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Vest or jacket?

Hello! Which combo do you recommend for a summer European trip that stretches from Romania to southern coastal beaches to long day hikes in the Alps: a vest or a jacket along with a waterproof rain shell? I'm looking at the North Face Thermoball vest/jacket and the Patagonia Nano Puff vest/jacket. I know the jacket would be a safe choice but perhaps I would get more wear out of the vest? What would you do?

Posted by
1077 posts

I use a Scottevest "Tropiformer" jacket that has detachable sleeves so it becomes a vest when you want it. The vest part also has 21 total pockets that comes in real handy when traveling in Europe. It also has a hood built into the collar. I love this jacket for traveling, if your interested watch the video on scottevest.com, it tells about how they make it and all it's features.

Posted by
8886 posts

Have never understood vests. My arms are going to get cold, so a jacket is always preferable to me over wearing a vest.

Posted by
1194 posts

I have the nano puff jacket and am very pleased with it. I get cold easily. It might be too warm for anything but the Alps in the summer. I used it in the Andes and in Mindo in the summer. I also used it with a sweater and raincoat for December travel in the Midwest. The jacket breathes wonderfully so it has a wider range than most.
For summer travel I am happier with just a sweater and a rain jacket. You won't need the jacket unless you go very high in the Alps.

Posted by
630 posts

I like to wear layers when I travel to allow me to be comfortable in all climate conditions. I use LL Bean's Packaway Vest which fits comfortably under my jacket when I need that extra layer to warm the body cavity. This particular vest packs into its own pocket so I can easily fit it in my backpack when I'm not using it. You can also attach it to your belt loop, cross body, or backpack with a carabiner clip.

I also use LL Bean's Packaway Jacket which also packs into its own pocket. I can wear the vest and jacket at the same time if it's cold (usually at night).

I am fortunate to have an LL Bean Outlet near me, so I can find these items on clearance. I do realize they are expensive.

We also have this packable windbreaker which will fit nicely over the vest as well. I buy them a little big so they fit over layers. I also like this windbreaker because of the large zipper pocket in the front. The pouch comes in very handy when we are visiting areas that don't allow backpacks. That pouch holds a lot! And if you don't want to wear the jacket, you can still use the pouch to hold your items and wrap it around your waist. It's a work around for not wearing backpacks. (Still use your money belt for valuables such as passport and money). We use the pouch to hold non-valuable items such as our maps, food, etc.

We usually only need a vest when we hike, but I always bring a jacket. I really don't like to be cold. Happy hiking!

Posted by
2527 posts

Thin layers work well for me, but then I tend to warm quickly when moving about. On cold summer morns or rainy days in the Alps or equal, I use a very lightweight merino wool t-shirt combined with a long sleeve shirt with a lighter weight merino wool long sleeve zip t sweater, all covered with a lightweight rain resistant wind shirt or jacket. I remove layers as I warm up. A Patagonia nano puff jacket is part of my kit at home, but it provides too much warmth (and packing bulk) for your trip. Sort through the various conflicting opinions and determine what works for you. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
1068 posts

I take a fleece and rain jacket with a hood. When cold, I can use both or add additional under-layers to the fleece. I have traveled to various parts of Europe between April and October and that combination has worked well for me.

Posted by
13634 posts

Add another vote for the vest/waterproof rain shell combo. I like the Lands End polarfleece 100 vest and get a new one every few years because I wear them so much. My arms don't get cold if I have on a long sleeve shirt and in fact will often shovel snow or snowshoe with a long sleeve shirt and vest combo if it's not terribly cold or windy. The waterproof shell is so good for both rainy and windy conditions.

I'm also one to carry gloves as well. I've moved to Smartwool glove liners which are light but warm when needed. I'm not sure you will need them in mid-summer but I always have them with me.

Posted by
2767 posts

Really depends on where you get cold. I'm another one who doesn't get vests. If anything is cold, it will be my arms. So I'd have some sort of jacket and then a waterproof shell. The jacket could be worn in cooler situations with or without the shell and looks a little more flexible. A vest might be uncomfortable on a cool night on a beach, but a jacket would work. But others have mentioned that their core gets cold easier than their arms, so I think this question is best determined by your own reactions.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you to all of you for responding. Your comments have been VERY helpful…. I am carefully considering all of them.
I want to make the right choice and I know I can do that by listening to the voices of experience! I'm guess at this point I'm leaning towards the vest because I seem to be a vest gal here at home in the Pacific Northwest: a vest with a rain shell if needed, and if it gets really cold, throw on a base layer underneath. Thanks again…. and I'm still reading and considering your comments! Cheryl

Posted by
9323 posts

And me, I'm a vest LOVER! I think because for me the worst thing is getting TOO hot - so I like being able to warm my core, pair with a scarf, and I'm much happier in that than with a jacket that is to heavy for the situation. Different strokes!

I have one vest that to me is perfection - a Barbour, but not waxed, it's lightly quilted and with a hood. It's seen me through so many trips and always around town - but then I don't tend to go places with really severe weather.

Posted by
20 posts

This is the thing I want to avoid when traveling.... bringing unnecessary weight in the form of outerwear. If I can just trust that layering lighter layers is just as warm as bringing a jacket, I should be okay! I have to admit I love vests, too! They seem to keep me at just the right comfort level...not too hot.

Well, today I chose a vest I like that I think will dress up nicely if necessary but be great on the trail as well. I happened upon it today and ended up getting a great deal on it so I couldn't pass it up. It's a light gray "metallic silver" North Face Thermoball vest that weighs very little and packs into its own pocket. I think it will go well with the navy blue darks I want to include.