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Tested: The Absolute Best Vests for Men in 2024

  • Mar 19, 2024
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Tested: The Absolute Best Vests for Men in 2024

There’s a time and place to utilize today’s most prominent outerwear. Sometimes, a quick jaunt outdoors doesn’t warrant the use of a heavy expeditionary jacket. A temperate fall evening doesn’t call for lined legwear, insulating layers, or wool socks. It’s obvious that transitory seasons aren’t always defined by their abrasive weather. For the days when unbearable heat and unprecedented cold aren’t an issue, you’ll be glad to hear that you won’t need to bring an article of heavy, hardly-used clothing. Instead, settle on something from our hands-on guide to the best men’s vests.

How We Tested

We understand that the right vest can make all the difference during those in-between seasons when you need some warmth without the bulk of a heavy jacket. And after consulting with coworkers and surveying the landscape (on and offline), we set out to put our favorite vests through their paces.

First off, we evaluated the materials; we wanted vests that were not only comfortable to wear but also durable enough to withstand everyday use. From lightweight synthetics to cozy down insulation, we made sure each vest was up to the task. We also looked at versatility, because a good vest should transition from outdoor adventures to the city with ease, making sure to test how well each vest paired with different outfits and activities. Of course, warmth was another important factor, so we wore each vest in various temperatures to gauge their ability to keep us comfortable without overheating. But our testing didn’t stop there; we took a look at practical features like pockets, zippers, and adjustability, because, after all, a vest is only as good as its details, and we wanted to make sure these picks had everything you need.

Measurements: I’m 6’2″ and like to go for an XL whenever I get jackets or vests, so each vest you see here is a size XL.

What to Look For

Purpose: First off, think about what you’ll mainly be using your vest for. Whether you’re hitting the trails, working hard, or just want to look sharp, knowing the main use helps narrow down the options.

Material: Next, consider the shell material; nylon is usually best for outdoor adventures and more active-oriented vests (especially since it offers some water resistance), while wool or tweed is best for more refined picks.

Fill: Sometimes, vests will come filled with something like down to boost the warmth and softness. But it’s not all about warmth, as many puffer jackets are just as much fashion statements as they are warm layers.

Fit: Fit is crucial as well, and you want to make sure whatever vest you’re eyeing has a tailored fit, giving you enough room for movement without being excessively snug or loose. If you plan on layering anything thicker than a long sleeve or a midweight sweater underneath, then you may want a slightly larger vest.

Style: Vests come in all kinds of styles, from casual outdoor vests to formal waistcoats (to those branded Patagonias you’ve probably seen everywhere). Consider the color, pattern, and all the design details you want to find one that meshes with your style (and the occasion).

Carhartt Rib Collar Insulated Vest – Relaxed Fit – Firm Duck

Pros
  • Affordable durability
  • Works as a super warm layer
  • YKK hardware
Cons
  • Can be too bulky if you’re not working in it

Best Work Vest: Carhartt kicks off our list with the Duck Vest — an outdoor staple that’s fluent in both technicality and trendiness. Unlike other utilitarian vests, this workwear-inspired example keeps things tasteful enough for wear off the job site, thanks to its simplistic design. That doesn’t mean it won’t stand up to anything you throw at it, however. A tough cotton duck construction allows it to be put through the paces, while arctic-weight polyester insulation provides improved coziness during the colder months. Wind and water-resistant qualities round out the labor-inclined piece.

Carhartt’s workwear is known to be some of the best you can get, and even though they’re having a moment in the fashion scene right now, that doesn’t change the label’s reliability or classic reputation. This vest is no exception, boasting a durable and heavyweight (12 ounces) 100% ring-spun cotton duck shell and sherpa lining, which was incredibly warm and wind-resistant (seriously, I went out into the morning cold at around 50°F and was surprised at how much warmth I got even with my arms exposed). You’re getting two large hand pockets, (also lined with sherpa), two internal pockets (one with a zipper and one with a hook-and-loop closure), a YKK zipper, and a rib knit collar. As for the fit, this is definitely a bit oversized, which makes layering underneath really nice, but it would be pretty tough to layer this underneath something unless it’s also oversized. 

Given the bulky build here (and warm sherpa lining), this is kind of a specific vest, and best used for blue-collar work or cold/windy conditions. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go for this pick if it catches your eye, but I’d definitely consider how you’d use it before pulling the trigger. The vest is also a bit stiff out of the box, but it breaks in as you wear it, so this shouldn’t be a problem (especially if you’re working in it).

Verdict: Hardwearing and ready to handle the cold, Carhartt’s sherpa-lined duck canvas vest is the perfect pick for anyone who’s doing hard work in harsh weather. But you don’t need to be a rugged outdoorsman to appreciate the timeless quality and (more recently) modern style here.

Shell: 12oz 100% ring-spun cotton duck
Fill/Insulation: Arctic weight polyester
Lining: Quilted nylon
Fit: Slightly oversized
Sizes: Regular (S – 5XL), Tall (L – 4XL)
Manufacturing Origin: Indonesia

Arc’teryx Atom SL Vest

Pros
  • Easy to pack away, making it a solid travel option
  • Really solid wind and water resistance
  • Sustainably-made with dope dyed fabric
Cons
  • High collar may not be for everyone

Best Active Vest: Arc’teryx has the world of technical outerwear in the palm of its hand, so it makes sense that the brand would boast a quintessential vest (or two) like the Atom SL Vest. This vest is insulated with the label’s Superlight Coreloft, making it ideal for physical activity and also providing needed warmth. It’s also light and easy to pack away, making travel easier if you choose to bring it.

Here, we have a very impressive layer from the legendary Arc’teryx, which serves as a bit of foil to Carhartt’s bulky work vest. This vest hails from the Atom Series (synthetic insulated mid layers) and boasts an SL (super light) construction that results in an incredibly lightweight and (surprisingly) warm layer. Although the fit (which is definitely true to size, if not a bit slim) and design here lends itself to being used as a mid-layer for stuff like hiking and skiing, you can easily rock this as a standalone piece, and I found it was easy to layer something like a flannel or a henley underneath. It’s built with a Tyono 20 denier shell with FC0 DWR treatment for water resistance, a (bluesign-approved) stretch fleece side panel for mobility, and Coreloft 40 insulation to keep you warm. It’s finished with two zippered hand pockets for storage and makes for the perfect travel vest, as it’s super easy to pack down. Also, the lining here has been dope dyed, a more sustainable process compared to yarn dying, which involves dyeing the fabric during the manufacturing process rather than after the fabric is made. 

Everything about this vest is designed to be streamlined and minimalist, giving you reliable and lightweight insulation. While this is great for layering, it makes this pick a bit harder to wear as a solo piece in especially cold weather. That said, this pick also makes for a solid cold-weather running vest, as it’s on the slimmer side and offers enough insulation while still being breathable.

Verdict: I was really impressed with the lightweight warmth here, and given how easy it is to layer with this pick, it makes for the perfect companion to your hiking, skiing, or outdoor ensemble.

Shell: 100% nylon Tyono 20 denier shell with FC0 DWR treatment
Fill/Insulation: 100% recycled polyester Coreloft 40
Lining: 100% nylon Dope Permeair 20D
Fit: True to size
Sizes: S – XXL
Manufacturing Origin: Bangladesh

Patagonia Nano Puff Vest

Pros
  • Windproof and water-resistant
  • Sustainable construction
  • Packs away into itself
Cons
  • Can be tight around the hips

Best Travel Vest: Patagonia’s Men’s Nano Puff Vest is a versatile and lightweight puffer that provides ample weather resistance and comfort. And since it’s made with compressible PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, it’s easy to pack away and take anywhere. Additionally, the recycled polyester shell is water-resistant and windproof, giving you reliable protection when the weather gets harsh. Much like Arc’teryx, there’s also no denying Patagonia’s dominance when it comes to vest, and they’re pretty much a must-have in any good vest guide.

Hailing from another outdoor legend, this vest from Patagonia strikes a nice middle ground between casual staple and rugged outdoor protection. It’s built with a recycled polyester ripstop shell that’s treated with a DWR finish for water resistance and 60g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation (which is incredibly warm and lightweight). You’re also getting a brick quilt pattern with horizontal quilt lines on the side panels for extra insulation and an adjustable drawcord on the hem to really seal in the warmth. Speaking of warmth, this was definitely one of the warmest picks in the guide, having no problem keeping me insulated in around 56°F weather. Two large zipper hand pockets on the side give you plenty of storage (YKK hardware is used throughout), and my favorite feature by far is the internal chest pocket that doubles as a carrying pouch for the vest (which can be packed away into itself for easy traveling). It was also super easy to pack it away into the dedicated pocket, and packs down to the size of your avearge dopp kit.

The fit here is advertised as regular, but it definitely felt a bit slimmer, so I recommend going a size up if you plan on layering anything bigger than a long-sleeve tee or a flannel underneath. That doesn’t mean it’s difficult to layer underneath, though, as I had no problem throwing it over the button-up I was wearing while testing (which was on the thicker side). 

Verdict: Lightweight, warm, and able to pack away into itself, I’d say this is a safe pick if you’re interested in a reliable vest that you can layer on top of for warmth, or rock solo to the office for some extra style, all while being able to take it anywhere with ease.

Shell: 1.4oz 20-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish
Fill/Insulation: 60g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco 100% postconsumer recycled polyester with P.U.R.E.
Lining: 1.3oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish
Fit: True to size
Sizes: XS – 3XL
Manufacturing Origin: Vietnam

Taylor Stitch The Workhorse Vest

Pros
  • YKK hardware
  • Made with organic cotton
  • Fabric as been double-dyed and stone-washed

Best Durable Vest: Taylor Stitch’s Workhorse Vest takes on an inherently understated appearance, thanks to the company’s love of heritage goods. As such, it fits right in with the brand’s other iconic offerings, thanks to its timeless silhouette. But don’t let its vintage styling fool you; the vest is chock-full of amazing details that keep it afloat in a sea of modern offerings. It’s made with 12.5oz of organic cotton and filled with recycled polyester for warmth. Each example also boasts a suite of aesthetically pleasing details, including YKK hardware, a zippered internal chest pocket, and acrylic rib on the neck opening.

Taylor Stitch masterfully elevates menswear classics using deadstock fabrics, clean designs, and refined details. This vest has all that and then some, made with an organic cotton plain weave canvas that’s been double-dyed and stone-washed to give you a lived-in look and feel, and it feels incredibly durable. The design here is basically a sleeveless version of Taylor Stitch’s Workhorse Jacket (evidenced by the acrylic rib neck opening, which is very bomber jacket-esque), and you’re getting quilted nylon lining for insulation, along with two angled patch pockets to keep your hands warm, and it’s finished with YKK hardware. As for the fit, it felt mostly true to size, and I was surprised by how versatile the layering options were, considering the cotton canvas construction (which isn’t as thick as something like Carhartt’s vest, but still very durable). 

I really don’t have any criticisms for this vest; it’s super clean and simple but uses high-quality hardware and material to give you that workwear look and reliability. That said, much of Taylor Stitch’s apparel is part of a small-batch manufacturing run, which means it can be hard to get a hold of if they’re sold out.

Verdict: Unlike Carhartt’s bulky work vest, this pick strikes a nice balance between workwear and style, offering a look and fit that’s versatile enough to rock while working hard in the outdoors or in the office.

Shell: 12.5oz 100% organic cotton
Fill/Insulation: Recycled polyester fill
Lining: 3oz 100% recycled nylon quilted lining
Fit: Slightly fitted
Sizes: XS – XXL
Manufacturing Origin: China

Reigning Champ Lightweight Tafetta Warm Up Vest

Pros
  • High quality nylon sourced from Japan
  • YKK zipper
  • Minimalist look that goes with anything
Cons
  • A bit hard to use as a mid-layer

Best Lightweight Vest: Reigning Champ’s Lightweight Tafetta Warm Up Vest is a classic, quilt-through silhouette that was crafted to bring inclement weather to its knees. It’s inherently urban but does its part to counteract frozen environments through the utilization of an adjustable shock cord hem, and an embroidered stowaway pocket for easy packability. Dive deeper, and you’ll find a 750-fill-power goose down, slant pockets, and a water-resistant nylon shell that helps to keep sudden bursts of precipitation from ruining your day.

If you’ve made it this far into the guide waiting for a classic, no-nonsense puffer to come along, then Reigning Champ has you covered with the Lightweight Tafetta Warm Up Vest. It boasts a recycled nylon shell (with nylon from Japan) that’s treated with a DWR finish for water resistance, and filled with RDS-certified (Responsible Down Standard) goose down (750 fill power) to keep you warm. Insulation here is on par with Patagonia’s puffer, meaning you can depend on it to keep you warm in pretty cold conditions (it worked perfectly for me in around 58°F weather). As for the fit, Reigning Champ is advertising it as slim, but it felt a lot more true to size (especially compared to Patagonia’s, which was a little tighter) and allowed me to easily layer something like a crewneck underneath. It’s equipped with two slanted patch pockets, an embroidered stowaway pocket, and an internal zippered chest pocket. It’s finished with an adjustable shock cord around the hem to lock in heat and a YKK Vislon zipper.

Given the puffier/slightly beefier build with this vest, I found it a bit harder to layer underneath jackets. But other than that, this is a super simple puffer that’s perfect for anyone who wants something minimalist yet reliable. Also, given the slim fit here, you may want to go for a size up, especially if you’re on the bigger side.

Verdict: Reigning Champ comes through with yet another stripped-back yet high-quality piece, boasting nylon from Japan and a DWR finish to keep you warm and protected. The minimalist style also means this vest is super easy to style with just about anything.

Shell: 100% nylon
Fill/Insulation: 750 down fill power (goose down)
Lining: None
Fit: Slim
Sizes: XS – XXL
Manufacturing Origin: Vietnam

Flint and Tinder Quilted Wax Vest

Pros
  • Made with waxed canvas from British Millerain
  • Contrast lining made with Japanese polyester
  • Waterproof and wind-resistant
Cons
  • Waxed canvas requires specific care

Best Waxed Vest: Flint and Tinder brings yet another heritage-inspired icon to the table with the Quilted Wax Vest. Using a similar waxed canvas as the famous waxed trucker jacket from FnT, you’re getting British Millerain Cambridge 6 Wax cotton canvas and recycled Primaloft insulation that’s incredibly soft and reliably warm. It’s finished with contrast lining made with Japanese polyester and diamond quilting both in and outside.

Built with 100% British Millerain Cambridge 6 Wax cotton canvas and designed to last a lifetime (much like the famous waxed canvas trucker jacket from FnT), this waxed canvas vest offers the best of both worlds, giving you rugged outdoor-ready protection and city-friendly style. You’re getting a waxed canvas shell (again, courtesy of the legendary British Millerain) for water protection with a diamond quilt, contrast lining made with Japanese polyester (also diamond quilted), and recycled Primaloft insulation for warmth. The fit here is true to size, with a bit of room to layer underneath (which was super easy, even with thicker stuff like crewnecks), and it’s not as thick as you’d think, which made it easy to layer underneath jackets as well. Warmth was also super solid, keeping me insulated in ~59°F weather, and it’s finished with custom Flint and Tinder snaps, two hand pockets, a buttoned chest pocket, and an internal chest pocket with a zippered closure for extra storage. 

Waxed canvas requires specific care (only spot cleaning, rewaxing, etc.), which makes this pick a bit more of an investment time-wise compared to other picks in the guide. The material here also makes this a bit stiff compared to a puffer, but it’s still comfortable and definitely not a deal breaker. 

Verdict: Boasting a waxed canvas shell from British Millerain and Japanese polyester lining, you’re really getting the best of both worlds with this vest, with waterproof protection coming together with versatile style.

Shell: 100% British Millerain Cambridge 6 Wax cotton canvas
Fill/Insulation: 100% recycled Primaloft
Lining: 100% Japanese polyester
Fit: True to size
Sizes: XS – XXL
Manufacturing Origin: Indonesia

Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest

Pros
  • Old-school look and feel
  • Made in the States
  • Made entirely of virgin Mackinaw wool
Cons
  • Some may not like the hand feel of wool

Best Wool Vest: Filson continues to impress us with reliably classic gear that always performs, making them a favorite over here at HICONSUMPTION. The Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest is another versatile vest that works as a layer, a solo piece, and can even be reversed for more options. Crafted with care here in the States, it’s made with 100% virgin Mackinaw Wool and comes with open-stow and slotted-utility chest pockets for a workwear slant.

Filson is a true OG in the American outdoor space and continues to prove why it’s been such a mainstay with pieces like this vest here. It’s made entirely of virgin Mackinaw wool (a dense, heavyweight, and water-repellent woolen cloth) that’s incredibly warm, and a lot softer than you’d expect. It’s designed for ranchers, workers, and outdoor enthusiasts, but has a clean design that really could go with anything (which is a big reason it’s been such a staple among Filson’s offerings for over fifty years now). You’re getting a button-front closure and a v-shaped neckline, along with two hand pockets, one open-stow chest pocket, and a slotted-utility chest pocket for storing tools and accessories. The fit is advertised as roomy, but I felt it was a little more true to size (you’re seeing an XL here); that doesn’t mean this can’t be used for layering, though, as I found it pretty easy to throw it over a flannel and underneath a thick jacket (which the v-shape neckline helps out with).

The only negative here is that wool can be itchy if you’re body isn’t used to wearing it, thankfully, vests are worn over other clothing, so this shouldn’t be a problem. This definitely has more of an old-school vibe to it as well, which may not be for everyone, but I personally liked the classic aesthetic. Also, the “uncommonly tight weave” of the wool means this vest is really good at blocking wind and makes it easy to brush dirt off.

Verdict: Absolutely classic and just oozing old-school style, this wool vest from Filson is built to be versatile, warm, and ultra-breathable. It’s also super easy to layer with and take care of, offering enough room to wear underneath a jacket or over a shirt.

Shell: 100% virgin Mackinaw Wool
Fill/Insulation: None
Lining: None
Fit: Slightly fitted
Sizes: XS – 3XL
Manufacturing Origin: USA

Vests Comparison Chart

Vest Shell Fill/Insulation Lining Fit Sizes Manufacturing Origin
Carhartt Rib Collar Insulated Vest – Relaxed Fit – Firm Duck 12oz 100% ring-spun cotton duck Arctic weight polyester Quilted nylon Slightly oversized Regular (S – 5XL), Tall (L – 4XL) Indonesia
Arc’teryx Atom SL Vest 100% nylon Tyono 20 denier shell with FC0 DWR treatment 100% recycled polyester Coreloft 40 100% nylon Dope Permeair 20D True to size S – XXL Bangladesh
Patagonia Nano Puff Vest 1.4oz 20-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish 60g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco 100% postconsumer recycled polyester with P.U.R.E. 1.3oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish True to size XS – 3XL Vietnam
Taylor Stitch The Workhorse Vest 12.5oz 100% organic cotton Recycled polyester fill 3oz 100% recycled nylon quilted lining Slightly fitted XS – XXL China
Reigning Champ Lightweight Tafetta Warm Up Vest 100% nylon 750 down fill power (goose down) None Slim XS – XXL Vietnam
Flint and Tinder Quilted Wax Vest 100% British Millerain Cambridge 6 Wax cotton canvas 100% recycled Primaloft 100% Japanese polyester True to size XS – XXL Indonesia
Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest 100% virgin Mackinaw Wool None None Slightly fitted XS – 3XL USA

WHAT ARE VESTS FOR?

The vest is a staple in the history of men’s outerwear, but applying it at the right time has always been a bit of a toss-up. Luckily, modern variants are encroaching on the realm of the traditional jacket, thanks to their innovative technologies. Unlike their counterparts from the tail-end of the 20th century, today’s models revel in their utilitarian construction, implementing things like Ripstop nylon, water-resistant shells, and quick-drying down for unparalleled heat retention. The best part? They’re the sleeveless alternative to heavier mainstays that don’t mesh well with the changing seasons. If you’re looking for a garment that can help bridge the gap between summer, fall, winter, and spring, then a vest is a good choice.

HOW TO STYLE A VEST

Because there are so many options to choose from, there aren’t any hard and fast rules for putting an outfit together with a vest. But puffers go well with other outdoor staples like hiking shoes (or Timbs if you’re a New York reader) and work well as a solo piece with a more streetwear-oriented fit. Additionally, other vests can double as layers, so the options are really limitless.

Why Wear a Vest instead of a Jacket?

Besides the clear stylistic differences (and lack of arms), vests vary in a few key ways when compared to jackets. Vests are better for layering when you don’t want something as bulky as a jacket, and offer a better range of motion, along with more styling options (both formal and casual). Vests are also great if you tend to run hot and or want a layer for the shoulder seasons, as they’re usually not quite as warm as jackets.

Honorable Mentions

With its iconic color-blocking design and retro silhouette, The North Face’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Vest pays homage to the classic outdoor look while blending in modern materials to keep things fresh. Crafted with 700-fill goose down insulation and a durable ripstop exterior, it offers exceptional warmth and protection, making it the perfect choice for adventures (in any season).

The L.L.Bean Upcountry Waxed Cotton Down Vest is a rugged yet stylish addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s wardrobe. You’re getting 650-fill-power-down insulation and a water-resistant shell that’ll keep you warm (and dry) on chilly adventures. Plus, its classic design and durable construction make it a reliable choice for years to come.

Canada Goose is the ultimate authority when it comes to luxurious cold weather protection, and the Lawrence Puffer Vest captures the brand’s premium vibe with a lightweight construction that’s perfect for wearing year-round. It’s made with recycled Enduraluxe and features reflective double stripe grab straps on the back.

If you’re interested in a more laid-back, summer-ready vest with a bit of a retro vibe, the Ecru and Multi Coloured Cotton Cashmere Western Knit Vest from Drake’s is the perfect choice. You’re getting a lightweight blend of cotton and cashmere with a throwback pattern inspired by traditional American knitwear.

The Ralph Lauren Plaid Wool Tweed Vest is another classic, more formal pick akin to the Filson wool vest we’ve featured in the guide, and gives you that old-school look. Bolstering this old-school look, you’re getting a plaid wool cloth that was woven exclusively for Polo Ralph Lauren, courtesy of the famous Irish mill, Magee 1866.

The Best Chukka Boots for Versatile Style

Now that you have a puffer that looks and feels good, you’ll probably want some shoes that do that just as well. So check out our best men’s chukka boots guide.


Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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