Mountain Equipment Makalu Jacket review: superb shelter from the storm

This sturdy 3-layer shell with eco creds makes you feel like you’re inside a cocoon during the wildest weather

Julia Clarke hiking in Scotland
(Image: © Julia Clarke)

Advnture Verdict

This planet-friendly, mountain-ready 3-layer rain shell repels the worst of the weather and leaves you feeling safe and dry inside a quiet shelter


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    Fully waterproof with GORE-TEX with ePE membrane and FC free DWR

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    Durable 3-Layer construction

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    Fully adjustable peaked hood

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    Loads of deep, zipped pockets

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    Underarm pit zips

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    Not the lightest jacket around

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    A little pricey

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Mountain Equipment Makalu Jacket: first impressions 

This waterproof jacket from Mountain Equipment makes you feel like you’re in a safe, quiet cocoon, even when you’re on the summit of a mountain in a howling gale. Fully waterproof and breathable thanks to the new GORE-TEX with ePE membrane, this jacket fends off the worst of the wet weather and doesn’t leave a huge mark on the planet, thanks in part to an FC-free DWR and a durable construction that should last for years. The active fit of this jacket is flattering yet functional, leaving room for a fleece or down jacket underneath. 


• List price: $399.95 / £300
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s available
• Sizes: Men’s S - XXXL / Women’s 8 - 16
• Weight: 16.5 oz / 470 grams (women’s UK 10)
• Materials: GORE-TEX 75D fabric
• Colors: Imperial red/Crimson, Mykonos/Majolica, Dusk/Cosmos, Topaz/Mjolica, Spruce/Deep teal, Majolica/Capsicum, Stellar/Majolica, Amethyst/Medieval
• Best use: Hiking

Two deep, zipped hand-warming pockets can be reached even when you’re wearing your backpack while a roomy Napoleon pocket has plenty of space to carry a map and an inner pocket can keep your phone secreted away from the elements. The fully adjustable hood stays up when you’re walking into the wind, and the peak keeps the rain out of your eyes. Pit zips mean you can dump heat when you’re walking uphill and the breathable fabric lets you work up a sweat in a downpour.

If you’re comparing it to waterproof jackets, we’d say this is more of a mid-weight jacket, among those we’ve tested, so it isn’t the lightest or most packable, but compared to a hardshell jacket, it’s on the light end and can be rolled up a stuffed away in a daypack when things brighten up. It’s also on the middle of the price spectrum for technical jackets, and we think that compared to some really expensive models, you’re getting a lot for your money here.

Mountain Equipment Makalu Jacket: in the field 

A hiking group consults the map

All kitted out for the outdoors in this jacket (Image credit: Julia Clarke)

I received jacket as part of a test of the new GORE-TEX membrane where I wore it hiking on a blustery day in the Cairngorms, and since then I’ve managed to hike near Glasgow several times in exclusively rainy conditions that conveniently for me ranged from a shower to a deluge.

Here’s how it performed:  

Sizing and fit 

I tested a UK size 10 which is a size up from my usual size, but Mountain Equipment considers it to be small, which is what I’d usually wear. I’d say it fits great for my needs. I was testing it in a group with other people and I did notice a couple of women with similar frames to me wore it a bit neater – it certainly looked a little more stylish on them than it does on me, but at the end of the day I can wear this over my down jacket, and come winter that’s what I want from it. In short, if you want to layer it, you might want to size up. 

This jacket has an active fit that comes down to just below my bum which increases warmth and means I can sit down on the wet grass, and the sleeves for once aren’t too long.

Mountain Equipment Makalu Pants

This jacket has an active fit that comes down to just below my bum which increases warmth (Image credit: Future)

Weight and packability

At 470 grams, this is about 170 grams heavier than my lightest waterproof jacket, but it’s by no means heavy. It’s definitely more of a shell and I think of it a my go-to layer for really bad weather, while I’d throw a lighter jacket in my backpack if there was a minimal chance of rain. 

The sturdy materials and peaked hood means it also takes up a bit more room in my backpack, more like a large Nalgene rolled up than a grapefruit.

Waterproofing and breathability 

The new GORE-TEX fabric works brilliantly to keep rain out and when it’s really stormy and I have my hood up, I really do feel like I’m in a cocoon. Sometimes the wind and rain can be quite disorienting, but with this jacket on, I feel like I can just enjoy my hike in any weather. It also has an adjustable hem and cuffs to seal out the cold, as you’d expect.

My Litmus test for breathability is to wear a jacket up a very steep, but small mountain about 30 minutes from my home without unzipping it, and I’ve been able to pull it off in this jacket pretty comortably on cool autumn days. I wouldn’t be able to do that on a warm summer’s day, I don’t think, and in real life I’ve been utilizing the pit zips since it’s not super cold here yet, but it’s definitely breathable enough for hiking in mild to cold conditions.

Other features

The hood can make or break a waterproof jacket, and I was thrilled to see this one stays up even when I’m walking into a strong wind, and it keeps the cold rain off my face which helps with that cocoon feeling. The soft chin guard means I cna keep it up for hours without it annoying me.

I find pockets less important, but for those of you who like to carry tons of gear on your person, this jacket is well furnished with functional pockets. The hand warming pockets are deep enough to stash my gloves but positioned so I can unzip them when wearing my backpack. The Napoleon pocket is huge, so it easily fits a map, and there’s an inner pocket for my phone or valuables.

Mountain Equipment Makalu Jacket: bottom line 

This robust rain shell isn’t the lightest or most packable waterproof jacket out there, but if you need reliable protection against harsh conditions, it won’t let you down.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.