If you spend a lot of time in the wilderness then you have probably thought about what you might need in an emergency situation from a survival tent and first aid kit to a water filter but have you thought about having the best survival jacket with you?
The elements, mostly the cold ones, are the most deadly things to contend with when you’re stuck in a tight spot. Getting wet and cold doesn’t start in your tent, it starts when you’re out exploring, and if you can’t manage to get warm and dry after, hypothermia is a serious risk.
This is why having a high-quality survival jacket is a good idea. It will allow you to manage your core temperature and ensure that you’re never at risk of being too cold or too wet. You can create a real barrier between you and the weather so you’re always safe in a survival situation.
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Best For Extreme Cold
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The Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket is one of the most affordable survival jackets you’re likely to find with this kind of quality.
It’s made with a waterproof and windproof polyester outer shell with two layers beneath it that act as a breathable membrane.
This means this survival jacket will not only keep you warm and dry but also let the heat out so you don’t overheat. It also wicks moisture and there are pit zips you can dump heat quickly if needs be.
The jacket also features a hood and a fleece-lined collar for extra protection from the elements and, plus the hood is removable too.
From a weight perspective, it’s not too heavy or super light but you can stuff it down small so it doesn’t take up much room in your pack.
The one thing to be wary of is the sizing, it’s a little off, and a lot of people tend to order one size up.
Otherwise, it’s a great survival jacket and for the money, it’s hard to beat.
If you have heard of Arc’teryx, then you’ll know they make some of the best alpine performance gear around and their Beta AR Jacket is one awesome survival jacket.
This survival jacket is made from a triple layer of Gore-Tex Pro with fully taped seams and a quality zipper making it both durable and incredible at dealing with serious weather conditions.
The Gore-Tex creates and waterproof and windproof membrane that protects you from the cold and wet. But, it also breathes exceptionally well to remove any internal moisture build-up.
Weighing in at just over 1lb, this jacket is incredibly light and stuffs down to a tiny size, so you’ll always have space for it in your backpack.
You’ll find large pockets, pit zips, and full coverage hood and even a microsuede lined collar for comfort and extra protection. Overall it fits well and is super comfortable.
In extreme cold, you’ll need a down jacket underneath but otherwise, it’s an excellent barrier between you and any harsh conditions you might face.
If you’re looking for a survival jacket for the most extreme cold conditions, then the Canada Goose Expedition Parka Coat is one of the best to consider buying.
This jacket is made for temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and is build to retain warmth to the maximum.
The polyester outer shell blocks snow, wind, and rain while the two nylon inner linings and the duck-down insulation provide an exceptional amount of warmth.
It comes with an adjustable fur-lined hood, snow skirt, storm flap, and heavy-duty cuffs all of which work hard to stop any of your body heat from escaping.
There are also tons of external and internal pockets for storing anything you might need and to keep your hands warm.
Being such a burly survival jacket, it’s not light at 4lbs, but quite light when you consider what’s inside it.
You will overheat in this in warmer weather, it is just for extreme cold, and it costs quite a lot – but it will keep you safe in freezing conditions.
The Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka is another survival jacket that is made for extremely cold conditions, hence Absolute Zero in the name.
The jacket is made from a high-quality polyester outer shell, filled with 800 fill responsibly sourced Q shield down that creates a durable long-lasting survival jacket that is super warm and weatherproof.
This jacket really is incredibly warm while blocking out any wind, rain, or snow to keep you dry. It’s also very breathable helping to wick moisture built up internally so you stay from the inside too.
It features an adjustable insulated hood for extra protection from the elements, zippered handwarmer pockets, an adjustable drawcord, and sealer cuffs.
To top it all off, it’s very light and stuffs down small so it won’t take up much pack space or weight. The only downsides are that it costs a penny or two and you’re likely to overheat in warmer conditions.
The Mustang Survival Classic Bomber Jacket is a survival jacket used by a lot of professionals who spend their time on the water – as about captain or guide.
This jacket is a Marine Buoyant Device 160.064 – Type III which means if you were to fall overboard with it on, you would float, and the 62 sq. inches of reflective tape make it easy for rescuers to find you.
It’s made from a burly nylon outer shell, neoprene wrist seals, and filled with airsoft foam that acts as insulation and is what keeps you afloat.
The jacket blocks wind, rain, and snow, plus it breathes so you don’t get drenched with sweat if being active. It also comes with 4 pockets for tools/storage and an internal waist belt to stop it from riding up.
Overall it’s an incredibly warm and comfy survival jacket and perfect if you spend a lot of time on the water.
The Fit Space Thickened Down Jacket is an affordable survival jacket that will give you ample protection from cold and wet conditions.
The jacket is made from a polyester outer shell with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating that does a good job of blocking out the wind and rain.
It’s insulated with 90% 800 fill down and 10% feathers that do an excellent job of holding on to your body heat and keeping you warm.
On top of all this, the jacket also breathes well and wicks moisture to ensure you stay dry on the inside too.
The hood is fully adjustable and removable, and together with the huge collar protects your face and neck extremely well. You’ll also find large outer pockets for gear and there is an internal pocket for your valuables.
This jacket also packs down small and is quite light so you can add it to your pack with ease. One thing to watch out for is that the zipper is not the best quality and it’s on the left.
The RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket is an incredible survival jacket that will keep you warm and dry in super cold conditions, and it’s amazingly light and packable too.
Weighing in at just 21.3 oz, this jacket’s warmth to weight ratio is off the charts and it even comes with a stuff sack so you can compact it down to save valuable pack space.
The jacket is made with a Pertex Quantum Pro outer shell and filled with 800FO ethical goose down. The stitching is top quality and all the ingredients together make one tough long-lasting jacket.
It’s waterproof, windproof, breathable, exceptionally warm, and comfy. Imagine being wrapped in a comforter that’s light and fits you perfectly and that’s what wearing this jacket is like.
It is an expensive jacket but it should be based on how and what it’s made from. The one thing to remember is if you wear it in warmer months, you are likely to overheat a bit.
The Marmot Minimalist Component Jacket is a great all-around survival jacket for both warmer and colder months.
The jacket comes with removable R-liner insulation allowing you to adjust the warmth of the jacket to the conditions outside. So if it’s warm and damp you can leave the liner in your pack and when the cold comes in, add it back into play.
Made from a DWR coated polyester outer shell with a 2.5 layer Gore-Tex membrane, this jacket does a fantastic job of blocking out the elements while keeping you cool and dry from the inside.
Gore-Tex breathes exceptionally well, letting excess body heat and moisture out so you’re always comfortable and dry on the inside.
The jacket features an adjustable hood, tall collar, adjustable cuffs, and comes with a few pockets for storing any snacks, gear, or valuables.
It is a little on the expensive side like all survival jackets, but you are getting two jackets in one with this.
The first thing your survival jacket needs to do is create a barrier between you and any harsh weather conditions you might find yourself in. This means its outer layer needs to be able to block any harsh winds, driving rain, and any snow that melts on its surfaces.
Look for jackets, like the ones featured above, that are made with either a Gore-Tex, polyester, or nylon outer shell with an added DWR (durable water repellent coating). Jackets with this will stop any wind or moisture penetrating through to your inner layers, keeping you warm and dry.
If you have spent lots of time being active in cold conditions, you’ll know that you can also get wet from the inside out. Sweat built up from overheat can be very dangerous as it’ll soak your inner layers and as soon as you stop being active, the moisture can make you get very cold.
This is why choosing a breathable survival jacket is key and materials like Gore-Tex are the best. They will actively wick moisture and let excess heat out while stopping wind and water from coming in, make during you stay dry and warm from both the inside and outside.
If you’re going to be in extremely cold alpine conditions, you had better make sure that your survival jacket is well insulated. If you get cold it’s extremely hard to become warm again in low temperatures and with the correct insulation, this should never happen.
You’ll notice all the jackets featured that are for extreme conditions use either duck or goose down insulation, and this is because it’s the best. Down has incredible thermal properties, and with a fill of around 800, you’re going to be able to keep warm in temperatures well below freezing.
Down is the small fluffy feathers that insulate ducks and geese, and you should make sure your down insulation is ethically sourced from geese and ducks that have been treated well. Only buy ethically or responsibly sourced down products.
Another key ingredient to a good survival jacket is being able to take it with you wherever you go, and this comes down to its weight and packed size. If your jacket is too heavy or bulky, chances are you’re going to leave it behind on days when you think you might not need it – but chances are one day you will.
Luckily, there are incredibly high-performing jackets that are super light. Some jackets that will keep you warm in the artic weigh just 22 ounces, so you always have space for them, and will always take them with you on any journey, even a 3-hour hike in the day.
Another reason you might not take your jacket with you on a hike or expedition is that it’s not right for the conditions. Your jacket might be made for temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll be far too warm wearing it on a fall hiking adventure.
This is why it’s key to match your survival jacket to the conditions you’ll be in most. If it’s wet and rainy but not freezing, a hardshell jacket is ideal but you’ll overheat in a goose-down insulated jacket. The same goes for arctic temperatures, a hard shell alone won’t cut it and you’ll need the goose down to stay warm.
The point is, if you only want to buy one survival jacket, then buy the one that suits the conditions you’re in the most, or if the conditions vary, you might have to buy two or three to match.
There are, of course, some features all survival jackets should come with, the most important being a good hood and collar that provide full coverage so you can keep your head and neck dry, warm, and protected from the elements.
Other good features are handwarmer pockets, drawcords, waterproof zippers, snow skirts, and protective cuffs. All of these extras add up to store even more warmth and protect you further, so they are worth having.
The best survival jacket if you’re on a budget is the Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket. It’s waterproof, windproof, breathable, moisture-wicking and you even have pit zips so you can dump heat quickly. For the price, this high-quality survival jacket is hard to beat.
The best of the best survival jacket is the Beta AR Jacket. This jacket is incredibly well made for durability and consists of 3 layers of Gore-Tex Pro making it waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It’s an excellent jacket that will block wet, wind, snow, and keep you dry from the inside out too.
The best survival jacket if you’re venturing into the extreme cold is the Canada Goose Expedition Parka Coat. Built to withstand the coldest temperatures, it’s filled with duck down between two inner linings and covered with a polyester outer shell that protects from the wind, rain, and snow. If there is one jacket you’d take to the arctic, it would be this one.