Gear on test: Rainy day wear

A waterproof jacket is essential for safe and enjoyable walking all year round. Jackets come in a range of different fabrics and features, designed to deal with the full spectrum of weather conditions. Here’s our guide to picking the right combination to suit you.

A woman outdoors, wearing a blue waterproof jacket, with the hood up

A waterproof jacket is essential for safe and enjoyable walking all year round. Jackets come in a range of different fabrics and features, designed to deal with the full spectrum of weather conditions. Here’s our guide to picking the right combination to suit you. 

Women's jackets 

Finisterre Rainbird Waterproof Jacket  

£110, 260g size 10 finisterre.com

+ With its easy-going styling and incredible comfort, this jacket is a great choice for year-round lower-level walks. Lightweight and packable, it’s made from a soft, rustle-free, PFC-free, 100% recycled fabric, with two zipped handwarmer pockets and adjustment throughout.

– Not as technical or protective as others.

Verdict 4.5/5 Best ethics - A well-priced, relaxed fit, general-purpose jacket with great looks, comfort and eco credentials.

Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Jacket  

£165, 445g small jack-wolfskin.co.uk

+ This jacket balances soft, rustle-free comfort and durable protection. It has four zipped pockets – one inside – a mesh lining for breathability, adjustment throughout and an excellent hood and collar combination to keep the rain out. 100% PFC-free.

– None

Verdict 5/5 Best in test - Comfortable, practical, versatile and protective – an excellent all-rounder that’s environmentally sound.

Mountain Equipment Zeno Jacket

£150, 310g size 10 mountain-equipment.co.uk

+ Packable protection at a reasonable price, this jacket features an adjustable hood with a wired peak and a high collar, designed for mountain conditions. There’s further adjustment at the cuffs and hem, reflective details, pit-zips for venting and two zipped handwarmer pockets.

– An additional pocket would be useful.

Verdict 4/5A decent mid-range jacket made from a protective, heavier fabric. 

Columbia Titan Pass 2.5L Shell Jacket

£180, 225g small columbiasportswear.co.uk

+ This lighter-weight jacket feels great to wear, offering excellent freedom of movement through a combination of an athletic cut and stretch fabric. Features include adjustable hood, cuffs and hem; three zipped pockets including one inside; and reflective details for low-light safety.

– Sizes come up small.

Verdict 4/5 Packable and comfortable; ideal for faster-paced activities and rainy summer days, or as a shell over layers.

Craghoppers Caldbeck Jacket

£115, 530g size 10 craghoppers.com

+ Matching smart looks with well-thought-out features and recycled materials, this longer-length jacket is soft and rustle-free with a mesh liner for comfort and breathability. Internal and external zipped pockets and a peaked hood with front and back adjustments.

– Heavy, but protective.

Verdict 4.5/5 Best value - Combines comfort, protection and sustainability at a great price.

Klӓttermusen Fjorgyn 2.5L Anorak

£300, 195g small klattermusen.com

+ This versatile unisex anorak offers superb weather protection for minimal weight and pack size. A generous cut, zip-free design, peaked hood and adjustment throughout make it ideal for wearing over a layering system. Packs into its large front pocket. It’s bluesign-approved and PFC-free.

– Expensive

Verdict 4.5/5 Ideal for year-round use. Made to last, with great eco credentials.

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 GTX Paclite Jacket

£315 235g small www.mountainhardwear.eu

+ Lightweight, yet protective and durable, this versatile Gore-tex shell jacket is a great choice for year-round, multi-activity use. Combine with an insulating layer in winter, wear over a t-shirt on rainy summer days, or stash in a pack just in case. Made with PFC-free 2.5-layer Nylon fabric it offers great freedom of movement and features a zipped chest pocket, two internal pockets, side vents for variable airflow, adjustment throughout, and a drop tail for extra coverage.

- Crackly fabric; expensive for a packable shell.

Verdict 4.5/5 A versatile, packable yet protective waterproof shell for year-round use from trail to town. Well featured and comfortable to wear.

Ariat Tempest Insulated H20 Parka

£295 1280g small www.ariat.com

+ Designed with equestrian use in mind, this super cosy and protective longer-length parka is ideal for those who spend long periods of time outdoors in cold, wet conditions. Whether you’re riding, walking the dog, or supporting at an outdoor event, this jacket’s luxurious insulation, tough, waterproof outer and snug design will keep the elements out. Features include waterproof zipped pockets, detachable hood, reflective piping and split tail.

- Not even slightly packable.

Verdict 4/5Warm, protective and longer length. Ideal for long stints in cold, wet weather.

Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket

£450 475g small www.fjallraven.com

+ Superbly comfortable to wear, this durable, protective jacket fits beautifully, with carefully considered design features and details. The shell is a 3-layer stretch fabric made with recycled polyester and treated with a PFC-free water repellent. Outer and inner chest pockets, plus an arm pocket, offer plenty of easy-access storage, while vents maintain airflow to reduce condensation buildup. After two years of regular use it is still outstanding and will last many years to come.

- Justifiably expensive. Non-toxic water repellent does require more regular reproofing.

Verdict 5/5 A thoroughly well-considered jacket with top marks for comfort, performance, eco credentials and durability. Expensive but will last a lifetime.

Findra Stroma Technical Outdoor Jacket

£159 285g small www.findraclothing.com

+ This soft, packable, lightweight jacket doesn’t feel like a traditional waterproof, but it still performs well in wet weather. The 4-way stretch fabric is unrestrictive and rustle-free, with a backing made from S-café recycled coffee grounds and plastic bottles for natural anti-odour. Features include two zipped handwarmer pockets, a zipped hip pocket, stretchy inner cuffs with thumb loops for cosy hands and an adjustable hood and hem.

- Not currently PFC-free. Less protective than most on test.

Verdict 4/5 Packable and comfortable. A great choice for warmer weather walking and adventures.

Rohan Ridge Waterproof Jacket Long

£175 435g small www.rohan.co.uk

+ This longer-length jacket made from Rohan’s PFC-free 2.5-layer Barricade fabric features a twin storm flap over the zip along with adjustments at the hood, waist, hem and cuffs for good weather protection. It packs into one of two zipped, handwarmer pockets.

- A little boxy and restrictive. A further pocket would be useful.

Verdict 3.5/5 A good, longer-length shell jacket that effectively keeps out the worst of the weather. Smart, understated looks would suit commuters as well as walkers.

Rab Meridian Jacket

£220 315g size 10 www.rab.equipment

+ Ideal for walking and climbing in all but the worst of British weather, this jacket, made with recycled Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, strikes a great balance between protection and packability. The longer cut offers good coverage while the wired peaked helmet-compatible hood stays put even in strong winds. Two zipped chest pockets stay clear of a harness, underarm zips allow for variable venting and there’s good adjustment throughout.

- Noisy fabric.

Verdict 4.5/5 An excellent, well-featured, technical jacket that blends lightweight packability with outstanding weather protection.

 

Women's waterproof trousers 

1 Keela Rainlife 5000 Trousers   

£49.95, 375g size 10 long keela.co.uk

Combining a tough, PU outer with a softer nylon lining, these well-priced, longer-length, heavier-duty trousers offer great protection with zipped ankles and through-pockets.

Rating 4/5

2 Montane Minimus Pants

£100, 130g small R montane.co.uk

Made from lightweight, protective Pertex Shield, these packable, athletic-fit trousers feature ankle zips, reflective details and Velcro calf-width adjustment.

Rating 4.5/5

3 Outdoor Research Helium Pants

£100, 165g small outdoorresearch.com

Looser-fit protective, packable trousers with ankle zips for easy on/off and a useful zipped back pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.

Rating 4/5

Men's jackets 

Vaude Escape Light Jacket 

£90, 445g medium vaude.com/en-GB

+ A great-value 2L jacket offering good protection. The roll-away hood and a soft mesh drop liner means it’s comfortable to wear in a range of conditions. It’s Fair Wear certified, PFC-free and is made with recycled content.

– Lacks the cut and features of some higher-spec jackets.

Verdict 4/5 Best value - A good-value, functional all-rounder with sustainability and performance credentials to match much higher-priced jackets.

Salewa Puez Clastic 2 Powertex Hardshell Jacket 

£160, 465g medium salewa.com/en-gb

+ A comfortable, versatile 2L jacket with a relaxed fit. Salewa’s Powertex membrane and mesh lining make it warmer than a 3L fabric but less sweaty, especially with the pit-zips open. Features include useful zipped pockets and a good, adjustable hood.

– Not as packable as some on test.

Verdict 4.5/5 Comfortable and protective with great features; an ideal choice as an everyday walking jacket. 

Berghaus Ridgemaster GTX Waterproof Jacket 

£200, 565g medium berghaus.com

+ This 2L Gore-Tex jacket has a mesh lining and pit-zips so it’s protective and comfortable without feeling clammy. The adjustable hood is unrestrictive but effectively keeps the weather out. Useful features include wide Velcro cuffs and deep zipped pockets. PFC-free.

– Heavy and sizes small around the chest.

Verdict 4/5 Dependable, durable and protective, this jacket should be a partner to many years of wet-weather walking.

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket 

£160, 385g medium eu.patagonia.com

+ An outstanding jacket with great features, such as an excellent articulated hood; tough, recycled nylon face fabric; a slightly longer cut; and wide, adjustable cuffs. The packable 3L construction with Patagonia’s bluesign approved and Fair Trade Certified sewn H2No membrane is protective, while pit-zips aid ventilation.  

– Fabric rustles.

Verdict 5/5 Best in test - An excellent, well-featured jacket for everyday walking.

Montane Pac Plus Jacket 

£185, 305g medium montane.co.uk

+ Designed for mountain walking and long-distance trekking, this lightweight waterproof has a longer cut, protective hood, adjustable cuffs and large venting zip pockets. The jacket stuffs into its pocket. Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric is very waterproof and impressively durable for its weight. 

– Can feel clammy in use.

Verdict 4.5/5 Super-light and packable yet very protective with a great cut and useful features.

Páramo Alta III Jacket  

£300, 800g medium paramo-clothing.com

+ A fully featured walking jacket for the worst weather. Páramo’s Analogy system relies on a wash-in water repellent and a Mesh Pump Liner to keep you comfortable whatever the weather. It has a protective hood, long cut, Velcro adjustable cuffs, arm vents and a wealth of pockets. PFC-free and Fair Wear certified.  

– Bulky and heavy.

Verdict 4.5/5 A great jacket for a long day out in challenging conditions; trusted by many mountain rescue teams.

66˚ North Snaefell NeoShell Jacket

£400 445g medium www.66north.com

+ A high quality four season walking or multi-sport jacket offering excellent weather protection. Polartec NeoShell claims to be the worlds most breathable waterproof fabric; it’s also soft feeling and quiet, durable and has a slight stretch. The fit is classic, cut to accommodate an insulation layer. It features a snug, adjustable hood with a stiff peak, wide adjustable cuffs, an adjustable hem and 2 zipped venting handwarmer pockets as well as 2 inside pockets. 

- The cut and hood aren’t technical enough to make a great mountaineering jacket, which limits its versatility at this price.

Verdict 4/5 NeoShell fabric combines with classic fit and venting options to create a very comfortable, well featured and protective walking jacket at a premium price.

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

£150 175g medium www.outdoorresearch.com

+ This very lightweight waterproof is ideal for stashing in a pack for emergencies, or for fast and light adventures when every gram counts. The new version of the classic Helium uses Pertex Diamond Fuse Nylon face fabric, which is more durable and lighter than the previous version. It features an adjustable hood, single zipped chest pocket and reflective details.

- The cut is short, which saves weight but reduces protection. Superlight construction means no handwarmer pockets or cuff adjustment.

Verdict 4/5 A good, lightweight packable jacket with improved fabric and minimal features.

Keela Cairn 3-Layer Shell

£169.95 340g medium www.keela.co.uk

+ A technical, mountaineering-inspired jacket with an articulated cut and protective, helmet-compatible hood. The durable, 3-layer polyamide fabric uses Keela’s own Aquaflex waterproof membrane. A good range of features includes lots of zipped pockets, roll away hood, two-way zip, reflective details, and adjustable hem and cuffs. 

-Tough fabric has quite a rustle. 

Verdict 4.5/5 An excellent mountaineering-spec jacket offering a great set of features and protection for the price.  

Country Innovation Avocet Jacket

£195 1000g medium www.countryinnovation.com

+ This classically styled country jacket offers lots of protection, with six pockets and adjustment in the hood, cuffs, hem and waist. The polyester face fabric is durable and rustle-free, while the Nylon drop lining feels comfortable for all day wear. The cut is generous and long, allowing room for a thick mid layer and reaching mid-thigh. Somerset-based Country Innovation donates £10 to the RSPB for each Avocet jacket sold.  

- By design this is heavier and bulkier than other jackets on test, but this is only an issue if you’ll be carrying it. The large pockets don’t work well with rucksack straps. 

Verdict 4/5 A well-designed wildlife watching or country lifestyle waterproof jacket that is also good for colder weather walking. Tough and abundant in pockets and features, but not great with a rucksack.      

Men's waterproof trousers 

1 Jack Wolfskin Rainy Day Pants

£60, 165g medium www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk/

Basic but very functional waterproof over-trousers. Lightweight, small pack-size and protective with good ethics. Bluesign certified and PFC-free. 

Rating 4.5/5

2 Mountain Equipment Zeno

£100, 225g medium mountain-equipment.co.uk

Mountain spec over-trousers with articulated knees and ¾-length zips for over-boot fitting and venting. Drilite fabric is protective and durable. 

Rating 4.5/5

3 Rohan Dry Requisite Trousers

£115, 480g size 32R rohan.co.uk

Waterproof trousers that look and feel like walking trousers. Comfortable all day long in wet or cold weather. 

Rating 4/5

4 Paramo Cascada II Trousers

£155 480g medium www.paramo-clothing.com

+ Designed to be worn against the skin for long days in wet weather, or over a base layer in really cold conditions, these protective waterproofs look and feel like walking trousers. Three-quarter-length zips allow for easy putting on over boots and also add venting. They’re made from Paramo’s unique Analogy fabric that relies on both treatment with a wash-in waterproof and a pump action through the fabric to keep the wearer comfortable.  

- Heavier and less versatile than separate waterproof over-trousers.

Verdict 4/5 Well made, PFC-free and Fair Wear certified – a great choice for all day bad weather wear.

5 Columbia Evolution Valley Pant

£70 395g medium R www.columbiasportswear.co.uk

+ These comfortable, functional waterproof trousers feature three-quarter-length zips for easy put-on/take-off and a mesh drop liner so they don’t feel clammy. The long zips also act as vents to improves comfort. A single zipped pocket is useful, reflective details increase visibility, and cuff adjustment improves the fit. Available in short or regular leg lengths. 

- The drop liner adds weight and bulk, which adds comfort but isn’t good when low weight and pack size is key. 

Verdict 4/5 Comfortable and functional waterproof trousers; best suited to wearing for longer walks rather than stashing in a pack for emergencies.

6 Berghaus Deluge 2.0 Pant

£60 345g medium www.berghaus.com

+ These waterproof pants made from Berghaus’ own Hydroshell fabric combine everything you really need for year-round walking in the great British weather. Three-quarter-length zips enable easy on/off and add extra ventilation, while reflective details add visibility. The outer is a durable polyamide and there’s an integrated mesh drop lining to reduce condensation clamminess. The fit is good; comfortable over walking trousers and available in short, medium or long leg versions.  

- Although the drop lining makes them more comfortable during use, it also adds bulk and weight when carried in a pack. 

Verdict 4.5/5 Good value, comfortable and protective waterproof over-trousers for year-round wet weather walking.

Buyers' tips

Features

Adjustment throughout the jacket – commonly at the hood, waist, hem and cuffs – allows you to customise the fit of your jacket for the best protection and comfort. A full, adjustable hood will shield your face from the elements and help prevent rain running into the top of your jacket. Look for a stiffened peak for added protection and check that the hood moves with you as you turn your head for comfort and visibility. Handwarmer pockets come as standard on most jackets, but a chest pocket – particularly an inside one – is handy for valuables such as keys and credit cards. Reflective details keep you visible if you’re walking on roads after dark.

Fabrics

Most waterproofs have a rating of 2L, 2.5L or 3L, depending on the layering construction of the fabric.

  • 2L jackets feature a nylon or polyester face fabric on the outside bonded to a waterproof membrane on the inside. They often have a mesh or fabric liner for comfort, which works well in a walking waterproof as it creates a comfortable, breathable layer between the jacket and your clothing or skin.
  • 2.5L jackets bond an outer-face fabric to a waterproof membrane with an added printed or sprayed-on protective half layer on the inside. These make up the majority of lightweight packable jackets on the market.
  • 3L jackets have a waterproof membrane laminated between an outer-face fabric and a protective knit inner, which together function as a single fabric. They offer greater protection for less weight than 2L jackets but may be more specialist and less versatile.

Our experts 

 

Sim Benson is an outdoor author and photographer with an environmental science background. He is a kit expert with over 15 years working, testing and reviewing in the outdoor industry. 

Jen Benson is an outdoor adventure photographer and writer with an MSc in sport & exercise medicine. Jen is happiest when she is outdoors, and is passionate about exploring Britain’s wild places on foot.