Plummeting temperatures signal the descent into Autumn, AKA, the most fashionable time of the year. With this, you’re going to need more than an overshirt for insulation, but we’re still not reaching for a cumbersome winter jacket, just yet. This is a time to rejoice! By layering the best light jackets for men, your outfits can become veritable Victoria sponge cakes of fashionable, sugary delight!
The best lightweight jackets for men are a good packable layer. You can squash the air out of them and push them to the bottom of a bag, or wrap them around your hips. They are ideal for traveling, hiking, commuting, cycling, or city-strolling, and are easy to peel off and stow away.
A good lightweight jacket can be a companion all year round. In Summer, when the sun becomes the moon and the temperature drops. In Spring, or in the depths of winter used to slot under a coat for extra trapped air insulation. But lightweight jackets aren’t all one-dimensional exertion and pragmatism. There are a plethora of styles. Our list below is a blooming garden of inspiration, so read on, and pick your plumage wisely.
A war was waged on my synapses via e-commerce sites, brand Instagrams, my memory of modeling shoots, and my own wardrobe. Eventually, they fired and created this list of the nine best light jackets for men.
Overall the best of the best light jackets for men is the Closed Wool Mix Jacket mainly by merit of its insouciant style. It’s like the Beatnik style has been fused with an accountant’s love of numbers.
Obviously, there’s more to this choice than aesthetics. Its wool blend makes it lightweight (a relatively key parameter for the best light jackets), and it’s insulated and lightly rainproof. It’s a little bulkier than others and not good for packing away and carrying.
That brings us to the waterproof and easily packable Tropicfeel ProTravel™ Rain Shell. Despite being a beast of practicality, its innovative hood means it can be styled as a smart-casual bomber or coach jacket. A very worthy runner-up indeed.
Our Top Picks
Why it’s Great: By merit of its trendy design this jacket comes out top. The wool-nylon blend gives thick insulation, drizzle protection, durability, and breathability. Plus, the double-face finish and the exaggerated seams make this jacket more an act of Cubism than a piece of clothing. The dark green hue further makes the case that this is art and not clothing. It’s a sumptuous hue and I love it.
How it feels: Not the warmest outerwear you’ll purchase, but if you’re doing short walks, or are graced by the sun’s warming presence, this is the perfect balance.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Perhaps its relatively casual style isn’t for everyone. Personally, that makes it for me.
Material: recycled wool (70%), nylon (30%) | Sizes Available: XS-XXL | Colors: 2 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: This jacket is the ultimate “layer”. It works well over a T-shirt and under a thicker coat in the winter. In this combo, not a single whiff of cold is seeping through, thanks to the elasticated hems, locking the warm body air inside. This jacket will work fabulously on its own too. See below…
How it feels: This jacket is like the perfect life partner. It’s soft, warming, and easily packable. OK, maybe that last one doesn’t quite work, but it will feel like it’s giving you a warm hug every time you throw it on. Which is nice.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Its slightly bland style means styling is integral. Opt for clothes with spice, i.e. cargo trousers, chic selvedge denim, or trousers with a looser fit. Reviews suggest that it isn’t always up to the job keeping you warm in very cold weather. I would add that my experience with Columbia is that though they’re very affordable and produce good products in this range, you don’t get the longevity of a premium product. Not that you should expect it to, either.
Material: Nylon/Polyester | Sizes Available: S-XXL (plus Tall options) | Colors: 16 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: As a summer rain jacket, it doesn’t get much more appropriate or intelligent than this product. The shell has a 20,000 mm waterproof rating which will withstand heavy rainfall. In a promotional video, the jacket appears to repel a waterfall. The mesh vents are in invisible locations, providing stealthy breathability.
And finally, the nylon fabric is super lightweight. But the genius is in the collar. When upright, the collar attaches to a detachable hood, when folded down the collar has a smart-casual conventional shirt collar aesthetic. This gives a subtle smartness (in many senses of the word) to the rain jacket.
How it feels: The jacket also comes with a packable bag (doubles up as a pillow for the adventurous roaming types among us). This makes it ideal for jungle trekking, bike riding, or commuting. Because it’s so lightweight you’ll barely notice it, whether it is in your bag or over your shoulders.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s hard to critique this jacket as it might be one of the best-functioning and most versatile rain jackets on the market.
Material: 100% nylon | Sizes Available: XS-XL | Colors: 4 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: This suave number comes with an ineluctable sheened surface. It dazzles but in a sophisticated way. The exterior is constructed of recycled fishing lines and somehow retains a deftness of touch. The interior is pure luxury. It’s a blend of cotton and cashmere. The style is smart-casual; ideal for a brisk autumn lunch in the city, or a springtime throw over. Plus, you get two for the price of one as it’s reversible. The interior gives a softer, more casual aesthetic.
How it feels: Due to its refined nature, you’ll want to style this with equally smart-casual motifs. Perhaps derbies or loafers, perhaps smart jeans or chinos and a button-down shirt.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: This isn’t the most “fashion-forward” jacket in this best light jackets for men list, so don’t buy this if you want to cultivate an edge. This jacket says more “quiet-luxury” than Central St Martin’s graduate.
Material: Exterior: 100% Recycled Polyester; Interior: 10% Cashmere, 90% Cotton | Sizes Available: S-XXXL | Colors: 3 | Style: Smart-Casual
Why it’s Great: Sometimes, a dose of Scandi-minimalism is all you need. This jacket, because of its neat slotting between smart and casual, makes it endlessly usable and versatile. You won’t get caught short in a nice restaurant, and it’ll handle a windy park walk with ease thanks to the recycled PET bottle Primaloft silver insulation. The simple zip and shirt collar gives a hard-edged, clean aesthetic without coming off too cold.
How it feels: Easy. It has a paper-thin recycled nylon exterior plus an insulated lining, but it’s anything but heavy-duty. That makes it an easy layer to slot into the mix. Plus, the exterior and even the insulation are rainproof, keeping you dry for just long enough to find a cafe to dart into.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Its lack of flair can be offset by adding textures, patterns and size differences through your other choices.
Material: Exterior: 100% recycled nylon, Insulation: 100% recycled PET bottles, Primaloft Silver | Sizes Available: XS-XL | Colors: 1 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: This is not just any old fleece. The arty bleached flowers through the sweet camel-tone fluff bring a bit of laissez-faire to the party. Plus, the sewn-on zip front pockets and drawstring waist mean you can hang out in style. This is the perfect city throwover. As long as it isn’t raining, you’re all good. Stick to lighter tones when styling to continue the lighter tone of the jacket.
How it feels: My experience of fleece jackets is that they’re like wearing a warm cup of tea. It elicits a feeling of pure sensual coziness.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Not a flaw as such, but it’s worth noting that
Material: 100% polyester | Sizes Available: XS-XL | Colors: 1 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: Imagine you are trapped on a motorcycle, perched on the edge of a boulder. Oh, and it’s raining sideways. This is the experience of doing the Scottish Six Days Trial. And it’s exactly what the Belstaff Trialmaster jacket was designed for in 1948. Wax hermetically seals the cotton canvas giving it windproofing and waterproofing. And on the inside is a warming tartan lining. This jacket has a classic, rugged, outdoorsy feel to it. It’s perfect for a man weathered by whiskey, dark thoughts and… weather.
How it feels: Having only seen it through a computer screen, I feared it might feel uncomfortable and come across as a little lame, like an ill-fitting leather jacket can. But it’s an iconic jacket for a reason, so I decided to trust my gut. In the few months I’ve owned it, the jacket has turned out to be the complete opposite of all my initial fears and has been a joy to style.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Personally, I prefer styling the jacket without the belt, with the zip open slightly and the collar down. This helps guard against any inference of old-school uptightness creeping into the look.
Material: 6 oz. waxed cotton | Sizes Available: 44-60 (XS-5XL) | Colors: 3 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: We all know about the Baracuta G9 jacket. Made iconic by James Dean and a staple of the nonchalant 50s “look” he inspired. But what if I told you that the G4 (its relaxed and mature cousin) was actually the cooler of the two? Of course, I’m biased. I bought a vintage G4 from eBay this summer and its effortless, billowy shape has given it the regular slot over my shoulders. The G4 has the same recognizable double-button neck collar, tartan lining and cotton exterior as the G9, but comes with buttoned sleeves and a loose elasticated waist. I can personally guarantee that this is one of the best lightweight jackets and will never go out of style.
How it feels: In a word, cool. The obvious styling would be to imitate James Dean: indigo jeans, leather belt, white t-shirt and a G4. This outfit will have Mr. Dean smiling from his grave (in a completely non-creepy way).
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because this jacket doesn’t do well in the rain… or the cold, we advise throwing it on when the sun’s out for the day. It’s a fair-weather, feel-good, confidence-inspiring jacket.
Material: Shell: 42% cotton 58% polyester; Main Lining: 80% cotton 20% polyester; Secondary Lining: 100% polyester | Sizes Available: 36-50 (XS-4XL) | Colors: 9 | Style: Casual
Why it’s Great: It’s affordable, comfortable and insulating. Its easy use makes it a champion of the everyday and therefore, it’s one of the best light jackets for men. The slanted side pockets mean your hands slot in effortlessly and slouch there all day. The hood is a comforting canopy. And the quarter-zip gives the jacket easy access off and on. It uses recycled polyester which aligns with this wonderful outdoor brand’s ethos: embrace adventure, but leave the smallest footprint.
How it feels: The silky polyester along with the insulation makes it a soft, tactile product.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: If we’re being mean, the slightly generic “puffer” style means it’s not the most stylish of choices. The choice between only khaki and golden brown further cements this suggestion.
Material: recycled polyester | Sizes Available: S-XXL | Colors: 2 | Style: Casual
Make sure you study the fabric of the jacket to best understand its usage. Wool brings insulation, a slight rainproofing (not much), and bulk. Polyester and nylon can vary, so always check the brand’s description and look for its waterproofing capability. Cotton tends to be durable, lightweight, natural, and easy to care for, i.e. machine washable, but unless it is waxed, it doesn’t do well in the wet. Treat each jacket like a new material investigation.
For me, this ranks highly. Trust that little gremlin in your head that says, ooo I like that. Then look to see if it checks out in terms of capabilities, and if you can, try it on in a shop. That’s the only way you’ll know for sure. The joy of a light jacket is that it can come in many shapes and sizes, i.e., Harrington, Trialmaster, coach, denim, chore, fleeced, reversible, smart, boho, or rain. “If you can dream it, you can wear it as a light jacket for men”, as the famous saying goes.
In terms of general shapes, a looser fit gives off a looser look. That means it looks slightly more unkempt. I like that, but if you’re planning on attending business meetings, or impressing other business people at dinner, perhaps opt for something sharper and more closely fitting. In terms of the sizing fit itself, some brands offer minute detailing on how each size fits, so you can measure yourself at home. Some brands suggest that their sizing runs a little small, or a little large on average, so pay attention to that. Otherwise, the best option is to get yourself to a store.
Why you should trust us
With my decade of modeling for top brands and half a decade of fashion writing for top publications, I’ve come to know the industry very well. For this review, I began in my wardrobe. I picked out the most used light jackets with good style, durability and versatility.
My vintage Baracuta G4 Harrington jacket is my current favorite. But other brands such as Timberland, Belstaff and Columbia are always in the mix. From there I searched the web for a wider diversity of styles, highly rated, and those with unique and desirable features. This is the curated top nine from that longlist.
The Closed Wool Mix Jacket reigns supreme as the best lightweight jacket for men. Its idiosyncratic style gives it a certain Bohemian flair that will be a joy to style in the cooler months. The wool-nylon blend will keep your internal central heating firing away. Plus, it has a hint of waterproofing. Overall, it has everything that I look for in a light jacket. But, if you don’t agree, there are plenty of viable contenders elsewhere in this list.
Just read the label. The best lightweight jackets will always have clear instructions on how to wash the garment. It really is that simple. Depending on how a fabric is treated, its particular origin/chemical structure, or its specific material blend, might alter the way it is cared for.
Not as warm as light down jackets, or regular down jackets. But warmer than a thin fabric jacket without any down. The down creates an area of trapped air which stops cool air from penetrating and is warmed up by the body. Its efficacy is determined by the down fabric inside (how good it is at trapping air) and how thick the down is (assuming it is not clumped). Down is one of the best, lightweight solutions to keep people warm. Wool of a similar heft, for example, can end up bulky and heavy. An ultra-light down jacket is one of the best lightweight jackets for men.