How to Choose the Right Waterproof Jacket

The saying “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes” hails from Scandinavia where it is frequently repeated by parents who insist that their children spend time outdoors every day.

Fjällräven’s EcoShell – constructed of a high performance, low environmental impact fabric.
Image: Angus Whitby

Whilst the phrase is slightly more eloquent in Swedish as it rhymes “Det finns inget sådant som dåligt väder, bara dåliga klåder”, the message is nevertheless the same; don’t let the weather stop you from enjoying the outdoors!

An essential ingredient for any outdoor activity in inclement weather is a good quality waterproof jacket which will protect you from the wind and rain. Not all waterproof jackets are made equal, with differing materials, construction and waterproofing technology influencing performance, protection and durability. When looking to buy a waterproof jacket, it’s important to consider what it’s likely to be used for, to ensure it’s appropriate for that activity. Lightweight jackets pack up small and weigh very little however they offer very little abrasion resistance and are unlikely to last long if you’re using them for heavy rucksack-carrying. Similarly, thicker, robust waterproof jackets will offer excellent durability and weather protection but are likely to be hotter and sweatier when used in the warmer months.

A good quality waterproof jacket means you’ll be able to make the most of days like this to enjoy the outdoors.

Breathability is another consideration and relates to how well the waterproof jacket manages moisture on the inside (ie sweat). Given variations in undergarments (layering), weather and the level of activity, it’s hard to judge breathability but in general, a cheaper waterproof is unlikely to offer the same comfort as a more expensive waterproof jacket.
Today, we bring you the best waterproof jackets for men and women based on the intended use.

Waterproof Jackets for General Outdoor Use

These waterproof jackets are suitable for a wide range of activities including day to day use, commuting, dog walking as well as day hikes in the hills. We would advise against these jackets for heavy pack carrying and sustained mountain use.

Waterproof jackets for general outdoor use typically strike a balance between comfort, performance and longevity.
Image: Angus Whitby

Montane Atomic

Lightweight and versatile, the Atomic is a no-fuss light-duty jacket waterproof jacket. The Pertex Shield® waterproof coating combined with the Dry Touch printed inner provides simple and effective waterproofing (these sorts of waterproof fabric constructions do feel a little clammy against the skin during higher intensity activities; Montane have, however, equipped the Atomic with underarm pit zips to help ventilate the jacket). The Montane Atomic is our pick as an excellent everyday carry jacket, the sort that takes up little space in a work bag and is on hand ready to be worn at the first sign of foul weather.

Montane Atomic Jacket, available in Men’s and Women’s.

Haglӧfs Astral

The Astral is a unique waterproof jacket amongst our line up; an excellent protective layer for on the hill but also incredibly comfortable for daily use. Available in both a men’s and women’s, the Astral is made from a tried and tested GORE-TEX® 2-layer construction and features an incredibly soft face fabric and lining. Haglӧfs’ decision to opt for softer fabrics in the Astral’s construction makes the jacket both incredibly comfortable to wear but also very quiet with little to no ‘swish’ from the fabric as you move about in it. This is an excellent choice for on the street as much as on the mountain.

Haglöfs Astral Jacket, available in Men’s and Women’s.

Waterproof Jackets for Fast and Light Activities

Featherweight fabrics with a slim, athletic cut and higher breathability ratings make these jackets perfect for high-intensity activities like cycling and running.

Open Airist Hector prepared for anything during the recent Scafell SkyRace trail running event.

Rab Charge

Looking for an excellent trail running or cycling waterproof jacket? Look no further! New for 2020, the Rab Charge is a crazy-light waterproof shell with exceptional breathability designed for mountain runners where weight is at a premium. Made from a 2.5L Pertex Shield® construction, the Charge has a rather slim cut (no excess fabric to flap around on an exposed ridgeline) but has a stretch element added to it for added flexibility. Cyclists will appreciate the longer length of the Charge through the body which will provide sufficient coverage to the lower back when hunched over the handlebars. On our scales, the Rab Charge weighs around 215g (Men’s Medium) and packs into a small supplied stuff sack.

Mammut Convey Tour HS

Since its arrival earlier this year, the Convey Tour has proven to be an instant hit, balancing performance with practicality. As a full-featured waterproof shell, it carries an extensive list of refinements; waterproof zippers, pit zips and a fully adjustable hem, hood and handcuffs, all in an incredibly lightweight, breathable package thanks to the use of GORE-TEX® PacLite 2.5-layer fabric. Whilst the Convey Tour is an excellent performer on the hill, those looking for a jacket to cover all situations will appreciate the soft-touch face fabric and discrete branding, making this a suitable candidate for use on the street.

Montane Fleet Jacket

There is more than meets the eye with the Montane Fleet Jacket. The Fleet is constructed of two different weights of GORE-TEX® fabrics to maximise performance and minimise weight. With a lightweight 30-denier GORE-TEX® Active Shell through the body and a heavier duty 40-denier GORE-TEX® ripstop through the shoulders and hips, this high-performance waterproof shell is body-mapped to provide extra wear resistance at key points of contact (ie whilst wearing a rucksack) whilst offering enhanced breathability where it counts.

Waterproof Jackets for Mountain Use

These waterproof jackets are true hardshell jackets and are typically constructed of thicker, more robust textiles and stiffer fabrics to offer enhanced abrasion resistance as well as higher-performing waterproof fabric technologies. With mountain use extreme conditions in mind, many of these jackets will offer oversized hoods for use over a helmet and napoleon pockets which sit a little higher than hand pockets, allowing access to items when using a rucksack or harness.

Open Airist Matt ice climbing in Scotland.
Image: James Beattie

Haglӧfs Roc Spire

The Roc Spire by Haglӧfs is a force to be reckoned with! This four-season alpine hardshell is constructed of a durable, yet lightweight 3-layer GORE-TEX® waterproof / breathable fabric and features a 3-way adjustable helmet-compatible hood, sealed zippers (including underarm pit zips) as well as a RECCO® avalanche reflector built into the hood that aids rescue workers in searching for you should the unthinkable happen. We like the efforts that Haglӧfs have gone to, to reduce the number of seams in the Roc Spire; there are no seams in the shoulder panel, lower side and lower inner sleeves, reducing chafing while enhancing durability. Haglӧfs are well regarded for their well-thought-out garments and the Roc Spire is an excellent example of Haglӧfs’ attention to detail

Rab Kangri

Looking for the perfect waterproof jacket for UK mountain conditions? Look no further than the Rab Kangri jacket. Constructed from an ever-reliable GORE-TEX® waterproof and breathable membrane with an incredibly tough 70-denier nylon face fabric, the Rab Kangri is designed to last through many years of use (and abuse!). The fit on the Kangri is rather generous, with plenty of room to fit additional layers, allowing for full freedom of movement and still keeping you fully protected from the elements. Unlike many mountain hard shells that are often quite short in the body, taller users will appreciate the longer length of the Kangri through the body. An elasticated cinch-cord through the waist can be drawn in to remove the excess room, both enhancing the silhouette of the jacket but also reducing excess fabric flapping about in the wind. A truly excellent winter hillwalking hardshell.

Rab Kangri – available in Men’s and Women’s.

Fjällräven Keb EcoShell

The Keb EcoShell is an incredibly high-performance waterproof jacket constructed from a low environmental impact fabric from legendary Swedish outdoor brand, Fjällräven. The fit and cut on the Keb EcoShell has been meticulously tweaked for a perfect fit, offering full freedom of movement (helped in part by the stretch Fjällräven have engineered into the recycled-polyester fabric.) With a helmet-compatible hood, spacious chest pockets with discrete expanding bellows (that are still perfectly functional, even if you’re wearing a harness or rucksack) and two-way side vents for releasing excess heat, the Keb EcoShell is designed to keep you dry and comfortable for mountain adventures in the worst of conditions.

Fjällräven Keb EcoShell, available for Men and Women.

You can view the above examples in person at our store on Green Street, Cambridge or online at our website.

If you need any assistance in selecting your next waterproof jacket, we’d be only too happy to provide assistance.

Thank you for reading!

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