There are few things that can puzzle a minimalist packing list more than jackets. Can you wear it on the plane? Can you wear in the rain? Can you wear it on the trail? In the hail? In a bar? In a car? Lest we get more Seussian, the hunt for the perfect single travel jacket begins.
The ideal jacket should be able to swing from a hike up the mountain to a night out downtown, without actually looking like you stumbled straight from backpack to bar. But how to master that if you only want to bring one item?
“When it comes to winter travel, your first line of defense on the city streets is your outerwear,” said Dani Bernstein, one of Backcountry outdoor retailer’s Gearhead experts. “Finding something that is warm, compact, and stylish can be a challenge. When it comes to design, clean, long lines and coats that cover lots of surface area without restricting movement are what I look for first.”
Shorter, puffy, packable down or synthetic insulated jackets can de-puff down into their own pockets or travel bags, conveniently doubling as a travel pillow and taking up minimal luggage space. A thinner packable rain jacket, meanwhile, won’t be as warm on its own but will insulate your base layers against wind and water, so cross-climate travelers can layer up to make a lighter jacket work better across temperatures or find a 3-in-1 model that has both at once.