Looking for the best lightweight women’s jacket for travel? Weather can be sinister at worst and unpredictable at best, especially while traveling. That’s why it’s so important to invest in a lightweight jacket to protect you along the way.
The best travel 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. Oh yeah, and be light and packable enough that you barely notice it in your carry on!
This may seem like a lot to ask from one jacket, but we’re here to tell you it’s not. Many of the best women’s travel jackets will meet all these specifications and more, depending on the climate you’re traveling. So, here are some of the key qualities to look for in your next lightweight travel jacket.
Best Lightweight Women’s Jackets For Travel
Helly Hansen W Kirkwall II Raincoat ($125)
- Weight: 30 oz
- Material: Polyurethane
- Pros: Stylish, Comfort, Fully Waterproof, Value,
- Cons: Heavier, No Insulation
This jacket 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 both 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 coast offers a decent value for the quality delivered.
Patagonia Down Sweater ($230)
- Weight: 13.1 oz
- Material: Nylon
- Waterproofing: DWR
- Pros: Comfortable, Warm, Style, Cut, Patagonia Brand Name, Wardrobe Staple
- Cons: Not Waterproof, No Hood
This was the first down jacket we bought and it became a staple of our wardrobes. It does come with a slightly 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. This is thanks to Patagonia’s commitment to a positive impact on the planet.
We love the look of this jacket and it does a wonderful job at keeping you warm. Plus the down does a decent 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. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that is highly rated in down jacket reviews as well. When combined with an outer shell you’re sure to be warm no matter what the temperature is outside.
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. It’s an easy pick for a great travel jacket.
Arc’teryx Beta AR ($599)
- Weight: 13.4 oz.
- Material: GORE-TEX
- Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
- Pros: Lightweight, Waterproof, Premium, Best Features, Room for Layers, Great Weight to Performance, Sporty Look
- Cons: Price
Arc’Teryx is known throughout the world for making some of the best adventure and travel gear there is. The Beta AR is just one example. This waterproof lightweight jacket outperforms the competition time and time again, leaving you wondering why you didn’t invest sooner.
And it’s not just waterproof; it’s seemingly everything proof. The Gore-Tex Pro shell gives you three levels of laminate fabric that’s also snow-shedding, windproof, breathable, lightweight, and extremely durable. All and all, this is the absolute perfect jacket for those adventure travelers among us!
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. It’s one of the best lightweight women’s jackets on this list, but it’s a very high price point and the technical features are not for everyone.
Thanks to careful attention to fit (streamlined and flattering) and construction, this jacket is in equal parts practical and current – two things that will never go out of style. It’s an outdoor focused jacket that may not feel stylish on city streets, but the Arc’teryx brand does carry a fair amount of weight and style. If you have the money to spend and need a jacket that will hold up to the elements this is a solid choice.
Columbia Pardon My Trench ($100)
- Weight: 13.6 oz
- Material: Nylon
- Waterproofing: Omni-Shield™
- Pros: Stylish, Comfortable, Weatherproof, Long Cut, Lightweight, Colors, Affordable
- Cons: Not Technical, Not Waterproof, Quality
There’s nothing like a good trench coat, and when you combine that with water-resistant fabric, 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 making 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 slimming fit that looks as good as it feels. Bonus: for windier, rain-free days where you don’t feel the need to break out the hood, you can easily remove it and stow it away. 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 terms of performance. In heavy rainfall or long exposure, the water will begin to soak through the fabric. Also, the finishing details such as the cuffs, material, and zipper all feel a bit cheap. That being said, you get what you pay for and this jacket is cheap. Overall, it’s a well-rounded jacket for travel!
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody ($380)
- Weight: 10.8 oz.
- Material: Nylon
- Fill: 3.4 oz. of 850-fill down
- Pros: Market Leading product with Great insulation
- Cons: Slim Fit, 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.
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 cool-weather wear. I also love the included stuff sack that makes it easy to stuff in your luggage or daypack. It’s easily the best packable down jacket on the market but it also happens to be one the most expensive.
Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket ($100)
- Weight: 11.4 oz.
- Material: Ripstop Nylon
- Waterproofing: 2.5 Nanoproof
- Pros: Lightweight, Affordable, Value, Weatherproof
- Cons: No Pockets, Poor Ventilation, Not For Rough Conditions
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 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.
Orvis Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket ($150)
- Weight: N/A
- Material: Polyester
- Waterproofing: DWR Polyester
- Pros: Stylish, Long Cut, Stuff Sack, Stowaway Hood, Cinch Waist
- Cons: Polyester, Borders on Lightweight
If you’re looking for something less outdoorsy and packed with style, the Orvis Pack and Go is a great choice. This adorable mid-thigh travel jacket is both wind and water-resistant, has a stowaway hood, and loads of space and hidden pockets.
The fit is very complimenting, cinching at the waist, and the colors are fairly 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 own stuff sack so 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, easier to snag, and requires a weather-resistant coating to remain water-resistant which breaks down over time.
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody ($260)
- Weight: 11.1 oz.
- Material: 20D Nylon/Polartec®
- Pros: Comfort, Relaxed Fit, Weatherproof, Warm, Lightweight,
- Cons: Ventilation, Waterproofing, Light Insulation
Arc’teryx makes this list of travel 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 Patagonia Nano-Air, 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.
Helly Hansen Odin Worlds Jacket ($400)
- 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. The jacket’s best use is likely for adventure or active travelers who enjoy outdoor sports around the world.
Fjallraven Down Greenland Jacket ($350)
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Material: Polyester/Cotton Blend
- Waterproofing: Greenland Wax
- Pros: Style, Warmth, Rugged, Lifetime Piece
- Cons: Heavy, Price, Not For Warm Environments
I won’t lie and say that this jacket is lightweight, but what it offers is tough to deny jacket is perfect for travel. Its style is fantastic and it has a classic outdoor look as a throwback to the beginnings of Fjallraven. It’s an environmentally friendly jacket made out of G-1000 Eco fabric and finished with a Greenland wax to protect against wind and water.
The jacket has a hood in case it starts raining or you are cold, making it a great all-around outdoor jacket. The down fill will keep you warm and dry in rugged environments. I love how many pockets this jacket has. Perfect for storage which is so helpful when traveling!
Most amazingly this is the kind of jacket that will last you a minimum of a decade, and likely your lifetime. It’s the perfect blend of rugged good looks and timelessness.
KUHL Women’s Jetstream Trench ($200)
- Weight: N/A
- Material: Nylon
- Waterproofing: Airskape 2.5-L
- Pros: Stylish, Comfortable, Waterproof, Long Cut, Performance, Affordable
- Cons: Long Cut Not For Sport Use, Heavy
It’s hard to find a jacket that claims to do it all, but this option from KUHL is a pretty close fit. It’s got all the things we know you want and need your rain jacket to do: seam-sealed, fully waterproof and wind-resistant fabric, a hydrophilic outer coating to repel moisture just that little bit extra, a two-way zipper for extra comfort, and hand warming pockets for the days you forgot to grab your gloves.
But it does more than just that; style-wise, this is jacket is a steal. A subtle and streamlined shape will help make you feel stylish, with a dropped hem for more mid-thigh coverage. And if a straight or boxy silhouette isn’t what you’re feeling that day, then use the adjustable waist cords to tighten it above the hips for a balanced, more hourglass shape.
It packs easily into its pocket for easy transport, so even if the weather tries to one-up you, you’ll always be prepared for a little unanticipated rainfall. If you want a jacket that feels more adept for travel than backpacking in the mountains this is a great jacket!
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket ($80)
- 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 lightweight 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.
Filson Moorcraft Jacket ($395)
- Weight: 24 oz.
- Material: Cotton Canvas
- Waterproofing: Wax
- Pros: Style, Outdoor Performance, Versatility, Ruggedness,
- Cons: Price, Weatherproofing
Filson makes some tremendous apparel as it’s all created for the outdoors. Known for their high-quality tin cloth the Seattle Based company makes some gorgeous garments that are highly functional. This jacket is tremendous for travel as it’s robust enough to handle the elements, but no too warm for the mild weather.
The jacket is highly functional with a zip-off hood, pleated elbows, front pockets, adjustable sleeves, and a drawcord waist. It features a canvas material construction that requires more upkeep than nylon or polyester. However, with some wax maintenance, it does a great job at weatherproofing.
Its style should last a lifetime and work well in a wide variety of environments. Really just a workhorse of a jacket that feels at home on horseback or on the streets of Paris. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee something most jackets can not boast.
Arc’teryx Andra Coat ($450)
- Weight: 15 oz.
- Material: GORE-TEX
- Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex
- Pros: Style, Outdoor Performance, Amazing Weight For Trench Coat,
- Cons: Price
With the quality of materials and products produced by Arc’teryx, we couldn’t help but mention another one of their fantastic travel jackets. This jacket provides city style and looks with the performance of outdoor mountain gear. It utilizes GORE-TEX fabric throughout for an amazing jacket that is durable, waterproof, weatherproof, and breathable.
It is roomy enough underneath for layers so it can be used any season. Active panels that include articulated sleeves, gusseted underarms, and a back vent are not features you typically find in a women’s jacket this style. The Andra is a fantastic choice as it combines the qualities of top of the line outdoor wear in a stylish jacket. The style is a great blend of a sharp shell jacket with a trench coat.
In terms of lightweight jackets, this deserves to be towards the top of the list, but its price is a major deterrent. However, if you can afford the jacket you surely won’t be disappointed. We use Arc’teryx in our travels, but we also have the luxury of being able to pick the best of the best.
REI Co-op Westwinds GTX
- Weight: 11.3 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 Westwinds 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 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. It’s an amazing women’s lightweight jacket for travel.
How to Pick a Women’s Jacket For Travel?
When it comes to rain 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.
Material plays the most important role in the quality of a 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 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.
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.
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 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. 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 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.
When traveling in the summer or dry, summer-like climates, chances are your jacket is going to 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, there are many fabrics that 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 an added bonus! Again, you want to stay away from cotton here, as well as ultra-thin nylon.
Even when faced with the coldest of climates, you still want a lightweight travel 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 travel 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 travel jacket that is minimalistic when packed down is really important, and there are a few ways that lightweight travel 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 lightweight travel 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 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 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 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 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.
As with all travel gear, 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.
- 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.
- 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 being able to cover your hair and face when the sprinkles start to fall.
- iPad holder – yep, iPads have even made their way in the world of lightweight travel jackets. These are usually internal pockets that comfortably house a small iPad for easy and discreet carrying.
- 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.
- Waterproofing – it is important to note that waterproofing and water-resistance are two very different things. Water-resistant jackets perform fine under light showers, but when traveling to wet climates, a waterproof jacket will be a better option. This is usually an external treatment that will be added to the label.
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