Best waterproof jackets 2020: shrug off the elements with these all-weather picks

Waterproof coats and jackets to keep you dry, through every season, with top picks including The North Face, Arc'teryx and Mammut

Best waterproof jackets
(Image credit: The North Face)

Taking home one of the best waterproof jackets for your needs is a solid investment, especially if you're an outdoors type or want a lightweight yet breathable jacket to keep drizzle and heavier rain at bay. How well a waterproof jacket does that depends entirely on the type you buy and the level of waterproofing vs water repellency it offers.

Any time of year is a good time to invest in a high-quality waterproof layer, whether you're off to hike a mountain pass, looking for a packable jacket to keep you dry on your daily errands, or when taking the dog for a stroll around the park. 

While the demands of these types of activity might seem a world away from each other, what you need to choose between is essentially the same: waterproof or water repellent. The best waterproof jackets keep you bone dry, while water repellent jackets are only supposed to keep you dry during light showers. Just pay attention to the spec when choosing.

Either way, here 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. 

Best waterproof jackets: how to layer them

As any good walker knows, dressing for the outdoors is all about layering. The thinner designs here are best worn over over fleeces and other warmer layers when the temperature dips. We’ve also found some quick-drying coats and jackets too, which are useful when you’re out walking in showers. 

You don't want to get clammy and sweaty when getting active outdoors, so breathability is important when choosing 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 we'll go into in detail below.

In a hurry and want to know what our best waterproof jacket is? Here you go...

Best waterproof jacket: our expert pick

  • As mentioned above, a great waterproof jacket will protect you from rain and wind, but it will also be lightweight enough that you won't feel as though you're being cooked alive while wearing it. In an ideal world, the jacket will be comfortable on and look stylish too, blending in with your daily wardrobe as well as your technical wear. Does such a magical waterproof exist? Actually, it does.
  • The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0 is our best waterproof jacket overall because it embodies all of those things. Yes there are lighter jackets in our round up below, which might be a better choice for wearing during impromptu showers in summer, but The North Face offering is super-comfy and versatile.

The best waterproof jackets 2019: a man wearing a green waterproof jacket stands beside a waterfall

Choosing the best waterproof jacket for you

Purchasing a good hard shell that will stand up to the rigour of a day's worth of rain isn't as straightforward as it might seem. First of all, you need to get to grips with some technical terms such as Gore-Tex and Polartec, then you need to figure out what you're going to be using your rain jacket for... other than staying dry, that is.

For example, if you're adventuring up hills, check out the Montane Minimus 777 Waterproof Jacket or Paramo Alta III waterproof jackets, then get your footwear right with our guide to the best hiking boots. If you're trail running, check out our favourite trail running shoes and try the Marmot Bantamweight Jacket.

If you're commuting, hitting the outdoors or just want a do-all waterproof jacket that fits every scenario, check out our top pick, The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0, then take a look at our best backpacks buyer's guide.

We've also got some brightly coloured options that might be a smart (ie. highly visible) choice on mountain hikes, especially if you're a lone ranger, plus the best waterproof jackets from one of our favourite eco-friendly brands, Patagonia.  

The best waterproof jackets you can buy now

Best waterproof jacket The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0 in black and red

1. The North Face Apex Flex GTX 2.0

Ultra-soft and impossibly dry, you'll want to live in this

Reasons to buy
+Superb wind protection+Light weight+Great colourways

The North Face has seriously upgraded its infamous Apex Flex GTX Jacket to create a much lighter, more stream-lined 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. This, combined with expert wind and rain protection, makes it the best waterproof jacket for outdoor explorers and for those of you who enjoy being active outside. We love this waterproof layer so much, we crowned it our Best Waterproof Jacket at the T3 Awards 2019.

Buy The North Face Apex Flex GTX for men direct from The North Face (RRP £250)

Best waterproof jacket: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

(Image credit: Arc'teryx)

2. Arc'teryx Zeta AR Women's Waterproof Jacket

Waterproof, windproof, breathable and stylish

Reasons to buy
+Durable+Quiet fabric+Pit zips aids ventilation

Arc'teryx make 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.

Best waterproof jacket: Mammut Masao Light

3. Mammut Masao Light Waterproof Jacket

An incredibly light waterproof hardshell for big adventures

Reasons to buy
+Super-lightweight+Breathable+Available in men’s and women’s

A brilliant, highly technical waterproof jacket for mountain-based adventures and more, the Masao Light Jacket will wow you with its barely-there feel yet super-tough performance. Wind and rain means very little to this durable hardshell, and it sits happily under backpacks, climbing harnesses and other outdoors gear.

There’s loads of room to make this a custom fit for your shape and needs, too. The fun starts with adjustable cuffs and hems – simply adjust the width to suit – and an adjustable (via a toggle), helmet-friendly hood designed with a reinforced peak.

The new Masao is one of the lightest models in our best waterproof jackets round-up, and therefore packs down incredibly small when not in use. Trust us, you won’t even notice it stashed in your backpack.

Ultimately, while we prefer the snug, soft-touch, can’t-stop-wearing-it feel of the Apex Flex GTX 2.0, this is a smart-looking and reliable hardshell that can be stuffed into your bag for use as an instant waterproof layer whether you’re heading into the mountains or rambling in the country.

The best waterproof jackets: Paramo Men's Alta III Jacket

(Image credit: Paramo)

4. Paramo Men's Alta III Jacket

Waterproofing and a wired-peak hood make this great for mountains and moors

Reasons to buy
+Nikwax Analogy fabric +Wired-peak hood+Upper arm vents

Here’s a fine waterproof jacket for a wet day on the moor or the mountain. 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. 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. 

Best waterproof jacket: Kathmandu Aysen

(Image credit: Kathmandu)

5. Kathmandu Aysen Men's Gore-Tex Jacket

Give wind and rain the heave-ho with this streamlined waterproof

Reasons to buy
+Longer length for better coverage+Two-point adjustable hood+Inner cord port for headphones

If you have a longer torso or simply want a windproof and waterproof outer shell that offers more coverage than the average, slip into the Kathmandu Aysen Gore-Tex Jacket. It's not restrictive in any way, and instead promotes a full range of movement for whatever you're doing outdoors.

The two-way front zip is another useful addition, as you can open the jacket from the top or bottom. We also like the internal chest pocket, where we stashed our earphones and phone. The only downside? No proper hand-warmer pockets, but that isn't necessarily  a deal-breaker as this is a reliable, waterproof jacket that does its main job very well. 

The Kathmandu Aysen also sports two-way pit zips to boost ventilation when you need it. Our backpack also sat neatly over the jacket without bunching up at the shoulders or front, which has been a pet peeve of ours on other jackets. When not in use, it rolls up very small and can be tucked away in your backpack.

Best waterproof jacket: Rab Kinetic Alpine

(Image credit: Rab)

6. Rab Kinetic Alpine Women's Waterproof Jacket

Softshell or a hardshell? Now you can have both

Reasons to buy
+Adjustable hood and hem+Highly breathable+Very comfortable 

The Rab Kinetic Alpine is a softshell that thinks it is a hardshell. Or maybe that's the other way around? The Proflex stretchy, breathable and waterproof fabric has a tough nylon outer that soaks up punishment and abrasion like a softshell, but has a waterproof membrane bonded within for hardshell waterproofness. 

The result is a highly breathable waterproof jacket that holds off the weather when it has to, making it suited to high-energy outdoors pursuits. Unsurprisingly for Rab, it has a full outdoor feature set including a helmet-compatible hood with laminated and stiffened peak to keep the majority of wind and rain out of your eyes. 

The best waterproof jackets: Fjällräven Mens Keb Eco-Shell Jacket

(Image credit: Fjällräven)

7. Fjällräven Mens Keb Eco-Shell Jacket

A three-layer shell for all-weather walking … and recycling

Reasons to buy
+Recyclable Eco-Shell fabric+Wired-peak hood+Two chest pockets 

Although super-expensive, this three-layer technical shell from Sweden-based Fjällräven kinda does it all. At its core a lightweight mountaineering jacket, it’s also good for skiing, and when you’re done with it you can put it in the recycling. It’s made from stretchy recycled polyester, which Fjällräven calls Eco-Shell, and it also helps give this jacket a reasonably lightweight feel. 

The fixed hood has a wired peak that’s handy in wet and windy conditions and there are ventilation openings at the side. Also don’t underestimate the two chest pockets. While their position won’t be to everyone’s taste, they keep a folded-up OS map within easy reach, as well as valuables. 

Fjällräven’s arctic fox logo is nice too… 

Best waterproof jacket_Jack Wolfskin Cragside Jacket for Men in dark navy

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

8. Jack Wolfskin Cragside Men's Waterproof Jacket

Incredibly stylish and an absolute joy to wear

Reasons to buy
+Smart looking+Waterproof and windproof+Packs down small

This smart-looking waterproof jacket for men sits beautifully over thicker layers to keep you warm and dry throughout cold, wet weather. It's also perfect worn over tees in warmer weather where you need a quick, throw-on waterproof shell to fend off drizzle.

Windproof and waterproof, the Jack Wolfskin Cragside Jacket is exactly what's need in inclement weather. It's designed with two hand warmer pockets, plus an inner pocket and a secret pocket for stashing small items out of the way. 

We also appreciate the adjustable hem and versatile zip system, which enables you to enhance it come the depths of winter by zipping in an inner jacket.

Best waterproof jacket: Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket

(Image credit: Patagonia)

9. Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket

A simple yet highly effective shell for fending off light showers

Reasons to buy
+Super-packable+Keeps you dry in drizzle

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. 

The best waterproof jackets: Craghoppers Mens Corran Gore-Tex Jacket

(Image credit: Craghoppers )

10. Craghoppers Mens Corran Gore-Tex Jacket

Great value trail-ready jacket with Gore-Tex at its

Reasons to buy
+Great value+Uses Gore-Tex+Inner pockets

There are dozens of technical fabrics out there, and more developed and promoted each year, but how many have you actually heard of? Gore-Tex, a waterproof and breathable fabric membrane invented in 1969, is all over this trail-ready waterproof shell that’s great for terrible weather. 

A drawcord keeps things body-tight at waist-level and watertight at the hem, as does a storm-flap across the front zips. There are four pockets, including two inside the jacket at chest height for a smartphone and an OS map. 

It’s warm, too, requiring only a fleece underneath during freezing conditions. 

Best waterproof jacket: Columbia OutDry Ex Reign Jacket in Blue

(Image credit: Columbia)

11. Columbia OutDry Ex Reign Jacket

A fully-seamed weather-beater to keep you dry on big adventures

Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Seam-sealed for enhanced rain protection+Underarm venting for moisture control

When it's really throwing it down and you're at the start of a multi-day adventure, this highly breathable waterproof jacket is the one you want to be wearing – or at least have to hand to whip out when the heavens open and the wind is driving. 

Fully seam-sealed to keep out water, Columbia's robust waterproof jacket will ensure you stay dry in anything short of complete and utter immersion. 

The Reign Jacket is designed with a large storm hood that's fully adjustable, depending on the fit you want to achieve, along with adjustable sleeve cuffs and a drawcord hem.

There's underarm venting to keep you cool on the move, plus useful zippered hand pockets, which you could keep small gadgets in.

Best waterproof jackets_Berghaus Hillwalker Waterproof Jacket in charcoal and black

(Image credit: Berghaus)

12. Berghaus Hillwalker Waterproof Jacket

A classic waterproof jacket with enhanced breathability

Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Breathable+Generously sized pockets

The Berghaus Hillwalker comes across like a modern take on the wax cotton jacket and suits leisurely rambles in the countryside. It delivers top-notch waterproofing and breathability, thanks to the might of Gore-Tex.

As a two-layer jacket, the performance isn't on par with a three-layer, but what you do get is a lightweight jacket with insulated lining, generously sized front pockets and soft-lined hand-warmer pockets.

The Hillwalker waterproof jacket can withstand some tearing and abrasion, and has those all-important taped seams to keep rainwater out.

Best waterproof jacket: Montane Mens Minimus 777 Jacket

13. Montane Minimus 777

A great ally for taking on arduous mountain treks

Reasons to buy
+Keeps rain out, lets sweat out+Engineered for fast moving activities+Weighs just 140 grams

The clue to this three-layer shell's purpose is in its name: the Minimus is minimal. At 140g, it’s over a fifth of the weight of the The North Face. A three-layer Pertex Shield+ laminate, which combines with a seven-micron breathable membrane, might be wafer-like, offers ace water resistance and ample sweat-wicking.

The Minimus 777 is perfect for arduous Alpine activities, as its articulated arms, toughened seams and under-helmet hood make it particularly well-suited to rock climbing.

Montane's high-performance shell can also be scrunched up to the size of a tennis ball and stowed away in your backpack when not needed.

Best waterproof jacket: The North Face Summit L5 Ultralight Storm Jacket

(Image credit: The North Face)

14. The North Face Summit L5 Ultralight Storm Jacket

Superbly packable, this shell is barely there

Reasons to buy
+Tiny pack size+Lightweight+Good moisture management

Sometimes very little is just enough, which is the case with the North Face Summit L5 Ultralight Storm Jacket. As the name suggests, this is a seriously light jacket (only 16 grams heavier than the Marmot), and one that packs down into an apple-size ball. 

This is partly down to the magic of the seam-sealed Pertex Shield 3L fabric and DryVent, and partly down to losing the front hand pockets in pursuit of lightness and packability. There is a chest pocket, and a helmet-compatible hood, but otherwise things are on the minimalist side – and all the better for it.

Best waterproof jacket: Marmot Bantamweight Jacket

(Image credit: Marmot)

15. Marmot Bantamweight Men's Jacket

Hate carrying weight? This is the one for you

Reasons to buy
+Stupidly light+Decent featureset+Astonishing packability 

The Marmot Bantamweight Men's Jacket is many things, but the most impressive is that it’s 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. 

Best waterproof jacket: Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm

(Image credit: Patagonia)

16. Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm

Ethical, insulated and robust, a keeper for all conditions

Reasons to buy
+Strong ethics game+Robust build quality+Solid design features

The Patagonia is not only a stunning insulated waterproof, it’s one of the most ethical choices on the market. The stretchy shell fabric is made from ECONYL 100% recycled nylon yarn (which includes discarded fishing nets) to create a 2-layer waterproof/breathable H2No Performance Standard fabric. 

The insulation is 40% recycled, and with a 60g weight it will keep you warm in the worst conditions. Unsurprisingly, Patagonia have put oodles of thought into the design, integrating a concealed RECCO reflector, DWR-treating the zips, and adding pit-zips to offset any rising toastiness in high activity situations. 

Best waterproof jacket: Burton Radial Snowboard Jacket

(Image credit:

17. Burton Radial Snowboard Jacket

Waterproof and insulated, this is a vital snowsport companion

Reasons to buy
+Waterproof and insulated+Snow-proof gaiters+Recycled content insulation 

The Burton Radial Snowboard Jacket is the waterproof you want on your back for those mixed-weather mountain days, or longer off-piste exploring trips. With plain weave 2 layer Gore-Tex taking care of spindrift, drizzle or condensation, a mixed-weight (60g body and 40g sleeve) recycled content Thermolite Insulation works to keep you warm, while not overheating you as you move. 

With a host of other neat but mountain friendly tricks up the sleeves of this jacket (including mesh pockets, full feature hood, jacket-trouser connectors and a waist gaiter), this will guarantee your best mountain day each time, whatever the weather. 

Buy the Burton Radial Snowboard Jacket from Ellis Brigham now.

Best waterproof jacket: Mountain Equipment Gandiva Paclite Jacket

(Image credit:

18. Mountain Equipment Gandiva Paclite Jacket

Lightweight, fast moving shell for alpine adventuring

Reasons to buy
+Light weight+Super-packable+Active cut

The Mountain Equipment Gandiva Jacket is best kept in your rucksack - till the heavens open. At a mere 246g (for medium size), you’ll barely notice it’s there, but once you need it, it’ll deliver dryness in spades. 

While there are lighter ‘emergency shells’ out there, the Gandiva’s Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric is light yet rugged enough to shrug off downpours, especially when paired with the 20 denier outer. 

A fully-helmet compatible hood is no surprise, but very welcome indeed, as is the active cut, pre-shaped and articulated sleeves and generous pockets to accommodate hands, maps or snacks, depending on your priorities. 

Best waterproof jacket_Helly Hansen Voss Men's Waterproof Jacket in yellow

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

19. Helly Hansen Voss Men's Waterproof Jacket

A classic design that will keep you dry at sea and on land

Reasons to buy
+Budget friendly+Range of colours available

This iconic design has been protecting fishermen in the coldest seas and in all kinds of weather for what feels like donkeys years. The lightweight Voss Waterproof Jacket has welded seams to keep water out, and is crafted from Helox+ (100 per cent PU) windproof and waterproof fabric to keep you dry in bad weather.

The brighter colours, such as the yellow pictured above, will also make you more visible if you're out in low light conditions.  The hood is also of a generous size to sit over your favourite fisherman's beanie.

Liked this?