The 10 Best Hiking Vests For The Backcountry

Photo: Filson Down Cruiser Vest

As it soon ventures late into the summer season, you may be tempted to spend less time outdoors for fear of those late-day chills or even the occasional all-day chill. Hiking in long sleeves, cold weather or not, can make you sweaty in a hurry, especially during your more rigorous excursions. On the other hand, bringing a jacket that you have to carry around when your exercise gets the better of you can be cumbersome. There has to be a better option available.

And there is! Behold the hiking vest. While maybe not the first garment that comes to mind when building out your hiking wardrobe, vests are actually perfect because they provide warmth at your core while letting your arms breathe and move. Also, you can choose which exposed layer to wear underneath. If it’s really cold, pick a long-sleeve thermal. If the weather is moderate but may cool down in the early evening, pick a t-shirt. Either way, we’ve picked the ten best hiking vests for men to buy this year.

REI Co-op 650 Down Vest 2.0

REI has been hitting it big with its Co-op label, providing quality garb at budget prices. Much like its down jacket, this 650-fill down vest sports a light enough silhouette that you’ll barely know it’s there, but is insulated enough to keep you warm when you need it. Capable of entirely compressing down to pack into the left-hand pocket, this vest is made from recycled nylon taffeta that’s been treated with durable water repellant. The streamlined silhouette lets you throw this on for casual outings as well, even when you’re not traversing the trails.

Purchase: $80

Carhartt Sherpa Lined Vest

Michigan-based brand Carhartt has been making some of the finest and most reliable workwear around, and it’s been doing it since the 19th century. This Sherpa Vest has a rugged look with a center-front zipper made from durable antique brass. Triple-stitched on the main seams, the material of the vest itself is made from Carhartt’s famous 12-ounce cotton sandstone duck, which gives this a worn-in look as well. Both the vest and its two front pockets are lined with sherpa for extra warmth. However, you can wear this garment even when it’s moderate outside.

Purchase: $99

The North Face Apex Bionic

If you’re looking for a classic silhouette, check out The North Face’s Apex Bionic vest, with a straightforward slim look made from WindWall polyester, a 100% recycled material that’s finished in non-PFC durable water repellant. This vest will keep you warm and protected against the elements, especially when the winds get stronger, thanks to the cinch cord at the waist hem, which also provides you with a more tailored fit. A reverse-coil zipper is equipped on the front side and the chest and hand pockets zip closed as well to keep your gear safe and sound.

Purchase: $109

patagonia All-Seasons Hemp Canvas Vest

The future is hemp, and patagonia understands the importance of the plant when it comes to toughness and longevity. More durable than cotton, hemp is one of the strongest fibers on Earth, and the outdoor clothing company has equipped its All-Seasons Canvas Vest with a blend of 55% industrial hemp, 27% recycled polyester, and 18% organic cotton. The inside is lined with polyester taffeta and insulated with Thermogreen polyester for added warmth. The sizeable lower back zippered pocket is perfect for holding smaller tools and maps, while the four front pockets can carry whatever else you need to bring along with you on your journey.

Purchase: $129

Rhone Traverse Vest

At its core, the Rhone Traverse Vest is an everyday vest, but like all of the Connecticut-based company’s clothing, versatility is key. Truly made with the active adventurer in mind, this stylish vest has a certain modesty to its understated design. Built with a wind fly on the inside, it’s also water- and abrasion-resistant thanks to its brushed woven fabric treated with DWR. There are three zippered pockets on the front to stash your gear, plus a back mesh panel for additional warmth. But Rhone understands that utility alone won’t bring comfort if the outfit can’t stand on its own, which is why it built the Traverse with four-way stretch, as well.

Purchase: $138

Fjällräven Buck Fleece Vest

The Swedes know a thing or two about trekking through the outdoors in sub-moderate temperatures. Fjällräven’s Buck Fleece Vest ensures that your torso stays cozy even when the weather takes a dip, and the high-polo collar keeps your neck warm in stronger winds. Thicker than your average hiking vest, it’s still slim enough to wear as added coverage underneath a larger jacket. The fleece material is knitted on the outside but brushed on the inside for comfort, and the G-1000 reinforcement on the shoulders provides extra support if you’re wearing a backpack.

Purchase: $140

Marmot Novus LT Hybrid Vest

For those who want a minimalist option, look no further than Marmot’s Novus Hybrid, an incredibly lightweight vest whose exterior zippered pockets are so discreet you can hardly tell they’re even there. Made from 100% recycled 20-denier ripstop nylon and PrimaLoft Silver insulation to keep you warm and keep your bottom layer from getting wet in the rain. The adjustable drawcord at the waist hem blocks against strong winds, the stretchable side panels provide significant mobility, and the PFC-free coat on the outside ensures that the water runs right off.

Purchase: $150

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest

If you’ve never had the chance to try on the Arc’teryx Cerium puffer jacket, the Cerium Vest is an excellent companion. While the former is one of the best options for ultra-cold climates, this lightweight puffer vest proves that the Canadian-based brand has excellent outerwear that can be thrown on no matter what the situation. As a more affordable option compared to Arc’teryx’s other offerings, the Cerium Vest has an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, engineered to perfection with super-stuffed 850-fill down and Coreloft synthetic insulation — mapped out strategically to hit the more moisture-prone areas — and yet still weighs in at just 6.5oz thanks to the Arato 10 outer shell.

Purchase: $249

Filson Down Cruiser Vest

If you love pockets, the Filson Down Cruiser Vest has got ‘em in spades. Built with two snapped pockets on each side of the chest, a pair of gusseted snap-flap cargo pockets, a slotted utility pocket, and an additional chest pocket on the inside for your more valuable items (that’s 6 in total!), this hiking vest is made for the ultimate adventurer who loves to come prepared. To protect you from the elements as well, the garment has been meticulously crafted, combining materials such as oil-finished cover cloth and shelter cloth — both 100% cotton — on the outside with cotton flannel, ripstop nylon lining, and responsibly-sourced goose down insulation on the inside.

Purchase: $295

Prada Light Bi-Stretch Vest

For those of you who aren’t worried so much about prices, the Prada Light Bi-Stretch Vest is the quintessential symbol of both utility and style. Aside from the Linea Rossa logo on the breast, this zippered vest sports an unlined design with an asymmetrical hem that epitomizes modern fashion while providing you with a great deal of warmth and comfort in the process. Built to be completely heat-sealed thanks to the four-way stretch of the 100% polyamide-nylon material, this outdoor vest keeps you warm and dry while ensuring that the fabric doesn’t crease either, just in case you’d prefer to keep it on after your hike is over.

Purchase: $2,300

The 10 Best Hiking Sandals to Wear

If you want to wear something that lets your feet breathe as well as your torso when you’re out on the trails, then check out our guide to the best hiking sandals you can buy.