Best Waterproof Jacket – the Top Breathable Shells to Keep You Dry
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If you plan on spending substantial time in the UK countryside then there is simply no avoiding it – you are going to get rained on! It’s an unfortunate consequence of living on an island in the Northern Hemisphere, and should really be listed in science textbooks as ‘Newton’s Fourth Law’!
Whether you are hiking, climbing, bike riding, or even walking to the pub, you will want to invest in the right waterproof shell to cope with the almost permanent cloud we seem to be standing under.
In this article we first describe the features to look out for in a waterproof jacket – namely, packability, waterproofness and breathability. We then examine the best waterproof jackets available on the UK market today when money is not a constraint. These are the top performing shells using high-end technical fabrics and will ensure excellent protection under any wet weather conditions which Mother UK can throw at you.
If you are more interested in protecting the pennies then we also examine the best waterproof jackets under £100. It is definitely still possible to keep dry on a budget, but you may lose some packing space in your backpack as the jacket will be bulkier and heavier than the top performers.
The best men’s waterproof jackets on the market are built specifically for the task of stopping water droplets getting in and letting water vapour out at the same time. Not only does a top quality waterproof shell protect you from getting wet and cold – it also ensures that you enjoy adequate ventilation and breathability.
Our Review Process
At Camping Secrets, we are lucky enough to have access to a wide range of outdoor equipment from independent partnerships with retailers and manufacturers. In addition to this, we also have a wide community of friends who are outdoor enthusiasts and own a significant amount of gear.
In this roundup we have been able to try on each jacket for fit and function, as well as using a garden sprinkler to directly test the water ingress properties. Unfortunately we have not been able to conduct in-depth long term testing on all the jackets, but we believe that the shells we recommend are certainly able to withstand all that the countryside can throw at you.
Key Features of the Best Waterproof Jackets
So what features should you be looking for in a waterproof jacket? We have weighed up each jacket’s ability for the following important attributes:
- Hydrostatic waterproofness in mm – the higher the number, the more waterproof the garment.
- Breathability – measured using Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVPR), typically in units of per square metre per 24 hours.
- Weight – a lightweight waterproof jacket will be less onerous to carry and/or wear.
- Packed size – important for space-saving in a rucksack.
- Windproof ability – being able to block out piercing windchill is a big plus point for a jacket worn in wet conditions
- Ripstop fabric – some of the more expensive jackets include a waterproof ripstop layer which stops rips and tears spreading. Useful to have but not a deal breaker.
- General design details such as pocket layout, cinches, zips and drawstrings
- Colour range – some people just don’t wish to stand out like a beacon on their walks, no matter how ‘safe’ it makes them. It’s useful to be able to select toned down colours if that is your preference.
- Price – an important factor for sure – we provide recommendations at all price points and budgets.
Where possible, we try to look at both the male and female versions of each jacket under test. Our experiences have shown that same jacket design in women’s trim will still be a best buy even though the cut of the design shape may be slightly different.
Best High-End Weatherproof Jackets
This section gives a roundup of the best performing weatherproof jackets on the market today. Typically these jackets will be the most expensive, employing three-layer technical fabrics and being the most lightweight. We constantly strive to find the best value for money options in each category, but you will invariably need to pay the most for the highest performance.
Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Shell Jacket
If you want pedigree from your outdoor gear then we’re always keen to try out the latest from Helly Hansen. They’ve been massive players in the industry since 1877 – not many companies can match that kind of history!
With their new Verglas Infinity shell, HH have certainly produced an impressive performer in terms of waterproofness, windproofing and breathability.
This is not the lightest of shells at 500g, but if you’re looking for more of an all-round outer layer to keep the elements at bay then it is definitely one to look at. It’s been specifically designed to allow a backpack or climbing harness to be fitted over it without pulling the hood too tight. This is great for alpine adventures, be they skiing, walking or mountaineering focused.
Helly Hansen are renowned for their LIFA fiber technology which is used to great effect in their baselayers, where the fibers wick moisture away from the skin. The design team have upgraded this fabric into LIFA Infinity 3-layer technical fabric for the Verglas Infinity shell. It uses recycled material and PFC-free durable water repellant (DWR) layer on the outer surface. This jacket scores maximum points of 6/6 for Windproof, Waterproofness, Breathability and Durability.
During our time with the Verglas Infinity, I was struck by some great features. The two front pockets are well designed and very large indeed, with two-way waterproof YKK zippers on each. This means you can open the pockets from the top or the bottom, depending on whether you have a backpack or harness on – attention to detail!
The hood is fully adjustable with front and rear toggles and a high collar which can cover your mouth if required. Under the arms there are huge pit zips with 2-way zippers again. It definitely feels like a premium product and can be bought in a range of sizes and great colours – bright or subdued depending on your preference.
It’s worth mentioning safety. Helly Hansen have included a Recco transponder in the Verglas Infinity which is a fantastic addition, and something I haven’t seen before. So what is it? Well this is a little device which is sewn into the coat and is designed to reflect back a radar signal sent from a search and rescue team. If you’re trapped outside or incapacitated, the search team can pinpoint your location if they get close enough to reflect the radar off you. A superb idea which I hope gets replicated by other manufacturers.
Overall, the Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity is a great fully-weatherproof shell which is on the reasonable side in terms of price. It is definitely a high end product, but at a realistic price. I absolutely love the look and the performance of this jacket, and the extra safety feature of the Recco transponder tips it into a top position in our roundup. Check it out!
Rohan Ventus Waterproof Jacket
We’ve recently got back from a full blown wind and rain testing session in Wales with the Rohan Ventus waterproof jacket and have come away very impressed – check out our review video for our experiences.
This jacket is fairly unique in that it uses Rohan’s propietary 3-layer Barricade technical fabric which provides a phenomenal level of waterproofing and breathability. The hydrostatic head (HH) is a whopping 20000 mm and the breathability a superb 20000 g/m2/24hours – both these values are right at the top of the tree in terms of performance, providing an effortless level of comfort and protection from the elements.
On top of the numbers above, we were very impressed with the feel of the materials and textiles used in the Rohan Ventus. The jacket doesn’t make the slightly jarring ‘rustling’ sound of GoreTex-Pro jackets, and feels very soft to the touch. A welcome improvement which adds to its useability and pushes it to the top of list of best waterproof shells.
At present there are two colours available – slate grey and solar orange. We have tested both versions, and like them both.
The Ventus is a mid-weight jacket at 485g, and can be packed down into a reasonable 1.5 litre size. Rohan are a company who prize packability, weight and fast drying times for their clothes, and that committment is evident with the Ventus. For sure, there are lighter jackets available on the market, but I never felt that the weight or thickness was a hindrance for general walking or mountain scrambling.
The hood is excellent, with a malleable front wire section, two side toggles and a rear adjustment to shape the hood to your skull. We found that it was very adept at blocking out the incessant Welsh wind.
The front pockets on the Ventus are huge, stretching from your chest down to the bottom of the jacket. They are protected with YKK Aquaguard zips, and water just did not get in – perfect for holding OS maps. There’s an additional secret inside zipped pocket for valuables if required.
Large pit zips are provided on the Ventus, and these really help supplement the already excellent breathability of the Barricade technical fabric used in its construction. If you’re wearing the Ventus over a down jacket (I wore it over a Rab Prosar), then you will need those pit zips fully open if you don’t want moisture to build up inside. The breathability of the fabric alone cannot stop moisture build up if you’re sweating alot from exertion or too much insulation.
Check out the video below for some of our Welsh mountain experiences with the Ventus. It performed very well in extremely windy and wet conditions. Rohan have applied an excellent DWR layer (Durable Water Repellency) which means that any rain falling on the shell immediately beads up and runs off with the wind. This stops potential ‘wetting out’ of the Barricade technical fabric which is when there is just too much water overloading the surface of the jacket and no vapour can escape. A decent DWR is essential, and Rohan have delivered with the Ventus.
In the video, it was the first time I had tested the jacket, and so I struggled slightly with the hood as I was wearing gloves and it was extremely windy. After further testing, it became much easier to get the hood set up properly into a ‘balaclava-like’ arrangement. The front wire peak adjustment is one of the best I’ve ever tested.
We highly recommend the Rohan Ventus waterproof jacket for all sorts of walking, hiking and scrambling activities. Yes the 485g weight is not the lowest on the market due to the large pockets that Rohan have included, but for the above activities weight is simply not a factor in my opinion and I prefer to have the pocket space available.
The Barricade technical fabric is superb – there is no other way to describe it. No rustling, high waterproofing and high breathability. In our view these specifications are the best on the market, and as such the Ventus is the best waterproof shell on the market for walking and hiking. If you’re doing high octane sports (running/climbing etc) then the styling and fit may not be suitable, and you may wish to look at the Arc’teryx Beta below.
Well done Rohan! Be sure to check our in-depth Rohan Ventus review for more information.
Arc'teryx Beta Gore-Tex Jacket
With a minimalist design and a lightweight (LT) version weighing in at only 360-395g (depending on size), the Arc’teryx Beta Jacket offers unrestricted movement for all wet-weather activities. Overall, we feel it is a perfect all-mountain performance jacket, but bear in mind that it is only a shell and will not provide any warmth on its own. For that, you need a separate down jacket underneath.
Available in both men’s and women’s fit, the Beta uses a proprietary blue sign-approved 3L Gore-Tex fabric as the main waterproof technical material. Thanks to the Gore-Tex, this jacket delivers true waterproof and windproof performance. Moreover, the fabric’s innovative design allows the jacket to remain breathable, even under arduous precipitation.
As a result, the Beta will keep you cool and dry even when you are at maximum exertion levels. Yes it is certainly one of the more expensive waterproof jackets on the market, but we found that it worked exceedingly well under dark Snowdonia skies, and can thoroughly recommend it as a result.
On the top side of the jacket, there is an integrated helmet-compatible StormHood, allowing you to put on your bike or climbing helmet with no trouble. If you want to carry essential items such as keys, your phone, and even hand warmers, the easily accessible hand pockets on either side of the jacket allow you to do so.
As a result of being secured with WaterTight zippers, the hand pockets prevent your items from being soaked. Moreover, the waterproof jacket boasts adjustable cuffs, focused articulation, and a deep back hem to fit your body well. The back hem also offers extra coverage at the back. The focused articulation also helps to provide further freedom of movement.
In conclusion, we were impressed with the Beta LT jacket. Arcteryx are undoubted masters of waterproof outdoor clothing, and charge appropriate amounts of cash for that expertise. However, this jacket will serve you exceptionally well under the most challenging climates. Recommended.
The North Face Mountain Light FUTURELIGHT Triclimate Men's Jacket
Made from patented Futurelight technical fabric, the North Face Mountain Light Men’s Jacket delivers full weatherproof performance with warmth.
It is different from the other jackets we’ve reviewed (mainly shells) because it comes in two parts – an outer shell using the waterproof, breathable Futurelight fabric, and a removeable inner goose-down layer to keep you toasty in the harshest winter cold.
Thanks to its innovative construction, the jacket offers great breathability as either individual layers, or as an ensemble. The Futurelight fabric has gone through a nano-spinning process that integrates fibers with nano-level holes. As a result, the jacket is both porous (to vapour) and waterproof (to raindrops) at the same time.
The nano-spinning tech allows air to move through the jacket whilst balancing the weight, stretch, breathability, durability, and fit for optimal activity-specific performance. It works very well, and this is a great coat to buy if you don’t already own either a shell or a down jacket.
You can wear the jacket and the down layer together, the jacket alone, or the liner alone, depending on the weather. The choice of goose-down material for the liner layer means that the jacket is lightweight overall at 880g for both the down layer and the shell layer combined.
The North Face market the Mountain Light as a ‘triclimate’ coat, and we agree with the principle. You can wear the down layer on its own on cold, dry days or the shell layer on its own on wet, warm days. For other variants of weather you can mix the two appropriately.
Testing in rain, we found the Futurelight shell worked well. It’s a three layer technical fabric with a DWR water repellant outer layer. The rain simply beaded into droplets and ran off. The hood zips right up to the chin and can be tightened around the skull using a rear drawstring. I found that it was difficult to get a ‘full balaclava’ type arrangement of the hood as my mouth was always uncovered – in cold, biting weather this is a slight negative but certainly not a deal breaker.
The down layer is good too, but at 550-fill, it’s not at the warmth level of some other down jackets. If you feel the cold then you may want something closer to 800-fill. That being said, buying the Mountain Light means that the two garments are designed to work and fit together which means you don’t get any incompatibility problems.
Overall, the North Face Mountain Light is the best option for a combined waterproof and insulated down jacket which can be easily split out into individual layers. For the price it is excellent value and should definitely be considered if you don’t already have a down jacket.
Craghoppers Men's Atlas Waterproof Jacket
An AquaDry membrane of the Craghoppers Men’s Jacket delivers superior waterproof properties. The waterproof membrane integrates a laminated fabric to give the jacket six-key features. Moreover, the dual-layer fused fabric offers a completely windproof shell, a water repellent dry layer, and a waterproof membrane layer while maintaining a breathable membrane.
On top of that, the AquaDry membrane helps to regulate the body’s temperature while maintaining durability. The men’s waterproof jacket is designed with an adjustable hem with inner drawcords and self-fabric cuff adjusters to give you a comfortable and fine-tuned fit.
For even better fit and coverage, the waterproof jacket comes with a hood that has toggle adjusters at the front and back. In addition, a waterproof center front zipper with an inner zip guard further protects you from harsh weather elements.
To help keep your essential items safe, the waterproof jacket integrates multiple pockets. This includes a single zipper inner OS map pocket and two waterproof zippered hand pockets.
Furthermore, if you plan on hiking or biking in low-light conditions, the jacket comes to the rescue with its reflective details, which help to enhance visibility in the dark.
Rab Men’s Latok GTX Jacket
The Rab Men’s Latok GTX Jacket is an expensive option, but it really is at the pinnacle of modern, eco-friendly shell design. It consists of a two-part construction with a 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro main breathable fabric and then reinforcement for strength in key areas. In addition, the outer skin of the shell incorporates an ePTFE membrane for additional waterproof functionality. It is available in both men’s and women’s sizing.
The Gore-Tex Pro used on the Latok jacket is 70 denier (70D) which means that it’s particularly rugged and the fabric is obtained from fully recycled Gore-Tex. It offers 160g/m2 breathability which is exceptionally good, and we found the Latok to be one of the best shells on the market to stay dry inside, even under heavy exertion levels.
The zipper system features YKK AquaGuard Vision front zips with an internal storm flap which helps to protect the zipper area from elements. Many manufacturers just rely on a front zip which can cause water ingress problems under heavy, driving rain.
The Latok is also fitted with a three-way, fully adjustable helmet-compatible hood. When zipped up it offers an excellent covering and seal around the neck and head regions. Water ain’t gettin’ in here easily!
A two-way venting pit zip system helps improve air circulation around the armpit area, and coupled with the breathable Gore-Tex, you are well-covered against your own perspiration and breath causing moisture problems.
You’re also well covered in terms of the pockets on board – the Latok features four external pockets (two front ‘Napoleon’ pockets and two standard side hand pockets) and there are also two internal zippered mesh pockets – exceptionally generous storage space.
Weight and Use
That being said, the Rab Latok is one of the heavier coats on the market – it weighs 579g which doesn’t sound huge, but it is almost 50% heavier than some of the lighter shells we’ve looked at. This is more a coat for walks starting from home or the campsite, rather than a coat to pack up small in your rucksack when wild camping. We liked the comfort of the thicker material and the excellent weather proof system. It’s one of our favourite waterproof shells for that reason.
Patagonia Pluma GORE-TEX Pro Men's Jacket
If you plan to spend considerable time outdoors in harsh weather conditions the Patagonia Pluma Jacket is a great option if money is no object – let’s just say it’s not cheap! However to counter this, we would say it is possibly the best waterproof jacket on the market in terms of pure performance.
Available in bright yellow or red, the Pluma is a Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer jacket, which is the best technical fabric on the market – so far, so good but why is it so expensive compared with other GT Pro shells?
Well Patagonia are a ‘prestigious’ brand for one – that will always mean a price uplift, but it means you get an exceptional warranty and a company who pride themselves in offering clothing designs which just simply work. There is attention to detail everywhere with the Pluma from the taped seams to the storm flap covering the chest pocket. Weight is excellent at only 414g for the Medium size, and it is essentially like a second skin when zipped over your fleece.
With the Pluma, Patagonia have also gone a bit further on materials too – the standard Gore-Tex Pro now also incorporates a Gore microgrid backer to give a smoother interior feel and enhanced breathability. Patagonia say the microgrid also reduces internal abrasions from rough clothing which might normally reduce the lifetime of the shell.
The jacket hood offers an excellent fit for helmet wearing and so the Pluma is definitely a great option if you’re off to the slopes for climbing, skiing or snowboarding. You can also incorpoarte a climbing harness if required.
The zips are all fully waterproof and have reliable zipping actions (unlike my Mammut jacket which recently broke!). The jacket cuffs are low profile and have velcro straps for cinching and simple adjustability to the conditions and for a fine-tuned fit.
In summary, we feel that Patagonia Pluma jacket offers exceptional design and materials, but you do end up paying a considerable sum of money for the privilege. We loved trying it out and were sad to hand it back – however you have to be prepared to be centre of attention when wearing it to the pub – it’s bright for sure!
Best Mid-Range Waterproof Jackets
This section gives a roundup of the best mid-range weatherproof jackets on the market today. Typically these jackets will be £100 – £250, employing 2.5 or 3 layer technical fabrics. Performance will still be extremely good for most UK conditions and the only real downside will be slightly heavier weight in your rucksack.
Mountain Equipment Men's Saltoro GORE-TEX Waterproof Jacket
Designed with an alpine fit, the Mountain Equipment Men’s Waterproof Jacket offers a relatively tight fit around the body, waist, and arms. Thanks to this fit, you can comfortably pair the jacket with other warming layers in extreme cold.
Nonetheless, the jacket offers warmth and active functionality on its own. Made with a 100% polyester PTFE membrane, a 3-layer Gore-Tex 75D fabric, and 2.5-layer Gore-Tex PACLITE fabric, the jacket delivers full waterproof and windproof performance. For an even better waterproof function, the jacket features a PFC EC-free DWR coating.
At the top of the waterproof jacket, you will find a fully adjustable hood for extra protection. The elastic laminated cuffs, articulated pre-shaped sleeves, and dual tether hem drawcords provide a fine-tuned fit. Under the arms, the YKK venting zippers allow for improved air circulation.
Furthermore, the front of the jacket is built with a proprietary YKK molded AquaGuard center zipper system which offers extra protection from harsh weather elements. Two large pockets with YKK WR zippers provide adequate storage for small items such as mittens, gloves, keys, and hand warmers.
Berghaus Mens Arran Waterproof Jacket
Fabricated with a patented Hydroshell waterproof fabric, the Berghaus Arran waterproof jacket offers protection from the elements during even the harshest storms.
Hydroshell technology was created by Berghaus to help keep you dry for longer in wet and rainy conditions. It offers a good value lightweight build which allows the fabric to easily regulate your body, ensuring you’re cool at all times.
It’s worth pointing out that Berghaus claim that Hydroshell fabric will last longer and need less reproofing than other technical fabrics. We’re unable to verify this claim, but it certainly piques our interest!
We found that the Arran The jacket features a classic look with modern and minimalistic tech, allowing you to pair it with any outfit, whether it’s your hiking or office outfit. Around the waist area, the jacket features two pockets for secure and weatherproof storage space.
The warmth that comes with the jackets makes it ideal for slipping your hands in the pockets during the cold days for an extra toasty feel. In addition, the jacket comes with a roll-away adjustable hood that you can pull away during lighter weather.
Jack Wolfskin Mens JWP Waterproof Softshell Jacket
The Jack Wolfskin Men’s JWP Jacket is another stylish shell from the most understated of manufacturers – Jack Wolfskin.
The JWP jacket integrates lightweight materials into a soft outer shell, allowing you to fold and pack the jacket with ease. In fact it comes with a nifty storage sleeve for easy packability.
The jacket weighs less than a pound at 435g and has superb wet weather performance. It uses proprietary TEXAPORE EcoSphere Stretch material which is made from 100% recycled polyester, giving it excellent weatherproof functionality. We love the use of recycled polyester in products such as these – less production of man-made fibers is always a positive in our view.
At the top of the jacket, a permanent (i.e. non-removable) hood allows ysimple adjustment via drawcord, while an adjustable hem seals the jacket from the wet weather.
Dual side zippered pockets offer enough storage for small items. It also allows protection against harsh weather thanks to the waterproof zipper system design.
As always with Jack Wolfskin clothing, we were very pleasantly impressed with the performance and overall look of the JWP Shell. This is an excellent mid-range waterproof jacket and will not break the bank. Recommended.
Salomon Bonatti Pro Waterproof Jacket
Decathlon can normally be relied on to sell good value gear, and the mid-range Salomon Bonatti Pro jacket is a case in point.
It’s a 2.5 layer Pertex waterproof and windproof jacket with exceptional protection against both – the Bonatti Pro offers 20000mm of hydrostatic head waterproof protection and 20000 g/m2/24 hours breathability which is up there with the best, but at half the price. We like!
It’s a stylish looking jacket with Salomon detailing on the left breast and sleeves and we like the green/grey look. Salomon have added layers of extra protection on key parts of the jacket (shoulders primarily), and it is mind-boggling how they have kept the weight down to a class-leading 307g for a size L with this in place – impressive!
Pocket-wise, the Bonatti Pro is a little lacking – yes they include the obligatory two hand pockets, but we would have liked to have seen an inner pocket for securing important items. However, the lack of internal pockets helps with the weight, so you can’t be too miffed.
In use, we found the hood interesting as there is no drawcord, but instead a clever combination of front zip and elastic means that it kept in the ideal position most of the time – very clever and simple.
In a downpour the coat kept me dry and really that’s all you ultimately want from a lightweight shell like this. If you need warmth then you’ll have to add a down layer underneath. Overall though, the Salomon Bonatti Pro impressed us as a decent mid-range waterproof jacket.
3 Layer Gore-Tex vs Gore-Tex Pro
When the going gets tough, the tough start using 3 Layer Gore-Tex, rather than the 2-Layer or 2.5-Layer versions used in less expensive shells.
In the 3-layer version, the Gore-Tex membrane is bonded to both the outer material and the inner material. This significantly reduces translation between layers and helps protect the key membrane section. Overall, this offers reduced bulk to the clothing (less rucksack space required) and more durability in wetter conditions. We recommend 3 Layer Gore-Tex for most activities as a great all-rounder.
If money is no object then you should be looking at Gore-Tex Pro if you are requiring a pure outer shell layer only. This is the most durable technology in the range, and ideal for high-intensity activities where there will be lots of movement of your arms and potentially more rapid wear – for example, climbing in extreme environments with ample opportunities to catch the jacket fabric.
Gore-Tex Pro clothing is “Guaranteed to keep you dry“, and jackets employing it will often incorporate more technical features like helmet-compatible hoods and toggles. It is only ever used in outer-shells, and therefore will always require pairing with insulating layers underneath to keep warm.
The advantage of 3-Layer Gore-Tex over Gore-Tex Pro is that the 3-Layer version is often also used in thicker coats such as the Rab Valiance down jacket.
Best Waterproof Jacket Under £100
We now turn our attention to selecting the best waterproof jacket under £100. In recent years, many lower cost technical fabrics have been developed which can achieve excellent waterproof and breathable performance but at slightly higher weight levels than the higher priced shells.
At this price point, you will normally only be looking at 2 or 2.5 layer construction. However, our top buy from Decathlon is under £100 and uses 3-layer tech. It’s simply unbeatable in our opinion.
Below we present our current favourite waterproof jackets under £100.
Decathlon Quechua MH500
The Quechua MH500 from Decathlon is simply the best waterproof jacket under £100. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind and I recommend it without hesitation. It’s an impressively waterproof and breathable 3-layer shell for less than £80 and has become my go-to jacket for weekend trips in wet weather.
The Quechua MH500 uses a 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric construction with a polyurethane membrane sandwiched between a durable outer shell and mesh liner. It achieves an excellent 25,000mm waterproof rating in testing while also scoring a 6 out of 10 on the breathability scale.
The jacket employs an athletic slim fit cut with stretch fabric and raglan sleeves to enhance mobility. Underarm zip vents provide airflow to help vent built-up moisture. Tunable weather protection comes from the adjustable hood, velcro cuffs and elastic drawcord hem. Storage is provided through two zippered outer pockets and two inner stash pockets.
- 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric with polyurethane membrane
- 25,000mm waterproof rating
- RET 6 breathability rating
- Athletic slim fit cut with stretch
- Underarm zip vents
- Adjustable hood, cuffs and hem
- 2 outer zippered pockets, 2 inner stash pockets
I’ve tested the MH500 extensively over 6 months of hiking, camping, and everyday use. The 3-layer fabric keeps me bone dry even in heavy rain thanks to a waterproof rating of 25,000mm. While not 100% waterproof, it withstands all but the most extreme downpours.
The jacket is nicely breathable too. The pit zips are great for venting heat and moisture when working up a sweat on the trails. I stay relatively comfortable wearing it during aerobic activity compared to other budget jackets.
The athletic cut and stretch fabric provide good mobility. It’s not restrictive when reaching or moving briskly. I do wish the hood was a bit stiffer for windy conditions. It has a tendency to flop around.
Overall though, the MH500 has handled my weekend adventures extremely well. For a sub-£80 rain jacket, it offers tremendous value through its impressive waterproofing and breathability. I’d happily recommend it to fellow budget-conscious adventurers.
After many miles in the Quechua MH500, I’m convinced it’s one of the top performing and affordable shells for casual hikers and backpackers. The weather protection and versatility is hard to beat at this price point. It’s become my go-to for wet weather adventures.
Helly Hansen Seven J Rain Jacket
You really cannot go wrong with any of the jackets in the Helly Hansen waterproof range, but most people think that you have to spend over £200 to get something remotely decent. Well that’s not true – the HH Seven J rain jacket is bang on £100 and is a cracker for the price!
Available in both a men’s version and a women’s version, it uses a two layer design with sealed seams to offer a very waterproof, breathable and windproof design. The key to this is the advanced DWR coating applied to the outer layer which causes rain to literally bead up and run off the jacket before it has the chance to soak through. In effect, this gives you 3-layer performance for the price of a decent 2-layer jacket. Nice!
We like the style very much – from the storm flap over the main front zip to prevent any chance of leaks at all, to the anti-chafe chin guard which is a soft piece of material which rests against your chin inside the collar when it’s fully zipped up and feels very soft on your face.
The HH Seven J is available in a range of six colours for ladies (different pastel shades), but the men only get four – darker and more sombre colours. Come on Helly Hansen – men like to be bright and vibrant too!
The material on the Seven J is fairly soft and doesn’t make that crinkly noise that some of the Goretex-Pro jackets suffer from.
Pockets are good – in addition to the two hand pockets (left and right), there is also an internal chest pocket which could store a map or your wallet if required.
The inner lining of the jacket uses a mesh netting layer which helps keep the waterproof layer off your skin and also helps with air circulation. The inside of the sleeves are smooth with no netting which makes it easy to slide your arms in and doesn’t cause bunching up.
The hood has a brim visor but at this price point you don’t get a shape-able wire for the peak. Two toggles at the front help shape the hood to your head, and there’s a velcro strap at the back to tighten the hood against your skull. You don’t get a dedicated rear toggle for this purpose, but the velcro does the job adequately.
Overall, the HH Seven J rain jacket is a great entry-level waterproof shell. It fits well with a nice shape on the waist, and at 510g is not overly heavy. It has velcro cinch points where you need them, and keeps the rain off well with that excellent DWR outer layer.
Jack Wolfskin Evandale Waterproof Jacket
Most people don’t realise this, but Jack Wolfskin is actually a German company which has been selling quality outdoor clothing since 1981. They have an excellent pedigree and reputation for producing gear which does the job efficiently well, but without the exorbitant price levelsof other more ‘trendy’ outdoor brands.
A case in point is their superb Evandale waterproof jacket. Upon laying your hands on it, the quality of both the outer and inner fabric layers is immediately obvious. It feels like a coat worth twice the price, using discreet, well tailored stitching to create a classic visual design. It certainly looks the part.
The men’s Evandale is available in two colours – a fairly subtle Mexican pepper red (shown above) which we really liked, together with a standard black. The ladies get more variety, with six colours to choose from as well as a lower purchase price – sometimes it pays to be a girl!
The Evandale gets a triple whammy on performance. It uses the Jack Wolfskin proprietary waterproof, windproof and breathable Texapore fabric for excellent protection against the harshest elements. The jacket is rated at 10000mm of hydrostatic head which is a superb level of waterproofing, together with an MVTR breathability of >6000 g/m2/24hrs.
This is a very lightweight jacket for the price at 481g and will pack down to a respectable volume in the rucksack (roughly 30 x 20 x 10cm in our test). One useful feature is that the hood will also tuck away under the collar if you don’t want it flapping around behind you. There are two front pockets, and an internal zippable mesh pocket for your phone and wallet or other accoutrements.
Overall, we were highly impressed with the Jack Wolfskin Evandale and it is a worthwhile contender for best waterproof jacket under £100.
The North Face Quest Waterproof Jacket
The North Face brand often divides opinion – sometimes considered as style over substance in mountaineering circles, but a high proportion of their clothing is undoubtedly excellent. Their Quest waterproof jacket is a bona fide classic for under £100 and we highly recommend it for any outdoor activities. There is also a really stylish women’s version of the Quest too in a wider range of colours.
The Quest uses North Face’s well known 70 denier DryVent dual layer technical fabric which is very waterproof, breathable and windproof. During heavy rainfall in Snowdonia, we were kept bone dry for several hours of almost horizontal waterblasting. I put this down to the fact that North Face add an additional water-repellant layer to the outer surface of the DryVent which helps form water droplets. They literally bead off!
The hood of the Quest is integrated into the coat itself – i.e. there is no separate collar section to tuck it into. This gives it more of a stylish look to our eyes – something North Face are constantly aspiring to. They do it well, and for once you don’t have to break the bank to join the club!
The hood is peaked and allows water to flow off well. If you’re mountaineering or cycling and wearing a helmet, the size of the hood can be adjusted to fit using an bungee cord and toggle at the rear of the hood. This is the only adjustment possible, and we missed having a front drawcord.
The front of the jacket comprises two zippable pockets left and right. The inside layer of the jacket is meshed to aid with breathability and to protect the DryVent fabric from wear and tear. The mesh netting adds a little to the weight of the jacket (442g) and should be taken into account when weighing up the trade-offs. It does include an inside pocket though which is useful, and the mesh feels comfortable against the skin. There is also a fabric chin guard to protect your face from the zip when it is done up to the top. Nice!
Overall, we were impressed by the North Face Quest waterproof jacket and would certainly rate it highly for the money. Any coat that could keep us dry in that November squall in Snowdonia would be rated highly in our eyes!
Craghoppers Orion Waterproof Jacket
I really wanted this roundup of the best waterproof jackets to show that you can get great value even when you drop below £50. However, the Craghoppers Orion Waterproof Jacket for which I paid £49 at Go Outdoors has now unfortunately risen to £60. It is still a really good jacket for the money and worth trying out if you’re watching the pennies.
I was looking for a cheap waterproof shell layer which I could whack over my fleece when at a campsite without resorting to using my ‘best’ Mammot. I popped down to Go Outdoors, and immediately saw the Orion and was impressed at the price!
Let’s get one thing clear – this jacket has many specifications you would not find on much more expensive coats.
- Integrated hood with adjustable front toggles and drawstring
- Full storm-flap to cover the front zip – no leaks there
- Made out of Craghoppers’ AquaDry membrane which is waterproof to 8000mm and breathable to 15000 g/m2/24 hours.
- Inside map pocket and two front pockets at a good height
- Only 480g in weight for the XL, and 420g for the ladies version.
I bought it immediately and it has served its purpose really well over the last couple of years of camping. The only slight downsides I’ve found are: a) the colour – I’m not a massive fan of the Agave green, but there is a black version available now too b) Performance against icy winds. The AquaDry membrane works well against driving rain, but when it’s particularly gusty, the cold air can get through. This kind of extreme weather is thankfully rare though, and I would not be put off buying the Orion unless you are looking to do some serious hiking in the mountains.
My Orion jacket has been out in all levels of rainfall, from gentle drizzle to biblical downpours, and always comes up trumps. You can tell it was designed as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Collection at Craghoppers – it would be perfect for that task. Recommended if you’re on a tight budget but still want to enjoy the outdoors….and stay dry!
Berghaus Deluge Waterproof Jacket
Possessing a tiny weight of only 312g, the Berghaus Deluge Light Waterproof Shell jacket is a fantastic proposition for day trekking and activities where you need to be mindful of how much gear you’re carrying in a rucksack.
Unlike the other jackets we’ve reviewed, the Deluge uses 2.5 layers of waterproof, breathable and windproof technical fabric – in this case it is branded by Bergaus under their Hydro-shell trademark. Hydro-shell is an exceptionally advanced waterproof layer which can protect against lashing rain.
If you’re curious about the 2.5 layer term, this means that you no longer need to include a separate mesh netting layer inside the coat because the breathable membrane is bonded directly to a protective film. This means that the jacket can be lightweight, more rugged and more packable. Indeed the Deluge packed up exceedingly small inside my rucksack, measuring around 20cm x 20cm.
The Deluge includes a single one-piece hood with front drawstrings and no collar. There are two zipped pockets on the front, but sadly no internal map pocket. The main front zip has a useful storm flap covering for extra weather protection.
One nice feature is the inclusion of proper zipped vents in each arm pit. This really helps with air flow and moisture extraction as you walk around and generate heat. The photo showing this is from the women’s version of the Deluge which is available in 7 different colours.
Some owners have reported that the breathability of the Deluge is less than perfect. We cannot agree with this and can only guess that perhaps they had the armpit vents zipped shut. I wore the jacket whilst walking my neighbour’s dog and got absolutely hammered on by the rain. The coat kept me dry and my inner layers kept me warm. Perfect.
Overall, the Berghaus Deluge is a very competent waterproof jacket with the best technology out of all our recommendations. It’s towards the top end of the budget, but they are an extremely reputable brand and this is a great coat. Highly recommended.
Rohan Ridge Waterproof Jacket
Rohan are a quality high street clothing manufacturer with an excellent reputation for combining stylish design with functionality. Normally their gear is on the pricier side of the market, but with the Momentum Ridge jacket currently in a sale it’s a veritable bargain. Snap it up while you can!
In a similar way to the Berghaus Deluge, the Rohan Ridge makes use of 2.5 layers of ‘Barricade’ tech to deliver a reasonably low weight of 380g. This is an excellent jacket to pack into your rucksack for mountain adventures and also packs down to a conveniently small size of 1000 ml. It is made sustainably (from coffee grounds I’ll have you know!) which is always welcome to hear.
The Barricade layers offer a surprisingly soft feel to the touch – it is not harsh like some of the Gore-Tex homages can be, and is styled to fit well in a shaped design. It helps that the material has a light, natural stretch to it which will come in handy if you like to partake in a bit of rock scrambling in the hills. For their newer coats, Rohan have also incorporated a bonded P4Dry printed layer inside the coat, so this is effectively a 3 layer jacket for 2 layer money.
The hood is fully integrated into the coat without a collar and has a decent bonded peak to direct cascades of water away from your face.Waterproofness, windproofness and breathability are all excellent. The hood can be adjusted at front and rear unlike some of the other jackets we’ve looked at.
The Ridge has two large outer pockets which use Aquaguard zips, as does the main front zip. There is also an inside pocket which is not quite big enough for an OS map, but the outer ones are. The inside ‘Packpocket’ allows the coat to be wrapped up into it which is an excellent feature – no separate stuff sack required!
Overall, this is an amazing coat for the money, and the question is how long will it stay at this price. We recommend quickly checking out the Rohan Ridge and making a purchase. It is available in both men’s and women’s versions in a wide range of colours and sizes.
Target Dry 'Mac in a Sac' Unisex Waterproof Packable Jacket
We’ve only recently come across the fabulous ‘Mac in a Sac’ – absolutely unbelievable value for money for a fully waterproof (5000mm hydrostatic head), breathable (5000 g/m2/24 hours) and windproof jacket. You can currently pick one up for around £15 in the Ellis Brigham sale, but the typical retail price is ~£30.
It looks stylish too, having a proper collar which conceals a hidden hood, fully taped seams and elasticated cuffs. The front zip is made by reputable brand YKK which is incredible at this price. The hood is of a decent size with good visibility and draw strings for adjustment – there is no peak to direct water flow, but I feel like I’m splitting hairs here. On the outside there are two pockets, and there’s a useful air vent on the rear to let hot air circulate.
“So what am I giving up then?” I hear you cry. Well, not alot really. Admittedly the waterproof level may not be high enough for torrential downpours, but this jacket is not really about mountaintop traverses. It’s about keeping handy for the dash to the shops when you forgot to bring a coat – that sort of thing. And it does it really well!
The ‘Mac in a Sac’ will fold up really small which makes it ideal to keep in the car or campervan for emergency outdoor rain jaunts. It is so much better than the old ‘packamacs’ we all used to have when we were kids – this is a fully functioning outdoor jacket for not much more than what you’ll spend on car parking for the day.
It can be bought in around 18 different colour variants. In particular, we liked the slightly more expensive ‘camo’ version. We definitely think the ‘Mac in a Sac’ is worth buying for your camping expeditions. You can eaisly get one each for the whole family, and still have change out of £100. Brilliant!
Buying Guide – What to Look For?
When shopping for the best waterproof jacket, you want to keep in mind several key features to ensure you find an option that suits your needs.
Typically, the best waterproof jackets feature different layers. The most common designs include 2, 2.5, and 3-layer jackets.
‣ 2-layer Waterproof Jackets
A 2-layer waterproof jacket integrates a simple design with an outer shell and a waterproof interior membrane attached to it. This type of jacket offers adequate protection during wet weather, but is often more bulky because a third additional loose netting layer is typically also required inside in order to avoid wear and tear of the exposed membrane.
So in effect, 2-layer jackets are still 3-layer, but the third is not integrated with the others and just adds more bulk. Not the best for performance, but great for price.
‣ 2.5-layer Waterproof Jackets
2.5-layer jackets are similar in design to more expensive 3-layer jackets and are a good budget option. They use an integrated coated or laminated internal layer to protect the porous membrane, and stop it getting clogged up with grease from your skin and losing its breathability.
2.5 layer jackets may need cleaning more often to maintain breathability and to stop a ‘clammy’ feeling building up when wearing them due to clogging of the pores.
‣ 3-layer Waterproof Jackets
3-layer waterproof jacketsare designed with an outer layer fabric and inner layer fabric with a waterproof and breathable membrane between the two. These jackets offer the best performance and are often lighter and more packable than the cheaper technologies described above.
Even with the best waterproof jacket, you need breathability and ventilation, otherwise moisture builds up inside and you get wet from your own perspiration! This is why technology such as Gore-Tex is so amazing – it integrates waterproofing and breathability in a single element to allow sweat and moisture to escape from your body, whilst stopping rain from getting in.
You can also find jackets with additional features to further ventilate your body. For example, some jackets come with vented pits so you can manually vent your outerwear.
Different waterproof jackets are designed to offer a different fit based on your preferences. You can find regular fitting, alpine fitting, or slim-fitting waterproof jackets. For example, a slim-fitting jacket is designed to fit underneath other outer cold-weather layers.
A regular fitting jacket is typically designed in a 3-layer build, making it the outermost layer jacket – although it will allow you to layer clothing elements such as baselayers and microfleeces underneath. However, to enable you to fine-tune the fit even better, some jackets come with additional features.
These include adjustable cuffs and hems. Additionally, elastic cuffs help keep the rain out of your jacket, while most hems offer a dropped design for extra rear coverage. But, keep in mind that features such as a slim fit or regular fit designs simply describe how the jacket fits.
They don’t necessarily offer guidance on where you can best wear the jackets. Instead, you want to turn to descriptions such as relaxed, active, and technical fitting jackets. A relaxed-fitting jacket is designed to accommodate everyday wear; typically, covering longer lengths for extra protection.
An active-fitting waterproof jacket is nearly tight-fitting, but they are neither snug nor baggy. Due to this fit, they accommodate extra layers underneath, such as fleece jackets. On the other hand, technical-fitting jackets are better suited for extreme activities such as hiking, while they offer an almost body-hugging fit.
However, they still facilitate optimal freedom of movement to prevent you from restricting yourself. In addition, these jackets are designed to accommodate other accessories such as helmets and harnesses and typically have a shorter length and high pockets.
Most men’s waterproof jackets come with a hood as this extends protection to your head and neck area. You want to opt for an adjustable hood to ensure it is functional enough. Some hoods come with a wired peak, while some have drawstrings to help you adjust them. Some jackets feature Velcro, zipper, or button flaps to allow you to attach and remove them as needed.
If you want a jacket for outdoor sports such as climbing or mountain biking, you can even opt for options with large hood designs that accommodate a helmet underneath. To gauge whether or not your hood is a perfect fit, make sure it doesn’t restrict movement or vision when you put it on.
There are many occasions where you would want to put on a waterproof jacket. You could even need to wear one while going to the mall. Thus, you want a jacket that offers pockets to stash in small essentials such as keys, phones, and even hand warmers. So, when choosing a waterproof jacket, think of how you will use it.
For example, a hiking or mountain biking jacket comes with a map pocket. Other jacket options come with interior mesh pockets for extra protection of your belongings. The best waterproof jackets have pockets fitted with watertight zipper systems and storm flaps to keep your items safe.
● Waterproof vs Water-Resistant
When browsing through different jackets, you will notice that some are listed as water-resistant, and some are listed as waterproof in the features area. While they may appear to be the same, waterproof and water-resistant jackets bear differences. Their main difference lies in the fabric and material used.
A water-resistant jacket features two styles of fabrication. First, they may be designed with a fabric that is woven tightly to prevent water from seeping through. Alternatively, you can find jackets coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.
Either way, water-resistant jackets protect you against water to a certain degree – typically from light rain and water splashes. Waterproof jackets, on the other hand, offer a complete barrier from moisture. However, a complete waterproof build in practice would be impractical because this will mean that the jacket is not breathable at all.
So, instead, waterproof jackets are designed with a one-way interior membrane that allows sweat and internal moisture to escape while completely keeping water out. Depending on the design and quality, waterproof jackets can even protect you from heavy rains.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How Do I Clean a Waterproof Jacket?
To clean your waterproof jacket regularly, use a clothing cleaner and waterproofing material as instructed on the packaging. For example, if your jacket has picked up grime or dirt, wipe it with a damp cloth with mild soap, then do it again with a clean damp cloth, and apply a waterproofing agent to it.
Some jackets are even machine washable. However, after washing them, you want to hang dry them to avoid damaging the material. Then, when the jacket is dry, reproof it to ensure it offers optimal protection outdoors.
2. What Are 3-in-1 Waterproof Jackets?
3-in-1 waterproof jackets are fabricated with a waterproof outer shell and detachable inner layer – typically a fleece layer. This means that you can wear the jacket and fleece together, the waterproof jacket alone, or the detachable fleece alone, depending on the weather.
3. What Is Gore-Tex?
Gore-Tex is a popular waterproof membrane technology used by many outdoor and sports clothing manufacturers. The technology integrates synthetic waterproof fabric that allows interior air and vapor (sweat and moisture) to escape, but it doesn’t allow water from the outside to penetrate the interior.
As a result, many manufacturers opt to use the technology. However, not all do. Instead, some manufacturers use their own patented technology, such as the Hydroshell technology used by Berghaus.
4. How Do I Make the Most of My Waterproof Jacket?
To ensure you have found the best waterproof jacket, you have to ensure it protects you from the outside in wet conditions, but the interior must also be breathable enough. In addition, you don’t want increased sweat and moisture build-up to make you uncomfortable and, ultimately, drenched.
Thus, when you are outdoors, avoid layering cotton t-shirts and underclothes underneath your jacket. Instead, you want to opt for synthetic fiber that is better for wicking away moisture from your body.
As evident from the review above, the best waterproofing jackets do more than just protecting you from the rain and wet weather. The jackets serve as a year-round essential and come in handy, whether you are hitting the trails or going about your daily life.
After all, the best options come with the advantage of leaving you breathable and comfortable all day. Plus, depending on your needs, the jackets offer different features to match your conditions.
That concludes our report on the quest to find the best waterproof jackets at a range of price points. If a bit of extra heat is required on those frosty mornings then check out our Best Heated Jackets article as some of these jackets can fit snuggly beneath your waterproof keeping you toasty warm as well as dry. We hope you find a jacket to keep you dry on your outdoor adventures.
Featured photo supplied by Gpointstudio