When the going gets tough and when harsh winter weather stares you down, you’ve only got a few options: Take on the day with the right gear, like one of the best tactical jackets, or put your to-do list on hold. We’re willing to bet that you’re not the type to take days off or to falter when presented with a challenge in matters of style or weather, so you very well might want to heed our advice and gear up the right way in rugged fashion with a stylish, dependable tactical jacket.
Picking up the best cold-weather gear is a must these days, especially as we move into winter properly, and among your rotation of menswear picks, be sure you’ve got one of the best tactical jackets. It’s a worthwhile addition to your wardrobe when you need a go-between type of item, something that’s more flexible and adaptable than a heavy parka, while also providing more warmth than, say, a bomber jacket or even a layering-ready vest.
Like all great menswear picks, tactical jackets were born purely out of function, providing the opportune sort of utility in the field and on adventures on and off the grid. Similar to the way in which Oxford shirts were created to serve a purpose (made with buttons at the collar to be worn during polo games) and in much the same way that cotton denim was a true workwear staple, tactical jackets are all purpose, all the time.
You can find tactical jackets at low prices and yet packed with bells and whistles, a very good thing for discerning customers like yourself. And the right tactical jackets are also made with weather-ready fabric and designs, all the better to take on difficult winter weather. Because the best tactical jackets are truly born of purpose, they’re a no-nonsense design intended to take on harsh conditions and all sorts of missions and adventures.
Even if your true purpose for wearing a tactical jacket leans more towards style than pure utility (as with a jacket you’d wear on a quick city commute), you’ll still find lots to love about the time-honored, well-made and perfectly rugged pick. It’s got more heft and a tougher build than other jackets in your wardrobe, like one of the best windbreakers. And it’s designed to stand up to just about anything, given that the silhouette calls to mind classic field jackets, one of the more hard-wearing picks in the menswear lexicon.
The tactical jacket deserves a spot in your wardrobe for plenty of different reasons, but chief among them is the fact that it’s mighty nice to be able to throw on a jacket you can count on when bad weather rolls into town. While we’d wager you’re already curating the ideal winter wardrobe, who said you had to limit your options, right? There’s a difference between good tactical jackets and great tactical jackets, so make sure you’ve sorted out the one to buy for your next winter ensemble. How should you go about that precisely? We’ve got a few ideas.
How to Find the Best Tactical Jacket For Your Wardrobe
- Know your options, and know them well: Tactical jackets, like any great men’s style staple, are packed with different levels of functionality for different situations and different conditions. The best tactical jackets are flexible yet tough, easy to layer and made to be paired with other tactically minded gear picks, like work pants, dependable boots and a thermal shirt. Some feature tons of interior and exterior pockets, and other jackets are more streamlined. So, like we said, you’ve got options. It’s all about knowing which one works for you.
- Spend, but spend wisely: Buying a tactical jacket is different than buying, say, a luxury watch. You’re not going to break the bank when picking a quality tactical jacket, but a tactical jacket is going to wear differently, and thus cost more, than a lightweight outerwear pick, for example. So you’re spending, and spending wisely, but not going overboard. That sounds like a solid style plan for finding one of the best tactical jackets, does it not?
- Seek out the proper style: Just as you can find a tactical jacket for all kinds of situations on and off the grid, there are also plentiful options when you want to customize your style. That is to say, just because you’re wearing a tactical jacket doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style altogether. Sure, a tactical jacket is primarily a move you make with functionality in mind, but it doesn’t mean you should sacrifice looking great. This is especially true if you intend to wear one of the best tactical jackets out and about in the city, in addition to rocking one for expeditions far afield. Find the right one, and it could just become your new favorite jacket, period.
Now that those tips are at the front of your mind, you’re going to need to actually pick out the proper jacket for all your winter layering needs, right? These are some of the best tactical jackets on the market at the moment.
Our Favorite Tactical Jackets to Buy Right Now
5.11 Tactical Watch Jacket
Whether it’s a reliable base layer, a rugged hoodie, a surprisingly flexible pair of work pants or some incredibly tough boots, you know you can count on 5.11 Tactical to deliver the goods in all things, well, tactical. The brand makes gear that doesn’t cut corners, and that goes for the small details, like your everyday carry, as well as the big-ticket items, like this crucial Watch Jacket. Made with innovative fabrication like Teflon and mechanical stretch Flex-Tac® canvas, 5.11 Tactical says that “our engineers took a classic field jacket style and loaded it with modern tactical features.” That sounds like a proper piece of outerwear to buy now, does it not?
Relwen Quilted Tanker Jacket
Relwen gear, as far as we’re concerned, is the stuff of legend, often designed with old-school military styles in mind. If it looks great, that’s one thing, but if it also performs extremely well? Well, that’s the stuff your menswear dreams are made of, and that’s what you get with the undeniably cool, unstoppably functional Relwen Quilted Tanker Jacket. Designed to stand up to chilly temperatures while securing your everyday carry, we’d recommend you layer this jacket over one of the brand’s tough-as-nails sweaters for extreme warmth. It also helps that Huckberry has plenty of praise for this newly iconic jacket: “Keeping warm—no matter the situation—never looked better.” That just about sounds like one of the best tactical jackets in our book.
KUHL Arktik Jacket
This overbuilt and extremely hard-wearing jacket from the master gear purveyors at KUHL just about takes the cake when it comes to delivering the goods in matters of both warm and tactical functionality. It’s yet another update of the old-school field jacket, delivered with a streamlined design, a proprietary DynaWax fabric to fight the elements, and a warm lining. To hear KUHL tell it just about sums things up the best way possible, so if you’re on the fence, take it from the KUHL team: “With an ideal balance of style and utility, the KÜHL ARKTIK™ Men’s Jacket delivers that winter versatility you’re looking for.” We’re willing to add this jacket to our rotation, and we hope you feel the same way.
Marine Layer Waxed Canvas Trucker Jacket
Remember what we said about finding a tactical jacket that can handle anything, one that’s built for dependable style no matter what? And perhaps even a jacket that defies convention and flips what you thought you knew about tactical jackets on its head? Well, this durable and impossibly rugged canvas jacket embodies all of those qualities and then some, shaking up the traditional tactical jacket with an at-the-waist trucker jacket-style design and all the toughness you need in a piece of layering-minded outerwear. It’s the front chest and hip snap pockets, plus the deep, neutral color, that turn it into an adventure-ready tactical jacket. The soft brushed flannel lining adds maximum warmth, and the hard-wearing Scottish waxed canvas exterior is about as tough as it gets. Think of this like the tactical jacket you didn’t know you needed, but that you’ll certainly love wearing right now.
Levi’s Washed Cotton Military Jacket
Sure, you might not think of Levi’s right away when it comes to the best tactical jackets, but the pioneering brand has long been a trusted source for all things rugged, essential and classic menswear. They’ve hopefully got a strong foothold in your wardrobe already by way of finely tailored and finely crafted denim and perhaps even a denim shirt or two, but considering adding this casual-yet-rugged military jacket to your rotation. Front snap chest pockets provide the storage space your EDC needs, while the military detailing and washed fabric are nice touches that add some cool-as-can-be style to the traditional tactical jacket silhouette. Wear this one as often as you can, across the globe.