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The Best Tactical Jackets to Shield From the Rain & Cold

Fact checked by Brain Bartell

best tactical jacket

When you want to go hiking or do any activities in cold weather, wear something that’s more than just an everyday jacket. A tactical jacket will provide more functionality as it features multiple pockets to store items and keep you warm. The best tactical jacket even goes beyond to provide proper ventilation and water resistance.

Today’s tactical jackets, military jackets, or windbreakers have developed exponentially. They provide features that might bewilder the simplest of minds. Here are a few things to consider when buying the right tactical jacket.

  • Material: The material should be durable to endure constant abuse and comfortable enough for long hikes. The best materials you should be looking for are fleece, polyester, and nylon. These materials aren’t only durable but also lightweight to prevent dragging you down on the job.
  • Pockets: As much as you want a ton of pockets, make sure that they’re all usable. Check the size and ensure that it fits the items that you’re planning to carry. Also, look for security with zippers and flaps to protect the items inside.
  • Weatherproof: Rain shouldn’t stop you from doing your job. To be resilient against any weather conditions, look for a jacket that’s waterproof or water-resistant at least. The jacket should also be windproof to block the cold wind from getting inside.

Now, those aren’t only the things that you should look for. There are still more factors to consider in the buying guide below. We’ll also review the top tactical jackets that are making waves in the market today.

12 Top-rated Tactical Jacket Reviews

1. Rothco Special Ops Soft Shell Jacket

This item from Rothco is a tactical soft shell jacket with the right length, perfect for carrying an OWB holster on the right side. It makes a nice special forces jacket to accommodate 17-round mags on the little slots on every side of the chest pockets.

I appreciate the design of the elastic cinch on the right side. When not tightened, the cinch remains inside the jacket’s waistband. This setup will prevent interfering with my holstered sidearm.

This softshell jacket seems comfortable to wear

when chilly, plus it leaves plenty of room for layers. From what I’ve seen, this jacket is water-resistant enough to endure a light rain shower. The hood was also helpful to protect my head from the cold, and it can be stowed away in the collar or removed completely.

I tried wearing the jacket in the snow and discovered that it works well when added with a good mid-layer. I can even perform activities without worrying about sweat, thanks to the underarm ventilation. With the large velcro patch panels, I can put any moral patch.

 Heads-up:  However, the sleeves seem to be too long, but that could be easily remedied by using the cuff straps.

 Pros: 
  • Can carry mags on the chest pockets and allow the carry of OWB holster
  • Elastic cinch stays hidden inside, not interfering with a holstered sidearm
  • Comfortable to wear in chilly weather and leaves room for extra layers
  • Underarm ventilation keeps the sweat at bay; velcro panels can fit large patches
  • Water-resistant in light rain and performs well in the snow
  • Comes with a hood that can be stored in the collar or removed
 Cons: 
  • Sleeves may be too long, thus requiring some customization
 Bottom Line:  Overall, Rothco performs well in any chilly conditions, from rain to snow. It’s also an excellent tactical jacket with velcro and proper ventilation.

2. TACVASEN Men’s Tactical Fleece Jacket

TACVASEN is a men’s tactical jacket to keep warmth in unforgiving winter winds. This one comes with a thick and heavy hood, making this a nice tactical cold weather jacket for everyday outdoor wear.

First off, the tactical jacket is about medium range in terms of thickness, making it incredibly comfortable to wear. I found a slight tail at the back of the fleece jacket, which is great in keeping my bum and lower back warm. Also, wearing the oversized hood feels like wrapping myself in a warm blanket when the wind starts to get chilly.

The zippered pockets are handy in adding a tactical appeal to the jacket. I like to tuck my hands in the front chest pockets for extra warmth and protection. The wrist pocket seems to fit my money clip and ID card perfectly, while the left arm bicep pocket seems secure to keep my mobile phone.

Thanks to the drawcord fasteners, the jacket fits easily on both sides of my waist. Plus, the zipper reaches all the way up to my chin. For the price, this fleece jacket is a steal.

 Heads-up:  However, the size seems to run a little small. I recommend customers up the size than what they usually wear to get a better fit.

 Pros: 
  • Thick hood and fleece offer great warmth and comfort
  • Slight tail at the rear protects the back and bum from the cold
  • Front pockets seem suitable to keep hands warm
  • Wrist pocket can hide ID cards; bicep pocket can keep cellphones
  • Waist cord fasteners offer a nice fit; the zipper works up to the chin
  • Available at an unbelievable bargain
 Cons: 
  • Size might run a little too small
 Bottom Line:  All in all, TACVASEN is a comfortable tactical survival jacket with thick fleece and hood. Also, it can carry plenty of stuff, like mobile phones and ID cards.

3. 5.11 Tactical Lightweight Packable Jacket

This lightweight tactical jacket from 5.11 seems perfect to use as a cover jacket for most cool fall and spring days. I like this particular 5.11 tactical jacket black model because it matches in any attire, whether casual or military.

As the name implies, this packable jacket is very compact. It can be folded into one of its pockets, providing a convenient way of storing it inside my backpack or suitcase. I think it’s adequately water-resistant to get exposed in a mild shower for a few minutes.

Even when the jacket does get wet in a downpour, it dries pretty fast. As a windshield, this one performs well in keeping the wind out while keeping my inner layer warm. Additionally, I like that the bottom is a little loose because it can fit a duty belt over it.

I found the chest pocket useful for storing my cell phone. The microphone hanger loops also come in handy when I want to hang my reading glasses. My favorite is the inside pockets because they’re helpful at keeping my gloves and other important stuff dry.

 Heads-up:  The only thing I dislike is the lack of breathability. When the jacket feels too warm, I simply have to open the zippers.

 Pros: 
  • Black color matches any attire; compact and foldable to fit inside a bag
  • Water-resistant to keep dry from mild showers
  • Dries quite fast and keeps the wind out effectively
  • Can fit a duty belt with its loose bottom
  • Chest pocket can fit a cell phone; microphone hanger loops can fit reading glasses
  • Inside pockets can keep important items dry
 Cons: 
  • Lacks a little breathability
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, this 5.11 tactical jacket makes a nice travel companion. It’s very compact and foldable to store away in a bag nicely.

4. FREE SOLDIER Men’s Outdoor Hooded Tactical Jacket

This tactical hoodie jacket from FREE SOLDIER looks lightweight, but it feels toasty in any cold weather. Wearers can put all patches on both arms quickly for a bit of personalization.

I discovered that the arm and chest pockets were handy in keeping my MP3 player and phone secure. I’m especially impressed with the rubber grommets as they allow me to feed my headphones through. Moreover, I can clip my gloves on the D-rings sewn in the front pockets and fit a water bottle in the back pocket.

I like the fit of this one. The XL size isn’t baggy but not too ti

ght that I couldn’t cross my arms. Also, the zippers work smoothly, especially the pit zippers, which help me to cool off when the weather starts getting warm.

This jacket is designed to cut the wind and offer an excellent barrier from the elements. I found out that the hood has a bill similar to a ball cap, providing more rain and sun protection. As for the softshell fabric, it’s water-resistant enough to endure a wet fog or mist for a short time.

 Heads-up:  However, the jacket had an odor when it arrived. It needs to be air-dried to remove the odor quickly.

 Pros: 
  • Lightweight yet capable of keeping warm
  • Fits Velcro patches and small gadgets on the arm/chest pockets
  • Rubber grommets accommodate headphones; D-rings can hang extra gear
  • Back pocket can store a water bottle; pit zippers offer adequate ventilation
  • Fits well – XL-size isn’t too baggy or tight to limit movements
  • Windproof, water-resistant, and provides more protection with the hood
 Cons: 
  • Has a slight odor straight out from the package
 Bottom Line:  Overall, this FREE SOLDIER tactical jacket seems suitable for cool weather conditions as it can block the wind and endure a little mist or fog. This jacket has a nice setup of external pockets to fit plenty of gear.

5. Condor Alpha Micro Fleece Jacket

This Condor Alpha jacket is almost as good as my old Gore Tex tactical jacket, but at a fraction of cost. I think the Alpha jacket suits best during spring and fall but also works great as a winter jacket when layered with a heavier coat.

The bottom of this jacket sits just above the jeans pockets, so this won’t hinder access to pockets. I like how the bottom has a slight squeeze to block the wind from entering inside the jacket. Also, I’m pleased with the under cuff because it allows me to minimize hand exposure.

When worn with gloves, it’s almost impossible for the cold air to get inside. The nylon covering on the upper part makes this a great light tactical rain jacket. I was caught in a mild shower with this jacket, and it kept me dry for about 10 minutes, plus it dried pretty quickly.

This jacket seems to be well-made with strategically placed zippers/pockets and durable stitching. The materials are of great quality as they don’t show any pilling around the collar. Also, the pockets are big and deep to keep my valuables, like my cell phone and headphones.

 Heads-up:  However, this Alpha jacket might make the OWB belt holster a bit visible because this runs a little short to the waist.

 Pros: 
  • Provides great value at a fair cost
  • Has under cuffs to protect hands from cold; easy access of pockets
  • Squeezable bottom coupled with gloves block the entry of cold wind
  • Nylon upper part offers sufficient water resistance; dries pretty quickly
  • Built with nicely-placed zippers/pockets and durable stitching
  • Won’t pill with deep, large pockets to store items
 Cons: 
  • A bit short to the waist
 Bottom Line:  This Alpha jacket offers a great value in this price range. It offers great protection from light rain and snow. Most of all, it boasts a durable construction for long-term use.

6. Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Tactical Jacket

This Tru-Spec model is a hefty softshell with a lean fleece liner, which seems to be ideal for most of the cooler months in the South. The Velcro on the shoulders makes this jacket allow the addition of a morale patch for off-duty purposes.

I love the double zippers on the front hand pockets. These zippers can keep the water out of the pockets when it’s snowing or raining. My favorite is the side zippers and snaps, as they provide easy access to my firearm.

I appreciate that there are plenty of options to store items and minimize the bulk of the front hand pockets. The bicep pockets provide lots of room to keep stuff, like a flashlight. More impressively, the rear tube pocket is very large, perfect to fit some extra gear like gloves or a fleece cap.

The sleeves feel tight, which I like to move slightly better without the bulky mess I encounter with rain jackets. Also, the jacket seems to endure light rainfall. Best of all, it stretches to fit under layers for more weather protection.

 Heads-up:  However, this softshell jacket would have been perfect if it came with inner pockets. I can’t carry a pen without them.

 Pros: 
  • Velcro to fit morale patches; can withstand a light rainfall
  • Double zippers help keep the water out from the front pockets
  • Side zippers and snaps allow easy access to firearms
  • Offers plenty of pockets; bicep pockets are large to keep a flashlight
  • Huge back pocket can fit gloves and other larger items
  • Tight sleeves improve mobility; stretches to fit extra under layers
 Cons: 
  • No inner pocket to keep a pen or other stuff
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, the Tru-Spec 24-7 Softshell Jacket is perfect for light rainfall and cooler months. This jacket is water-resistant and designed to provide easy access to hidden pistols.

7. ANTARCTICA Men’s Tactical Jacket

This tactical outerwear jacket is lined with thin fleece to provide warmth in cold weather. The Acu Camo color looks cool and almost identical to the tactical Gore Tex jacket, but at a more friendly price.

I found three zippered compartments- one on the right and two on the left arm. These compartments seem to be holding up well in keeping a lot of stuff, like cell phones and flashlights. I discovered that the large compartment on the back comes in handy when storing hats, scarves, or gloves.

This tactical jacket breaks the wind and repels water adequately. There’s a slight stretch in the shoulders, providing more flexibility. Also, this jacket can still keep pretty comfortable in the winter when the temperature drops to 20 degrees.

I tried putting the jacket on and walked in the rain for a few minutes. Thankfully, the jacket is fully waterproof under mild rainfall, and the hood protects the head well. The neoprene-type material is also well-made and soft to wear.

 Heads-up:  However, this jacket doesn’t seem to be breathable. It makes me sweat when the temperature rises to 40 degrees, so I recommend users avoid wearing it on hot days.

 Pros: 
  • Comes with a cool Acu Camo color at an unbeatable price
  • Zippered compartments hold up well to a lot of stuff
  • Large back compartment fits gloves, hats, and scarves well
  • Breaks the wind and waterproof to endure a mild rainfall
  • Has a little stretch on the shoulders to add flexibility; comfortable in winter
  • Designed with a soft and well-made neoprene-like material
 Cons: 
  • Not breathable to avoid sweat in hot temperatures
 Bottom Line:  Overall, the ANTARCTICA Military Jacket feels comfortable to wear in the cold months and even in winter. It’s waterproof to protect users from mild rainfall and breaks the wind effectively to stay warm.

8. 5.11 Tactical Packable Operator Jacket

This packable jacket is another style of 5.11 that’s foldable for convenient storage while traveling. It’s a good backup jacket to support the main rain jacket for downpours.

This jacket made of polyester feels incredibly lightweight, reminding me of the traditional nylon windbreakers. Such a construction is durable enough to withstand weather and elements.

The size runs consistent with other products of the same size. Also, the jacket rolls up very tightly to stay unobtrusive inside my range bag until needed.

This packable operator jacket seems sufficiently water-resistant. I wore the coat for a brief rain shower that occurred at camp, and surprisingly, I stayed dry. It also did an excellent job of blocking the wind that came hurling in.

Besides, the jacket features mic loops on its shoulder, allowing secure attachment of inner body armor.

Compared to the older version, this new model has the ideal weight for most Florida weather. I also find the construction and material quite good for its price.

 Heads-up:  However, the material may flap and get in the way when drawing a handgun with a slight breeze.

 Pros: 
  • Folds and rolls up tightly to store securely inside a bag
  • Water-resistant to withstand light rain showers
  • Durable and lightweight Nylon construction
  • Can block the wind from getting inside the jacket
  • Perfect for Florida weather; true to size
  • Has a mic loop to secure a body armor
 Cons: 
  • Might flap and interfere when drawing a handgun with a slight gust of wind
 Bottom Line:  All in all, this 5.11 Tactical Operator Jacket makes a nice backup shell for heavy rains. It’s foldable to store away neatly inside the bag while traveling.

9. MAGCOMSEN Men’s Hooded Tactical Jacket

MAGCOMSEN is a tactical jacket with hood and plenty of pockets to fit small gadgets and gear. This model is a good tactical waterproof jacket because I remained bone dry even when the jacket got soaked in a downpour.

Besides the rain, this jacket also blocks the wind pretty well. It also feels very warm on most winter days. There are vents on the pits, so it’s easy to get proper ventilation when I feel stuffy. In addition, the hood is excellent for protecting the head in windy or rainy conditions.

The peripheral vision is excellent with this one, making it one of the top-rated hooded jackets out there. I also had no hard time wearing a heavy sweatshirt underneath. Surprisingly, the jacket wouldn’t bunch in the arms.

As for the size, it’s spot on. The 2X should fit heavy and tall guys. All the pockets also serve their function well, especially the rear kangaroo pocket that can seem to fit a pair of light gloves and little sleeve pockets for small thin items.

 Heads-up:  However, the jacket fits awkwardly with the large arms. The whole sleeve from the cuff to the shoulder is a little large and has a similar size all the way.

 Pros: 
  • Built with a hood for head protection
  • Can keep us dry even when soaking wet onthe exterior
  • Blocks the wind and feels pretty warm on most cold days
  • Has vents on the underarms to promote better airflow; good peripheral vision
  • Has room for a heavy sweatshirt and won’t bunch in the arms
  • Come true to size with front and rear pockets
 Cons: 
  • Arms seem to look large
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, the MAGCOMESEN Hooded Tactical Jacket offers enough protection from the wind and rain. It also provides adequate ventilation around the pits when things get hectic.

10. FREE SOLDIER Men’s Hiking Jacket

For the price, a waterproof tactical jacket doesn’t get any better than this. The quality is excellent, with 7 pockets secure enough to keep a few belongings at easy access.

The interior seems to be lined with polar fleece that feels very soft and warm. I think this softshell jacket can keep us warm under 30 degrees F and matches well with another jacket when the temperature gets colder. It also keeps me dry from light rain and snow, perfect for working in the winter.

The 3D hood isn’t bulky at all and comes with a drawstring to provide a better fit. It lies flat and can be rolled up to hide away for storage. I also like that the zipper is right-sided, which is the correct side for extra convenience.

I found a lot of zippered pockets on this one, making this jacket perfect for hiking. It even includes a spacious back pocket to store larger items and a headphone jack to listen to my favorite music. In addition, the material feels very stretchy, so I think it won’t rip easily.

 Heads-up:  However, the material is a little loud, which might scare away the birds or other prey during hunting.

 Pros: 
  • High-quality coat with 7 pockets
  • Feels soft and warm with the polar fleece material; slightly stretchy to last long
  • Waterproof and keeps dry on light rain and snow
  • 3D hood that’s less bulky and rolls up for storage
  • Features a right-sided zipper for convenient use and plenty of storage
  • Includes a headphone jack to allow easy listening to music
 Cons: 
  • A bit loud, which might scare preys when hunting
 Bottom Line:  Overall, the FREE SOLDIER Softshell Jacket boasts plenty of storage to keep items for hiking. It’s waterproof and seems durable to last at an economical price.

11. CRYSULLY Men’s Winter Casual Jacket

This tactical winter jacket from CRYSULLY fits me perfectly- semi-tight but not loose that the jacket dances on me. I used the Garment Measurements, and it got me a size where I can wear a thin sweater underneath.

I like the faux fur lining because it’s very warm and soft, perfect for spring. The hood is removable, and it has cinches to provide a snugger fit. I love how this jacket looks good on me- it’s stylish in casual and tactical settings.

I found so many pockets, which I looked for when purchasing. Thankfully, there’s an interior pocket to keep an important item close to me. Best of all, I can tighten the waist with the string to create a better fit.

For someone who hates the cold, it’s a big bonus that no wind can penetrate through the jacket during winter. It comes with patches over the upper right sleeve and left breast pocket, adding a great appeal to the jacket. Everything just feels solid, and the quality of the stitching is quite good.

 Heads-up:  However, the jacket pulls on the left side, which is a bit awkward.

 Pros: 
  • A nice fit with a form-fitting waist
  • Feels comfortable and warm with the faux fur lining
  • Removable hood comes with cinches to provide a better fit
  • Stylish at any setting with plenty of pockets for storage
  • Has an interior pocket to keep an important item
  • Blocks the wind and comes with patches with good quality stitching
 Cons: 
  • Comes with an unconventional left-sided zipper
 Bottom Line:  All in all, the CRYSULLY Winter Casual Jacket wins in terms of style and ruggedness. It doesn’t look baggy compared to common tactical coats and jackets. It’s semi-tight and form-fitting, especially on the waist.

12. Amazon Brand- Goodthreads Men’s Military Jacket

This tactical military jacket is a light fall jacket in the field. It offers a comfortable fit with spacious pockets to carry a ton of stuff.

I can fit a camera in one pocket and a Kindle device in another. The best news is that I still have more room for other stuff, like a scarf, phone, and gloves. The pockets are so large that a water bottle can fit on the front.

This jacket works well against the wind. Coupled with a wool sweater, I think it can endure even the heavy winter. I wore it during hiking, and the jacket did a nice job protecting me from the sun while breathing enough that I wasn’t sweating too much.

Thankfully, the jacket didn’t look shiny, as the picture shows. It looks good and durable with the thick fabric. Also, the buttons, zippers, and seams all seem to be durable that they hold up well against rugged use outdoors.

 Heads-up:  However, the front pockets look a little puffy because they’re pretty huge. Even when empty, it seems like I’m carrying a ton of stuff.

 Pros: 
  • Large pockets with lots of room for stuff, like gloves and a phone
  • Front pockets can accommodate a water bottle
  • Blocks the wind effectively and shields from sun rays
  • Breathability to prevent sweat buildup
  • Not as shiny as shown in the picture
  • Looks durable with sturdy fabric, buttons, and zippers
 Cons: 
  • Front pockets are too huge that they look puffy
 Bottom Line:  Altogether, the Goodthreads Military Jacket makes an excellent shield from the sun and cold wind. This jacket features large pockets to fit plenty of items, like gloves, a phone, and even a water bottle.

What to Look for When Buying Tactical Jacket

waterproof-tactical-jacket

Buying the first tactical jacket is tricky because you’ll never know whether you make the right decision. Even frequent consumers make the same blunder. Whether it’s the first time or nth time picking a tactical jacket, here are some things you can consider.

Materials

You can’t enjoy the functionality of a tactical jacket if it gets ripped or torn easily. In this regard, you need to look for a durable jacket that can endure constant abuse and elements outdoors. The most durable jackets are made of polyester and nylon.

Nylon is durable and water-resistant, which may provide that much-needed shield from the rain or snow. On the other hand, polyester keeps its shape well and is very quick-drying.

Fleece or faux fur is highly flexible, comfortable, and lightweight. Best of all, it can help keep you warm when the temperature drops. When coupled with a heavier coat, this type of fabric can be used for freezing temperatures.

Leather is an excellent friend in bad weather as it provides excellent protection against the wind, snowfall, and rain. However, a tactical leather jacket tends to be expensive and heavy.

Tough Against Elements

To help you survive in any element, look for a jacket that’s waterproof/water-resistant, windproof, and moisture-wicking. A waterproof jacket will keep you dry even on a downpour. If you can’t find an entirely waterproof jacket, a water-resistant one can do a decent job in keeping you dry in light rainfall.

You don’t want the cold wind to freeze your bones, so look for enough wind resistance. Make sure that no air can move through the fabric, but don’t compromise breathability. Vents around the pits are a nice option if you feel a little stuffy and don’t want to get sweaty.

Shell Construction

Tactical jackets offer two types of shell construction- hardshell and softshell. A tactical hardshell jacket typically comes with a hood and is waterproof against rain or snow. This type of jacket is very durable but lacks flexibility and tends to make a slightly crinkly sound.

On the other hand, a softshell jacket is stretchy and breathable, but it’s only water-resistant for protection against light rain and snow. The top-tier tactical softshell jacket provides waterproof breathable technology.

Storage Options

The tactical jacket should have adequate storage for all of your essential gear. The pockets should be laid out strategically for easy access. They should also be zippered and concealed to prevent the items from falling while moving.

Hidden pockets are a plus for concealed carry. The best brands provide side zippers to provide easy access to firearms. Others even make special pockets dedicated to carrying magazines.

Hood

A hood seems useful when it pours, so select a jacket that comes with this head shield. It should be removable, so you can keep it when not in use. Some of the tactical jackets have hoods that can be stowed away inside the collar.

The size of the hood also matters. You want it to cover your entire head for maximum protection. Look for cinches to provide a snugger fit.

Fitting

Choosing the right jacket size takes a lot of consideration. You want to think of how the jacket will suit your body shape, so your movements won’t be restricted on the field. I prefer something that’s semi-tight so the jacket won’t dance on me.

If you plan to wear an extra layer of garments underneath, choose something larger. Get one size bigger than what you normally would have to make room for the extra garments.

When in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s sizing chart recommendations.

How Should a Tactical Jacket Fit

best-tactical-softshell-jacket

A tactical jacket should be a little loose to improve mobility. You also shouldn’t pick something that’s too loose that the jacket will dance on your body.

More specifically, it should be one size larger than your normal size to fit extra layers of garments underneath and prevent restricting your movements.

How Often Should You Clean the Tactical Jacket

The frequency depends on how often you wear the tactical jacket. If you wear the jacket casually, wash it once monthly or after 20-30 regular uses. When you use the jacket for strenuous activities, like hiking, it’s recommended to wash it after 10-15 uses.

How to Wash Tactical Jacket

Wash the tactical jacket by hand with a mild detergent, rinse, then line-dry. If the jacket is machine-washable, put it under a delicate cycle. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener.

Is It Ok to Wear Old Military Jackets

It’s OK to wear old military jackets as long as you don’t intend to use them for fraudulent purposes. According to US law, it’s prohibited to impersonate a military member for personal gains.

Conclusion

Owning a tactical jacket makes a large difference in your activities outdoors. This kind of jacket works well in challenging situations while staying functional and keeping you warm in the cold.

Our top choice as the best tactical jacket is the Rothco Special Ops Softshell Jacket because it’s sturdy enough to carry mags, well-ventilated, and shield against light rain effectively.

5/5 - (3 votes)