How do I Choose the Best Trekking Jacket?

Dan Cavallari

Trekking adventures will take you through varied terrain under different weather conditions, so it is important to have a trekking jacket that can handle the rigors of the trek while still keeping you comfortable and dry. The best trekking jacket will be lightweight, packable, breathable, and durable; this is a tall order to fill, so be sure to try on several trekking jacket models to determine the comfort level, weight, waterproof abilities, and durability. Choose a jacket that is functional above all else; it should feature conveniently located pockets, a hood that can be stowed away if possible, and vents that can be opened as weather conditions change.

Expected weather and climate can impact the clothing a trekker will wear.
Expected weather and climate can impact the clothing a trekker will wear.

Many materials are available today to make outerwear both breathable and waterproof. This means when you are wearing your trekking jacket, the shell will repel water such as rain and snow, while still allowing sweat to escape the jacket, leaving you warm and dry. Synthetic materials such as nylon and polyurethane are often coated with waterproof, breathable membranes. The most common of these designs is Gore-Tex®, which is lightweight, reliable, and often fairly expensive. If you plan on spending a significant amount of time exposed to the elements, however, a Gore-Tex® jacket is a good investment.

In addition to providing warmth, a good trekking jacket may also protect against mosquito bites.
In addition to providing warmth, a good trekking jacket may also protect against mosquito bites.

A trekking jacket needs to be packable and lightweight to make carrying it easier when it is not in use. You should be able to fold or roll it up easily, and it should be compact enough that it will fit easily into a backpack without taking up all the backpack's available space. The weight of the jacket will not seem so significant when you try it on at the store, but keep in mind that your trekking jacket is only one piece of equipment that you will be carrying on your trek; the heavier it is, the more weight it adds to the overall weight of your backpack and/or person. Choose a jacket that compromises between light weight and functionality.

Features such as a hood, pockets, and vents will make wearing the jacket a more pleasant experience. Vents are often sealed with zippers that can be opened or closed according to the weather conditions. This means you will be able to cool off should the weather turn warmer without having to remove the jacket entirely. Strategically located pockets are important as well, and it is a good idea to choose a trekking jacket that features pockets large enough to easily fit a gloved hand.

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Discussion Comments


There are a lot of great outdoor jackets that can double as trekking jackets if you have enough layers to work with. My boyfriend and I have been hiking on some of our dates and found that the easiest way to prepare for the various weather conditions was just to wear layers.

We looked at getting some trekking jackets, but they were all so expensive. I ended up buying a red jacket that just happened to be waterproof. Now I wear a sweater and t-shirt under that whenever I go outside to hike.


@lonelygod - When I went to buy hiking jackets for my wife and I, we ended up getting ours at a clearance sale at the local sporting goods store. We found some really lightweight rain jackets that were made out of a breathable fabric. They came with detachable hoods so we're able to adjust the jackets to meet our needs.

I suggest if you are hiking in an area with a lot of sudden weather changes that you get a jacket made of layers. Some trekking jackets come with a thin over layer and thicker liners that you can remove if you get too hot. This is a really great option especially for long trips.


When you are looking for waterproof jackets that will work as part of your hiking clothing what are some things you should check for?

My friend and I have recently started hiking in the national park near our home and would like to get some more versatile clothing that will keep us warm and dry for when we start to do longer treks. We have winter jackets already but find that they are far to heavy for the kind of hiking we're doing.

We really want a jacket and hiking pants that will let us stay comfortably cool while protecting us from the elements. Ideally we don't wan to spend too much money on the clothing either, as this is just a new hobby for us.

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