Investing in the best waterproof jacket you can find is essential if you spend lots of time outdoors. Wearing layers is one thing, but that last shell layer is the garment that will protect you from the rain and the wind – something that will certainly save your day and could even save your life in some situations.
For this guide, we've reviewed a range of options from a number of brands. The picks you'll find here are waterproof yet breathable, protective, and packable enough to be easily stowed in a backpack and whipped out when a rain shower begins. Need some more buying advice? Head to the bottom of this article for tips on what to look for. If not, read on for our pick of the best waterproof jackets.
Best waterproof jackets to buy right now
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The Arc'teryx Beta Jacket is the best waterproof jacket around right now for our money. Pleasingly light and packable, it's beautifully constructed with lots of attention to detail – just check out the precisely bonded and finished seams. It's made of three-layer Gore-Tex fabric with Gore C-knit backer technology, which is a bit of a mouthful, but all you need to know is that it'll keep the wind and rain out while still being breathable.
Its hood features a slightly stiffened peak, ripstop lining and a single adjustment loop, although note there's no room for a helmet underneath it. And while its inside pocket is useful in town, it's a lot less handy when you're up on the hills. Generally, though, this is an outstanding all-rounder, and while it's not exactly cheap, it is the most reasonably priced from this premium brand. If you need something more technical, you'll find plenty of other choices in the Arc'teryx Beta range (including the Beta AR jacket, which has a hood that is helmet-compatible).
Read our full Arc'teryx Beta Jacket review
For serious protection from the elements, you'll have a hard time finding a better option than the Adidas Terrex Myshelter Active Waterproof Jacket. This unlined shell is made from 3L Gore-Tex Active fabric that'll shelter you from the worst the weather can throw at you while remaining impressively breathable. The design includes two hand pockets designed to form a bulge over the lower skirt at the front and a big inner chest pocket, and it's a seriously loose fit, so don't be tempted to size up.
There's a high collar that's perfect for windy conditions and an enormous, three-way adjustable hood that you can easily fit over a helmet if you're mountain biking in a downpour. The Adidas Terrex Myshelter Active Waterproof Jacket looks great, with some fun reflective details, and there's plenty of attention to detail that all adds up to an incredibly practical waterproof jacket that'll keep you dry in just about all conditions.
Read our full Adidas Terrex Myshelter Active Waterproof Jacket review
There’s a lot to like about the Mammut Taiss HS waterproof jacket. It’s a well-designed jacket that balances the key qualities the typical outdoor user wants in a waterproof shell: reliable protection, decent durability, high breathability and a comfortable fit. It also stands up well against other rivals, many of which cost considerably more without offering significant gains in performance, fit or features. In fact, this shell’s excellent hood, trim fit and pleasantly stretchy fabric make it much nicer to wear for extended periods than many stiff, unforgiving Gore-Tex Pro alternatives.
Hillwalkers might bemoan the lack of hand pockets, but the use of crossover chest pockets makes a lot of sense given the Taiss’s alpine focus, keeping storage well clear or a climbing harness or rucksack hip belt. Streamlining such extras also keeps the weight down, so the Taiss beats a lot of rivals in this regard too. Its only real shortcomings are revealed in full winter conditions in the mountains when you might want a slightly thicker, tougher shell for added protection and durability. But overall, it’s excellent – being fairly lightweight and packable for a three-layer shell, yet still very protective.
Read our full Mammut Taiss HS jacket review
If you're on a bit more of a budget, the best waterproof jacket is the Berghaus Sky Hiker. Made with Berghaus' own 'Hydroshell' fabric, this jacket offers decent breathability and waterproofing and should 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 are 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.
Read our full Berghaus Sky Hiker Waterproof Jacket review
If you want to get the price down even lower, make sure you don't miss a Berghaus discount code.
The Rohan Momentum lightweight waterproof jacket isn't one for wearing all day; it's a compact jacket that stows nicely in its own Packpocket, designed to be taken everywhere and pulled out when the weather takes a turn for the worst. Its 2.5 Layer Barricade Standard technology is claimed to be 10 times as waterproof as the British standard for waterproofing, and it definitely does the job, keeping you dry while also keeping out the wind and remaining breathable.
It's a good-looking jacket with a minimalist appearance, and while it'll look a little crumpled when you pull it out, it'll smooth down a bit after a few minutes of wear. Essentially this is a high-end pack-a-mac, and it does the job brilliantly, with a great fit and a good degree of adjustment, and it should last you several years.
Read our full Rohan Momentum lightweight waterproof jacket review
The Berghaus MTN Guide Hyper Alpha jacket is a pretty unique jacket. Sitting somewhere between a mid-layer and an outer shell, it offers breathable, wind- and waterproof protection for adventurous escapades on peaks, crags and exposed moors, but it’s also insulated. Bringing together two high-performance fabrics - Hydroshell Elite and Polartec Alpha - it is, basically, a one-product alternative to the layering system most of us go for when venturing out into the elements, and as such it is going to delight some people, and perhaps horrify others.
Read our full Berghaus MTN Guide Hyper Alpha jacket review
Looking for an eco-friendly option? Check out the Finisterre's Stormbird. 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. 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 outstanding waterproof jacket.
Read our full Finisterre Stormbird review
The Montane Spine jacket is the best waterproof jacket for trail runners – which makes sense because its name comes from a series of notoriously brutal ultra-races. Made from 13 Denier GORE-TEX Active shell, the priority here is size and weight – and it is indeed extremely light and very packable. But that's not all it has going for it. Fittings are minimal to avoid unnecessary additional weight, you've still got two zippered hand pockets and a hood with elasticated hem, and you've got a full-length front zip with an aqua guard to keep the water out.
While this is an excellent option for ultra-runners, and the extreme packability might make it appealing for more general outdoor adventuring too, be aware that this isn't the most robust waterproof around, so you'll need to be careful to avoid scuffs and snags.
Read our full Montane Spine jacket review
If you're willing to go for something slightly heavier and bulkier, the Paramo Velez is the comfiest waterproof jacket we've ever tried. The fabric – Nikwax Analogy – is slippery and rustle-free yet still effectively waterproof, and there's a soft mesh lining that ups the comfort factor further. It's warmer than your average shell, but you can let the air in through the upper arm vents or the pockets (the latter, thanks to an occasionally confusing double-or-triple zip system). There are design touches that'll appeal to outdoorsy types, including reflective flashes for visibility and glove-friendly zip pulls.
Read our full Paramo Velez review
Falling somewhere between a standard waterproof and a high-end technical mountain shell, the Montane Pac Plus XT is a lightweight jacket that delivers plenty of protection from the wind and the rain. It's made of Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, a 100% recycled two-ply successor to the original Paclite fabric that's tough and packable. However, its breathability isn't all that; you'll appreciate the pit zips if you're on the move all day.
With a pair of large hand pockets plus a zip chest pocket, there's plenty of room to stash your odds and ends, and its three-way adjustable hood is a delight, with a rear shock cord running around the crown of your head to help you get a really snug fit, plus a peak with an old-school wire for stiffness and packability, and there's even a 'beard guard' strip down the top of the front zip for added comfort. In all, this is a versatile jacket that'll protect you on the peaks and at lower levels, too, but that breathability's something to be aware of if you're planning especially arduous adventures.
Read our full Montane Pac Plus XT waterproof jacket review
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. 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 full Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Jacket review
If you want a jacket to keep you reliably dry, whether in the city or countryside, the Columbia OutDry Ex Reign could be just the ticket. For a very reasonable price, you get very reliable waterproofing, even if the outer membrane gets scuffed and even when the heavens really open. The unusual silvery-grey material won't look out of place in an urban setting, either. So what are the downsides? Well, this isn't the most breathable waterproof around, and while the pit zips help cool things down, if you're planning on working up a sweat on the regular, you'd be better off looking elsewhere in our best waterproof jacket ranking.
Read our full Columbia OutDry ex Reign waterproof jacket review
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 fully 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. It 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.
Read our full Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket review
How to choose the best waterproof jacket for you
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 their 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 yourself 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.