When temperatures start cooling down in the fall or warming up in the spring, an outdoor vest should be an essential part of any man’s wardrobe.
From hiking to running errands, an outdoor vest adds a nice warm layering piece to almost any outfit and they’re not as bulky as winter parkas or fall jackets.
But, like any outdoor gear, there are tons of options to choose from. Maybe you want something highly technical, or something super lightweight and packable.
So which brand is right for you? These are six of the best outdoor vest brands for men.
Arc’teryx: Best High-Performance Vests for Active Wear
A vest from Arc’teryx is a staple in any outdoorsman’s wardrobe. They’re known for their high-quality gear and clothing that’s built for outdoor adventure, and their vests are no exception.
Arc’teryx vests come in many different styles—from fleece to lightweight down—but they’re all built for sports like climbing, hiking, or skiing. Their down-filled vests in particular are perfect for keeping warm in colder climates, and they’re incredibly lightweight and water-resistant too. Some Arc’teryx vests come with handwarmer pockets and internal chest pockets with zips.
The fleece vests are better suited for cardio activities like running, as the material allows moisture to vaporize while regulating your body temperature.
These vests are certainly not cheap, though. Adding an Arc’teryx vest to your wardrobe is an investment, so make sure you find one that fits perfectly.
Patagonia: Best Sustainable and Packable Vests
Patagonia’s dedication to creating sustainable gear is really admirable, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why they’re one of the best outdoor brands out there.
Everything Patagonia does is environmentally friendly and fair trade. Their fabrics use renewable wood and recycled cotton, and the company gives 1% of their profits to charity groups and not-for-profits.
Like Arc’teryx, Patagonia has vests that range from lightweight and water-resistant performance wear to more casual sweater vests. Although some of their vests are down-filled, they only use goose down that is certified by NSF International to ensure the birds aren’t plucked alive or force fed.
A really cool feature about Patagonia’s vests is that some of them are ultra-lightweight and can even be packed down into their own pockets. This makes it incredibly easy to toss into a hiking backpack or into your carry-on backpack.
REI Co-op: Best Affordable Vests
Although REI sells tons of different brands, they also have their own Co-op brand. One of the best things about REI Co-op is that they make incredibly affordable yet high-quality gear that’s perfect for adventurers on a budget.
Their vest inventory is a little lacking—they carry a pocket-filled trails vest for fishermen and birders, and a down vest for outdoor fun.
But if you aren’t fussy on style, both vests are good options. Their down vest comes in a few different colors with a durable, water repellent nylon outer fabric. It’s super lightweight and packs down well, and it’s impressively warm. The trail vest comes with a ton of pockets and is also made from water repellent fabric.
If you’re on a budget, REI Co-op is a great option for you. Just not if you want a lot of choice.
Columbia: Best in Vest Variety
Chances are you’ve got a piece of Columbia gear or clothing kicking around that has been part of your wardrobe for a decade or more. Their products are durable and built to last, plus they have such a variety of options that it’s practically impossible to not find something to love.
Their lightweight down vests are water-resistant and built with thermal-reflective and heat-retention technology (including a few nice extra touches, like a chin guard and zippered hand pockets).
They also have fleece vests, and long-style vests that come down past your waist for extra warmth. Their casual, lightweight Silver Ridge line is built for hiking or strolling around town and comes with sun protection and a packable hood.
Filson: Most Stylish Outdoor Vests
Filson definitely does not skimp on style. They’ve been around for 120 years—they started out as a family-run business, and then quickly gained a reputation for their high-quality and durable products. Nowadays they make comfortable, tough outdoor clothing for hunters, anglers, explorers, mariners, and more.
While all of Filson’s vests are very functional and built for working men, they’re also easily the most stylish vests on this list. They’ve got plaid wool vests, featherweight down vests, and even a wool-lined leather work vest that’ll have you cashing in your savings to pay for it. (But you’ll look damn good when you do.)
Filson vests go beyond the traditional materials to include things like rugged duck canvas, diamond-quilted insulation, leather, and Mackinaw Wool. If you want to make a statement with your wardrobe, a Filson vest will do it.
North Face: Best Vests for Cold Weather
The North Face is basically a household name, and for good reason. Their outdoor clothing is a mainstay because everything they do is high-performing and built for adventure lovers, including their vests. (Similarly, their backpacks are great for adventure travel.)
North Face has a unique insulation technology known as ThermoBall Eco, which uses clusters of small, round PrimaLoft synthetic fiber that traps heat into air pockets to help your body retain warmth. It’s lightweight, easily compressed, and super cozy to wear.
Even their less advanced vests have excellent warmth features like wind- and water-resistant fabric, and hand pockets.
You can use North Face’s vests as your main layer or as an extra mid-layer when temperatures drop to stay warm and toasty no matter what. Plus their flexible, lightweight materials means you’ll stay comfortable even while being active.
Paired with a great mid-layer or light jacket, an outdoor vest adds a whole lot of versatility to your outdoor wardrobe. Being able to quickly add or remove a layer when things start warming up or cooling down is a godsend, especially when you’re on the move.
All of the brands mentioned here make excellent outdoor vests—it all comes down to what you’re looking for specifically, and your budget. So there you have it. Your next best vest awaits!
About the author:
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today for his travel publication, Travelfreak.