Fall is the season of layering, and few pieces of clothing fit the seasonal requirement like a great men’s outdoor vest. Yes, we know, the vest has been experiencing a bit of a crisis these past years. It’s been memed to death and has a bit of a bad rep because of associations with certain businesses. But, no matter. The vest is an outwear staple that still belongs in your closet.
Modern men’s outwear vests blend technical materials and functionality with a nice dose of style. Often filled with down and usually featuring weather-fighting exterior fabrics like ripstop nylon or even waxed cotton, vests can be worn atop just about anything. A vest works in a pinch over a thermal base layer or a breathable, stylish sweater for day hikes and weekend coffee runs. The best men’s vests can also be paired with rugged style staples like a chambray shirt and henley for casual autumn brewery-hopping. Casual fabrics like flannel and chambray work well with them, too.
Interested in stepping up your vest game? Below you’ll find some of our favorite new offerings. A word to the wise: Whatever vest you wear, don’t throw it on over a dress shirt. Unless, that is, you want to become a walking meme.
The vest gets a decidedly modern update here by way of a space-age blend of nylon infused with lightweight graphene. That material is topped off with a Durable Water Repellent coating to defend against seasonal elements. The poly insulation is lightweight but warm, and the half-zip design provides options in terms of breathability and layering.
Austin-based Howler Brothers designs its gear with both adventure and good times in mind. Translation: you get a vest that’s ready for the outdoors (with PrimaLoft insulation and a water-resistant ripstop fabric), and stylish enough to layer over a henley while you down a cold one post-hike. It’s also hard not to love the lightning quilted design, a unique touch that’s a far cry from corporate logo vests.
Technical innovation meets city-ready style via this premium Canadian duck down men's quilted vest. The exterior blends polyester and wool for weather-ready warmth, and fleece-lined zipper pockets keep your digits toasty while storing your everyday carry. Let’s not ignore the price tag: At nearly $500, this vest is the most expensive on this list. It’s also the dressiest, most functional, option.
Faherty has a knack for taking classic pieces and then dialing in the fabric, the fit and the feel in a way that’s premium and more than worthy of your hard-earned cash. Here, they used the brand’s Teton Valley Jacket as inspiration for this soft cotton, polyester and wool vest filled with recycled polyester PrimaLoft insulation. Complete with both snap buttons and a zipper front, you can customize your layered look to your heart’s content for off-grid adventures aplenty. Bonus points if you layer it over a stretch Faherty flannel shirt.
The traditional vest gets a streamlined, tech-savvy update in the hands of performance menswear brand Mack Weldon. It’s fully reversible and made with a quilted lining on one side, and a herringbone exterior. Best of all? Both sides are water-resistant and include a plethora of pockets. For your commute, try throwing on the vest (herringbone side facing out) atop a navy blazer or V-neck sweater for a bit of city-minded style.
If you’ve trusted Barbour to outfit you for the road with a waxed jacket for years, then it’s worth going back to the well and seeing what else the famed British heritage outfitters has waiting in the wings. This handsome vest in a rich shade of Bordeaux features a snap-button, wind-blocking collar and a lightweight, layering-friendly quilted design. Consider teaming it with a Barbour sweater to battle fierce seasonal weather on your next road trip.
Marine Layers nods to retro style ever so slightly with a colorblocked vest lined with soft flannel for all the winter warmth you need. This is the kind of vest made to be worn with one of Marine Layer’s comfortable-as-can-be henleys or buttondown shirts alongside an expertly faded pair of jeans.