Jacket vs. Vests

Going sleeveless might save you weight, but will a vest keep you as warm as a jacket?

Going sleeveless might save you weight, but will a vest keep you warm? If I pack a windshirt, can I leave my long johns home? To answer such questions, consider the strengths of the jackets and vests we tested.

    Jacket
  • Provides total upper-body coverage for maximum warmth and wind protection
  • Doubles as rainwear in light rain and snow
  • Can be worn alone or with a T-shirt (replaces long-sleeve base layer)
  • Is useful in any season
  • Lined windshirts are lighter and more packable than windproof fleece vests
    Best for: Three-season backpacking above treeline and in cool, windy locations; winter hiking as part of a system. A windshirts works well as a base, middle, or outer layer
    Vest
  • Is lighter, more packable, and less expensive than a jacket (given comparable construction and materials)
  • Insulates body's core only-nothing more
  • Is easier to layer under or over
  • Allows greater freedom of movement
  • Is less likely to cause overheating
    Best for: High-exertion hiking in moderate winds or as part of a multipiece wind system in highly variable conditions