The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Jackets for the Great Outdoors

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Jackets for the Great Outdoors

Best Jackets for the Great Outdoors
by Kyt Lyn Walken


Being prepared is a matter of choice.

Similarly, the selection of the right gear determines our success in facing hazards when in the Great Outdoors.

In fact, setting up our gear requires assessing risks related to the following factors:

  • our physical conditions and personal features
  • our adaptability
  • our comfort in movements
  • the different environments we cross
  • the temperature range
  • our gear itself (backpacks, tactical belt and so on).

In this article, we'll discuss the factors to consider when choosing a combination of jackets that will help you face the elements and create the ideal conditions for your outdoor adventure.

The criteria behind selection

No one likes to be caught up with the wrong gear in the wrong moment.
For this reason, you should avoid rushing into the Outdoor store next to you and pick up the very first jacket you may have remotely heard about or which just looks cool.

Don't make your incompetence a prelude to a certain disaster!

Take some time to get informed on what you may need to purchase.
Keep in mind that all-season jackets are just non existent. You definitely need to combine different layers together.

You can start your search for the best brands and models of survival gear by joining relevant Facebook groups. These groups can provide you with valuable insights on the proper terrain to explore.

Despite individual physical differences and preferences, some brands are actually the most recommended by preppers and survivalists.

Seeking advice from an expert is a wise decision, especially if you're new to the outdoors or lack long-term outdoor experience. It doesn't make you look foolish.

As you will notice, people look for garments which present the following features:

  • being resistant
  • being durable
  • being water resistant
  • being comfortable
  • having good and reliable sewings
  • having external and internal pockets
  • being foldable
  • not being too much flashy
  • being value for money

Bear in mind that being pricy doesn't always necessarily means being good. So be careful while judging any jacket just because it is the most expensive on the market.

Climbing clothing, for example, are certainly very good for mountaineers, but they are extremely flashy to make things easier for Rescue Teams.

If your goal is to explore the backwoods rather than climb the Himalayas, high-performance gear may not be the right fit for your needs.

Tactical clothing: pros and cons

Tactical brands offer a wide range of products that can be extremely useful in emergency situations.


  • Resistant
  • Natural Basic Colors (tan, OD green, jungle, sand for the Great Outdoors and black, grey for Urban context) or camouflage
  • Tough sewing
  • Presence of roomy external and internal pockets
  • Good Breathability System
  • Water resistant


  • Stiffness (perhaps sometimes)
  • Over your own seize (especially if you are extremely slender). Nonetheless some brands have a more stretch range of models. I am talking about Polish Helikon-Tex and Slovenian UF Pro, for example.
  • Pricy (especially some brands)

rain jacket
Military surplus: pros and cons

Military surplus can be a good option if you're looking for second-hand but still high-quality outdoor garments.


  • Durable
  • Possibly already treated with specific products to ensure water resistance
  • Camouflage colors
  • Presence of roomy external and internal pockets
  • Good sewing


  • Possible presence of damages or defects
  • Presence of name on the internal tag

Try before buy

Placing orders on Amazon is quick and comfy, but it could be misleading in case of selecting garments which could save your life.

The ideal option is to try out each jacket before making a purchase. There's no substitute for touching the fabrics, feeling their consistency, and evaluating them in person, even before checking how they fit you.

When you are in the dressing room, don't forget to simulate a list of movements you may be requested to do while bugging out, like:

  • stretching arms
  • grabbing
  • clinging
  • moving your shoulders
  • bending
  • crawling
  • and so on.

This is just to mention the most obvious ones.

Trying out a jacket in person is not a foolish act. It can help you determine whether or not you feel comfortable wearing it.

This should be done with Softshells, Waterproof Jackets, quilted jackets, Anorak..
brown outdoor jacket

Test and review

Once purchased, don't forget to go out in the field with different weather conditions and test your jackets.  If needed, overstress them too.

Building a natural shelter, collecting wood, starting a fire, climbing, and crossing river beds are all excellent ways to test your jackets' effectiveness in real-world situations.

The worst thing to do, in fact, is to put them somewhere among your Bug Out Gear without giving them a try.
Testing means to know.  By that you will be able to reckon how much you can rely on your garments.

Taking care of Jackets

It's important to keep a sewing kit in your bug-out bag, as you never know when you might need it. You don't need to be a professional tailor, but it's essential to learn the basics of sewing.

If you frequently use your bug-out jackets, it's important to take care of them. Use products like Nikwax to help maintain their water resistance capabilities.

Remember, taking care of your gear means it will take care of you. This old English saying holds true today and is still as valuable as ever!

My personal selection

I own several jackets that can be easily folded into retention bags. I don't keep a separate selection of garments in my bug-out bag. Instead, I grab the jackets I need in case of an emergency.

Waterproof Jackets

Carinthia TRG Jacket
British Military Surplus Waterproof Jacket DPM

Windproof Jackets

Helikon-Tex Trooper black

Mid Temperature Jackets

British Military Surplus Anorak tan
Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie tan

Severe Temperature Jackets

Carinthia Mig 3.0 wolf grey


Helikon-Tex Gunfighter black


As you can see, there is no such thing as a multipurpose jacket. My preferred garments adhere to the criteria we discussed earlier, and they have passed all the tests I've put them through, both in urban and outdoor contexts.

Sometimes, I combine several jackets together for added protection. Last October, during a course in the Netherlands with heavy winds and constant rain, I wore a British Military Surplus Anorak tan under the Helikon-tex Wolfhound Hoodie tan, and they worked very well together.

Knowing yourself, your needs, and your activities can help you find the jackets that work best for you. In a bug-out situation, you don't need additional obstacles, but rather allies.


About the author: Kyt Lyn Walken

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