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The Best Hiking Jackets for Cold Weather Trails


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For anyone who loves nature, you know how being outdoors can boost your mood and lower your stress levels. Unless, of course, you're caught in an abrupt rainstorm -- or you decide to hit the trails and the fall chill is colder than you thought it would be. Talk about a stressful situation. However, we can easily rectify this scenario by gearing up with the proper attire. Aside from your footwear, a jacket is likely the most important item you can wear on a hike. A great hiking jacket will help with your body's thermoregulation, keep you protected from the elements (sun, wind, rain), and suit whatever conditions you find yourself in. 

But there are some things to consider when outfitting yourself with a new jacket. Most importantly, the weather. Because weather is unpredictable and hikes often take you through multiple elevations, you'll want something that is lightweight but insulated enough to protect from the elements -- while also remaining water-resistant and breathable. You'll want to look for jackets made from polyester or nylon (or a poly/nylon mixture). Wool also works as it dries quickly and will keep you warm, but it can be bulky to haul around if you decide to take it off. You'll also want to look at versatility. A jacket that can be worn over a t-shirt (preferably not cotton), fleece, or under a hard-shell rain jacket is a bullseye. And speaking of bullseyes, you won't miss with any of the hiking jackets found on this list. Each jacket offers something a bit unique, but all are suited for adventure: they'll keep you warm when it gets cold, dry when it gets wet, and comfortable on day hikes and longer treks. Here are the eight best hiking jackets for men in 2022. 

1. A Versatile, Lightweight Puffer Jacket

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Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - REI, $229

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The ubiquity of this jacket is astounding. You'll see as many Nano Puffs on Wall Street as you would in a Colorado brewery -- which goes to show you how beloved and iconic this jacket is. That love is due in part to Patagonia making a warm, lightweight, no frills jacket with a polyester ripstop shell that's coated with DWR (durable water repellent), and an interior that'll keep you nice and toasty thanks to its brick quilting pattern and post-consumer recycled polyester insulation (which is just a technical way of saying this jacket is extremely good at keeping you warm). It's also the perfect travel companion, as the Nano Puff has an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack that the entire jacket can fit into. 

2. A GORE-TEX Waterproof Option For Rainy Hikes

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Outdoor Research Foray II GORE-TEX Jacket - REI, $169

The first thing you'll likely notice about this jacket is that it's made from GORE-TEX. For those who don't know, GORE-TEX is the gold standard of fabric when it comes to waterproof clothing such as boots or jackets. One thing we love about this jacket is the venting system -- there are zippered torso vents that go from hem to bicep, and will allow you to regulate your body's temperature while still keeping any rain out. It may seem like overkill to buy a rain jacket for hiking, but ask any outdoorsman who's been caught in a storm without proper gear and you'll learn quickly that these types of jackets are a staple in almost everyone's collection. 

3. A Breathable Jacket for Damp Weather or Light Rain

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Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket - Amazon, $66.00+

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There are a lot of jackets that are waterproof -- but you do have to sacrifice some breathability in return. This leads to a lot of unpleasant, sweaty situations in rain (which is already an unpleasant situation as is). Enter Columbia's proprietary technology, Omni-Tech. This air-permeable protection creates a completely waterproof jacket that also allows the free flow of air in, while keeping water out. The Watertight II is an excellent choice for hiking in damp environments where weather changes quickly and temperatures can fluctuate in minutes, and it's a great outer layer to throw on over a fleece or sweater. Plus, it'll fold into itself when you don't need it, so storage is a breeze.  

4. A Hiking Jacket That Helps To Regulate Body Temperature

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Arc'teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie, REI - $259

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The Atom LT Insulated hoodie has been categorized as a "multisport" jacket, which basically means it's excellent for walking, running, golfing, or hiking. The jacket is water-resistant (i.e. not waterproof), so you'll want to avoid heavy downpours, but what it lacks in weatherproofing it makes up for in performance and breathability. The jacked is crafted with something called Dope Permeair™ 20, which is a liner that increases the jackets ruggedness and helps regulate the body's internal temperature as you go about your hikes. The adjustable hood and hem also allow for a user-friendly experience, as you can make adjustments based on how warm or cold you become. As for pockets, you'll find two on the exterior and one interior zipper pocket for your tech or other things you want to keep safe and dry. 

5. The Budget-Friendly, Easy-To-Pack Jacket

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Columbia Men's Glennaker Rain Jacket - Amazon, $60

For a classic, everyday jacket you'll never feel buyer's remorse about, take a gander at The Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket from Columbia. You might not want to head out on the PCT with this thing as your primary rain jacket, but if you're car camping and setting off on some light day hikes, this jacket is the perfect pack companion. The shell is 100% nylon with a mesh interior, so expect to get a little warm wearing this on the trails. However, being a bit warm and dry in the rain is a lot better than being cold and wet. It might not have the performance of other jackets listed here, but the price makes it worthy of a spot on the list. 

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6. The Best for Breezy or Windy Conditions

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Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Light Jacket - REI, $187

If you happen to be so lucky as to hike in cool, sunny, predictable weather, you should probably check out this layer from Mountain Hardware. The Stretchdown is a jacket that's 86% nylon and 14% elastane, with stretch-woven weave pockets filled with goose down insulation. This translates to an extremely cozy and versatile hiking jacket that can be worn over a t-shirt, over a sweater, or under a shell. Unlike most jackets in this rundown, this one does not have a drawstring in the hem (waist cinch), which is something to consider if you'll be out in breezy conditions. 

7. A Warm Option With Reflective Elements for Sunset Hikes

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KUHL The One Insulated Hoodie - REI, $179

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As you've probably seen, temperature regulation is very important when it comes to hiking jackets, and you'll find no exception in KUHL's The One. The insulation comes from Aeroknit fibers, which provide thermoregulation while eschewing bulkiness. The result is a lightweight, water- and wind-resistant hiking jacket that'll keep you surprisingly warm without a ton of layering (the hood also helps out here). Another great feature we love is this jacket's reflective trim, keeping you visible and safe in low light conditions.

8. The Best Option for Layering

Amazon

Eddie Bauer Sandstone Backbone Grid Hoodie - Amazon, $112

Understated, incredibly compact, and perfect to wear over a base layer on brisk hikes, the Sandstone Backbone Grid jacket from Eddie Bauer is made from a lightweight, polyester/Spandex mix, which gives you superior movement whether your scrambling rock ledges, trail running, or just taking a nice stretch break mid-hike. The exterior is also coated with a StormRepel DWR finish, which wicks moisture away and is wind-resistant, but won't affect breathability.  

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READ MORE: The 5 Best Hiking Socks for Men

 
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