Travel Jackets For Any Season
A successful traveler channels their inner James Dean or Kate Moss to blend in while simultaneously standing out, and a good jacket is the key to standing out. There’s a reason movie stars and models always wear denim and leather jackets; because they look great and never go out of style. A denim or leather jacket will serve you well in countries like Japan, Europe, South America, USA, and even Thailand. They also hold up well and look better as they distress with age and the extra pockets are a god send. A good travel jacket should be durable, fit well over layers, stylish, and timeless. The best travel jackets are the ones with personality and stories.
When it comes to picking a fabric for a good travel jacket, there is only two choices: leather or denim. Both of these fabrics will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer, don’t require a lot of maintenance, and they are heirloom pieces (meaning they can be passed down to future generations). A good jacket will set you back $50-$150 and most likely outlast you.
If you plan on traveling in more hostile climate areas, you’re going to want at least a windbreaker and possibley a winter coat. Windbreakers are an essential travel packing item and they are easy to roll up and store in a backpack or day pack. Winter Coats can be a bit tougher to pack away, as they are bulkier and heavier, and can take up a lot of room. Luckily there are some great travel coats for travelers who prefer to pack light.
Check out our reviews below of all the different kinds of jackets you can bring for traveling.
Fashionable Light Weight Jackets
Iconic and everlasting, denim was a favorite of miners during the California gold rush for it’s ability to withstand the harshness of the California wilderness and the expectations of mining. It can be worn during any season making it an extremely diverse fabric. Denim is casual enough for sightseeing days and classy enough to be dressed up for evenings. A quality denim jacket will eventually take on a personality of it’s own and tell the story of your life. As it distresses overtime it will become a nostalgic piece that reminds you of times past, and and losing it feels as painful as losing a beloved pet. When buying a denim jacket there are certain rules that should be adhered to at all times, regardless of gender:
- The jacket should fit like a T-Shirt, and end at your shoulder.
- It should stop at your hips and not go any farther.
- The sleeves should be to your wrists and no longer.
- Darker colors work best as they are easier to pair with other clothes.
- Stitching should be strong and stylish.
- It should be snug around your neck when buttoned with you able to fit two fingers between your neck and jacket.
- If you try it on and don’t think it looks too big, go a size down.
- If you can’t find an off the rack jacket that fits the way you like, consider having a tailor take it in for a small fee.
Selecting a jacket should reflect your own personal style, however some of us don’t have or haven’t developed a style yet and are clueless on what to buy. When in doubt go with a classic, like a trucker jacket that James Dean or Kate Moss would wear.
Levi Men’s Trucker Jacket
Levi’s invented denim in 1873 and have been perfecting it ever since. The trucker is a classic that every man should have in his closet. Not only do they give you that “Easy Rider” Dennis Hopper look, they are absolutely fantastic for travel. There are a ton of pockets to store things (inside and out), they are durable, don’t need to be washed (freeze them to get rid of any smells), and look better with wear and tear. The standard collar is classic, but if you want something that looks a bit more rugged go with a shearling collar. We love simple travel clothing with small details that allow you to stand out, and the trucker has details in spades making it great for any trip you have planned.
Levi’s Women’s Trucker Jacket
Most women already have at least one denim jacket, but if you are worried about your favorite piece being stolen, or need a new one, consider the Levi’s Trucker Jacket. It’s classic, elegant, simple, and can easily be layered over other clothes to keep you warm and stylish. They are also great for sowing travel patches on and have enough pockets to hold anything you need.
Whether it’s motorcycle chic or urban cowboy, leather jackets make a serious statement about the person wearing them. Great for traveling and adventuring alike, you can’t go wrong in life with a solid leather jacket. Although they are slightly bulkier and heavier than their denim counterparts, they won’t slow you down in the slightest.
A leather jacket will become an extension of your personality, but try not to get anything to high fashion or outrageous as they tend to be extremely expensive and the style won’t last the test of time. The classic styles are motorcycle and bomber. When it comes to the thickness of leather you don’t need super heavy leather unless you plan on riding a motorcycle or scooter. Lighter leather like lambskin will be the easiest to travel with. Lambskin leather will keep you warm in the winters and cool in the summers, is easy to clean and maintain, and not much bulkier than denim. It’s also more affordable than other leathers. Faux leather jackets aren’t recommended for travel (or life) because they are too expensive for what you get. Why pay for an expensive faux leather jacket that won’t last when you can spend a little more for a high quality leather jacket that will last you for life? Like denim jackets, there are some rules you want to follow when buying a leather jacket.
- Get real leather not faux
- The jacket should be tailored to your frame
- Shoulders should end at your shoulder
- Sleeves should wrest on your wrists
- Buy something you think is awesome and fits your personality
- Take care of it with leather conditioner
- Establish a budget
A good leather jacket can cost anywhere from $100-$10,000. Make sure you set a budget and don’t fall victim to “high fashion” leather styles. This is a jacket you will be wearing for travel, so leave the $12,000 Burberry leather jacket at home and go with your $150 travel one instead.
Lambskin Leather Jacket
Another timeless piece that is great for travel, a good leather jacket is an investment. Real leather will outlast you and as they distress over time they only get more cool. They may seem expensive but the amount of use you get out of them and the fact that they are forever pieces actually make them relatively inexpensive. Leather also keeps you dry, cool, and warm all at the same time. The leather jacket above can be made to order! That means you give them your measurements and they will build you an affordable jacket that is tailored to your body for around $150. They also have different styles and colors so you can express your personality.
Women’s Bomber Biker Leather Jacket
This jacket is simple yet complex, just like it’s wearer. It looks great with grey denim and ankle high boots. You’ll definitely turn heads with this jacket and get offered to ride on the back of every guys Vespa in Italy. This jacket isn’t tailored like the men’s one, but the sizes are true and it can always be taken in by a tailor or seamstress.
Warm Lightweight Water Proof Windbreakers
A good windbreaker should always be in your pack, regardless of what weather conditions you will be traveling in. It’s surprising how fast a beautiful island day can turn into a nightmarish scenario when a windstorm comes out of nowhere. Windbreakers also provide an additional water resistant (not water proof) layer that can be worn over other clothes or under a jacket. When looking for a windbreaker it should be brighter in color in order to be easily seen by drivers and friends. Chaos can ensue in weather storms and knowing your travel partner is wearing a hot pink windbreaker helps identify them if somehow you separate in the storm. It should also be visible to traffic and at night, if it has reflection on it even better. A good draw string or cinch system will allow you to keep the wind and cold out, so double check that the system is durable. Drawstrings should cinch at the hood and hips.
Columbia Windbreakers (Men and Women)
We use a lot of Columbia products in our travels, and we never leave without one of their windbreakers. Not only do they do an excellent job of keeping the wind at bay, they keep you warm and dry, which cheaper windbreakers don’t. They can be worn over other clothes as well, giving you an option to keep your other clothes dry. They are super lightweight and roll into a day pack with ease and come in a number of styles and colors. We highly recommend there windbreakers, they are quality and won’t let you down.
Packable Winter Coats (Patagonia vs. North Face)
Traveling during the winter? Than you’ll need a good cat that can easily be packed away. There are thousands of winter coats out there, and many of them are inexpensive and great, however if you plan on traveling light, there aren’t many options. A winter coat that collapses into a small pack and can easily be stored in luggage is going to be expensive, but if you decide to pack a non collapsible winter coat chances are it will take away 25% of your packing ability. That means less clean clothes, less warm clothes, and no room for cameras, laptops, or souvenirs. If you do decide to buy a collapsible coat, purchase something that can be your main jacket at home and not something to just wear for traveling, hiking, or camping. There really is only two good option that achieves that:
The North Face Thermoball
The North Face Thermoball coats are extremely classy looking. The versatile mid-weight layer will easily fit over your other layers, keeping your warm and dry. It has quick dry technology, allowing it to dry within 30 minutes after a heavy downpour. It can withstand even the toughest of weather conditions, and will reduce heat loss. It has cords that allow the fit to be adjusted, and zip pockets to store all your travel items. The most impressive feature of this coat is that it can fold into it’s own pocket for easy, agile travel. It weighs around one pound and will take up less space in your pack than your underwear. Wear it for skiing or travel, either way you won’t be let down.
Similar to the Thermoball, the Nano folds into itself and makes it easily packable. It’s may of 100% recycled polyester with a durable water repellent coating. Great for skiing, hiking in the snow, and light rain. This coat is only water resistant so it won’t be great in monsoon rains.
Packable Lightweight Jackets Summary
Invest in a good denim or leather jacket and it will last you a lifetime. It will serve you great in your travels allowing you to remain stylish, stay warm, and carry your gear. Don’t forget to pack a windbreaker, regardless of your destination, it will keep you dry and warm. If you find yourself traveling to colder climates consider investing in a collapsible winter jacket that you would wear at home.