The best waterproof jackets for year-round walking 2023
Be prepared for wet weather
Light weight, packable jackets are a great choice for variable weather, stashing easily in a rucksack when not required. For serious wet weather and winter walking, a more substantial, protective jacket will keep you warm and dry for longer.
Waterproofness is rated using the hydrostatic head of a fabric, based on lab-based measurements and given in millimetres. Ratings range from 5,000mm for a showerproof jacket to 20,000mm+ for those designed for extreme environments. A minimum rating of 10,000mm should keep you dry on all but the worst days.
Many waterproof fabrics also have a breathability rating, but in practice once the fabric is wet any breathability will be minimal. For far more effective ventilation look for features such as underarm or side zips, mesh-lined pockets that double as vents, and vents in the rear of the jacket or the hood. Additionally, wear a breathable, sweat-wicking baselayer – merino wool versions are a great choice – to maintain airflow beneath the jacket.
Alongside the above ratings, waterproof fabrics are often classified according to the way in which they are constructed.
A 2-layer fabric comprises a durable face fabric bonded to a waterproof membrane with a separate mesh or other fabric liner. This protects the membrane, improves breathability and reduces clamminess. Jackets made from 2-layer fabric tend to be cheaper, but also bulkier and heavier than those made from 2.5- and 3-layer fabrics.
A 2.5-layer fabric also has a face fabric bonded to a waterproof membrane, but will also have a partially bonded inner liner. This construction is cheaper and lighter than a 3-layer construction but won’t be as protective, durable or breathable.
A 3-layer fabric will comprise a face fabric, waterproof membrane and a fully bonded inner layer. As the membrane is fully sandwiched between the inner and outer layers it is completely protected, meaning it will last longer and provide more protection. Jackets made from a 3-layer fabric tend to be the most durable and protective, as well as the most expensive.
The outer fabric is usually treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. Until recently this was commonly a PFC-based treatment. However, as awareness of the wide-reaching harmful effects of PFCs increases, many brands have moved to PFC-free alternatives. All jackets featured in this review have a PFC-free DWR.
Waterproof jackets that have lost their water repellent outer coating can be treated with a reproofing product such as Nikwax TX Direct or Grangers Wash + Repel.
Sherpa Nima 2.5L Jacket RRP £120
Size Range: XS to XXL
Named after the Tibetan word for ‘sun’, this good value jacket is made from Sherpa’s own Sukatec® protective, waterproof, fully recyclable polyester fabric. It’s lightweight, packable and comfortable to wear, with a soft, rustle-free feel. A great range of features includes adjustable hem and cuffs, pit zips for extra venting, a storm flap over the zip to prevent draughts and two zipped, mesh-lined handwarmer pockets. The hood has adjustment but isn’t stiffened, so struggles to stay put in very windy weather. But the smart looks and comfort mean this is a great allrounder that’s perfect for both walking and commuting. Plus, for every item bought, Sherpa funds a day of education for a child in Nepal.
Alpkit Sigma Jacket RRP £159.99
Size Range: UK6 to UK20
Designed for year-round protection while still being lightweight, packable and comfortable to wear, this waterproof jacket made from a durable, 3-layer fabric offers great quality and features for the price. Sturdy adjustment on the cuffs, hem and hood customise the fit and keep the weather out, while two good-sized handwarmer pockets are mesh-lined to double as vents. The hood has single-handed rear adjustment and a fully stiffened peak, offering excellent protection even in high winds. The soft-feel, rustle-free fabric is recycled and recyclable. The length through the body is on the short side for a walking jacket, so it may not suit taller women.
Rab Firewall RRP £240
Size Range: UK8 to UK16
This fully featured jacket made from a 3-layer waterproof fabric is a true year-round choice, designed for serious hillwalkers as well as mountaineers and climbers. Offering great coverage without feeling at all restrictive, the fabric is soft and rustle-free yet highly protective and durable, cut long for complete draught exclusion. Well-thought-out features include easily adjustable hem and cuffs, pit zips for variable ventilation, a two-way zip with super soft fleece chin guard, and zipped handwarmer and chest pockets. The hood is articulated for freedom of movement and helmet compatible with single-hand adjustment and a stiffened, wired peak that stays put whatever the weather. Rab’s gear is Fair Wear certified and climate neutral. Overall, a superb choice in this price bracket.
Berghaus Highland Storm 3L Jacket RRP £250
Size Range: UK8 to UK20
Another highly protective jacket made from a 3-layer fabric, the Highland Storm has a slightly stiffer feel and more crackle than some others on test. This means it sheds water effectively without any clinginess, but isn’t as comfortable as the softer-feel options. Three zipped pockets – one inside and two outside – and one internal mesh pocket offer plenty of storage, while pit zips add ventilation when required. There’s adjustment at the cuffs and hem, although we found the latter a little fiddly. The hood is protective with single-handed adjustment and a wired peak so it stays put in high winds. The body and sleeve length is mid-range, so not as protective as some of the longer cut jackets.
Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket £260
Size Range: XS to XL
This jacket is made from a durable but lightweight 3-layer fabric and gets top marks for comfort as it’s supple and quiet to wear. But it’s also protective and high performance, packed with great features for year-round, multi-activity use. Fully adjustable hem and cuffs and a single-handed adjustment on the hood keep draughts at bay, while a stiffened peak maintains visibility even when it’s windy. Zipped handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket offer plenty of storage, while pit zips offer extra venting when required. In line with Patagonia’s commitment to responsible production, it’s made with NetPlus nylon ripstop made from recycled fishing nets and is Fair Trade Certified sewn.
Fjällräven HC Hydratic Trail Jacket RRP £275
Size Range: XS to XL
Brand new for 2023, this is the ultimate versatile waterproof for use in town or on the trails. Combining stylish, clean and simple Scandi design with top-end fabrics and features, it’s a high performing year-round jacket that looks and feels great to wear. Fjällräven’s 2.5-layer recycled and recyclable Hydratic fabric is highly waterproof yet soft and supple in use. Side zips offer plenty of ventilation, while easy adjustment on the cuffs, hem and hood ensure a snug fit. Subtle zipped handwarmer pockets, inside print and reflective details finish a great jacket that’s perfect for adventures and everyday use.
Paramo Alta III Jacket RRP £310
Size Range: XS to XL
The Alta III jacket utilises Paramo’s unique Nikwax Analogy directional fabric, which draws moisture from the inside of the garment outwards, leaving you dry and comfortable inside. For those who find traditional waterproofs sweaty and unpleasant to wear, this system offers a highly effective alternative. The cut is long, offering great coverage and draughtproofing without feeling restrictive. There’s a locking, two-way main zip, arm zips for extra ventilation, and six pockets offering lots of handy storage. The hood is fully adjustable, with a high, protective collar and wired peak.
Craghoppers Dustin Waterproof Jacket RRP £145
Size range: XS to XXL
With its retro styling and heritage version of the Craghoppers logo, this jacket looks good and performs well at a good price. The durable, recycled polyester fabric has an AquaDry membrane to keep out the weather. A separate lining stops it feeling clammy but does make it heavier and bulkier than a standalone 3-layer fabric. Features include Velcro cuffs and a decent hood with a single adjustment point on the back and a stiffened peak. There’s a zipped inside pocket and two handwarmer pockets positioned to be accessible above a rucksack waistbelt. The cut is square and functional, which should fit most walkers. Overall, great for general walking, but the hood won’t stand up to severe mountain weather.
Salewa Puez GTX Paclite Jacket RRP £200
Size Range: S to XXL
Designed as a lightweight shell for trekking in the mountains. This jacket has a slim fit, packs small and weighs about 350g. The Gore-Tex Paclite membrane is durable and very weatherproof. The slim, athletic fit has good shoulder articulation and long sleeves that allow for unrestricted movement. The hood is adjustable and moves well with the head but doesn’t sinch down or have a stiff enough peak to cope with longer periods of heavy rain and strong winds. There are two zipped handwarmer pockets, positioned well above a rucksack waist belt or climbing harness. Fair Wear certified and made from bluesign-approved recycled polyester, overall, this is a great choice as an emergency waterproof rather than an everyday, year-round choice.
Spray Way Reaction Long Jacket RRP £200
Size Range: S to XXXL
This jacket offers great coverage and protection, with a 2-layer fabric featuring a Gore-Tex membrane bonded to a tough, recycled polyester outer to keep the worst weather out all day. A separate liner keeps the inside dry and comfortable. The hood is adjustable with a stiffened peak for added weatherproofing. The generous cut fits well over a midlayer with big, zipped handwarmer pockets and a small inside Velcro pocket for valuables. A good choice when you’ll be wearing it all day, it’s too bulky and heavy to carry in a pack for long stretches. Fair Wear certified.
Gore R7 Shakedry Trail Hooded Jacket RRP £299.99
Size Range: S to XXL
Weighing in at under 200g and packing down to the size of an orange, this trail running-inspired waterproof is about as small and light as it gets. The Gore-Tex Shakedry fabric features a membrane and a superlight backing fabric without a face fabric. As well as being lighter, this means water can’t soak into the fabric and when wet you can literally shake it dry, without the need for a water repellent coating. As with many superlight options, this won’t be as durable as some of the heavier jackets, but it’s perfect as an emergency jacket packed away in your bag for an unexpected downpour or to add some wind protection on an exposed section of a walk. Minimalist features include a zipped chest pocket, adjustable hood and reflective details. The cut is athletic and sizes a little small, so you may prefer to size up. Overall, quite pricey for a jacket that may not get much use, but a good choice if you need lots of protection for a low weight and pack size.
Jack Wolfskin Kammweg 3L Jacket RRP £390
Size Range: S to XXXL
Fully featured and responsibly-made, this jacket is made from the new Ecosphere Pro Schoeller fabric, which is partly recycled, fully PFC-free, protective, durable and slightly stretchy. Weighing in at about 540g (size medium) and packing small enough to stash in a pack, it’s still highly protective and durable. The fit is athletic and the cut articulated for excellent freedom of movement. The cuffs, hem and hood are fully adjustable but, while the hood is protective and well cut, a stiffer peak would make it even better. The jacket vents well and does well to avoid internal condensation due to the good cut, under-arm venting zips and the two front zip pockets that also act as vents. Overall, quite pricey but a great choice if you’re after a tough, protective waterproof that’s also packable.
Klättermusen Allgron 2.0 Jacket RRP £489
Size Range: XS to XXL
Swedish mountaineering brand Klättermusen prioritises maximum safety for its wearers, with minimum environmental impact. This jacket is expensive, but justifiably so with superb design, fit, materials, function and eco-credentials. The 3-layer Cutan fabric is bluesign approved, with a PFC-free membrane and partially bio-mass derived nylon face fabric. It’s super tough and durable, with reinforced panels in high wear areas. Features-wise there’s an excellent, fully adjustable hood that moves with your head and gives great coverage, offering protection from heavy rain and high winds. The cuffs are cut to extend over the back of the hand to keep out wet and cold, with elastic adjusters that double as thumb loops. Two large, zipped chest pockets that are accessed above a waist belt, and a small internal zipped pocket offer plenty of storage. When you’re working hard, pit zips and mesh pockets provide ample ventilation. All the zips feature storm flaps to prevent water ingress in driving rain. The fit is athletic and well cut, allowing full freedom of movement, with a drop tail for added coverage. Overall, this outstanding jacket probably offers more protection than the average walker needs, but for the best comfort and protection in the worst weather it’s a perfect choice.
**Recommended retail prices correct at the time of writing. Please refer to manufacturer or retailer websites for the very latest pricing information.
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