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.
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 (Want something warmer and less technical? Check out the best winter coats instead.)
Our handy tool will pull in all the best prices for each product on our list. Need some more buying advice? Head to the bottom of this article to learn how to choose the best waterproof jacket. If not, read on for our pick of the best waterproof jackets.
The best waterproof jackets 2021
An excellent all-rounder, our current best waterproof jacket is the Berghaus Sky Hiker. 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. More specialised jackets will offer more advanced features, but as a great all-rounder, you won't go wrong with this. For more on what we thought, head to our Berghaus Sky Hiker Waterproof Jacket review.
Looking for an eco-friendly option? Our best premium waterproof jacket is the Finisterre's Stormbird, and it has a 2021 T3 Award to its name too, in the Outdoors category. Sitting at the top of the Finisterre waterproof jacket range, the Stormbird is made from 100% recycled nylon with a planet-friendly FC-free DWR finish 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.
The Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Jacket is a surprisingly impressive waterproof jacket, combining strong performance against the elements with a smart and stylish design. Standouts are the concealed adjusters and excellent hood, as well as the sporty alpine-style cut, which is nice and comfortable in use. It's not the most lightweight option on our list, and the Texapore isn’t quite as breathable as some more expensive options. But overall, it's still a strong recommendation. Read our Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Jacket review for more info.
If you're on a slightly tighter budget, the best waterproof jacket for you is the Maier Sports Metor M. It delivers 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.
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. Head to our Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket review for more.
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A more heavyweight option, The North Face Mountain Light Waterproof Jacket is ideal if you want to look cool but keep dry: this jacket combines 90s styling with technical fabrics. The bulkier build and various design flourishes are more suited to use about town than up a mountain, but there's still plenty to like here. The robust construction and relaxed fit lend themselves well to being wrapped around the wearer you like a massive expedition-grade jacket, the retro-styled adjusters all work surprisingly well, its pretty breathable and, of course, extremely waterproof. Head to our North Face Retro Mountain Light jacket review to find out more, or for some alternative insulated options, check out our roundup of the best winter coats for men.
The Berghaus Deluge Pro has since been replaced by the Deluge Pro 2.0, and as a result, there are some serious bargains to be had if you're quick. 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.
The Paramo Alta III waterproof jacket boasts some extra features that make it an especially good choice for hikers. 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.
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.
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.
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.