The 10 Best Outdoor Vests of 2023

The sleek, packable Arc’teryx LT Vest is our favorite for both men and women.

In This Article

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Best Outdoor Vests of 2023

Travel + Leisure / Brian Kopinski

A good vest is a real workhorse in your wardrobe. It can function not only as a layer of insulation to wear outdoors but also as part of your indoor repertoire. Find a well-fitting vest, and it almost has a modern-day corset effect, smoothing out the torso and providing a little added warmth in the process.

There are, of course, many different types of outdoor vests, ranging from the lighter variety just for walking the dog to more heavy-duty types that seriously insulate you for chilly winter sports. We’ve combed the marketplace for the best of the best, and while top marks went to the popular Arc’teryx Atom LT Vest for its clean profile and lightweight insulation, we’re confident there’s something here for every type of vested interest.

Best Overall

Arc’teryx Atom LT Vest Womens

Arc’teryx Atom LT Vest Womens

Arc’teryx

Why We Love It: It has a sleek silhouette and packs away into its own pocket.

What to Consider: It’s a trimmer fit, so you may need to size up.

There’s a reason the Atom LT Vest is one of Arc’teryx’s most popular styles for both women and men: It performs well and looks good doing it. This vest is incredibly lightweight and has just the right amount of Coreloft Compact insulation for outdoor warmth without being too overpowering for indoor scenarios. It makes for a great mid-layer or even a standalone piece, combining the performance and warmth of a much bulkier vest with the streamlined shape of slimmer pieces. Weather resistance from wind and precipitation makes this a real workhorse, too.

We love that this vest has a high collar, which can be worn open or zipped up if your neck needs a little protection from the elements. The trimmer fit yields a flattering silhouette without infringing on mobility, but just know that you may need to go up a size if you prefer a less form-fitting vest. Stretch fleece side panels contribute to the sleek look while keeping things well-ventilated and flexible. Best of all, the entire thing packs into its own pocket so it can accompany you on all your adventures. 

Price at time of publish: $175

Sizes: XXS to XXL | Material: 100 percent nylon lining and self, 100 percent recycled polyester insulation

Best Budget

Uniqlo Ultralight Down Vest

Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest

Uniqlo

Why We Love It: It has an amazingly warm 750-fill down lining.

What to Consider: The vest comes in a straight fit that some people might find unflattering.

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Uniqlo’s Ultralight Down Vest for women and men packs a significant amount of warmth — 750-fill-power down, to be exact — while remaining sleek, lightweight, and an incredible value. It’s worth noting that the women’s fit is on the straighter, more cropped side (which not all women may find flattering), while the men’s comes in a standard fit that is pretty universally complementary. We also love that it comes with a durable water-repellent coating, making this a versatile layering piece that performs even in damp conditions. 

Price at time of publish: $60

Sizes: XXS to XXL | Material: 100 percent nylon shell, 750-fill down

Best Puffer

The North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nupste Vest

The North Face Women’s 1996 Retro Nupste Vest

The North Face

Why We Love It: It’s big, it’s warm, and it’s an outerwear classic.

What to Consider: Some may not appreciate the voluminous proportions.

The North Face changed the outerwear game in 1996 with the release of its Nuptse range, which includes a puffy jacket as well as this statement-making vest that comes in both women’s and men’s options. In the present day, this piece has taken on more of a streetwear and fashion connotation, but don’t be fooled — it still features water and wind resistance and a rip-roaring 700-fill goose-down interior that packs some serious warmth. There’s a reason this classic is still a top seller.

Price at time of publish: $220

Sizes: XXS to 3XL | Material: 100 percent recycled nylon shell, 700-fill goose down

Best for Cycling

Houdini Pace Hybrid Vest

Houdini Pace Hybrid Vest

Houdini

Why We Love It: It's a cycling vest that doesn’t look like a cycling vest.

What to Consider: It doesn’t have the curved, longer backside that some cyclists prefer.

Introducing the cycling vest that doesn’t look like a cycling vest — because what’s a bigger buzzkill than going for a bike ride and then rolling up to the coffee shop looking like you just stepped off the Tour de France? You can confidently wear this both on and off the bike and know that you look great. Available in both women’s and men’s versions, this highly breathable, sleek, soft-shell vest delivers both warmth and functionality for your most grueling adventures

Price at time of publish: $170

Sizes: S to XXL | Material: 100 percent recycled polyester

Best Quilted for Women

Barbour Betty Fleece-lined Quilted Vest

Barbour Betty Fleece Lined Quilted Vest

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: It’s an English classic with modern updates.

What to Consider: Sizing is by UK standards, so double check the measurements. 

Nothing bridges the gap between modern functionality and classic style quite like a Barbour piece, and this vest is no exception. It’s diamond-quilted from a hydrophobic nylon material that offers a hint of rain resistance for those misty mornings and features a soft fleece lining that makes it a layering essential. Carefully placed darting down the back allows it to hug the body and appear flattering without sacrificing function or a classic look. Two side pockets and zipped interior storage add to the convenience.  

Price at time of publish: $145

Sizes: 2 to 12 | Material: 100 percent nylon, 100 percent polyester fill

Best Quilted for Men

Barbour Lowerdale Vest

Barbour Lowerdale Vest

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This is a great layering piece for cooler climates.

What to Consider: The fit is on the slimmer side.

Barbour has been making quintessential English waxed jackets for over a century, and its quilted vests, like the Lowerdale, make for excellent layering pieces and outerwear options in their own right. This version comes in a slim cut and features deep patch pockets, a front zip closure with snap placket to keep the wind at bay, and machine washability so you can truly throw anything at it — and expect it to keep looking smart for many years to come. 

Price at time of publish: $180

Sizes: S to XXXL | Material: 100 percent polyester, 100 percent polyamide fill

Best for Skiing

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft PackAway Vest

L.L. Bean PrimaLoft PackAway Vest

L.L. Bean

Why We Love It: Durable, warm, and 100 percent recycled, this vest can keep up with mountain lovers from first tracks to last lift. 

What to Consider: Some reviews call out inconsistent sizing.

Ski gear is all about performance: It needs to be warm for chilly days, durable for getting stuffed in and out of bags, machine-washable for when you sweat into it on tougher runs, and able to move with your body, so it doesn’t impact your flow on the slopes. This reliable PrimaLoft PackAway Vest, available for both women and men, delivers on all fronts. Not only is it incredibly lightweight and packable, but it’s also made with a blend of PrimaLoft Gold insulation and featherlight Aerogel for exceptional warmth without weighing you down. 

Price at time of publish: $149

Sizes: XXS to XL | Material: 100 percent recycled polyester shell and lining

Best Style

Canada Goose PBI Freestyle Vest

Canada Goose PBI Freestyle Vest

Canada Goose

Why We Love It: It has the signature Canada Goose style and substance — for a good cause.

What to Consider: Colors are limited.

Nobody knows cold wear quite like Canada Goose, and this transitional weather favorite is an outerwear classic. The women’s version has slightly narrower quilting and a more articulated fit, and the men’s version comes in more of a straight cut. Of course, as a Canada Goose piece, it delivers serious warmth as well as luxurious touches such as reflective details at the back of the collar and high-quality, responsibly sourced duck down. And as part of Canada Goose’s exclusive “PBI” range, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this vest go to support critical research by Polar Bears International and the preservation of polar bear habitats, which, if you ask us, makes for some guilt-free shopping. 

Price at time of publish: $575

Sizes: XXS to XXL | Material: 100 percent nylon, 625-fill duck down

Best Fleece

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Vest

Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Vest

Patagonia

Why We Love It: There may not be a more versatile vest on the market.

What to Consider: It can’t stand up to the coldest climates on its own. 

In the history of vests, Patagonia’s Better Sweater Fleece will be remembered as one of the greats. It looks great for hikes outdoors, it looks great layered over business casual attire in the workplace, and it looks great layered under a shell in the harshest conditions. Women and men return to this vest time and time again for its warmth, versatility, and fit. But while this vest might be instantly recognizable, there’s also a really compelling story behind it: It’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester fleece, dyed with low-impact processes that significantly reduce harmful dye runoffs compared to traditional methods, and is Fair Trade Certified sewn.

Price at time of publish: $109

Sizes: XXS to XXL | Material: 100 percent recycled polyester fleece

Best Heated

ORORO Women's Lightweight Heated Vest with Battery Pack

4.2
ORORO Women's Lightweight Heated Vest with Battery Pack

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s powerful, portable warmth.

What to Consider: You’ll have to remember to recharge the portable battery.

One of the great advances in technology in recent years has been the rise in heated apparel and accessories — and vests are an excellent way to dip your toe into the heated pond. This Ororo option, in both women’s and men’s styles, comes with a lightweight, highly effective heating elements across the left and right sides of the torso as well as at the collar and back. It’s insulated with FELLEX, a certified sustainable material that adds warmth without the bulk. And while the battery is built to recharge 800 times, it is easily replaceable, so this vest can keep you warm and toasty for many, many seasons. 

Price at time of publish: $99

Sizes: S to XXXL | Material: 100 percent nylon shell, 100 percent polyester lining

Tips for Buying an Outdoor Vest

Consider packability

The great thing about modern apparel materials is that many of them are designed to be packable, whether they can be squashed into suitcases or carefully rolled up into a single pocket. A packable vest will have a certain type of casual, more outdoorsy look to it, so if you’re looking for something that can do double duty for commutes to the office, you may want to skip packability in favor of something more formal. But if functionality and outdoor performance is your top goal, you should absolutely consider something that can easily go wherever you go. 

Look for weather resistance

A little weather resistance can go a long way. While it may be difficult to find fully waterproof or windproof vests, there are many options out there — across multiple brands and in a range of fabrications — that offer some resistance to the elements. The idea of a vest, after all, is that you’re wearing it while on the go somewhere or as a transitional piece. It’s not the full-on rain slicker you need for hours spent outside when it's pouring, and it’s not the full-on parka you need for ventures out in frozen climates. Vests are layering pieces worn under jackets or sometimes on their own if you’re generating enough of your own body heat. A hint of resistance to the elements will go a long way in keeping you comfortable in light wind and light rain scenarios. 

Choose the right insulation for your activity type

Make sure to consider what’s on the inside of your vest. If you plan on doing something moderate- or high-intensity where sweating may be a factor, you’ll want to avoid materials such as goose down, which is not meant to be machine-washed regularly, and instead go for something like a fleece vest which can survive many cycles through the washer. And if you’re doing an outside activity that’s lower impact where you’re less likely to generate your own body heat (such as attending an outdoor sporting event as a spectator or simply walking the dog around the block), go for something a little bulkier such as down. It all comes down to what you plan on using the vest for.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What's the best type of insulation for an outdoor vest?

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, and there are a lot of factors to consider. Insulations such as goose down may not be machine-washable, which may contribute to higher dry-cleaning bills and the added inconvenience of not being able to wash your vest as much. Linings such as polyester fill or even unlined fleece vests can, on the other hand, be tossed in the washing machine many times and never lose their character. Our top tip here? Check the manufacturer’s care instructions and make a personal decision about how often you wouldn’t mind dry cleaning or machine washing the vest in question. 

  • When should you wear a vest instead of a jacket?

    It has a lot to do with your own personal body heat — some people run cold and might always prefer the added warmth of sleeves offered by a jacket, and other people tend to run warm and may only need the added touch of warmth provided by a vest. The other factor to consider is which types of activities you’ll be wearing the vest for. If you plan on skiing hard all day, going for a long hike, or doing some sort of other high-intensity exercise where you expect to generate a lot of extra heat, then the breathability of a vest might be best for you. This way, there’s less perspiration getting trapped in your sleeves which could lead to discomfort or chafing down the line. On super cold days when you’re already wearing a jacket, layering a vest underneath is also a great way to add additional warmth. We know that isn’t the most satisfying answer, but the best advice we can share is to do some trial-and-error and find out for yourself. 

  • How should a down vest fit?

    Again, personal preference is key. But the idea behind vests is finding something that fits snugly enough to layer well under larger jackets but also comfortable enough that you can still move freely or perhaps wear it on its own. Some people prefer the flattering effect of a slimmer vest, and others prefer looser-fitting vests for their fashion impact. Ultimately, it all comes down to you and how you plan on wearing the vest.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this story, commerce writer Todd Plummer combed through market research, referenced product descriptions, and touched on his own personal experience as a travel professional to create a comprehensive roundup of the best outdoor vests for men and women. 

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