Vest vs. Jacket Hiking: Which One Is Better?

Vest vs. jacket hiking: Which is better? If you are wondering between these two options, we will help you make the right choice. So let’s click for more details!

Top Rated Best Budget Vest for Hiking

Top Rated Best Budget Jacket for Hiking 

Vest vs. Jacket Hiking: Comparison Table

Vests Jacket
Wearability You can wear vests over or under anything one hiker wants. You can wear jackets alone or with one T-shirt inside.
Seasonal Use Vests are lightweight and can only be utilized to protect your body against the light wind.

You can also use them in the rain.

Jackets can double up as light rain attire.

They deliver protection from snow, making them useful in any season.

Weight Vests are typically lighter and more packable because of the material used to make them. Jackets are often heavy since they are designed for warmth and protection against wind.
Protection And Warmth Vests insulate your core only and exclude other parts of your upper body, such as the hands.

Vests are less likely to lead to overheating.

Jackets offer total upper-body coverage. So they will give maximum protection against wind and cold.

But they can cause overheating if worn in not-too-cold weather.

Movements Jackets are heavy, so they will limit your arms’ free movement. Vests are more breathable and enable freehand movement.


Vest vs. Jacket Hiking: Head-To-Head Comparison



Vests are favored among many hikers because they are portable, lightweight, and easy to carry. In addition, you can layer them with other hiking attires, making them very convenient. The hiking vest comes in two types, including:

  • Cold weather hiking Vests
  • Summer Hiking vests


Jackets are available in many different types, and not all are heavy. Some are lighter and can be worn comfortably without overheating.

  • Hybrid Shells hiking jackets

These jackets are made from softshell material on the inside and hard shell material on the outside. They are breathable and work well for all weather conditions but are a bit heavy.

  • Softshell hiking Jackets

These hiking jackets have a warm interior and help protect you against cold and mild drizzles. But they are not ideal for very heavy rain since they aren’t waterproof. These jackets are ideal for winter conditions.

  • Ultralight hiking Jackets

These hiking jackets are very light and won’t take up much space in your backpack. They are breathable and waterproof, allowing you to wear them during heavy rains.

  • Hardshell hiking Jackets

They are traditional jackets that are waterproof, windproof, and breathable. They can protect you from snow, wind, rain, and hail.

So they can keep you dry and not warm, making them suitable for rainy areas or where you will be exposed to snowfall.

Pros And Cons



  • Very tough and can last long as they are made from high-quality fabric.
  • Vests are adjustable, and you can wear them over other clothes.
  • Vests are breathable, making them perfect for summer.
  • They come with many pockets for storage.
  • Hiking vests are typically affordable compared to hiking jackets.


  • You will need multiple layers during the cold season.
  • Protect only your core.
  • Vests do not seem suitable for hiking during winter seasons or cold weather.



  • The hiking jackets have a waterproof outer layer, protecting your entire upper body against strong rain, wind, and snow.
  • They provide a robust barrier against strong wind.
  • They are very versatile.


  • It is not easy to layer other clothes with your jacket.
  • Jackets are typically costly.
  • Jackets restrict movement.
  • Jackets are big and bulky, so carrying them can be challenging.

Best For


Hiking vests are perfect for mild temperatures or if you are very active in moderately cold temperatures. They are ideal for being active while hiking as they do not restrict arm movements and can keep your core warm.

When hiking in cold temperatures, vests can serve as a great mid-layer that you can wear between a long-sleeved base layer and an outer jacket.

In addition, these vests will come in handy for adding warmth when camping.

You can add a jacket to your sleeping attire and wear it inside your sleeping bag without leading to any discomfort.


The jacket is perfect for the cold season or when you are going to an area with extremely windy weather.

Hiking jackets are available in many types and densities to deliver warmth for various hiking weather.

When you’re hiking in extremely cold weather, especially during winter, you’ll probably need a much-sustained jacket compared to when you’re hiking in slightly cold areas.

Hiking jackets will also come in handy when you’re traveling to areas where you expect snow or rain. The reason is that they all have a waterproof aspect that will protect your entire upper body from getting wet and prevent hypothermia.

Vest vs. Jacket Hiking: Final Verdict

Regarding how versatile and comfortable vests are, we will pick over jackets for hiking. Vests are lighter options than jackets but still keep you warm by insinuating your body.

You will not overheat from wearing vests. It is okay to layer them with necessary under- or over-garments if you want more warmth.

Also, you don’t worry about sweating out from your arms and still receive greater freedom of movement. So when hiking, vests tend to be the ideal choice.

But just because we opt for vests doesn’t mean jackets are bad for hiking. Jackets are the right choice for people who are sensitive to the cold as they will provide them with total upper-body coverage with extra warmth.

If you don’t like layering, jackets might be your best bet. They will help you better withstand the cold, even hiking in the snow.

The decision will depend on climate, your personal needs, and preference.



Is a Vest Better Than a Jacket?

Jackets are usually warmer than vests. They completely cover your upper body and prevent cold air from seeping in around your armpits.

On the other hand, vests are also a great option as they are lightweight, are not as rigid as most jackets, and are available at various warmth levels.

Is a Vest Good for Hiking?

A vest is a great choice for mountaineering, trekking, and hiking as it will keep your core warm and deliver good freedom of movement. But vests leave your arms exposed, so they are ideal for dry conditions.

What’s the Point of a Puffer Vest?

Puffy vests are active, providing enough insulation to keep you warm.

Also, thanks to their breathable fill and sleeveless fit, these vests also prevent you from overheating while you are hiking.

What Temperature Should You Wear a Vest?

Vests tend to work best in milder temperatures or if you are active in colder temperatures.

How Heavy Should a Weighted Vest Be for Hiking?

Weighted vests should be heavy enough to challenge you but not so heavy that they hinder your movement or cause pain. A great starting point is a vest of about 10% of your total body weight.

Is Hiking With a Weighted Vest Good?

Yes. But you should not wear a weighted vest for the whole day since it is likely to tire you and might lead to soreness and muscle burn.

Hence, if while hiking, any of your muscles start to hurt, you should take off the vest immediately.

Should a Vest Be Tight or Loose?

A snug-fit vest will look smarter, but you do not want it to be too tight. It should have enough room to layer up.

Is It Ok to Wear a Vest Without a Jacket?

There is no wrong around wearing a vest without a jacket. You can pair your vest with a long-sleeved base layer, and still, look amazing.

Can You Wear a Vest in the Winter?

This vest is warm but you will need to layer it with a jacket when hiking in extremely cold weather.

What Do You Wear Under a Vest?

You can wear a simple T-shirt or long sleeve shirt under a vest.

Leave a Comment