For the outdoorsmen, hunters, and adventurers alike, utility is the currency of the realm. When you’re braving the elements, it doesn’t matter how stylish your jacket is if it doesn’t protect you from the rain, wind, and cold. This isn’t to say that tactical garments can’t be good-looking, rather, when designing tactical clothing, versatility is simply the first priority. It’s always better to be outfitted for the elements, not the runway, when gearing up for the outdoors.
With this charge in mind, we have curated a comprehensive list of the 15 best tactical jackets you can buy today. These rugged garments are purpose-built through and through. Windproof, waterproof, and resistant to the harshest conditions, these are the ideal jackets you’d bring with you on your hike, hunt, or off-grid excursions to ensure a safe experience. And, it’s worth saying, a lot of them look pretty sharp, too. Before we jump into the list, here are some key factors to think of when looking for a proper tactical jacket.
Tactical Jacket Criteria
It Better Have Pockets
Materials: As purpose-built garments, it’s imperative that your tactical jacket is made of the right material. Cotton, wool, or even waxed canvas may be great for everyday wear, but when you’re exposed to the elements, you’re going to want weatherproof and waterproof material to keep you dry and warm.
Mobility: Given the versatility that’s associated with tactical jackets, wearers need to be able to retain a full range of motion so they can effectively hike, run, climb, or work. Form-fitting, restrictive jackets can make your figure look more flattering, but if it keeps you from starting a fire in the rain, climbing up a ledge to get to your destination, or running away from a bear, you may want to leave it at home.
Storage: This particular criteria is paramount for any tactical garment. Having sufficient storage to hold supplies, EDC essentials, or a firearm is a hallmark of tactical jackets. Quick and easy access to critical supplies while on a mission or just a hike can make all the difference when you’re in an emergency. When in doubt, go with the jacket with more pockets. You’ll thank us later.
Insulation: Usually materials can cover this criterion, but there is a bevy of water-resistant and weather-resistant shells that do nothing in terms of insulation. Ensuring that your jacket keeps your body heat in and, more importantly, keeps the elements like rain, snow, or wind out, is essential when picking out your tactical jacket. After all, it’s hard to be tactical when you’re on hypothermia’s doorstep.
Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Shield Jacket
Under Armour may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of tactical garments, but its ColdGear Infrared Shield Jacket ticks all the essential boxes for a solid tactical jacket. Its ColdGear Infrared lining uses a soft, thermo-conductive inner coating to keep you warm and dry, while its windproof, 3-layer softshell construction makes it a weatherproof offering capable of tackling the elements. Add to the Shield Jacket its superior stretch, durability, and flexibility, as well as three easy-to-reach pockets on the sides and chest, and you have a minimalist tactical jacket that’ll prepare you for almost anything.
The North Face Tactical Flash Jacket
When it comes to across-the-board excellence, it’s hard to beat The North Face. The iconic outdoor recreation company has been making quality outerwear since the late 1960s, and its tactical jacket is just one of hundreds of examples of the company’s pursuit of excellence. Featuring a 94% Polyester and 6% Elastane construction with a Durable Water Repellent finish, The North Face’s tactical jacket is a sleek, midweight coat that’s wind-resistant, water-resistant, and even abrasion-resistant. Its adjustable hood ensures that your head will be insulated, while its Alpine-style, secure-zip pockets provide discreet and secure storage. The jacket also comes with a lifetime warranty, which is only something that companies provide when they know their products are long-lasting.
Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Tactical Softshell Jacket
Tru-Spec is a standout in the military and tactical supplier space, having its roots as a military surplus store before becoming its own brand in 1996. Since then, Tru-Spec has become one of the leading suppliers of uniforms and equipment to the military, law enforcement, and public safety companies. Its 24-7 series of clothing features a softshell tactical jacket that’s about as purpose-built as they come. The lightweight jacket is completely weather-resistant, due to its polyester construction and DWR finish. Better yet, the jacket boasts two angled waist pockets, an angled sleeve pocket, and two rear zipper pockets to provide wearers with more storage than they could shake a stick at. It even comes sized up to allow the user to wear a ballistic vest under it.
Condor Outdoor Summit Soft Shell Tactical Jacket
Condor was one of the first companies to pioneer the tactical gear space after 9/11. Since then, they’ve made a massive impact on the industry, making high-quality, accessible tactical gear that stays true to its Army and Navy roots. The Summit Softshell Jacket exemplifies the versatility associated with Condor’s tactical gear, sporting a three-layer integrated shell that’s water-resistant yet breathable. This garment is an insulation machine, featuring a stow-away hoodie, a fleece-lined collar, and underarm vents to regulate your temperature. Better yet, it has reinforced forearms and elbows for added durability, as well as eight pockets throughout its chest, back, upper arms, and interior. For its quality, versatility, and features, this may be the best-valued jacket on the list.
Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket
For the better part of a century, Rothco has been producing some of the best military, tactical, survival, and outdoor products out there. In particular, its Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket stands as one of the best tactical jackets you can get your hands on. The jacket is comprised of a tactical jacket outer shell and fleece liner, which when combined, create a three-layer, water-resistant, moisture-wicking, heat-retaining masterpiece. Its polyester construction protects the user from wind and other harsh elements, while its double-reinforced forearms prevent tearing and abrasions. It also comes with eight accessible pockets throughout its design, with the chest pockets sporting rubber portholes so you can pass your headphones through for easy listening. Hunters, hikers, and adventurers alike would benefit from this jacket.
Alpha Industries M-65 MOD Field Jacket
While Alpha Industries has moved from being a military clothing supplier to a streetwear brand, the company undoubtedly makes high-end tactical gear. Alpha Industries created many iconic pieces of military outerwear, but arguably one of its finest creations was its M-65 field jacket. Sporting four front pockets, a concealed hood, and a windproof and waterproof construction, the M-65 is a modern-day interpretation of arguably the first tactical jacket. Aside from it being one of the most stylish offerings on this list, this no-frills garment covers all essential tactical jacket criteria just like it did when it was the staple for our soldiers fighting in Vietnam. Sometimes, you can’t beat the classics.
5.11 Tactical 5-In-1 Jacket
If there is one brand that is synonymous with tactical garments, it would have to be 5.11 Tactical. These guys just do tactical wear right (it’s in their name, after all), and while they have a bevy of fantastic garments to choose from, their 5-in-1 jacket is particularly excellent. Made for those who need to do their best when the conditions are the worst, this is the jacket they use. Its seam-sealed design is completely waterproof with a DWR finish that is so effective it provides blood borne pathogen resistance. Moreover, the jacket is made of tough polyester for its outer shell, durable nylon on its inner jacket overlays, and a polyester tech fleece inside its inner jacket, which boosts its insulation and longevity. If all of that isn’t enough, each shell sports five pockets, giving you ten total pockets for maximized storage capacity.
Triple Aught Design Ranger Jacket LT
If one were to make a Mount Rushmore of tactical clothing companies, Triple Aught Design would have to be included. Though only 12 years old, the San Francisco-based standout makes premium tactical wear that is made to answer the call of the armed forces. Its Ranger Jacket epitomizes functional, streamlined design, featuring a polyester construction that has a DWR treatment, as well as wind-resistant Polartec Wind Pro fabric. For storage, it has two large chest pockets, two upper arm pockets, two forearm pockets, and a hunter’s pocket in the back that can be accessed from both sides. What’s more, all pockets feature zipper garages and Grosgrain ribbon pull tags for optimal usage. It’s clear that every aspect of this jacket has been meticulously designed to ensure that it’s as comfortable and functional as possible.
AMABILIS Responder Tactical Jacket
AMABILIS may only be six years old, but founder Brian Abrams has been a juggernaut in the tactical gear space since 1991 when he founded his first company, Adventure Tech. Having extensive experience supplying our Special Forces with tactical gear, Abrams founded AMABILIS to create the next evolution of tactical wear. The company’s Responder Jacket, in particular, stands as a shining example of purpose-built tactical gear made for those who need it most. Featuring a ballistic and rugged silhouette, the Responder Jacket is dubbed as “the last jacket you’ll ever want,” as it’s meant to last a lifetime. Its construction is a blend of cotton and nylon that is punctuated by Neoprene armor plating for added protection. The jacket has ten total pockets, gunmetal finishes, a lower-back drop hem for added coverage, and a laser-cut military molle pattern to blend form and function perfectly. This is a jacket that acts as tough as it looks.
UF Pro Delta Eagle Gen.2 Tactical Softshell Jacket
For those who endeavor to tackle intense activities in cold, wet, and windy conditions, we recommend you look into UF Pro’s Delta Eagle Gen.2 Tactical Softshell Jacket. Its three-layered construction comprises a breathable ePTFE-based softshell material, wind and water-resistant face fabric, and a microfleece, which results in a versatile, weatherproof jacket. Another interesting feature of this jacket is its use of thermal insulation boosters on its shoulders, which employ integrated air/pac inserts to prevent insulation gaps. The jacket is also outfitted with UF Pro’s new generation of Hood/Harness system that connects your hood with your head so it actually turns with you rather than staying in a static position. Furthermore, its eight ergonomically designed pockets allow for easy access to all your EDC gear.
Prometheus Design Werx Defiant Hoodie
Founded by one of the co-founders of Triple Aught Design, it’s no wonder at all how Prometheus Design Werx has wasted no time in becoming a standout company in the tactical gear space. Most people wouldn’t think a hoodie would make the cut as a tactical jacket; then again, PDW’s Defiant Hoodie is far from your average hoodie. This ultra-functional tactical garment features a streamlined design to maximize its versatility and performance. It’s made from a blend of nylon, PU, and elastane, which makes it a water-wicking-wind-resisting machine that adapts to your environment. Furthermore, the Defiant Hoodie sports four external zip pockets with dummy cord anchors for added security of your belongings, as well as a three-panel billed hood with vertical and horizontal cinches. Even more fascinating, this hoodie features a Schoeller c_change membrane that opens and closes with changes in temperature and humidity. As we said, it’s far from your average hoodie.
Beyond A7 Cold Jacket Durable
Beyond makes incredibly technical clothing for those who love to embrace the outdoors. While they’re well designed, the garments made by Beyond are about as purpose-built as any other tactical gear you’d find from a military supplier. Case and point: the A7 Cold Jacket Durable. It may not have tactical in its name but it indubitably is. Beyond designed the A7 Jacket as a heavy layer capable of tackling the extreme cold temperatures. The jacket’s shell features a DWR-coated nylon ripstop construction that houses Climashield APEX Insulation to keep you warmer and dryer than down insulation. Additionally, the A7 boasts Cordura nylon reinforcement in its seat and elbows for added protection and durability. It also features two external pockets and an internal mesh pocket for added storage.
ThruDark Raid Jacket
Another company with Special Forces roots, albeit from the United Kingdom, ThruDark has developed a stellar reputation for making high-end outdoor gear. The garments that you’ll find under ThruDark’s banner are those that could only be made by people who have challenged some of the most arduous and harshest conditions on the planet. One of its finer products is the disarmingly cool Raid Jacket. It features a 3-layer waterproof ripstop construction from Schoeller, which comes with adaptive features such as the aforementioned Schoeller c_change membrane that adjusts to the ambient temperature, as well as Schoeller Cold Back, which reduces overheating and protects the user from UV rays. Furthermore, the Raid Jacket sports Recco technology that allows for quick adjusting of the hood and waist, along with a sculpted hood that is helmet-compatible for search and rescue operations. If you’re in the market for a battle-tested jacket, you can’t go wrong with the Raid Jacket.
Arc’teryx LEAF Alpha Jacket Gen 2
It’s no secret that Arc’teryx makes some of the best gear on the planet, so it only makes sense that they created a line of tactical garments for law enforcement and special forces. Standing for Law Enforcement and Armed Forces, LEAF specializes in tactical gear like the ultra-versatile Alpha Jacket Gen 2. This waterproof and durable outer shell is constructed with a blend of GORE-TEX BD450 3L 40d nylon ripstop and GORE-TEX L&F 3L 30d nylon plain weave that weatherproofs this jacket enough to handle the harsh climate of Canada. It has four external pockets in its chest and upper arms, as well as internal pockets for added secure storage. While this shell is meant to be worn with other layers, its quality, versatility, and durability make it more than enough to be worn on its own in many situations.
Vollebak Full Metal Jacket
Vollebak is a company that’s so innovative and creative, it’s almost insulting. They literally pull off miracles every time they create a new garment, which we’ll never be able to get enough of. The brand’s Full Metal Jacket is not only aptly named but also embodies the genius and ingenuity that goes into Vollebak garments. We say it’s an aptly named piece because each jacket contains over six miles worth of copper in its construction. That’s right, this incredibly stylish jacket is 65% copper, 23% polyamide, 12% polyurethane, and 100% awesome. It features a Schoeller c_change membrane for enhanced temperature regulation, a RET score of 10 for breathability, and is waterproof up to 20,000mm. Furthermore, the Full Metal Jacket includes seven pockets with waterproof zippers, a two-way waterproof metal front zipper, and a high front collar that’s fleece-lined to keep your chin warm. Even more fascinating, due to the anti-microbial properties of copper, this jacket also offers some disease resistance, which is rather important nowadays (note: this jacket does not claim to prevent COVID-19 or any other disease).
The 15 Best Tactical Pants
Now that you’ve figured out your outerwear, check out our guide to the 15 best tactical pants you can buy for more element-proof garments.