Whether you’re an experienced professional or a first time hiker, the best hiking jacket is a must-have for any hiking adventure.
If you’re about to tackle the trail, you need to be prepared for all possibilities — including inclement weather. A trusted hiking jacket needs to be both waterproof and wind-resistant. It should keep the sun off your shoulders during the day and keep you warm at night. It should also be breathable as well as lightweight — so you can pack it away with ease after a hike.
But what makes one jacket a better option than another?
Don't worry, we've got you covered -- literally!
Here are our top picks for the 5 best hiking jackets:
It’s difficult to balance durability and lightweight features in a single jacket, but the ARC’TERYX Zeta SL Men’s Jacket is versatile enough to do just that and more. This jacket is ready to battle Australian mountain weather, with a construction featuring 2L GORE-TEX with Paclite Technology that has waterproof, windproof, and breathable textiles that offer full environmental shelter. Tipping the scale at only 10.9 ounces, this jacket stays true to to its SL (Superlight) rating.
- 2L Gore-Tex fabric with
- Die-cut velcro cuff adjusters
- Watertight full length zipper
- Laminated brim
- Two hand pocket with RS zippers
- Adjustable hem drawcord
- Slight drop hem
Verdict: The ARC’TERYX Zeta SL Men’s Jacket is light and compact enough that it practically disappears in the bottom of your pack, yet durable and stormworthy enough to make it through tough weather. Built to seal out the elements, it comes with several water-repellent features, including a water-tight full front zipper, laminated brim, and patented Stormhood with halo adjuster.
Prioritizing packability and minimal weight above all else, the MONTANE Men’s Pac Plus Waterproof Jacket is ideal for mountain hikes and other high output excursions. While this jacket is lightweight, it still has plenty of features that you would expect on a heavier mountain jacket, including fully taped seams, a helmet-compatible hood with stiffened peak, 40-denier nylon face, two-way pit zips, adjustable cuffs and mesh pockets which all contribute to freedom of movement.
- Gore-Tex Paclite Plus technology
- 100% recycled 40-denier nylon
- Shaped adjustable cuffs
- Mid height collar
- Fully seam taped construction
- Fully adjustable roll-away insulated hood with stiffened peack
- Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord
Verdict: The MONTANE Men’s Pac Plus Waterproof Jacket is primarily aimed at hikers who want to move fast in the mountains and for summer wear. This shell jacket features a Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric which is a 100% recycled two-ply membrane for added durability. Made with 100% recycled 40-denier nylon face fabric, it’s also a great choice for the eco-friendly hiker.
If you’re planning on hiking through rough, wind-whipped trails this year, then you need a burly shield like the ADIDAS Terrex Myshelter Active Jacket. Made from 100% nylon, this outdoor shell jacket is durably built with a technical weave that provides three-layer protection against the elements. Not only does it have water-repelling features, it also provides the right amount of ventilation through zippered underarm vents. As an added bonus, it comes with reflective elements for added safety in low visibility conditions.
- Helmet-compatible adjustable hood
- Adjustable hem with hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs
- 3L Gore-Tex active shell plain weave
- Two-way full zipper with high collar
- Side zip pockets and inner chest pocket
- Underarm vents with zip
Verdict: Whether its rough winds or strong rain, the ADIDAS Terrex Myshelter Active Jacket is truly a weather shelter. It may not be the cheapest option, but you definitely get the quality you pay for. Thanks to its 3L Gore-Tex active shell fabric and underarm zippered panels, this jacket is built to completely ignore the worst of weather.
With an affordable price and practical features, the QUECHUA NH500 Waterproof Hiking Jacket is a great value choice for hiking. It stands out with its durable waterproof coating with a 2000 mm overall rating — capable of making water run off its surface without absorbing it. Coupled with taped seams and a high collar, this jacket is the perfect partner for rainy weather.
- Waterproof coating 2000 mm rating
- Taped seams with high collar
- 3 zipper pockets
- Ventilation zones to reduce condensation
- Hydrophilic coating
- Full mesh lining
Verdict: The QUECHUA NH500 Waterproof Hiking Jacket is every bargain hiker’s first choice. Despite its competitive price tag, it doesn’t make any tradeoffs when it comes to design and function. Aside from its waterproof features, it’s also a great jacket for humid weather as it comes with ventilation zones at the top of the back — allowing proper air flow to reduce condensation. It also packs extremely light and even comes with a mesh bag for keeping valuables close.
Combining style and functionality, the NORTH FACE Men’s Dryzzle FutureLight Jacket is a great choice for day-to-day hikes. With a casual and sleek cut, it’s made for layering over all kinds of clothes. This is a 2.5 layer jacket constructed with Gore-Tex PacLite Fabric that is more tear-resistant than the average rain jacket — creating an impenetrable waterproof shield that holds water-resistance longer.
- 2.5L Gore-Tex Paclite fabric
- Windproof and waterproof seam-sealed shell
- Attached, fully adjustable hood
- Laminated storm flap with snap closure
- Zip through front
- Hem cinch-cord
- Exposed polyurethane chest pocket zip
Verdict: The NORTH FACE Men’s Dryzzle FutureLight Jacket is a well-constructed rain jacket with premium shell materials that is stylish enough to use in both the city and backcountry. It’s jampacked with waterproof features, including a seam-sealed shell with high water rating. This is balanced out by its large pit zips for venting out heat and allowing airflow throughout the jacket.
THE BEST HIKING JACKETS -- WHY BUY ONE ANYWAY?
A country as large and diverse as Australia is just brimming with landscapes to explore and trails to be hiked.
But just like any outdoor adventure, the weather isn’t always guaranteed.
This is where the best hiking jacket comes in. Rain or snow — the best hiking jacket will keep you protected from the elements while you enjoy the great outdoors. If you find yourself venturing off the beaten path, it will also keep you safe from natural elements like thorny vegetation and sharp rock edges.
THE BEST HIKING JACKETS -- BUYING GUIDE
As an essential item of outdoor clothing, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying a hiking jacket, some of which include:
Type of Jacket
- Hardshell jackets — These are hooded jackets with a “hardshell”outer layer of durable, synthetic material made of waterproof membrane that provides good protection without adding too much weight.
- Softshell jackets — With a softer body and lighter construction, they are ideal for summer hikes and are easier to pack.
- Insulated jackets — These are jackets that have a synthetic fill that traps body heat. They are puffier and harder to pack down, but are great for winter hikes.
Since hiking jackets are worn over layers of clothing, they have to be light enough so as not to weigh you down as you hike.
If you’re hiking in wet or humid environments, your hiking jacket should have additional ventilation features to help with internal heat regulation.
Your hiking jacket should at least have a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating of some kind, so rain water rolls off the outer cover.