A great waterproof jacket is crucial to help to keep us dry when we venture outdoors
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.
A good waterproof jacket is more important than it sounds. If you’re hiking, walking or generally using an over jacket for day-to-day work in the UK, it’s likely you’ll need it to protect you against the rain, and it’s worth investing in a good one to make sure you’ve got proper protection.
What to look for in a waterproof
Firstly, look for the type of material and its weight – a lighter weight jacket will be more suitable for more strenuous energetic activities and also give you improved reach and stretch – if you’re out on the mountains you’re not going to want to be restricted in your movement. A heavier jacket perhaps will give you more warmth, but it’ll be heavier, less breathable and harder to move around in.
What do waterproof ratings mean?
Waterproof ratings are in ‘mm’, and signify the maximum amount of water a garment can take before it no longer can keep back the flood.
This usually ranges from about 10,000 to 20/30,000mm, so more than good enough for most grey UK days. That being said, every jacket has its limits, so it pays to do you research if you’re heading into the jungle, for example.
When it comes to fit, it’s also worth mentioning adjustment options, so we recommend looking for jackets that have good hem cords and the ability to fit a helmet underneath – good hood adjustment options are a must.
We also really like the wired-hem hoods that stay up a lot easier in the wind and rain….there is nothing more annoying that having to keep pulling up your hood again every thirty seconds because it can’t stay in place!
Does the jacket breath?
Breathability is a big factor if you need a jacket to wear whilst on the move. If you’re laying up for mountain wear, for example, you’ll want something that will wick away sweat and isn’t going to trap body heat. Likewise, look for a decent waterproof rating (at least 5,000mm) as this refers to the maximum amount of water resistance in the fabric.
Do the pockets zip shut?
Many good waterproof jackets come with taped seams and zips, meaning what’s in your pockets will stay dry, but it’s a good idea to check as versions can differ. Finally, some jackets have vents to keep you cool when active – if you’re going to be hiking or trekking with your purchase, these come in really handy if you’re otherwise layered up.
Our round-up of women’s waterproof jackets is here.
Get kitted out for all of your hiking adventures
The best men’s walking shoes are rounded-up here, and you can keep yourself dry with the best men’s waterproof jackets, or the highest rated waterproof trousers.
Here is our list of the best waterproof hiking jackets on the market
Key Specs: Weight, 330g; Material, GORE-TEX; Waterproof Rating; 15,000mm; Pockets: 2; Stuff Sack? Yes; Colours: 3
Rab are a company founded in Sheffield in the early 1980s, so needless to say they know a thing or two about walking in the Great British weather.
Their lightweight Zenith jacket is designed to be a jacket ‘made for the mountains’ – this was one of our favourite jackets tested.
It has reinforcement panels in the side and the hood, and comfortable sleeve articulation which means striding out on a long walk or climb is easier. Even though was a slim fit, we importantly found it easy to layer underneath.
Key Specs: Weight: 441g; Material: GORE-TEX; Pockets: 3; Stuff Sack? No Colours: 4
Quite simply one of the best waterproof jackets around, and one we come back to time and again when we’re heading into the hills.
We love its ‘mountain-ready’ approach – it’s ready for pretty much anything you throw at it, and although it looks simple, its lightweight design and durable quality makes up for its steep price-tag.
This jacket lives up to its premium billing offering enhanced protection from wind and rain.
Its thigh length design and C-Knit backer meant that we remained not just protected but comfortable while exposed to Atlantic winds during a hike in the north west of Scotland.
We also appreciated the StormHood which rotates without blocking vision meaning our wits weren’t impeded while on the trail.
Key Specs: Weight, 500g; Material, Polyester; Pockets: 2 zipped hand pockets, 1 zipped inside pocket; Stuff Sack? No; Colours: 5
We liked the prominent drop-tail on this jacket, which means in particularly bad weather it prevents the top of your trousers getting wet and allows water to drop down your back more effectively.
We also liked the numerous venting options, including underarm venting, which all told made it feel like a light, breathable and easy to use waterproof jacket for walking and hiking.
Key Specs: Weight, 600g; Material, LIFA Infinity Pro 100% Polypropylene; Pockets: 1 zipped chest pocket, 2 zipped hand pockets, inside zipped valuable pockets; Stuff Sack? No; Colours: 1
Despite the high price, this Helly Hansen jacket offers some seriously impressive performance and material innovation.
Using LIFA fibres, a first-to-market technology, Helly Hansen have managed to develop a sustainable fabric adapted from their performance base layers, without the need to add any chemicals.
This is a professional-grade jacket – we’d recommend using it on multi-day hikes in challenging terrain, or perhaps off-piste or backcountry skiing and mountaineering. An impressive package.
A great everyday wear waterproof at an affordable price for a semi-technical jacket, this Jack Wolfskin option offers a 20,000mm waterproof rating and excellent breathability.
We liked that both the outer material and the membrane is made from recycled polyester – and generally the jacket itself feels well-made, durable and usable in all conditions. It’s light too, so highly recommended for something like the daily commute.
Key Specs: Weight, 538g; Material, 78% Polyamide, 22% Polyester Coating; Waterproof Rating; 15000mm; Pockets: 2 zipped hand pockets, 1 zipped inside pocket, 1 inside pocket; Stuff Sack? No; Colours: 3
Quechua are well-known for providing affordable options for everyday wear. We liked the 3 storm-layer membrane and included elastane for extra stretchiness when on the trails. A simple, straight-forward waterproof jacket good enough for day-to-day wear, dog and weekend walks.
Key Specs: Weight, 565g Material, GORE-TEX, Polyester; Pockets: 2 zipped hand pockets; Stuff Sack? No; Colours: 3
GORE-TEX jackets lead the way as a waterproof technology for many brands, so it’s not surprising to see it on this list.
It’s also not surprising to see Berghaus on the list either, who for many have been go-to suppliers of everyday hiking and outdoor equipment in the UK for generations.
A 3-layer waterproof system is included on this jacket, which makes the jacket feel sturdy, durable and robust, with a thickness you’d trust in most conditions and a traditional look to suit most people.
We tested a size medium, and found it to be especially generous size-wise, especially in the sleeves, which made it particularly easy to layer underneath.
Key Specs: Weight, 396g; Material, Recycled Nylon; Pockets: 2 zipped hand pockets; Stuff Sack? No; Colours: 9
One of the simplest jackets on the market, you can’t go wrong with well-known brand Patagonia’s straight-forward waterproof offering.
We found it to be another great option for both day-to-day wear or longer walks or hikes – it’s comfortable and like others on this list, it also packs up into its own bag if you’re tight on space.
Additionally, and importantly, it also is made with 68% recycled materials, so it’s a great sustainable option.
Key Specs: Weight: 375g; Material: GORE-TEX; Pockets: 3; Stuff Sack? No Colours: 3
This is an awesome lightweight option which rivals minimalist competition for weight.
Montane is far from no-frills however, boasting an adjustable hood, practical map-sized pockets and pit zips, the latter making the jacket a great option for sweaty climbs and scrambles.
Hikers can also enjoy the outdoors safe in the knowledge that they are wearing a jacket made up of 100% recycled materials.
Key Specs: Weight: 345g; Material: GORE-TEX; Pockets: 2; Stuff Sack? No Colours: 5
Even lighter than the Montane is this effort from Salomon. We tested out the jacket while ascending a Corbett on the rugged peninsula of Knoydart and remained dry when the heavens inevitably opened, thanks to its GORE-TEX Paclite design and DWR treatment.
When the temperamental highland weather took a turn for the better we were able to fold and pack away the jacket with ease. The combination of protection and packability make this an excellent just-in-case jacket for spring, summer and autumn.