20 Best Hiking Jackets To Tackle The Trail

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 a variety of 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.

This may seem like a lot to ask from one jacket, but there are some strong contenders. Many of the best hiking jackets will meet all these specifications and more, depending on the climate. We break them down hiking jackets into four categories hard shell, down, soft shell, and mid-layer that way you can find the perfect hiking jacket.

The 20 Best Hiking Jackets

Hard Shell Hiking Jackets

Things to do in Banff -  Hiking Jacket Arc'teryx Zeta SL
Wind, rain, or snow, the Arc’teryx Zeta SL jacket performs at 3000m.
With the Helly Hansen Odin Worlds

1.) Arc’teryx Zeta SL Gore-Tex Jacket ($299)

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Best Packable Rain Jacket
  • Weight: 10.9 oz.
  • Material: GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite® Plus
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
  • Pros: Lightweight, Waterproof, Premium, Best Features, Room for Layers, Great Weight to Performance, Sporty Look
  • Cons: Price

There’s nothing better than a hiking jacket that’s so lightweight you don’t even know it’s there until you need it. Arc’teryx’s reputation precedes it; with the features and mindful construction for which the brand is well-known, it’s no wonder that their jackets ended up on our list of best-hiking jackets. This is my summer jacket in the Canadian Rockies, and unless you’re into winter mountaineering (probably no one reading this list), 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 have plans to see a lot of snow you’ll want a lower waist cut, thicker shell, and more robust sleeves. With snow in mind check out the Zeta AR series, but those are high priced shell jackets. This hiking jacket features two layers of Gore-Tex finished with a durable, water repellent finish means you stay dry.

The jacket is packed with technology and specialty fabrics that make 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 only make it easier to stay comfortable and keep the moisture locked out. Thanks to careful attention to fit (streamlined and flattering) and construction, this hiking jacket is in equal parts practical and current – two things that will never go out of style.

The Arc’teryx stands out from the crowd for 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.

2.) Helly Hansen Odin Worlds Jacket ($360)

  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Material: Helly Tech Professional Fabric
  • Waterproofing: 20,000gm WP
  • Pros: Helmet Compatible, Durable, Breathable, Waterproof
  • Cons: Expensive, Heavier

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 for temperature management it proves itself to be versatile. While in the summer you may use it for hiking and in the winter it’s great for backcountry skiing. It’s a robust shell that impressed us with the supple yet durable rubbery finish.

With the use of strong material and quality seems the jacket is exceptional at protection from the elements. 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 of weather. We put it through the wringer in the Canadian Rockies and have yet to find shortcomings.

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.

3.) Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket ($100)

packable rain jacket marmot precip
  • Weight: 11.4 oz.
  • Material: Ripstop Nylon
  • Waterproofing: 2.5 Nanoproof
  • Pros: Lightweight, Affordable, Value, Weatherproof
  • Cons: No Pockets, Poor Ventilation,

This lightweight jacket boasts pretty much any feature you could possibly need when the wet weather hits, so it’s no surprise it made the cut for the best lightweight jackets. To make it only better is the tremendous value you get with this jacket as for the price you get a lot of rain jacket. It boasts some great 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 nice 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. This 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.

4.) Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket ($119)

 Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket Best Lightweight Jacket
  • Weight: 6.4 oz.
  • Material: Nylon
  • Waterproofing: 2.5L Pertex Shield+
  • Pros: Ultralight, Packable, Waterproof, Cuffed Sleeves, Slim Cut
  • Cons: Doesn’t Breath Well, Warmth, Style

When it comes to ultralight jackets it’s tough to beat the Helium II from Outdoor Research. It weighs only 6.4 ounces is super comfortable and offers great protection for such a light package. The Pertex waterproof material is very effective for waterproofing and can easily save you in a rainstorm.

Do not expect a lot of features as there is only one chest pocket and no hand pockets. The main zipper is minimal and a single-pull cord is used for hood adjustment. This is the most packable hiking jacket on this list, but we place it at number eight as it’s not well suited to city use given its style. However, if you need an emergency rain jacket in your luggage or backpack this is an excellent choice.

5.) REI Co-op Drypoint GTX ($249)

Best Hiking Jackets REI Drypoint
  • Weight: 10.5 oz.
  • Material: 3L GORE-TEX
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
  • Pros: Lightweight, Waterproof, High Quality, Great Features,
  • Cons: Lacks Key Features

We recommend a lot of REI products because they have yet to let us down. Their Drypoint GTX is a fantastic offering for those seeking a top of the line technical jacket that doesn’t totally break the bank, disclosure it’s still expensive. However, with this jacket, you’re getting a tremendous value a waterproof/weatherproof shell jacket.

The jacket shell is durable and holds up well 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 is a hybrid hiking jacket that blends together elements for an everyday and technical hiking jacket. You’ll notice it mainly in the cut of the jacket. Most importantly is this jacket is lightweight and can easily roll up into the hood for travel days or riding in your daypack.

6.) Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket ($149)

Patagonia Torrentshell Hiking Rain Lightweight Jacket
  • Weight: 12.1 oz.
  • Material: Nylon
  • Waterproofing: H2No Performance
  • Pros: Packable, Hood, Feature Rich, Pockets
  • Cons: Poor Ventilation

Calling all eco-shoppers: this Patagonia packable hiking jacket is made from 100% recycled nylon fabric. Fully waterproof, wind-sealed, and breathable, this jacket will be your best friend. 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 is also lined with microfleece, so staying toasty and comfortable is a guarantee.

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, so to speak. Zippered under-arms give you the option of airing yourself out when the going gets a little too warm, and several color options (many of them horizontally two-toned) means you can be a little more selective based on your personal preference.

Down Hiking Jackets

Arc'teryx Cerium Down on Cascade mountain Summit
Cameron Down Jacket
Patagonia’s Better Sweater is perfect for everyday use.

7.) Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket ($380)

Arc'Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 10.8 oz.
  • Material: Nylon
  • Fill: 3.4 oz. of 850-fill down
  • Pros: Market Leading product with Great insulation
  • Cons: Tight fit and high price

Arc’teryx is Canada’s answer to Patagonia in the United States and they sure deliver. The Northern neighbors have brutal winters and they’re very much into winter weather activities with some of the best alpine sports in North America. It’s a pricey brand like their competitor, but they deliver a quality product.

The Cerium LT Hoody is a great looking lightweight down jacket. 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 standalone. With the only drawback being durability in regards to branches or sharp points.

It’s filled with a high-quality 850-fill-power down. The shell is rated 10-D which makes for an incredibly light outer layer at only 10.8 oz in total weight. If we’re only judging packing power in regards to 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.

Their well-loved by outdoor enthusiasts and they put them to the test on a daily basis. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise they have a loyal client base. For the more active travelers, the Cerium jacket would be a solid choice for their winter wear. This has become my go-to down jacket and what we use for sports in the Canadian Rockies.

8.) Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket ($339)

Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket
  • Weight: 9 oz.
  • Material: Pertex® Quantum®
  • Fill: 2.8 oz. 900 Fill
  • Pros: Superior Warmth And Weight, Super Comfortable, Warm Hood, Cinch Waist, Weatherproof
  • Cons: Bulky Fit, Not Waterproof

If you need a warm jacket it’s not possible to do better in terms of weight vs warmth than 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 last feature means that frigid air has no chance of making it through this beast of a vest.

While it may not be best for climates with a light chill, it is perfect for cold weather. These are our favorite down hiking jackets on the market and we both have one. Our only gripe with the jacket is the slightly bulky fit. If you demand the best down jackets than look no further.

Feathered Friends is based in Seatle Washington and hand makes every jacket order. Their premise is about making ethical down garments for those who seek out the best performance. Be warned, it takes up to a week to receive the hiking 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.

9.) Patagonia Down Sweater weather ($229)

Patagonia Packable Down Jacket Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 13.1 oz
  • Material: Nylon
  • Pros: Comfortable, Warm, Style, Cut, Patagonia Brand Name, Wardrobe Staple
  • Cons: Not Waterproof

This was the first down jacket Natasha ever bought and it became a staple of her wardrobe. It does come with a higher price tag, but we love the Patagonia brand. In addition to being a great sweater the jacket shell is made from 100% recycled polyester and the fill is traceable goose down.

We love the look of this jacket and it does a wonderful job at keeping you warm. There is a lightweight version of the jacket, but it has an even higher price tag and the shell is less durable. However, the lightweight version does compress better due to a 15-D shell. The shell of the down sweater is a nylon 20-D and the fill is 800-fill power goose down.

The down does a good job at handling wet conditions due to the DWR treatment it receives. This provides a hydrophobic quality to the down. The Down Sweater has a comfortable design and fits that is well suited for city wear and weekend trips. This is Tasha’s hiking jacket of choice. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that is highly rated in down jacket reviews as well.

I personally love the versatility of it. When combined with an outer shell you’re sure to be warm no matter what the temperature is outside. It’s an easy pick and is cheaper than the Feathered Friends above which is better in terms of mountain performance, not something we all need.

What really stands out about the Better Sweater is the versatility and price. 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.

10.) REI Coop Down Jacket 2.0 ($99)

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 10.5 oz.
  • Material Nylon
  • Fill: 650-fill down
  • Pros: Light, Comfortable, Unbeatable Price.
  • Cons: Loose Fit, Warmth

The most affordable 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. 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 incredibly lightweight at only 10.2 ounces and packs up well. 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.

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. A nylon shell is lightweight and has some water-resistant capabilities. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle light rain, snow, and wind.

If you’re looking for an affordable no-fuss jacket that will be able to handle travel, light winter sports, and cool days then this is a great choice. It’s a lightweight down jacket that’s under a $100, really tough not to love that price point.

11.) Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer ($350)

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Best Lightweight Jackets
  • Weight: 7.7 oz.
  • Material: Nylon
  • Waterproofing: DWR
  • Pros: Comfortable, Warm, Style, Ultralight,
  • Cons: Not Technical, Not Waterproof

If you’re looking for an ultralightweight travel jacket that can take you from the airport to the backcountry than Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer is leading in class. It has less warmth than the Feathered Friends above but makes up for that with its slim cut style and weight.

Outdoor manufacturers have not always nailed it when it comes to style, but this lightweight down nylon blend jacket is here to change your mind. With darker, more subtle colors, slim cut, and the classic puffed ribbing, this jacket will help you turn heads while keeping you exceptionally warm in the coldest of climates. 

Soft Shell Hiking Jackets

Best Hiking Jackets Whirlwind Hoody

12.) Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody ($249)

Arc’teryx Gamma LT Hoody Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 19.2 oz.
  • Material: Double Weave (56% Nylon, 34% Polyester, 10% Elastane)
  • Pros: Arc’teryx Fit, High Quality, Durable, Performance,
  • Cons: Lacks Insulation

Arc’teryx knows how to deliver a premium product and often take the top spot in categories if not for price. The Gamma LT is a tremendous softshell hiking jacket. It manages to bring amazing performance with quality materials and a great fit that moves with your body. Don’t expect a plethora of wamrth as it’s a true soft shell jacket, but that does lend well to versatility and weight. The durable outer fabric can stand up to just about anything, even 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 versatile thus better value despite a high price tag.

13.) The North Face Apex Bionic 2 ($149)

The North Face Apex Bionic 2  Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 24 oz.
  • Material: Polyester
  • Pros: Casual Style, Warmth, Durable, Price, Comfort
  • Cons: Boxy Fit, Lacks Hood

This is one of Natasha’s favorite jackets and her first version has lasted almost a decade now. It’s more of a casual jacket, but the vast majority of people are only hobbyist and don’t need the performance of a Arc’teryx jacket. The Apex Bionic is a great casual softshell jacket that has a relaxed fit and looks great.

It still carries some great techincal features that lends well to hiking. Such as breathability, warmth, durability, and weatherproofing. It’s casual use and pricepoint makes it the most popular softshell jacket on the market.

14.) Patagonia Airshed Pullover ($119)

Patagonia Airshed Pullover Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 3.7 oz.
  • Material: Nylon/Polyester
  • Pros: Ultralight, Versatile, Packs in Pocket,
  • Cons: No Insulation, Weight Sacrifices Durability, Not Great For Cool Environments

The Airshed Pullover is one of the lightest softshell jackets on the market and has a ton of potential. Many of the softshell jackets are only good in cooler temperatures and carry a lot of weight like Apex Bionic above. It’s super lightweight shell can be used to layer with anything from a t-shirt to a down jacket in order to match the climate.

If you spend more time hiking in warm temperatures like in the American Southwest or Southeast then the airshed is a tremendous softshell hiking jacket choice. It’s made to keep wind and rain out while providing solid ventilation. This greatly appreciated when gaining a hill in light rain.

It’s very similar to the Whirlwind Hoody above, but less durable, lacks a hood, and comes in at half the weight. It also packs down into the pocket for easy storage in a trail running vest or on a climbing harness. With similar feature sets it all really depends on which climate you spend more time hiking around or your style of hiking. I like the Whirlwind Hoody a bit more, but we also live in the Canadian Rockies. In particular this is a tremendous option for fast hikers, trail runners, or bikers seeking protection without dying of heat.

15.) Black Diamond Dawn Patrol ($199)

Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hiking Jackets
  • Weight: 19 oz.
  • Material: Nylon/Polyester
  • Pros: High Quality, Durable, Performance, Value, Pockets
  • Cons: Hood, Insulation

Black Diamond has been producing climbing gear for decades and recently started its clothing line. The Dawn Patrol is a great softshell hiking jacket and one of their best apparel products. It manages to bring amazing performance with quality materials and a great fit that moves with your body. The durable fabric can stand up to just about anything, even 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 versatile thus better value despite a high price tag. It’s very similar to the Arc’teryx above, but at about $50 cheaper in price. It has more pockets than the Arc’teryx, but its hood is a lacks the adjustability found in the Gamma.

Mid Layer Hiking Jackets

Best Hiking Jackets Ascendent Hoody Outdoor Research
Breathtability and warmth makes the Ascendant great for hiking at elevation.

16.) Patagonia Nano-Air Hoodie

Nano Air Hoody Women's Lightweight Jacket
  • Weight: 12.4 oz.
  • Material: Polyester/FullRange Down
  • Pros: Comfort, Relaxed Fit, Weatherproof, Warm, Lightweight
  • Cons: Not As Warm As Down

Best suited for colder climates, the Nano-Air Hoodie is a great hiking jacket. Originally designed for rock climbers, you can count on this jacket is able to withstand the wear and tear of hiking without losing its stylish, low-profile look. It super comfortable and is great 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 counterparts. What really makes this jacket stand out is its ability to 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 in at the end of the day. Don’t make the mistake that it’s not prepared to tackle the backcountry for some snowy days though!

17.) Cortazu All Seasons Mid Layer ($200)

  • Weight: 11.1 oz.
  • Material: Dermizax EV
  • Pros: Lightweight, Stylish Fit, Packable
  • Cons: Not for Super Cold Weather

I absolutely 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. This is a multipurpose hiking jacket that is a great mid-layer during all seasons, but I’ve even used it as my main jacket in the summer.

Some of its main features are a packable hood, dedicated phone pocket, it’s water-resistant, and has durable YKK zippers that will keep the rain out. Cortazu also offers a generous 10-year warranty should anything go wrong with the jacket.

18.) Arc’teryx Atom LT ($239)

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hiking Jackets
  • Weight: 11.1 oz.
  • Material: 20D Nylon/Polartec®
  • Pros: Comfort, Relaxed Fit, Weatherproof, Warm, Lightweight
  • Cons: Ventilation

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 tremendous lightweight and warm mid-layer jacket. They’ve taken the stance of it’s not broke don’t fix it and the jacket has remained the same for years now. The Atom delivers everything you could want in a mid-layer between warmth, mobility, and fit.

It’s really similar to the Nano-Air above, but it features a tougher shell that provides durability and sacrifices ventilation (still great). It’s a tough call between this and the Nano-Air, but it really comes down to comfort vs durability as Patagonia offers a more comfortable product thanks to its liner.

19.) Black Diamond First Light ($229)

Black Diamond First Light Hiking Jackets
  • Weight: 16.6 oz.
  • Material: Nylon/Polyester
  • Pros: Comfort, Fit, Weatherproof, Warmth
  • Cons: Weight, Overkill Shell

Black Diamond has been producing climbing gear for decades and recently started its clothing line. The Firth Light is a great mid-layer hiking jacket and one of their best apparel products. It manages to bring amazing performance with quality materials and a great fit that moves with your body.

This mid-layer is really made with winter conditions in mind with the Schoeller exterior fabric for great tough wind and snow protection. It’s a great well-rounded jacket, but the hard exterior makes it less suited than the typical mid-layer jacket. It also weighs over a pound!

20.) Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man ($175)

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Hiking Jacket
  • Weight: 14.8 oz.
  • Material: Polartec®
  • Pros: Supreme Comfort, Warmth
  • Cons: Border on Ugly, Weight

The Monkey Man is amazing performance fleece and so soft is could be considered pajamas. It’s made with Polartec’s high loft fabric that is both warm and comfortable.

Don’t confuse this fleece with others as the Polartec material allows for it to maintain a slim technical shape. For great stretch the jacket uses This is pretty much a mid-layer jacket only as the Polartec exterior allows for wind to flow freely through the jacket.

How to Pick a Hiking Jacket?


When it comes to hiking jackets, particularly those made for wetter climates, style is always an issue. It’s pretty easy to start to dislike a particular coat because while functional, it just doesn’t have any kind of style or look to it.

We’ve kept this list of jackets narrowed to options that give you a certain versatility but also 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.


Best-Womens-Travel-Clothes Hiking Jackets

Material plays the most important 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.

Coating is the most common and it is achieved by spreading a thin layer of hydrophobic material over a jackets exterior and allowing the fabric to soak up the weather-resistant properties. You see this in nylon, polyester, and even cotton. Coating is referred to as DWR and it is the cheapest waterproofing. That cheapness comes with some downsides as it is not waterproof, it’s weatherproof, and overtime with washes it breaks down. It can be reapplied with products like Scotchguard.

Laminating is the more expensive and effective form of waterproofing. The most common form of it is with the technology referred to as GORE-TEX which is a brand name, similar to Band-Aid.

2.) Nylon

Nylon is a great product and what you find throughout most outdoor gear. It offers amazing weight to strength. Nylon is also water resistant, breathable, and quick drying.

3.) Canvas

Smack dab in the middle of this list is Canvas. This 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.

4.) Polyester

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.

5.) Cotton

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

Water Resistance

Travel:Camera Products I LOVE

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. Especially if you end up soaked to the bone miles away from your luggage and dry clothes. So, finding a lightweight travel jacket that has some form of water resistance is a biggy. 

Nylon and/or polyester hiking jackets are great for this. They have natural moisture-wicking abilities and usually come with some form of 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. 

In my Cortazu Mid Layer


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 forms, 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 especially helpful in lightweight winter hiking jackets that have warm down or synthetic fill that traps the heat. Also, jackets made from Merino wool, nylon, and polyester have great degrees of breathability. I think you might be able to tell what our favorite fabrics are going to 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 hiking jacket that is minimalistic when packed down is really important, and there are a few ways that lightweight hiking jackets achieve this. 

First, some come with their own compression sacks. This 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 bag or luggage with ease. Another way is finding a jacket that packs down into its own pocket. This eliminates the concern of losing any accessories but still 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 in everyday wear, but they become almost a dealbreaker when it comes to 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 quickly warm up your hands on those chilly days when you don’t want to carry around gloves. 

Ability to Layer

Another great characteristic that the best women’s 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 overtop.

This is especially important 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 extra layers on top of. We recommend wearing bulky clothes and bringing an extra jacket with you when you go to try jackets on. 

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