Ultimate guide to the best all-weather jackets
A good all-weather, lightweight walking jacket can see you through all the seasons and conditions. Here we review some of the best for comfort, protection and ease of packing away in your rucksack
What we want from a good walking jacket varies with the seasons and the conditions. But a versatile all-rounder that’s packable enough to stash in a rucksack, comfortable and breathable enough to wear all day long, and protective enough to stay warm and dry in moderate conditions, is a great addition to any walker’s wardrobe.
All these jackets are free from harmful PFCs, also known as ‘forever chemicals’. As other research has found that far less harmful alternatives are just as effective at repelling water, we don’t think there’s a case for continuing their use.
So without further ado, we bring you our round-up of the best all-weather, packable jackets...
Craghoppers Ara Weatherproof Jacket
With its smart looks and longer length, this jacket would double well for the work commute, as well as being a comfortable and protective walking companion. The slim, fitted cut keeps draughts at bay and means there’s no flapping fabric on windy days. The lining is a cosy fleece, which also extends to the three pockets and hood. Well-made and versatile, it’s an excellent year-round choice.
BAM 73 Zero Recycled Insulated Jacket
Recent winner of a Drapers Sustainable Fashion Award, this jacket is made from recycled materials and, more importantly, is 100% recyclable at the end of its life. The synthetic insultation offers a good amount of warmth for its weight and packsize, while handy features include adjustable hood and hem, cosy inner cuffs at the wrist, and an inside pocket alongside two handwarmer ones. Overall, a great looking, superbly comfortable everyday jacket.
Artilect Intersect Doubleweave Jacket
Designed for all-day wear during high energy activities, this jacket combines a tough, weatherproof outer with a soft, brushed lining. It works well as a standalone jacket over a layering system, offering sufficient waterproofing for light rain, with the option of adding a fully waterproof shell over the top for the worst weather. Features include a helmet-compatible hood, adjustment throughout, three pockets and a YKK Touchlink zip with LifeKey communication technology.
Helly Hansen Verglas Hooded Down Hybrid Insulator Jacket
This lovely, lightweight, insulated jacket really does offer the best of all worlds. High quality, responsibly sourced goose down insulates the body and sleeves, while the hood has quick-drying synthetic Primaloft. Stretchy side panels add breathability and freedom of movement. Features include an adjustable hem, two handwarmer pockets and a handy inside pocket. As a mid- or outer layer, it offers a brilliant combination of comfort, warmth and lightweight packability for year-round walking.
Salewa Catinaccio Tirolwool Responsive Jacket
Designed to offer warmth and weather protection during high energy Alpine activities, this versatile jacket doubles perfectly as a packable, comfortable, year-round walking jacket, either as a standalone outer or a cosy midlayer under a waterproof shell. The insulation harnesses the natural warmth of wool from Tirolean sheep, keeping you cosy even when wet. It looks great and features an adjustable hood and hem, and three pockets including one inside.
Haglöfs Stuga 3-in-1 Jacket
A 3-in-1 jacket offers great versatility so, while it might seem expensive initially, it may well be the only jacket you need. The Stuga features a super-soft Polartec fleece with two handwarmer pockets, which zips into a smart, two-layer fully waterproof shell with a mesh drop-lining for breathability. Both the fleece and the waterproof offer lightweight protection in their own right, or combine to create a more substantial warm, waterproof jacket.
Klättermusen Bestla Anorak
Walk magazine Best in Test
This outstanding jacket features a clever two-layer construction, with a weatherproof biobased polyamide outer and a soft, wicking liner, so it works brilliantly as a standalone top or as part of a layering system. Great features include an offset zip for comfort, two big pockets, fully adjustable hood and hem, and reflective details. So comfortable that you’ll never want to take it off, and so versatile that you’ll never need to.
Alpkit Ranger Organic Ventile Jacket
Everything about the Ranger jacket has been considered and designed with care. Made entirely from Swiss-made 100% organic cotton Ventile, it’s a real joy to wear, offering a breathable, highly durable and protective outer layer. In wet weather, the tightly woven fibres swell for natural waterproofing. There’s adjustment throughout, plenty of pockets, recycled brass poppers, a two-way zip and the hood is detachable. Being cotton, it’s easily repairable too.
Helly Hansen Paramount Softshell Jacket
A simple softshell that’s windproof and protective against light rain. Fleece lined for comfort and extra warmth, it works well over a base layer in warmer conditions or over insulation when it’s cold; you only need to add a shell in heavy or persistent rain. The polyester fabric is recycled, blue sign-certified, durable and far more breathable than a waterproof shell. The cut is generous with long sleeves and both cuff and hem adjustment.
Smartwool Smartloft Jacket
This versatile hybrid jacket features a weather resistant, wool insulated, recycled nylon chest panel, and breathable recycled polyester/merino wool mix back and sleeves. 50% of the wool insulation is recycled and all the wool is responsibly sourced. Best worn as an outer in cool, dry conditions, especially if you’re carrying a pack, it’s also a good insulation layer under a shell. Slim fit with three zipped pockets.
Berghaus Cuillin Insulated Hoody
Mid-weight, with recycled polyester fabric and insulation, this hoody is durable and weather-resistant enough for use as an outer for cold weather walking. It’s also an excellent emergency jacket that packs up small enough to stash in a pack but offers a lot of warmth if you need it. It’s a good-looking jacket, with a slim cut and longer length, and includes a snug hood and three zipped pockets.
Montane Anti-Freeze Packable Hooded Down Jacket
Down insulation is very breathable, so this warm, light and packable jacket works well in a range of conditions as an outer or insulation layer. It’s comfortable on the move and ideal for lunch stops, with zipped handwarmer pockets and a peaked hood. The recycled nylon outer is durable, wind-resistant and shower proof. The RDS-certified down is also water-resistant, so it won’t lose its loft when damp. Sizes slightly small.
Rab Scimitar Windstopper Jacket
Walk magazine Best in Test
This tough and protective softshell quickly became a favorite everyday jacket. The Gore Infinium membrane and polyester fabric is windproof and keeps you dry in light rain but is more breathable and more comfortable than a shell jacket. It features a peaked hood, three zipped pockets and pit-zips for extra ventilation. Excellent over a baselayer in cool weather or over insulation in the cold, you’ll only need a shell in heavy or persistent rain.
Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody
With its smart, matt finish nylon Schoeller fabric and stylish but relaxed cut, this jacket looks good enough to use for everyday as well as walking wear. It performs well in the hills, offering good weather resistance, durability and warmth. Quick-drying PrimaLoft Silver insulation makes it most suitable for use as a colder weather walking jacket or insulation layer. The hood fits snugly, and there are three handy zipped pockets.
Jack Wolfskin Feldberg 3in1 Jacket
Although fairly expensive, the Feldberg combines a fully waterproof shell jacket with a warm, weather-resistant insulated jacket. The two zip together creating an insulated waterproof, or they can be worn separately. This versatile system offers warmth and weather protection for year-round walking. Ethically produced using blue sign certified recycled materials, the cut is generous, the outer has three zipped pockets and an adjustable hood, and the inner includes hand warmer pockets.
66° North Vatnajökull Shell Jacket
Designed for protection in challenging conditions, this durable softshell uses weatherproof Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric. It’s not fully waterproof as the seams aren’t sealed but it’s far more breathable than a shell jacket and the seamless shoulder construction means it copes well with moderate rain. The fabric is stretchy and comfortable with a soft lining, fitted hood and three zipped pockets. Expensive but well-made and tough, so should last many years.
Nikwax Tech Wash and TX. Direct twin pack
Tech Wash safely cleans technical fabrics, while TX Direct rejuvenates the water-resistant coating. Instructions included so it’s easy to do at home. Nikwax products are water based and PFC-free.
Gear Aid Repair Tape
Super strong repair tape that sticks to almost any surface and provides a quick and long-lasting repair. Available in a range of colours to match or stand out. Lots of repair instructions and tips on the Gear Aid website.
Gear Aid Zipper Cleaner + Lubricant
Zip care for plastic, metal or nylon zips, the brush tip lubricates between the zip teeth and cleans any trapped debris. Use regularly to keep your zips running freely and reduce wear.
Sheffield Clothing Repair
Most problems can be fixed for a fraction of the cost of a new jacket. The most common repairs are failed zips (£25 - £45), failed seam taping (£25 - £75) and rips or tears (£25 - £50). Repairs are professionally finished and turn around is quick.
Our gear testers, Sim & Jen Benson have a wealth of outdoor and walking experience. They provide regular gear reviews and kit advice in Walk magazine, the Ramblers quarterly magazine that forms part of your Ramblers membership benefits. Join today from only £3.21 per month.
Ramblers Members also receive a 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, home to many of the outdoor brands featured in this article and a great place to get expert advice on walking gear. When this discount is used a percentage of the purchase price is returned to the Ramblers to help us look after the places you love to explore.
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