Pick your perfect waterproof jacket from our list of favourites and you’ll be protected, come rain or shine
If you only invest in one great piece of outdoor clothing, make it a waterproof jacket. Waterproof outer layers are a lifesaver in the great outdoors, regardless of whether you’re hitting a remote trail or just taking the dog for a walk in the park. They’ll keep you warm and dry, and allow you to stay out in the elements when everyone else is running for cover.
Here you’ll find our favourite waterproof jackets for men and women, and they’re all comfortable, great quality and reliably waterproof. We’ve included some technically tough jackets designed for long days in the mountains, some cheap and cheerful options that’ll still keep out the rain, and smarter jackets that are ideal for everyday use.
Not sure which kind of jacket is best for you, or what type of waterproof fabric suits the kind of activities you’ll be doing? Read on for our handy buying guide.
Best waterproof jackets: At a glance
- Best for night-time adventures: Provis Classic Active jacket | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- Best all-rounder: Rab Kangri | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- Best packable jacket: Patagonia Torrentshell | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- Best for sports: Gore R7 Shakedry | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- Best affordable jacket for hikers: Fohn Supercell | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
How to choose the best waterproof jacket for you
How do I get the right fit?
Think about how and where you’ll be wearing your new jacket. If you want to wrap up for casual use in the winter months, pick a roomier design that allows lots of layers beneath it; at the very least, you’ll want to be able to wear a mid-layer and a base layer without it feeling too snug. Or choose a jacket that’s insulated as well as waterproof. For fast-paced hiking or cycling, a lightweight, form-fitting and breathable jacket will serve you best.
Try on jackets in person and check that they feel comfortable and flexible, and don’t ride up when you move your arms. The sleeves, waist and neck should fit snugly so they won’t let in cold air or water. Make sure the hood fits well around your head and can be drawn in tight if needed. If you’re picking a jacket for mountaineering or cycling, choose a design that’s helmet-compatible. Waterproof jackets are usually designed to be gender-specific but women who don’t mind a boxier fit will often find men’s jackets a good choice as well.
READ NEXT: These are the best base layers to buy
What key features should I look out for?
The two key features of a good hardshell jacket are waterproofing and breathability. Like hiking boots, jackets use a waterproofing agent to repel liquids. These are either own-brand technology or a recognisable name like Gore-Tex (when in doubt, a jacket with Gore-Tex is always a reliable choice). You may see the level of waterproofing of a jacket (the technical term for which is “hydrostatic head”) labelled in millimetres. As a guide, up to 1,500mm is only water-resistant, and won’t be properly waterproof; 1,500mm to 5,000mm is waterproof and good for most wet conditions; 10,000mm and above is highly waterproof, best for mountain conditions and will also work well for snow sports. For tackling heavy rain, you’ll also need a jacket with taped seams, which prevents water from seeping through the stitching.
Next up, breathability. The cheapest waterproof jackets and packable macs are best avoided for anything more strenuous than a festival or gentle walk as they don’t usually offer any level of breathability, which means that even if they do stop the rain from getting in, you’ll be damp with sweat from the inside. If you’ll be working up a sweat, it’s best to choose a highly breathable jacket so you don’t overheat. Underarm ventilation zips (or pit zips) are really useful for regulating your body temperature, too.
Other features are largely down to personal preference, but a stiff peak to the hood is good for wet-weather walking. Pockets are useful, too, but check their zips are sealed or protected, or you’ll find that the contents will get wet.
How do I care for my waterproof jacket?
Once you own your perfect jacket, you’ll need to look after it. If it begins to lose its ability to repel water, your best bet is to clean it with a specialised cleaning product such as Nikwax’s Tech Wash. The tell-tale warning sign is that water will no longer bead on the surface and instead the outer fabric will become saturated, an effect known as wetting out. Be cautious of using standard detergents as they can impede the performance of some waterproof fabrics.
Some waterproof jackets, such as those using Gore-Tex’s range of waterproof fabrics, can be restored to their former glory by popping them in the tumble dryer on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. This process can potentially reactivate the durable water repellent (DWR) outer coating, but it won’t work forever. After a while, you’ll need to use a spray-on or wash-in waterproofing treatment like Nikwax’s TX-Direct to get it back to its former waterproof self.
The best waterproof jackets to buy for men and women
1. Rab Kangri Gore-Tex jacket: A brilliant all-round waterproof jacket
The Kangri GTX might not be cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. This is a great choice for everything from multi-day hikes to a quick jaunt through the worst that the UK weather can throw at you. There are men’s and women’s specific versions of this design, which is fully waterproofed with Gore-Tex and shot through with a litany of clever little design touches. Water-resistant zips shield the two large external pockets from water ingress, and the main zip has a storm flap to banish water from making its way inside.
There’s plenty of storage, too: the internal pocket is big enough to house your smartphone, and external pockets provide enough room for a clutch of full-sized maps. Worried that you might get too hot? Big under-arm zips allow you to get some air moving without having to strip off your rucksack, and adjusters allow you to cinch the hood and hemline when the weather turns nasty. The latest iteration of this ever-popular jacket is made with fully recycled materials, too.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Gore-Tex (28,000mm); Main material: Recycled Nylon; Weight: 525g
2. Columbia OutDry Extreme Mesh Jacket: A packable waterproof jacket for the great outdoors
The Columbia OutDry Extreme shell doesn’t use Gore-Tex technology like a lot of pricier rivals, but Columbia’s in-house OutDry Extreme fabric sheds downpours very effectively. Externally taped seams and zippers ensure zero leaks, underarm vents keep the air flowing when the temperature rises, and the fabric is breathable, too. Our favourite thing about the jacket, however, is that it’s super supple and barely rustles at all as you walk.
At a featherweight 210 grams, it won’t weigh you down and is easy to pack away in the smallest of backpack pockets.
Key specs – Waterproofing: OutDry Extreme with externally taped seams; Main material: Nylon; Weight: 210g
3. Target Dry Outback (for women) and Stockman (for men) coat: The best waterproof jacket for country walks
Target Dry’s full-length waterproof coats for men and women combine classic looks with good waterproofing and manage to look as smart as some jackets twice the price. Both the female Outback design and the male Stockman design offer generous coverage down to the knees. Wide shoulder panels help water run off the coat, and removable hoods keep your face and hair dry.
The coat’s main material is waterproofed to 5,000mm, and taped seams help keep you cosy and dry inside. The soft check lining adds welcome warmth, but prevents these coats from being very breathable – they’re best used on chilly winter country walks or horse rides where you need protection and won’t be working up too much of a sweat.
Key specs – Waterproofing: 5,000mm; Main material: Polyester; Weight: N/A
4. Fjallraven High Coast Hydratic Jacket: Best for everyday use
It may be on the pricier end of the spectrum but this supremely versatile waterproof more than justifies the expense. Light and easy to pack away, it’s ideal for tossing in a rucksack if you’re worried about getting caught in a summer rain shower, whilst the fit is loose enough to allow space for extra layers to be worn underneath during the colder months. It’s not the most breathable fabric, but zippers on the side provide ample ventilation to help you stay cool if you find yourself overheating when walking the dog, commuting to work, or on a leisurely stroll through the countryside.
With an HH rating of 10,000mm, you can rely on this jacket to keep you dry during everything but extreme and persistent downpours. Plus, if you should find yourself out in nastier weather conditions, you can adjust the cuffs and cinch the hood to further protect yourself from the rain.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Durable water repellent (10,000mm); Main material: Polyamide; Weight: 317g (men’s) 281g (women’s)
5. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket: The best waterproof jacket for active travellers
Travelling light? You may get on well with Patagonia’s popular Torrentshell. Lightweight and packable, the Torrentshell weighs just 343g, stuffs down into its own pocket and can fit into the bottle pocket of a backpack. It’s our best pick for globetrotters, and for hikers who don’t like to be weighed down on the trail. When the heavens open, the Torrentshell boasts a massive HH rating of 20,000mm, so will keep you dry even in heavy rain.
We liked the generous pit-zips and the outer material, which feels really durable. The Torrentshell is flattering, too, and available in attractive colours. Plus, Patagonia’s ethical credentials are some of the best in the business, and its manufacturing process has a minimal environmental impact. Our only negative was the hood, which feels a bit too boxy and roomy.
Key specs – Waterproofing: H2No Performance Standard (20,000mm); Main material: Nylon ripstop; Weight: 354g
6. Gore R7 Shakedry Hooded Jacket: Best waterproof jacket for runners, cyclists and athletes
Our favourite in the light-as-a-feather stakes, the barely-there R7 Shakedry jacket weighs a paltry 160g, which is so little that you’ll barely feel it when it’s on. It may be light, but this jacket packs a waterproofing punch thanks to Gore-Tex technology. It’s still highly breathable, unlike most waterproof shells, making it ideal for hiking, running, cycling and other fast-paced sports where you don’t want to overheat while you’re on the go.
The cut is slim and streamlined, with a high neck and narrow cuffs to keep rain out, so if you want to wear warm layers underneath, go for a size up from your usual. This featherweight jacket is overkill for casual outdoor adventures, but for serious runners, cyclists and athletes it’s a fantastic bit of kit.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Gore-Tex; Main material: Polyamide; Weight: 160g
7. Alpkit Balance: A great waterproof jacket for the mountain-bound
If you’re a keen outdoors person who is serious about hiking in the hills in any weather, look no further than Alpkit’s high-performing Balance jacket. The latest incarnation of Alpkit’s best selling design, the Balance was clearly designed with mountain hikers in mind. It’s waterproof to a whopping 20,000mm, lightweight enough to keep you comfortable all day, and nicely cut to move as you do.
When on test, we found the Balance very comfortable and breathable, even when worn all day in the rain. The climbing-compatible hood fits well and stays put in high winds. The Balance is pricey, but it’s worth the spend if you like to get out in any weather. Go for a size up if you want to wear a down jacket underneath.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Durable Water Repellent (20,000mm); Main material: Nylon; Weight: 405g
8. Montane Phase jacket: Best for hikers
Headed for the hills? The Montane Phase is the perfect companion for the peaks. This smart and streamlined jacket repels rips and scuffs as well as it does heavy rain thanks to a tough 40 Denier outer shielding a Gore-Tex membrane.
The peaked hood is brilliant, and we found it very comfortable to wear even for all-day treks, with good breathability and a nice longer cut that protects your torso. The Phase also fits neatly under backpacks and harnesses, making it great for hikes and scrambles on higher ground.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Gore-Tex; Main material: Nylon; Weight: 380g
9. Fohn Supercell 3L jacket: The best waterproof for mountain hiking
Fohn’s new Supercell 3L 2.0 waterproof is designed to tackle mountain trails in any weather. This sleek, rather minimalist jacket is fully waterproofed thanks to its 3-layer construction and a 20,000mm hydrostatic head, so it’ll see off even heavy downpours. Taped seams and a well-constructed hood further help to keep rain and wind at bay. We like the soft-touch inner lining, which feels much nicer against the skin than many plasticky jackets, too.
The fabric is reasonably breathable, and there are underarm vents to further help regulate temperature if you’re working hard. The fit is great too – roomy enough to wear a down jacket underneath and fitting nicely under a backpack. It’s a pity the men’s version only comes in dark colours, as the women’s bright orange colourway is ideal for making you more visible in poor conditions. All in all, excellent value for money.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Durable Water Repellent (25,000mm); Main material: Nylon; Weight: 400g (women’s) 464g (men’s)
10. Proviz Classic Active Running jacket: Ideal for night-time
Heading out after dark? Protect yourself from the rain and stay safe with Proviz’ Classic Active jacket. Updated for 2023, this highly reflective jacket is fully waterproof – it has a hydrostatic head rating of 15,000mm – and lightweight at 250g, so is perfect for wet weather workouts. The Classic Active is cut specifically for more active wear, so it moves with you as you run or cycle without feeling restrictive. Best of all, you can keep your hands free by popping your phone in the pockets – the zips are fully waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about soaking your phone.
All versions of the jacket sport reflective stripes to keep you safer when you’re running at night, and there’s also a fluorescent yellow version for even better visibility – ideal if you regularly cycle or run on roads after work or in the early mornings.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Durable Water Repellent (15,000mm); Main material: Nylon; Weight: 250g
11. On Running Explorer jacket: Best for runners
Love to run in rain or shine? On Running achieve the elusive marriage of style and substance in the Explorer jacket, which marries effective weatherproofing with on-trend styling. The boxy cut and neutral colours of the Explorer jacket make it smart enough to wear to work in the city as well as tough enough to deal with weekends in the country, and on test we found its water-resistant treatment repelled rain effectively.
We also loved the longer cut, which offers more warmth and protection around the hips than most models. Plenty of pockets and a packaway hood are handy extras.
Key specs – Waterproofing: Durable Water Repellent (15,000mm); Main material: Polyester; Weight: 601g