Skip to main content

The best women’s waterproof jackets: for hiking, trail running, climbing and more

Included in this guide:

best women's waterproof jackets: women in waterproof jacket
Come rain or shine, always have your waterproof jacket (Image credit: Getty)

The best women’s waterproof jackets are specifically designed to fit the female form, making them the obvious go to for female adventurers. An essential piece of kit the whole year round, a waterproof jacket is the ultimate outer layer. On wet days, it is the one thing stopping between the rest of your layering system – and therefore you – getting a soaking.

However, the best women’s waterproof jackets don’t just earn their keep when the heavens open. Their fabrics are also designed to be highly resistant to wind, much more resistant, in fact, than your fleece and down jackets. On days when a biting wind is assaulting the ridgelines, you’ll be glad of your windproof outer layer.

best women's waterproof jackets: water beading on a jacket

The satisfying sight of water beading on a jacket (Image credit: Getty)

So, even when there’s no rain in the forecast, we never head into the hills without one of the best waterproof jackets in our backpack. The best women’s waterproof jackets cover a range of applications, from the Hoka One One Shakedry Run Jacket,  designed specifically to fit over a running vest, to Arc’teryx’s Alpha SL Anorak, which boasts tough fabric, ideal for scrambling and climbing.

There’s more choice than ever when it comes to choosing a waterproof jacket specifically tailored to your needs. Once you’ve chosen the jacket to suit your chosen activities, it may also be worth thinking about the best women’s hiking backpacks. Together, the combo should lead to more comfortable days out on the trails, with kit that fits properly.

The best women's waterproof jackets for fast and light adventures

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Ortovox Civetta

(Image credit: Ortovox)

Best women’s waterproof jacket for fast and light alpine adventures

Specifications
Price: $315 (US)/ £250 (UK) / €290 (EU)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 155g /5.5oz
Waterproofing Technology: Toray Dermizax DT
Colors: Blue Lake, Green Isar, Blush
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-light+Compact+Highly packable+Well featured
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

We loved this jacket for its compact protection. Offering the same level of waterproofing as a hardshell, in a package that feels a lot more like a windbreaker, Ortovox’s Civetta has a micro bead structure on the inside to protect the membrane and to keep the jacket from feeling sticky against your skin. Beads so small you can’t see them help the jacket’s fabric absorb moisture and move it away from your body so that the garment feels dry on the inside. Cleverly, the Civetta stuffs into its own chest pocket, which has a hang loop so this jacket can be attached to a harness. Elastic wrists and waist seal out weather without adding weight, and the self-regulating hood has an elastic band and a reinforced peak so that it stays on and blocks weather in wind and rain. Very neat, and very clever.

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Hoka One One Women’s Gore-tex Shakedry Run Jacket

(Image credit: Hoka One)

The best women’s waterproof jacket for running

Specifications
Price: $250 (US)/ £250 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 164g/5.8oz
Waterproofing Technology: Gore Shakedry
Colors: Black
Reasons to buy
+Running specific+Well featured for intended use+Excellent chest zips+Reflective logos
Reasons to avoid
-Black only-No pockets-Expensive

Designed for ultra-runners and approved for use at the Mt Blanc races, Hoka One One’s Shakedry Run Jacket is designed to wear over an 8L running vest with full hydration flasks. Covered waterproof zippers from shoulder to rib open to give runners pack access, including access to hydration without exposing yourself to weather. Reflective logos on all sides make runners more visible in low-light conditions. We loved the extra space of the relaxed fit, and the massive chest zips that let us vent as much or as little as we wanted. Gore Shakedry is a membrane that’s been treated for toughness, not a membrane sandwiched between layers of fabric, which made this one of the most breathable waterproof jackets we’ve worn, even without the chest zips. Bonded elastic, half-cinch openings at the sleeve and hem were easy to get in and out of and they kept the jacket in place. A hood cinch tucks under a nape of the neck flap letting us adjust the hood so it wouldn’t block our vision. It’s worth noting that this pack doesn’t have pockets, because it’s designed to wear over a pack.

The best women's waterproof jackets for value

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Marmot Precip Eco

(Image credit: Marmot)

Excellent value for one of the best women’s waterproof jackets on the market

Specifications
Price: $100 (US)/ £110 (UK) / €120 (EU)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 291g / 9.2oz
Waterproofing Technology: Marmot NanoPro
Colors: Black / Blue / Green / Pink / Red / White
Reasons to buy
+Superb value+Recycled materials used+Great colors
Reasons to avoid
-Hand pockets are on the small side

A two-layer jacket so popular that it’s been in Marmot’s line for 20 years, the always affordable Precip is 100% seam taped, so it’s fully waterproof. The attached hood is adjustable and rolls into the jacket collar for storage to keep it from flapping around. Pit zips add unrestricted venting. It’s cut for freedom of movement with Velcro cuffs and an elastic drawcord waist to seal out weather. For 2021, Precip is now also lower impact: the PFC-free Nylon face fabric is recycled and longer-lasting than ever thanks to a new microporous coating. We also really loved the tailored cut of this garment. An excellent jacket for the price tag - probably the best women's waterproof jacket out there for buyers on a budget. 

The best women's waterproof jacket for scrambling and climbing

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Arc’teryx Alpha SL Anorak

(Image credit: Arcteryx)

The best women’s waterproof jacket for climbing and cragging

Specifications
Price: $375 (US)/ £350 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 180g / 6.3oz
Waterproofing Technology: Gore-Tex
Colors: Dark Immersion / Dynasty
Reasons to buy
+Eco friendly+Super-tough fabric+Easy to get on+Warm+Easy to move in
Reasons to avoid
-Only one pocket-Expensive

A superlight GORE-TEX shell made with ultra-durable face fabric, this climbing- and alpine- focused anorak also has a great eco story. By adding pigment at the polymer level instead of dyeing the final garment, Arc’teryx saves water, reduces C02 emissions, and increases the jacket’s colorfastness. The SL Anorak’s gridded, hardened face fabric is engineered with a liquid crystal polymer ripstop for waterproof, windproof, breathable protection in an ultralight package. Arc’teryx says that the fabric delivers abrasion resistance rivaling fabrics twice its weight. The jacket’s hood is helmet-compatible, and it adjusts with a back toggle for superior peripheral vision. The single chest pocket and the deep front zip are both water-repelling. The warmth, plus the ease of getting into and out of this anorak, and the freedom of movement it allows, all added up to make it an instant favorite.

The best multi-purpose women's waterproof jackets

best women's waterproof jackets: Adidas Terrex Myshelter jacket

(Image credit: Adidas)

Lightweight, breathable wet weather protection that doesn’t hold back on features

Specifications
Price: $350 (US) / £350 (UK)
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL
Weight: 360g / 12.6oz
Waterproofing Technology: Gore-Tex Active Shell 100% nylon plain weave
Colors: Black / Halo blue / Clear pink / Legend ink / Acid yellow / Orbit violet / Mesa
Compatibility: : Hiking, skiing and snowboarding
Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Breathable fabric and underarm vents+Reflective detailing+Adjustable hem, cuffs and helmet compatible hood+Lots of pockets+Large enough to fit over bulky jackets
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Not ultra packable-No built in stretch-May run too large for some

On the rack, this stylish rain jacket is designed for getting moving in wet weather, repelling moisture and providing plenty of great breathability for when you work up a sweat, and has plenty of bells and whistles to help justify its premium price. The three layer active nylon shell is made from the lightest and most breathable membrane from Gore-Tex and keeps the rain at bay and is enhanced by a high zipped collar, adjustable cuffs and hem and an adjustable hood that stays up even on the gustiest of days. The hood is designed to fit over a helmet, and the jacket is designed to run a little large so it will fit over a fleece or down jacket, making this a viable outer layer for wet spring ski days as well as for rainy hikes. This jacket doesn’t pack down the smallest, and it comes with a substantial price tag, but it’s lightweight, effective, durable and looks good enough to wear around town as well as one the trails.

best women's waterproof jackets: Eddie Bauer Freshline Jacket

(Image credit: Eddie Bauer)

Eddie Bauer Freshline Jacket

A lightweight but versatile shell, suitable for all sorts of cold play, and made from recycled material

Specifications
Price: $549 (US)
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL
Weight: 680g/24oz
Waterproofing Technology: 3-Layer eVent Expedition and Alpine fabrics
Colors: Limestone
Compatibility: : Winter hiking and climbing, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding
Reasons to buy
+Made with 100% recycled fabric+Sleeves have thumb loops+Massive chest pockets+Clean-release draw cords at hood and hem
Reasons to avoid
-Limited colors

Eddie Bauer’s Fineline 3L shell is one of the brand’s most tried and true styles. Recently, it’s been upgraded with a 100% recycled polyester three-layer fabric, and four-way stretch. Made for frontside and backcountry skiing, ice climbing when it’s wet, snowshoeing, winter peak bagging and more, this jacket has a removable snow skirt, a helmet compatible hood, and a RECCO detector to help locate you in an emergency. Full-length pit zips vent the jacket, chest pockets extend all the way to the jacket armpits, and a pass pocket on the shoulder simplifies scanning at the ski lift. The fabric in this jacket feels softer and less crinkly than most other fully waterproof shells we’ve tested, but is still fully waterproof, seam taped and breathable.

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Patagonia Storm 10

(Image credit: Patagonia)

The best women’s waterproof jacket for wearing on a variety of adventures

Specifications
Price: $299 (US)/ £320 (UK)
Sizes: XXS–XL
Weight: 210g / 7.4oz
Waterproofing Technology: H2No
Colors: Chartreuse / Smolder blue / Stellar blue
Reasons to buy
+Made from recycled materials+Lightweight+Roomy
Reasons to avoid
-No soft chin patch-Expensive

This ultralight, three-layer rain jacket is the most-gentle on the planet that you can buy. Made from 100% recycled nylon ripstop face fabric with a soft-on-the-skin tricot backer, the jacket is fair trade certified sewn. The alpine-helmet-compatible hood adjusts with a pull-to-tighten drawcord, and the hood has slightly elasticized sides to help it stay on without being overly tight. The coated, waterproof front zipper is reinforced with an internal storm flap and a zipper garage The jacket’s three pockets, a left-chest pocket, and two front pockets, have coated, watertight zippers welded in. The jacket self-stuffs into the left-chest pocket. A hidden Recco reflector helps rescuers find you if you’re lost or injured. This jacket is cut for movement; it’s not too loose, not too tight, not so technical that we couldn’t wear it any day, and it had plenty of room to layer underneath when it was both rainy and cold.

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Filson Women’s Swiftwater Rain Jacket

(Image credit: Filson)

Best women’s waterproof jacket for low terrain walking, field sports and fishing

Specifications
Price: $195 (US)/ £225 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XXL
Weight: 369g/13oz
Waterproofing Technology: Nylon ripstop with printed membrane
Colors: Field olive / Dark denim / Blaze orange / Tan
Reasons to buy
+Brimmed hood deflects water+Loose fitting
Reasons to avoid
-Not as packable as other jackets

A rain jacket made to resist abrasion and hard use, the 2.5-layer nylon Swiftwater has a mesh pattern printed on the inside to protect the membrane, as well as water-resistant zippers and Velcro-close cuffs. The hood adjusts in two directions with a drawcord. A drawcord also adjusts the hem. And the jacket packs into its own pocket. You never feel like you have to protect the Swiftwater from tearing or snagging. It’s made for fishing, but you can hike and bushwhack in it too, squeezing through branches and scrambling up rocky outcrops that would rip other rain shells. The two-way adjustable hood has a stiffened fabric brim that keeps rain off your face, and oversize hand pockets hold snacks, a phone, a sandwich, gloves and more. The jacket has a great cut for fishing and general field sports, but it’s not so loose it flaps in the wind. Filson claim the jacket packs into its own pocket, but we found it awkward to get it in.

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell

(Image credit: Outdoor Research)

Best women’s waterproof jacket for high-output activities

Specifications
Price: $199 (US)/ £199 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 272g/9.6oz
Waterproofing Technology: electrospun Ascent Shell
Colors: Atoll / Black / Burgundy
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic weight for a three-layer jacket+Good price
Reasons to avoid
-Cut tight in the chest

The lightest, most streamlined AscentShell Outdoor Research Makes, the 3L Motive is stretchy, extremely breathable, and no-frills. Outdoor Research used cinched binding on the cuffs and hood to seal out wind and rain. The chest logo and a stripe on the back are both reflective to enhance visibility on low-light days. The jacket packs into its pocket for storage. Between the polyester layers, the electrospun AscentShell membrane, “breathes faster, weighs less, stretches more, and far surpasses the comfort of traditional waterproof membranes,” according to the company. That’s because the electrospun membrane is air-permeable. Under a microscope, it looks like a web, with space for sweat to escape without rain coming in. An imperceptible amount of air flows through the jacket to aggressively move moisture quickly from the inside out before you feel like you’re overheating or sweaty. Traditional waterproof jackets require body heat to push out moisture. Air-permeable membranes start transferring moisture before you start sweating. So, electrospun membrane jackets are most comfortable for high-output activities. If you want a stretchy, waterproof jacket that is extremely comfortable to wear running, hiking, or during high-exertion activities, the Motive Ascent Shell is a great choice. If you’ll be hanging out at your campsite or another activity that’s more sedentary, choose another shell.

Best women’s waterproof jackets: Mammut Kento HS Hooded

(Image credit: Mammut)

The best women’s waterproof jacket for year-round use

Specifications
Price: $229 (US)/ £190 (UK)
Sizes: XS–XXL
Weight: 372g/13.1oz
Waterproofing Technology: Mammut dry technology pro
Colors: Sunset / Freesia / Sapphire / Black
Reasons to buy
+Perfect weight for year-round use+Fair-wear certified
Reasons to avoid
-The membrane is stickier on the skin than many other jackets

A jacket capable in all four seasons, the Kento HS has a more generous cut than many of Mammut’s very Euro-styled jackets, and this was the most robust mountain-focused jacket we tested. Mammut’s stretchy Kento HS has the heft to protect from extreme weather, including wind, rain, sleet, and more. The hood is compatible with alpine ski and climbing helmets and all of the jacket’s zippers are waterproof, including its pit zips. Load up the Kento’s chest pockets – they’re accessible with a harness on. The hood and hem adjust with drawcords, and the cuffs adjust with Velcro straps. Oversized hand pockets are big enough to hold backcountry ski-climbing skins, and the medium-cut is perfect with softshell pants or rain pants. The Polyamide face, polyurethane membrane jacket is Bluesign-certified and uses a durable water repellent that is PFC-free. Fair Wear certification means that Mammut is working towards systematically improving working conditions throughout its supply chain. If you’re looking for one jacket for year-round use, this one is a great choice.

Choosing the best women’s waterproof jacket

The best women's waterproof jackets: features and functions to look for when buying

Knowing how to stay dry when hiking, or during any outdoor pursuit is crucial if you are out for any length of time. It’s important to scope out the best women’s waterproof jackets for you based on how and where you’ll be wearing yours. For high output activities, consider a jacket that’s ultralight and air permeable. If you’ll likely get hammered by deluges day after day, opt for a tougher jacket, and one that provides a little warmth too. If you’re buying a waterproof jacket for a specific sport, like cycling or running, pick one that has the features to make your days out the best the most comfortable they can be.

Deciding what to wear hiking is never easy, but the bottom line is this: opt for gear that provides a little more protection than you're likely to need in the worst conditions you might encounter.  

best women's waterproof jackets: hiker looking wistful

Waterproof jackets are also highly wind resistant, so are often the optimum base layer even on dry days (Image credit: Getty)

Fabric

Different outdoor brands deploy different technologies to make these jackets waterproof. Usually, an outer DWR (durable water repellency) layer is applied. This is what make raindrops bead on the surface of the jacket in such a satisfying way. Adventurers who take pride in looking after 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.

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. Many brands use Gore-Tex, the best-known membrane, but many gear manufacturers have developed their own technologies along similar lines – such as The North Face with Futurelight and Revolution Race with their Hypershell Pro. 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 women's waterproof jackets: smiley wet hiker

A decent waterproof jacket means that rain won't ruin your fun (Image credit: Getty)

Ventilation

In-store swing tags may promise that the best women's 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.

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 women's 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 women's waterproof jackets: hiker looking out across Derwent Water in the Lakes

Enjoying the views on a cloudy day in the English Lake District (Image credit: Getty)

Fit

The main difference between unisex models and the best women's waterproof jackets is the way they fit. However, don't be tempted to go for a jacket that fits too snuggly, as on colder days you may end up wanting to wear several layers underneath. Leave enough space for wearing a base layer and mid layers (check out our quick guide to mid layers) , such as down jackets and fleeces. 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.

Price

Remember, the most expensive jackets may or may not be the optimum choice for your needs. Balance budget and features, and rest assured that even a jacket with a membrane you’ve never heard of will likely still be great if it has the features you need. Gore-Tex remains the category leader, but it’s not the only choice.

Berne Broudy

Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.