There’s a time and place to utilize today’s most prominent outerwear. Sometimes, a quick jaunt outdoors doesn’t warrant the use of a heavy expeditionary jacket. A temperate fall evening doesn’t call for lined legwear, insulating layers, or wool socks. It’s obvious that transitory seasons aren’t always defined by their abrasive weather. For the days where unbearable heat and unprecedented cold aren’t an issue, you’ll be glad to hear that you won’t need to bring an article of heavy, hardly-used clothing. Instead, settle on the ever-versatile vest.
The vest is a staple in the history of men’s outerwear, but applying it at the right time has always been a bit of a toss-up. Luckily, modern variants are encroaching on the realm of the traditional jacket, thanks to their innovative technologies. Unlike their counterparts from the tail-end of the 20th century, today’s models revel in their utilitarian construction, implementing things like Ripstop nylon, water-resistant shells, and quick-drying down for unparalleled heat retention. The best part? They’re the sleeveless alternative to heavier mainstays that don’t mesh well with the changing seasons. If you’re looking for a garment that can help to bridge the gap between summer, fall, winter, and spring, check out a list of our favorite items below.
Carhartt Duck Vest
Carhartt kicks off our list with the Duck Vest — an outdoor staple that’s fluent in both technicality and trendiness. Unlike other utilitarian vests, this workwear-inspired example keeps things tasteful enough for wear off the job site, thanks to its simplistic design. That doesn’t mean it won’t stand up to anything you throw at it, however. A tough cotton duck construction allows it to be put through the paces, while arctic-weight polyester insulation provides improved coziness during the colder months. Wind and water-resistant qualities round out the labor-inclined piece.
The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse
If you’re looking for a retro vest that taps the trademark urban examples from the 1990s, search no further than The North Face’s 1996 Retro Nuptse. This iconic clothing item was crafted for everything front the city to the trail and features a recognizable silhouette that’s been imbued with lofty goose down for improved insulation during the winter. To complement its puffy personality, it’s also been treated to oversized baffles, water-resistant fabrics, and a packable hood, making it an attractive piece for use alongside sweaters and jackets. It also boasts a cinch at its hem, meaning you won’t have to worry about any unwarranted air making its way into your cozy sanctuary.
Mack Weldon WARMKNIT Fleece
Mack Weldon thrives in minimalist design, but when it comes to the WARMKNIT Fleece vest’s unique construction, you might question that statement. While the garment’s silhouette is somewhat subdued, it boasts cutting-edge insulation, interesting materials, and hidden functionality, thanks to its hollow-core Thermolite fleece, antimicrobial lining, and touchscreen-enabled interior chest pocket. As a result, the WARMKNIT holds its own against the genre’s more technical offerings, without feeling too bulky or cumbersome.
Howler Brothers Merlin
Howler Brothers’ Merlin vest is a relaxed essential that doesn’t let its guard down in terms of functionality. While it takes on the appearance of a traditional sleeveless offering, it stays true to the brand’s western styling, introducing versatile pocketing, a water-resistant exterior, and tonal shoulder yoke for an unmistakable aesthetic appeal. Luckily, it doesn’t slack in terms of technicality, either. It’s filled with thermally-efficient Primaloft Gold insulation and packs down into its own built-in pocket to save space when out of commission.
L.L.Bean Upcountry Waxed
L.L. Bean’s Upcountry Waxed takes on an inherently unique appearance, thanks to the company’s heritage roots. As such, it fits right in with the brand’s other iconic offerings, thanks to its timeless silhouette. But don’t let its vintage styling fool you; the vest is chock-full of amazing details that keep it afloat in a sea of modern offerings. Its DownTek 650-fill insulation repels moisture and dries faster than many traditional alternatives, while a highly-waterproof external fabric provides improved protection against the elements. Each example also boasts a suite of aesthetically-pleasing details, including brass hardware, a zippered internal chest pocket, and comfortable corduroy inside of its collar/pocket flaps.
Taylor Stitch Vertical Vest
Taylor Stitch brings yet another heritage-inspired icon to the table with its Vertical Vest. This insulated offering elaborates upon the tried-and-true designs that have helped to fashion the genre’s various offerings over time, enhancing them through the lens of the design-savvy TS team. As a result, the brand has introduced a durable four-ounce nylon fabric, organic cotton-brushed twill on the vest’s inner pockets, and recycled polyester insulation for unparalleled warmth. If that’s not enough to keep you warm and toasty, they’ve also included a pair of lower welt hand-warmer pockets complimented by antiqued nickel zippers from YKK.
Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated
Arc’teryx has the world of technical outerwear in the palm of its hand, so it makes sense that the brand would boast a quintessential vest (or two). Its most noteworthy variant just so happens to be the Atom LT Insulated — an ultra-light, smooth-faced model that takes minimalism to an entirely new level. Each example boasts Coreloft Compact insulation that complements its moisture-resistant outer shell, as well as an air-permeable layer to keep ventilation at an all-time high. At its front, a No Slip Zip and wind flap help to protect against harsh weather conditions, working hand-in-hand with a set of chest and hand pockets to provide a shield against the frost.
Marmot Avant Featherless
Marmot’s Avant Featherless vest forgoes the use of traditional down for a unique Thinsulate insulation. As a result, this one-of-a-kind outerwear piece is as lightweight as they come, without sacrificing warmth, comfort, and utility. To complement its weather-ready demeanor, a 20-denier woven baffle construction, zippered hand/chest pockets, and an adjustable drawcord helm help to seal in the heat. The best part? Each jacket is crafted with over 75% recycled content, giving you peace of mind when it comes to sustainable support.
Fjallraven Greenland Down
Fjallraven’s Greenland Down vest is a robust winter variant that places functionality at the forefront. Not only does it boast a recycled polyester shell fabric, 600-fill-power down, and a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment, but it’s also one of the lightest offerings within the space, ensuring that you get all of the positives that come with a heavier, more cumbersome piece, without any of the drawbacks. At its front, a two-way zipper gives way to a protective interior flap, keeping wearers protected from the elements. This pair nicely with the Greenland’s G-1000 Eco fabric chest pocket, which blends organically grown cotton with recycled polyester for unprecedented softness and storage capability.
Patagonia Down Sweater
Patagonia’s Down Sweater vest takes on a traditional baffle system that’s similar to many of the genre’s premiere offerings. Instead of relying on conventional fabrics, however, the brand has introduced a lightweight and windproof recycled polyester ripstop shell, 800-fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down, and Fair Trade Certified manufacturing practices to keep things interesting. To do its part in the battle for conservancy and sustainability, Patagonia’s Down Sweater vest only utilizes down from birds that have been certified by NSF International, meaning that they’ve never been live-plucked, force-fed, or mistreated prior to harvesting.
Flint and Tinder Quilted Waxed
Flint and Tinder knows what it takes to create a piece of quintessential outerwear, and the Quilted Waxed vest is no exception. Boasting a durable and dependable British Millerain waxed canvas shell, this unique offering incorporates a handful of modern features, including recycled Primaloft insulation, hidden pockets, and easily-accessible media storage areas to protect your valuable devices while out and about. As a result, each water-resistant example does its job as a functional style piece, while still providing exceptional aesthetic pleasantries due to its chambray detailing, contrast lining, and diamond quilt.
Shackleton Goose Down
Shackleton’s Goose Down vest is a pearl in the sea of outdoor vests. Built to take on any expeditionary adventure, this lightweight offering is a staple of the brand’s Fortuna range, which boasts a tried-and-true construction that’s been put through the paces in the icy wilds of Antarctica. To ensure that wearers stay cozy and comfortable in the world’s harshest environments, each example introduces a 100% goose down lining, water-resistant fabrics, and durable rubber zippers for exceptional security. Whether you’re pairing it with a long-sleeve layer for a night on the town, or you’re looking to utilize it as a primary mid-layer during your next big adventure, it’ll get the job done without a fuss.
Filson Down Cruiser
Filson’s Down Cruiser might be one of the more distinct on our list in terms of presentation, but for what it lacks in stylishness, it more than makes up for in functional performance. Created as an unerring layer for outdoor adventurers and laborers, this wind- and water-repellent garment calls upon heavy-duty Shelter cloth, Cover cloth, and insulating Goose down to do its bidding. Like Patagonia’s aforementioned offering, the Down Cruiser relies on responsibly-sourced materials to do its part in the battle against unethical manufacturing practices, making its Ripstop-nylon lining, increased abrasion resistance, and heritage aesthetic all the sweeter.
Canada Goose Garson
Canada Goose’s Garson is a classic, quilt-through silhouette that was crafted to bring inclement weather to its knees. It’s inherently urban but does its part to counteract frozen environments through the utilization of a suede tricot-lined chin guard, storm flap, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, and a hip-length cut that protects from unforeseen drafts. Dive deeper and you’ll find a 625-fill-power White Duck down, ultra-durable Arctic Tech textile, and water-resistant qualities that help to keep sudden bursts of precipitation from ruining your day.
Stone Island G0426 Micro Reps
Stone Island rounds out our list with the G0426 Micro Reps — a research and development piece that acts as the technical staple of the brand’s vest segment. Each example boasts a mil-spec polyester/nylon fabric construction, specialized “weft” yarns, which are thinner than their “warp” counterparts, and wind-resistant properties, helping the garment to achieve unprecedented thermal protection. Inside, premium White Duck down provides additional heat retention, complementing its Velcro-tab fastenings and flap-accessible yoke. To round things out, a protective stand-up collar blocks wind and rain from penetrating your lower layers.
The 18 Best Men's Winter Wardrobe Essentials
Looking for some stylish clothing pieces to accent your newly-acquired vest? Head over to our guide on the best men’s winter wardrobe essentials to round out your cold-weather get-up with some of the genre’s finest accessories.
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