Continuing on with our travel clothing week series, today’s post is all about the best travel jackets and what type of coat you should bring with you when you travel.
One note about travel jackets that doesn’t necessarily apply to all of our clothing posts – if you’re investing in a coat that will survive your trip and longer – don’t skimp out. You’ll be happier in the long run if you get a good jacket that will last for decades and not a cheap off brand jacket that will fall apart after a few trips. Take it from someone who has been there.
Here are some questions to consider before taking a look at our travel jacket recommendations below:
Before Buying a Travel Jacket Ask Yourself:
1) What Type of Climate Are You Traveling To? Before you find the best jacket you should first consider the type of climate you’re visiting – is it warm or cold, wet or dry? This may seem obvious but visiting the hot and humid rainforests of Belize will require a different type of rain jacket (i.e. lightweight and breathable) than the kind you’ll want on a chilly, rainy, early spring day in the Pacific Northwest. The best jacket will be adaptable for many types of weather, but before you make a purchase think about where you’ll wear the jacket the most.
2) How Long Will You Be Gone? If you’re going to be going on an extended multi-month trip you’ll want a lightweight jacket that you can layer with a fleece that you can layer with a raincoat as it will presumably change seasons while you’re gone. If you’ll just be gone a week you only need to find something that will meet your needs for one season and one climate.
3) What Type of Traveler Are You? If you’re an adventurous traveler on study abroad – you’ll want something that’s more informal and all-weather, if you’re a person traveling with your spouse and will mainly stay in hotels and not venture out of museums on rainy days – you’ll want a jacket that is nicer looking. So think about what kind of traveler you are.
4) Will A Jacket You Already Own Suffice? Before you go buy a new jacket just for an upcoming trip, first make sure you don’t have a jacket tucked away in the back of a closet that will work just as well as a new jack. If you do, save your money and take an awesome excursion or have a fabulous meal on your vacation.
5) Is this a Jacket You Will Continue to Wear? Make sure that you buy a travel jacket that you will continue to wear around after you’ve returned. Maybe you’ll only need it when you go on hikes or walking the dog or in a crisp fall day, but buy a quality jacket that will last and be practical for other occasions.
Best Travel Jackets by Category
If you’re on your way to a destination notorious for rain, I highly recommend investing in a good rain jacket – with a hood. Find a lightweight rain jacket that you can wear on a daily basis (black coats always blend in well) will be critical to your happiness and comfort. Places like Ireland, anywhere with a rain forest, the Pacific Northwest all come to mind as places I would want to bring a good rain jacket. Remember, you can always buy a cheap rain poncho if you’re somewhere and it rains unexpectedly, but for places where it usually rains for a least part of the day you’ll want a rain coat. Here are the best six rain jackets I’ve come across for men and women travelers:
Best Women’s Rain Jackets: Basic Black Rain Jacket: Patagonia Long Trenchcoat with removable hood; For the Adventurous: Patagonia Short Shadow Raincoat; For the most rigorous rain protection: Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket
Best Men’s Rain Jackets: Basic Black Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket; For the Harder Core outdoorsy type: Mountain Hardware Exposure Parka For the most rigorous rain protection: Arc’teryx Alpha LT Jacket
I cannot remember a trip I’ve taken where I haven’t brought along my Columbia zip up fleece jacket. Even in most incredibly warm climates I’ll find myself in a hostel that’s over air conditioned or an evening with a strong wind – even if I didn’t bring pants on my trip I can always throw on my fleece with shorts and stay toasty. Generally there are two types of fleeces – full zip up and partial zip up. You’ll have to decide which you prefer. You may also want to consider whether you want a thicker polar fleece jacket or a thin one. (My preference is for a thin, but warm jacket.)
This is an easy one. If you’re going someplace cold, bring your regular winter coat from home. You’re probably wonder which winter jacket – my nice wool coat or more casual skiing jacket. Unless you’re planning on skiing or participating in some other adventurous outdoor sport – bring your wool coat. You’ll feel more comfortable walking into museums, restaurants, and bars. Plus you’ll look less like a tourist. Even if you do plan on trekking on some glaciers or skiing for a day, you’ll be able to either get a jacket with your equipment or rent a jacket from the ski shop.
Lightweight jackets for travel fall into several categories – formal and informal and rain proof or water resistant. Which category you need goes back to the questions I posed for consideration in the beginning. If you a twenty something traveler backpacking around Eastern Europe you’re probably going to go for a less formal jacket than you would if you’re a middle aged retired couple taking a river cruise down the Danube and stopping off at fancy restaurants in cities in Europe. Here are the best lightweight jackets I’ve found based on reviews and personal experience.
*I would highly recommend the IceBreaker Nomad. We received this jacket to try out courtesy of Icebreaker and I can honestly say it’s awesome. It’s lightweight, but thin, made of wool and extremely warm. It’s marketed at adventurous types – it even has a hood and thumb holes for runners – but because it’s wool I would argue that it’s cute enough to wear at many nice functions. With it you may still want a rain or wind jacket over it, however.
Note that we highly recommend buying from Zappos because of their free shipping policy for both purchasing and returning – plus you can return for up to a year after your purchase. Customer service doesn’t get much better than that!
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