There are a lot of different jackets that you could take hiking, but the most versatile kind of hiking jackets are always going to be soft shell jackets. They wick moisture well in a light shower, cut the wind, keep you warm and breath well. Perfect for when you are pushing hard to get to the top of a peak or for when you stop to take in the view at the top.
Hiking JacketsFeatures that you should look for from a hiking jacket.
- Water Resistant - When reviewing soft shell jackets, it's best to find something that is water resistant, at the very least. You will need a proper rain jacket for any serious downpours, but for everything else, water resistant is ideal, which is part of what makes soft shell jackets ideal hiking jackets.
- Warmth - It's also a good idea to look at hiking jackets with a good amount of warmth. Most jackets can be unzipped, to cool off, but when you stop to take in the view, or to eat lunch, being able to eek out a few more degrees of warmth is important. Related to this, it's always good to get a breathable jacket, which is something that soft shell jackets also do well.
Best Hiking JacketsThe best hiking jackets, broken down for both men and women.
Best Men's Hiking Jackets
- Rab Boreas Pull-On -The Boreas won the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award, so you know it will perform well. It's a pull on jacket, as the name suggests, as opposed to a jacket with a full zipper front. It also has a good hood and a zippered breast pocket, both of which hikers will appreciate. Finally, it is by far the cheaper of the two men's hiking jackets.
- Arc'teryx Gamma LT Softshell Jacket - The Gamma LT is a full zipper hiking jacket. It doesn't have a hood, but does have two zippered breast pockets to store small items you might want easy access to. It also has a DWR finish, which means it will shed small amounts of water very well, which makes it ideal for hiking in spring or fall conditions.
Best Women's Hiking Jackets
- The North Face Apex Bionic Softshell - The Apex is a warm hiking jacket, ideal for colder conditions. It has a full front zipper, along with a zippered breast pocket for storing small items. The Apex gets its warmth from a full fleece lining along the interior jacket, which will both help with water resistance and feel nice against the skin, besides keeping you warm.
- Arc'teryx Hyllus Hoodie Jacket - The Hyllus won the 2008 Outside Magazine Gear of the Year award. It's another fairly warm hiking jacket, and comes with a full length zipper for easy on and off. It also comes with a hood, to hold in the warmth, and two zippered pockets mid-torso, along with a small zippered pocket on the upper arm. Small touches, like articulated elbows and a female specific cut round this really excellent hiking jacket out.