12 Best Lightweight Jackets for Women (Travel & Adventure)

We’re here to share our favorite lightweight jackets for women. These jackets are fantastic for travel and daily life, but most importantly, they are light enough to throw in your luggage, backpack, or handbag.

We spend half of our year traveling for work and testing new gear. On any trip, we always pack protection for when the weather takes a turn for the worst. We like a jacket that keeps the sun off your shoulders during the day, warm in the evening, comfortable against the skin, and dry in the rain. Oh yeah, and be light and packable enough that you barely notice it in your carry-on or purse.

There is likely no one jacket to do it all. However, with a few versatile choices, any woman can have a jacket to match any climate or condition. Many of the best lightweight jackets for women will meet all these specifications and more, depending on your travel climate.


Best Light jackets for women for Travel

Beta AR Jacket in The Mountains
Lightweight Jacket For Women

Arc’teryx Beta LT Gore-Tex Jacket

Arc'teryx Beta LT Gore-Tex Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $450 | Weight: 13.9 oz. | Material: 3-layer GORE-TEX | Style: Hiking/Mountaineering

Pros
  • Premium Quality Product
  • Exceptional Protection
  • Lightweight
  • Outdoor Style
Cons
  • Athletic Cut
  • Lacks Versatility Due To Outdoor Style
  • Expensive

The Arc’teryx Beta LT is our favorite outdoor adventure jacket, as it provides awesome protection from the elements. Arc’teryx is a brand beloved by the mountaineering and climbing community as they know how to make a robust shell jacket. The Beta uses 3L GORE-TEX® fabric and a bombproof build that will keep you dry and comfortable no matter the weather.

It comes with a lot of great features for protection against the elements. The downside of the jacket is that it’s very expensive. If you’re occasionally active outdoors, you likely don’t need the exceptional protection of the jacket. It also looks like an outdoor jacket and feels ill-suited for more casual environments.

The fit is also slim, so it’s best suited for an athletic body type. However, those who love to spend their time outdoors will be hard-pressed to find a better jacket than the Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket.

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Barbour Beadnell Jacket

Barbour Beadnell Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $385 | Weight: N/A | Material: Waxed Canvas | Style: Casual Outdoor Jacket

Pros
  • Classic Style
  • Performance
  • Great Feminine Fit
  • Superb Quality
  • Excellent Pockets
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Warm For Hot Climates

The Classic Beadnell jacket by Barbour is the one you’ll reach for every season of the year. Its waxed cotton exterior looks gorgeous and highly functional as it supplies wind and water resistance.

A cozy tartan lining is soft against the skin and supplies warmth in cool climates. It provides a lot of versatility as the jacket works for a wide range of destinations and daily life. We could wear this jacket in Scotland or the Masai Mara. The jacket is also highly functional with two snap button bellow pockets, handwarmer pockets, and one interior breast pocket.

We appreciate the women’s fit that keeps an excellent shape that is done with front and back panels. The one downside is it’s too warm for hot destinations, but it is ready to tackle any cool weather. It’s an expensive jacket, but we feel it’s a worthy investment that will last a lifetime.

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Columbia Pardon My Trench

Best Packable Rain Jacket Columbia Pardon My Trench - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $110 | Weight: 13.6 oz. | Material: Nylon – Omni-Shield™ | Style: Casual Performance

Pros
  • Casual Style
  • Weatherproof
  • Lightweight
  • Colors
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not Technical
  • Not Waterproof
  • Quality

The Columbia Pardon My Trench is a versatile jacket that’s one of our favorite lightweight jackets for women with a hood. Combine that with water-resistant fabric, and you’re left with a rain jacket that boasts double the awesome. Plus, with all the added features this jacket can offer, surprise rainfall is no big deal. Some of the features included make this option a no-brainer for our list of the best lightweight travel jackets.

Two-way zip with a panel protects the zipper from the elements. Princess seams run down the front and back of the jacket for a slim fit that looks as good as it feels. You can easily remove and stow the hood away for windier, rain-free days. The jacket also comes in a wide variety of colors, like red and yellow.

Pitfalls of the jacket are typical for Columbia products. It’s sold for a great price, but the jacket is a little lackluster in performance. Rain will soak through the fabric in heavy rainfall or prolonged exposure. Also, the finishing details, such as the cuffs, material, and zipper, all feel a bit cheap. You get what you pay for, and this jacket is cheap. Overall, it’s a well-rounded jacket for travel!

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Arc’teryx Atom Hoody

Arc’teryx Atom Hoody - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $300 | Weight: 11.1 oz | Material: Nylon | Style: Insulated Jacket

Pros
  • Comfort
  • Relaxed Fit
  • Weatherproof
  • Warm
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Ventilation
  • Waterproofing
  • Light Insulation

Arc’teryx makes some phenomenal outdoor jackets; their best-selling jacket is the Atom Hoody. The tremendously lightweight and warm mid-layer jacket is beloved for a reason. It’s super comfortable and warm but offers a lot of performance. We’ve used our Atoms to scramble up peaks in the summer, ski tour in the winter, explore new city streets, and relax around the house.

We’re not alone, as it’s a beloved jacket by the outdoor community. Arc’teryx has taken the stance that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, and the jacket has remained the same for years. The Atom delivers everything you want mid-layer between warmth, mobility, and fit.

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. It’s not a great alternative to a winter parka or shell jacket.

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Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket

Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $198 | Material: Nylon – RepellShell | Style: Athleisure Running Jacket

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Nice Fit
  • Excellent Quality
Cons
  • Running Jacket
  • Slim Fit Not For Everyone

Lululemon’s Cross Chill Jacket is a stylish athleisure jacket perfect for mild weather. We love the clean lines and excellent fit that make it ideal for a variety of situations and climates. As it’s made for runners, the jacket is ready for cold weather runs or errands around town.

It uses an excellent lightweight fabric that works well in mild weather and provides adequate protection. We find the material provides a nice balance of comfort and durability. The jacket fits across the body wonderfully. It features an adjustable hood, hidden phone pocket, zippered exterior pockets, reflective details, and thumb holes on the sleeves.

It comes in several attractive colors, including black, bone, creamy mint, and white, to suit different styles and preferences. For a more casual style, it feels like a tremendously versatile jacket. We love this athleisure jacket as it blends comfort, performance, and style. Complaining about a great jacket like this in your wardrobe is tough.

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Patagonia Down Sweater

Patagonia Down Sweater - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $279 | Weight: 13.1 oz | Material: Nylon | Style: Down Jacket

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Eco-Friendly
Cons
  • Not Waterproof
  • No Hood
  • Some Reports Of Odd Sizing

The Patagonia Down Sweater has a comfortable design and is well-suited for city wear and weekend trips, making it one of the best lightweight jackets for women. In addition to being a great down jacket, the shell is 100% recycled polyester, and the 800-fill-power goose down is traceable. What stands out about the Down Sweater is its 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. It’s an easy pick for a down jacket, and we love the color choices.

It was the first jacket I bought for a backpacking trip around the world in my early twenties. Over a decade later, the jacket still hangs in our closet. It is a classic down jacket that has won over many women.

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Orvis Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket

Orvis Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $169 | Weight: N/A | Material: Polyester | Style: Jacket

Pros
  • Stylish,
  • Long Cut
  • Stuff Sack
  • Stowaway Hood
Cons
  • Polyester
  • Not Waterproof

The Orvis Pack and Go is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something less outdoorsy and packed with style. This adorable mid-thigh women’s travel jacket is wind and water-resistant, has a stowaway hood, and loads of space and hidden pockets.

The fit is complimenting, cinching at the waist, and the colors are pretty muted, making this jacket the perfect pairing to almost any outfit! The polyester blend also resists wrinkling, which is excellent because it comes with its stuff sack so that you can pack and go. 

A large downside for us is the use of polyester. 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, is easier to snag, and requires a weather-resistant coating to remain water-resistant, which breaks down over time. We love this jacket as a casual go-to but don’t expect reliable protection from the elements.

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Helly Hansen W Kirkwall II Raincoat

Helly Hansen W Kirkwall II Raincoat - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $125 | Weight: 30 oz | Material: Polyurethane | Style: Rain Jacket

Pros
  • Stylish
  • Comfort
  • Fully Waterproof
  • Value
Cons
  • Heavy

The Helly Hansen W Kirkwall II Raincoat is a classic raincoat with tremendous water protection. In addition to its stylish look, the jacket is very comfortable, with a soft lining and cut that moves with the body. The cut on the jacket is flattering, with a long thigh hem and a slim waist. There are a variety of color choices, but it’s hard to do much better than the classic yellow.

A heavy polyurethane is used in the construction of the jacket, which lends well to the performance and appearance of the jacket. It’s not an understatement to say you’d stay dry if a wave crashed over your head — the jacket is fully waterproof.

We love the coat for those who plan to travel around wet weather destinations like the British Isles, Iceland, or the Pacific Northwest, where rain feels inevitable. The modern take on a fisherman’s jacket feels right at home along the coast as it’s equally practical, stylish, and recognizable.

The best part is the jacket doesn’t fit like an old unisex rubber smock or coat. Plus, the coat offers a decent value for the quality delivered and looks great in photos!

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Patagonia Better Sweater® Fleece Jacket

Women's Better Sweater Fleece Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $149 | Weight: 22.5 oz | Material: Polyester Fleece | Style: Athletic Casual Fleece

Pros
  • Super Comfortable
  • Reliable Performance
Cons
  • Fleece Doesn’t Replace Many Jackets

The Patagonia Better Sweater is a perfect fleece sweater and excels as a cozy mid-layer. It’s thick, soft, and slim while still being one of the warmest fleece jackets on the market. Patagonia’s fleece products have always stood out from the market in our years of testing athletic gear.

The jacket’s cost is high compared to a standard fleece jacket. However, the quality and durable material provide some excellent longevity. I’ve had my Better Sweater for seven years and has seen plenty of use. The Better Sweater comes in a 1/4 zip pullover or a full zip-up jacket.

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The North Face Apex Bionic

The North Face Apex Bionic Men's Light Jacket - Lightweight Women's Jackets
Product Details

MSRP: $149 | Weight: 19 oz | Material: Polyester/Elastane | Style: Casual Softshell Jacket

Pros
  • Value
  • Excellent Performance
  • Outdoor Style
Cons
  • Fit Can Be Off

The Apex Bionic is easily the best-selling product from The North Face for a good reason. It is a versatile and stylish outer layer perfect for various outdoor activities. Durable and stretchy, the softshell material allows the Apex Bionic jacket to withstand inclement weather like light wind and rain.

It features a full-zip front with a high collar and a chin guard to protect against the elements and a variety of pockets for storing your essentials. The Apex Bionic jacket is also designed with a relaxed fit and a hem cinch cord, allowing you to adjust the fit and keep out drafts. Its casual use and price point make it the most popular softshell jacket.

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prAna Sancho Jacket

prAna Sancho Jacket
Product Details

MSRP: $149 | Weight: N/A | Material: Cotton/Elastane | Style: Casual Jacket

Pros
  • Style
  • Plethora Of Pockets
  • Organic Cotton
  • Stretch
  • Boxy Cut
Cons
  • Work Wear Look

We love the prAna Sancho Jacket as it’s lovely and super comfortable. It has a great organic cotton material and fits the body well. It achieves its excellent shape with a slightly boxy cut and an internal waist draw cord.

The roomy cut also means it’s easy to add a layer under the jacket to stay warm. It’s a lightweight jacket for women with little insulation. Cool weather feels perfect with this jacket, which can still add a touch of style in warmer weather.

It feels like an essential jacket as the rugged style is perfect in the outdoors or city. However, it’s not all rugged, as the touch of elastane gives the jacket excellent stretch and performance. We love the practicality of the two interior pockets and four exterior pockets.

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REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket
Product Details

MSRP: $149 | Weight: 11.4 oz | Material: Nylon | Style: Outdoor Shell Jacket

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Weatherproof
  • Decent Quality
  • Great Features
Cons
  • Lacks Key Features
  • Waterproofing Not Industry Best

We recommend a lot of REI products because they have yet to let us down. Their Rainier Rain Jacket is a fantastic offering for those seeking a technical jacket that doesn’t break the bank. However, with this jacket, you’re getting tremendous value from 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 hybrid jacket blends elements for an everyday and technical hiking jacket. You’ll notice it mainly in the cut of the jacket. Most importantly, this lightweight jacket can easily roll into the hood for travel days or riding in your daypack. It’s an awesome lightweight jacket for women with plenty of color choices.

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Tips For A Women’s Lightweight Jacket


Style of Lightweight Jacket

light jackets for women
Light Jackets for Women

Style is always an issue when it comes to lightweight jackets for women, particularly those made for wetter 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 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

Material plays the most critical role in the quality of a jacket, and it’s easy to distinguish jacket quality when you begin with the materials used. To make things easier, here are the five primary materials you’ll find in the jackets ranked. It’s also interesting to note that as the material increases in technical functions, it also sacrifices looks and style.

Gore-Tex

To understand how GORE-TEX works, it’s helpful first to understand the two main methods of waterproofing: coating and laminating. Coating involves spreading a thin layer of hydrophobic material over the exterior of a jacket, allowing the fabric to absorb weather-resistant properties.

This method is commonly used on nylon, polyester, and cotton and is known as DWR (durable water repellent). While it is a cheaper form of waterproofing, it is not fully waterproof and can break down over time with washing. Products like Scotchguard can be used to restore the DWR.

On the other hand, laminating is a more expensive and effective form of waterproofing. The most well-known example is GORE-TEX, a brand name for a material made by bonding a cross weave of nylon fabrics to create a waterproof material. This method provides reliable waterproof protection and is commonly used in outdoor gear.

Nylon

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.

Canvas

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

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

Cotton is a classic style, but it’s not great when it comes down to jackets. It’s soft but absorbs moisture. We never advise wearing cotton in cold or wet weather environments.

old or wet weather environments


Water Resistance

travel the faroe islands

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 travel jacket with some water resistance is a biggy. 

Nylon and polyester 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. 


Wrinkle Resistance 

Packing for travel

When traveling in the summer or dry, summer-like climates, chances are your jacket will spend most of its time stuffed into your bag or thrown in your suitcase. So, when the time arises that you need it, it will likely be a wrinkled disaster. Luckily, many fabrics are naturally wrinkle-resistant. 

Merino wool is a fan favorite. It’s soft and comfortable against the skin while holding its smooth shape even after days of being stuck at the bottom of your travel bag. Polyester is another good one. Like Merino wool, it maintains its shape and is extremely comfortable. It’s also one of the easiest fabrics to find, which is a bonus! Again, you want to stay away from cotton here, as well as ultra-thin nylon. 


Breathability 

light jackets for women
One of my favorite women’s lightweight jackets is the Arc’teryx Atom! (pictured)

Even when faced with the coldest climates, you still want a women’s travel jacket that gives you some form of breathability. Without it, you’ll likely 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 keeping the cold air out. This feature benefits winter jackets for travel 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!


Packability

Lightweight jackets for women pack up small and tight

While traveling, it’s a no-brainer to bring clothing that can squish down to a reasonable size. All the more room for those knick-knacks and souvenirs you will pick up along the way! So, finding a minimalistic women’s travel jacket when packed down is significant, and there are a few ways that lightweight travel jackets achieve this. 

First, some come with compression sacks. It will be a small bag that will scrunch down your jacket to its smallest size so you can easily throw it into the side of your bag or luggage. Another way is finding a jacket that packs down into its pocket.

It eliminates the concern of losing 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

In the Helly Hansen Odin

Pockets are a great addition to everyday wear, but they become almost a dealbreaker when it comes to lightweight travel jackets. These handy inventions keep you from having to lug a heavy bag everywhere you go 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 lightweight travel 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 on those chilly days when you don’t want to carry around gloves. 


Ability to Layer

I’m always layering my Arc’teryx Cerium!

Another great characteristic that the best women’s lightweight travel 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 slightly loose jackets while being thin enough to throw extra layers on top of them. We recommend wearing bulky clothes and bringing an extra jacket when you try jackets on. 


Extra Features 

light jackets for women

As with all travel gear, lightweight travel jackets can be simple or come loaded with features. What features you want will be based entirely on personal preference, but here are a few to look for. 

  1. Zip-out liners: These are great when you’re in a climate that changes drastically throughout the day. The liner is generally made from a material like fleece and gives you an extra layer of warmth when the weather takes a turn for the worst. 
  2. Stowable/removable hood: This is an excellent feature in rainy areas. It will allow you the sleek look of a no-hood jacket while also covering your hair and face when the sprinkles start to fall.
  3. Waist drawstring: This feature is exceptionally helpful for windy environments. The drawstring allows you to pull the bottom of the jacket tight into your waist to prevent drafts.
  4. Waterproofing: it is essential to note that waterproofing and water resistance are very different. Water-resistant jackets perform fine under light showers, but a waterproof jacket will be a better option when traveling to wet climates. This is usually an external treatment that will be added to the label. 

READ MORE HIKING GUIDES

Hope this guide helps you decide which women’s lightweight jacket is best for you! Here are a few more helpful articles to get you traveling comfortably!

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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