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The 9 Best Tactical Jackets for Versatile Utility

Best Tactical Jackets 0 Hero

For 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 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.

Best Tactical Jackets Breakdown

What Exactly Is a Tactical Jacket?

While there’s no precise definition, tactical jackets favor utility more than anything else. If there are few pockets and the materials aren’t at least water-resistant, then those jackets aren’t it. Favored by military personnel and the most hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, these pieces of outerwear must utilize space well, be durable, aid you in your endeavors, and be able to stand up to the unpredictable.

Tactical Jacket Criteria

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 criterion 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.

Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Tactical Softshell Jacket

  • Lightweight
  • Weather-resistant
  • Really comfortable
  • Zipper can be finicky
  • Runs slightly big to fit a ballistic vest underneath

Best Budget-Friendly Tactical 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.

Shell Material: 65% Polyester, 35% cotton ripstop blend
Pockets: 5

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Shield Jacket

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Shield Jacket
  • Affordable
  • Minimalist aesthetic has a lot of versatility
  • Pockets are easily accessible
  • Went up a lot in price lately

Best for Working Out: 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.

Shell Material: 100% Polyester
Pockets: 3

Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket

Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket
  • 8 pockets
  • Forearms are double-reinforced to prevent tearing/abrasions
  • Chest pocket has headphone porthole
  • Pretty warm
  • Hood is too big

Best for Hiking: 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.

Shell Material: 100% Polyester
Pockets: 8

5.11 Tactical 5-In-1 Jacket 2.0

511 5 in 1 jacket 2
  • Seam-sealed and completely waterproof
  • 10 pockets
  • Great for temp regulation
  • Stretchy and really comfortable
  • Removable hood can also be tucked inside collar
  • N/A

Best Overall: 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. 8% lighter than its predecessor, the 2nd-gen version of 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.

Shell Material: 100% Polyester
Pockets: 10

Triple Aught Design Ranger Jacket LT

Triple Aught Design Ranger Jacket LT
  • 7 pockets all feature zipper garages and Grosgrain pulls
  • Streamlined design makes it versatile
  • Very comfortable
  • Availability issues

Best for Travel: If one were to make a Mount Rushmore of tactical clothing companies, Triple Aught Design would have to be included. Though only 14 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 a 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.

Shell Material: 100% Polyester
Pockets: 7

AMABILIS Responder Tactical Jacket

  • 10 pockets
  • Cotton-nylon blend is lightweight and comfy
  • Neoprene armor plating for added protection
  • Sports laser-cut military molle webbing
  • Not super versatile in your wardrobe

Best Hardcore Tactical Jacket: AMABILIS may only be a few 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.

Shell Material: 50/50 nylon-cotton blend
Pockets: 10

Prometheus Design Werx Defiant Hoodie

  • Slim silhouette is very versatile
  • Stretchy and comfortable
  • Water-wicking and wind-resistant
  • Dummy cord anchors help keep belongings secure
  • Schoeller c_change membrane opens and closes with changes in temps and humidity
  • Pricey

Best for Urban Commuting: 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.

Shell Material: 77% nylon, 17% PU, 6% elastane
Pockets: 4


  • Great for cold weather; thermal rating of 14ºF
  • Synthetic material is anti-pilling
  • Very durable and quick-drying
  • Bolstered by Dyneema
  • Hood isn’t removable or stowable

Best Tactical Fleece: 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 Mantra Black Ops Fleece. Fleece may not be the first material you think of when discussing tactical jackets but ThruDark is so good at what it does that it makes it work swimmingly, mainly in part to the synthetic fleece used called Polartec Thermal Pro. Wind-resistant and breathable, this fabric is anti-pilling, quick-drying, and super durable. It’s also bolstered by Dyneema and has a thermal rating of 14ºF. The hood fleece coat also has several pockets to choose from, including internal dump pockets for stowing items compactly.

Shell Material: Polartec Thermal Pro synthetic fleece
Pockets: 4

Arc’teryx LEAF Alpha Jacket Gen 2

  • Incredibly durable
  • Tons of GORE-TEX makes it waterproof/breathable
  • Easy to wear with several layers
  • Expensive
  • Civilians can’t buy it

Best High-End Tactical Jacket: 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.

Shell Material: GORE-TEX BD450 3L 40d nylon ripstop & GORE-TEX L&F 3L 30d nylon plain weave
Pockets: 4+

The Best Tactical Pants to Buy

Photo: KÜHL Above The Law Pant

Now that you’ve figured out your outerwear, check out our guide to the best tactical pants you can buy for more element-proof garments.