This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which hooded vest is best?

Wearing the right garment for the weather can be a challenge, especially when exercising or during parts of spring and fall when it can be too mild for a coat but not warm enough for a T-shirt or sweater. Hooded vests are ideal for this kind weather and for engaging in activities where you need a full range of motion in your arms. 

If you’re looking for a durable and versatile garment, consider the Carhartt Washed Duck Hooded Vest

What to know before you buy a hooded vest

Types of hooded vests

With a range of vests on the market, it’s important to spend some time and consider which option best fits your needs. Most vests fit into one of three broad categories: cool weather, lightweight and technical. 

  • Cool weather vests: Cool weather vests, such as puffer vests, are perfect for cold days, especially when you’ll be engaging in the kind of activity that might make you feel too hot in a coat. These garments are usually filled, padded or lined for insulation. 
  • Lightweight vests: When there’s a slight chill in the air that makes wearing just a tee or sweater an unwelcome concept, but a padded vest would make you feel too hot, a lightweight version is a perfect choice. This type of vest is also ideal for layering between a sweater and a coat during significantly cold weather. 
  • Technical vests: These are designed for exercising in and are made from technical materials that help wick away moisture and dry quickly so they won’t become wet and heavy if you sweat into them. 


Vests come in adult and child sizes. Some brands offer a greater range of sizes than others, venturing into plus sizes or tall sizes, while others stick to straight sizes, which is limiting for some buyers. 

Child sizes usually give you an age range that they’re suited to, while adult versions are usually sized in small, medium, large, et cetera rather than numerical dress sizes or waist sizes. It’s always a good idea to check the size chart before buying online since there’s no uniformity of sizing between brands.

What to look for in a quality hooded vest


You can find vests in a range of natural materials, such as cotton, and synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon. While natural materials are more breathable than synthetics or general wear, technical materials are best for wearing during exercise because they’re specially designed to wick sweat and dry fast. 


Some vests are waterproof or water-resistant. This is great if you like to be outside whatever the weather or you get caught in the rain. 


Machine-washable garments are ideal, especially when wearing them for exercise or as a mid-layer. If you intend to wear your vest as an outer layer, like you would a coat, it won’t need frequent washing so its ease of cleaning isn’t quite as important. 

Color choices

You can find vests in basically any color of the rainbow, but basic colors, such as black, gray and khaki, are more popular than bright hues so you may have to shop around if you have a particular shade in mind. 

How much you can expect to spend on a hooded vest

Most vests with hoods cost roughly $25-$100. Expect to pay more for those made from high-quality technical materials or made by popular brands. 

Hooded vest FAQ

When should you wear a vest? 

A. Of course, you can wear a vest whenever you like, but this type of garment is best suited to days when it’s too cool for just a sweater but not cold enough for a full-on coat or when it’s moderately cold but you’ll be engaging in strenuous activity. A vest keeps your core warm but keeps you from overheating when you’re running, cycling or even going on a vigorous hike. 

Vests are also great when you’re working outside and need to keep a full range of motion in your arms, such as when chopping wood or gardening. Plus, you can wear them as a mid-layer between a sweater and a coat when it’s especially cold out. 

Do hooded vests have pockets? 

A. This depends on the vest, but many do. When you’re out exercising or engaging in physical tasks, it’s useful to have pockets to hold essentials, such as your keys, phone and wallet, so you don’t need to carry a bag with you.

What’s the best hooded vest to buy?

Top hooded vest

Carhartt Washed Duck Hooded Vest

Carhartt Washed Duck Hooded Vest

What you need to know: Made from hard-wearing cotton duck, this vest is a durable choice for working outside or casual wear. 

What you’ll love: It’s lined with Thinsulate insulation so it’s warm without looking bulky. It has large side pockets and a zippered front. You can choose from black or taupe gray. 

What you should consider: It runs slightly large, which is good if you want to layer up underneath but if not, consider buying a size smaller than you usually wear. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hooded vest for the money

Little Donkey Andy Lightweight Softshell Vest

Little Donkey Andy Lightweight Softshell Vest

What you need to know: This lightweight vest is perfect for exercising in or worn as a mid-layer. 

What you’ll love: The stretchy fabric won’t restrict your range of motion. It’s windproof and water-resistant to keep you comfortable whatever the weather throws at you. It has zippered side pockets and a chest pocket. 

What you should consider: The sizing is small, so you should order a size up. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Wantdo Hooded Puffer Vest

Wantdo Hooded Puffer Vest

What you need to know: With a puffer body and jersey hoodie-style hood, this is a stylish choice. 

What you’ll love: The polyester-filled puffed body keeps the core warm. It has hand pockets on the sides and an inner pocket that’s nicely secure. It comes in four colors: black, blue, gray and army green. 

What you should consider: The zipper isn’t of the best quality and may not last over time. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.