One of the greatest things about the Great Outdoors is that, to all intents and purposes, it is free for us all to enjoy. Short of some crazy, seismic event like a global pandemic (ahem), it is always accessible and open to all. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no barriers to entry – and unfortunately, one of those barriers can still come down to the money in your pocket (or lack of it). Indeed, in some instances, the latest high-end outdoor kit can sometimes seem unjustifiably expensive.
But that shouldn’t stop anybody from getting out there, because kitting yourself out to enjoy our hills and mountains needn’t cost the earth. By shopping savvy, it is entirely possible to pick up plenty of bargains on everything from boots to rucksacks. Similarly, there are numerous outdoor brands that cater to buyers on a budget, producing practical and dependable gear that won’t break the bank. As it happens, we’ve got some useful advice on smarter shopping in our article on buying budget outdoor gear.
You don’t even need to ‘shell out’ big bucks on your shell. Of course, a reliable waterproof jacket is one bit of kit that will always prove a shrewd investment, especially here in the UK, where, after all, it rains on average for 156.2 days per year. But if you are on a tight budget, don’t despair – we can help. We’ve scoured the market to bring you a crop of quality waterproofs, all of which are priced at around £100 or less. And that’s their recommended retail price (RRP), by the way – shop around and you can normally pick them up for far less. In fact, we’ve included a target price for each product to give you a sense of how much you might actually expect to pay.
By the way, if you’re not too limited by cost, our article on the best waterproof jackets will fill you in on the latest and greatest options out there this year.
The selection in this round up includes a wide range of different options, from light and packable ‘just in case’ jackets to proper hillwalking waterproofs that are built to do battle with the worst of the weather. And though it’s difficult to find Gore-Tex levels of waterproof-breathable protection in this price bracket, it is possible to buy jackets employing cheaper, own-brand technologies that still offer good levels of performance for the majority of outdoor users.
Aside from the type of waterproof protection on offer, it’s also important to consider other features. If you’re a keen mountain biker and trail runner, then a lightweight and breathable jacket will be the best option for you. A jacket with a versatile set of features – like a good hood, plenty of pockets, an adjustable hem and cuffs, for example – makes for a great multi-activity jacket that can be used and abused wherever you take it.
What To Look For When Buying a Rain Jacket
Fit – A good fit is important for any bit of outdoor kit, but it is absolutely vital when it comes to your waterproof shell. It shouldn’t be too tight, or you’ll struggle to zip it up over your other layers, but equally if it’s too baggy it’ll flap around in the wind. Similarly, poorly fitting hoods or cuffs will leak rain, while a loose hem restricts mobility and will allow wind and rain to whip in under your shell. Remember, a cheaper waterproof jacket that fits properly will keep you warmer and drier than a top of the range £400 Gore-Tex Pro jacket that doesn’t fit right.
Venting – Most hard shells use a waterproof-breathable membrane that is designed to stop rain getting in whilst allowing moisture vapour to escape, which is usually referred to as breathability. But if you still find yourself starting to overheat and sweat, manufacturers are also able to increase venting through the use of pit zips and mesh lined pockets.
Zips – These are often weak points in waterproof jacket construction, since it’s pretty tricky to make a fully waterproof zipper. Look for laminated or reverse-coil zips (when the teeth face inwards), as these are usually more water-resistant and less likely to leak. Similarly, look for zips that are covered or backed with a storm flap. Storm flaps helps to stop water getting through and soaking your inner layers.
Hoods – Hoods come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with similarly varied types of adjustment. Being able to reduce the overall volume of the hood is useful, to stop it billowing around in the wind, and getting a tight fit around the face is preferable too. If you’re climbing a lot, then hood that fits over a climbing helmet is essential.
Pockets – A few pockets are useful for stuffing snacks and other essentials in throughout the day. Hand or hip pockets are also good for keeping hands warm, but if they’re placed too low then they often can’t be used whilst wearing a rucksack. Climbers generally prefer Napoleon chest pockets, which remain accessible even if wearing a harness.
So, here it is – our round-up of the best budget waterproofs for under £100.
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The Best Value Rain Jackets For Around £100 Or Less
- Rab Downpour, £100 – Best Value Rain Jacket
- Jack Wolfskin Pack & Go, £78
- Alpkit Argonaut, £90
- Sprayway Rebu, £100
- Keela Stashaway Pro, £60
- Quechua MH500 jacket, £65
- Helly Hansen Roam 2.5L jacket, £120
- Columbia Inner Limits II Jacket, £90
- Berghaus Deluge Pro 2.0, £90
- Montane Meteor Jacket, £110
BEST BUY: Rab Downpour Jacket
Price (RRP) £100 | Target price £85
Best for: Hiking, hillwalking and general outdoor use
Key attributes: Packable yet fully-featured
The Downpour jacket is Rab’s entry-level waterproof, a shell that takes all of the brand’s mountain know-how and distills it down into a very competent all-rounder for general outdoors use. Made with a Pertex Shield 2.5-layer fabric that has a Dry Touch backer for added comfort, the Downpour offers good waterproof performance. In fact, Rab claims a pretty impressive 20,000mm Hydrostatic Head (HH) figure for the latest version of the Pertex Shield PU laminate. Breathability isn’t quite as good, but this is offset by that Dry Touch backer that means this jacket rarely gets uncomfortably clammy. It also boasts pit zips for venting – a useful technical feature that you don’t often find at this price point.
In addition, you also get an adjustable, peaked hood that can be rolled down and fixed in place, and Velcro adjustable cuffs as well as zippered pockets with storm flaps. The main YKK zip isn’t a reverse-coil but has external and internal storm flaps to guard against water ingress. The Downpour also packs down into its own left-hand pocket, making it a great ‘just in case’ jacket to stuff in a rucksack. In terms of fit, the overall silhouette is fairly trim, but with plenty of length in the arms and torso. That increased coverage means it feels a bit more protective than many other jackets, so it’s a good option for hillwalkers venturing into more exposed terrain.
The brand’s widespread distribution in the UK, Europe and the USA means the Downpour is available from multiple retailers, both online and in-store. As such, it is often discounted, making it an even better value buy.
Men’s XS-XXL, women’s UK 6-18 / Pertex Shield 2.5-layer construction with Dry Touch backer / 3-way adjustable hood with reinforced polymer peak and roll down closure / YKK front zip with double storm flaps / 2 YKK zipped hand pockets with storm flaps, left side doubles as integrated stuff sack / Pit zips with storm flaps / Velcro adjustable cuffs / Hem drawcord.
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