Drizzle and downpours can ruin any trip, so even if you're expecting sunshine, it pays to have one of the best waterproof jackets tucked in your backpack. A quality jacket can turn a damp and miserable slog into a dry and comfortable adventure braving the elements.
So what features should you be looking for in the best waterproof jackets? This in an area where 'fast fashion' won't cut it. A well-made jacket will not just keep you completely dry even in a torrential downpour, but do a lot more besides. Water- and wind-proof hoods ensure you're comfy and can still map-read and enjoy the views, and watertight pockets keep your valuables safe and accessible. You'll need to decide whether you want an all-in-one lined jacket that'll keep you warm as well as dry, but is bulkier to carry around, or a lightweight shell that packs up small and you can layer up with.
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Our ranking of the best waterproof jackets includes both, but we've focused on technical options that are protective, but packable. They're lightweight, yet breathable and windproof, and designed to be stowed in a backpack and whipped out when a rain shower begins.
Our handy tool will pull in all the best prices for each product in our list. Need some more buying advice? Head to the bottom of this article to learn how to choose the best waterproof jacket. If you're busy curating your collection of outdoor gear for future trips, you'll also want to equip yourself with a pair of the best hiking boots and a pair of the best walking trousers.
The best waterproof jackets you can buy now
The North Face has seriously upgraded its famous Apex Flex GTX Jacket to create a much lighter, more streamlined waterproof jacket. In fact, at first glance, you could mistake it for a snug hoodie. While it boasts a tough three-layer Gore-Tex shell for superlative wind and rain protection, the soft-knit outer fabric is luxuriously soft. The stretch-knit liner also feels great against the skin, acting like a thin fleece for enhanced warmth, and giving you all the cosiness of a hoodie. Although lighter than its predecessor – TNF shaved off 40g of the original's weight – the Apex Flex is still hefty at 800g. Breathability is great, though, and pit vents further aid cooling, so we forgive its heaviness.
As you'd expect from such a design, the fit is nigh-on perfect, staying close to the body in all the right places, without ever feeling tight or restrictive, even when worn with other technical layers. The super-light construction of the Apex Flex GTX also helps you stay nimble as you cross challenging terrain.
The most versatile jacket for layering? A high-end choice for sure, the Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket is a waterproof jacket ideal for hiking and mountaineering in all kinds of conditions, but it's also designed with skiers in mind. The large hand pockets are placed slightly higher than usual so they're not blocked by a backpack's hip belt. The jacket is also harness-compatible, while the large peaked and full adjustable hood can be worn over a helmet. There are zipped underarm vents and interior pockets for phones etc. while also inside is a zip-on, zip-off powder skirt and a stretch pocket for ski goggles.
Fabulous design aside, this jacket is just as much about sustainability. Its sees the debut of Helly Hansen's proprietary polypropylene-based LIFA Infinity Pro, a three-layer fabric with a breathable microporous membrane that's water repellent and durable, but PFC-free. Its all-season shell design means you're going to need layers underneath in cold conditions, but here's a super-serious waterproof jacket that uses the very latest tech yet treads lightly on both you and the planet.
If you're on a slightly tighter budget, the best waterproof jacket for you is the Maier Sports Metor M. While it's not the cheapest entry on this list, it offers excellent value for money for what it offers. The first thing you notice when wearing the Maier Metor M is that it's soft. So soft. This jacket's mTEX 10.000 membrane also makes it seriously windproof, waterproof and breathable, and at just 550g, it's light enough to stuff in a backpack. Its hood has a handy rim for windy conditions as well as Velcro and poppers to keep it snugly in place, but unlike most, it's also detachable. However, the Metor M's stroke of genius is that it packs away into one of its hand-pockets, turning it into a travel-friendly package complete with a carabiner to hook it onto a belt or bag. Comfy and so easy to travel with, the Metor M is a hugely impressive effort.
Next up in our ranking of the best waterproof jackets is the Berghaus Sky Hiker, another excellent all-rounder. Made with Berghaus' own 'Hydroshell' fabric, this jacket is breathable, waterproof and will keep you safely protected from both light showers and torrential downpours. The design includes nifty features to offer greater freedom of movement, including an underarm gusset and tailored articulation at the elbows. We found it true to size, fitting well to the body without feeling constrictive. There are also adjustable areas around the hood, cuff and base, to enable the wearer to tighten and customise the fit if required (especially useful if the wind picks up).
There's a range of colourways to choose from, including a few more 'statement' combos. We tried the blue / yellow / beige version, which features neon that both looks cool and adds a little extra visibility in the dark – but if that's a bit much for you, there's more traditional black and blue options, too. The two external pockets are nice and deep, which is useful if you want to stash a water bottle in one, although slightly awkwardly placed for quick access. There's also an internal pocket for valuables. Overall, we'd recommend this to anyone looking for a versatile waterproof jacket that's lightweight enough to pop into a day sack, but provides perfect protection from the elements when needed.
Looking for an eco-friendly option? Finisterre's Stormbird is made from 100% recycled nylon with a planet-friendly FC-free DWR finish. Sitting at the top of the Finisterre waterproof jacket range, the Stormbird is no slouch when it comes to performance: it boasts a 20k hydrostatic head rating, plus two-way waterproof zips and taped seams to ensure you stay completely dry, even in the wettest conditions. The triple-layered fabric is flexible, not crinkly, and impressively breathable – you won't end up in a sweaty mess as you try and complete that hike in the rain. Plus, the brushed polyester inner layer is soft and pleasant to the touch, making it comfy if you've got short sleeves on underneath.
The fit is 'active' (i.e. not very fitted) and designed to be work as a shell over mid-layers. We tried the women's version and found the sizing on the generous side. There are plenty of places to adjust the jacket to improve the fit to your body, including velcro on the sleeves, and elastic in the hems. We were especially impressed with the design of the hood. The combination of a generous fit, peaked design, 3-point adjustment, and high neck guard means it'll stay up and keep you dry and protected in the windiest weather.
There's an internal chest pocket for valuables, and two large hand pockets, placed high up so as to remain accessible if you've got a backpack waist strap fastened. If we had to nit-pick, we found the zips a little clunky to open and close, but it's a very minor complaint on what is an otherwise excellent waterproof jacket.
There are more high-spec and specialised options on this list, but the Paramo Alta III waterproof jacket is a great all-rounder that'll work just as well for a rainy day on the mountain as a drizzly walk through the park. One of the highlights is surely the wired-peak hood, which stows in the collar, but crucially gives you ultimate visibility when you're in wet and windy conditions. It's made from Nikwax Analogy Waterproof fabric, which guards against water leaking, while a waist cord ensures a really snug fit that keeps out the wind. There's also a clever design to help stop the build-up of sweat, and its adjustable cuffs can be easily rolled-up for cooling while upper arm vents can be unzipped to let a little air in. Rather unusually, it’s also got a reinforced back panel to make carrying a backpack a little more bearable.
If you're willing to spend a bit more, the Fjällräven Mens Keb Eco-Shell Jacket kinda does it all. This clever technical waterproof jacket has been designed by people who know what it's like to hike. For starters, it has no hand-pockets. Why not? If you’ve ever hauled a backpack up a slope you'll know that the hip-belt blocks access to hand pockets. So they're replaced here by impressively deep and well-designed chest pockets that are both roomy and have elasticated pouches to store gadgets (and even a loop-though for headphones).
Other unique features include a wired hood that stands up to fierce weather and can fit over a ski or cycling helmet, while ventilation openings at the side allow the sweaty hiker to let off steam. In use the Keb Eco-Shell feels custom-made for the mountains, and it stays dry in driving rain thanks to both a flap behind the zip, and its stretchy recycled polyester Eco-Shell fabric. Unlike many waterproofs that fabric is made without the use of harmful PFC chemicals, so needs a squirt of re-proofing spray slightly more often. However, a waterproof jacket this special worth the hassle.
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Arc'teryx makes very good waterproofs, albeit at fierce prices. However, the clean lines, solid build and thoughtful design of the Zeta AR Jacket will go on delivering long after cheaper 'so-called waterproofs' have gone off to the reproofing room in the sky. The Zeta AR is a stunning jacket, sculpted from N70p 3L Gore-Tex fabric with Gore C-Knit backer. That makes it comfortable and quiet to wear, and while it's windproof and waterproof, it isn't too warm for walking and hiking (depending on the temperature you're out in, of course).
The cut of this jacket is all about boosting breathability and lowering weight, with a trim that's long enough to tuck under a rucksack hipbelt (with pockets that can also be accessed while wearing a rucksack). It's also articulated in the arms. In short, if you can swallow the price, this shell will be your go-to waterproof jacket for years. There's also a women's Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket.
Here's a high-end waterproof jacket that bridges the gap between serious waterproofing and pack-ability and is thoroughly enjoyable to hike in. Though designed for hiking and mountaineering, the Tangstad M is a three-layer jacket that somehow manages to be exceedingly lightweight as well. Its secret sauce is its PFC-free mTEX 20.000 membrane, a fabric that's breathability is increased by the appearance of a couple of two-way zips under the armpits – just where it counts! So easy to stow in a backpack, that fabric is soft and quiet, so there's no noisy scrunch as you move. The Tangstad M's width-adjustable cuffs are handy, as are its chest pocket on the outside and a dedicated dry pocket on the inside. Inside two generous hand pockets are drawstrings to tighten the jacket's skirt while there's also a roll-up hood that can be stowed in the collar. It's everything you need for a warm, dry hike.
The Marmot Bantamweight jacket is many things, but the most impressive is that it’s very, very light. Clocking in at under 140g, this is 'the lightest fully featured rain jacket' Marmot has ever made. Making super-light waterproofs has been a fun game for years, but making them actually functional in bad weather is very tricky. Here, Pertex Shield 2.5 Layer Fabric with two-way stretch takes care of the weight drop without losing shape and function, while internal and two external pockets give storage space. Finally, an adjustable hood and hem leave you fully equipped for sudden outdoor dampness or strong winds – and all for half the weight of a can of Coke.
The Jack Wolfskin Mount Isa jacket is a great all-rounder for women. The fabric is soft, smooth and comfortable to wear, while providing that all-important total protection from rain and wind. The outer layer is breathable, with a soft mesh inner layer to keep things comfy without adding unnecessary bulk or weight. There are plenty of additional features to make this waterproof jacket a pleasure to wear: a drawstring hem to keep the wind and wet out, a fixed hood with two more drawstrings that can be adjusted to ensure your field of vision stays clear, water resistant zips, and two hand pockets. The design is also sleek and smart, with a range of colourways to choose from. The only slight downside is that we found the outside pockets let some water in at the bottom in very rainy conditions.
The Berghaus Deluge Pro is a great value and durable waterproof jacket for both sexes, which won't break the bank. Fully waterproof due to its Hydroshell fabric, and good ammunition against blustery showers thanks to its adjustable hood, the Deluge Pro is a stylish, but not over-engineered product that copes well with British weather. It's perfect for a long walk or hike, with a fully adjustable hood, and a couple of pockets upfront that close to the elements using waterproof zips, but there are no chest pockets. Its biggest boon is that it weighs a maximum of 378g. That makes it great for taking outdoors as an emergency must-have waterproof layer.
If you're heading out into wintry conditions, look no further than the Snugpak Torrent. Able to keep you warm down to -5°C, it uses Paratex Dry fabric on its fully taped seamed exterior and Paratex Light on the inside. It's basically a trade-off between warmness (which it excels at), waterproofing and breathability (both of which it's pretty good at). As such it's better for situations where you're going to be relatively inactive – such as stargazing (with one of the best telescopes) or doing some night photography – rather than for a full-on physical hike (you'll get too hot). However, its underarm vents are useful for adjusting your own temperature, and for when it gets really cold, windy and rainy, its lined neck warmer, deep handwarmer pockets, and glove-friendly Velcro wrist cuffs really come into their own. However, all that comes at a cost; at 950g this is not a jacket to be worn lightly.
How to choose the best waterproof jacket
First up is to determine whether a jacket is fully waterproof or just water repellent. The best waterproof jackets keep you completely dry – think a mountain peak in driving rain – while water repellent jackets guard against light showers of the kind that quickly come and go. When choosing the best waterproof jacket for you, let that distinction dominate your choice.
What are you going to be using your waterproof jacket for most regularly? Are we talking multi-day hikes in summer where something lightweight – and which packs down small – would make your life easier? Or are you going to be using it mainly for walking the dog on rainy days? In which case go for something bulkier and lined for extra warmth.
Either way, waterproof jackets with eco-friendly credentials are now all the rage among the top brands. This welcome trend centres on garments that don't use PFCs (PerFluorinated Compounds), toxic chemicals that saturate our environment. They've traditionally been used to make weatherproof clothing because of its water and dirt-repellent characteristics. The top brands now actively eschew PFCs in favour of new eco-friendly fabrics and make a big noise about them.
As well as guarding against water, these new fabrics are generally breathable to limit how clammy and sweaty you get while being active. Some are quick-drying, which is useful when you're out walking in showers.
However, with many of these options, you'll still need to layer-up to stay warm in cold conditions, so you'll also want to pick up one of the best fleece jackets and one of the best base layers. That way you can keep you warm when the temperature dips and strip off when it warms up.
The colour you choose may not seem important, but brightly coloured options are a wise choice if you plan to hike up mountains. That will keep you visible as well as dry as you proudly march up a mountain or go for a long hike while wrapped in the waterproof jacket of your dreams.