As fall approaches, the days get shorter and cooler. You need more layers on the hiking trails. Naturally, I had to do a deep dive into fall hiking jackets for women.
After exhaustive research, I’ve compiled top picks in several key categories that cover all the jackets you’ll need for hiking in fall and early-winter.
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These include fleece jackets, rain jackets and insulated jackets that are warm enough to handle chilly fall mornings and early winter days.
Take a look at 15 top picks to keep you warm for the entire shoulder season, even into early winter and beyond (with proper layering, of course).
Fleece Hiking Jackets for Women
A fleece hiking jacket can be a key piece of gear in cooler temps. Fleece jackets are made of a fluffy synthetic fabric that traps air to keep you warm.
Fleece jackets come in heavy and lightweight options. For cold weather, look to a heavier jacket, though a lighter fleece works well in a modest chill.
A “high loft” fleece jacket has fluffier fleece, which means it will be more insulating and better protect you in colder weather.
The Mountain Hardwear Polartec High-Loft Fleece Jacket is great for cold hikes. It’s incredibly soft, and has three zippered pockets for your stuff.
This jacket also has stretchy side panels that allow ease of movement and moisture management. They also provide breathability.
* This high-loft jacket is so soft and fuzzy, you won’t want to take it off.
* It’s perfect for the colder mornings of late fall and early winter.
* The zippered pockets prevent you from losing items as you hike.
* Since this is a high-loft jacket, it may be too warm for slightly chilly days.
* This jacket comes in a limited range of colors – neutral whites and blacks only.
* This is not a form-fitting jacket. It has a flattering fit, but it is meant to be loose.
Not all fleece jackets have that super fluffy, fuzzy appearance – and the Fjallraven Abisko Trail Fleece is a perfect example of that.
This jacket is a lightweight fleece option which means it’s great for slightly chilly days or for layering.
* Three zippered pockets: one for each hand and one on the chest.
* This fleece jacket comes with a snug-fit hood with a ponytail opening.
* The fitted cut means it not only looks great, but it’s also great for layering.
* It’s lightweight, so it’s not suitable alone in late-fall or early-winter.
* The hood isn’t removable. If you don’t want the hood, you’re stuck with this one.
* This jacket is soft, but it’s not the fuzzy sherpa soft of other fleece jacket types.
This beautiful and soft Patagonia fleece is cozy and warm which makes it perfect for chilly days. Plus it zips – so you can choose your comfort level.
It’s great to wear on its own and it’s not very bulky, so it’s great for layering on colder days, too. This definitely feels like a hoodie – but a hoodie that zips.
* This jacket has a “slim-fit” hood that lays flat.
* The shoulder seams are off-set so it is super comfortable to wear.
* It’s warm but also highly breathable to allow sweat to evaporate.
* The hood isn’t removable, but it does lay pretty flat.
* The only zipper pocket is on the chest. The hand pockets are open.
* The fabric can be prone to pilling after a lot of wear and washing.
The Arc’teryx Kyanite LT Hoodie is a smooth and lightweight fleece jacket that’s soft and stretchy.
This jacket is perfect for layering or wearing on its own. It’s super versatile because of its slim-fit and low profile.
This fleece jacket is extremely soft and feels great to wear on bare skin – perfect over your favorite tee or tank top.
* This jacket has a chin guard to prevent your zipper from rubbing your chin raw.
* Two zippered hand pockets keep your hands warm and your keys safe.
* This jacket is made with a low-profile, flat stitch for comfort and less bulk.
* This jacket has a non-removable hood, but it does lay pretty flat.
* This jacket only comes in black, bright orange and bright blue.
* There is no zippered chest pocket, just two hand pockets.
L.L. Bean really hit the mark with this full-zip sweater fleece jacket. It’s low-priced, comes in multiple colors, and is so warm and soft.
This lightweight fleece is great for layering or wearing on its own. Plus, it’s stretchy and super comfortable – you won’t want to take it off.
* This jacket has a wind flap behind the zipper to seal out cold drafts.
* There are two zippered hand pockets plus a zippered pocket on the left arm.
* A smooth, rugged exterior and a soft, brushed interior that’s warm and cozy.
* There’s no hood on this jacket, but it does have a nice zippered collar.
* The slim fit might feel too tight over too many layers, but it’s great under layers.
* No chin-guard for the high zipper.
Rain Jackets for Women
Fall weather is notorious for its unpredictability, so it’s important to be prepared – especially wet weather. A rain jacket is a key piece of gear for hiking in the fall.
You’ll want to protect yourself from sudden downpours or misty, damp mornings. Here are our top picks for the best rain jackets for fall hiking.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and durable rain jacket that comes in inclusive sizing from XS – 3X, look no further than this rain jacket from Outdoor Research.
This jacket literally sells out every single season and it’s not hard to see why!
* This jacket has a hood with a slight brim to keep the rain off your head and face.
* A “hood lock” cinches excess fabric for a customizable, snug fit to keep out water.
* The material is durable and tear-proof yet incredibly lightweight.
* There is no insulation. It may need to be worn over another jacket, like a fleece.
* It only has one pocket, but it is zippered and located on the chest.
* The cuffs aren’t super snug – a con for those who like tightly cinched cuffs.
The Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket is aptly named – this jacket is perfect to wear on damp mornings or in a downpour.
It has the layers that provide both waterproofing and breathability for all-day comfort on the hiking trails or just running errands around town.
* This rain jacket has a stowable two-way adjustable hood with a laminated visor.
* Venting zippers on the underarms provide added breathability.
* This jacket stuffs down into it’s own pocket and comes with a carabiner clip.
* This jacket is lightweight and just provides waterproofing, no insulation.
* The hood adds a bit of bulk.
* This jacket has a loose fit but it’s perfect for wearing over other layers.
This Outdoor Research Women’s Motive AscentShell Jacket is a bit heavier than their helium jacket, making it a great rain jacket for cold days.
It’s waterproof, of course, but it’s also stretchy and has great breathability to help evaporate perspiration on wet days. This jacket comes in a ton of colors, too.
* A lightweight, no-frills rain jacket with zippered pockets.
* A hood-lock cinch keeps the hood in place to keep moisture from getting in.
* Three-layer waterproof shell with great stretch and breathability.
* No insulation on its own, but this jacket is great for layering on cold days.
* Unlike the helium jacket, this version is only available in XS – 2X sizes.
* The hood is bulky, but it’s functional and fits great when you need a hood.
If you’re looking for a no-frills minimalist style rain jacket, the appropriately named Marmot Minimalist Jacket is perfect for you.
This jacket is simple and to the point: it’s a lightweight shell rain jacket made with a 3-layer GoreTex membrane that provides breathable waterproof performance.
* The seams are sealed so no water can penetrate, even on wet and windy days.
* Zippered underarm ventilation panels allow extra breathability.
* The adjustable hood, hem and cuffs lock out moisture during heavy activity.
* This jacket provides no insulation. It’s meant to be worn as a top shell layer.
* The hood is a little bulky when not in use.
* The jacket itself is plain and to the point – hence the “Minimalist” name.
This L.L. Bean Mountain Classic Jacket is super cute and full of personality. From the decorative accents to the fit of the jacket, this piece feels and looks outdoorsy.
Unlike other rain jackets, this jacket is most suitable for light rain or damp days. It’s water-resistant (not waterproof) but it’s still great in a drizzle or misty mornings.
* Classic mountain-inspired styling and decorative accessories.
* Budget-friendly option for less wet days.
* Perfect for layering on damp days with an adjustable drawcord hem.
* This jacket isn’t waterproof, so it won’t perform well in heavy downpours.
* Aside from the decorative elements and styling, this jacket is pretty no-frills.
* Only one zippered pocket on the inside of the jacket.
Insulated Hiking Jackets for Women
As the days transition from late fall to early winter, they start to stay much colder for much longer. This is the time to switch to heavier, insulated jackets.
Made from down or synthetic insulation, these jackets will pack down small when you don’t need them and provide warmth when you do. Here are the top picks.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket is a great, non-bulky option when you need a jacket with a bit more warmth. This jacket comes in 11 colors.
Sizes range from XXS to XXL, so there’s something for everyone. When you’re not wearing it, the jacket packs down into its own zippered pocket.
* This jacket is packable and perfect for layering over fleece or under a rain jacket.
* It’s warm, windproof and water-resistant.
* This jacket has cinched cuffs and an adjustable drawstring waistband.
* This jacket doesn’t have a hood.
* The design of the jacket is plain – just a solid color, slightly puffy jacket.
* This is a more lightweight piece, so it’s not for very cold days.
This Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket is a fantastic insulated jacket for cold days. The slim fit is flattering without being too tight or restrictive.
It comes in a wide variety of fun color choices. Plus, it’s made with water-resistant goose down to keep you warm and dry while still being incredibly lightweight.
* This jacket is made with ripstop nylon treated with a durable water repellant.
* Extra circumference around the waist, hips and bust in all sizes.
* Two interior stash pockets and two zippered hand pockets.
* This is one of the higher-priced jackets on this list.
* The hood feels a little bulky when not in use.
* A common customer complaint with this jacket is a lack of inclusive sizing.
If you want an insulated jacket made with a down alternative, you’ll love the Columbia Women’s Heavenly Hooded Jacket.
This jacket is made with 100% polyester – both the exterior and fill material are synthetic. Plus, it has a polyester reflective inner lining to keep you dry and warm.
* Water resistant exterior – polyester is a naturally water resistant material.
* Two zippered hand pockets and an inner zippered security pocket.
* Cozy, snug-fit cuffs with thumb holes to provide extra protection from the cold.
* It’s a bulky insulated jacket, but that makes it great for colder weather.
* Some reviewers say this jacket runs a size small, so check the size chart.
* The hood on this jacket is not removable.
The L.L. Bean Women’s PrimaLoft Packaway insulated jacket is just that: an insulated jacket that can easily pack away when you don’t need it.
This insulated jacket is slightly puffy and made with PrimaLoft gold insulation – a synthetic insulation designed to keep you super warm while staying lightweight.
* PrimaLoft insulation is mixed with an aerogel for warmth without weight.
* This jacket easily packs down into its own pocket when not in use.
* It has two hand pockets, one chest pocket and a drawstring hem.
* This jacket has a boxy fit, according to many reviewers.
* The hood on this jacket isn’t removable and can be a little bulky when not in use.
* This jacket is lightweight, so it’s best for moderately cold days or for layering.
The Fjallraven Expedition X-Latt insulated jacket is a great choice for any chilly trek – whether it’s a trail to the highest overlook or a jaunt to the grocery store.
Filled with synthetic insulation, this jacket provides plenty of warmth while still being lightweight and packable, perfect to bring along on any excursion.
* A great midlayer on winter hikes or worn by itself on moderately chilly days.
* The PFC durable water repellent finish lets moisture bead up on the surface.
* Two zippered hands pockets and a zippered inner security pocket.
* This jacket is water-resistant, but not waterproof.
* This lightweight jacket is great for fall, but will need to be layered on cold days.
* There is no hood on this jacket.