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Fall Hiking Jacket Features

What to Look for in a Fall Hiking Jacket

As the leaves start to change and the temperatures drop, it's time to start thinking about your fall hiking gear. It's probably no surprise that one of the most important pieces of equipment for any fall hiker is a good-quality jacket. But with so many different options on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Join us for a deep dive into the world of fall hiking jackets, including the different types available and what to look for when choosing one that's right for you.

The Four Types of Hiking Jackets

The right gear helps you stay comfortable and safe when you're out on the trail. And while there is a lot of gear that hikers need, a proper jacket is arguably the most important. Hiking jackets protect against the elements, keep hikers warm in chilly temperatures, and even make a stylish statement. However, with so many types of jackets available, you might wonder which is the best for your fall hiking needs. Let's take a closer look.

Hard Shell

Hardshell jackets are the most durable and waterproof type of hiking jacket. They are designed to keep hikers dry in even torrential downpours. Hard shells are made with a waterproof membrane that is either laminated or coated onto the jacket fabric. They are also typically windproof.

Hard shells are often made from Gore-Tex or a similarly high-end material, making them more pricey than other types of hiking jackets. However, their durability justifies the cost for hikers who frequently hike in rain or snow. Hard shells are typically best for hikers who want a durable jacket that will last for many seasons and can withstand snags from branches or scrapes from rocks. They are also great for hikers who want to traverse wet or snowy terrain.

Down Jacket

Down jackets are made for extreme cold weather. They are filled with down - a natural insulator from the soft feathers of geese or ducks - that provides warmth in cold temperatures.

These lightweight and packable jackets make them perfect for hikers who need to carry their gear with them. The breathability of down jackets is also a plus, as it helps prevent overheating and sweating. The only drawback to down is that it does not hold up in wet conditions. So if you're planning a hike where a lot of rain is expected, look at either a different insulator, or pick a synthetic fill.

Down jackets can be either synthetic or natural. Synthetic jackets use polyester fibers to mimic the insulation properties of down. They are typically less expensive and water-resistant than natural down jackets while providing comparable warmth. Down jackets are a good option for fall hikers hitting the trails on chilly mornings since they can be packed away easily as temperatures rise throughout the day.

Soft Shell Jacket

Soft shell jackets are very versatile. They offer a middle ground between hard shells and down jackets in that they are both breathable and water-resistant.

More breathable than hard shells, soft shell jackets allow moisture to escape from within the jacket, preventing overheating and sweating. Soft shells are also less waterproof than hard shells, but they still hold up well in light rain or snowfall.

Soft shell jackets are typically made of stretchy, flexible materials. This means that they allow hikers to move more easily when climbing steep inclines or scrambling over rocks.

Soft shell jackets are the best for hikers who want a versatile jacket that can adjust to changing climate conditions throughout their hike.


Synthetic mid-layer jackets provide extra insulation for hikers who are tackling particularly cold temperatures. Mid-layer jackets are designed to be worn under other jackets, such as hard shells or soft shells. They are not wind or waterproof but highly insulated, making them an essential addition to the gear of hikers who venture into sub-freezing conditions.

Mid-layer jackets are commonly made from synthetic materials like fleece, polyester, or other insulating material that has been synthetic, giving them superior moisture-wicking properties. They are also designed to be packable and lightweight. Mid-layer synthetic jackets are ideal for hikers planning to tackle frigid temperatures, particularly at higher elevations.

Hiking Jacket Materials

We've outlined the different types of hiking jackets you may encounter, now let's take a closer look at fall hiking jacket materials. The right materials are critical to helping you stay comfortable and safe throughout your hike.

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant

Waterproof materials keep you dry in even the heaviest rain or snowfall. Hard shells are made from a waterproof material that keeps all moisture out, so you won't find yourself soaked even after extended exposure to rain or snow.

Water-resistant materials are less effective in protecting against heavy precipitation but can still provide a strong barrier for lighter rains or unexpected storms.. For example, most soft shell jackets are water-resistant and are useful in light-to-moderate rain or snowfall, but they are not ideal for the heaviest precipitation. If you're hiking in a heavily rainy or snowy area, a waterproof jacket is the best for keeping you comfortable and dry.


Breathability is an important factor in keeping you comfortable on a hike. Breathable materials allow sweat and moisture to escape from inside the jacket, so you don't end up soaked with sweat.

Hard shell jackets are usually not as breathable as soft shell jackets because they lack the necessary airflow. Soft shell jackets are designed for breathability, and they wick away sweat and moisture from your skin.

Synthetic mid-layer jackets are also highly breathable, even underneath waterproof jackets. They work to remove moisture from your body and help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

When choosing a hiking jacket, keep in mind the importance of the jacket's fabric breathability.


Insulation is particularly important in jackets designed for cold weather conditions. Insulation helps to keep your body heat trapped inside the jacket, so you stay warm throughout your hike.

Down jackets are the warmest type of hiking jacket because the down insulation provides an excellent heat-trapping barrier. Mid-layer jackets – whether synthetic or otherwise – offer additional insulation to keep you toasty. They are great for keeping your core temperature up and staving off hypothermia.


When planning to go on a hiking adventure, a well-fitted hiking jacket can make all the difference. A properly fitting hiking jacket is essential for multiple reasons, including mobility, comfort, and safety. The wrong size hiking jacket can cause a wide range of issues during a hike. A jacket that is too tight can prevent you from moving your arms freely, and if you sweat, it can cause chafing. On the other hand, a jacket that is too loose won't provide enough warmth or protection from the elements. The right fit will allow for optimal flexibility, breathability, and insulation.

A well-fitted jacket can also enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injuries. When a jacket fits properly, you will feel comfortable and confident, allowing you to move around more freely and traverse tricky terrain with ease. Additionally, a well-fitted jacket will provide better protection against the weather, ultimately reducing the likelihood of hypothermia and other dangers that can occur due to harsh weather conditions.

To ensure maximum protection, warmth, and comfort, take the time to carefully select a jacket that fits perfectly and is designed for the specific conditions of the hike. And since sizing can vary from brand to brand, make sure you check the sizing chart for your jacket, to ensure the best fit possible.


Having gear that can keep up with your movement is important for every hiker. A hiking jacket that restricts your movement can hold you back from enjoying the trails to the fullest. A jacket that is too tight or constricting will limit your mobility and make hiking more difficult. This can even become a safety hazard if you need to react quickly to a sudden change in terrain or weather.

But a hiking jacket with good mobility allows you to move your arms, shoulders, and torso freely. It shouldn’t feel like a suit of armor. A good hiking jacket should be designed to allow you to reach up, stretch, and maneuver without feeling restricted. A jacket with good mobility also makes it easier to layer up or down, depending on the weather conditions and temperature changes during your hike.

When selecting a jacket, look for one that is designed to allow free movement and flexibility, making your hike much more enjoyable.


Hiking is a great way to stay active and connected with nature. But every hiker knows it's important to dress appropriately in order to avoid getting too hot or too cold while on the trails. That's why so many seasoned hikers choose to dress in layers. Dressing in layers means wearing multiple clothing items that can be added or removed depending on the temperature. The first layer should be a moisture-wicking base layer to keep the skin dry and cool. The next layer should be an insulating layer to trap heat, followed by an outer shell to protect against wind and rain. 

One of the benefits of dressing in layers is that it allows for versatility on the trail. As the temperature changes, hikers can add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature. Many fall hiking jackets are designed to roll up and pack away easily, so you can adjust your layers with the weather. For example, some fall mornings may be freezing cold, prompting hikers to don their down hiking jackets. But by lunchtime, temperatures may be balmy and a jacket may not be necessary. By dressing in layers, fall hikers can stay comfortable throughout the day.

It's also essential to bring along accessories such as hats, gloves, and sunglasses to protect against unexpected weather conditions. Hiking boots and comfortable socks are also good to have in order to keep feet dry and comfortable during long hikes. 


If you’re in the market for a new hiking jacket or coat, then you’ll want to make sure that it has all the right features to keep you warm, comfortable, and stylish. Here are some of the key features for hikers to look for when shopping for a jacket or coat:

  • Waterproof material: A good jacket or coat should be made from waterproof material to keep you dry in rainy or snowy conditions.
  • Insulation: Look for jackets or coats that are well-insulated to keep you warm in cold weather.
  • Multiple pockets: Having multiple pockets is always handy for storing items such as your phone, wallet, and keys.
  • Adjustable cuffs: This feature allows you to tighten or loosen the cuffs of your jacket or coat to keep cold air out.
  • Hoods: Jackets or coats with hoods offer extra protection from cold or wet weather.


Pockets are a must-have feature in any jacket or coat. Not only do they provide a place to store your essentials like your phone and wallet, but they also add an extra layer of insulation to your body. Here are some of the most common pocket types in jackets and coats:

  • Chest pockets: These are typically located on the upper chest area of the jacket and are perfect for storing smaller items like keys and sunglasses.
  • Hand pockets: These are the most common pocket type in jackets and are located on the sides. They are spacious enough to store your hands and keep them warm in cold weather.
  • Interior pockets: These are usually located on the inside of the jacket or coat and are great for storing larger items that you want to keep close to your body.
  • Sleeve pockets: These are located on the sleeves of some jackets and are perfect for storing smaller essentials like lip balm or a small snack.


A hood is an essential feature to have in any hiking jacket. It protects your head and neck from cold winds, rain, or snow. Here are some of the different types of hood that you can find in jackets and coats:

  • Fixed hood: A fixed hood is a permanent part of the jacket or coat and cannot be removed.
  • Removable hood: A removable hood can be detached from the jacket or coat when not needed.
  • Adjustable hood: An adjustable hood allows you to tighten or loosen the hood for a better fit.

Adjustable cuffs

Be sure to keep an eye out for adjustable cuffs when shopping for your next hiking jacket. They allow you to adjust the fit of your sleeves to keep cold air out and warmth in. Here are some of the types of adjustable cuffs:

  • Velcro cuffs: These are the most common type of adjustable cuffs and are easy to use. They allow you to adjust the tightness of the cuff with a simple pull and stick.
  • Elastic cuffs: Elastic cuffs stretch to fit the circumference of your wrist, providing a snug and comfortable fit.
  • Button cuffs: Button cuffs have buttons that allow you to adjust the tightness of the cuff. This type of cuff is less common but adds a touch of style to your jacket or coat.

A fall hiking jacket is a must-have item for any hiker. It provides warmth, protection, and comfort during your hike, ensuring you enjoy your outdoor adventure without being affected by the cold weather. By considering the factors discussed above, you can choose the right fall hiking jacket for your needs and budget.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.


What is a fall hiking jacket, and why is it different from other jackets?

A fall hiking jacket is a specially designed jacket that provides warmth, protection, and comfort during fall hikes. It is different from other jackets because it is lightweight, durable, and weather-resistant to accommodate the varying temperatures of fall weather. Fall hiking jackets are made of high-quality materials that are water-resistant, windproof, and breathable, making them ideal for outdoor activities in cold and windy weather.

What should I consider when buying a fall hiking jacket?

When buying a fall hiking jacket, consider the following factors:

  1. Insulation: The jacket's insulation should be warm enough to keep you comfortable in cold weather. Choose a jacket with synthetic or down insulation that is lightweight and compressible.
  2. Material: The jacket should be made of high-quality, durable, and water-resistant material that can protect you from wind, rain, and snow. Look for materials like Gore-Tex, eVent, or H2No that are breathable and weather-resistant.
  3. Fit: The jacket should fit you comfortably and have enough room to wear layers underneath. Make sure it has adjustable cuffs, hem, and hood to prevent cold air from getting in.
  4. Pockets: The jacket should have enough pockets to carry essentials like a map, compass, phone, and snacks. Look for pockets with zippers or flaps to keep your belongings safe.
  5. Color: The jacket should be bright and visible to help you stand out in case of an emergency.

What are the benefits of a fall hiking jacket?

The benefits of a fall hiking jacket include:

  • Protection: A fall hiking jacket provides protection from cold, wind, rain, and snow, keeping you warm and dry during your hike.
  • Comfort: A fall hiking jacket is designed to be lightweight, breathable, and flexible, allowing you to move freely and comfortably.
  • Durability: A fall hiking jacket is made of high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting, allowing you to use it on multiple hikes.
  • Visibility: A fall hiking jacket is available in bright colors that help you stand out and be visible in case of an emergency.
  • Convenience: A fall hiking jacket is easy to pack, store, and carry, making it an essential item for any hiker.

How do I care for my fall hiking jacket?

To ensure your fall hiking jacket lasts long and performs well, follow these care instructions:

  1. Read the care label before washing the jacket. Some jackets may require special treatment or detergent.
  2. Wash the jacket in cold water and mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener.
  3. Hang the jacket to dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid drying it in direct sunlight or using a clothes dryer as it may damage the insulation or fabric.
  4. Store the jacket in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat. Avoid folding it as it may cause creases that may affect its performance.
  5. Repair any rips, tears, or damages as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse or compromising the jacket's integrity.

How much should I spend on a fall hiking jacket?

The cost of a fall hiking jacket varies depending on the brand, quality, and features. Generally, a good fall hiking jacket may cost anywhere from $100 to $500. However, investing in a high-quality jacket is worth it as it lasts longer, performs better, and provides better protection and comfort.

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