Tactical Jackets: Which One You Should Pick in 2018?

There are two types of tactical jacket users, professional service users, and casual users. The difference between the two users is in how employers regulate uniforms. Apart from deciding which jacket to pick to meet specific requirements, professional and casual tactical jacket wearers must match their jacket to specific environments.

Choosing the best tactical jacket for you requires some considerations, these include purpose, pricing, size, material, durability and environmental considerations.

PhotoProduct nameMore information
1. 5.11 Tactical Fleece1. 5.11 Tactical FleeceView on Amazon
2. Condor 602: SUMMIT Soft Shell Jacket2. Condor 602: SUMMIT Soft Shell JacketView on Amazon
3. FREE SOLDIER Men's Jackets Outdoor Waterproof Softshell Hooded Tactical Jacket3. FREE SOLDIER Men's Jackets Outdoor Waterproof Softshell Hooded Tactical JacketView on Amazon
4. MAGCOMSEN Men’s Winter Jacket Softshell Waterproof Jacket4. MAGCOMSEN Men’s Winter Jacket Softshell Waterproof JacketView on Amazon
5. Rothco 3-in-1 Spec Ops Soft Shell Jacket5. Rothco 3-in-1 Spec Ops Soft Shell JacketView on Amazon
6. ReFire Gear Men's Army Special Ops Military Tactical Jacket Softshell Fleece Hooded Outdoor Coat6. ReFire Gear Men's Army Special Ops Military Tactical Jacket Softshell Fleece Hooded Outdoor CoatView on Amazon
7. Condor 101136: Cirrus Tech7. Condor 101136: Cirrus TechView on Amazon
8. Condor 601: ALPHA Micro Fleece Jacket8. Condor 601: ALPHA Micro Fleece JacketView on Amazon
9. 5.11 5-in-1 Jacket9. 5.11 5-in-1 JacketView on Amazon
10. Condor 606: PHANTOM Soft Shell Jacket10. Condor 606: PHANTOM Soft Shell JacketView on Amazon
11. ZAPT 1000D CORDURA US Army Tactical Jacket Military Waterproof Windproof Hard-Shell Jackets11. ZAPT 1000D CORDURA US Army Tactical Jacket Military Waterproof Windproof Hard-Shell JacketsView on Amazon
12. Camo Coll Men’s Outdoor Soft Shell Hooded Tactical Jacket12. Camo Coll Men’s Outdoor Soft Shell Hooded Tactical JacketView on Amazon
13. Maelstrom® TAC PRO Tactical Soft-Shell Jacket13. Maelstrom® TAC PRO Tactical Soft-Shell JacketView on Amazon
14. Rothco Concealed Carry Soft Shell Jacket14. Rothco Concealed Carry Soft Shell JacketView on Amazon
15. TACVasen Men's Special Ops Military Tactical Soft-Shell Jacket Coat15. TACVasen Men's Special Ops Military Tactical Soft-Shell Jacket CoatView on Amazon

Purpose

This is the first consideration since it will focus your attention on the type, style, and model of the jacket you need to wear.

What is the tactical jacket going to be used for? Is it for casual everyday use, or is it mission related? Do you need to carry a concealed weapon or lots of equipment? Does it need to be placed in a bulletproof vest?

If you work for law enforcement or security, are you limited to uniforms or can you add a personal tactical jacket that meets your employer’s guidelines? Other questions that need to be asked about purpose is how frequently you will wear the jacket? Will you wear it every day? A few hours every day?

Other considerations regarding purpose are presented in the following categories.

Size

It doesn’t matter whether you will wear your jacket only a few hours a day or wear it all day. If the size is not right, it will either impeded your mobility. When a jacket is too tight, or small, it will flat out annoy you, as well as look ridiculous.

If it is too big and floppy, it will hinder your efficiency as well as look shabby. Size is extremely important in all factors of the jacket, these don’t just include the general size, but sleeve length, armpit and shoulder fit, neck fit and back fit.

Remember, everybody is different, from a wide shouldered large chested bodybuilder to a small, slim figure, from a portly wide necked body to a tall, thin, sinewy body. Everyone is different, and all tactical jackets are fabricated in a specific fashion, they are not tailor-made to suit your body. This is why you need to check everyone before you buy it. Are the sleeves too long or too short? Does it restrict you around your shoulders and delts? Perhaps the length is too long over your pants. IS it just right but won’t close around your girth, or perhaps your neck is thick and closing it in winter is a problem.

Since a tactical jacket is worn for “tactical” purposes, it is imperative that the jacket allows you freedom of movement. So, size is a big issue, and perhaps the first issue to contend with after you decide on the design or purpose.

Material

Under this section come some issues, these include durability, warmth, and strength. The material and the way a jacket is stitched and sealed determine its durability and operability. There are many different materials and mixes, as well as designs aimed for either heavy-duty protective work which is usually outdoors, and then weather conditions factor in to determine which materials and protective coatings should be included.

Then there is the lightweight or chase intensive work where you need to be quick on your feet and capable of jumping over obstacles with ease, the last thing you want is a heavy-duty jacket impeding your progress.

Weather conditions and your environment will also factor into the material you use. If you live in a wet, cold climate, you will use different materials and thickness as well as insulation from people living in either dry or humid hot climates.
tactical jacket
Another factor for consideration is stealth and sound, which leads to fabric covering and design, do you need to be quiet, do you need to conceal a lot of equipment? These are all factors used to evaluate the different types of materials used in a good tactical jacket.

Hypo-allergenic

Materials can be a source of the allergy, such as synthetic fibers as well as natural fibers. Such as cotton and wool. Synthetics include nylon, rayon, polyester and more. Make sure you the fabric mix does not cause you irritation to a specific contact allergy.

Layers

Different layers of different materials. When designing a jacket, fabricators must take into account comfort as well as durability. This means that in most cases there is more than one layer to any jacket. You will have a comfortable and smooth inner lining, with a specific outer lining. There might be a few thermal or insulative layers in between. Check what each layer is made of, and for what purpose they are placed.

Stitching

Double check the stitching to see that it reinforces the layers as well as key areas that are more mobile, such as shoulder and arm joint areas, as well as all pockets.

Durability

Apart from the material, your tactical jacket has to be durable to extreme conditions. This means wear and tear as well as washing and cleaning. The last thing you want is a jacket that stains and tears easily, or when you clean it, either the stains don’t come out, or the color wears off quickly.

Storage

What is the purpose of the jacket? Is it just to wear and protect you or do you need somewhere to store a lot of equipment. Pockets, either visible or hidden need to be abundant in tactical jackets. They should all be reinforced for handling the weight as well as being durable when in harsh environments. For waterproof tactical jackets, you will need pockets that provide absolute waterproofing.

Environment

The environmental issues are about both weather and situation. The first consideration is your location, where will you be wearing your jacket? The climate is key to factoring in the heat insulation issues because if you live in a hot climate, you don’t want a heavy jacket, just as much as you don’t want light and airy one in a cold climate.

Waterproofing is important in humid and wet climates, and you will need to consider strict waterproofing if you work in waterlogged environments such as lakes, seas, and swamps.

Dustproofing is also a factor to consider, although less damaging than water, accumulated dust will eventually hinder performance as well as lead to a lot of wear and tear.

Stain-proofing is also an issue when you are involved in conditions that can lead to oil, grease, and blood staining. From woodlands to urban industrial zones, there are plenty of places to snag your jacket, or et them covered in all kinds of substances. Make sure you have specific material protection for extra performance, such as a Teflon coating.

Color

In most civilian uses, color is more of a fashion statement or personal preference and doesn’t play an integral role in the jackets performance. However, in law enforcement and security, a jacket must meet basic requirements. This means you need to buy a black, dark blue or whatever color the company demands. Military or hunting uses require specific camo style coloring, and that can be matched to whatever environment you will be operating in.

Tactical Jacket Syntax

Breathable: This is used to describe materials that allow the body to breathe fresh air while the jacket is

Concealed carry: A pocket or section in the jacket used to conceal a handgun.

Drag strap: Straps that are made of strong material and attached with reinforced stitching to a jacket that allows an injured wearer to be dragged to safety without worrying that the jacket will tear.

Drawstring enclosure: These are sealing mechanisms made of string that when both sides are pulled at the same time, the aperture of the sleeve or jacket opening closes around the body part, effectively sealing the area from water, air, etc. flowing into the cavity.

Military jacket: A jacket designed for one of two functions, military combat wear, or military parade wear. They come in a variety of shapes and colors.

Moisture wicking: This is the term used to describe how natural fibers of the jacket suck away the sweat of the wearer and dissipate the moisture naturally, keeping the wearer dry. Synthetic fibers do not perform as well as natural fibers.

MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. These are nylon cinch strap attachments stitched to a jacket that allows the wearer to attach various pieces of equipment and weapons.

Tactical jacket: A jacket designed for law enforcement agencies, that has crossed over to civilian use, these jackets are designed for file work functionality and combat situations.

Thermal: This refers to the energy that is retained in the jacket, which is used to keep the wearer warm in cold environments.

Venting: This is a design that allows air to flow between certain areas in the jacket, increasing coolness and breathability. Vents are usually made up of mesh and placed in specific areas such as the armpits.

Now that you have the basics let’s take a look at the current best tactical jackets for 2018.

1. 5.11 Tactical Fleece

Quality86%
Reliability85%
Practicality85%
Price86%

This is 5.11 tactical fleece model, and 5.11 is one of the world’s leading brands so you can rest assured that this jacket comes with all the right materials, stitching, and insulation to make it an excellent tactical jacket for cool weather conditions. This jacket provides great protection in windy conditions and is designed for mobility and durability.

The 5.11 tactical fleece comes with a backup belt system for extra support and is a little pricier than similar models, but that’s because you are getting top quality. 5.11 incorporated their TacTec System™ hidden chest pockets system, mic clips on each shoulder, as well as reinforced collars, shoulders, and elbows. Since this is an all-weather jacket, it also has zippered handwarmer pockets.

This jacket offers great money for value ratio.

Other features include:

  • Dual Interior pockets
  • Side zippers and snaps
  • All-weather fleece
  • Tapered fit
  • YKK® zipper hardware
  • Prym® snaps

 

 

2. Condor 602: SUMMIT Soft Shell Jacket

Quality83%
Reliability82%
Practicality82%
Price87%

The Condor Summit is a cold weather tactical jacket designed for comfort and utility. It comes with a three-layer integrated shell as well as water-resistant fabrics that wick moisture while maintaining body heat. The This tactical jacket integrates underarm vents for temperature control, and they have reinforced the forearms, as well as added multiple pockets for utility and storage.

This is a waterproof, breathable and lightweight jacket with a triple layer combo made of 100% polyester. The outer Layer is a constructed polyester, 4-way elastic, high-density fabric with DuPont™ Teflon® Coating. The insulation layer is a breathable film membrane, and the inner layer is a 150 g/m² 100% fleece. It comes with a drawstring waistband, a lined stand-up collar with a stow-away hoodie, and 2to 3.5″W x 4″H shoulder patch panels.

The Condor Summit includes 2 internal pockets, 2 high-rise slash chest pockets, a Forearm pocket and a double zipper back pocket. They also added a double layer reinforcement of the forearm as well as an extra stitch in the underarm vent zipper.

This jacket requires special cleaning attention; do not Bleach, nor Iron, and do not dry clean. You must wash the jacket inside out in low temperature and only tumble dry using low heat.
 

 

3. FREE SOLDIER Men’s Jackets Outdoor Waterproof Softshell Hooded Tactical Jacket

Quality80%
Reliability82%
Practicality79%
Price90%

The Free Soldier tactical jacket is made out of DINTEX soft shell fabric for its outer layer, and a fleece lining for its interior. This is a water-resistant model, for use in colder climates, and is expected to be worn outdoors and for duty work. The design incorporates many pockets that are also designed to repel water. However, don’t go swimming in it, this jacket is rain waterproof to a certain degree.

The Free Soldier tactical jacket comes with a high collar and hat combo, which means that the head covering can be rolled up to act as an extra provision on dry, windy days. The design uses an adjustable Velcro cuff and a thickened elbow section.

The Free Soldier tactical jacket provides great insulation and durability in most cool and windy environments.
 

 

4. MAGCOMSEN Men’s Winter Jacket Softshell Waterproof Jacket

Quality84%
Reliability82%
Practicality83%
Price87%

Magcomsen is the brand of Xiamen LAS Trading Co., Ltd. They only sell via reseller sites, and they provide an affordable shark skin soft shell fabric with a comfortable fleece lining.

This is a waterproof model and has drawstrings at the sleeves and hood, making it thermally windproof. This model comes with six pockets for extra storage and Velcro straps. This is a medium range tactical jacket for the more budget conscious but stylish buyer.
 

 

5. Rothco 3-in-1 Spec Ops Soft Shell Jacket

Quality86%
Reliability84%
Practicality63%
Price84%

Rothco is a world leading brand that provides excellent quality in all their products. The Rothco Special Ops tactical jacket is windproof and comes in three layers. This tactical jacket is perfect for everyday activities and extremely cold climates. The inner layer is removable and comes with its own full-length attachment zipper.

The outer layer is waterproofed 100% polyester and comes with loads of pockets for extra storage space. There are 2 zippered shoulder pockets, 2 slash chest pockets, a dual zipper back pocket, 2 interior zippered pockets, forearm zipper pocket which is double layer reinforced.

The hood is detachable and comes with a drawstring, the wrist cuffs are elastic and come with a hook & loop closure. The waist also has an adjustable drawstring, and the shoulders come with a 4” x 4” hook & loop.

This a more expensive buy, but it is well worth the price and will provide you with many years of high durability, and comfortable use.
 

 

6. ReFire Gear Men’s Army Special Ops Military Tactical Jacket Softshell Fleece Hooded Outdoor Coat

Quality85%
Reliability83%
Practicality82%
Price88%

Re-Fire provides us with a waterproof, windproof 100% polyester cold weather tactical jacket. This is great value for money, and you get a warm fleece liner with a hook & loop adjustable wrist cuff, and Velcro patches for your insignia patches.

The jacket comes with drawstrings at the waist and hood and 7 zipper pockets. These 7 pockets include two chest pockets, two back pockets, and three sleeve pockets. The front of the jacket is sealed with a double two-way zipper for extra durability.

This is a classy jacket that looks professional and provides great protection and mobility.
 

 

7. Condor 101136: Cirrus Tech

Quality85%
Reliability85%
Practicality83%
Price89%

The Condor CIRRUS is a multi-function technical soft fleece 100% polyester jacket. In cooler climates, it can be worn as an under jacket. Condor provides you with a lightweight, waterproof jacket that comes with a drawstring waist and hood and a lined stand-up collar.

The Condor features double zipped back pockets and double layered forearms. Although this is a costlier item, you are paying for high quality as well as for a jacket that is essentially two jackets, it is either a standalone waterproof jacket by itself, or it can act as an under-lining jacket for another outer layer in extremely cold climates.
 

 

8. Condor 601: ALPHA Micro Fleece Jacket

Quality88%
Reliability85%
Practicality84%
Price85%

Condor gives us another winner, this time it’s their Alpha microfleece, which means it’s even lighter and more durable while providing the same waterproof and thermal insulation as either a wear alone jacket or as an under-layer jacket in extreme weather conditions.

The jacket is made up of 285 g/m² 100% polyester fleece and a mesh lining that includes an oxford reinforcement. The interior lining is a laminated polyester netting fabric

The Condor 601, or Alpha comes with a plethora of features, including an abrasion-reinforced collar, shoulder, and forearm. The storage facilities are ample and include a vertical chest pocket, 2 slash hand pockets, and a shoulder pocket.

Sleeves are 2” extendible and include a thumb-hole. You can seal the jacket with a drawstring waistband, and you have 2 x 3.5″W x 4″H shoulder patch panels for identification purposes. This model comes with a full front double zipper
 

 

9. 5.11 5-in-1 Jacket

Quality94%
Reliability93%
Practicality93%
Price80%

The 5.11 5-in-1 Jacket™ is an engineered all-weather duty jacket. This model features a fleece liner with zip-off sleeves and comes with five different configurations for maximum adaptability suitable for any environment.

The 5.11 5-in-1 Jacket™ includes the 5.11 Ready Pocket™ on the chest and removable ID panels on the chest and back. They also added side zippers for ventilation as well as access to the sidearm.

The shell is high performance waterproof and breathable exterior that comes with a removable fleece inner lining and zip-off sleeves. The cuffs have Hook and loop adjustments, and there are mic clips at shoulders, with a roll-up and removable hood. The waist is elasticized, and the jacket features the 5.11 proprietary TacTec System™ lining and Prym® snaps.

This jacket is used by law enforcement officers and agencies around the US.
 

 

10. Condor 606: PHANTOM Soft Shell Jacket

Quality85%
Reliability84%
Practicality84%
Price85%

Another great Condor accomplishment. This is their waterproof, lightweight three-layer tactical jacket. The outer layer is a 100% polyester, high-density 4-way elastic fabric. The insulation layer is a proprietary breathable film membrane, and the inner layer is made up of a super fine fleece.

This three-layer design was created to maximize water prevention and thermal conservation. The Phantom comes with a vertical chest pocket, 2 hand pockets, 2 sleeve pockets and 2 internal pockets. There are 2 x 3.5″W x 4″H shoulder patch panels. The jacket is sealed with a full front double zipper, and also comes with an underarm vent zipper as well as a double layer reinforced forearm. The cuffs are adjustable, and the waist comes with a drawstring.
 

 

11. ZAPT 1000D CORDURA US Army Tactical Jacket Military Waterproof Windproof Hard-Shell Jackets

Quality96%
Reliability95%
Practicality96%
Price77%

Some jackets were designed for more than just performance, and this is one of them. Perhaps one of the most sensational and professional looking jackets on the market, the ZAPT 1000D gives you everything you expect from a military tactical jacket.

Let’s start with the fact that this is a hard-shell jacket to be sued in every scenario and can withstand everything, even an attack of the Avengers. This military jacket is made up of high-density 1000D Cordura Fabric that comes with a windproof collar and has 4 interior pockets, 2 with hook & loop and 2 zippered closures pockets.

The shoulders and cuffs are covered by two layers of fabric, and the left arm comes with a functional gear pocket. The chest comes with an interior flashlight pocket and Molle system as well as pen tubes.
The camo style designs everything you want from a military jacket, and this is a perfect hunting and emergency service jacket too.
 

 

12. Camo Coll Men’s Outdoor Soft Shell Hooded Tactical Jacket

Quality86%
Reliability84%
Practicality84%
Price85%

Camo Col have produced a budget-friendly jacket that gives you all you want in a tactical package. This two-layer tactical jacket comes with a 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex outer layer for extra flexibility and mobility and a 100% Polyester lining.

This makes the jacket water resistant and windproof. This is a great casual tactical jacket and can be worn for an everyday cool look as well as in the field for tactical purposes. This is a great beginner tactical jacket, one to start off with and acclimatize before spending on some really professional kit.
 

 

13. Maelstrom® TAC PRO Tactical Soft-Shell Jacket

Quality84%
Reliability83%
Practicality80%
Price90%

With a name like Maelstrom, you would expect a sturdy, strong package that will keep you safe in the middle of a black hole. Well, this jacket is aptly named. The Maelstrom® TAC PRO is a three-layered, engineered jacket designed for the harshest of conditions while maintaining durability, mobility, and comfort.

The Maelstrom® TAC PRO comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. It incorporates a drawstring waist and removable hoodie and comes with multiple zippered pockets. The 3-layer jacket is constructed with waterproof, lightweight, wick away fabric while it retains thermal insulation.

The zippered pockets include a shoulder pocket on each arm; a left forearm pocket, 2 large front chest slash, zippered pockets, 2 zippered back pockets with mesh interior and a vent zipper under each arm. There is also a 4” x 4” shoulder patch pane on each shoulder. The hood and waist use a drawstring, and the cuffs use an elastic, hook & loop adjustment.
 

 

14. Rothco Concealed Carry Soft Shell Jacket

Quality90%
Reliability89%
Practicality89%
Price80%

This is Rothco’s extreme environment and weather conditions concealed carry jacket that comes with a waterproof outer-shell covering an inner lightweight, breathable material.

This undercover concealed carry jacket comes with a concealed carry pocket with hook & loop closure on each interior side of the jacket. The zippered pockets include a shoulder pocket on each arm; a left forearm pocket, 2 large front chest slash, zippered pockets, 2 zippered back pockets with mesh interior and a vent zipper under each arm. There is also a 4” x 4” shoulder patch pane on each shoulder. The hood and waist use a drawstring, and the cuffs use an elastic, hook & loop adjustment.

This jacket has perfect waterproofing, and as such is suitable for even the most adverse wet conditions. Since it is designed for concealing weapons, you can safely walk about in public without anyone noticing what you are packing.
 

 

15. TACVasen Men’s Special Ops Military Tactical Soft-Shell Jacket Coat

Quality84%
Reliability83%
Practicality83%
Price86%

This is TACVasen’s soft shell tactical jackets which are made up of waterproof breathable moisture wicking fabric. It comes with a 100% polyester shell that is durable and lightweight, obviously waterproof and covers a breathable inner lining made of medium weight fleece.

The zippered pockets include a shoulder pocket on each arm; a left forearm pocket, 2 large front chest slash, zippered pockets, 2 zippered back pockets with mesh interior and a vent zipper under each arm. There is also a 4” x 4” shoulder patch pane on each shoulder. The hood and waist use a drawstring, and the cuffs use an elastic, hook & loop adjustment.

This jacket mimics some of the best high-end brands and is great for a conservative bracket budget. If you want a really good tactical jacket that comes with all the features of a top range model, then this is your ideal buy.
 

 

FAQ

Is there an advantage to wearing tactical gear?

Yes, tactical jackets provide you with extra durability, wear, and tear, as well as good waterproofing and warmth in adverse weather conditions. They also feature reinforced strong pockets, advanced mobility, and protection.

Are tactical jackets expensive?

As with any item of clothing, the price depends on the brand, the quality and the features that are included. I can safely state that buying too cheap will end up wasting your money. Find a balance between brand, quality, and price that will assure you of a long-lasting solution.

Are all tactical jackets Camo?

No, in fact, most are not. One of the main features of tactical jackets is that they can mingle with their environment. Since tactical jackets are not military, they must be able to mingle in everyday urban environments and conditions.

Are all tactical jackets identical?

No, tactical jackets vary for different climates and environments. However, all tactical jackets must be able to provide the same function ability, durability, and comfort expected from an item of clothing that has to used in both relaxed and combat conditions.

Can anyone wear a tactical jacket?

Yes, while tactical jackets are fabricated for law enforcement and the military, hunters, hikers, campers and just general recreational users prefer a sharp looking tactical jacket that will provide them with that extra edge.