The best waterproof jackets 2021/2022 (2022)

Why you can trust The Gear Loop

(The Gear Loop) - Whether you’re tackling the Eiger, walking the dog or commuting during a torrential downpour, a good quality waterproof is a must.

The problem is, there’s an overwhelming choice of waterproof jackets available nowadays, all of them claiming to keep you dry and comfortable in the outdoors. To help with your search, we’ve focussed on a few key areas: firstly, we’ve stuck to specialist outdoor brands with great reputations, and only chosen fabrics that are sold as waterproof, and not water-resistant.

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We’ve also made sure all of the jackets featured have taped seams, which means that stitch-lines and seams are internally covered with a waterproof sealing tape to prevent water leaking through. For us, this is the proper definition of waterproof.

Within those few criteria, you’ll find NASA-inspired fabrics boasting incredible breathability, designs with four-way stretch for added comfort (and less crinkling) and a host of innovative features from helmet-ready storm hoods to pit-vents to help you cool down when the walking gets tough.

The Gear Loop

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And to test each jacket, as well as day-to-day wear and countless dog walks through Epping Forest, The Gear Loop was privileged to be invited to the Highlands of Scotland with the team behind GPS route planning tool Komoot, to explore the hills around Lairg, Sutherland. To say the weather was perfect for testing waterproofs is quite the understatement.

When you’ve walked for five miles in near gale force winds with horizontal rain in your face and you’re still dry and smiling, you know you’ve found a good jacket.

Klättermusen

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Essential to any unpredictable outdoor adventure, many of the waterproof shells mentioned below can also act as a brilliant outer layer for an insulated jacket, which we've tested, to sit underneath. This is particularly important if heading somewhere that's forecast to be cold, wet or generally changeable, such as Snowdonia or Ben Nevis.

The best waterproof jackets tested

Inov-8

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Inov-8 Venturelite Jacket

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For

  • Packs small into its own pocket
  • Excellent breathability
  • Underarm ventilation

Against

  • Not suited to serious winter use

New for autumn 2022, Inov-8's Venturelite Jacket is the final offering from the British brand’s debut hiking collection. Known for its high performance, lightweight running gear, there has understandably been plenty of buzz around this new venture into hiking apparel.

Unsurprisingly, the collection has been crafted with fast and light adventures in mind, designed to include "everything you need and nothing you don’t", according to head of clothing and development Helen Stuart.

The Venturelite Jacket is the most protective hard shell Inov-8 has made to date, boasting a waterproof 3-layer fabric with fully taped seams. However, as well as keeping the drink out, the fabric is also breathable, while semi-open underarm vents give a welcome airflow option for those sweaty fell ascents. This makes the Venturelite a comfortable option for the warmer months.

It weighs 450g, which is pleasingly light for a hiking jacket but weightier than many runners' hard shells. Little touches, like reflective detailing on the logo, a two-way zip opening for speedy layering and smaller compartments within the main pockets indicate the attention to detail that went into the jacket’s design. The adjustable hood is helmet compatible and the whole jacket folds up into its own pocket for easy transportation.

All in all, a solid, lightweight choice for hillwalkers and rock climbers. Features like the semi-open pit zips suggest greater suitability for the warmer months over serious winter expeditions, though the Venturelite Jacket will keep you dry in most conditions.

Klattermusen

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Klattermusen Draupner

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For

  • Supremely hardwearing
  • Storm-proof hood

Against

  • Eye wateringly expensive
  • Needs more pockets

Founded in Scandinavia in 1975, Klattermusen makes high quality outdoor gear, and our new favourite waterproof jacket. The Draupner is a serious piece of winter weather kit with a price tag to match, but one so robust and well specified we were gutted to take it off and try a different brand during our torrential Highlands adventure.

Made from the brand's proprietary three-layer Cutan waterproof shell, with a Duracoat surface treatment that improves durability in high-abrasion areas around shoulder, hips and sleeves, this jacket feels indestructible and offers ideal protection for the harshest alpine condition.

At 846g for a medium, it is heavy compared to many Gore-Tex options, but we envisage it surviving years of constant wear.

Our pick of the features - and there are many - is the huge 3D adjustable hood, which cocoons the wearer from the very worst elements. It’s cosy in the rain, the soft material around the chin prevents wear (on us and the fabric) and everything has been designed for glove friendly use.

There’s also a metal D-ring and clasp on the chest, which baffled us for a while, before realising it was an ingenious way to walk with the jacket completely open to cool down, without it flapping. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Klttermusen Draupner review: a tough, waterproof jacket that can tackle anything

Patagonia

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Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket

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For

  • Environmentally conscious choice
  • Solid waterproof credentials
  • Packs away into own pocket

Against

  • Size is a little large
  • Not suited to serious winter adventures

Patagonia is renowned for pioneering the way in terms of sustainable outdoor products. The Granite Crest Jacket is another example of how the brand continues to create high quality garments from sensitively sourced materials. In this case, its a nylon ripstop fabric from crafted 100 per cent recycled material that has been sourced from fishing nets in order to help reduce ocean plastic pollution.

Waterproofing is achieved with Patagonia’s proprietary, 3-layer H2No fabric, which can cope with torrential downpours. In other words, this is a jacket that gives you confidence to stride out even when the forecast is less than ideal. Its robust construction also means it’s very durable.

Weighting in at 400g, it’s a relatively lightweight choice and it’s packable too, stuffing away into its own pocket for easy transportation.

Fell runners are better served by ultralight jackets but for environmentally conscious day hikers who like to move fast and light on the trails, this is a solid choice.

There are higher performing – but more expensive – jackets for serious winter missions but unless you’re a winter climber or alpinist, the Granite Crest will have you covered. Its sizing is a little large, so you may want to drop down one from your usual.

Arc'teryx

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Arc’teryx Beta LT

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For

  • Lightweight
  • Superb hood

Against

  • Best for walking rather than mountaineering

LT is short for 'lightweight' and while 394g isn’t exactly in the realms of a featherweight Shakedry single layer jacket, it packs down small and feels anything but bulky. Being from Arc’teryx, the quality is second to none, balancing technical performance, versatility and style to perfection.

When this jacket was launched, many people scoffed at the fact Arc’teryx had downgraded the Gore-Tex from Pro to a standard 3-layer Gore-Tex construction, but in truth, unless you’re hitting up the Matterhorn, this construction will keep you dry in all conditions, while saving you some money.

It’s a superb hiking jacket that will not fail, even faced with wind and torrential rain, and we especially appreciated the highly adjustable Storm Hood, which features a wide brim, and cinches down neatly whether you’re wearing a helmet, cap or beanie.

Jöttnar

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Jöttnar Odin

For

  • Undoubtedly stylish
  • Excellent protection from the elements
  • Features suited to mountaineering, skiing and climbing

Against

  • On the expensive side
  • No obvious environmental credentials

Despite their obvious Norse leanings, Jöttnar is a British brand founded by two former Royal Marine commandos. The company focuses on high performing outdoor gear that enables the wearer to 'Conquer Giants', so the slogan states. The Odin waterproof jacket is designed to enable for climbers, mountaineers and skiers to conquer their chosen giants and has garnered plenty of praise since release in 2019.

The jacket features the brand's own Skjoldr waterproof fabric, which uses a monolithic hydrophilic polyurethane membrane. The result is a hard shell that is impressively breathable while being both highly wind and waterproof, perfect for winter excursions in places like the Scottish Highlands.

Other features hint at a jacket that’s intended for serious mountaineering use. Its zips are positioned on the chest to allow space for a harness, its fully adjustable hood is designed to go over a bulky ski helmet, it features pit zips to allow ventilation on sweaty ascents, there’s an integrated RECCO Rescue System for avalanche safety and there’s an internal zippered pocket for precious items.

Yes, it’s a little on the expensive side but, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a jacket that won’t let you down no matter how extreme your adventures, this is it.

£475 | Buy from Jöttnar

Berghaus

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Berghaus Paclite Peak

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For

  • Lightweight
  • Bargain price
  • Very waterproof

Against

  • Won’t be this cheap for long

At its RRP of £190, the Packlite Peak jacket represents solid value, but given that some outlets are currently selling it for over half that price, it is a total bargain.

We’re big fans of Gore-Tex Packlite technology, which bonds a seriously waterproof membrane directly to a tear resistant outer nylon shell. By losing the more common third layer, the jacket becomes lighter (340g) and easier to stuff away in your backpack.

But lightweight stuffability counts for nothing if the jacket doesn’t keep the rain out, and during our decidedly damp test walks it laughed in the face of strong winds and torrential rain.

The generous hood is helmet compatible and easily adjustable, the main zip is waterproof, arm vents are great at shedding heat (and well hidden from the weather) and we appreciate the fact the waterproof DWR layer is PFC-free.

We also like the hint of 90s football terraces styling on the blue version, it is solidly built, very reliable and we doubt it will ever let you down.

Our medium review sample offered quite a generous fit, with space for a down jacket underneath, but if you’re usually between a small and medium, we’d suggest medium if you prefer a more fitted look.

Columbia

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Columbia Ampli-Dry Waterproof Shell Jacket

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For

  • Solid value
  • Very comfortable

Against

  • A bit dull
  • Pit vents not taped

A waterproof for everyday wear that’s also great if you want to head off and explore the great outdoors. It’s a polite way of saying the Ampli-Dry is a bit boring - maybe we mean, understated - but definitely in a good way.

Columbia pride themselves on creating their own proprietary tech, instead of relying on brands such as Gore-Tex, and here, they’ve implemented the excellent Omni-Tech Ampli-Dry waterproofing, which laminates a polyurethane membrane to a tough DWR treated face fabric.

The construction offers good breathability and great waterproofing in all but the most horrendous of downpours, but has the added bonus of being stretchy and supremely comfortable with none of the crinkle you find with many jackets.

Seams are taped, the front zip is also sealed and there’s generous pit zips to help you get rid of excess heat and moisture vapour as you climb (or when get stuck on the train). The hood has plenty of room and we love how it doesn't feel like a typically restrictive and plastic-feeling Cagoule to wear.

Tested to its limits in Scotland, the main body of the jacket remained dry throughout a particularly vicious - and continuous - downpour, but we did notice a small amount of leakage around the pit zips, possibly because they’re covered rather than sealed with PU like the main opening.

These were not typical commuter/country walks conditions however.

  • Columbia Ampli-Dry Waterproof Shell Jacket review: a light shell that pulls its weight

The Gear Loop

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What to look for in a waterproof jacket

Find your features

Waterproof jackets aren’t just for hiking or walking, as they often come in special fit and materials or pack features that will favour a particular endeavour. Cycling jackets will be windproof, breathable and host numerous pockets for kit, while running jackets will generally be lighter and more basic, providing some protection from the elements while being as breathable as possible.

It’s a similar story with many of the jackets we featured in our guide, with some boasting serious features for mountain-based endeavours and others proving more basic. Figure out the kind of activities your jacket is going to be used for and select features wisely.

Layer up

It’s a good idea to layer up in cold conditions - placing a waterproof outer over an insulated or thermal mid-layer- but even the humble waterproof can be constructed from several layers to improve its ability to battle the elements. Two-layer waterproofs are the most basic and consist of a waterproof membrane bonded to an inner lining to reduce any chafing against the skin. These might keep you dry but they’re often uncomfortable and sweaty.

Modern waterproofs tend to be offered with multiple layers, some of which have been treated for addition hydrophobic performance, with many boasting breathable membrane technologies to help keep things cool.

The more layers your waterproof has, the better performing and more durable it is likely to be, but extra layers also add weight, so decide whether it’s a jacket that’s going to be stuffed in a bag a lot, or one that is worn for extended periods of time. If it's the latter, look for something weightier but more durable.

Jargon buster

When buying a waterproof jacket, you might be confronted with a load of jargon that aims to quantify how waterproof something is. Hydrostatic Head (or HH for short) is the first of the much-used lingo.

This is used to measure how waterproof a fabric is and sees an inch diameter of water applied to the fabric in question, and seeing how high the water will rise before it starts to seep through the jacket. The higher that water stacks up, the higher the final figure and the more resistant to water penetration it will be.

On top of this, many modern jackets now flaunt a Moisture Vapour Transfer (MVT) figure that reveals how much moisture can pass through the fabric in a 24 hour period. You’ll see it displayed as 12,000 gr/m²/day, or 12,000gr, for example.

Take this with a pinch of salt, because heavy activity will lead to a lot of sweating, so additional features, such as underarm zips and vents, could be worth investigating if you’re putting in some serious miles.

Writing by Chris Haslam and Alex Foxfield. Editing by Leon Poultney.

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