Best survival jacket

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Man wearing a survival jacket

If you’re going to be heading out into the winter wilderness, you’ll need some cold-weather gear for the occasion. A good quality survival jacket is an essential piece of kit to keep you warm and dry and protect you against the extreme cold. With the advanced features that survival jackets have these days, you don’t need to save your favorite sports and pursuits for just the summer.

However, survival does also apply to hot conditions too. In humid rainy conditions you’ll need a super lightweight rain jacket that will keep you dry but not too hot.

In severe cold conditions it’s essential to keep your core body heat retained when you’re out in the elements, so make sure to select the highest quality clothing possible – the extreme cold conditions must be respected and when you’re in a survival situation, you need to make sure you’re wearing the correct attire. A high quality jacket will keep you dry so you can concentrate on your hobbies.

With that said, there’s no reason why you can’t look stylish at the same time. We’ve picked out some super stylish but high performing survival coats that will keep you protected from the biting winter climate.

10 of the Best Survival Jackets

1.5.11 Big Horn Water Resistant Tactical Jacket With Chest Pockets

 

5.11 Tactical Big Horn Mid-Weight Jacket, Wind- and Water-Resistant, Microfiber Shell, Style 48026

 

This microfiber jacket gets its name from the Big Horn River where the 5.11 challenge shooting competition was held. This popular jacket features a warm fleece lining and zippered hand pockets to keep you snug.

Water and wind resistant so you can get on with your adventures. Its lightweight design means you stay toasty warm but without wearing a big bulky jacket that makes it hard to move in!

Pros:

  • Elasticated waist for a snug fit
  • Warm fleece lining
  • Water and wind resistant
  • Anti pilling materials for a smart appearance
  • Lightweight but super warm
  • Hook and loop type cuffs
  • Side pockets

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a hood

2.EMS Stasher Jacket Waterproof Rain Jacket

 

EMS Stasher Jacket Rifle Green L

 

Need a rain jacket? Then this jacket from Eastern Mountain Stores is perfect. Weighing practically nothing, this jacket is ideal for stashing into your bag in case of sudden downpours, hence the name! Fully waterproof and breathable, this jacket will easily fit over a fleece or puffer jacket if you need a bit of extra cosyness.

Ideal for slightly milder days when those pesky showers still threaten to make an appearance. Throw it on to shield from the rain, then when the storm passes simply fold it up and pop it back into your bag until the next rainfall.

Pros

  • Conveniently lightweight
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Taped seams
  • Longer hem at the back for added protection

Cons

  • None

3.Carhartt Men’s Sherpa Lined Sierra Fleece Jacket

 

Carhartt Men's Quilted Flannel Lined Duck Active Jacket

 

Another fantastic brand, Carhartt has been specialising in outdoor coats and jackets for years and years. If you have an outdoor job you’ll need a jacket that works as hard as you do. This survivalist jacket from Carhartt is definitely up for the job.

It features a heavyweight cotton duck outer that is soft but tough and able to stand up to the elements. The warm sherpa lining makes it super comfortable. The internal rib-knit storm scuffs and ergonomically shaped sleeve hems help keep the cold weather out.

Pros

  • Warm sherpa lining
  • Storm cuffs to help keep the elements at bay.
  • Drawcord hood
  • Heavyweight 100% cotton sandstone duck outer shell
  • Handy left chest pocket

Cons

  • Sizing is a bit off – may need to try different sizes

4.Rothco Special Ops Waterproof Softshell Jacket

 

Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket

 

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned reliable jacket that does all the work, then consider this one from Rothco. This is a serious survival jacket that’s designed with a 3 layered construction. The cosy lining will keep you warm while the outer polyester shell is made to repel water, wind and the cold.

6 versatile zipped pockets means you have lots of storage space for your belongings while you’re hiking, climbing, hunting etc. The hood can either be folded away into the zipped compartment in the collar or removed completely.

Both underarms feature a vent zipper so perspiration can escape, leaving you feeling comfortable.

The jacket comes in a whopping 15 different colours!

Pros

  • Stylish and practical
  • Tough 3 layered construction
  • Comes in 15 colours
  • 6 zipped pockets
  • Fleece lined stand up collar
  • Fully detachable hood
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Zippers aren’t great quality

5.Canada Goose Mens Expedition Parka Coat

 

Canada Goose Men's Expedition Parka Coat

 

The ultimate and original survival coat from Canada Goose – this coat has everything you need to keep you warm. If you’re heading out in subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall, this is the outerwear for you. Originally designed for scientists working in Antarctica, this is probably the best survival jacket on the market today. Although it’s the most expensive on our list, it’s without a doubt worth every penny.

The interior drawstring waistband ensures a tailored fit and added protection from the elements. The chin guard offers extra protection and 6 exterior pockets means you have loads of storage space for your survival essentials.

The adjustable down filled hood features a fur ruff lining for added protection and warmth. The rib-knit cuffs also help keep the extreme cold at bay.

With a temperature rating of TEI5, this coat has been tested in the coldest places on earth.

Pros

  • Proven to keep you warm and protected in -30 degrees and below.
  • Numerous pockets for storage
  • Security pocket
  • Longer mid-thigh length for extra protection.
  • Hidden elasticated snow skirt for extra protection.

Cons

  • Only really suitable for a serious survivalist – too warm for general activities.

6.The North Face Mens Tactical Flash Survival Jacket

 

The North Face Men's Tactical Flash Jacket

 

The North Face needs no introduction. They make all manner of high quality outdoor clothing and this jacket is no exception. Don’t let windy showers ruin your activities, get yourself this tactical flash jacket, with its tough, durable and windproof outer shell, you can train whatever the weather decides to do.

Ideal for slightly milder weather, this jacket is lightweight and breathable, helping you to regulate your body temperature and remain comfortable.

Pros

  • Premium WindWall fabric
  • Breathable and water repellent
  • Thumbholes for a snug fit
  • Large hood
  • Internal cuffed wrists

Cons

  • May not be warm enough for winter weather – more suited to autumn

7.Mustang Survival Classic Bomber Jacket With Safety Features

 

Mustang Survival Classic Bomber Jacket

 

With its closed-cell foam insulation, this field jacket is built for safety. Suitable for military or industrial use, this jacket is also ideal for boating, sailing or other water recreational sports. It provides flotation and in-water insulation to slow down hypothermia in the event of an accident.

Also featuring fleece lined pockets and a storm flap, this jacket offers real value for money. The classic bomber style is also timeless and will ensure you look stylish as well as protected and safe.

Pros

  • USCG – UL1123 approved
  • Safety features in the event of a water accident
  • Classic timeless style
  • Reflective strips for added safety
  • Relaxed fit – easy to move around in

Cons

  • Due to the style some people may find it too short

8.Condor Summit Soft Shell Water Resistant Jacket

 

Condor Summit Soft Shell Jacket

 

This soft shell jacket is designed to be comfortable but practical. Featuring underarm vents to control body temperature so you stay comfortable. It’s constructed from a 3 layered integrated shell and its water resistant material wicks moisture away from the body, keeping you cooler for longer.

The reinforced arms and multiple pockets makes this a very versatile and practical jacket for colder weather.

Pros

  • Full front YKK zipper pull with dual sliders
  • Underarm vents and moisture wick fabric
  • Fold away hood
  • Two high chest pockets
  • Drawstring waistband

Cons

  • Comes up a bit small in size

9.Bear Grylls Mens Technical Mountain Jacket

 

Bear Grylls Men's Mountain Jacket

 

A superb, functional, practical jacket from the survivalist himself, Bear Grylls. Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Made from 100% PU coated polyamide, the Bear Grylls technical jacket features double storm flaps and waterproof zips. Multiple pockets means you have loads of storage space and a security pocket for your valuables.

Lightweight, comfortable and very functional – this is a must have for anyone who loves the great outdoors!

Pros

  • Practical and functional
  • Well designed
  • Multiple pockets
  • Durable material

Cons

  • Not warm enough for extreme weather

10.Arc’teryx Mens Lt Atom Jacket

 

Arc'teryx Atom LT Jacket Men's

 

This jacket from Arc’teryx is an essential piece of any outdoor enthusiasts kit. This lightweight, versatile and insulated jacket can be worn as a middle layer or standalone. The soft but tough outer fabric repels wind and rain and the stretch panels at the side provide ventilation and freedom to move.

The slim, fitted design is stylish and lightweight – you won’t feel bogged down with a big heavy jacket. It’s easily folded up and will slip into your bag when not needed. The synthetic insulation retains heat even when damp, it’s durable and dries super quick.

Pros

  • Stylish and lightweight design
  • Packable
  • Coreloft insulation to keep you super warm
  • Wind and weather resistant Tyono fabric
  • Hook and loop wrist cuffs

Cons

  • No drawstring waist

What to Look For in a Survival Jacket

Survival means you’re able to stop things like hunger, dehydration and hypothermia developing. Your survival jacket is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll have with you.  It will provide you with insulation so your body heat is retained.

It is vital that you select the right jacket for you and the environment you’re going to be in – it could end up literally being a lifesaver. With the wide range of jackets and coats available now, it can be really confusing knowing which one to buy. The following are some important considerations you need to think about before making your purchase.

What do you need to know?

Before going out and purchasing your new jacket, it’s a good idea to read up on and educate yourself all about the different materials and features that make up a good outdoor survival jacket. Functionality and comfort should be your priorities when buying one, with style coming last.

Gore tex, breathability, and insulation are just some of the things you need to know about before purchasing your new waterproof jacket. Here we’ll walk you through some important things to consider before you go out and choose one.

What climate will you be exposed to?

First, think about where you’re heading. A successful purchase starts with where you’ll be wearing the jacket. Is it a quick hike in a warm place or will you be camping in sub zero temperatures? Ensure you watch what the weather is doing as it can be unpredictable. If you’re going to be in the depths of Antarctica then you’ll definitely want to look at something like the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, that will keep you warm and protected in -30 degree conditions. However if you’re just going walking in a milder climate, something like the Bear Grylls Mountain Jacket would be great.

If you know you’ll be in a warmer climate then it’s more likely that you’ll face rain so go for a jacket with a waterproof DWR finish and moisture wicking properties. You want to be kept dry but there is a risk of overheating, so if the jacket has the ability to wick sweat away then you’ll be kept cool and comfortable.

A 3-in-1 jacket would be ideal if you’re not sure what the weather is going to be like. You can use all 3 layers if it turns super cold or if it brightens up you can take the middle insulated part off. Most importantly, look for a jacket that is weather resistant as this will give you the best protection.

How often will you wear it?

Next you need to think about your budget. Survival gear is not cheap and a new jacket is an investment. Ask yourself will you be wearing the jacket year round or just on the occasional weekend. If you’re only going to be going on the odd climbing trip then you could get away with buying a cheaper jacket.

However if you’re planning to do some hardcore extreme sports or adventures regularly, then you’ll have to splash out more – afterall you get what you pay for. It’s no good thinking that you’ll just get the cheapest one possible. Survival means just that – surviving. You’ll want to invest money in a jacket that will help you do so.

What will you be doing?

Before purchasing your new jacket, think about what you’ll be doing while wearing it. Are you going kayaking? Fishing? A hunting trip? Or maybe skiing in the Alps? Knowing the weather conditions will really help when selecting a survival jacket. No matter what you’re doing, your jacket should fit well and be comfortable.

Consider the amount you’ll be moving around as well. For a high level of activity, a soft shell jacket allows a greater freedom of movement. You’ll stay cosy and comfortable but you won’t be restricted. Whereas if you know you’re going to be fairly stationary a hard shell jacket would be more suitable. These tend to be warmer and more waterproof but can be quite restrictive.

Breathability

Another really important thing you need to consider is breathability. This is as important as waterproofness. Outdoor coats are usually brilliant at keeping you warm but they can sometimes be too warm. A breathable jacket will ensure that sweat can escape. If it’s not breathable, you’ll end up damp and very uncomfortable. The jacket should have a breathable outer layer but other features such as mesh lined pockets and vents will add extra breathability properties.

If you know you get hot easily then it’s even more important to buy a breathable jacket, as over heating is dangerous and can lead to fainting.

Comfort is key

No matter what activity you’re partaking in, your survival jacket should fit well and be comfortable. Being in extreme environments is hard – you’ll be needing a jacket that will make life easier for you. It’s probably best to avoid quite fitted coats as you’ll probably feel very restricted in it.

Not only does your jacket have to fit well, it also needs to be stylish and smart at the same time. Survival jackets come in many different fabrics and materials so try on a few different ones so you find one that suits you. Quite a few come in various colours so you can pick the best one that suits you. Or if you’re a shopaholic you could get the same jacket in a few different colours!

Layer up!

Take into consideration what layers you’ll be wearing underneath. If you are very sensitive to the cold then you’ll probably need multiple layers – therefore choose a jacket that’s quite roomy. Layering can help in regulating your body’s temperature and stop you getting too hot.

Your first layer should be a base layer – this is a form fitting long sleeved top that stops moisture from reaching your skin so you stay comfortable, as well as adding a little extra warmth. Next you’ll want to choose an insulated jumper or jacket. This will be your main source of warmth, a fleece jacket is a good option as they are incredibly warm. Your survival jacket will then go on top, it should sit comfortably over your other clothes without restricting you too much.

It’s not a good idea to be wearing just the jacket as you may well sweat inside it and that will make you very uncomfortable. You may also be too cold – a base layer will solve both of those problems.

What type of jacket?

There are a few different types of jackets that you’ll come across. Hardshell jackets are designed for tough, cold conditions – a real winter jacket. It’s only advisable to wear these if you’re going out in really arctic temperatures as a lot of hard shell jackets aren’t breathable – so if the weather does warm up, you’ll end up sweating and being very uncomfortable.

Softshell material jackets are usually breathable and slim fitting. They’re ideal for long distance walking and other similar pursuits when the weather is milder. Because of this they are very good at wicking moisture away from the body. However they’re not warm enough for extreme cold environments.

A Windbreaker or a Windshell jacket is almost like a mac type of jacket. It’s designed to repel light rain and wind – hence the name! They are usually very lightweight and have elasticated cuffs around the wrist and waist to keep the wind out. Ideal for mild but windy weather if you’re camping or climbing.

Fleece jackets are super versatile and are an incredibly popular part of survival outfits. They are very warm, comfortable and breathable. If it’s cold but dry then you can wear it as a standalone piece, however in wet conditions you will need a water proof jacket over the top. They’re great however for weekends away camping, hiking or day drips out as they’re easy to stash away if it’s too warm.

A technical jacket is probably one of the most versatile garments on the market. They’re made to be worn in most types of weather. They tend to be lightweight, easy to wear and weather resistant. They’re also usually very breathable which comes in handy if there is a slight change in the weather – if it suddenly goes warm you won’t have to worry about perspiration because the breathable lining will allow it to escape so you stay dry and comfortable.

A down jacket is one of the best jackets for keeping you warm! They are made with the soft, warm feathers from duck or geese. Down is great for warmth is because it creates thousands of teeny tiny air pockets that trap warm air and keep the warmth in – keeping you super cosy while wearing it, even if the temperature plummets.

Goose down is the more luxurious of the two – it’s warmer and lighter however more expensive. Duck down or a combination of the two tend to be cheaper options. The only downside of these jackets is that they are not waterproof – so if you’re heading out into a rainy climate you’ll want to choose a waterproof jacket instead.

Lastly you’ve got the good old waterproof jackets. With their advanced coatings and treatments, these offer the most protection against wet climates. Beware though of jackets advertised as water resistant, as these are capable of repelling light showers but not heavy rain – always go for a jacket made from waterproof materials.

Insulation

An insulated jacket is a brilliant addition to your survival kit. Usually they consist of 3 layers – first there’s the outer part, this can be either a hard or soft shell material. The middle layer is the insulating layer, this is usually a synthetic material, fleece or down. Then you have the moisture wicking bottom layer that will keep you dry and comfortable.

A good insulated jacket is probably the most convenient option, rather than having to pile a ton of clothes on, just throw on your jacket and you’re ready! Not to mention it’s likely to be more expensive having to buy numerous layers and a non insulated jacket on top.

However, non-insulated jackets do have their place in survival wardrobes. If you’re going to a hot, rainy area you definitely don’t need an insulated jacket! Non-insulated jackets are perfect. They tend to be waterproof and lightweight, usually with a mesh lining so you can just throw it on in those heavy showers and when the storm passes, simply fold it up and pop it into your bag out of the way.

Moisture Barrier

You’ll probably see a lot of companies using the term water resistant rather than waterproof. It’s important to know the difference between the two so you don’t get caught out. A lot of insulated jackets aren’t actually waterproof – because in very cold climates you’re more likely to encounter snow than rain and a water resistant jacket is usually enough to keep you dry.

Non insulated jackets however are called rain jackets for a reason. They tend to be waterproof and lightweight as you’re more likely to experience rainy weather in hotter climates. Search for a jacket with a DWR finish – a treatment that prevents water from getting through the material, leaving you nice and dry.

Storage

Pockets! A super important feature of any survival jacket is pockets and plenty of them. The more storage space your jacket has the less you’ll have to carry with you such as bags and rucksacks, which could prove to be really inconvenient if you’re climbing or hiking long distances.

They’re also great for keeping emergency items with you so you always have them to hand. Whether you’re facing blistering heat or battling bitter cold weather, you’ll need quick access to your essentials, so pockets a must have.

Consider the depth of the pockets as well. Are they secure? Do they have zip closures? Pockets without zips are slightly risky as your belongings could easily fall out. When it comes to pockets, the more the better! Always take these sort of things into consideration when purchasing your new jacket.

Corporal Greywolf
Corporal Greywolf
Corporal Greywolf is a serving member in the British army. In his spare time, he loves to camp and spend his time outdoors.

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