The best waterproof jackets 2024: shrug off the deluge with a top quality hard shell

Collage of the best waterproof jackets
(Image credit: Future)

The best waterproof jackets are an essential for outdoor enthusiasts battling the cold wet weather of winter and early spring. If you're facing freezing rain on your hike then it's reassuring to know you've got a high quality and protective outer shell to keep you dry.

Of course, fleeces and down jackets are your friend when it comes to retaining warmth, but their lack of waterproofing means they aren't suitable as an outer layer in a deluge. Having one of the best waterproof jackets is therefore essential for your backcountry adventures, so we've tested all these jackets extensively to ensure that they live up to their claims of being waterproof, breathable and wind resistant.

Generally, the fit of a waterproof jacket is pretty generous, allowing space for multiple mid layers, while their hoods afford enough room for a climbing helmet. Meanwhile, the best women’s waterproof jackets are designed to fit the female form.

We rate the Arc'teryx Beta Lightweight as the greatest waterproof jacket around today, but each and every product in our selection is there on merit, performing its task superbly in challenging conditions.

Meet the expert

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.

The quick list

Here's our Quick List, starting with our top performers when it comes to quality waterproof jackets. For a more detailed look at these excellent hardshells, navigate further down this guide.

The best waterproof jackets we recommend in 2024

The best waterproof jacket overall

best waterproof jackets: Arc'teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket

Julia testing the Beta Lightweight Jacket in Scotland's Arrochar Alps (Image credit: Future)
The best waterproof jacket overall

Specifications

Sizes: Men’s XS – XXL, Women’s XXS – XXL
Weight: 330g / 11.6 oz (women’s S)
Colors: Solace, Fika, Sky Groover, Black, Forage, Jungle maze, Serene, Wicker sapphire, Phenom
Compatibility: Hiking, mountaineering, winter sports

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight with good coverage
+
Fully waterproof, windproof and breathable
+
Adjustable hem, cuffs and hood
+
Built-in RECCO reflector

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

When it comes to weather extremes, you usually have to choose between light weight jacket and high performance but, on test, we discovered that in the Beta Lightweight, Arc’teryx have achieved a waterproof jacket that delivers both. Using the full protection of Gore-Tex in a light, breathable shell jacket, we were as comfortable wearing this at high altitude on a glacier trek as on a soggy, lowland hike. 

Technically speaking, this is a hardshell jacket, offering full wind and water protection in what the brand calls an environmental shelter, but the fabric is as light, breathable and pliable as your favorite softshell, making this jacket extremely versatile. You’ll be hard-pushed to find a better performing jacket for all seasons and many outdoor activities, but this one comes at a high price.

Read our full Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket review

The best lightweight waterproof jacket

best waterproof jackets: Montane Spirit waterproof jacket

This streamlined waterproof jacket checks all the boxes for us, from sturdy shelter to lightweight packability (Image credit: Future)
The best lightweight waterproof jacket

Specifications

Sizes: Men’s S - XXL / Women’s XS - XXL
Weight: 330g / 11.6oz (women’s small)
Colors: Black, Eucalyptus, Saffron red, Saskatoon Berry, Oak green, Flame orange, Electric blue
Compatibility: Hiking

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and packable
+
Comfortable with plenty of room for layers
+
2.5 layer waterproof and windproof protection
+
Two map sized hand pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
No recycled materials used
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No chest pocket

Montane’s Spirit offers reliable rain and wind protection in a classic cut that’s more technical than meets the eye. A 2.5 layer construction using Gore-Tex PacLite makes for an extremely lightweight jacket that you’ll have no problem packing away for any hike or camping trip. The sturdy construction is only a few grams heavier than their ultralight Phase Lite jacket, and the Spirit comes in a similar classic cut but at a better price. 

This jacket kept us dry in a drizzle and a deluge. It’s cut so that we were easily able to wear it over several layers and, though it might not be as breathable as some jackets intended for running, it’s certainly adequate for hiking. Other than the lack of recycled materials used in construction, we really can’t find anything to gripe about. 

This is a superb, lightweight waterproof jacket ideally suited for hiking that delivers high performance in a simple, classic package

Read our full Montane Spirit Waterproof jacket review

The best waterproof jacket for hike leaders

best waterproof jackets: Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Outdoor Shell Jacket

A three-layer, professional-grade waterproof coat, the Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Outdoor Shell Jacket is capable of keeping out the very worst weather (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best waterproof jacket for hike leaders

Specifications

Sizes: Men’s: S–2XL; Women’s: XS–XL
Weight: Men’s: 610g / 1lb 6oz; Women’s: 525g / 1lb 3oz
Colors: Malachite / Cloudberry / Deep Fjord / Red / Black; Women’s: Black / Jade / Blue Fog / Red / Triple Espresso
Compatibility: Trekking, backpacking, hiking, camping, mountaineering and snow sports

Reasons to buy

+
Highly waterproof
+
Extremely breathable
+
Great hood
+
Recco reflector

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly snug fitting (limits mid layer options)
-
No inside pocket
-
Not particularly light
-
Pricey

Part of Helly’s Tech Professional range, the Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Outdoor Shell Jacket boasts Helly Hansen’s top score for “extreme waterproofness” (it has a hydrostactic head of over 20000 mmH2O), and is also considered “Extremely Breathable”, with a breathability rating of over 20000g/m²/24. It also has large underarm vents with two zips on each side, which allowed us to quickly dump all that excess heat and then maintain a nice amount of airflow without letting in any rain in.

Designed and constructed for extended use in the harshest landscapes and most extreme conditions, the top-of-the-range, three-layer Helly Tech Pro Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Outdoor Shell Jacket has your back no matter what the weather gods throw at you. You pay a premium price for this jacket, but it provides premium protection in return, and should last for many mountain missions.

Read our full Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds 2.0 Outdoor Shell Jacket review