Primary / Rain Jackets

Your jacket is one of the most important pieces of travel gear you will purchase, so don't skimp.  Jackets can be expensive, especially if purchasing it strictly for travel, so you may want to consider something that can be worn even when you are not traveling, helping to justify the expense.  Look for a shell type jacket that is 100% Waterproof and Breathable.  Your jacket should be lightweight, wearable on it's own or over another insulation layer such as a poof or fleece jacket.  See our page Under Jackets for insulation layers.

Things to consider

  • Roomy enough to fit over another insulation layer jacket
  • Should have a hood for rainy or windy conditions - possibly a zip-off style hood, but not required
  • Multiple zippered pockets both internal and external
  • 100% Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Packable allowing it to easily be compressed and packed inside you backpack or strapped to the exterior if necessary

Of course the type of jacket you wear depends on where you are going.  If you are venturing up north to Lapland for Christmas in the dead of winter, you probably want to be wearing a heavier winter coat but still adhering to the Dressing in Layers philosophy.

If you are headed to Europe for the Christmas markets where it's going to be colder, you should still be completely comfortable dressing in layers and wearing a shell type jacket over an insulation layer.  Most days even in winter will have very mild temps in the 50-60F range and throwing on an extra layer or wearing a poof or fleece jacket under your shell will keep you warm and comfortable.  For typical travel, you don't want a large, heavy and bulky jacket that is hard to pack, takes up too much room and can be too hot to wear, especially if you are walking around with a backpack.

Remember, your jacket does not necessarily have to be packed in your bag.  You should be able to strap it easily to the exterior of your pack when needed to avoid taking up internal storage room.  During airport check in, wearing your jacket will help to avoid excess size and weight in your backpack.  Airlines do not seem to care what you are wearing when you check in.

A jacket having multiple zippered pockets can help you Beat Airline Bag Restrictions.  Look for the obvious exterior hand pockets, chest, interior and even a back stowaway pocket in some models allowing you to store items during check in if your bag has become overweight.

Our recommendation

We have found that wearing a minimally lined rain jacket shell as our primary outer jacket and dressing in layers provides comfort and warmth while providing different wearable combinations.  A high quality rain jacket shell can serve as your primary jacket even when it's not raining, so consider something more versatile than a cheap plastic poncho or jacket.  A jacket having some type of lining will help provide additional warmth, but look for something that is not too warm so that it may be worn during summer travel.  The fit should allow you to wear multiple layers underneath such as a fleece or minimal poof jacket during colder conditions.

Your jacket can easily be the most expensive piece of clothing you purchase, so shop around and find something that works for you and a price that won't break the bank.  We suggest trying on different jackets over a fleece or puff jacket to be sure of the fit.  Remember, a rain jacket should fit slightly large to provide additional room for other layers of clothing.

The North Face Men's Venture 2 Rain Jacket The North Face Women's Resolve 2 Rain Jacket
  • Nylon/Polyester/Twill
  • Unlined, packable, weatherproof rain jacket for year-round use
  • Relaxed fit
  • Waterproof
  • Breathable
  • Seam-sealed DryVentâ„¢ 2.5L shell
  • 100% windproof fabric
  • Velcro storm flap covers front zipper
  • Pit-zip venting for added breathability
  • Covered, secure-zip hand pockets
  • Hem cinch-cord
  • Packs into its own pocket
  • Adjustable hood
  • Mesh/Nylon/Polyester/Polyurethane
  • Weatherproof rain jacket with breathable mesh lining
  • Relaxed Fit
  • 100% windproof fabric
  • Front storm flap with Velcro closure
  • Covered secure-zip hand pockets
  • Elastic-bound cuffs
  • Hem cinch-cord
  • Original North Face, lifetime Warranty
The North Face Men's Venture 2 Rain Jacket
The North Face Women's Resolve 2 Rain Jacket
The North Face Men's Venture Rain Jacket (Older Version)
The North Face Women's Venture Rain Jacket (Older Version)