woman wearing a hiking jacket standing by a lake

Best Hiking Jackets for Women in 2023 [with Buying Guide]

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Are you looking for the best hiking jackets for women?

If you have a big hiking trip planned or want to explore nature, we are here to help you find the perfect hiking jacket.

After spending countless days on the trails exploring the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the French Alps, our team has put these jackets to the test.

We love being outdoors, and we hike and run multiple times a week, so we understand how important it is to have the right gear for the right adventure.

Deciding what jacket is right for your next hiking adventure can be super challenging, with so many styles and categories to choose from. Trust us, we get it.

Well, we packed everything you need to know to help you pick out the best women’s hiking jacket, including what insulation is best for cold weather and what kinds of waterproof jackets will keep you dry.

We listed all of these jackets by category, starting with the super versatile and go-anywhere hard shell jackets and followed up with rain jackets, softshell jackets, fleece, and windbreakers.

TOP PICKS: Best Hiking Jacket for Women

Table of Contents show
woman hiking in the redwoods wearing black winter jacket and trekking pants
Hiking in the winter on the Oregon Coast

20 Best Hiking Jackets for Women

1. Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

light blue insulated women's hiking jacket
Image by REI.com

Best Women’s Hiking Jacket for Versatility

  • TYPE: Insulated Jacket (Synthetic Fill)
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof
  • WEIGHT: 10 ounces (283 grams)

This Patagonia Nano Puff jacket is a lightly insulated jacket that is slim by design but offers just enough warmth for a chilly fall or early spring hike.

If there is only one jacket that we can take on an adventure, this would be our top pick as it’s the best all-around jacket.

One of the things we love about this puff jacket is it’s thin enough to easily be used as an additional baselayer under our waterproof jacket on cold rainy days without it feeling bulky or restricting our movement.

We’ve also worn this on its own over a hiking shirt, and the material is soft and comfortable on the skin.

This is one of the most popular puff jackets on the market, but it is important to note that it is not ideal for very cold conditions.

Even though this jacket doesn’t compress down as well as down jackets, we found it still small and light enough to easily stuff in our day pack. Although it would have been nice if it packs into its own pocket.

Another big plus that we like about this women’s insulated jacket is that it is neutral and stylish enough to wear off the trails on an extra chilly day.

This is our go-to jacket and a great option if you’re looking for a crossover puff jacket that works as well on a casual hike on a mountain trail as it does when visiting a local brewery in Lake Tahoe.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Stays warm even when wet
✅Slim fitting compared to heavier fill jackets
👎Not as warm as other higher-fill synthetic or down options
👎Needs to be paired with another layer for extra cold days

2. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoodie

Best Lightweight Winter Hiking Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Insulated Jacket (Synthetic Fill)
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof
  • WEIGHT: 10.5 ounces (297 grams)

Mountain Hardware makes some of the best insulated jackets on the market, and this Ghost Shadow Hoodie is no exception.

We’ve worn this jacket on plenty of trail adventures, from a short hike by a lake in Mammoth to winter hiking in the redwoods in the Bay Area.

This highly-rated puff jacket made our list because it’s 80 grams per square meter of PrimaLoft® Silver Hi-Loft Ultra insulation, making it very light and warm.

This synthetic puff jacket scored major points with us because it is warm while remaining very light for synthetic fill.

In fact, the Ghost Shadow is on par weight-wise with down alternatives at much higher price points.

The only downside that we didn’t like is that the hood doesn’t seal as well compared to the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie, so we would typically wear a beanie underneath on cold days.

We give this jacket two thumbs up because it is backed by one of the most respected brands in the outdoor industry. 

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Packs down easily and is easy to stash
✅Slim fitting, which makes it an option for a middle layer
👎A little tight in the hip area
👎The hood is a bit loose with no adjustment options

⭐If you need help deciding which type of hiking jacket you need, read our helpful buying guide here.

3. Columbia Heavenly Hooded Jacket

Best Women’s Winter Hiking Jacket under $125

  • TYPE: Insulated Jacket (Synthetic Fill)
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 1 pound 7 ounces ( 652 grams)

We instantly knew that this hiking jacket from Columbia was going to make the list, as it was by far the most comfortable of any puff jacket we tested.

The deal was sealed when we put on the hood and realized it was lined with soft fleece!

The jacket is also one of the warmest we’ve tried on this list, as it is heavily insulated using synthetic fibers, and it is lined with Columbia’s legendary Omniheat reflective material.

We like that this puff jacket is also stylishly designed, making it a good option for the trail or a night out.

We also fell in love with the value of this jacket as it delivers incredible warmth at a price point that is less than half of some jackets on this list.

However, we wouldn’t wear this for serious outdoor adventures such as backpacking through Patagonia as it is limited in its breathability and doesn’t compress very well for storing in a backpack.

But if you are looking for a versatile budget puff jacket, this option by Columbia should be at the top of your list.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Super warm and cuddly
✅Thumbholes!
✅Great price for a great jacket
👎Heavy compared to other puff jackets
👎Poor compressibility for storage

4. Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket

Best Packable Down Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Insulated Jacket (Down)
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 14 ounces (397 grams)

With this Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Jacket, you will have no problem sticking out when you are on the trail.

We love that this lightweight jacket offers a perfect balance of bold color schemes and the performance you expect from a serious outdoor jacket.

The insulation is 800 fill down, is super warm, and is very lightweight, making this Cotopaxi jacket perfect for cold-weather hiking and backpacking trips.

Although this wasn’t an issue for us, the length might be too short for taller women, and the frame is a little boxy.

Otherwise, this is a great midweight puff jacket that works great for easy gear management on the trail, as the jacket easily packs into a hiking backpack and is made of super durable ripstop nylon.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Scuba-style hood keeps the breeze out and our heads warm
✅Fun colors make a statement on the trail
👎Torso length could be longer
👎Not as lightweight as other similar puff jackets

5. Rab Neutrino Pro Down Jacket

Best Insulated Jacket for Women for Extreme Cold Weather

  • TYPE: Insulated Jacket (Down)
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Water-resistant, windproof
  • WEIGHT: 1 pound 2.7 ounces (530 grams)

This big fluffy puff jacket is like getting a big pillowy embrace that is as soft as a cloud.

Sometimes you will get chilled out on the trails, but this jacket can handle even the iciest of arctic storms.

If you get cold easily, you will love this jacket as it seals up tight and will keep you warm even when the temperatures drop below zero.

This winter hiking jacket made our list primarily because of how comfortable it is, but it also is shockingly light and packable considering its heavy amount of down fill.

The jacket is water resistant with a Pertex Quantum Pro and the down is protected with a hydrophobic coating, which will help ensure you stay warm even in light rain showers.

If you are looking for a serious puff jacket to add to your hiking gear that can do it all, then this is the best women’s hiking jacket for cold weather.

⭐See #4 for the types of insulated jackets and the difference between synthetic and down fill here.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Superior warmth for winter hiking
✅Versatile enough to use for casual to hardcore hiking
👎Slightly bulky shape
👎Not as breathable as others on this list

6. Outdoor Research Aspire II

Image by REI.com

Affordable, Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Rain Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Waterproof, windproof
  • WEIGHT: 11.7 ounces (332 grams)

This Outdoor Research Aspire II is an impressive jacket that we really enjoyed wearing as it is super comfortable and moves fluidly when hiking in all types of conditions.

The jacket utilizes Gore-Tex PACLITE®, which is the industry standard for the highest level of waterproofing in combination with good breathability.

We love that the sides unzipped under the armpits to the hem of the jacket, which is not very common, for a customized amount of venting.

We stayed nice and dry despite a heavy downpour while hiking in the Pacific Northwest and also had no issues from sweating while hiking as the Gore-Tex was very breathable.

Compared to the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L, this hiking jacket from Outdoor Research feels a lot softer and gives us more flexibility to move. 

We place a high value on the ability to trust our hiking gear when heading into nature, and this jacket had us at ease, even with rain in the forecast.

This a great jacket that will hold up in nasty conditions and can be purchased at a price well below similar Gore-Tex jackets.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Super comfortable and moves well
✅Gore-Tex at a good price
👎The hood is a little floppy in the wind
👎Slightly heavier than other Gore-Tex jackets on this list

7. Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket

black rain jacket for women
Image by REI.com

Best Lightweight Rain Jacket for Women for Hiking in Wet Alpine Conditions

  • TYPE: Hard Shell
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Waterproof, windproof
  • WEIGHT: 12.3 ounces (349 grams)

If you are looking for the crème de la crème of hiking jackets, the Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket is one of the best women’s rain jackets for hiking.

Arc’teryx uses the latest and best materials in their jackets, which have industry-leading water resistance and breathability.

What surprised us the most about this jacket is that it has all the features of Arc’teryx’s other higher-priced jackets, like the Alpha FL but at a reasonably affordable price point.

We knew we would love this jacket before we even tested it, and it didn’t disappoint with the incredible durability and lightweight design you would expect from Arc’teryx.

The jacket has a slim-fit design that makes it a good choice for windy conditions, and it leaves just enough room for baselayers for plenty of warmth.

This jacket is a splurge for most hikers, but if you have the budget, having a reliable rain jacket when a storm pops up will make it worth every penny.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Lightweight for a Gore-Tex jacket
✅Slim fit for windy days on the trail
👎Expensive even for Gore-Tex
👎The slender fit makes it tough to wear a puff jacket underneath

8. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

mauve lightweight women's jacket
Image by REI.com

Best Women’s Lightweight Hiking Jacket under $200

  • TYPE: Hard Shell
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, waterproof
  • WEIGHT: 12.4 ounces (352 grams)

The Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket offers the gold standard for water resistance for a jacket that is priced under $180.

This women’s hiking jacket delivers on the promised protection from the rain with a three-layer construction and a PFC-free, environmentally friendly DWR (durable water repellent) finish.

We’re so glad we were wearing this jacket when we got caught in a heavy storm that rolled into Desolation Wilderness, as it kept us dry without getting hot while hiking for hours in heavy rain.

Even with the Patagonia branding, this excellent waterproof rain jacket is a great value in a category filled with 300-plus dollar options.

What we love most about this jacket is that it comes in nine fun colors ranging from quartz coral to shine yellow, which will brighten up any rainy day on the trail.

The only thing we didn’t like about this jacket is that the shell is a little stiff and makes noise when moving around or hiking.

This is your best option if you want a cute rain jacket that also performs on the trails.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Very strong water resistance
✅Packs up into its own pocket
👎Stiff material
👎A little boxy in shape

9. Marmot Minimalist Jacket

Packable Waterproof Hiking Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Rain Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Waterproof, windproof
  • WEIGHT: 12.6 ounces (357 grams)

If you are looking for a simple rain jacket that is sure to keep you dry for short or long hikes, this Marmot Minimalist Jacket is up to the task.

We found this is the perfect option for those who just want to stash a jacket in their pack for occasional rain showers but are not looking to wear it all day.

We’ve used this several times while running on our local trails, and it has kept us nice and dry.

The jacket’s name says it all, as the minimalist design means they could devote all the weight to keeping you dry with Gore-Tex PACLITE®.

We were also shocked at the price, as it’s hard to find a Gore-Tex jacket from a serious outdoor company for under $225.

This represents a serious value for those that love to hike but are not planning any trips to scale a mountain peak.

Marmot made this waterproof jacket bombproof with serious attention to durability, which means you will be able to use it for many long hiking seasons.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Lightweight & packable
✅Great price for a waterproof jacket
👎Boxy fit
👎No stash pocket or pouch

10. Marmot PreCip Eco Jacket

Ultra Lightweight Hiking Rain Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Rain Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Water-resistant, windproof
  • WEIGHT: 8.7 ounces (247 grams)

If you are looking for a lightweight rain jacket for under $100, then the Marmot PreCip Eco Jacket is your best bet.

While this jacket doesn’t come with expensive Gore-Tex, it does come with PFC-free DWR water-resistant coating that will keep you dry on shorter hikes in the rain.

We found that it held up well in the foggy and light rain we encountered during our hikes in the redwood forests, but it soaked through slightly when we got caught by a downpour.

This makes this a perfect contender for shorter hikes where you can get back to the car in a reasonable amount of time if the weather turns for the worst.

What it lacks in waterproofing, it makes up for in its ultra-lightweight design, which weighs under nine ounces.

We’re glad that this jacket performed well in windy conditions with its streamlined design and narrow sleeves that do not flap, we know how annoying that could be!

For those that just need a little protection but do not want to break the bank, this jacket by Marmot is a great option.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Budget-friendly
✅Ultra lightweight design
👎Slim fit is not good for layering in cold weather
👎Water resistant, not waterproof

11. The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket

Best Women’s Outdoor Jacket for Protection from Wind, Cold, and Light Rain

  • TYPE: Soft Shell Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 21.5 ounces (609 grams)

Whether you are planning to bag some mountain peaks or trek along the windy coastline, this North Face Apex Bionic Jacket will keep you nice and warm.

This softshell jacket is designed to work as a stand-alone jacket for wind resistance, but it also works as a good baselayer because of its slim-fitting design.

The Apex Bionic Jacket has a DWR waterproof coating to shed light rain and a Windwall® shell to block the wind.

After testing this soft shell jacket, we added it to our hiking rotation as we loved the styling as much as its performance.

We also found that wearing it for long hours out on the trail was really comfortable.

This is a great option that will serve multiple purposes as a mid-layer and a warm jacket when it’s fairly dry out.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Works as a great middle layer
✅Great wind protection
👎It’s fairly heavy for a non-waterproof jacket
👎The slim design is not for every body type

12. Columbia Kruser Ridge II Softshell Jacket

Budget-Friendly Women’s Hiking Jacket

  • TYPE: Soft Shell Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Wind-resistant, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 15.2 ounces (431 grams)

This Columbia hiking jacket is perfect for hitting the trails and for lounging in camp by the fire while making S’mores.

This softshell jacket is as comfortable as a fleece but offers wind and light rain protection. 

We enjoyed this jacket’s versatility as it is functional on the trails, but we also found that we love wearing it at home on chilly nights.

We love the flattering fit, and it feels good to move in and even works great as a mid-layer.

The simple design is focused on quality, and this jacket will last for many years of hiking on your favorite trails.

Compared to the North Face Apex Bionic, this hiking jacket is a lot lighter and about half the price. However, it doesn’t have the DWR coating.

You will love this softshell jacket if you order it, and you might find it hard to take off.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Great durability that will last for years
✅Super comfortable fit
👎Sleeves are long in the larger sizes
👎Doesn’t pack down well for stuffing in a daypack

13. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket

The Perfect Summer Hiking Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Soft Shell Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Wind-resistant, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 12.5 ounces (354 grams)

The Ferrosi Hooded Jacket by Outdoor Research is a lightweight shell that offers great UV and wind protection at a reasonable price.

This jacket is a great option for hikers looking for a light layer of protection for early-morning treks or a break from the wind along the coast.

While this hiking jacket will not keep you dry like a dedicated rain jacket, it will fend off mist from fog or a light sprinkle. 

The best thing about this jacket is that it is really comfortable, and we found that we would wear it for the drive to the trail and leave it on until we warmed up on an uphill climb.

For casual hikers, this is a great option by a legendary outdoors company that comes in at a reasonable price for such quality.

Consider this softshell jacket if you plan to hike in more temperate climates along the coasts or in dry conditions at lower elevations below the subalpine zone.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Good breathability and wind protection
✅Stretchy material for better range of movement
👎No waterproofing or DWR coating
👎No wrist adjustment straps or closures

14. REI Co-op Trailmade Soft-Shell Anorak

green softshell hiking jacket
Image from REI.com

A Hiking Shell Jacket for Women to Insulate from the Wind

  • TYPE: Soft Shell Jacket
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 14.1 ounces

This REI Co-op Trailmade Anorak offers up plenty of wind protection and just enough water resistance in a comfy pullover design.

We are continually blown away by the quality of REI products, considering the great prices for their gear.

This highly-rated Anorak offers all the same features as other soft shell jackets on this list at a price under $100.

Not only is this jacket a great value, but it also is stylishly designed with fun color schemes and plenty of room to move freely.

What we loved most about the jacket was all the extra pockets for easy access to trail snacks, including a big kangaroo pouch.

The only issue we had with this jacket was that it’s not long enough, so it’s not the best option when wearing a backpack with a hip belt.

However, if you are looking for a soft shell that will last, this REI Anorak will be part of your trail kit for many years to come.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Loose free flowing design that is made to move
✅DWR water resistance for light rain days
👎On the heavy side for a softshell
👎The boxy design is not super flattering for use off the trail

15. Cotopaxi Abrazo Half-Zip Fleece Jacket

A Stylish and Lightweight Hiking Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Fleece
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: Midweight Fleece

This Cotopaxi Abrazo Fleece Jacket will not only keep you warm, but its unique design makes it a standout on and off the trail.

This half-zip jacket works as well as a middle layer as it does on its own and offers all the comfort you can want out of a fleece.

We’ve worn this fleece in varying temperatures while hiking through the California coast and love how warm and cozy it is.

You will feel as good wearing it as we did, and you can also feel great about the fact that it is made with 100% recycled materials.

This is a great fleece option that will certainly brighten up even the stormiest days on the trail.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Fun color combinations that stand out on the trail
✅100% recycled materials, and some of the sale goes to helping underserved communities
👎The inside isn’t as soft as many fleece options on the market

16. Black Diamond CoEfficient Fleece Hoodie

Best Women’s Packable Hiking Jacket

  • TYPE: Fleece
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Primaloft insulation
  • WEIGHT: Lightweight Fleece

This lightweight fleece by Black Diamond has all the warmth you get from a standard thickness fleece without all the unnecessary bulk and weight.

The thin material is made of Polartec® high-efficiency fleece that dries quickly and provides superior warmth.

We love the slim-fitting design of this fleece, which makes it great for layering on cold rainy hikes.

The extra details made us love this fleece, including the stretchy cuffs with thumb holes and the hood that successfully kept our neck and ears warm. However, we wish it had pockets.

If you are looking for a super versatile fleece that can be used in any condition the trail throws at you, then this Black Diamond packable fleece should be on your shopping list.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅The lightweight, thin design is perfect for layering
✅Additional features include a hood and thumb holes
👎No hand pockets
👎The fabric is stiff when new

17. Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket

grey fleece jacket
Image from REI.com

Best Ladies Hiking Jacket Made from 100% Recycled Materials

  • TYPE: Fleece
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Midlayer Warmth
  • WEIGHT: Midweight Fleece

This Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece is the perfect option for those looking for a casual jacket that will provide plenty of warmth on a relaxing hike.

This fleece is one of our favorites, as it is just as at home on the trails as it is for relaxing with a good book by the fire.

This fleece offers simple styling, similar to a hiking coat, and it doesn’t look like hardcore outdoor gear, making it great for on and off-trail use.

Plus, you can feel good that purchasing this 100% recycled fleece means that you are helping Patagonia’s fight to preserve natural habitats around the globe.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Simple, stylish design that looks good on the trail
✅Seriously warm fleece
👎The slim-fit sleeve design will not work for everyone
👎A small amount of pilling can develop after heavy use

18. REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket 2.0

woman wearing a beige hiking fleece jacket
Image from REI.com

A Fleece That Moves with You with Four-way Stretch

  • TYPE: Fleece
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Midlayer Warmth
  • WEIGHT: Midweight Fleece

The REI Co-op Hyperaxis Fleece offers all the bells and whistles of options from top outdoor clothing companies at a very reasonable price.

This fleece is ultra soft, and the material is very stretchy, which makes this jacket conform nicely to our bodies without restricting movement.

Upon trying this fleece on, we quickly realized that we could comfortably wear it all day for even the longest hikes.

We also loved the hood, which seals up around the face while keeping out the wind so our ears, neck, and head would stay nice and warm.

The lightweight material and slim design make it an excellent middle layer for wearing under a rain jacket. 

If you want a solid fleece that will last for years of outdoor adventures, this REI Hyperaxis Fleece Jacket is the best option on this list.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Four-way stretch fleece allows for easy movement
✅Scuba style hood conforms well to keep out the cold air
👎The collar area protrudes too far when unzipped
👎Material pills, after several uses

19. Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker

A Colorful Lightweight Hiking Shell Jacket for Women

  • TYPE: Windbreaker
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT: 9.1 ounces (258 grams)

For those that need a simple solution for protection from the wind, this Cotopaxi Windbreaker is a good option.

We love how incredibly light this windbreaker is, and it was easy for us to pack away in our backpacks.

This Cotopaxi Windbreaker comes in fun colorways like their other clothing, which stands out on the trail.

We strategically used this jacket by throwing it over our base layer whenever the winds picked up on the trail.

However, when we wore this in humid conditions, the material stuck to our skin a little bit which made it uncomfortable.

But if you plan to hike in dry but windy conditions, consider this windbreaker for your next outdoor adventure.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅Packs down small for storage in a backpack
✅Comes in fun colors that stand out on the trail
👎Doesn’t breathe well
👎The torso may be too short for some users

20. Columbia Flash Challenger Windbreaker

Budget-friendly Windbreaker for Women

  • TYPE: Windbreaker
  • WEATHER PROTECTION: Windproof, water-resistant
  • WEIGHT:

This Columbia Flash Challenger Windbreaker is up to the task of keeping you safe from the sun while providing all the protection you will need from the wind.

The jacket also has a DWR (durable water repellent) coating that will help fend off light rain showers, or mist from a waterfall.

Compared to the windbreaker from Cotopaxi, this is a good budget option for those not looking to invest in an expensive rain jacket but still want decent protection from the elements.

While we wouldn’t use this jacket for high mountain adventures or scaling peaks, it is perfect for casual hikes with limited exposure.

Consider this windbreaker if you plan to primarily use it for shorter local hikes or if you are also planning to carry a rain jacket.

WHAT WE LIKEWHAT WE DON’T LIKE
✅DWR water repellent coating for protection from light rain
✅Lightweight design is great for stowing in a backpack
👎Could be more breathable
👎Boxy design allows wind to flow up through the jacket

Best Women’s Hiking Jackets Buying Guide

female hiker with lake and glacier in the background

Types of Hiking Jackets

  1. RAIN JACKET

This range of jackets is specifically designed to provide protection from the rain while remaining lightweight.

Rain Jackets are usually constructed of 1 to 2 layers which can include a waterproof layer like Gore-Tex along with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating.

These jackets are usually a stripped-down version of a hardshell jacket devoid of extra features that add weight.

Dedicated rain jackets are very popular with day hikers, backpackers, and mountain runners that need occasional protection without too much extra weight.

Rain Jackets are the best option for hiking trails with occasional rain showers. 

The lightweight design allows you to stash your jacket in your backpack until you need it without overloading your pack.

2. HARDSHELL JACKETS

Hardshell jackets are designed to take on the harshest weather in all climates, including stormy alpine conditions.

These jackets are expensive as they spare no expense by using the latest technologies to keep hikers and climbers safe when out in the elements.

You can expect these jackets to have three layers with either Gore-Tex or another waterproof layer sandwiched in between.

These hardshell jackets are full-featured and generally incorporate pit zips for releasing excess heat and sealed zippers for extra waterproofing.

Hardshell jackets are the best option for hiking as they are still fairly light and work well in almost all conditions.

3. SOFTSHELL JACKETS 

Softshell jackets are a good option for hiking in slightly cold conditions, as these jackets provide some wind and rain resistance. 

They are not designed to protect you if a storm rolls through with even a moderate amount of rain.

Most softshell jackets offer no waterproofing, and some only include a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to help water bead up on the surface.

These soft shell jackets can be used alone or as a mid-layer under a rain or hardshell jacket for extra warmth. 

These are good jackets for everyday use and work best for casual hikes in good weather.

4. INSULATED JACKETS (“Puffies”)

Insulated jackets are designed to provide plenty of warmth in even the coldest climates.

These jackets utilize quilted small squares or cylinders filled with either goose down or a synthetic fill that insulates heat.

Insulated or puff jackets are great to use independently but rarely incorporate any form of a waterproofing layer.

A good puff jacket works as a great option for layering with a rain or hardshell jacket in wet conditions, and they work well alone in dry but cold weather.

  • Synthetic – This artificial polyester fill option performs just as well as down when it comes to warmth and is generally cheaper and more animal-friendly.

Synthetic fill also has the advantage of staying warm even when the fibers become wet. 

Other benefits of synthetic fill are that it is hypoallergenic and quick drying if it does get wet on the trail.

The one downside is that it is not as durable as down and will lose its fluff over repeated compression.

  • Down – Down insulated jackets are made using the plumage from under the feathers of geese or ducks.

Down can be compressed smaller than synthetic fill and has a lighter weight-to-warmth ratio, making it better for long hikes or treks where weight is a serious issue.

Down is typically more expensive than synthetic-filled jackets but is super durable and can be used as long as the exterior materials hold up.

The one major issue with down fill is that it loses its insulating properties when it gets wet and has to be hand fluffed when it dries out.

5. FLEECE

Fleece jackets are designed with maximum comfort and warmth, making them a favorite on the trails.

These jackets are made using polyester fibers that dry fast and insulate plenty of warmth.

Most outdoor clothing manufacturers use recycled plastics to make their fleece, which is sustainable and produces a soft texture.

This is a good option to use as a mid-layer or as an outer layer in dry but cool environments.

6. WINDBREAKER

This category of jackets is designed with the sole purpose of keeping the wind at bay, with the added benefit of UV protection.

Windbreakers generally offer no waterproofing, but some manufacturers will add a DWR water-resistant coating for protection against a light shower.

These jackets are more affordable, as they do not use cutting-edge or higher-priced materials that help with breathability.

Windbreakers are best used by casual hikers or cyclists that need limited protection from the elements on shorter outdoor adventures.

Choosing Hiking Jackets for Women: Factors to Consider

hiker walking through the redwoods wearing a purple fleece jacket
  1. MATERIAL

The materials used in making hiking jackets vary as much as their ability to protect you from the elements.

Some hardshell and rain jackets come with a layer of Gore-Tex or another waterproof material specifically designed to keep out moisture.

Other styles of jackets use fleece, down, or synthetic fills with a focus on keeping you warm.

It’s also important to buy a jacket that uses materials that are very breathable, as you can get hot and sweaty even on the coldest day on the trail.

The last thing to look out for is comfort, and the easiest way to find a jacket you will want to wear comes by avoiding options with stiff or abrasive layers.

😎Having the right clothing material when hiking is extremely important, from your jacket all the way to your hiking bra and hiking underwear.

  1. WEATHER PROTECTION 

When selecting the best hiking jacket for women, it is important to consider what conditions you plan to use it in.

If you plan to hike in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, you will want some serious waterproofing, and if you plan to climb to the top of a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado, you will want a warm insulated jacket.

It is imperative that you select the proper weather protection even if you only need a light water-resistant coating.

The best option for protection in all conditions is a good hard shell jacket in combination with a good base and middle layer.

  1. BREATHABILITY

Breathability should be one of the top priorities, as there is no sense in getting a waterproof jacket if you are just going to end up wet from condensation and sweat.

Staying dry will keep you safe if the temperature drops as you climb over a mountain pass or if you get caught in a winter storm.

For increased airflow, look for jackets that also incorporate pit zippers that rapidly vent out moisture while still providing protection from the rain.

  1. WEIGHT & PACKABILITY

A jacket’s weight and packability only come into play if you plan to do some longer hikes or are thinking about a backpacking trip.

If you are up for a longer adventure, seriously consider selecting a jacket that maximizes protection from the elements but skips on extra features to keep the weight to a minimum.

Packability should also be considered, as space can be at a premium for backpacking trips or if you like to carry a smaller day pack.

Look for puff jackets and hard shells that stuff into their own pocket for easy storage.

  1. COMFORT & MOBILITY

Even though some jackets look stylish and comfortable, they might not offer a good range of motion needed for negotiating the trails.

It is important to look for jackets that do not have too much extra material that can flap in the wind, but you want plenty of room in the joints for freedom of motion.

If you come across a downed tree or some rock along the trail that requires are little scrambling, you will want your body free to move.

Look for jackets with four-way stretch materials that conform to your body and make a great mid-layer.

  1. OTHER FEATURES
  • Hood – Not only does a hood replace your need for a beanie in moderately cold conditions, but it will also keep your neck and ears warm. 

For a waterproof jacket, the hood is a necessary addition that keeps your head dry and water from dripping down the collar.

Look for jacket options with an extended bill on the hood that will help keep the rain out of your face.

  • Pockets – Having plenty of easy to access zippered hand pockets and a chest pocket on a hiking jacket will keep you from digging in your backpack whenever you need a trail snack.

It’s not necessary to have pockets, but they provide a place to keep your hands warm and dry.

Look for jackets that have sealed pockets to keep water out, and also select an option that has higher pockets that sit above your backpack’s waist strap.

  • Adjustable Closures – When selecting a jacket, you will want to consider if you are okay with the extra weight of adjustable closures for the hood, waist, and wrists.

These closures help seal out the elements and help adjust the jacket to your personal preferences.

Not everyone’s head and arm length is the same, and it’s important to get a perfect fit for your body.

Some lightweight jackets skip on these features to save weight.

FAQs

What is the best type of jacket for hiking?

The best type of jacket for hiking is a hardshell, which is designed to handle anything from a downpour of rain to arctic snow conditions.

These hardshell jackets cover all the bases with good breathability, windproofing, waterproof layers, and protection from the sun.

Hardshell jackets are expensive as they use the best materials to keep weight down while providing maximum protection.

What jacket to wear hiking in autumn?

The best type of jacket to wear in Autumn is a hardshell jacket which offers all the protection needed from rain and cold breezes.

Hard shell jackets are a great option for layering on cold autumn days, and they often come with armpit zippers for venting heat if it gets too warm.

These hardshell jackets are the most versatile for all conditions, and they are also lightweight for stowing in a backpack when they are not needed.

What material jacket for hiking?

The best material for a hiking jacket is Gore-Tex, which offers top notch waterproofing with just enough breathability to keep you dry.

Gore-Tex is usually used as a layer that is sandwiched between two other materials for added protection from the elements.  

Hardshell jackets incorporate this advanced material to offer all the protection you need for a local hike or for trails that summit mountain peaks.

Are Patagonia jackets good for hiking?

Patagonia makes some of the best jackets on the market, with options ranging from casual hiking softshells to waterproof gore-tex hard shells that can handle anything nature can throw at them.

Patagonia jackets are thoughtfully designed with function as the primary function, meaning you can trust this brand when the weather gets nasty out on the trails.

They employ the most modern materials to make the best jacket possible while using as many recycled plastics as possible for a smaller environmental impact.

Bottom Line

Now that you have picked out the perfect options for our list of the best hiking jackets for women, all you have to do is order your jacket and hit the trail.

If you’re still undecided, here are our top picks once again:

If you are still struggling to find the best option, trust us and go with a hardshell, which will keep you dry and warm for almost any hike.

Now its your time to head outdoors and experience nature from your local trails.

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