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Best waterproof jackets 2022: your shield against the elements

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

It's as good a time as any to get hold of one of the best waterproof jackets, ahead of fall and winter's colder and wetter weather. For many, there's no finer time to be out there, when outdoor pursuits take on more of an extreme feel. Don't get us wrong, conquering summits and slaying trails in fine summer weather is great, but there's something satisfying about taking on adverse conditions.

When it comes to this kind of adventure, the best waterproof jackets come into their own. Designed to be your shield against cold, wind and rain, waterproof hard shells are pretty much the most important garments in your wardrobe.

The features you can expect from the best waterproof jackets are relatively consistent across the board. Every jacket in our selection features a waterproof membrane that effectively repels precipitation yet still allows some degree of breathability. Some jackets boast brands' own proprietary technology, while others feature well known membranes like GORE-TEX, which is also often seen in the best hiking boots and the like.

Other features to look out for are helmet-compatible hoods, zippered pockets and pit ventilation. When considering fit, there are also the best women's waterproof jackets, which are more closely tailored to the female form. We start out roundup with the best waterproof jackets for harsh conditions.

The best waterproof jackets for harsh conditions

Helly Hansen Odin 1 World Infinity waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

Helly Hansen Odin 1 World Infinity Jacket

A fantastically designed, highly featured, three-layer jacket that can handle the most challenging conditions

Specifications

Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
Weight: Men's: 440g / 15.5oz; women’s: 400g / 14oz
Colors: Men’s: Green / Bright orange; Women’s: Skagen blue / Sage
Compatibility: : This jacket is perfect for hiking, trekking, skiing, mountaineering – pretty much anything in the outdoors.

Reasons to buy

+
Three-layer protection
+
Reliably waterproof
+
Built-in safety features
+
Warm, but with excellent vents
+
PFC free and made using recycled material

Reasons to avoid

-
No internal pockets
-
Expensive

Helly Hansen’s Odin range offers top-of-the-category performance throughout, and while the Odin 1 might not be quite as high-specced as the Odin 9, it is lighter, cheaper, and will safely see the vast majority of us through any adventure we are ever likely to take on. It is constructed using the partly recycled Lifa Infinity material, topped with a hydrophobic PFC-free treatment, making it both fully waterproof and highly breathable. This jacket has been designed with input from international search and rescue teams, who know more than anyone else what works (and what doesn’t work) in the outdoors when conditions are against you. And this jacket is constructed to deal with nature at its gnarliest. 

Other excellent features include an in-built Recco reflector (opens in new tab), which makes it easier for rescuers to find you if you’re caught by an avalanche or some other outdoor drama, and an emergency whistle built into the zip toggle on the outer chest pocket. The three-layer construction offers more warmth than many hard shells, but this jacket also has excellent venting – including zipped pit vents – that allows you to dump excess heat easily and quickly. There are two side pockets, and one chest pocket, all with zips, but no internal storage. The hem, hood and sleeves are all fully adjustable, and the helmet-compatible hood has a protective peak and a high zip with a chin guard (to avoid chafing and beard snagging). 

Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Outdoor Research)

Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell

Tested on K2 – this waterproof jacket can take anything you or the elements want to throw at it

Specifications

Sizes: XL / S / M / L / XL
Weight: men’s: 326g / 11.5oz; women’s: 298g/10.5oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Nimbus / Radiant / Cranberry; Women’s:
Compatibility: All levels of adventure, right up to alpine ascents of the world’s tallest peaks

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent design
+
Reliably waterproof
+
Genuinely breathable
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
No pit zips
-
Expensive

Tested at the top of K2 (the world’s second highest, and statistically most dangerous, mountain) by OR ambassador and renowned alpinist Graham Zimmerman (opens in new tab), the Helium AscentShell has been put through its paces in the most extreme conditions, so you can feel pretty confident taking it on any adventure, no matter how ambitious your plans might be. It is a single-layer outer-layer hard shell, of course, so you will need to combine it with a warm midlayer if exploring in cold conditions. 

The jacket employs two technologies to offer reliable waterproofing and breathability in a featherlight but durable package: the AscentShell tech supplies the protection against the elements, while the Pertex diamond-fuse (opens in new tab) face fabric means the garment is robust and dynamic - tough enough to take on multiple forays into the most challenging terrain. The underarm panels of the Helium AscentShell have been give particular attention, to facilitate stretch for mountain-climbing athletes, and the whole jacket has been designed to work well with climbing harnesses and helmets, with the arrangement of the pockets and the capacity of the hood. 

Besides being helmet compatible, the hood features a peak and a high-reaching zip (with a chin guard to avoid rubbing or beard snagging) for extra face protection, and it is also fully adjustable. The hems and collars are also easily adjustable. Other features include an internal and an external chest pocket (both with zips, and the internal pocket has a portal for a headphone wire), two large external pockets (zipped), and two internal ‘shove-it’ mesh pouches.

Thrudark SF Raid waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Thrudark)
A robust winter-ready waterproof jacket created from top-quality components

Specifications

Sizes: Men’s: S / M / L / XL / XXL; women’s: S / M / L / XL
Weight (men’s medium): 780g / 28oz
Colors: Olive green / Obsidian black / Dynamite red

Reasons to buy

+
Superb build quality
+
Rugged and robust 
+
Highly protective
+
Very comfortable
+
Bluesign-approved, PFC-free fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest
-
Fit a little boxy
-
Some extraneous features
-
Expensive

Thrudark is an outdoor brand set up by two former British Special Forces operatives, with years of field and combat experience between them. It’s serious kit with a military design influence, and the Raid jacket is the brand’s flagship waterproof shell – designed for sustained use in arduous conditions, including technical mountaineering in snowy and icy terrain.

The immediate impression of this jacket is that it is exceptionally well-built. It’s crafted in Italy, and in military speak, this is Gucci kit. Let’s be clear though: this is no ‘fast and light’ rain shell – it’s a big and burly jacket designed for the harshest environments. It’s windproof, waterproof and highly breathable, while the oversized hood is designed to be compatible with a climbing helmet, and has a stiffened peak to deflect wind, rain and other precipitation.

As the serious price point suggests, Thrudark are positioning themselves to trade punches with Arc’teryx and the other heavy hitters of the outdoor gear world. This jacket looks and feels just as well-made as anything from those brands, and it’s even supplied with a waterproof roll-top dry bag to store it in – a nice touch. At this level, it’s all about going the extra mile to create a high-performance product that feels genuinely special, and here, Thrudark delivers.

Read our full ThruDark SF Raid waterproof jacket review

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 GTX Pro waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Mountain Hardware)
A top-quality Gore-Tex Pro shell with all the features we'd expect from a true mountaineering jacket

Specifications

Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
Weight (men’s medium): 470g / 16.5oz
Colors: Gold hour / cosmos purple / fiery red

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged and robust 
+
Highly protective
+
Eco-conscious fabrics

Reasons to avoid

-
No PFC-free DWR
-
Stiff and crinkly
-
Expensive
-
No women’s version

A jacket built for demanding mountain adventures, the Exposure is ideal for technical climbing or backcountry skiing. The 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric is seriously protective, ensuring complete windproof and waterproof protection. The only negative is that the durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment of the face fabric is not PFC-free.

As you’d expect from the hefty price tag, it’s well equipped when it comes to features too. Single-pull Cohaesive cord-lock technology cinches the voluminous hood in tight. A laminated brim adds a little stiffness to deflect wind and rain away from the face. The bottom of the jacket has a pronounced drop tail and adjustable hem drawcords – again fitted with Cohaesive cord locks. Wide cuffs with chunky Velcro tabs fit over bulky winter gloves but provide a good weatherproof seal from the elements. You also get underarm vents, fitted with water-resistant laminated two-way zips, and two zippered hand pockets, again with water-resistant zips and chunky pull tabs, plus two oversized Napoleon-style zippered chest pockets. Inside the jacket, a stretch mesh dump pocket is a good place to temporarily stash gloves, and a small zipped security pocket provides safe storage for keys or electronic devices.

Despite its array of features and robust fabric, this jacket tips the scales at 1 lb 1oz, or 470g (in a men’s medium). That’s impressively light for a winter-grade waterproof shell. Indeed, it’s nearly half the weight of other jackets we’ve tested that are designed for similar conditions.

Read our full Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Pro review

Klättermusen Allgrön 2.0 waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Klättermusen)
An eco-friendly, high-performance technical shell for year-round adventures

Specifications

Weight: (Men's M) 624g
Sizes: Men’s XS-XL
Colors: Blue Sapphire / Burnt Russet / Dusty Yellow / Honey / Raven / Rust

Reasons to buy

+
Great cut
+
Stretch fabric for freedom of movement
+
Eco-friendly fabrics
+
Good ventilation

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest
-
Slightly awkward cuff tabs
-
Hood peak could be better

The Allgrön 2.0 is a technical three-layer shell with excellent sustainability credentials, designed for year-round mountain pursuits. It looks great, performs well and offers plenty of practical features. Build quality is solid, while the overall fit is fairly trim – ideal for lean, rangy climber types.

Flexibility and overall freedom of movement are excellent, helped by the slight stretch in the eco-friendly waterproof-breathable fabric. The Allgrön 2.0 also feels reassuringly protective, yet the fabric possesses a softer handle that makes it noticeably quieter and more supple than Gore-Tex Pro, whilst still being completely windproof. It has huge two-way pit zips and mesh-lined pockets for ventilation, plus a two-way main zip with double storm flaps. The shaped hood can accommodate a climbing helmet, but has rear volume adjustment and double face drawcords to cinch in it tightly if the weather closes in.

The unusual cuff adjustment features elasticated drawcords rather than flimsy Velcro tabs, which promise improved long-term durability, though it’s a feature that you’ll probably either love or hate. Admittedly, this isn’t the lightest shell out there, but then it’s designed to be burly enough to wear all winter – it even has a RECCO reflector for avalanche safety. If you’re out and about in really demanding conditions year-round, this is definitely a jacket worth considering.

Read our full Klättermusen Allgrön 2.0 review

Berghaus Changtse waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Berghaus)
All the right Gore-Tex fabrics in all the right places make this a high-performance waterproof jacket

Specifications

RRP: £290 /€350
Sizes: S-XXL
Weight : 375g/13oz (size M)
Colors : Haute red/Deep water blue/Graphite

Reasons to buy

+
Body-mapped Gore-Tex technology
+
Venting
+
Hood adjustable from a single point

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one pocket
-
Expensive

A serious price for a serious jacket, the Changtse has been designed for hikers who not only head into uncompromising hills and mountains, but who are dynamically active when they get there. Its science lies in the use of three different Gore-Tex fabrics, bodymapped to zones where each can function optimally. 

Active Shell, the most breathable Gore-Tex, features around the torso to keep hikers cool; robust Paclite Plus is used in areas that suffer the most abrasion, such as the chest and arms; and Topo Stretch appears around the hem and cuffs for stretchable waterproof protection – ideal when scrambling or climbing. 

Pit zips allow for a through-flow of air, while an innovative (and patented) Vapour Storm vent at the top of the back helps to stop sweaty spine syndrome. The hood, which accommodates a helmet, is adjustable from a single point, and naturally, at this price the jacket is ruggedly waterproof. 

Read our full Berghaus Changtse waterproof jacket review

Paramo Velez waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Paramo)

Paramo Velez Adventure Smock

This waterproof jacket adopts a radical technological approach and style, and has won legions of fans

Specifications

Sizes: S-XXL
Weight: 720g/1lb 9oz
Colors: Black/Dark green

Reasons to buy

+
Breathability
+
Huge pockets
+
Wired peak hood

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Needs regular reproofing

Rather than the industry standard of shell and membrane, Paramo uses a DWR finish on the outer surface and Nikwax Analogy fabrics to draw water as well as vapour away from the skin and through the outer layer (most membranes only allow vapour, rather than condensed water to escape). It’s a warmer solution, best suited to chilly days and requiring a lighter baselayer than other waterproof shell jackets. The substantial wired hood rolls away when not in use, and two lengthy front zips open to provide good ventilation and access to an inner pocket. The fit is generous, delivering first class freedom of movement, while the longer tail extends the waterproof protection. The smock design is unusual and the styling won’t appeal to all, but it does allow for a huge, practical chest pocket – just be careful what you stow in it if you’re a regular Instagrammer as it can lead to an unflattering side profile.

The best waterproof jackets for hiking and city wear

olumbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket

(Image credit: Columbia)
This is a rugged and reasonably packable rain shell with a streamlined design

Specifications

Sizes: S-XXL (XS in women's)
Weight Men's: 11oz / 313g
Colors: Red hibiscus, black
Compatibility: Hiking, backpacking, camping

Reasons to buy

+
Completely waterproof and breathable
+
Adjustable hood stays up in strong winds
+
Pockets big enough for your map
+
Sturdy construction
+
Lightweight and packs into hand pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric makes zip a little sticky
-
Slightly awkward fit in the front
-
Shiny fabric looks a little like a trash bag

For its OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket, Columbia has put the waterproof membrane on the outside, which means a lighter and more watertight shell jacket. This waterproof jacket boasts taped seams as well as adjustable cuffs and hem and truly does keep the wet weather out when you’re trudging through a deluge. The liner isn’t the softest fabric, but it is sweat wicking and breathable, meaning you don’t miss the pit zips on milder treks.

An adjustable hood cinches tight around your head to keep it in place during high winds, and the unobtrusive peak works really well to keep the rain out of your eyes when it’s lashing down. The high collar keeps the rain from going down your front when it's zipped up, while an abrasion-resistant chin guard keeps it from rubbing. The low cut means it keeps your bum mostly dry if you want to perch on a wet rock or bench. Two hand pockets are big enough to easily stash a map or guidebook, and their stretchy mesh inner panels means the whole thing can pack inside either one making this a solid choice  – if not the most stylish – for wet weather adventures, even when you’re trying to cut down on weight and bulk.

Read our full Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket review

Salewa Fanes Wool Powertex waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Salewa)
A versatile waterproof jacket for urban and mountain wear, made with an innovative technical fabric

Specifications

Sizes: S / M / L / XL / 2XL / 3XL
Weight Men's: 440g/15.5oz
Colors: Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Great fabric
+
Weather protection
+
Good looks

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
One color only

Salewa is aiming to break the mould with their technical Fanes Wool Powertex Jacket. It is designed for versatility and has enough hiking credentials for mountain wear, but also boasts a smart look that makes is perfect for urban, about-town use as well. 

The Powertex polyester-wool yarn blend has a three-layer laminate construction, which is waterproof and breathable but also feels sort of soft to the touch. Further practical details include welded main seams, an eco-friendly PFC-free finish and waterproof zips at the front and two hand pockets. A tailored rear-adjustable hood has an integrated storm collar for extra protection, plus the jacket has an elastic hem adjustment that can be done with one hand. Additional features include Velcro cuff adjustments, ergonomically shaped sleeves and extra inner stretch mesh pockets.

Read our full Salewa Fanes Wool Powertex waterproof jacket review

The best eco-friendly waterproof jackets

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Patagonia)
This three-layer waterproof jacket is made from recycled fabrics and stuffs into its own pocket for easy carrying

Specifications

Size : XS-XXL
Weight : 394g/14oz
Colors: Roots red/Supply green/Mango/Andes blue/Forge grey/Fire/Industrial green/Classic navy/Coriander brown/Black

Reasons to buy

+
Portability
+
Eco-friendly
+
Wired peak hood
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Rucksack hip belts can cover pockets

The only difficult decision in choosing the Torrentshell as a waterproof jacket is picking a colour – there are 10 available for men and nine for women. The outer shell is made from a tough, recycled nylon, with a membrane to let sweat escape, while a ‘knitted’ tricot liner provides a soft layer next to your skin – with comfort levels enhanced even further at the neck by a micro-fleece lining to snuggle into when the heavens open. 

Velcro cuffs and a hem drawcord provide a seal against sideways rain, as do the internal and external storm flaps on either side of the front zip, while the hood adjusts for a close, face-hugging fit. When the weather is more benign the hood folds and hooks down, and pit zips help you let off steam. And when it’s sunny, the whole jacket stuffs into its own handpocket for easy carrying. It’s constructed from recycled materials, and to top it all, it’s fair-trade certified.

Read our full Patagonia Torrentshell waterproof jacket review

The best lightweight waterproof jackets

Montane Pac Plus XT waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Montane)
Lightweight, waterproof and breathable shell made with 100% recycled Gore-Tex

Specifications

Sizes: S / M / L / XL / XXL
Weight: Men's 375g/13oz; women’s: 330g/11.5oz
Colors: Orion blue / oxide orange / slate; Women’s: Paprika pink / slate grey / wakame green
Compatibility: :Lightweight alpine backpacking and fastpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Neat fit
+
Lightweight 
+
Packable
+
Eco credentials

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

An evolution of the Montane Pac Plus jacket, the new Pac Plus XT jacket is lightweight and packable, but also comes with plenty of mountain-ready features. It’s aimed at hikers who want to move fast in the mountains, and for summer wear. Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric offers high levels of waterproofing and breathability, while a 40-denier nylon face (which is completely recycled), provides good durability. 

Further mountain features include fully taped seams, a helmet-compatible hood with stiffened peak, two-way pit zips and two map-sized mesh-lined pockets. In addition, there is a two-way YKK Aquaguard front zip with an internal storm flap. Adjustable cuffs and hem, plus articulated arms allow for good freedom of movement. 

Read our full Montane Pac Plus XT waterproof jacket review

Beyond Clothing Yuba Ultralight K6 Rain Anorak

(Image credit: Beyond)
A handsome and handy-to-pack anorak with loads of storage and decent performance levels

Specifications

RRP: $285 (US)
Weight: 227g / 8oz
Sizes: S / M / L / XL / 2XL
Waterproofing: 20,000 HH
Breathability: 30,000g
Fabric: Ultra lightweight three-layer Pertex
Colors: Rescue red / Black / Coyote / Navy / Rustic green

Reasons to buy

+
Light
+
Very packable 
+
Smart looking
+
Lots of pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Flimsy hood with no peak
-
Not much venting
-
Possibly too many pockets…

This new American-made anorak offers hardshell-levels of waterproofing performance with a vastly reduced weight penalty, thanks to the three-layer Pertex construction. It has pockets all over the place, from the sleeves to a large pouch across the gut, which is useful for stashing a paper map in. The side pocket angles backwards – which means you can carry the contents without it flapping around too much while you’re moving – and this also functions as a stow pouch to make the jacket extra packable.

The waterproofing is reliable, but there isn’t much in the way of venting, with just a half-length front zip. That said, we found it to be pretty breathable. The hood can be adjusted via one toggle at the back, and can be tightened to some extent, but with the emphasis being on making the jacket as light as possible, there is no peak or structure to the hood to help keep the elements out when things get really wild. It can also be tightened at the waist. The Yuba is a fantastic looking piece of apparel (at least until you put the hood up), well styled and available in a range of nice colorways).

Read our full Beyond Clothing Yuba Ultralight K6 Rain Anorak

Rab Downpour Alpine waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Rab)

Rab Downpour Alpine

Cutting edge fabric technology make this a waterproof jacket for fast-paced adventures

Specifications

Sizes: S-XXL
Weight: 400g/14oz
Colors: Blueprint / Maya / Sulphur / Black

Reasons to buy

+
Helmet compatible hood
+
Large chest pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Less durable than a three-layer fabric

Cumbria’s lakes don’t fill themselves, and you’re more likely to need a waterproof than sunscreen in Snowdonia, which is where the Rab Downpour Alpine enters the fray, ready to deliver all day weather protection in the most challenging conditions. Unusually and impressively for a jacket at this price, it uses a proprietary rather than own-brand fabric to square up to downpours. Made from 2.5-layer Pertex Shield, the Rab Downpour Alpine features a membrane bonded to the face fabric, with a coating on the inside. It’s less durable than a three-layer jacket, but it allows for freer movement and a smaller pack size when not in use. Two large chest pockets sit well above rucksack belts and easily swallow an Ordnance Survey map, while pit zips bring a breath of fresh air to sweaty armpits. The fleece-lined chin guard is a thoughtful touch for days when you’re grimacing into a climatic onslaught, and the malleable-peaked hood cinches to create a close, snug fit around your head.   

best waterproof jackets: Adidas Terrex Multi RAIN.RDY waterproof jacket

(Image credit: Adidas)
The Adidas Terrex Multi RAIN.RDY Jacket is an affordable, comfortable, stylish and versatile all-rounder for wilderness and urban use

Specifications

Price: $120 (US) / £100 (UK)
Sizes: Men’s XS-2XL; women’s XS-XL
Weight: Men’s L 474g (16.7 oz)
Materials: 100% recycled polyester plain weave
Waterproofing rating: Not available
Breathability rating: Not available
Colors: Shock blue / Black / Focus olive / Magic grey / Pulse lime; Women’s: Vivid Red / App sky rush / Magic mauve
Compatibility: : Suitable for everyday wear, from town to trail – but more entry level in terms of technicality. Not for use on high, exposed hill and mountaintops in extreme conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Soft, quiet fabric
+
Keeps light rain and wind off
+
Good value
+
Sustainable construction with recycled fabrics

Reasons to avoid

-
Hood design isn’t the best
-
Simple feature set
-
Not the lightest or most packable
-
HH rating unknown

Intended as an entry-level affordable waterproof for general use, this fairly versatile jacket is also decent enough for day hikes and weekend walks. Impressively made with 100% recycled materials, it’s a two-layer jacket with a polyester plain weave face fabric bonded to Adidas’s own PU-based waterproof-breathable membrane, with a taffeta and mesh inner drop liner. 

This mightn’t be the most technically advanced construction around, but it’s comfortable. The outer fabric is soft, supple and quiet, with none of the rustle and swish you get from stiffer waterproof shells. In terms of features, you get a one-way, reverse coil main zip backed with an internal storm flap and finished with a soft microfibre chin guard. There are dual one-handed hem drawcords, Velcro cuff tabs, twin zipped hand pockets and a rollaway hood. The zippers all have chunky pull-tabs. 

All in all, this is a straightforward general-use jacket that offers a good balance of comfort, versatility and style – with just enough technical performance to front up to the occasional foray in the great outdoors.

Read our full adidas Terrex Multi RAIN.RDY waterproof jacket review

Best waterproof jackets comparison table
Waterproof jacketPriceWeightStyleBest use
Helly Hansen Odin 1 World Infinity Jacket$500 (US)/ £400 (UK)Men's: 440g / 15.5oz; women’s: 400g / 14ozHigh performance, technical shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Outdoor Research Helium AscentShell$399 (US)/ £399 (UK)men’s: 326g / 11.5oz; women’s: 298g/10.5ozHigh performance, technical shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Thrudark SF Raid$700 (US) / £545 (UK)780g / 28ozHigh performance, technical shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 GTX Pro $650 (US) / £555 (UK)470g / 16.5ozHigh performance, technical shell with Gore-TexHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Klättermusen Allgrön 2.0$600 (US) / £372 (UK)624g / 22ozHigh performance, technical shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Berghaus Changtse£290 (UK) / €350 (EU)375g / 13ozHigh performance, technical shell with Gore-TexFastpacking, hiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, skiing, winter and alpine mountaineering
Paramo Velez Adventure Smock£245 (UK)720g / 1lb 9ozHigh performance shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, winter and alpine mountaineering
Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Waterproof Hooded Shell Jacket$250 (US) / £225 (UK)11oz / 313gHigh performance shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking
Salewa Fanes Wool Powertex waterproof jacket$400 (US) / £380 (UK)440g / 15.5ozHigh performance shellHiking, hut-to-hut trekking, urban use
Patagonia Torrentshell$150 (US) / £150 (UK)394g / 14ozLightweight waterproof shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, skiing
Montane Pac Plus XT jacket $320 (US)/ £250 (UK)Men's 375g / 13oz; women’s: 330g / 11.5ozLightweight waterproof shellSpeed hiking, fastpacking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, skiiing
Beyond Clothing Yuba Ultralight K6 Rain Anorak$285 (US)227g / 8ozLightweight waterproof shellSpeed hiking, fastpacking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, skiiing
Rab Downpour Alpine£160 (UK)400g / 14ozStandard waterproof shellHiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, skiing
Adidas Terrex Multi RAIN.RDY waterproof jacket$120 (US) / £100 (UK)Men’s XS-2XL; Women’s XS-XLStandard waterproof shellSuitable for everyday wear, from town to trail – but more entry level in terms of technicality. Not for use on high, exposed hill and mountaintops in extreme conditions

How we test waterproof jackets

Our reviewers test waterproof jackets and shell layers during wet and wild weather in a range of environments, from hills and peaks to coastal paths and woodlands, on day hikes and longer treks. Features (including waterproofing, breathability, ventilation, materials, style, pockets, hoods, snow skirt, weight and overall comfort) are tested against claims made by the brand, and we assess factors such as value for money, durability, functionality and environmental impact.

How to choose a waterproof jacket

Regardless of their RRP or reputation, the best waterproof jackets have to be right for you personally, whether you hike in country parks, rugged moorland or up on the high flanks of unforgiving mountains. It's all part of knowing how to stay dry while hiking

To help you find the perfect fit for you body type and needs, we've put together a list of factors to consider when buying: 

1. Fabric

Gear manufacturers deploy different technologies to make the best waterproof jackets, er, waterproof. The first layer is durable water repellency (DWR), which makes rain drops bead on the surface of the jacket. Walkers who take care of their kit can restore the DWR finish by washing a jacket with a specialist cleaning product, such as Nikwax, and then tumble-drying it. The second line of defence is the shell or barrier fabric, which gives the best rain jackets their structure, anti-abrasion protection, and determines whether it’s supple or stiff, silent or noisy.

best waterproof jackets

The Klättermusen Allgrön 2.0 jacket features stretch fabric for freedom of movement, essential for more technical terrain (Image credit: Klättermusen)

2. Membrane

Attached to the outer shell is a membrane, the scientific bit of the design, which stops water soaking through but lets sweat evaporate out as vapour – to deliver so-called breathability. Gore-Tex is the best-known membrane, but many gear manufacturers have developed their own technologies along similar lines – most recently TNF with Futurelight. The membrane is typically protected by an inner mesh. Different types of membrane provide varying degrees of waterproofing, which is usually denoted by their hydrostatic head

Our guide to breathable waterproof fabrics explains the differences between the various options.

best waterproof jacket

Revolution Race's Cyclone Rescue 2.0 features stretch fabric for freedom of movement (Image credit: Revolution Race)

3. Ventilation

In-store swing tags may promise that the best waterproof jackets are both waterproof and breathable, but the truth is that you’ll still feel sweaty climbing a hill in damp conditions with a backpack. If you've got your layering right, with a base layer and a mid layer (such as a fleece jacket), there will be times when your waterproof on top of all this is just too much, even when it's raining. Strategically designed vents and (arm) pit zips that facilitate a flow of air through the best rain jackets and can reduce condensation and leave you feeling less sweaty.

best waterproof jackets

Klättermusen Allgrön 2.0 jacket features features that enable great ventilation (Image credit: Klättermusen)

4. Hood

For maximum protection the hood needs to cover the whole of your head, ideally with enough space to accommodate a your best hiking hat underneath in winter. Climbers and mountaineers need to check the hood can swallow a helmet, too. The hoods of the best waterproof jackets move with your head (for unobstructed vision when crossing a road), so a cinch or ties are useful to secure a snug fit. Make sure any ties tuck away unless you fancy being whipped in the face when it’s windy. Finally, a stiff, wired hood will keep its shape in a gale.

best waterproof jacket

The Revolution Race Cyclone Rescue 2.0 jacket is one of the best waterproof jackets on the market (Image credit: Revolution Race)

5. Zips and seams

Sneaky old H2O seems determined to infiltrate any waterproof jacket, so it’s vital that all seams are taped and that zips are either stormproof or covered by a storm flap. If you plan to walk in winter, make sure you can operate the zips while wearing hiking gloves.

6. Fit

Leave enough space under your jacket for wearing a base layer and mid layer (check out our quick guide to mid layers) , such as a down jacket, for walking in colder conditions. Jacket length is a matter of taste – longer jackets naturally offer greater protection – and adjustable cuffs and hem will keep you warm and watertight or let you spill heat by loosening them.

best waterproof jackets

Your waterproof should leave enough room for your mid layers (Image credit: Getty)

7. Weight

For much of the year a waterproof jacket is an insurance policy – carried in a backpack in case of rain. Like the best one-person tents, the best rain jackets that are light and fold up small are easier to carry, but will typically offer less protection and be less durable. If you’re going to rely on one jacket for year round walking it’s far better to choose a robust jacket for the worst of winter and carry a few extra grams in summer, than depend on a featherweight jacket when December’s rain is blowing horizontally. 

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. 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. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).