If you're an outdoors type, you will not regret investing in one of the best waterproof jackets to pop in your pack. A quality jacket can be the difference between a damp and miserable slog, and powering through your trip unimpeded by showers. The best waterproof jackets don't just keep the rain off, they'll also include features geared towards making your whole experience more comfortable. They'll pack down small when not in use, are lightweight so as not to weigh your bag down, and some are even lined to keep you cosy too.
A great waterproof coat isn't just useful in the colder months – if you live anywhere with unpredictable weather, this is mega-useful all year round. And some jackets in our roundup are designed keep you warm without providing warmth, so are ideal for tackling summer showers.
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In this guide, we've focused here on protective and packable technical jackets and coats that are lightweight yet breathable, windproof and, for the large majority, also have a lighter pack load. This means you can stuff them into your backpack between showers, which can make your hikes and walks much more pleasurable. As soon as a shower hits you can whip out your waterproof and add an instant layer of protection.
If you're in the process of sorting out your kit for a trip into the great outdoors, you'll also want to make sure you equip yourself with a pair of the best hiking boots, and a quality pair of the best walking trousers.
In a hurry and want to know what our best waterproof jacket is? Here you go...
Best waterproof jacket: our expert pick
- A great waterproof jacket will protect you from rain and wind, but it will also be lightweight enough that you won't overheat in warmer weather. It'll be comfortable to wear and look stylish too.
- The best waterproof jacket is the Paramo Alta III. This is a great all-rounder, with clever features including a wired-peak hood, a waist cord to keep out the wind, vents to let some air in, and a reinforced back panel.
- If you're up for spending a bit more, try the Fjӓllrӓven Keb Eco-Shell waterproof jacket, which a hi-tech, triple layer jacket that does it all.
How to choose the best waterproof jacket
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The first key thing to pay attention to is whether the design is waterproof or just water repellent. The best waterproof jackets keep you bone dry, while water repellent jackets are only supposed to keep you dry during light showers. So pay attention to the spec when choosing.
Also consider what you'll be using your waterproof jacket for most often. If you're going on a multi-day hike, you might want to prioritise something lightweight that packs down small. If it's mainly for walking the dog on rainy days, you could go for something bulkier, perhaps with a warmer lining.
In our ranking, we've also got some brightly coloured options that might be a smart choice for keeping you visible on mountain hikes, especially if you're a lone ranger. There are also waterproof jackets with eco-friendly credentials.
You don't want to get clammy and sweaty when getting active outdoors, so breathability is an important quality in the best waterproof jackets. However, these don't fit every possible scenario, and if you’re serious about hiking and the outdoors in all seasons then you'll almost certainly need more than just a thin waterproof coat. Which brings us to the importance of layering...
As any good hiker knows, dressing for the outdoors is all about layering. For the thinner designs on our list, you'll also want to pick up one of the best fleece jackets and one of the best base layers, to keep you warm when the temperature dips (and strip off when it warms up). We’ve also found some quick-drying coats and jackets too, which are useful when you’re out walking in showers.
The best waterproof jackets you can buy now
1. Paramo Alta III waterproof jacket
The best waterproof jacket for most people
Reasons to buy
The best waterproof jacket is the Paramo Alta III. There are more high-spec and specialised options on this list (read on for those), but this is a great all-rounder that'll work just as well for a rainy day on the mountain as a drizzly walk through the park. 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.
2. Fjällräven Mens Keb Eco-Shell Jacket
The best premium waterproof jacket – and a T3 award-winner
Reasons to buy
If you're willing to spend a bit more, 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, which is why it's the winner of our T3 Award 2020. 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.
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3. The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0
Ultra-soft and impossibly dry, you'll want to live in this
Reasons to buy
The North Face has seriously upgraded its famous Apex Flex GTX Jacket to create a much lighter, more streamlined waterproof jacket. In fact, at first glance, you could mistake it for a snug hoodie. While it boasts a tough three-layer Gore-Tex shell for superlative wind and rain protection, the soft-knit outer fabric is luxuriously soft. The stretch-knit liner also feels great against the skin, acting like a thin fleece for enhanced warmth, and giving you all the cosiness of a hoodie. Although lighter than its predecessor – TNF shaved off 40g of the original's weight – the Apex Flex is still hefty at 800g. Breathability is great, though, and pit vents further aid cooling, so we forgive its heaviness.
As you'd expect from such a design, the fit is nigh-on perfect, staying close to the body in all the right places, without ever feeling tight or restrictive, even when worn with other technical layers. The super-light construction of the Apex Flex GTX also helps you stay nimble as you cross challenging terrain. We crowned this jacket our Best Waterproof Jacket at the T3 Awards 2019.
4. Maier Sports Metor M
The best value waterproof jacket
Reasons to buy
If you're on a slightly tighter budget, the best waterproof jacket for you is the Maier Sports Metor M. While it's not the cheapest entry on this list, it offers 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.
5. Arc'teryx Zeta AR Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof, windproof, breathable and stylish
Reasons to buy
Arc'teryx makes very good waterproofs, albeit at fierce prices. However, the clean lines, solid build and thoughtful design of the Zeta AR Jacket will go on delivering long after cheaper 'so-called waterproofs' have gone off to the reproofing room in the sky. The Zeta AR is a stunning jacket, sculpted from N70p 3L Gore-Tex fabric with Gore C-Knit backer. That makes it comfortable and quiet to wear, and while it's windproof and waterproof, it isn't too warm for walking and hiking (depending on the temperature you're out in, of course).
The cut of this jacket is all about boosting breathability and lowering weight, with a trim that's long enough to tuck under a rucksack hipbelt (with pockets that can also be accessed while wearing a rucksack). It's also articulated in the arms. In short, if you can swallow the price, this shell will be your go-to waterproof jacket for years. There's also a women's Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket.
6. Marmot Bantamweight Men's Jacket
The best super-lightweight waterproof jacket
Reasons to buy
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.
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7. Jack Wolfskin Mount Isa Women's jacket
A great all-round shell jacket for women
Reasons to buy
The Jack Wolfskin Mount Isa jacket is a great all-rounder for women. The fabric is soft, smooth, breathable and comfortable to wear, while providing that all-important total protection from rain and wind. The outer layer is breathable, with a soft mesh inner layer to keep things comfy without adding unnecessary bulk or weight. There are plenty of additional features to make this waterproof jacket a pleasure to wear: a drawstring hem to keep the wind and wet out, a fixed hood with two more drawstrings that can be adjusted to ensure your field of vision stays clear, water resistant zips, and two hand pockets. The design is also sleek and smart, with a range of colourways to choose from.
8. Montane Hydrogen Direct Insulated Jacket
A travel-friendly option that doubles as a warm layer
Reasons to buy
Rather unusually for a lightweight waterproof jacket, the Montane Hydrogen Direct Jacket includes a microfleece inner. As well as feeling really soft against bare skin, it adds an extra layer of warmth that will be welcome on blustery days. As such it's a great jacket to take on your travels, since it doubles as a warm layer as well as a waterproof jacket. Weighing just 391g, the Montane Hydrogen Direct Insulated Jacket also has fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets, a chest pocket for storing a phone, and a warm elasticated hood that will help in wet and windy conditions. That all makes it great value, though it's all-in-one warm design does make cooling-off tricky.
9. Berghaus Deluge Pro Waterproof
This smart-looking waterproof is the best budget buy
Reasons to buy
The Berghaus Deluge Pro is a great value and durable waterproof jacket for both sexes, which won't break the bank. 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.
10. Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus
Weightless and waterproof, this jacket is great for travelling light
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The trouble with ultra-lightweight gear is that it's often only shower-proof. Not so the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, which combines a weight of just 257g with full waterproofing thanks to its use of Gore-Tex. Its PFC-free coating also makes this an environmentally-friendly choice. The large hood is adjustable and fits really snugly, so it's great in the wind, while its chest pocket – while small – is usable while wearing a climbing harness. Its hand pockets have waterproof zips and flaps, but there's one thing we don't like about the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus; its crunchy and loud fabric. Given its ultra-lightweight credentials, it's a shame it doesn't pack away into a pouch or pocket.
11. Snugpak Torrent
Insulation makes this waterproof jacket hot property for chilly conditions
Reasons to buy
If you're heading out into wintry conditions, look no further than the Snugpak Torrent. Able to keep you warm down to -5°C, it uses Paratex Dry fabric on its fully taped seamed exterior and Paratex Light on the inside. It's basically a trade-off between warmness (which it excels at), waterproofing and breathability (both of which it's pretty good at). As such it's better for situations where you're going to be relatively inactive – such as stargazing or doing some night photography – rather than for a full-on physical hike (you'll get too hot). However, its underarm vents are useful for adjusting your own temperature, and for when it gets really cold, windy and rainy, its lined neck warmer, deep handwarmer pockets, and glove-friendly Velcro wrist cuffs really come into their own. However, all that comes at a cost; at 950g this is not a jacket to be worn lightly.
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12. Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket
A simple yet highly effective shell for fending off light showers
Reasons to buy
The 2.5-layer Stretch Rainshadow Jacket uses Patagonia's H2No Performance Standard shell fabric for water- and wind-proofing, and will keep you dry in everything from drizzle to light snowfall. In conjunction with the waterproof barrier, a DWR finish keeps the outer fabric from becoming saturated. There's plenty of other features to dig into, including a helmet-friendly hood with laminated visor and vented pit zips for further breathability. Plus, two hand-warmer pockets and an adjustable drawcord hem to keep the weather out. You can buy this jacket in a range of colours too: Classic Navy, Balkan Blue and Willow Herb Green.