Investing in the best waterproof jacket you can find is essential if you spend lots of time in the outdoors in Britain. Wearing layers is one thing, but that last, shell layer is the garment that will provide protection from the rain and the wind – something that will certainly save your day, and could even save your life in some situations.
So, what should you be looking for if you're in the market for one of the best waterproof jackets? For starters, forget about cheap options. If you want proper protection then you absolutely have to go for a well-made jacket constructed from quality materials, with a water- and wind-proof hood and enough waterproof pockets to keep your essentials safe and accessible. You'll also need to decide between a warmer but bulkier lined jacket, or a lightweight shell that'll pack up small but which you'll need to layer up with to stay warm. This guide focuses on the latter – if you want cosy options, check out our best winter coat guide instead.
To put together this ranking, 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. 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 for tips on what to look for. If not, read on for our pick of the best waterproof jackets.
The best waterproof jackets 2023
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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). Find out more in our 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 are 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. Get all the details in our Adidas Terrex Myshelter Active Waterproof 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'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. And 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' 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. Learn more in our Rohan Momentum lightweight waterproof jacket review.
The Berghaus MTN Guide Hyper Alpha jacket is a pretty unique jacket. Sitting somewhere between a midlayer 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. It certainly impressed the judges at ISPO 2022, where it won an award (opens in new tab) in the clothing category. You can read our full review of the jacket here (opens in new tab), but our tester very much liked the jacket’s features, functionality, breathablility and lightweight packability, but doesn’t rate it as a replacement for a proper mountain-ready jacket when conditions are more feisty.
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. 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 outstanding waterproof jacket. Head to our Finisterre Stormbird review for more info.
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 aquaguard 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. Find out more in our Montane Spine jacket review or check out some alternatives in our best running jacket guide.
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. Head to our Paramo Velez review for more info.
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. Get all the details in our Montane Pac Plus XT waterproof jacket review.
The Jottnar Ofin is aimed at those who want to tackle some serious adventures in the mountains. It's made from Jottnar's 'Skjoldr' fabric which delivers a minimum hydrostatic head of 20,000mm and a breathability rating of 20,000g/m2/24h, so keep you dry but not too sweaty when working out in rain or snow. The lightweight design (591g in medium) is easy to stuff in your backpack when not required, but do be aware you'll have to bring separate layers if you're facing cold weather – there's no insulation built in.
The large hood is helmet-compatible and fully adjustable, with a wire-stiffened peak to ensure good visibility at all times. There's also a high collar with beard guard and soft microfleece lining, enough pockets to stash all the important things safely, and the full-length YKK Aquaguard Vislon zip is water repellent and features an internal storm gasket to keep you reliably dry. Head to our Jottnar Odin hardshell jacket review to find out more.
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 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. Hop over to our Columbia OutDry ex Reign waterproof jacket review for more of our thoughts.
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. 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. Head to our Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Shell Jacket review for more.
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.
Don't be fooled by that deceptively simple design: the Arc'teryx Beta LT is one of the very best waterproof jackets around. The 3L GORE-TEX waterproof is lightweight yet super-robust, and impeccable quality. All the features, from the external pockets to the pit zips, and deep, helmet-compatible hood, have neat touches that help elevate this jacket and justify that higher price-tag. For example, the hand pockets have extra material at the bottom to create a bellows effect, not only making them more usable but also more long-lasting, and the rear hood bungee has a different pull to the front ones, so it can be more easily operated blind. Head to our Arc'Teryx Beta LT jacket review for more information.
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.
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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.