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Best Waterproof Jackets Under £200

Reviews of the best waterproof jackets under £200 with lightweight stretch waterproof shell fabrics from the top outdoor brands.

Top-end waterproof fabrics are getting better and better, but what you might not know is that so are the next tier down, lightweight waterproof mountain jackets priced under £200 and often using what are known as 2.5-layer fabrics.

We’ve picked out four of the best in the category all of them using stretch fabrics: Mountain Equipment Gryphon, OMM Kamleika Race Jacket II, Mountain Hardwear Stretch Plasmic and Marmot Artemis.

All are specced for all-round hill and mountain use and are light enough for spring/summer conditions where they’ll be spending significant time in your pack rather than on your back.

So to to check out the jackets either scroll down the page or skip to your favourite brand using the link below.

Marmot | Mountain Equipment | Mountain Hardwear | OMM

Marmot Artemis Jacket – £200 / 340g

Review

The Artemis is all about the breathability of the NanoPro Membrain fabric – Marmot claims moisture vapour transmission rate of 47,000 g/24h and a hydrostatic head spec of 10,000mm, which is remarkably high. And for once, we have to say that real life results do seem to live up to the hype. The jacket is one of the most breathable waterproofs we’ve tried and up to serious uphill thrashing as well as running and biking. A great call if you run hot, fast and sweaty.

The rest of the jacket is familiar Marmot alpine-style shell. The fit isn’t quite as refined as ME’s but it’s cut long and slim with plenty of stretch in the fabric for both fit and mobility thanks to the proven Angel Wing cut. There are venting pockets and pit-zips for cooling breeze induction and a decent helmet hood, though the mouldable, laminated peak is a little on the soft side by UK standards.

Finally, the Artemis is impressively light for an alpine shell at a measured 340g, halfway between the MHW and ME jackets.

Pros

The cut and features are both decent – there’s a Vislon zip for example – but where the Artemis plays a blinder is in the breathability department. It scores as well in real life as it does in the lab and means you stay comfortable for longer when you’re really pushing on.

Cons

The hood peak is a little on the soft side, something it has in common with many US jackets and while the fabric uses a polyamide / Nylon face, the soft feels has us wondering how durable it would be if really abused.

Best For

Weight conscious hot and sweaty mountaineers, walkers and alpinists.

More info: www.marmot.com.

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Mountain Equipment Gryphon Jacket – £190 / 370g

Review

Mountain Equipment’s big story this spring is its own-brand Drilite fabric, a 2.5-layer monolithic PU membrane which transmits moisture by a sort of chemical wicking process rather than using micro-pores. It works pretty well with decent breathability though not as well as top-end fabrics like Gore-Tex Pro and similar.

Where the Gryphon scores top marks though is its exceptional cut based on the alpine fit developed in a two-year project with Swiss pattern cutters. It has a Goldilocks ‘just right’ thing going on with a beautifully close fit that also manages to be utterly non-restrictive – you really need to try it to understand, but it’s superb.

On top of that, you get all of ME’s proven UK-friendly mountain design features: an excellent helmet-compatible hood that fits well and adjusts easily, pockets that clear belts and harnesses and it still weighs under 400g. It won’t be as tough or as breathable as ME’s similarly specced Gore-Tex Pro jackets, but if you can live with that, you’re getting a full-on mountain shell for over £100 less.

Pros

The cut, the cut and the cut – absolutely outstanding and arguably the best out there bar none, though Arc’teryx might have something to say about that. Add in the proven HC helmet hood with its wired brim and sorted design and you’re onto a winner. There’s a women’s specific version too.

Cons

Not as breathable as the top-end fabrics or Marmot’s new Membrain Pro fabric featured next.

Best For

Superbly cut all mountain shell jacket with climbing capabilities.

More info: www.mountain-equipment.co.uk.

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Mountain Hardwear Stretch Plasmic Jacket – £170 / 290g

Review

New for spring/summer 2014, the MHW Stretch Plasmic follows on from the original entry-level Plasmic Jacket, but has more features including pit-zips and – the clue is in the name – stretch. To be fair it’s more ‘give’ than elasticated boinginess, but it’s there and combined with the dry-feeling 2.5 layer fabric, gives the jacket a really nice feel.

If the fabric works like the original Plasmic – watch this space for a full review – then breathability should be decent, without being outstanding, but then with a weight of just 290g it’s going to be as happy sat in your pack until needed for summer downpours as being worn.

Pros

Things we like about the Stretch Plasmic include a nice fitting hood that moves with your head, a sleek, close, athletic cut which the stretch helps to keep unrestrictive, the mad green colour which is more vivid in real life than in pics and a good list of features for the weight including handy, unobtrusive mini pit-zips.

Cons

The pit-zips need an added cord loop on the zip-pull to make them useable and in an ideal world, we’d add a wired brim to the lightly stiffened peak. No women’s version currently.

Best For

Balance of lightness and features at a decent price.

More info: www.mountainhardwear.eu.

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OMM Kamleika Race Jacket II – £160 / 260g

Review

Kamleika has been around for yonks and is often overlooked, but it’s a super-stretchy, minimal rustle, soft-feel fabric that we really like. While the stripped-down Kamleika Race Smock is aimed at gramme-counting mountain marathon types, the revised Jacket version is much more of a fast and light all-rounder with a more forgiving cut.

It’s still pretty light though at 261g for our medium test jacket and has a more modern look thanks to new colours and water-resistant zippers plus even more stretch thanks to new stretch tape on the seams.

The pay-off for all that stretch is that the jacket has a neat, close fit to it that’s completely non-restrictive and works equally well for running, biking, light walking and even wet weather road-cycling, though the hood does get in the way there. If you do get hot, roll up the sleeves and use the mesh-lined pockets for additional venting.

The hood is more lightweight minimal with very limited stiffness than a mountain one, but then it’s aimed at fast movers rather than gnarly mountaineers.

Pros

If stretch and neat cut with a drop-tail is your thing, they don’t come much stretchier than Kamleika. The quiet, soft feel makes it a pleasure to wear when running and biking and the fit is close but non-restrictive because of the give in the fabric. We also like all the reflective bits – great for night time use.

Cons

Hood is a little soft in the brim plus the 65% Polyester fabric isn’t the toughest option out there.

Best For

Comfortable fast-moving multi-sport option with unique levels of stretch and quiet performance.

More info: www.mountain-equipment.co.uk.

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