One of the most important layers of clothing to consider when you are going out into the bush is the outermost layer. While it can be argued that each layer is as important as the other, the outermost is what protects you most from the elements, cutting out wind and rain and thus keeping you dry and warm.
There are a few key factors to consider when selecting a good jacket and in what follows we’ll look at a few of these considerations while offering a list of worthy bush crafting jackets currently on the market.
Best Bushcraft Jackets
1. Fjallraven Men’s Keb Jacket
Material: Cotton 35% -polyester 65% mix
Weight: 1.54 lbs
Features: Two-way zipper with protective flap, Wind and water resistant, Stretch fabric on the back for greater ease of movement, Adjustable hood and foldable visor
Pros: Well designed and stylish, Good ventilation, Quality zippers, Adjustable hood which can be adjusted perfectly to your head size
Cons: More costly, Not waterproof
Description: Parts of this jacket are made with recycled polyester and cotton. And special attention has been placed on specific design features such as the adjustable hood or the extra fabric under the sleeves which offers greater mobility.
This is a well designed jacket that offers comfort, ease of movement and good protection from the elements.
2. Arc’teryx Zeta SL Jacket
Material: Gore-Tex (N40r with PACLITE Plus tech)
Weight: 10.9 oz.
Features: Waterproof and windproof, Compact and ultralight, Water sealed front zip, Taped seams, Hip length
Pros: Ultralightweight, Waterproof, Comfortable close to skin feel, Watertight front zip, Great brim on the hood for added shelter
Cons: More costly, No zips on the underarms
Description: There are many special features and design elements which make this jacket a high quality pick. One such added plus is the chin guard which has been lined with microsuede to avoid chafing. Another added feature is the tall collar accompanied by an ample hood and visor which offer added protection from wind and rain.
This jacket is loaded with special features and more refined details which make it a great choice if you are looking for a top of the line option and are ready to be extra. The waterproofing is excellent and will keep you dry in most rains. It is however advised not to wash this jacket too often as the Gore-Tex coating may wear down more quickly.
3. Showers Pass Waterproof Refuge Jacket
Material: 100% nylon
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Features: Waterproof and breathable, 3 layer fabric, Completely seam-taped, Extra vents (giant chest zippers), Shoulder padding for backpacks, 3M Scotchlite reflective trim and two light loops
Pros: Waterproof, Breathable, Durable, Versatile (can be used for many different outdoor activities), Spacious (plenty of room for your base layer/s, Hi-Vis technology, Folding back flap: designed for biking but can be used to sit down on a wet surface
Cons: A more costly jacket (you pay for the waterproofing)
Description: The hood is adjustable and removable. It is large enough to fit over a helmet (if used for biking). The front pockets have hand-warmer lining and the back and chest pocket even have an audio port.
This is a highly appreciated jacket for its capacity to keep you dry and well ventilated. While it was perhaps designed with biking in mind, it is a very versatile jacket and a great choice if you are looking for a waterproof jacket. Of course the waterproof quality comes at a price.
4. Swanndri Ranger Shirt
Weight: 2.69 lbs
Features: Wind and water-resistant, Half-zip and half pullover jacket, two chest pockets, Runs a bit big
Pros: Natural material, Super warm,
Cons: Wool can be less comfortable
Description: The company that makes the Ranger Shirt Swanndri claims that it is there most popular product that they have made. The wool jacket is more of your traditional outdoor ranger/bushcraft jacket. While many of the jackets on this left are Gortex or synthetic, wool is the traditional material used.
You will likely see most hardcore bushcrafters in wool gear as it kind of goes with the territory. It’s warm and often military surplus stores and second-hand stores are filled with this type of gear.
If you want a classic look that has more of a natural appeal, then the Ranger shirt is a good bet
5. Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket
Material: 55% Polyester, 23% Cotton, 19% Nylon, 3% Elastane
Features: Strong DuraCanvas® fabric, Big kangaroo pocket, Adjustable hood and cuffs, Ventilation zippers under armpits
Pros: Durable material, fire resistant shell, great woodsy design, big pockets
Cons: Not everyone likes a pullover jacket, Design is not your traditional zip down jacket
Description: The most notable feature of the Woodsman Anorak Jacket is the DuraCanvas® fabric, which is resistant to fire sparks as well as sharp objects like tree branches and shrop rocks. The jacket company Helikon also uses there StormStretch® fabric that makes the jacket breathable and water-resistant while also keeping the durability.
The company made the jacket for the outdoor man in mind, coming with several pockets, armpit vents, hood and visor, which help regulate body heat. The jacket design has a woodsy-feel and is definitely one that is specifically for outdoor used, in comparison with others on our list that have more EDC possibilities. With that said, we quiet like the rustic look, since you are going to be roughing it, why not dress the part.
6. Pilgrim Anorak Jacket Helikon Tex
Material: 63%Polyester, 34% Cotton, 3% Elastane
Features: 3 plane adjustable hood, Fire spark resistant, Inner tapes in pockets for attaching gear
Pros: Adjustable hood, Can be made more waterproof with wax, Affordable mid range jacket, Numerous pockets with tapes for attaching gear
Cons: This jacket is not waterproof, Sizing seems to be off a little
Description: While it may seem trivial, the lower front pocket is a kangaroo style pocket which is lined with fleece, a handy feature for keeping your hands warm.
This jacket is not waterproof but can be impregnated with wax giving it an extra layer of protection against rain. The use of wax was in fact one of the typical ways of waterproofing a jacket back in the day.
Another nice looking jacket that offers a number of pockets and features. A solid choice for keeping the elements at bay.
7. Condor Summit Soft Shell Jacket
Material: 100% Polyester with DuPont Teflon Coating
Features: Three-layer shell, Large hood which can be packed away, 2 underarm zipper vents, Adjustable front zipper (unzips from top or bottom), Hook and loop cuff adjustment and drawstring waistband
Pros: Stand-up collar with fleece lining, loads of pockets (2 upper arm pockets, 2 chest pockets, 2 inner pockets) = plenty of storage plus 2 patch pads, Not bulky, Good ventilation (long back pocket can also be used for ventilation), A good mid-range jacket at a reasonable price
Cons: Main zipper leaves room for improvement, May want to buy a size up than what you normally do as it is a bit short on the torso for some people
Description: Is more stretchable than some jackets (4-way stretch design). Reinforced forearms and elbows for extra durability. The three layered shell helps wick away moisture, keep things breathable and also help keep you warm. The outer layer is made of 100% polyester, the mid layer is made of film membrane and the interior lining is made of fleece.
This is a good mid range jacket that has a lot of useful features and is going to offer good protection from the elements. Aesthetically the jacket also looks smart and sleek.
8. Marmot Magus Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
Material: 100% polyester, Fleece liner (100% polyester)
Features: Waterproof, Breathable, Taped seams, Lightweight, Underarm zipper ventilation, Adjustable hood,
Pros: Lightweight and breathable, Lined with fleece for added insulation, Affordable mid-range rain jacket, ‘Angel wing’ technology for greater arm mobility, waterproof/weatherproof in moderate rain, wind and snow
Cons: Velcro around cuffs can be insufficient for tight fastening around the wrists, Jacket is a darker red than what is advertised
Description: The Magus jacket is equipped with Marmot’s Stretch NanoPro technology which enhances waterproofing as well as breathability and offers good flexibility and full range of motion. The hood is also adjustable and the underarm zippers offer further ventilation options.
9. Magcomsen Hooded Rain Jacket
Material: Polyester/spandex, anti wrinkle fabric and quick-dry
Features: Windproof/water resistant, Adjustable and detachable hood, Multiple pockets, Mesh lining for breathability
Pros: Very affordable, budget jacket, Detachable hood, Adjustable hood, hem and cuffs, Stylish look
Cons: Stitching could be better, Left side zipper (warned in the product description), Not as water resistant as you might like
Special Features: You cannot expect miracles from this jacket but it is a good cheap option when on a budget and it is for this reason that it has been added to this list.
It will shield you from the elements to a certain degree but don’t expect this jacket to keep the rain out if you are exposed for longer periods of time.
10. Tacvasen Special Ops Tactical Jacket
Material: 100% polyester
Features: Fleece lining, Water resistant and windproof, Detachable hood or it can be rolled up into the collar, Multiple pockets and two spots for patches on the arms
Pros: Affordable, Warm, Large front pockets, Large and ample hood which can be stowed away or removed, Weather/water resistant
Cons: Zipper is on the left, Colors may be a bit dull
Description: It has nice soft fleece, comes in lots of colors and several ways to adjust the jacket around the cuffs, waist and hood. As this is considered a “tactical” jacket you can imagine that the manufactures would sensure that it is super touch and weather-ready.
Just note that many reviewers felt that the jackets ran a size too small. For the price range we think its a good fit, though it does not have the same premium feel of a brandable jacket it will do
Buyers Guide For Finding the Best Bushcraft Jacket
Your specific jacket requirements will have a lot to do with the projected environment you are heading into as well as the type of activities you plan on doing. The type of climate and the time of year at which you are setting out are other important and obvious factors to consider.
If you are planning to go on a prolonged trip in the bush it is also wise to consider how the weather will evolve and change during your stay. It goes without saying that the shift from summer to fall or fall to winter has clear consequences in terms of cold weather readiness versus the shift from winter to spring or spring to summer.
Moreover, in the Northern Hemisphere and in more mountainous regions (higher altitudes), temperatures can radically drop at night, even in summer, making your wardrobe selection even more important. Dressing and bringing along sufficient warm clothing when relevant is of utmost importance if you wish to ensure a comfortable and safe journey into the bush.
Things To Look For When Buying a Bushcraft Jacket
The type of fabric that you are looking for will be dependant on the environment that you are looing to go out in. If its wetter then something waterproof, breatheable and more than likely a sythetic material. While wool is the traditional type of fabric used for alot of bushcraft gear it has not been incorporated into many new jacket designs, most likely because its not as breatheale nor waterproof as many of the Gortex jackets.
If you are going to be outdoors in the wet seasons, or anywhere in the north west you NEED a waterproof jacket. If you are going out in the deserts, perhaps not. Always good to get an idea of where you are planning on using the jacket.
This allows sweat and heat to escape the jacket when your moving without it being trapped by the material. Breathability is especially important for cold climates. If you sweat alot also take a look at having jackets having zippers for armpit ventilation.
Dress in Layers
Layering up is always a relevant and beneficial strategy to follow no matter what your outer layer of choice ends up being. Layers allow for greater versatility and offer a greater number of possible combinations in order to adapt to the constantly evolving temperature and general weather conditions.
Even in a cold climate both insulation and aeration or cooling functions are important since perspiration can become your worst enemy when the temperature drops a few more degrees.
When in colder weather if not dealt with, perspiration can cause the body to cool down and lose its core heat which can eventually lead to hypothermia. Therefore, it is always advisable to set out with more layers in order to adjust to the ever changing weather conditions.
A layer can easily be removed and then added on again at any time, whereas if you are only wearing one bulky layer there is much less flexibility. Factoring in these other layers when purchasing your core jacket is advisable and will help you in selecting the best jacket for you. Some jackets are built with multiple layers and offer many of the benefits that layering up has. Nevertheless, the more layers the better.
One major consideration is the cost you are willing to pay or are able to pay, since the price of a jacket can vary anywhere from around 40$ to 300-400$. There exist many top notch bushcraft worthy jackets out there but they may not fit into your budget, and as a result, certain beneficial specs may sometimes need to be dropped in order to gear up affordably.
On the other hand, if higher costs are not a concern, investing in a more expensive jacket has many benefits and will usually perform noticeably better. If you want a waterproof jacket for example, a greater investment will be needed but will be worth its weight in gold if you find yourself in a downpour or are sieged by weeks of rain.
Higher quality jackets have of course been favoured but due to their greater cost, a few more inexpensive jackets, worthy of mention, have also been included in the list.
Anatomy of a Bushcraft Jacket
There are a few ascpets to a jacket that will you want to look at when searching for a jacket.
Pockets, got to have’em. And they are especially useful for carrying all your little bits of gear
You are going to want double teeth zips. Though if you are going for a wool jacket it may be a button up so you can disregard this and carry on
Waterproofed seams might be something to look into. Again it depends if you decided to go with wool or a synthetic jacket. The downside of wool is that it’s not waterproof, and once you are wet, well you are wet.
If it’s going to be raining you’re going to want the ability to have strings.
Again you are going to want one of these if it’s pouring rain.
Wool vs Polyester: The Great Debate
There is often a debate between the o’natural wool enthusiasts and the synthetic polyester practicalists. The debate is mostly focused on the fact that wool is warm, breathable and has a ‘look’ that most bush crafters prefer. Though if you are in the bush you shouldn’t be too concerned with how you look (not that bush crafters do), nevertheless why bush crafters prefer wool is largely to do with ease and costs. There are loads of second had jackets, overcoats and sweaters that are often hand-me-downs and can be gotten at a fraction of the cost of a new Gortex coat.
The modern synthetic advocates would largely advocate the superiority of polyester and Gortex due to the fact that it’s waterproof, tough, and will still keep you warm, whereas wool, is not waterproof, not by a long shot. Whatever your choice, the debate will surely continue
Caring for your Bushcraft Jacket
If your jacket is a high-quality raincoat or has a gore-tex coating you’ll definitely want to follow the cleaning and maintenance instructions proposed by the manufacturer. Overwashing or improper care can result in a more rapid deterioration of the waterproofing materials or of the jacket’s general condition and performance.
If you are planning on doing some heavy duty bushcraft or work in the bush, you may want to consider having a second jacket which you don’t mind getting torn or ripped up.
Whatever you may be up to, if you are planning to spend time in the bush, investing in a good quality jacket can go a long way to keeping you sheltered from the elements.
Hopefully, this list got you started on your bushcraft jacket search. The bottom line is to wear layers, whatever they may be, don’t overthink it, and just get out there.