Best Packable Jackets

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

85 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
161 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best packable jackets

Last Updated September 2019

Packable jackets are designed with travel in mind, but particular jackets may be suited for different environments and weather conditions. The most common types are down, rain, and travel jackets, each of which varies in materials, style, and price.

Finding the right packable jacket for you means considering where you will wear it and what activities you will use it for. A down jacket is made for cold climates and should provide excellent insulation while still remaining lightweight and easily packable without damaging the down. Rain jackets have an outer shell that repels water. Travel jackets are made for everyday use and offer moderate protection against rain and cold to keep you warm and dry in a variety of environments.

Most packable jackets are inexpensive, but you should still carefully consider your needs before you buy. To learn more about the features and types of packable jackets, continue reading our buying guide, and take a look at our favorites when you’re ready to buy.

While not all packable jackets are as rugged as non-packable options, they can still provide excellent insulation and waterproofing.

Key considerations

What is a packable jacket?

If you’ve ever tried to fold up a regular jacket to stuff in your suitcase, you know just how bulky they can be. Packable jackets are designed for travel and can be folded, stuffed, or tucked into a suitcase or a pocket or bag on the jacket itself. Whether you’re packing a backpack or a suitcase, a packable jacket can save you space and enable you to bring more gear and clothes on your journey.

Types of packable jackets

Packable jackets are designed for the rain, cold, or both. The three most common types of packable jackets differ in their materials, insulation, and waterproofing.

Rain jackets: Packable rain jackets are typically hardshell jackets, which have a tough waterproof exterior and no insulation. They’re designed to be worn over an insulating layer or even another jacket. There’s no need to worry about waterproofing — all rain jackets are waterproof. Inexpensive, durable polyester is one of the most common materials used in packable rain jackets.

Down jackets: For the coldest conditions, a down packable jacket is an excellent choice. These jackets use synthetic or goose down to create a puffy layer of insulation that traps your body heat. Since packable down jackets must be lightweight and compact, they typically have down with a higher fill power to compensate. Since your down jacket is going to be stuffed or folded into bags again and again, down retention is essential for prolonging the life of the jacket.

Travel jackets: Packable travel jackets can be a bit hard to define, but their primary features are wind resistance and moderate waterproofing. They aren’t as rugged as hardshell rain jackets or as puffy as down jackets, but they should provide enough waterproofing and insulation to make them appropriate for a variety of environments. If you’ve never owned a packable jacket and are looking for something simple that you can take almost anywhere, we recommend a travel jacket. Versatility is key, especially if you only plan to take one jacket with you. A jacket that’s comfortable to wear on city streets or wooded trails will be useful for many different kinds of trips.

Fit

Your packable jacket should fit you snugly enough to keep the wind and rain out but loosely enough to allow for comfortable movement. Consider whether you will need to add insulating layers under your jacket as well.

EXPERT TIP

Packable jackets are designed to fold up easily into a compact, lightweight form so you can take it with you anywhere.


Staff  | BestReviews

Packable jacket features

Packable jackets vary in size, durability, and features like pockets and hoods.

Packability

Aside from comfort and protection from the elements, you want a packable jacket that’s light and compact. As long as it provides sufficient protection, the lighter the jacket the better, since it will spend a lot of time in your backpack or luggage.

Take note of the dimensions of the jacket when it’s packed or folded, as well as its packing style. Some jackets can be literally stuffed in your bag, while others should be folded carefully into a small rectangle. The best packable jackets can be folded into a pocket on the jacket, resulting in a compact shape that’s easy to stow and remove from your bag.

Durability

Not only does your packable jacket need to withstand regular wear and tear, but it also needs to hold up over years of folding, unfolding, stuffing, and packing. Some jackets are made of ripstop fabric to help them withstand frequent packing and folding.

Pockets

If you plan to use your jacket for extra storage — a great idea when traveling in cities — consider a jacket that has plenty of pockets. These may be located on the sides, back, chest, or inside of the jacket. 

Hood

While any decent packable rain jacket comes with a hood, not all travel and down jackets do. If a hood is a feature you’d like, keep this in mind as you consider your options. Many hoods are detachable, making your jacket even more versatile.

Packable jackets vary greatly in style, with many offering a range of colors to suit your wardrobe.

Packable jacket prices

Inexpensive: Packable jackets that cost $20 to $40 are lightweight with little insulation. While these can work well in cities or for hikes in warmer climates, most don’t offer the waterproofing or insulation that you’ll find in more expensive packable jackets. In addition, they’re generally less durable, but they can still work well as a lightweight jacket you wear casually.

Midrange: Packable jackets that cost $40 to $60 may be insulated with synthetic or natural down or be waterproof. These jackets are well suited for backpacking, hiking, or even skiing. If you need a raincoat to keep you dry and warm, this price range has lots of durable and well-made options.

Expensive: In the $60 to $100 range, you’ll find high-end packable jackets made of high-quality materials and insulation or that come from recognizable brands. If you purchase a jacket in this price range, be sure you’re paying for quality and not just the name.

Tips

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for packing. The manufacturer may recommend a folding or rolling method to make your jacket as compact as possible. This is likely the best way to make your jacket as small as it can be, and it also ensures that you won’t fold the jacket in a way that stresses the fabric unnecessarily.
  • Check the cleaning instructions. While many packable jackets are machine washable, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before throwing your jacket in the wash.
  • Master the art of layering. The layer closest to your skin should wick away moisture and be fairly breathable so you don’t get sweaty and therefore colder. The middle layer should provide most of the insulation. The outer layer should protect you from rain and wind.
EXPERT TIP

Your jacket should be well suited to your environment, whether you’re exploring cities or climbing mountains.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

While we believe our top recommendations are the best packable jackets available, there are a few other products worth mentioning briefly. For an affordable women’s option, the Sarin Mathews Packable Ultra Lightweight Down Jacket features a slim fit and white duck down insulation. We love that this is a less bulky option that still has the classic puffer coat look. If you’re comfortable spending a bit more for a packable jacket that will last for years, the men’s Marmot Minimalist Lightweight Rain Jacket is a waterproof option with a Gore-Tex lining that holds up in heavy downpours. Though you need to be careful with the sizing, most customers find this durable lightweight jacket easy to pack.

Many packable jackets are designed for versatility, so much so that it could be the only jacket you need to bring on your travels.

FAQ

Q. Does packing a jacket shorten the lifespan of down?
A.
It shouldn’t, especially since packable down jackets use down with higher fill power so that it bounces back to achieve its usual loft after being packed away.

Q. How do I get wrinkles out of my packable jacket?
A.
That depends on the materials in the jacket, but most can be ironed or taken to the dry cleaner. In some cases, just hanging your jacket overnight will remove most of the wrinkles.

Q. I need to pack my jacket away, but it’s soaking wet. How do I dry it quickly?
A.
Most packable jackets can be tossed in the dryer. Unfortunately, if the manufacturer recommends against tumble drying, you’ll have to go the old-fashioned route and hang your jacket to dry unless you want to risk damaging the waterproof layer.

The team that worked on this review
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