Being a minimalist when traveling to tropical countries is easy. You just need a t-shirt and beach shorts, both of which can be washed and pretty much put on straight away, able to dry themselves as you walk in the sun. However, in cold climates things become a little trickier. Warm clothes tend to be bulky, meaning they can’t be easily packed and you may end up carrying a larger backpack. To overcome this, you need to invest in specialist outdoor gear.
You will be amazed at what some jackets can do in terms of offering protection against the cold weather, wind, and rain, despite being incredibly lightweight and compressible. They may cost a lot, but you just need one decent lightweight winter jacket and it will last you a lifetime. Here are five of the best to choose from
Patagonia Nano Puff
For serious travelers, Patagonia is a popular brand. Their products are built to last and are designed for the toughest terrains. The Nano Puff was designed to combine a light weight with maximum warmth. At just 337g, this is one of the lightest jackets on the market. Despite this, it has a high level of insulation.
60g of PrimaLoft eco-friendly insulation means that it can be worn during a ski vacation, while a 100% recycled polyester shell means that it is completely waterproof, as well as offering significant protection from the wind. These are good specs for any jacket, but the great thing about the Nano Puff is that it compresses into itself and can be zipped up as a tiny, stowable package. This is common on thin rain jackets, but a rare find on a fully insulated winter coat. Available in 11 different colors, and with an attractive aesthetic, you will almost certainly be able to find a style that you like.
The North Face Thermoball
The North Face is another respected outdoor brand and the Thermoball is one of their best products. It is also made of recycled materials, so it is perfect for eco-conscious consumers. It weighs 450g, so it is slightly heavier than the Nano Puff, although still hardly noticeable in your backpack. This extra weight should mean more warmth, however, and it is designed to stay warm even when wet.
The Thermoball has a unique, but relatively modest design. It looks technical enough to take on a mountain climb, but it is also casual enough for everyday wear. It comes in eight different colors, from black to bright yellow and even camouflage. It can also be purchased in any size from small to 3XL.
Arc’teryx LT Hoody
If you want something a little more technical from a slightly lesser known brand, then the Arc’teryx LT Hoody might be what you are looking for. Designed for mountain climbers, this jacket will keep you warm as the temperature drops and the wind picks up, while offering ventilation during sweat inducing activities. Despite its technical capabilities, the LT Hoody has a plain and simple look, which is suitable for casual events or trips to the office.
With synthetic insulation, the jacket also dries quickly when wet. The material is thin and the coat weighs just 415g, so it will pack neatly at the bottom of a carry on sized backpack. It comes in eight plain colors, but they all look good on both men and women. However, as this is designed for mountain climbers, it does stop a little short in order to allow for a harness beneath. People with long torsos might want to try one on before committing to the high price tag of the Arc’teryx.
Patagonia Nano Air
This is the jacket that I have personally traveled with for the last three years. It has been worn down to 14°F (-10°C) in an Eastern European winter and also in tropical climates during the night. With a thermal base layer and mid layer it really keeps you toasty, while left open with just a T-shirt, it looks good in warm climates and doesn’t overheat. Best of all, when stuffed into a compression packing cube, it weighs just 346g and takes up very little space at the bottom of your backpack.
The Patagonia Nano Air was also designed for alpine adventures. Anyone who has been active at altitude will know how annoying it is to be constantly taking off layers and putting them back on. With this jacket, you will put it on once and then leave it on, as it traps warmth when needed and lets your body breathe as you heat up. It has four way stretch insulation, which is warm while allowing for maximum mobility.
The North Face Sierra Peak
The North Face has to make the list for a second time, with its iconic Sierra Peak jacket. It comes in just four colors - black, blue, red, and taupe - but this simplicity is the key to a truly great coat. It comes with a lifetime guarantee, revealing The North Face’s commitment to using only the highest and most durable materials.
The Sierra Peak only weighs 290g, making it the lightest jacket on this list, but with goose down insulation, it offers exceptional protection from the elements. With a windshield made from 100% Nylon Ripstop and a FlashDry lining, this offers a high level of wind and water resistance.
There are many options out there but stick to the most trusted brands. These five from Patagonia, The North Face, and Arc’teryx have been put through tough weather conditions by customers and proven their worth. None of them will protect you against an arctic snowstorm, but with high quality thermal base and mid layers, they will keep you warm in a typical North American or European winter. With sustainable materials and the ability to be compressed down, any of these jackets will be a worthy investment.