6 Best Lightweight Work Jackets

A work jacket can be different things to different professions and while there are literally hundreds of choices available, different professions will require a variety of features.

Some may want weather resistance as a priority, while others may desire specific features, enhanced range of motion, warmth, or jacket weight.

Many of the professionals we talked to reiterated that a lightweight jacket is a priority for them to work comfortably while involved in specific physical tasks that require agility and flexibility. So, we have chosen and tested a series of work jackets that are specifically lightweight to meet this requirement.

Our best overall lightweight work jacket is the Error: Unknown Link Type. Where this jacket really distinguishes itself is in its softness, the protection provided, its flexibility, and its super lightweight.

Another outstanding lightweight jacket that grabbed our attention is Error: Unknown Link Type that is rated to -60°F!

Best Lightweight Work Jackets

However, all these jackets merit consideration and the final choice will depend heavily on your profession and the climate you work in, or the season you are purchasing for.

Although many workers may still favor the choice of a more traditional canvas material usually in cotton duck for durability, textile technological advances have introduced a whole slue of synthetics, synthetic-natural fiber blends, and fabric treatments that offer insulation, water, and wind resistance, and above all breathability in jacket designs that highlight lighter weights.

Lightweight jackets can facilitate movement on the job and comfort especially as the day wears on.

The selection process for finding the best lightweight work jacket will inevitably be influenced by your profession and the physical requirements dictated by your job together with climate.

How We Selected

Price, material quality, jacket design, and construction together with features were all added into the selection equation, and finally, we added in performance.

We had a team of professionals from construction, agriculture, and the trades wear these jackets onsite to give us the lowdown on just how they perform in the work environment.

We factored in:

1.) Fit. This may seem like a given, but if your profession requires lots of movement and most specifically a good range of movement for your arms, you’ll need to reflect on if a jacket hinders you or supports you when moving.

2.) Hood. Do you need a hood, or would it at least be convenient in the case of unexpected rain or a drop in temperature? Does the hood fit your head, or can it blow off easily and allow water to enter? Is it adjustable?

3.) Customized adjustable hems and cuffs. A well-fitting hem and cuff, perhaps with a drawcord or Velcro closure can prevent rain from entering. A scooped backdrop hemline may protect you from drafts in chilly weather.

4.) Waterproofing. These fabrics will vary and sometimes may be limited to the outer shell with a different textile for the lining. You may find linings that are breathable and moisture-wicking.

5.) Zippers. A zipper style will most certainly be easier and quicker than having to button or snap up. Are they waterproof or do they feature storm flaps in case the weather takes a turn for the worse?

6.) Pockets. Often pockets may be sacrificed in a jacket design to limit weight, but for many, they are a necessity for phones, pencils, and small accessories.

7.) Insulation. Do you want a lightweight jacket that keeps you warm? How warm? What climate do you work in?

The Reviews

Best Overall Lightweight Work Jacket

1.) Carhartt J130 Active Jacket

The Carhartt J130 work jacket will keep you warm in chilly weather. Exceptionally soft and flexible it demonstrated no stiffness at all during wear and ensured a variety of movement capabilities.

The adjustable hood integrates a drawstring for a more customized fit. Four pockets include two located externally and two on the inside.

Constructed in 100% sandstone duck cotton, it comes with a flannel-lined quilted interior for warmth. Weighing only twelve ounces it offers superior protection from harsh wind conditions.

Rib-knit cuffs keep the cold from entering together with an adjustable waistband. This Carhartt jacket is machine washable meaning care and maintenance are simple and convenient. Hang drying is recommended.

Pros

      • 100% duck cotton
      • Machine washable
      • Quilted flannel interior for warmth
      • Rib-knit cuffs and rib-knit waistband
      • 4 pockets
      • Adjustable hood

Cons

      • Hood is not detachable
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Best Wet Weather Lightweight Work Jacket

2.) Dickies Performance Softshell Work Jacket

Dickies Performance Softshell Work Jacket

This Dickies Jacket features top-quality 100% polyester with 6% elastane added to the sleeves. Together with a lining that is bonded micro-fleece. The material is quite stretchy meaning the range of movement and mobility are not limited.

The jacket design also permits you to layer clothing underneath without the jacket becoming bulky. The water-resistant fabric sheds water quite nicely.

The jacket has a hood that boasts an elastic bungee cinch meaning it won’t be blowing off at the first gust of wind or permitting rain to enter.

Three zippered pockets allow you to carry accessories and reflective accents are integrated for increased visibility. While not particularly abrasion-resistant, it is ideal for service professions and delivery.

Pros

      • Water and wind-resistant
      • Lightweight
      • Flexible 
      • Adjustable hood
      • Comfortable
      • Affordable
      • Machine wash

Cons

      • Not abrasion-resistant

Best Visibility Lightweight Work Jacket

3.) Helly Hansen ANSI Potsdam Work Jacket

For those in need of high visibility for safety reasons, this Helly Hansen 100% polyester work jacket meets all the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standards for Type R Class 3 visibility.

You can’t do better than this jacket in foul weather with low visibility. Reflective accents are featured on the shoulders, waist, and arms. Available in yellow and orange, you can’t be missed.

It gives exceptional performance in the rain, and should you find yourself involved in strenuous work, there are pit zippers for increased ventilation.

The outer shell keeps you pretty warm even in cooler temperatures in the fifties. If you feel you need more, a zip-in fleece lining is available. Side pockets are zippered and feature storm flaps, so water doesn’t enter.

This is a longer jacket and yet it has a waist drawstring for a better fit. The front zipper has a storm flap with a hook and loop. The hood is detachable and adjustable.

Pros

      • Water and windproof
      • Breathable
      • Pit zippers for ventilation
      • Taped seams
      • Reflective accents
      • Detachable hood
      • Zippered pockets

Cons

      • Pocket storm flaps sometimes hinder the use
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Best Gore-Tex Lightweight Work Jacket

4.) Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket

If you are a fan of Gore-Tex, this jacket offers all the basics of a work jacket. Marmot produces it in 100% polyester and uses Gore-Tex and Paclite technology ensuring minimal weight and portability together with breathability and waterproofing.

Taped seams prevent water penetration. The attached hood is adjustable. Featured pit zippers add increased air ventilation to improve the temperature. The hem fit is optimized thanks to a drawcord. Zippered pockets are integrated for carrying accessories.

Sizing runs from Small through XX-Large and four colors, two shades of black, blue, and grey are available.

Pros

      • Stylish design
      • Gore-tex and nylon blend
      • Materials are 100% recyclable 
      • Resists rain and wind
      • Zippered pockets 
      • Velcro cuffs, drawcord hemline, and adjustable hood 
      • Pit zippers for increased comfort
      • Weighs in at 0.94 lbs.
      • Budget-friendly

Cons

      • Roomy design may not be for everyone’s taste
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Best Budget Lightweight Work Jacket

5.) Red Kap Slash Pocket Work Jacket

This jacket is a classic waist-length work jacket with a timeless design. A quilted lining adds warmth for chilly days. The outer shell is a cotton and polyester blend while both lining and insulation are 100% polyester.

The classically designed collar is top-stitched, and stays are sewn in to maintain its form. The left sleeve comes with a two-stall utility pocket, and a brass zipper closes the front.

This is a machine-washable jacket meaning care is easy. It can easily be laundered with other clothing and dried in a dryer.

This work jacket will block wind and weather light rain, although it is not considered weatherproof. The outstanding aspect of this jacket is its durability. 

Pros

      • Machine washable
      • Classic style
      • Insulated
      • Left sleeve utility pocket
      • Button cuffs
      • Durable
      • Affordable 

Cons

      • No zipper closed pocket
      • No inside pocket
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Best Cold Weather Lightweight Work Jacket

6.) Refrigiwear Softshell Extreme Jacket

If you work in a cold environment, this extreme weather work jacket will protect you from the harshest of temperatures. This particular work jacket is one of this manufacturer’s most advanced creations.

It’s rated for warmth to a whopping 60 degrees below zero thanks to 600 grams of synthetic high-tech insulating material. The softshell outer layer is also waterproof along with the zippers.

Side pockets are designed for hand warming and a pencil pocket is included for convenience. The waist closure is adjustable to keep out the cold and the jacket integrated high visibility piping for safety outdoors. Sizing ranges from Small to 5XL.

Pros

      • 100% polyester outer shell
      • 600 grams of high-tech insulation
      • Water repellent with waterproof zippers
      • Wind resistant
      • Reflective piping
      • 4 zippered pockets
      • Dual front zipper technology 
      • Adjustable waist and cuffs
      • Rated to – 60°F

Cons

      • Pricey
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Buyer’s Guide for Work Jackets

If it’s time to get a work jacket for chilly autumn weather, with so many choices, the decision can be quite challenging. Here are our recommendations when evaluating a work jacket.

1.) Safety Requirements

Depending on your profession, the law may impose certain safety requirements in the workplace. You may need ANSI-rated work apparel or high visibility accents to comply with government requirements.

Check the regulations and speak with your employer to make sure outerwear is legitimate. Regulations are established to keep you safe on the job.

2.) Profession

Your profession will also decide your priorities when selecting outerwear. If you work in security you may prefer a tactical jacket, whereas a welder may want a flame-resistant jacket, or a trucker or traffic cop may need high visibility.

If you do outdoor manual labor, you will need a jacket that allows for a range of movement and flexibility.

3.) Climate

The outdoor climate will decide if you need insulation and just how much. It can also indicate the need for wind resistance and waterproofing.

Both polyester and nylon are lightweight materials used in the outer shells of work jackets specifically designed for inclement weather. Duck down, on the other hand, is an excellent lightweight insulation material although it is not waterproof.

4.) Features

Hoods and pockets are the most requested features on work jackets. Although a hood may add a bit of bulk, depending on the climate, that bit of extra bulk may come in handy.

5.) Details

Adjustable cuffs and hemlines can protect you from the cold while offering a more comfortable, customized fit.

Velcro on cuffs, drawcord hood or waist adjustments, two-way zippers, and storm flaps can offer convenience in the correct work situation.

6.) Strength and Durability

Aside from an abrasion-resistant material used to make the jacket, look for taped seams and heavy-duty stitching so your jacket lasts.

7.) Weight

Jackets that have heavier weights are worn in the harsh to extreme weather conditions. Mid-weight work jackets will manage in weather and climates that are less severe and they will be less bulky.

Lightweight jackets are often outer shells that can complete layering if necessary. They usually offer rain protection and breathability as well as guarantee a fuller range of movement and agility.

See also: Do I Need a Jacket for 16 Degrees?

Conclusion

Fans of lightweight work jackets are luckier than ever before due to the advancement of textile technology. New materials and treatments offer great protection without the added weight.

So, regardless of your profession and your personal style, there is a lightweight work jacket out there that is perfect for your outer work gear needs.