A Jacket for Every Occasion

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her favorite jacket options for every kind of hiking weather one may encounter.

Photo by Jason Hogan
Published on

Outerwear is an integral part of enjoying the outdoors, staying warm, and staying safe. Nothing ruins a great hike for me like feeling cold or wearing apparel that isn’t suited for the time of year. There are a lot of jackets out there and a lot of brands that make a lot of jackets. Finding the perfect jacket for you can become overwhelming! To help, here are some of my favorite jacket options for every kind of hiking weather you may face.

A Jacket for Summer Morning or Evening Hikes

Hiking in the summer is great—the sun is out, butterflies are flying, dogs are running. The heat can be dangerous in some parts of the world, so keep that in mind and read up on summer hiking tips. Often, hiking in the summer means early morning, late afternoon, or early evening hikes when the sun is not at its strongest yet. There can be a slight chill in the air and I will always bring a light layer in case I am cold.

I love the RAB Nexus Jacket. It is light, packs small, and has insulating technology. Here is the men's version of the RAB Nexus Jacket. I take this backpacking and camping in the summer, wear it on runs, to the grocery store, and to the rock climbing gym. It is just an overall great light layer to have on hand.

A Jacket for Camping & Hiking in the Fall

A backpacker in a green jacket walking on a trail to a glacier
Photo by Ali Kazal

Let’s talk about Cotopaxi, a brand based in Utah that makes their gear from recycled and sustainably-sourced materials, promotes the welfare of their employees, and makes durable and fashionable gear. I recently bought myself the Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket and it has become my new obsession. It comes in a hooded and non-hooded version, cute color schemes, and is so lightweight that you can cram it into your pack and never know. It is a great fall jacket that has never disappointed me. Here is the men’s version of the Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket.

A Windbreaker for Windy Days

On windy days, a windbreaker is a great tool to shield you from cold winds. This Outdoor Research Women’s Carbide Jacket is an uninsulated, waterproof, windproof jacket. This jacket is perfect for temperate days where a light layer will keep you warm enough. If it is cold outside, pair this jacket with another layer to stay warm.

The Outdoor Research Guardian Jacket for men is another waterproof and windproof jacket. Made with synthetic material, a full zip, and lightweight, the Guardian Jacket will keep you safe from the cool breeze.

A Jacket for Rainy Hikes

A man in a black hooded jacket jumping in the road in the rain with autumn foliage around him
Photo by Daniel Lincoln

When it comes to rain and a rain jacket, my go-to brand is of course Arc’teryx. The GORE-TEX technology in the jackets are known for durability, longevity, and of course keeping you dry. This Arc’teryx Zeta Jacket is a great men’s option. It is perfect for hiking, camping, backpacking in the rain, it will not disappoint you.

Ladies, do not fear. Here is the Arc’teryx Zeta Jacket in women’s sizes. At a lightweight 9.5oz, this jacket is perfect for backpacking. Throw it in your pack when not in use and you will barely know it's there. The trim fit and hip length will keep your core dry and your body warm.

Keep in mind that these are rain shields, and if it is cold, you will want to pair these with a warmer layer underneath.

A Fleece Jacket for Late Spring

I love a good fleece sweater. Great for early fall and late spring, they are my go-to for hiking, climbing, running to the store, living in, etc.. The Marmot Pisgah Fleece for men is a great full-zip fleece jacket perfect for anything from day hikes to working from home.

For women, I recommend the Burton Hearth Fleece Pullover. I wear it independently or as a layer under my winter jacket. It is soft, warm, and perfect for hiking or those lazy mornings with tea and a good book.

A Jacket for Winter Camping & Hiking

A man in a red jacket and black pants looking out at the snowy mountains before him
Photo by Joshua Earle

Now, winter is my least favorite time—this Los Angeles native hates being cold. But I also love the outdoors and don’t want to let winter stop me from getting out. So, I wear my handy dandy winter jacket and all is well.

For women, go for the RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket for day hikes. Keep in mind that I don’t camp or backpack in the winter but I’m positive this jacket would be great for those activities too. It is made with 800-fill-power European goose down, has a full zip, is very insulating, and is water and windproof. This is great for ice climbing, mountaineering, and hiking in very cold conditions.

The Cotopaxi women’s Nina Jacket is a superb winter jacket. However, due to its size I wouldn’t recommend it for backpacking! I would recommend this for shorter day hikes. It’s length will help to insulate your lower body and keep your body temperature safe from those chilly, winter days.

Here is a men’s winter jacket that is an amazing option. The RAB Infinity Jacket for men is also made with 800-fill-power European Goose Down, and si great for mountaineering and ice climbing. It has a total weight of 25oz, has a deep hood, and will keep you happy, safe, and warm in cold conditions.

Another men’s winter jacket is the Marmot Shadow Jacket. This jacket is great for skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, mountaineering, and more. At just over 2lbs, this down and insulated jacket is a little heavier than most, but will feel like a warm blanket wrapped around you and give you memories of lying in bed in the morning.

Wearing the appropriate apparel for the chosen activity and season is crucial to enjoying the natural world around us. When we don’t want the weather to dictate our ability to be outside, using proper gear will save the day. Most well-made jackets with proper insulating technology can be expensive, but the price is worth the warmth, durability, and comfort the jacket will offer. Did I miss your favorite jacket? Hit me up through my profile and let’s chat about all things nature.

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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