Anorak jackets—the classic half-zip mountain shell—have long represented the peak in outerwear tech. The anorak jacket has roots with the native dress of Inuit people—it was whalers visiting Greenland’s coasts who took the Inuktitut word annuraaq, referring to hooded pullover coats traditionally made from fur and sealskin, and phonetically transformed it into the word anorak. Nineteenth-century polar explorers like Norwegian Roald Amundsen later adopted the piece for their expeditions, and like parkas, the garment has continued to evolve for adventurous and casual uses.
What Is an Anorak Jacket?
Simply put, an anorak is a type of jacket or coat that bears a hood and partial-length zipper, requiring the wearer to pull the jacket over their head and other layers. To aid the sometimes awkward task of pulling on an anorak, it’s not uncommon for an anorak to feature one or two side zippers that widen its entry point.
The term “smock” is sometimes used interchangeably with anorak, though a smock doesn’t necessarily need to include a hood nor any type of mid-length opening at the chest. An emphasis on weather-proof fabrics is also an important distinction: a hooded pullover fleece jacket, even with a mid-length zip front and cozy deep-pile sherpa fuzz, is not an anorak, though many other winter coats and jackets might be.
An anorak's primary benefit is the lack of a full-length zipper or fasteners of any sort, which reduces opportunities for wind and weather to enter the jacket. Many anorak rain jackets are made from waterproof materials like Gore-Tex or waxed cotton, further enhancing their inherent weather resistance. Another benefit for thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers, is that a partial zipper shaves grams from a base weight item that may only see use in extreme weather conditions or emergencies.
As full-zip jackets have come to be seen as more versatile and, let's face it, easier to put on, many anorak designs have taken a sometimes-subtle, often-overt turn into fashion. Most now include a large cargo/kangaroo pocket in front of the belly with side openings for hand warming–just like your favorite hoodie. In a sense, an insulated hooded anorak jacket is like a hoodie on heavyweight mountain steroids. Overall though, anorak jackets still do just what the Inuits intended: keep you warm and dry when the weather does everything it can to prevent that.
The 11 Best Anorak Jackets of 2023
Now that we've got the basics covered, let's dive into our top picks for the best men’s and women’s anorak coats & jackets. It’s not uncommon to find styles of anorak coats & jackets to be unisex, but some of the more with-it brands offer women’s anorak jackets with updated fits and added colorways.
Best Waterproof Anorak: Houdini Shelter Anorak
The Scandinavian eco-sportswear brand made this pullover rain jacket with recycled polyester and PFAS-free DWR. Along with Houdini's proprietary Atmos waterproof membrane, the Shelter achieves a 20k/20k waterproof/breathability rating. But it also has built-in two-way stretch that makes it easy to wear and move around in. A big chest pocket, snap collar, and sleek looks make this a rain jacket that'll put your umbrella out of a job.
Best Budget Anorak: L.L. Bean Mountain Classic Anorak
Just because L.L.Bean's Mountain Classic Anorak is affordable doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. Bean knows well that this anorak jacket is one of its best sellers, so why bother complicating the design with too much tech anyway? Consider the Mountain Classic Anorak less like a heavyweight raincoat and more like a hooded windbreaker. Its light nylon fabric is best suited for spring and summer days outside and wind-exposed activities, such as, perhaps, sailing along the coast of Maine. The water-resistant anorak will keep the ocean spray at bay, but this lightweight anorak is mostly for dealing with the wind. Other features include a zippered pouch pocket and a drawstring hood. An expanded size offering covers plus sizes, from small to XXXL in both regular and tall lengths.
Best Anorak for Winter: Amundsen Peak Anorak
After proving itself for over a decade through missions in Antarctica, including the first ascent of the brand’s namesake peak, this anorak from Norway’s expedition-wear brand is well suited to any cold weather outing you can throw at it. Its design includes waterproof zippers, sealed seams, side-entry zippers, and all the technical features one could ever need out of an anorak jacket. Though somewhat low-tech in practice, the hood can accommodate an optional coyote fur—no faux fur from Amundsen—for protecting one’s face against strong winds, just like a classic explorer's parka coat.
Best Anorak for Camping: Fjällräven Anorak No. 8
If you’re as addicted to the survival-reality TV show "Alone" as the Field Mag staff is, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that a heck of a lot of folks living off the land in low temperatures wear anorak coats. Fjällräven’s Anorak No. 8 is of such survival-oriented ilk; thanks to the brand's renowned G-1000 and G-1000 Heavy Duty fabrics, which are hearty, breathable, and easy to weatherproof with a dry wax bar. A massive drawstring hood and generous cut are easy to layer over wool sweaters while you’re busy chopping wood, carrying water, or doing other outdoor chores.
Women's Option: No :(
Price: $475 SHOP NOW
Best Down Anorak for Ultralight Insulation: Montbell EX Light Down Anorak
A puffy jacket (or puffer jacket, if you prefer) stuffed with quilted down insulation is the way to go when optimal warmth-to-weight ratio is critical, as in any carefully weighed layering system. Montbell's ultralight down anorak weighs only 215 grams (7.6 ounces) and packs down nicely into its own stuff sack for storage. A chest-length zipper helps dump excess heat if things get too warm, and a single zipperless pocket at its side provides access to layers beneath it, and whatever snacks you have stashed in their pockets.
Women's Option: Unisex sizing
Price: $329 SHOP NOW
Best Wool Layering Anorak: Ibex Indie Hoodie
We’ve got nothing against technical materials for outerwear, but natural merino wool really shines as the wonder-fiber for active layering. Wool apparel savants Ibex takes a familiar quarter-zip hoodie and swaps out the typical cotton for 100% merino wool, providing a breathable and moisture-wicking layer for active bodies. Features like raglan sleeves, thumb loops, and a fitted, helmet-friendly scuba hood ensure it earns our pick as the best wool anorak for layering or solo wear during milder temps.
Best Softshell Anorak: Klättermusen Lodur Cutan Anorak
This Swedish mountain apparel brand never fails to seize an opportunity to design an item around its logo shape, the triangle. The Lodur Cutan softshell utility jacket’s central triangle panel hides openings for zippered hand pockets along its seams, where they're angled well out of the way of backpack straps. There are more zippers along the jacket’s sides that zip all the way up into armpits, not only for ventilation and easier on/off, but also to allow you to get the entire back panel out of the way by rolling it up and securing it with a toggle. It's weird for sure, but provides some smart breathability when you're wearing a backpack.
Women's Option: No :(
Price: $479 SHOP NOW
Best Anorak for Everyday Wear: Goldwin Pertex Shieldair Pullover
The Japanese royalty of mountain outerwear at Goldwin are known for keeping their designs understated with clean, minimal lines. Here, a waterproof fabric from Pertex brings three layers of waterproof protection while maintaining a remarkably light-to-the-touch feel. Functionally, an off-set chest vent keeps a dangling zipper off your chin and out of your face, and long side zippers provide tremendous ventilation opportunities and an easy way to get in and out. A smart set of snap tabs at each side keeps the front and back panels of the jacket from flapping around while they're fully open, too. In addition, a mesh pocket helps organize small carry items like keys or a phone inside the central cargo pocket.
Women's Option: Unisex sizing
Best Anorak for Trail Running: Rab Phantom Pull-On Jacket
Keep this lightweight, waterproof jacket close by when the forecast calls for inclement weather on your favorite trails. Super lightweight Pertex fabric will repel water mile after mile with a stiffened hood peak to keep raindrops out of your eyes. When packed into its pocket, the waterproof jacket takes up only as much space as a baseball with a weight of just three ounces.
Best Anorak for Sun Protection: Patagonia Isthmus Anorak
This anorak from Patagonia helps continue to prove our point: anoraks aren’t just for winter wear. The NetPlus fabric is a 100% post-consumer recycled nylon sourced from recycled fishing nets and provides sun protection rated at UPF 50+, the highest level of UV radiation protection recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. The anorak’s central cargo pocket is a handy spot for snacks, and you can stuff it all inside for space-saving gains inside your pack, too.
Women's Option: No :(
Best Anorak for Skiing & Snowboarding: Jones MTN Surf Anorak
In time leftover from riding down the world's most extreme mountains and fighting to save us all from climate change, pro snowboarder Jeremey Jones managed to add an entire line of outerwear to his eponymous board company. The MTN Surf Anorak is a standout in the lineup. Made with recycled fabrics, the shell jacket scores a 20k/20k on the waterproof/breathability scale, which means it'll stand up to big storms. Other features include pit zips, an oversized front pocket, and adjustable hem, hood, and cuffs, and it comes in classic colorblock styles (including a little bit of camo).
Best Anorak for Bike Adventures: MAAP Alt_Road Lightweight Anorak
Bike-specific apparel doesn't have to be made of all Spandex. Instead, Australia-based MAAP made this packable anorak with waterproof Drytex fabric so you can pedal through the rain. With an adjustable hood and hem, two front pockets plus a chest pocket, plus reflective detailing, this anorak has loads of functionality but is worthy of off-bike wear, too. But, thanks to a fit that won't bunch up as you hunch over the handlebars and a lightweight construction that makes it easy to pack away once the sun shines, it's riding where this anorak really excels.