit and looks great.
It still carries some great technical features that lend well to hiking. Such as breathability, warmth, durability, and weatherproofing. Its casual use and price point make it the most popular softshell jacket on the market.
Patagonia Airshed Pullover
- Price: $119
- Weight: 3.7 oz.
- Material: Nylon/Polyester
- Packs in Pocket
- Excellent Ventilation
- Good For Aerobic Sports
- No Insulation
- Weight Sacrifices Durability
- Not Great For Cold Weather
The Airshed Pullover is one of the lightest softshell jackets on the market and has great potential. Heavy softshell jackets like the Apex Bionic above are only good in cooler temperatures. However, a super lightweight shell can be layered with anything from a t-shirt to a down jacket to match the climate.
The Airshed is a superb softshell hiking jacket if you spend more time hiking in warm temperatures like in the American Southwest or Southeast. It keeps wind and rain out while providing solid ventilation. The Airshed is greatly appreciated when gaining a hill in a shower while trail running or mountain biking.
It’s similar to the Whirlwind Hoody above but less durable, lacks a hood, and comes in half the weight. It also packs into the pocket for easy storage in a trail running vest or climbing harness. With similar feature sets, it all depends on which climate you spend more time hiking around or your hiking style.
I love carrying this jacket in my back pocket or water bottle holder when mountain biking if I’m worried about inclement weather or colder days. In particular, this is a terrific option for fast hikers, trail runners, or bikers seeking protection without dying of heat.
Black Diamond Dawn Patrol
- Price: $199
- Weight: 19 oz.
- Material: Nylon/Polyester
- High Quality
- Slight Off Fit
Black Diamond has been producing climbing gear for decades and recently started its clothing line. The Dawn Patrol is an excellent softshell hiking jacket and one of their best apparel products. It brings fantastic performance with quality materials and a great fit that moves with your body. The durable fabric can stand up to just about anything, even in winter conditions.
It’s also a sharp-looking jacket that feels at home in the mountains or running errands in town. It’s so great you can even wear the jacket skiing. We love a piece that feels this universal, thus better value despite a high price tag. It’s similar to the Arc’teryx above, but at about $50 cheaper. It has more pockets than the Arc’teryx, but its hood lacks the adjustability found in the Gamma.
Women’s Dawn Patrol
Men’s Dawn Patrol
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody
- Price: $159
- Weight: 4.9 oz.
- Material: Stretch Nylon
- Ultra Lightweight
- Packs Down Incredibly Small
- Lacks Warmth – Designed for high aerobics or warmer weather
We love the versatility of an ultralight softshell hoody. The Arc’teryx Squamish hoody gets its name from an awesome town we’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring. It’s designed for all the activities we love climbing, trail-running, hiking, and mountain biking. Since it’s a very lightweight jacket, it is best used for active endeavors.
It provides just enough protection to wear in cooler temperatures. The jacket is lightweight and offers wonderful breathability. It’s great to wear when climbing a steep hill, running, hiking, or biking in cooler weather. Since it’s ultralight, it’s easy to transition between wearing the jacket. It packs down into a convenient breast pocket that is no larger than orange. The jacket can quite literally fit in a pants pocket (a bulky one).
Of course, this is more a windbreaker than a standard softshell jacket. It does a commendable job blocking out wind and can handle light rain well. However, I have been soaked in this jacket, so I don’t believe a jacket this light can replace a hard shell jacket.
Women’s Squamish Hoody
Men’s Squamish Hoody
Mid Layer Hiking Jackets
|Mid Layer Jacket||Pros||Cons||Price|
|Patagonia Nano-Air Hoodie||Comfort, Relaxed Fit, Weatherproof, Warm,||Not As Warm As Down||$299|
|Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody||Synthetic, Lightweight, Durable Outershell, Weather Resistance, Makes Great Mid Layer||Price, Synthetic Down Not As Warm, Air Permeable||$259|
|Cortazu All Seasons Mid Layer||Lightweight, Stylish Fit, Packable||Not for Super Cold Weather||$200|
Patagonia Nano-Air Hoodie
- Price: $299
- Weight: 12.4 oz.
- Material: Polyester/FullRange Down
- Relaxed Fit
- Not As Warm As Down
Best suited for colder climates, the Nano-Air Hoodie is a great hiking jacket. Initially designed for rock climbers, you can count on this jacket can withstand the wear and tear of hiking without losing its stylish, low-profile look. It is super comfortable and is excellent for warmth for skiing, hiking, or sitting around the campfire.
It gives you the comfort and warmth of fleece while also being faster to dry than its down jackets. This jacket stands out because it can breathe and move with your body.
The soft feel is similar to what I love about the Ascendant Hoody, just a comfortable jacket you can enjoy lounging around at the end of the day. Please don’t make the mistake that it’s not prepared to tackle the backcountry for some snowy days, though!
Women’s Hiking Jacket: Nano-Air
Men’s Hiking Jacket: Nano-Air
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
- Price: $259
- Weight: 13.2 oz
- Material: Polyester/Elastane
- Fill: 65g CoreLoft Compact 80
- Durable Outershell
- Weather Resistance
- Makes Great Mid Layer
- Synthetic Down Not As Warm
- Air Permeable
Arc’teryx makes this list of hiking jackets a lot, but it does carry a big reputation for a reason. One of their best-selling jackets is the Atom LT, a tremendously lightweight and warm mid-layer jacket.
They’ve taken the stance that it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and the jacket has remained the same for years. The Atom delivers everything you want in a mid-layer between warmth, mobility, and fit.
It’s similar to the Nano-Air above but features a more rigid shell that provides durability and sacrifices ventilation (still excellent). It’s a tough call between this and the Nano-Air, but it comes down to comfort vs. durability, as Patagonia offers a more comfortable product thanks to its liner.
It has a drawback; the outer shell is excellent at letting heat escape, but it also means that wind cuts through the jacket. Altogether this is an ideal jacket for those who enjoy sports outdoors in cold weather like hiking, climbing, backpacking, ski touring, or snowboarding.
Cortazu All Seasons Mid Layer
- Price: $200
- Weight: 11.1 oz.
- Material: Dermizax EV
- Stylish Fit
- Not for Super Cold Weather
I love this jacket! It’s perfect for hiking as it is lightweight, super soft, and breathable. It also packs up very nicely in my day pack. A multipurpose hiking jacket is an excellent mid-layer during all seasons, but I’ve even used it as my primary jacket in the summer.
Its main features are a packable hood, a dedicated phone pocket, and durable zippers to keep precipitation out. Cortazu also offers a generous 10-year warranty should anything go wrong with the jacket.
Women’s All Seasons
Men’s All Seasons
How to Pick a Hiking Jacket?
Style is always an issue regarding hiking jackets, particularly those made for wet climates. It’s pretty easy to start to dislike a particular coat because, while functional, it doesn’t have any style or look.
We’ve kept this list of jackets narrowed to options that give you a certain versatility and a sleek and understated look so that you won’t feel clunky, boxy, or out of place. Plus, something you’ll be happy to wear when you’re back home, on your way to work, or just out and about on your day off.
Material plays the most critical role in the quality of a hiking jacket, and it’s easy to distinguish jacket quality when you begin at materials used. To make things easier, here are the five primary materials you’ll find in hiking jackets ranked. It’s also interesting to note that as the material increases in technical functions, it also sacrifices looks and style.
To understand how GORE-TEX works, it’s best to understand different waterproofings. There are two main ways that waterproofing is achieved, coating and laminating.
The coating is the most common. It is achieved by spreading a thin layer of hydrophobic material over a jacket’s exterior and allowing the fabric to soak up the weather-resistant properties.
You see this in nylon, polyester, and even cotton. The coating is DWR, and it is the cheapest waterproofing. That cheapness comes with some downsides as it is not waterproof, it’s weatherproof, and over time with washes, it breaks down. You can apply products like Scotchguard to replace the DWR.
Laminating is the more expensive and effective form of waterproofing. The most common form is with the technology referred to as GORE-TEX, which is a brand name similar to Band-Aid. It bonds a cross weave of nylon fabrics to form a waterproof material.
Nylon is a great product and what you find throughout most outdoor gear. It offers excellent weight to strength. Nylon is also water-resistant, breathable, and quick-drying.
Smack dab in the middle of this list is Canvas. It requires wax or coating to remain water and weather-resistant. The best example is the hiking jackets on offer from Fjallraven; they use their proprietary G-1000 canvas material.
Polyester is super prevalent. It’s a cheaper material and one of the best ways to distinguish high-end vs. more affordable options. Polyester has a lower fail rate, easier to snag, and requires a weather-resistant coating to remain water-resistant, which breaks down over time.
Cotton is a classic style, but when it comes down to jackets, it’s not great. It’s soft but absorbs moisture. We never advise wearing cotton in cold or wet weather environments.
If you’ve ever been caught in an unexpected downpour while traveling, you know what a dampener it can put on the rest of your day. So, finding a lightweight travel jacket that has some form of water resistance is a biggy.
Nylon or polyester hiking jackets are great for this. They have natural moisture-wicking abilities and usually come with a waterproof coating that keeps the rain from getting through. Cotton, on the other hand, while comfortable, is awful in this scenario. This material gets soggy and misshapen and can take hours to dry, leaving you cranky and miserable for the rest of the day.
Even when faced with the coldest of climates, you still want a lightweight hiking jacket that gives you some form of breathability. Without it, you’re likely to get sweaty and sticky underneath, and that’s never comfortable. Breathability comes in a few states, some inherent in the fabrics and some as an added feature.
Jackets with a “mesh-lined yolk” will give you maximum airflow where you need it most while still being able to keep the cold air out. This feature is beneficial in lightweight winter hiking jackets with warm down or synthetic fill that traps the heat. Also, jackets made from Merino wool, nylon, and polyester have significant degrees of breathability. I think you might be able to tell what our favorite fabrics will be at this point!
While traveling, it’s a no-brainer that you want to bring along clothing that can squish down to a reasonable size. All the more room for those knick-knacks and souvenirs you’re going to pick up along the way! So, finding a minimalistic hiking jacket when packed down is significant, and there are a few ways that lightweight hiking jackets achieve this.
First, some come with their compression sacks. It will be a small bag that will scrunch down your jacket to its smallest size so you can throw it into the side of your backpack with ease. Another way is finding a jacket that packs down into its pocket. It eliminates the concern of losing any accessories but allows you to ball up the jacket into its tiniest dimensions. You can also lay your jacket flat at the bottom of your suitcase and pack your other belongings on top, as long as it’s thin enough.
Pockets are a great addition to everyday wear, but they become almost a dealbreaker for hiking jackets. These handy inventions keep you from having to lug a heavy bag everywhere you go just to take your credit cards, cash, and passport.
Even in a chilly airport, having a jacket with plenty of front pockets will allow you to quickly access your tickets and identification without having to scrounge through your suitcase.
Many hiking jackets will even come with RFID internal chest pockets, where you know your passport will be safe. Also, having hip pockets is a great way to warm up your hands quickly on those chilly days when you don’t want to carry around gloves.
Ability to Layer
Another outstanding characteristic that the best hiking jackets have to offer is the ability to layer. If the jacket is too bulky or form-fitting, you will lose the ability to layer sweaters underneath or a vest over the top.
It is vital in those fast-changing climates where you need to be extra prepared for weather shifts! You will want to look for jackets that are slightly loose while also being thin enough to throw additional layers on top. We recommend wearing bulky clothes and bringing an extra jacket with you when you try jackets on.