Last Updated: May 6, 2021

Best Hiking Vest in 2021

Don’t you hate it when you’re out on a hike and you just can’t make up your mind about what layers to wear? You end up stopping every five minutes to take your sweater off and then put it on again a few minutes later… such a pain!

Hiking vests are a great way to avoid this problem. They keep your core warm while letting hot air escape from under your arms – so they’re perfect for when it’s too hot for an extra layer and too cold without one!

There really are hiking vests made for all occasions – some are filled with heavy-duty insulation and are designed for seriously cold conditions, while others are built for summer and designed to be super breathable.


At A Glance: Our Top 3 Hiking Vests


Overall, the type of hiking vest you want will depend mainly on the conditions you’ll be hiking in. But seeing as there are so many options out there, we’ve put together this list of the best ones currently on the market to help you find the one that’s right for you – enjoy!

Top Product Overview

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Vest Men's | Versatile Down Vest | Black, Large
  • Down filling ensures an awesome warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Synthetic filling strategically placed in moisture-prone areas
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The North Face Men's ThermoBall Eco Vest, Mid Grey Matte, L
  • Good warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Sleek, lightweight design and lots of color options
SEE ON AMAZON →
Columbia Men's Standard Steens Mountain Vest, Black, X-Large
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Can be used as an outer layer or inner layer
SEE ON AMAZON →
Carhartt Men's Sherpa Lined Sandstone Rugged Vest V26,Frontier Brown,Large
  • Very comfortable Sherpa lining
  • Durable, rugged construction and design
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Patagonia Mens Down Sweater Vest 84622-BLK_M - Black
  • Eco-friendly and responsibly sourced materials
  • Dual exterior pocket and an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
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Flygo Zhusheng Men's Mesh 16 Pockets Photography Fishing Travel Outdoor Quick Dry Vest Breathable Waistcoat Jackets (Medium, Khaki)
  • 16 pockets for excellent gear storage
  • Breathable mesh is great for summer hikes
SEE ON AMAZON →
Little Donkey Andy Women's Lightweight Softshell Vest, Windproof Sleeveless Jacket for Running Hiking Travel, Purple XL
  • Great breathability
  • Four-way stretch fabric is suitable for strenuous activities
SEE ON AMAZON →
Amazon Essentials Men's Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Vest
  • Very economical option
  • Packs down well and carry bag included
SEE ON AMAZON →

Best Hiking Vest


Top Pick

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Vest Men's | Versatile Down Vest | Black, Large

We’re kicking off our list of the best hiking vests strong with the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest. This is one high-performance vest designed for cool conditions, and it’s absolutely packed full of features that we love.

Thanks to its 850-fill power white goose down filling, this vest offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. What’s more, the down compresses fantastically, so you can pack this vest no problem.

Despite these huge benefits of a product stuffed with down filling, we all know that the major problems with such products occur when they get wet – they don’t insulate well when damp and they’re slow to dry. That’s why we can’t get enough of the clever design of this vest – Down Composite Mapping has been used to add Coreloft synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas AND the outer facing fabric has been treated with DWR to repel moisture. This means that, while hardly adding to the weight or reducing packability, this jacket can operate far better in moist conditions than an ordinary down vest – it really is the best of both worlds.

It also features two zippered hand pockets as well as an interior pocket that doubles up as a stuff sack (yep, it really does pack down that small). The zipper pulls themselves are super quiet and corded so you can pull them even with gloves on.

What’s more, this vest available from size S to XXL plus it features an adjustable hem drawcord to make sure you get the perfect fit. The chin guard makes you feel nice and snug, and the entire collar is insulated and lined for added warmth and comfort.

Overall, this is one excellent vest for anyone who’ll be hiking in cooler conditions – it’s warm, yet folds away into a tiny bundle, and can even stand up to some rain despite its down filling – what a winner.

Pros

  • Down filling ensures an awesome warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Synthetic filling strategically placed in moisture-prone areas
  • Packs away into interior pocket
  • DWR-treated outer-facing fabric
  • Insulated, lined chin guard
  • Various sizes available and adjustable hem

Cons

  • Not the best for hiking in hot conditions

Product Information

  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Shell: Arato 10 (with DWR finish)
  • Insulation: White goose down, Coreloft synthetic insulation
  • Fill power: 850
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Best Allrounder

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest

The North Face Men's ThermoBall Eco Vest, Mid Grey Matte, L

Next up we have The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest, a vest that’s as good for the world as it is for you.

Not only is this jacket constructed from eco-friendly materials, making it a great option sustainability-wise, but it also features an excellent down-alternative filling. The PrimaLoft synthetic insulation isn’t as bulky or heavy as traditional synthetic fills, so means this vest still features a great warmth-to-weight ratio and can pack down into its own interior pocket. What’s more, the synthetic fill will keep you warm even when damp, and the outer fabric has been treated with DWR too for added water protection.

The outer shell, although it feels super soft, is actually constructed from durable ripstop nylon. What’s more, this jacket comes with a lifetime limited warranty too (although believe me, you probably won’t need it – mine is still going strong after 5 years of constant use).

Ideally, we’d like to see an inner pocket added to the next model, but there are two zippered hand pockets on the exterior that feature durable zippers. The hem is also adjustable thanks to the cord, so you can get a nice, snug fit. While this jacket will keep you warm, it’s retained a sleek design overall. This, combined with the fact it folds down so small, means you’ll likely end up wearing it as much off the trail as you will on it.

Overall, this vest is extremely packable and well-suited for hiking, yet its stylish and compact design makes it a great option for all-round use too (oh – and it’s available in some snazzy color schemes too).

Pros

  • Good warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Sleek, lightweight design and lots of color options
  • Constructed from recycled materials
  • Packs away into own pocket
  • DWR-treated outer-facing fabric
  • Various sizes available and adjustable hem
  • Limited lifetime warranty included

Cons

  • Lacks an interior pocket
  • Not as warm as bulkier vests

Product Information

  • Sizes: S-2X
  • Insulation: Primaloft synthetic fill
  • Shell: 100% Recycled polyester (with DWR finish)
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Best Budget

Columbia Men's Steens Mountain Vest

Columbia Men's Standard Steens Mountain Vest, Black, X-Large

Okay, we’re departing from the realm of down-/synthetic- filled vests now to bring you the super snuggly Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Vest.

This vest is constructed from the 250g MTR filament fleece that will not only keep you warm but will also make you feel incredibly cozy. This softness extends right the way up to the raised collar, which also helps to trap warm air when our out in cold conditions.

Its warmth and comfort make this vest the ideal mid-layer – it’s the perfect barrier between you and a not-so-comfy rain jacket. Plus, when it’s not raining, it can be used as an outer layer that will keep your core warm but also allow some hot air to escape (just bear in mind that it’s not waterproof at all so keep your eyes on the weather!). What’s more, because it lacks down filling, you can simply pop this vest in the wash at the end of your sweaty hiking trip, winning.

It lacks inner pockets, (but how often do you really use inner pockets on an inner layer anyway?) but it does feature two external zipped pockets. It’s available in a range of sizes and almost every color you can think of too.

Overall, you’re getting an incredibly comfortable, surprisingly durable, vest that can be used solo or as a mid-layer, all at a fraction of the price we’d expect to see.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Can be used as an outer layer or inner layer
  • Huge choice of colors available
  • Great value for money
  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Not as warm as a down-/synthetic-filled vest
  • Lacks interior pockets

Product Information

  • Material: 250g MTR filament fleece
  • Sizes: S-XXL
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Carhartt Sherpa Vest

Carhartt Men's Sherpa Lined Sandstone Rugged Vest V26,Frontier Brown,Large

If you love hiking but aren’t so keen on looking like a typical ‘hiker’ when you’re out on the trail (we all know that hiking gear can sometimes look a little lame), then you should definitely check out the Carhartt Sherpa Vest.

This stylish vest is available for both men and women, and, although it’s great for life in the outdoors, it’s so stylish you’ll definitely end up wearing it out and about in your day-to-day life too.

This cozy vest is constructed entirely from cotton on the outside yet its interior is lined with Sherpa fabric (a blend of polyester and acrylic) for added insulation and comfort.

Although this vest isn’t waterproof, it’s one durable vest that can handle getting wet and can even be machine washed at home. This durability means that this vest is definitely designed to be an outer rather than a mid-layer, and we’re very happy to inform you that a well as the usual dual exterior pocket, this vest also features two interior pockets for all your bits and bobs. What’s more, you can see Carhatt’s usual high-quality craftsmanship in every detail, including the heavy-duty brass zipper.

Designed to be an outer layer, this vest doesn’t pack down as well as other models. However, if you’re looking for a durable vest that will keep you warm, comfy, and stylish when you’re out in the wilderness (or even around town), then this rugged vest is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • Very comfortable Sherpa lining
  • Durable, rugged construction and design
  • Two interior and two exterior pockets
  • Machine washable
  • Available for men and women

Cons

  • Heavier and bulkier than down-/synthetic-filled vests
  • Not waterproof

Product Information

  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Material: 100% Cotton exterior, 55% Polyester 45% Acrylic lining
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Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

Patagonia Mens Down Sweater Vest 84622-BLK_M - Black

Patagonia is a huge name in the outdoor gear industry, so it should come as no surprise that one of their vests, the Patagonia Down Sweater Vest, has made it onto our hit list.

While it might look soft and snuggly (and, well, it is), the outer shell of this vest is actually constructed from ripstop polyester… but not only that, it’s made from 100% recycled polyester… and not only that, it’s also been treated with a DWR finish – durable, eco-friendly, and water-resistant, nice.

But what about warmth? You don’t need to worry on that front. This jack is stuffed with premium 800 fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down, which means that the down has come from somewhere that treats animals responsible and can be traced. On top of that, the central zipper features an interior storm flap to keep those pesky drafts out, and the hem at the waist and arms can be tightened to trap in that precious warmth.

The down insulation provides a great loft, which means that this vest can be packed down excellently – in fact, it stuffs inside its own interior pocket for ease of transport (there are also two exterior pockets).

Overall, while it might be a tad expensive, if you’re after a down-filled hiking vest that will stand up to the test of time, then this is one of the best you’ll find.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly and responsibly sourced materials
  • Dual exterior pocket and an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
  • Very high-quality craftsmanship
  • Extremely warm yet lightweight

Cons

  • Down filling won't perform well when wet
  • Slightly expensive

Product Information

  • Sizes: M, L
  • Shell: 100% Recycled polyester ripstop (with a DWR finish)
  • Insulation: 800-fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down
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Flygo Men’s Outdoor Vest

Flygo Zhusheng Men's Mesh 16 Pockets Photography Fishing Travel Outdoor Quick Dry Vest Breathable Waistcoat Jackets (Medium, Khaki)

After a hiking vest with enough pockets for all of your gear? Sounds like the Flygo Men’s Outdoor Vest could be the one for you!

Whether it’s fishing gear, dog-walking equipment, or bits and bobs for hunting, there are tonnes of things you might want to take with you on a hike. If you hate carrying big packs and would rather keep things close at hand in your pockets, then you’re going to love this vest and all of its 16 pockets.

The pockets themselves come in a range of shapes and sizes, and some have flap seals while others feature zippers. The rest of the jacket is constructed from poplin (cotton and polyester) and mesh, making it one durable, yet incredibly breathable and surprisingly comfortable, vest – perfect for those summer hikes. this design also ensures that the vest is quick-drying, which is great if you plan on hiking to and from a fishing spot and there’s a risk of you getting wet during the day.

While it might not be the coolest-looking vest out there, it does extremely well in terms of practicality. Plus, it comes in a huge range of sizes, so you can be sure to get your perfect fit, and there are plenty of color options to chose from, so at least it has that going for it aesthetically.

Pros

  • 16 pockets for excellent gear storage
  • Breathable mesh is great for summer hikes
  • Fast-drying materials
  • Very lightweight
  • Available in a huge range of colors and sizes

Cons

  • Not the most stylish vest
  • Provides very limited warmth in cooler weather

Product Information

  • Sizes: XS-3XL
  • Fabric: Poplin (35% cotton and 65% polyester) and mesh
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Little Donkey Softshell Vest

Little Donkey Andy Women's Lightweight Softshell Vest, Windproof Sleeveless Jacket for Running Hiking Travel, Purple XL

Next up we have another vest designed for hiking in cooler weather, the Little Donkey Softshell Vest.

This sleek little vest is constructed from a blend of polyester (95%) and spandex (5%), and it features a clever TPU membrane that helps to keep moisture out and let air flow – perfect for when you’re hiking your way uphill on a hot summer day.

What’s more, the fabric itself has been designed to stretch in four different directions, making this an excellent vest to wear for highly active hikes (like when you end up scrambling for some of it).

Despite being sleek in appearance, this vest comes with three zippered pockets on its exterior, which is enough for your phone, keys, and some backs.

Although best used as an outer layer on hot days or for highly strenuous activities, this vest can also be worn as a mid-layer on cooler days (it won’t keep you very warm on its own if things turn chilly). plus, it’s extremely lightweight and packable, so you won’t regret putting it in your bag just in case you need it.

It’s available for both men and women, and it comes in a range of colors and sizes – if you’re after a vest for your next scramble, then this could be the one for you.

Pros

  • Great breathability
  • Four-way stretch fabric is suitable for strenuous activities
  • Extremely lightweight and packable
  • Features three exterior zipped pockets
  • Available for men and women and in lots of colors and sizes

Cons

  • Provides very limited warmth in cooler weather
  • Not waterproof

Product Information

  • Material: 95% Polyester, 5% spandex
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
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Amazon Essentials Puffer Vest

Amazon Essentials Men's Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer Vest

Last, but by no means least on our list of the best hiking vests is the Amazon Essentials Packable Vest.

…Yes, we were surprised too (what does Amazon know about hiking after all), yet these vests have a surprising amount to offer at a very low price point.

This vest is constructed from a nylon water-resistant shell and features a down filling as well as a stand-up collar to keep your core warm while you hike. Plus, thanks to the loft of the down, it can be packed down into its included carry bag for ease of packing and transport – this makes it a popular choice for families as you can pop one of these for every family member in your bag yet barely know you’re carrying anything.

It features two zipped exterior pockets, yet it lacks an interior on, unfortunately, and it comes at a very reasonable price. While we’ve described the women’s model here, there’s a very similar one available for men too.

Pros

  • Very economical option
  • Packs down well and carry bag included
  • Water-resistant shell
  • Down filling for great warmth-to-weight ratio

Cons

  • Lacks interior pocket
  • Not as full of features as more expensive options

Product Information

  • Material: 100% Nylon
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
SEE ON AMAZON

What To Look For In A Hiking Vest

Okay, so there you have it, our list of the best hiking vests around. As we’ve seen, they come in all shapes, sizes, and styles but what is it you should really be keeping an eye on when you’re shopping around?

Warmth

Obviously, this will depend on where and when you’re hiking. If it’s in frosty places, then you’ll want either a big bulky vest (probably packed with down or synthetic insulation) to wear as an outer layer, or a thin fleece one to wear as a mid-layer. For summer hiking, a slim down-filled vest might be better as it will pack down nice and small and you can pop it on if things get chilly.

Water-resistance

This will depend on how you want to wear your vest – if it’s as an inner layer then this is pretty irrelevant. However, if you want a super warm bulky vest to wear as an outer layer, then you’ll want at least a DWR coating. Bear in mind that while down fillings are better for warmth, synthetic ones are generally better in soggy conditions as they dry faster.

Pockets

Again, this will come down to how you’ll be wearing your vest. If it’s as an inner layer, you might not mind so much about pockets, but an outer vest should have a range of pockets available so you don’t have to keep rummaging in your pack every time you need something. Plus, if you want a vest for a specific kind of hiking, like while you’re fishing, there are options out there with heaps of pockets too.

Our Top Three Hiking Vests

Still struggling to decide which hiking vest is right for you? Here are our top three to help you choose:

Our top pick if you’re on a budget just has to be the Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Vest.

For a very reasonable price, you’re getting an awesome fleece vest that can be worn as a mid-layer in cold conditions or as an outer layer when things are warmer. Plus, it’s so snuggly you’ll probably end up wearing it around the house too!

Sale
Columbia Men's Standard Steens Mountain Vest, Black, X-Large
783 Reviews
Columbia Men's Standard Steens Mountain Vest, Black, X-Large
  • DEEP PILE FLEECE: The Columbia Collegiate Men's Flanker Vest II is crafted of deep and cozy 250g MTR filament fleece for ultimate warmth and college flair
  • ULTIMATE COMFORT: With a collared neck and full zip closure, your core will stay warm, while freeing up the arms for active use. The perfect layering piece for ultimate range of motion and comfort during cold winter days

Our top allround hiking vest is hands-down The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest.

It’s warm enough to take the edge off when things get frosty, but it’s not so warm that you’ll overheat when the sun pops out.

On top of that, it packs down incredibly small, is surprisingly durable, and is constructed from recycled materials too – what’s not to love?

Sale
The North Face Men's ThermoBall Eco Vest, Mid Grey Matte, L
226 Reviews
The North Face Men's ThermoBall Eco Vest, Mid Grey Matte, L
  • ECO INSULATION. Made with recycled materials, ThermoBall technology revolutionizes synthetic insulation. Developed in partnership with PrimaLoft, this innovative insulation offers a synthetic alternative to down and provides all-weather warmth.
  • WATER RESISTANT. 100% Recycled Polyester with Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish.

But what’s our absolute favorite hiking vest? It just has to be the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest.

This high-end vest is oozing quality from top to bottom – it offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, packs away inside its own pocket, is super adjustable…. and, it combines both down and synthetic filling to bring you the best of both worlds – could it get any better?!

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Vest Men's | Versatile Down Vest | Black, Large
61 Reviews
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Vest Men's | Versatile Down Vest | Black, Large
  • CERIUM LT VEST - A minimalist down vest providing a high level of core warmth for very little weight, the Cerium LT performs as a midlayer or standalone in cool, dry conditions.
  • CERIUM - Streamlined, minimalist and lightweight technical down insulation. High warmth to weight ratio.