Best Hiking Jackets for Women

Unless you only hike in warm, sunny weather in an area that doesn’t get sudden storms, you probably will need a hiking jacket at some point. Of course, it can’t be bulky or cumbersome, especially if you need to carry a backpack or other gear. 

It should be waterproof and block the wind, and it would be nice if the jacket fit the female form to provide comfort in the proper ways. After hiking for years, I’ve learned that men’s hiking jackets just don’t cut it. From the too-broad shoulders to the excessive bulk, they are too heavy and cumbersome for an enjoyable adventure. 

We tested three products and found the Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket to be the best for breathability, comfort, and protection in various outdoor settings. The Beta AR fits like a glove but allows plenty of mobility to clamber and climb over rough terrain. It’s warm yet breathable and protects against the elements. 

We realize everybody has different needs and preferences when hiking, so we picked a few different options to cover our bases. Aside from our overall favorite, you can learn about our budget pick and a lightweight hiking jacket. Read on to learn more about the three best hiking jackets for women and how to choose one for your next hike!

Woman standing with the hiking poles and looking to the mountains

The 3 Best Hiking Jackets for Women

Though we have an obvious favorite, all three jackets on our list offer protection from the elements and a woman’s fit.

Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket – Best Overall

The Arc’teryx Beta AR jacket isn’t just stylish. It’s versatile. This jacket could be an excellent choice when you want to be prepared for anything because it’s waterproof and windproof.

  • Gore-Tex PRO material makes it protective, durable, and breathable
  • DropHood™ accommodates a helmet
  • Features an embedded RECCO® reflector for emergencies
  • Multiple colors and sizes are available

This jacket checks a lot of boxes for outdoor gear. From the lightweight yet durable hybrid material to the feminine fit, the Arc’teryx Beta AR shouldn’t impair your mobility. It’s flexible enough to layer with warmer gear and folds up nicely to store in a pack. 
It’s the small things that give this jacket a leg up, though. An internal collar provides extra protection from the elements, and the trademarked hood can cover a helmet for extreme sports. You can adjust the sleeves to get a proper fit, and there’s an internal zippered pocket to protect your valuables.

Best Overall
Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket

Zipper closure.
BETA AR JACKET WOMEN’S – A mainstay in the Arc’teryx lineup since 2000, the Beta AR is the do everything, most versatile waterproof/breathable jacket for activities in mountain environments.
ARC’ESSENTIALS – Versatile high performance designs for diverse activities and conditions.
BETA – Versatile: high performance for diverse activities and conditions.
GORE-TEX – Waterproof, windproof and breathable textiles that offer fully protective environmental shelter.
ALL ROUND – High performance weather protection and materials, emphasizing versatility for multiple activities.

Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket – Best Economy

Columbia’s nylon Arcadia II jacket is waterproof yet breathable, making it an excellent option for rainy or potentially stormy hikes. It features some adjustable elements to get the fit you desire.

  • Zippered side pockets to secure small belongings
  • Adjustable velcro cuffs and drawcord hem for a custom fit
  • Sealed seams and nylon shell make it waterproof
  • Available in more than a dozen colors

If you need a jacket to blot out the rain more than the cold, then this may be a solid choice. The covered zipper closure and zippered side pockets keep you and your belongings dry. Plus, it has a deep hood with drawstrings to tighten it against the elements.

You may want to go a size up for layering because this is more like a shell in terms of outdoor gear but holds up well against the rain.

Best Economy
Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket

Shell: 100% Nylon; Lining: 100% Polyester.
Zipper closure.
Machine Wash.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket features our signature, air-permeable protection that’s waterproof and breathable to shield you from drizzle to downpour.
ADJUSTABLE FEATURES: This shell top jacket features an adjustable storm hood, drawcord adjustable hem, and zippered hand pockets for ultimate comfort.
LIGHT & PACKABLE: The waterproof, lightweight design packs into your hand pocket for convenience on days when the weather is unpredictable.

The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Waterproof Hooded JacketBest Lightweight Jacket

The Resolve 2 is adjustable, breathable, and waterproof like the other two jackets, but it’s a little lighter. Expect this jacket to take up less space in your pack.

  • DryVent 2L fabric protects against wind and rain
  • Features a Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) finish 
  • Adjustable hem and hood
  • Dozens of color options

Designed to protect hikers from the elements, the Resolve 2 has a water-repellent finish, storm flaps, sealed seams, and a hook-and-loop closure over the zipper to keep water out. 

You can also adjust the jacket at the waist and tighten the hood in windy conditions. This hiking jacket features zippered side pockets to secure your items.

Best Lighweight
The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Waterproof Hooded Jacket

Waterproof, breathable, seam-sealed DryVent™ 2L shell with mesh lining keeps you dry.
Elastic-bound cuffs.
Embroidered logo on left chest and back-right.
100% windproof fabric.
Standard fit.


Buying Guide – How to Choose the Best Hiking Jacket for You

How do you decide which is the best hiking jacket for you? Once you check off the boxes for waterproof, windproof, and breathable, you still have many choices. Perhaps these tips can help you narrow the list to one.

Find the Proper Fit

Think about how you like to hike and what other garments you wear. Consider how you want jackets to fit and how some features could impact your mobility.

  • Some hiking jackets fall to the waist, while others cover your rear.
  • Adjustable sleeves help with layering and shorter arms
  • If you like to wear hats, caps, or helmets, you need a hood that can handle them.

Material Matters

Many jackets claim to be waterproof, but they use different approaches. It’s a good idea to choose a coat that has Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating to keep the jacket from absorbing as much water. 

Gore-tex material is an excellent choice for the outer shell because it’s breathable and durable without adding excess weight. Rip-stop nylon is another option because it’s lightweight and water-resistant.

Note that all waterproof jackets eventually lose their ability to repel water, so you may have to reproof it at some point. To extend the life of your jacket, it’s essential to follow the care instructions on the label.

Pocket Power

Pockets remain an ongoing debate for women’s clothing. Thankfully, most hiking jackets have decent zippered pockets to carry your keys, phone, and other vital belongings. 

That said, the location may matter to you. Generally, these jackets have side pockets, internal pockets, or breast pockets. If the internal pocket feels too bulky, you may want to go with the dual side pockets.

The Verdict

We feel that the Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket is the best hiking jacket for women. It checks all the boxes and looks good doing it. 

If the price tag on the Arc’teryx Beta AR makes you cringe, the Columbia Arcadia II jacket is an affordable alternative that offers similar comfort and protection. Of course, you could always pick up The North Face Resolve 2 for a lighter-weight easy-to-pack option.

Our best advice for picking the best hiking jacket for you is to choose one that works for your needs!

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