The Best Men's Hiking Jackets

When you’re out in the mountains, you need to be ready for any eventuality. From high winds to white-out blizzards, anyone that heads into the backcountry needs the right gear for their adventure.

The answer? A good quality hiking jacket to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, regardless of what the conditions might bring. However, with such a vast range of different hiking jackets out there, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option.

From waterproof jackets to winter jackets, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options. Thankfully our team did the leg work for you. We’re here to help you understand the different hiking jackets on the market in 2021 to help you find find the best options for your needs. 

We’ve researched the best men’s hiking jackets so you can spend less time researching your gear and more time enjoying the great outdoors. 

What are you waiting for? Let’s get to it!

Our Top Men's Hiking Jackets

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Men's Hiking Jackets Buying Guides

When looking for the best jackets for hiking, it’s important that you know what features are critical to a good jacket. That being said, each category of hiking jacket has its own unique considerations that need to be taken into account before you settle on the outer layer that’s right for you.

To help you get started on your journey to having the right layers for a trip into the mountain, we’ve put together this collection of buyer’s guide. In each guide, we’ll discuss the main function of each of the eight different kinds of hiking jackets to give you an idea of why you should add them to your quiver of gear.

Then, we’ll discuss the benefits of each kind of hiking jacket and what you should look for when choosing a specific model to buy. Ultimately this information should help you determine what you’re looking for in your hiking jackets so you narrow down your search and get the best hiking jackets for your needs.

Men's Down Jackets for Hiking

Long considered to be the gold standard in the world of hiking jackets for cold weather, a down jacket is the warm, compact insulating layer you need when the mercury drops in the backcountry. These jackets are constructed using a thin breathable fabric that’s packed full of high-quality goose down to keep you warm in the coldest of conditions.

Down is perhaps the best insulating material when it comes to a warmth-to-weight ratio as even a lightweight down jacket will feel warmer than an equivalent weight synthetic jacket. Plus, down jackets are highly compressible, which means the jacket’s down feathers can pack down into a small stuff sack when it’s not in use.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that down has minimal water resistance and doesn’t work at all when wet. This means that you’ll either want to pair your down jacket with a rain jacket or hardshell to stay warm and dry in the great outdoors.

But, when it comes to staying warm in the backcountry, you really can’t beat the quality and warmth-to-weight ratio of a down jacket. While you’ll likely spend a bit more on a down jacket than a synthetic alternative, it’s hard to regret the investment you make in a top-of-the-line down jacket.

  • Down has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Incredibly packable – a down jacket can often fit into a small stuff sack or its own pocket
  • Layers easily with a rain jacket or hardshell for wet and windy conditions

When the days get shorter and the fluffy white stuff makes its way from the sky to the mountains, you’ll need to get yourself a solid winter jacket to stay warm and dry in some inhospitable conditions. Winter jackets combine the best of insulated jackets with a rain shell to help keep you comfortable, even when it is cold and snowy in the great outdoors.

Modern winter jackets for hiking got their start thanks to the increasing popularity of downhill skiing, where winter sports enthusiasts needed a single layer that could handle quickly changing conditions in a cold and wet environment. These days, many winter jackets for hiking feature durable waterproof breathable fabrics that are mesh-lined for maximum ventilation. 

Plus, as some of the best hiking jackets for cold weather, winter jackets often come packed with plenty of insulation. Often, hikers have a choice between synthetically-insulation and durable water repellent-treated down insulation in their winter jackets.

Ultimately, winter jackets are a great option for hikers that want one go-to layer for the colder months. However, since they are both water-resistant and insulated, they’re best used in extremely cold temperatures where it’s unlikely that you’ll overheat during your hike.

  • Built to be an all-in-one jacket for winter and cold-weather use
  • Designed with waterproof breathable fabric for maximum weather resistance
  • Packed full of quality insulation to help trap body heat and keep you warm in cold weather

We’ve all experienced the unfortunate situation of getting caught out in the mountains during a rainstorm. Damp clothes and sopping wet gear are just some of the things we have to deal with when the weather turns sour. The answer? Rain jackets for hiking.

The best rain jackets for hiking are made for maximum waterproofing and breathability thanks to their waterproof breathable membranes and adjustable hoods that keep the rain off your face. Plus, rain jackets with pit zips also allow you to ventilate properly when charging uphill during a hike.

Built for maximum water resistance, a good rain shell will be made with Gore-tex, eVent, or a similar fabric that allows your sweat to evaporate while keeping you dry in the worst of rainstorms. Plus, they normally come with a great selection of chest pockets and specially-designed hand pockets that are accessible, even when wearing a backpack hip belt.

Lightweight and compact, the best hiking jackets for rainy weather often pack into their own hand pocket for quick and easy stowing when you’re on the go. Plus, rain jackets help block the wind, which means they’re indispensable for any trip into the mountains.

  • Waterproof breathable membranes allow you to stay dry and ventilated at the same time
  • Usually have adjustable hoods that can fit over a helmet
  • Can often pack into a hand or chest pocket for rapid storage on the go

Men's Hardshell Jackets for Hiking

Similar to a rain jacket, a hardshell jacket is designed to keep you dry in wet conditions. However, shell jackets are more designed for the harshest of weather, especially in colder climates where you just can’t have gear that fails mid-trip.

Hardshell jackets are relatively new to the world of hiking jackets as they are built with super high-quality three-layer waterproof breathable membranes for the ultimate in alpine performance. Often, hardshell fabrics are made with high denier ripstop nylon in high wear areas, like the shoulders, to help them stay durable, even when used every day.

When looking for shell jackets, you’ll want to keep an eye out for options that have fully adjustable hoods that can fit over a climbing or skiing helmet. Since these shell jackets are specifically designed for use in alpine environments, this kind of versatility is paramount.

While the best men’s hardshell jackets for hiking will cost you a pretty penny, their robust construction and plethora of purpose-built features make them a must-have option for any mountain enthusiast.

  • Designed to withstand weather in the harshest of environments
  • Often have high denier ripstop nylon in high wear areas for added durability
  • Three-layer waterproof breathable membrane for top performance
  • Climbing helmet-compatible hoods for maximum versatility

Men's Softshell Jackets for Hiking

Perhaps the newest kind of jacket in the hiking scene, softshell jackets are a unique cross between a hardshell and a soft fleece. Built to be water-resistant and wind-resistant, but not weatherproof, softshell jackets are ideal for anyone who enjoys high-octane activities in the mountains.

Softshells excel in any conditions where they need to be breathable, while still protecting you from the elements. Since they aren’t fully waterproof, they won’t keep you dry in a downpour, but, thanks to their robust fabrics, they excel at keeping you comfortable as you charge up a steep slope in drizzling rain.

The main downside to a softshell jacket for hiking is that it tends to be a bit heavier than a comparable fleece or hardshell, but since they can do a little bit of everything, we tend to give them a pass in this department. But, softshells often have a good selection of pockets, as well as adjustable hoods, so you can customize them to suit any adventure.

Plus, since many softshell jackets are some of the most comfortable hiking jackets around, you really don’t have much of a reason for not owning one.

  • Incredibly comfortable jackets for everyday use
  • Water-resistant and wind-resistant for foul conditions
  • Highly breathable, so they’re great for high activity adventures.

Hands down, the best way to stay warm during poor conditions in the mountains is with an insulated jacket for hiking. An insulated jacket works to keep you warm by trapping your body heat in the air pockets of spun nylon fibers.

Synthetic insulated jackets are relatively new in the outdoor world, at least when compared to down insulated jackets. The main advantage that synthetic insulation offers over down is that while down insulation provides no warmth when wet, most synthetic insulations can still do their job after getting soaked in a rainstorm.

In the early days of synthetic insulation, the nylon fibers had a relatively poor warmth-to-weight ratio, which made them unpopular among ultralight backpackers and alpinists. These days, however, thanks to advancements in nylon fiber technology, many synthetically insulated jackets are as light, warm, and comfortable as their down counterparts.

The best part about synthetic insulated jackets for hiking? You don’t have to worry about them getting wet in a storm. While you should still look to layer an insulated jacket with a rain jacket while traveling through wet and cold conditions, a synthetic jacket will give you peace of mind in the mountains, regardless of the conditions.

  • Decent warmth-to-weight ratio of synthetic insulation
  • Can keep you warm even when wet
  • Great when paired with a rain jacket in damp conditions

Fleece jackets for hiking have long been a staple of gear lists the world over, thanks to their robust design. First introduced in the 1970s, fleece has become popular both in a backcountry and urban environment because of its ability to keep you warm and comfortable, all at the same time.

Fleece is made from a collection of synthetic nylon fibers, each of which are oriented to trap your body heat next to your skin. Many hikers prefer fleece jackets because they are the warmest insulated jacket when wet.

Additionally, fleece jackets are known for looking quite stylish, which makes them a versatile layer in your day to day life. Plus, fleece comes in a number of different styles, such as grid and regulator fleece which are specifically designed for more active pursuits.

While fleece jackets are often given flack for not being terribly windproof and for being a bit heavier and bulkier than alternative insulated jackets, many modern fleeces are purpose-built for outdoor enthusiasts, incorporating these features for better performance in the mountains.

  • Can keep you warm even when soaking wet
  • Stylish and comfortable in urban and backcountry environments
  • Offered in “regulator” and “grid” fleece for active pursuits

When it comes to keeping your entire body dry while hiking, it’s hard to beat a rain poncho. Originally used by the native peoples of the Andes in the pre-Hispanic years, ponchos were initially large woolen fabrics designed to keep the body warm. These days, however, most people are more familiar with the rain poncho, which is designed to keep your body dry in the rain.

Ponchos are effectively one large piece of waterproof fabric that gets draped over your head and shoulders. Many hikers prefer ponchos over the more traditional rain jacket and rain pants combination because a poncho can often also be used to cover a backpack to keep gear dry in the rain.

Unlike rain jackets, the best rain ponchos for hiking provide an exceptional amount of breathability and ventilation, all while providing maximum protection from the elements. Plus, ponchos tend to be quite compact and lightweight, which makes them ideal for most hikers.

  • Highly breathable form of rain protection
  • Can also be used to keep gear and backpacks dry in the rain
  • Very lightweight and compact when compared to a rain jacket

The Best Hiking Jackets for Reviewed

We know that it’s difficult to choose the best jackets for hiking when there are so many different models available to you, which is why we’ve thoroughly reviewed each of the top picks in each category to make your decision a bit easier.

In each review, we discuss the merits of each of the best men’s hiking jackets in our eight categories to help you make your own decision about which option is best for you. Each of our top picks was chosen on the basis of its unbeatable quality and high performance in its category, so we wanted to highlight them here to help narrow down your choices.

So, without further ado, here are our top picks for the best hiking jackets for the outdoor enthusiast!

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody - Men's

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT is a weather-resistant down jacket that combines amazing 850-fill down with a super durable 100% Arato nylon shell.

Thanks to an innovative StormHood, the Cerium LT provides ample protection for you in foul weather so you can stay warm and dry at the same time!

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Built specifically with budget-minded hikers in mind, the Mountain Equipment Lightline is an all-around wind and water-resistant winter jacket for hikers.

This incredibly warm jacket is packed full of 675-fill down so you can hike through those frigid temps with ease.

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Outdoor Research Men's Realm Jacket, Black, Large

Ultralight yet highly breathable, the Outdoor Research Realm is a three-layer waterproof rain jacket for any adventure.

Designed with a small amount of Polartec insulation for those colder temps, as well as an adjustable wire-brimmed hood to maintain perfect visibility in the rain, there’s nothing the Realm can’t do.

Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket Black SM

Arc’teryx’s flagship hardshell, the Alpha SV is a burly waterproof shell jacket that’s made for the world’s harshest conditions.

With a three-layer Gore-tex waterproof breathable membrane, as well as some of the best purpose-built features int the world, you’ll be hardpressed to find a shell better than the Alpha SV.

Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody Men's | Lightweight, air Permeable, Softshell Climbing Hoody with Stretch. | Black, Medium

Lightweight, yet durable, this versatile softshell from Arc’teryx combines the best of a wind and weather-resistant outer shell with highly breathable fabrics.

Made to stretch and ventilate you as you charge uphill, the Gamma LT Hoody is the ultimate in performance outerwear.

ARC'TERYX Atom LT Jacket Men's (Black, Small)

Built using some of the world’s finest synthetic insulation, the Atom LT is a lightweight and breathable midweight hoody with a moisture-resistant outer shell.

Perfect as an insulating layer for cold weather hiking, you won’t want to leave the Atom LT behind on your next adventure.

The North Face Men's Gordon Lyons ¼ Zip, TNF Medium Grey Heather, M

With a style that looks as good on the trail as it does on a busy city street, the North Face Pullover is a polyester fleece jacket with a low-bulk profile for maximum comfort.

Plus, it’s made with low-impact manufacturing processes so it’s better for you and the environment.

Anyoo Waterproof Rain Poncho Lightweight Reusable Hiking Hooded Coat Jacket for Outdoor Activities

This large dimension rain poncho from Anyoo is highly durable, yet breathable and comfortable for all-day excursions into the mountains.

With an adjustable hood and enough space to cover a backpack, this affordable rain poncho is the ultimate rain layer.


At the end of the day, we have so many different hiking jackets to choose from that it can be extremely tricky to choose just one for all of our outdoor needs. In fact, when it comes to hiking jackets, there are so many kinds of layers that you really shouldn’t expect to find a one-size-fits-all option for every situation.

Indeed, dedicated hikers will do well to have a quiver of different hiking jackets, each designed for a specific set of conditions in the backcountry. With a range of different jackets in our packs, we can mix and match to layer our jackets appropriately to keep us warm and dry, whatever the conditions.

By discussing the advantages of each of the different types of hiking jackets, we can better understand what conditions they’re best used for, which allows us to create the ultimate gear list for our needs for a better experience in the mountains. What’s not to love? Happy hiking!