16 Best Travel Jackets (How to Choose the Best One for Your Trip!)

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If you are a traveler, you know the importance of adding the best travel jacket to your packing list. They keep you warm and comfortable in chilly airports, train stations, and bus depots.

 They are also a great line of defense against rain while you are on the streets or hiking the trails. They allow you to maneuver through multiple climates while always staying dry and warm.

So, what goes into making the perfect travel jacket? Well, that depends almost entirely on the season you will be traveling in or two.  This will affect what materials are best, what level of water-resistance is acceptable and the type of insulation that will best suit you.

Here is some key information to review when choosing between the best travel jackets.

Top 6 Travel Jackets

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION 
Best Travel JacketsWomen's Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket
-Durable ripstop nylon shell
-850-fill Q.Shield goose down insulation
-Full-zip front closure
-Two zip hand pockets
-Easily stored in zip hand pocket for ultimate portability
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Best Travel JacketsWomen's The North Face Thermoball Full Zip
-Wet weather insulated
-Filled with Synthetic Down
-Easily folds into hand pocket
-Two zip hand pockets
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Best Travel JacketsWomen's Columbia Mighty Lite III Jacket
-Omni-Heat lining and insulation
-Two zippered hand pockets
-Water resistant
-Two way center zipper
-Interior security pocket
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Best Travel JacketsMen's Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket
-800-fill Q.Shield down insulation
-Wind and water resistant
-Full-zip front closure
-Chin saving zipper garage
-Zip hand warmer pockets
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Best Travel JacketsMen's Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
-Recycled ripstop shell
-Water resistant coating
-Easily stored in internal pocket
-Ultralight
-Water repellent Primaloft Gold Eco insulation
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Best Travel JacketsMen's The North Face Resolve 2
-Roll-away hood stows in collar
-Two zip hand pockets
-Hook and loop storm flap
-Full zip front closure
-Waterproof outer layer
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Quick Answer: The Best Travel Jackets


Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Jackets

Stormy beach in Florida - Best Travel Jackets

Best for summer

Summer travel jackets have more than one job. Besides warming you up on chilly morning commutes they also act as a protecting layer against harsh sun, winds, and insects.

That is why you will want something durable and lightweight that can also fill the protection necessities. Here are some factors to consider.

Wrinkle Resistance

Chances are your summer travel jacket is going to spend most of its time packed away, stuffed into a day pack or tucked in a travel bag.  That is why finding one with some sort of wrinkle resistance is essential.

The best fabric for wrinkle resistance is Merino Wool. This is a soft lightweight material that retains its smooth texture even after being repeatedly stuffed into a bag. It is also extremely breathable and feels great against your skin.

Polyester is second in line when it comes to its wrinkle-free properties. Almost all performance fabrics and travel clothing have at least some polyester fibers meaning it will be easy to find when shopping for your summer travel jacket.

Tencel is another synthetic material you might find on the shelves. This fabric will still wrinkle when packed up but is easy to smooth out. Most of the time, just hanging up your jacket will do the trick.

Lina Stock exploring the Golden Circle in Iceland

Water-Resistance

In certain areas, summer brings torrential rainfalls that can make traveling more difficult.  That is why it is important to find a summer travel jacket that will be able to keep you dry as you navigate your way through the rains.

Nylon and polyester fabrics are great for these conditions.  They have a great ability to wick away moisture and dry out quickly.  When you couple these materials with a weather-proof / waterproof coating you will have a jacket suited for all summer travel activities.

Cotton jackets, on the other hand, tend to hold moisture. That means when the rains penetrate the jacket it will leave you with a soggy mess with an inability to keep you warm. It is best to stay away from this material when looking into summer travel jackets.

Breathable Fabric

Let’s face it, summer is hot. That is why it is important to look for a jacket that is breathable. Choosing Merino Wool, polyester or nylon materials will give your jacket inherent breathable qualities. You can also look for things like a “mesh-lined yoke” which will also increase the breath-ability of your jacket.

Sun Protection

If you are traveling to environments with harsh sun you might want to use your jacket as a layer of protection against UV radiation. All fabrics allow for some level of UV radiation to penetrate through to your skin.

That is why you want to look for your jackets UPF rating. UPF, or UV protection factor, indicate what percentage of UV-rays can penetrate. Any travel jacket with a UPF rating of 30 or higher will offer excellent protection.

Hiking in Alaska

Best for Fall and Spring

The Spring and Fall months can be unpredictable when traveling. Rains can quickly pop up in the spring and cold bursts can catch you off guard in the Fall. In these transition seasons, travel jackets with a variety of versatility features is key.

Here is what I mean.

Extras:

  • Zip-out Liners: Zip out liners are a great feature of the best travel jackets for Spring/Fall. This is an added piece of fabric made from things like fleece that can be zipped in when the temperature drops or taken out when the sun starts warming up.
  • Stowable Hoods: These hoods can either be zipped into their own pockets at the collar or buttoned on allowing you to completely remove and add them as needed. These offer great protection if caught in a surprise rainstorm or heavy winds.
  • Waist Drawstring: A drawstring at the waist has one purpose.  Extra insulation. This small detail can protect against drafts on blustery evenings or opened to allow more breathability in warmer temperatures.
  • Chin Box Collar: A chin box collar simply means that the jacket zips up to your chin. This feature will make sure your neck stays warm no matter the weather and can be unzipped and lay flat when it isn’t needed.
  • Waterproof: In these months, water-resistant jackets just aren’t enough.  You will want something with a waterproof treatment to ensure you stay dry.

Hiking in Patagonia - Best Travel Jackets

Best for winter

The best travel jackets for winter travel are those that give you the most insulation and warmth. That doesn’t mean that they have to be bulky and take up half of your suitcase.

The best winter travel jackets are also compressible allowing them to be easily stowed during non-use. Let’s take a look at the things that make a great winter travel jacket.

Down vs. Synthetic Fill

When looking for a winter travel jacket there are really only two fill options to consider: down and down synthetic.  These products offer the most warmth, durability and lightweight characteristics. Everything you need in a winter travel jacket.

Down is still the front-runner when it comes to outdoor gear such as vests, jackets, and sleeping bags. This is due to its superior ability to keep you warm in the coldest of temperatures.

It is also one of the most durable, compressible and comfortable options when it comes to winter travel jackets. Down works by trapping your body heat in an infinite amount of small air pockets and distributing the heat throughout the jacket.

Unfortunately, it does have a downside. Its natural enemy is water. When down gets wet, it loses much if not all of its loft rendering it useless as an insulator.

Once this occurs, it can take a very long time to dry out putting you in quite the predicament if you are away from your hotel. Luckily, the external shells of most down winter jackets have some sort of water-resistant abilities to prevent this from happening.

Synthetic down came in to meet the needs of those that want similar insulating abilities without the high price tag. While it still can’t meet the warming capabilities of down it does have some additional benefits.

Synthetic down is more resistant abrasion and will retain its ability to keep you warm even in heavy downpours.

It is also hypoallergenic making it great for all travelers. That being said, it does have a tendency to break down faster over extended use making it a less consistently reliable option.

Lina Stock hiking in Norway

Compact Packing

Naturally, a big concern for all travelers looking for the best travel jacket is how well it packs down. You don’t want a jacket that takes up a ton of space in your suitcase. So, it is important to look at how well a travel jacket can pack down.

This is where down steps back in. This fiber has an amazing ability to be compressed into a small sack or into its own pocket without affecting its insulating abilities.

It can be packed down to the size of a small bag that can fit perfectly in both hands. It can also be laid flat on top of other clothing and zipped tightly into your suitcase without taking up any space.

Synthetic down can easily do a great job of packing down. However, over repeated compression, synthetic down has a tendency to lose its insulating abilities and can become disfigured.

Pockets

Pockets are a very important feature to look for in a winter travel jacket. Specifically pockets at the waist. This small feature allows you to quickly stuff your hands in warming them up without gloves.

They can also be perfect for carrying a hat, gloves and/or a scarf.

An internal chest pocket is also perfect for discreetly carrying things like your passport, extra cash or your phone. With enough pockets, you can easily travel around the city or hike through the mountains without the limitations of a day pack or purse.


Best Travel Jacket Recommendations

Patagonia jacket

Women’s Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer

The sub-eight-ounce Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket can be compressed into its own pocket for easy storage. It’s been designed with the essentials in mind: Nikwax Hydrophobic Down 800-fill insulation resists moisture and maintains warmth.

SPECS:

  • 90% goose down fill
  • 800-fill resists moisture and retains maximum loft
  • Low profile quilt pattern
  • Interior toggle hem for easy adjustment on the fly
  • Soft elastic inner cuff binding to seal out the cold
  • Zips into its own pocket for compact storage
  • Built-in secure loop 

Check Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer price at Mountain Hardware.


northface jacket

Women’s The North Face Thermoball

Whether you’re putting up your tent or kicking back by the campfire, this durable and highly packable jacket will make sure you stay toasty-warm around the clock.
The new bottleneck quilting pattern and ultralight ThermoBall insulation eliminate cold spots and provide an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.
 
SPECS:
  • Exposed molded-tooth center front zip
  • Internal elastic cuff
  • Secure-zip hand pockets
  • Stowable in pocket
  • Hem cinch-cord
  • Slim fit
  • Innovative bottleneck quilt pattern minimizes cold spots and improves durability
  • 13 g ThermoBall insulation for warmth when wet

Check The North Face Thermoball price at Amazon


Columbia jacket

Women’s Columbia Mighty Lite III 

Beautiful geometric baffling lends a feminine feeling while the Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining and insulation keep you warm when the wind-chill drops.

SPECS:

  • Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated
  • Omni-Shield advanced repellent
  • Interior security pocket
  • Zip-closed pockets
  • Comfort cuffs
  • Thumbholes
  • Center back length: 25”

Check Columbia Mighty Lite III price at Amazon


mountain hardwear jacket

Men’s Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer

The sub-eight-ounce Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket can be compressed into its own pocket for easy storage. It’s been designed with the essentials in mind: Nikwax Hydrophobic Down 800-fill insulation resists moisture and maintains warmth.

SPECS:

  • 800-fill down resists moisture and retains maximum loft.
  • Low profile quilt pattern to create heat trapping down channels for extra warmth.
  • Single interior toggle hem for easy adjustment on the fly.
  • Soft elastic inner cuff binding to seal out the cold.
  • Zips into its own pocket for compact storage.
  • Built-in secure loop

Check Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer price at Mountain Hardwear.


Patagonia jacket

Men’s Patagonia Nano Puff

Warm, windproof, water-resistant, the Nano Puff Jacket uses incredibly lightweight and highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco with 55% post-consumer recycled content, wrapped in a 100% recycled polyester shell and lining.

Fair Trade Certified sewn. Born of shoulder-season belay duty and quick-hit ski tours, the Nano Puff Jacket finds a home with any back-country aficionado. Its wind-blocking, 100% recycled polyester shell sheds moisture and glides effortlessly in your layering system.

Low-bulk, hydrophobic, highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco traps heat with remarkable efficiency, even when wet.

SPECS:

  • Lightweight 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell and lining fabric
  • DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco
  • 55% postconsumer recycled content
  • Brick quilting pattern with horizontal quilt lines on side panels stabilizes insulation
  • Durable thread for abrasion resistance
  • Center-front zipper has wicking interior storm flap
  • Zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
  • Two zippered hand warmer pockets
  • Zippered internal chest pocket doubles as a stuffsack
  • Drawcord-adjustable drop-tail hem seals in warmth

Check Patagonia Nano Puff price at Amazon


How to Choose the Best Travel Jackets

Men’s The North Face Resolve 2

Revel in the deluge with this weatherproof rain jacket that features a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that stows inside the collar.

This waterproof, breathable technology utilizes a polyurethane (PU) coating that consists of a tri-component, multi-layer formula for waterproof protection, moisture permeability, and durability. 

It’s been lab and field-tested to ensure the best possible durability and function.  

SPECS:

  • Breathable rain jacket
  • Adjustable stowable hood
  • Relaxed Fit
  • Waterproof, seam-sealed DryVent 2L shell with mesh liner
  • 100% windproof fabric

Check The North Face Resolve 2 price at Amazon


How to Choose the Best Travel Jackets

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts, and travel pants.
  • Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.
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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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