With spring around the corner, we’ve rounded up the best lightweight jackets that promise to keep you protected from fickle temperature changes.
When it comes to jacket categories, ‘light-weather’ is a particularly broad one. The term encompasses everything from foldable shell jackets to quilted duffer coats, and just about everything in between. But the best light-weather jackets do have a few factors in common. They balance warmth with mobility and breathability, combine innovative fabrics that offer protection against wind and rain, and are cut to a stylish fit. If you’re considering investing in a lightweight or light-weather jacket, we rounded up a selection of the best jacket brands for men and women, based on value for price, quality and customer feedback.
Norwegian ski specialist Helly Hansen is best known for its cold weather gear, but the brand comes up trumps when it comes to light-weight, transitional apparel too. Take the Men’s Odin Pro Shield Jacket. This hybrid softshell and fleece jacket is technically a versatile mid-layer but works just as well as a lightweight jacket in milder climates. The PCF-free water-repellent treatment will keep you dry, while the technical fleece prevents overheating. The Women’s Banff Shell Jacket, with its two-layer waterproof and windproof fabric system, is an excellent option for women.
Patagonia has earned its accolades as one of the world’s most eco-conscious brands. Most jackets are made from recycled fabrics and certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). The brand is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and promotes a “repair and reuse” program too. There are at least 40 lightweight jackets for men and women on offer, ranging from quilted bombers to ultra-waterproof shell jackets. The Isthmus Utility Jacket is an excellent transitional mild-weather jacket, built with two-layer recycled nylon and spandex fabrics finished with DWR.
The North Face
Kings of California Cool, The North Face offers a fantastic range of lightweight jackets for men and women. The Hydrenaline Jacket 2000, with its articulate 00’s style seams and block colours, is stylish, but practical. Light and packable, the jacket features wind-blocking WindWall™ technology and a water-shedding durable water-repellent finish to keep you warm and dry in less-than-perfect weather conditions. The Antora Parka is another excellent option, delivering reliable wet and windy protection from hiking trails to city parks.
Arc’teryx was founded in the early nineties in Vancouver, where there the weather is about as changeable as it can get, so you can rely on them for excellent transitional gear. The brand’s high-tech fabrics are amongst the best, with varying levels of insulation that can constantly meet changing demands. The new Ralle Lightweight Jacket is ultra-light and can fold to fit in your pocket, but don’t underestimate it – this jacket is ready for serious weather. The 13d GORE-TEX provides complete waterproof, windproof protection, while the C-KNIT™ backer technology gives it added softness and enhanced breathability. Those clean lines mean you can take it anywhere too, from the city to the mountains.
L.L.Bean started life as a one-man operation, founded by Leon Leonwood Bean. More than 100 years later, the brand is just as beloved for its functional and fashionable gear. There are dozens of jackets on offer, but customers rave about the Ultralight 850 Down Jacket. The jacket is wearable across a massive 50-degree temperature range, from -25 – 25 F. Filled with 850-fill-power down that repels water and protects against cold and clumping, it’s a brilliant option for those looking for a versatile jacket that offers more substantial protection than a shell.
Mountain Hardwear is up there with the best outdoors brands in the USA. Founded in 1993, it’s a favourite amongst hikers, climbers and trail runners thanks to its commitment to using the highest quality materials and technologies. Clothing and equipment are designed to improve performance and last (almost) a lifetime. One of their best-selling items is the Stretchdown Light Jacket, which combines high-quality down insulation with ultra-engineered construction to combine warmth and movement for a full range of activities. You can pack it into the right-hand stow pocket too.
Browse at mountainhardwear.com
AKHG is a Duluth Trading Company brand designed for harsher climates and tougher terrains, but not all of its gear is heavy-duty. The brand has created a handful of ingenious jackets that tick the lightweight, light-weather box and won’t break the bank either. The Livengood Packable Insulated Shirt Jacket is a prime example; a nifty cross between a shirt and a jacket that features advanced Thermore insulation, airy ripstop fabric and a Waterflect DWR finish. It can also be packed up into the internal self-pocket.