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A vest might not seem like a cold-weather essential, but if you write it off, you’re missing out on the serious layering (and style) potential a vest brings. A puffer vest can change up a sweatshirt and jeans outfit into something better. You can toss one over your favorite denim jacket, pair one with a fisherman’s sweater, or if you’re traveling, grab one with tons of pockets to store everything.
Since they were built for layering, a vest is the perfect piece to bring with you in transitional weather. The weather can be crazy; it’s nice and warm in the morning, and then there’s an unforeseen snowstorm, or even a blue norther heading your way. Tucking a packable (and featherweight) men’s vest in your messenger bag or backpack can keep you one step ahead of the (often wrong) forecast.
Down puffer vests are generally pretty padded, so you’re most likely to wear them over your jacket. But puffers aren’t the only vest option; a fleece or lightweight down liner can fit under your heavy jacket. These vests will keep your core warm without adding bulk to your sleeves or creating uncomfortable bunching.
We’ve found some of the best men’s vests at every price point that’ll keep you feeling warm and looking stylish.
1. Patagonia Men’s Reversible Bivy Down Vest
When you think “outdoors,” one of the brands that immediately comes to mind is Patagonia. They not only make goods that can withstand extreme temps, but they also give 1% of their profits to environmental groups. Their reversible vest is water-resistant and can be worn either with the fleece lining on the outside or the inside to keep you warm and show off some awesome color blocking out front. It’s made with recycled down and nylon materials. The vest closes with a snap front, has a high collar to protect you from winds, rain and snow. It comes in tons of colors too. When it gets worn out, you can exchange it for credits towards new merchandise. The old items get repaired and sold on their Worn Wear site.
2. Carhartt Duck Insulated Vest
BEST COTTON VEST
While many vests are either polyester fleece or nylon puffers, Carhartt proves cotton can still bring the heat. This vest has a duck exterior, which is a type of sturdy cotton canvas that offers water and wind resistance. The interior of the jacket has a warm synthetic down fill. It’s available in black or Carhartt brown.
3. Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest
Uniqlo is known for pioneering fabric technology, and ultra-light down is the innovation the brand is best known for. Uniqlo’s ULD reduces the bulk traditionally associated with puffers, without sacrificing warmth. This jacket has a genuine down fill, and the liner-inspired v-neck collar makes it easy to layer. It comes in black, green and navy.
4. Alpha Industries ALS Utility Vest
Alpha Industries has been making clothing for the armed forces for over 50 years. Their consumer stuff is made with the same attention to detail, and that’s one of the reasons we keep coming back to the brand for outerwear. This vest has plenty of pockets across the chest. Carrying cargo has never looked quite so good.
5. Mr P Reversible Padded Wool-Blend Gilet
BEST MINIMALIST DESIGN
Fans of minimalism and utilitarian style will flock to Mr P’s streamlined gilet (or vest, in American English). Made from light padded wool, this can be worn over long-sleeve tees, button-downs and even a lightweight sweater. It has a rounded knit ribbed collar and two front pockets.
6. Stussy Fillmore Slim-Fit Nylon-Trimmed Fleece Vest
Want a men’s vest that truly stands out? Stussy’s take on the style is the one to get. It’s made from cozy fleece with a trippy red and yellow pattern. The chest pocket is done in contrasting black nylon, and it features a subtle Stussy signature logo.
7. Polo Ralph Lauren Packable Quilted Vest
BEST PREPPY VEST
The appeal of a vest is that it’s a great piece for transitional weather. But if it gets too warm to wear, you still have to carry the vest around. This vest from Ralph Lauren packs into its own pocket for easy storage. The outer is made from water-resistant nylon, while the interior of the vest is recycled polyester from Primaloft.
8. LL Bean Men’s Mountain Classic Down Vest
If you want outdoorsy gear with a classic look, LL Bean should be the first place you check. This vest has a stylish and retro color-blocked design, and the down insulation provides warmth and comfort. The exterior of the jacket is made from recycled polyester.
9. Adidas Adventure Vest
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT VEST
The three stripes may be associated with soccer first, but Adidas’ outdoors and hiking-inspired gear is seriously good. This lightweight vest has zippered pockets galore, making it a great option for all of your outdoor excursions. The front and back of the vest feature the Adidas logo.
10. Rains Liner Vest
BEST FOR LAYERING
Rains’ vest takes inspiration from classic military liner jackets, and it’s available in classic colors like black, navy and olive. It has an insulated design consisting of vertical panels, setting it apart from the standard diamond design of many quilted vests. The outside of the jacket has two hand pockets and one chest pocket.
11. The North Face Men’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest
The 1996 Retro vest may be so named for its throwback styling, but it’s packed with modern features. The jacket has a packable hood that stows in the funnel collar, while the entire vest packs into an easy-to-carry pouch. The bottom of the vest has drawstrings to cinch the waist for a more insulated fit, while the DWR finish keeps you dry. Four color-blocked colorways are available, plus solid black.
12. Gap Nylon Puffer Vest
Gap’s not just for chinos; the brand has a pretty solid selection of knitwear and outerwear at a budget-friendly price, making it a great shop to stop at when you’re re-upping your winter wardrobe. This puffer vest has snap buttons and a zip-front to keep you warm, and the vest is available in black, green or red. Plus, it’s made from recycled nylon and polyester.