Whether you’re packing for travel or a particular adventure, there’s always one baffling question: “which travel jacket should I pack with me?”
In this article, I’m going to walk you through my top picks on the best travel jackets out there- plus give you tips on what features to look for.
The thing is…we’ve all been there- trying to think of all the situations we might need one and wishing there was one jacket that satisfied them all! Unfortunately, there isn’t one magical travel jacket that could answer this much-asked question, so the next best thing to do is to think about what its main use will be.
The main factors to keep in mind are comfort, durability, and performance. If a jacket has these, then you’re pretty much set for anything.
To help find the best travel jacket for you, we’ve picked the best jackets for both women and men in a variety of categories.
- 1 Our Picks for Best Travel Jackets to Buy in 2021
- 2 Compare Travel Jackets
- 3 Why You Need a Travel Jacket
- 4 What to Look For in a Travel Jacket
- 5 How to Choose the Best Travel Jacket For You
- 6 Best All-Around Travel Jacket
- 7 Best Travel Rain Jacket
- 8 Best Winter Travel Jacket
- 9 Best Travel Ski Jacket
- 10 Best Travel Sports Jacket
- 11 Best Travel Hiking Jacket
- 12 Bonus: Most Fashionable Travel Jackets
Our Picks for Best Travel Jackets to Buy in 2021
Best All-Around Travel Jacket
Best for Rain Jackets
Best for Winter Jackets
Best for Skiing Jackets
Best for Jackets for Sports
Best for Jackets for Hiking
Best Looking Jackets
Compare Travel Jackets
|Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid||$$$||Hiking / Backpacking||Yes|
|The North Face Resolve||$$||Hiking / Backpacking||Yes|
|Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket||$$$||Winter||Resistant|
|Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket||$$||Winter||Resistant|
|North Face Initiator Thermoball Triclimate||$$||Winter / Skiing||Yes|
|Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket||$$||Winter / Skiing||Yes|
|Showers Pass Elite 2.1||$$||Cycling /Multi-sport||Yes|
|Columbia Outdry Ex Eco||$||Multi-sport||Yes|
|The North Face Apex Bionic 2||$$||Hiking / Multi-sport||Resistant|
|Columbia Kruser Ridge||$||Hiking||Resistant|
|Arc'teryx Atom Lt Hoody||$$$||All-Around||Resistant|
|Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody||$$$||All-Around||Resistant||View on Patagonia|
|Cotopaxi Teca Vista Full-Zip Jacket||$||All-Around||Resistant|
Why You Need a Travel Jacket
When taking a trip, it’s rare that you’re going to want to bring along your huge, bulky jacket. It’s just not practical, especially if you’re concerned about space or weight in your luggage. But then you’re left with the question of which of your many jackets to bring.
Having a travel jacket should solve this problem.
A good travel jacket is one of the best things you can have because they’re versatile, protect you from the elements, and take away the inconvenience of having a large jacket. They can be worn to venture to the top of mountains or used as a pillow on long journeys.
Having a dependable travel jacket will take away a lot of stress when packing for a trip and will be your new go-to for whatever adventure is on the horizon.
Besides the elements, travel jackets are an all-around practical item to carry with you on the road. It will come in handy more than you’d expect, and you’ll thank yourself ten times over for investing in one!
If you’re an avid traveler or have even flown across the country for a quick trip, you know how cold airports can get. Who ever thought that an airport needed to be that freezing? The cold doesn’t end when you board the plane — in fact it intensifies. Wrap yourself up in your travel jacket on the coldest airplanes and stay cozy 30,000 feet in the air.
Besides airports, you’re bound to face frigid, over air-conditioned places on your travels as well. In warm weather countries, Asia especially, you’ll find that people love to crank up the AC and freeze out the weak (just kidding, but places like malls can get really cold).
Having a compact travel jacket to take along with you is super handy for pulling out in situations like these, especially when that light cardigan you packed just won’t cut it.
Finally, it’s nice to have a warm jacket to slip into after experiencing intense cold, even if it’s warm outside. If you’ve just taken a dip in a freezing lake or a dive to the depths of the ocean, there’s nothing like wrapping yourself up in a nice snug jacket to regain all the heat you’ve just lost.
From the top of mountains to the bottom of the sea, you’ll want something warm to wear during all of your adventures.
What to Look For in a Travel Jacket
Finding a good travel jacket is no easy task. Here are some things you should look for when searching for the perfect one!
A good travel jacket should be compact.
A compact travel jacket or one that is easily compressible is important so that you can pack it when it needs to be stored away while fitting everything else you need to in your backpack or suitcase.
A durable jacket is just as important as a compact jacket.
The external fabric of your jacket should be determined by the main use of the jacket.
Generally speaking, the best travel jackets are waterproof (or at least water-resistant) and made of a durable, tear-proof material on the outside.
Your travel jacket should also be able to withstand being smushed into a tight space as well as high amounts of activity without damage. A durable jacket is a dependable one, which is a prime feature in any good travel jacket.
Type of Insulation
The main intended use for your travel jacket should help you decide which type of insulation it should have. The two main insulators are goose and synthetic down, which have different qualities and uses.
A jacket with goose down tends to be warmer and easier to pack. However, it also tends to be less water-resistant than a jacket made from synthetic materials. Goose jackets are best for cold conditions.
Because they aren’t very breathable, goose down isn’t ideal for high amounts of physical activity.
On the other hand, a jacket made from synthetic material tends to be more lightweight, breathable and waterproof. It’s best to choose a jacket with synthetic insulation if you plan on doing lots of activity somewhere that’s wet.
A waterproof jacket is a dependable one. It’s important for your travel jacket to be waterproof, or at least water-resistant so that it can serve you well in a variety of climates. Weather can be highly unpredictable so having a jacket to keep you comfortable despite the elements is an important aspect of a good travel jacket.
Besides protecting you from showers, waterproof jackets also tend to be windproof from the material they’re made of. Windproof jackets are best for areas that tend to be gusty (think coastal cities and towns) and will keep the wind from cutting through your jacket and chilling you to the bone.
However, it’s worth noting that while all waterproof jackets are windproof, not all windproof jackets are waterproof.
If your jacket isn’t completely waterproof, it should at least be water-resistant. A water-resistant jacket is made from fabrics designed to wick water instead of absorb it. That being said, water-resistant isn’t the same as waterproof and if you’re caught in a downpour, you’ll probably end up getting wet.
It’s best to go for a waterproof jacket that you can use in a variety of conditions. Whether it’s windy or rainy, a waterproof jacket should keep you warm and dry.
A final consideration to keep in mind when choosing a travel jacket is whether it’s comfortable.
The last thing you want is to be stuck with a jacket that is itchy, too tight or non-breathable. If your jacket isn’t comfortable, you probably won’t use it as much which completely defeats the purpose of having a travel jacket in the first place.
This is something important to keep in mind when deciding which travel jacket is right for you.
How to Choose the Best Travel Jacket For You
Choosing the right travel jacket is challenging but here are some main considerations to keep in mind when weighing different options.
As with any piece of gear, defining your budget is a good first step to narrowing down the immense pool of jackets on the market.
Travel jackets can be pretty pricey but you can definitely find ones at a lower cost. Deciding how much you’re willing to spend will give you a solid range to choose from. From there, you can start thinking about the other considerations.
If you’re looking to purchase a jacket for a specific trip, it’s a good idea to do some research about the place you’re going.
Look into the temperature (especially lows and night temps!), weather patterns and different activities you may want to do.
If you’re visiting a rainy place, obviously you’ll want to go for a waterproof jacket. If it’s a cooler place or winter at the destination, perhaps it’s best to choose a lightweight down jacket. If it’s a place with great variations in temperature and weather, you may want to choose something more versatile like a lighter jacket that comes with a removable outer shell.
However, since a travel jacket is an investment, I recommend choosing one that works for a variety of locations instead of something you’ll only wear once.
What activities you plan on doing along the way should help you choose a travel jacket that’s right for you.
If you plan on trekking, you’ll want to choose something that’s lightweight and breathable, but works in a variety of different climates to keep you warm throughout the entire climb.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of sports (think cycling and running) in unpredictable weather, you’ll want something flexible, waterproof and breathable.
If you’re going skiing, a waterproof and windproof shell is absolutely essential, with a warm inner lining to keep you cozy on the slopes.
And finally, if you just plan on wandering through new cities, you’ll want something that will keep you warm throughout an entire day of outdoor exploring.
Hardshell vs Softshell
A final way to narrow down the pool of the thousands of travel jackets available is to decide whether you’d like a hardshell or softshell jacket.
Hardshell jackets are waterproof, windproof and good for protecting you from elements like wind, rain and snow. They also tend to be breathable and lightweight, making them a good option to throw on for a jungle trek or long bike ride.
A softshell jacket isn’t waterproof (however, some are water-resistant) but tend to be much warmer than hardshell jackets. They’re often insulated with down or synthetic materials, and can compress to be super small. A softshell jacket is best for cold weather and will keep you cozy on your travels.
Now that you know all there is to know about travel jackets, here are some top picks for you!
Best All-Around Travel Jacket
If you’re looking for the most versatile jacket that you can take on any adventure regardless of temperature, weather and activities, go for one of our choices for best all-around travel jackets.
Women: Arc’teryx Atom Lt Hoody
Best For: Everything
Weight: 12.7 ounces
Type: Polyester with nylon shell
Pros: Lightweight | Versatile | Breathable | Water-resistant
Cons: Not completely waterproof
Men’s Version: Arc’teryx Men’s Atom LT Hoodie
One of the most versatile jackets on the market, the Arc’teryx Atom Lt Hoody is the best all-around travel jacket for women.
Warm, but breathable, lightweight but insulated, stretchy but form fitting, this wind and moisture-wicking jacket is perfect for any climate.
Made from polyester and nylon, Arc’teryx perfected insulation with their Polartec technology and Coreloft insulation. It will keep you warm without making you sweat, which is perfect for women who love activity but don’t want a heavy jacket.
Weighing only 12.6 ounces, you’ll be able to take this jacket along on any adventure without worrying about adding weight or taking up space in your bag.
This jacket comes complete with side panels which allows you to stay cool when getting warm without removing the entire jacket. The shell is covered with durable water-resistant coating to keep moisture from absorbing, and the hood and elastic sleeves will keep you comfortable no matter what the weather’s like.
This is an essential piece for travel and beyond. You absolutely cannot go wrong here.
Best For: Everything
Weight: 9.1 ounces
Type: Ripstop Nylon
Pros: Water-resistant | Warm | Ultra lightweight | Elastic cuffs | Stuff sack
Cons: Not completely waterproof
Women’s Version: Patagonia Women’s Micro Puff Hoody
If you’re looking for a travel jacket that does it all, this is the one for you. Outdoor gear leader Patagonia has done an unbelievable job crafting this ultra lightweight puff jacket that is perfect for any adventure.
Made from ripstop nylon, it’s durable and resistant to rips and tears, while remaining water-resistant and windproof. The nylon is further treated with durable water repellent to wick water off the shell instead of absorbing it.
This jacket is insulated with PlumaFill synthetics which mimics the positive qualities of down (warm and packable), without the downsides. This special insulation remains warm when wet, so you shouldn’t worry too much if you get caught in an unexpected rainstorm.
The cuffs are elastic to keep bad weather out, and the jacket is covered with pockets to keep your valuables safe and hands warm.
However, the best part of this jacket is the left pocket also doubles as a stuff sack, allowing you to turn this prime piece of equipment into a tiny, packable ball. There’s even a carabiner clip to keep it attached to your pack.
As far as all around travel jackets go, this is absolutely one of the best you’ll find.
Best Travel Rain Jacket
A good travel rain jacket should be lightweight, compressible and obviously waterproof.
Besides keeping you dry, a good rain jacket should also be windproof to keep you protected when it’s gusty. If you plan on doing a lot of activity in the rain with this jacket, it’s best to pick one that’s breathable to keep you cool and comfortable.
Best For: Hiking (esp. sping and fall) | Backpacking | Shell
Weight: 15 oz
Fabric: Ripstop nylon (with a polyester mesh)
Type of Waterproofing: HyVent 2-layer waterproof breathable coating
Pros: Water-resistant | Windproof | Mesh knit lining | Adjustable hood | Breathable | Draw-cord hem | Velcro® storm flap
Cons: No zipper vents | Velcro covering the zipper could snag your clothes | Some find the hood is too large
Men’s Version: The North Face Resolve Mens
This great all-rounder jacket has to be our first choice for women’s best rain jacket as it is a bestseller for many reasons!
Key features such as its simple yet versatile style, light weight, and breathable fabric means that you can’t go wrong choosing this jacket for everyday wear, travel, walking or hiking.
Oh, and it’s pretty handy for when the rain starts pouring! A fully seam-sealed jacket made from DryVent™ fabric, you can be reassured by its reliable water resistance however long you are outside for.
Offering little comforts with features such as the brushed chin guard and a figure-flattering fit, this jacket is perfect for women who take on the mountains but want to look good doing it.
Best For: 3-season hiking | Backpacking | Shell
Weight: 10 0z
Fabric: 2 types of GORE-TEX
Type of Waterproofing: GORE-TEX 3-layer waterproof breathable laminate
Pros: Water-resistant | Windproof | Durable | Adjustable hood | Zipper vents | Stows in zippered pocket
Cons: Pricey | Some find the hood too large
Women’s Version: Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Womens
If you’re one for life in the mountains, the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid won’t let you down.
Giving you lightweight construction without compromising on weather protection, this is a durable jacket that can hold off the worst storms whilst still allowing you to breathe.
With fully-taped seams, watertight zippers, lock-down cuff tabs, a hem draw cord AND a fully adjustable storm hood, there is no moisture that can penetrate this jacket.
Whether you’re a casual hiker or tend to lug a heavy backpack or gear around with you, this lightweight, durable and packable jacket is one piece of clothing that you can’t do without!
Best Winter Travel Jacket
The main purpose of a winter jacket is obviously to keep you warm, but a good winter travel jacket should keep you warm without being too bulky like most winter jackets.
When choosing a winter travel jacket, it’s best to pick one that’s insulated with down as this is what will keep you warmest in the coldest conditions. Water resistance is a plus as it will keep you dry if you experience any winter weather like snow or sleet.
Best For: Minimalist Rock Climbing | Winter Hikers
Weight: 7 oz
Fill: 800-fill down
Type of Waterproofing: Q.Shield
Pros: Water-resistant | Very Lightweight | Warm | Comfortable | Compact | Perfect for layering
Cons: Loose cuffs
Men’s Version: Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket Mens
One of the lightest winter travel jackets that you will find, the seven-ounce Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket is comfortable super easy to store.
When we say “super easy,” we mean that it can be completely compressed down into its own pocket to carry around with you. Yep, you can’t get more compact than that!
Although incredibly lightweight, this jacket is still completely functional as a winter jacket as it boasts Q.Shield™ DOWN and an 800-fill insulation. Let’s just say, warmth is the only thing getting inside this winter jacket!
Best For: Mountaineering | Rock Climbing
Weight: 12 oz
Fill: 850-fill down
Type of Waterproofing: DWR Finish
Pros: Water-resistant | Warm | Stylish
Cons: Not good for wet conditions
Women’s Version: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket
An excellent midweight option for a jacket that will still give you the warmth you need, Arc’teryx has hit the jackpot with their Cerium LT Hooded Jacket.
Firstly, the jacket looks great, is quite durable, and the insulation makes it a great choice for the winter months.
Secondly, it is made to resist the toughest of weather. With a low-profile storm hood and DWR finish, you will be more than prepared to resist moisture and wind when exploring the outdoors.
Completely suitable as an outer alpine layer in the coldest of weather, this jacket has a stylish fit and features that make it perfect for active outdoor use.
Insider Tip: For a lighter jacket that will keep you warm at lower altitudes, we recommend the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Jacket.
Best Travel Ski Jacket
The main purpose of a ski jacket is to keep you warm and dry while shredding down a mountain.
A good travel ski jacket should be lightweight without sacrificing key components of a ski jacket like a waterproof shell and good insulation.
Best For: All-mountain downhill
Weight: 16 oz
Insulation: Inner jacket – Fleece zip pu and Omni-Heat thermal reflective liner
Pros: Water-resistant | Warm | Breathable | Comfortable | Lightweight | Suitable for most conditions
Cons: No powder skirt
Men’s Version: Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket
For the ladies who love winter but not so much the cold, this classic winter Interchange jacket will keep you warm whether you’re wearing a million layers or not!
This jacket is made up of two parts: a zip up fleece sweatshirt and an outer shell with a thermal liner that reflects your body heat.
What’s also great is that each layer can work on its own during milder conditions and when it gets too cold, you can put them together to create a formidable jacket.
With an outer water-resistant and breathable layer and an inner fleece layer for warmth, this 3-in-1 jacket will provide you with everything you need to battle the weather.
Best For: All-mountain downhill
Weight: 48 oz
Insulation: Inner jacket – Synthetic PrimaLoft | No outer jacket
Pros: Suitable for warm and cold weather due to the removable inner jacket | PrimaLoft insulation | Midweight
Cons: Powder skirt only works when in shell mode
Women’s Version: North Face Initiator Thermoball
This ski jacket is a favorite among many male snow sports enthusiasts as it has all the features that you would want.
A water resistant shell? Check. A removable liner that transforms the jacket into an everyday accessory? Check. Complete insulation with windproof features yet breathable? Double check!
This 3-in-1 jacket really is a perfectly-designed ski necessity, with some pretty genius features. Among our favorites is that you can tighten the hem from the insides of your pockets. Pretty cool right?
If you’re looking for a jacket that has peak performance in the harshest of winters, in the wet and cold, or even in mild conditions or during sports, this jacket still provides breathability while keeping you warm and toasty.
Best Travel Sports Jacket
It’s nice to have a travel jacket if you’re big into sports, as it will keep you comfortable no matter what conditions you’re playing or competing in.
It’s best to have a jacket that’s windproof as it will keep you from catching a chill no mater how fast your going, but it should be breathable to keep air circulating so you don’t overheat.
Best For: Backcountry trail cycling | Multi-sport
Weight: 12 oz
Fabric: 100% recycled polyester
Water-resistant & Windproof: Yes
Pros: Water-resistant | Windproof | Warm | Ecofriendly
Cons: May be pricey as eco-friendly products don’t come cheap
Men’s Version: Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Mens
What makes this jacket completely unique is that it is among the most eco-conscious biking garments available. That’s right, it is made from 100% recycled polyester!
This jacket is suitable as a cycling jacket and other types of sports such as hiking, which is also a big plus.
The most important feature that make this one of the best travel jackets has to be the OutDRY shell that acts as the waterproof membrane layer, which also works with the breathable lining. The lining is also pretty cool as draws excess sweat and moisture away from the skin and it moves it to the outer fabric layers where it evaporates.
If you’re looking for a jacket that will keep you warm, cool and comfortable at the same time, this is the one for you.
Best For: Long-distance cycling
Weight: 9 oz
Fabric: Nylon and eVent membrane
Water-resistant & Windproof: Yes
Pros: Water-resistant | Windproof | Warm | Great visibility | Easy to store
Cons: Very pricey
Women’s Version: Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Womens
This tailored MTB jacket not only gives you a perfect regular fit that is suited to city cycling, but it also holds up to the demands of multiple sports, keeping you warm and dry for as long as you’re outdoors!
Although it is created mainly for cycling, you can use for various types of sports too.
So what makes this jacket so popular? Well, that is down to its impressive safety and performance features, which are also the reason for the price.
Designed with long distance riders in mind, this jacket boasts long sleeves, a 3M Reflective trim to keep you visible, large interior pockets for storage and body mapping for ventilation (seriously it has 7 venting options at the pits, cuffs and back!).
One of the coolest looking travel jackets for in our opinion, this jacket has a trim fit and ideally is worn over a base layer or jersey.
Best Travel Hiking Jacket
The best hiking jackets that are suitable for travel should allow you to store them in your daypack until you’re ready to throw it on as you reach higher altitudes.
A travel hiking jacket should be breathable, water-resistant and suitable for a variety of conditions. No matter where you find yourself outdoors, you should be accompanied by your trusty travel hiking jacket.
Women: Columbia Kruser Ridge
Best For: Hiking
Weight: 22.4 oz
Type: Stretch woven
Pros: Water-resistant | Breathable | Adjustable cuffs | Affordable
Cons: Not windproof | No hood | Size tends to be on the large side
Love hiking but want something that will shield you from the cold? Well, Columbia Kruser Ridge is the jacket for you.
This lightweight soft shell jacket is perfect for any season, featuring water-resistant, warm and stretchy material that will protect you from unkind weather conditions. It’s also stain-repellent which makes it perfect for travel
A breathable, stylish and comfortable jacket, the Columbia Kruser Ridge comes in various colors so you’ll easily find one that fits your personality.
Best For: Hiking | Also suitable for multi-sports
Weight: 24 oz
Type: Stretch woven
Pros: Water-resistant | Breathable | Draw cord hem | Comfortable
Cons: No hood | Stiff material may restrict movement
Women’s Version: The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Womens
Considered as a “bridge: jacket between a full waterproof and a fleece, the North Face Apex Bionic 2 is an ideal choice for avid hikers. Water-resistant, breathable, stretchy and ready to go, this jacket will keep you warm, dry and comfortable — no matter the weather.
Its high comfort level is actually one of the main reasons this jacket is so popular. What’s more, it is stylish with a more tailored fit. Although smart, it still functions as a hiking layer where you can easily fit a base layer or fleece top underneath it.
If you’re looking for a lightweight throw-on that will allow you to breathe on your , this travel jacket will provide you with that and more!
Bonus: Most Fashionable Travel Jackets
If you’re seeking serious style on the go, here are our picks for the best fashionable travel jackets
Best For: Casual wear / activity
Pros: Ultra Lightweight |Stylish | Very versatile
Cons: No hood
To turn heads wherever you go, this Cotopaxi windbreaker is the obvious pick. Made from 100% repurposed polyester taffeta with a DWR finish, this retro track jacket style is honestly timeless.
You’ll find it a practical option for all sorts of travel activities like sightseeing, hiking, and even long train trips. It’s wind resistant to keep you warm, but breathable enough with a mesh lining that it’s fit for athletics.
Store your phone and wallet in the zippered pockets, and adjust the jacket to your liking with the collar drawcard. Finished off with an elastic hem and cuffs and there’s not much more you could wish for with this travel jacket.
And to top things off, the materials used to create this jacket may have otherwise gone to the landfill, so you can feel as good as you look wearing it.
Best For: Everything
Weight: 0.6 lbs
Pros: Water-resistant | Windproof | Lightweight | 19 pockets | Stylish
Cons: Not entirely waterproof | Not good for cold weather
Mixing fashion and function, this is one of the sleekest men’s travel jackets on the market — and it has a reasonable price tag!
Starting off on a strong note, this jacket has 19 pockets – yes 19! 14 of the pockets are hidden, perfect for stashing valuables on the go and allowing you to carry everything you need for an adventure-filled day.
This jacket comes in five different colors and has a sleek-looking collar, making it perfect for a day on the town or a night out. If you want some extra protection form the elements, throw on the detachable hood and adjust the cuffs to keep water out and heat in.
This jacket is wind and water-resistant and weighs just over half a pound, making it ideal for travel.
If that’s not enough, this jacket has a back pocket that allows you to fold the jacket into itself and store it in your luggage when not in use. How cool is that?
As far as fashionable travel jackets go, men, this is the one for you!
And there we have it guys! 14 travel jackets that are top in their category for every weather condition and outdoor activity.
Generally speaking, if you go with a jacket that is from a trusted and well-known outdoor gear brand, you can’t go far wrong. Remember: while they may seem expensive, investing in good, high quality gear is better as they will end up lasting you longer.
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