Best Waterproof Shell Jackets Reviewed 2017
We've tested 20 of the very best waterproof mountain jackets from the top brands and picked our top choices for walking, mountaineering and climbing.
We've reviewed more than 20 of the very best waterproof mountain jackets from the top outdoors brands to help you decide which one would work for you. Each of the short reviews here is linked to our full review for more comprehensive information and pictures.
How We Tested Them
Very simply we used the jackets in the worst conditions we could find for walking, scrambling and occasional mountaineering. We hammered them hard up hills to see how breathable they were. And we hunkered down with the hood up in deluge conditions to make sure the water stayed on the outside.
We also tried some basic tests with every jacket we used: would the hood stay firmly connected to your head and move with it? With climbing jackets, we made sure that the hood fitted over a helmet and still allowed head movement and face protection. We made sure that vents, pockets, zips and adjusters still worked with winter gloves. And we checked that cuffs and hems didn't rise up or restrict movement in use.
Mostly modern waterproof shell jackets are very good indeed. We've tried to give you enough information on features, cut, strengths and weaknesses to allow you to pick one that's best for your personal needs, but if you want more detailed buying advice, check out our new Waterproof Jacket Buyers' Guide.
You can, of course, simply scroll through the article, but if you're interested in a particular brand or jacket, just use the links below to go straight to the relevant section.
Arc'teryx Beta AR: £430 / 460g
'A beautifully-made, distinctively micro-engineered Gore-Tex Pro all-round mountain jacket with an unusual but effective hood design - the Beta AR is every bit as good as you'd expect from innovators Arc'teryx '
PRICE: £430 (SRP)
Outdoors Magic: Great fabric, beautiful construction with top-notch technology, interesting hood design gives superior neck protection. Bling factor and protective feel.
Outdoors Tragic: Gore-Tex Pro is quite noisy. Limited facial protection from hood.
Outdoors Grabbit? A top jacket at a corresponding price. The mix of Gore-Tex Pro fabric and meticulous construction is unmatched and gives a great bombproof feel. The hood sacrifices outright facial protection for a high, very protective collar and in really brutal conditions you may need an additional mask. Overall though it's a superbly made and thoroughly specced all-mountain shell you can use for anything from winter walking through to serious mountaineering.
Super cut, great fabric and impeccable build quality make for one of the best all-round mountain jackets around if you're prepared to supplement the hood on really gnarly days.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket / Gore-Tex Pro 3L fabric / helmet-compatible DropHood / Micro-seam allowance (1.6 mm) / chin guard with brushed microsuede facing / WaterTight™ external zippers / laminated pit zippers / WaterTight™ Vislon front zip/ zipper garages / die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters / adjustable dropback hem / two high-volume hand pockets / internal chest pocket with laminated zip / reinforced shoulders and arms[monetizer101 search='Arcteryx Beta AR Jacket']
Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket: £450 / 570g
'A fantastic portable fortress of a shell jacket capped off with a magnetically-secured hood that works superbly with or without a climbing helmet - genius!'
Outdoors Magic: Genius hood design, bombproof fabric and feel, excellent mountain cut, flawless build quality and components. Great balance of protection and breathability.
Outdoors Tragic: Noisy fabric, vent zips sit under some pack straps, expensive.
Outdoors Grabbit? Yes if you want the ultimate in expedition hard-shell jackets. It has everything you need for technical mountaineering and the best helmet/non-helmet hood design we've ever used. The fabric is tough and proven, every detail has been thought through and the build quality is amazing. A proper portable fortress to shield you from bad weather, though arguably a little over the top for typical UK mountain use.
A proper bombproof expedition shell with some brilliant features like that magnetic hood, which really work. Arguably overkill for most conditions, but if you need an ultra-serious serious jacket here it is.
Expedition mountaineering jacket / Gore-Tex Pro fabric / XpanseBack system / XpanseHood / venting chin-piece / YKK Vislon zips / twin Napoleon chest pockets / twin core-vents doubling as pockets / adjustable hem with drop-tail / adjustable cuffs / Cohaesive cord grips / soft lined collar and chin-guard[monetizer101 search='Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro']
Berghaus Hagshu Jacket: £260 / 590g
'The Berghaus Hagshu Jacket mixes tough, durable own-brand fabric with a bomb-proof hood and decent cut for long-lasting, all-round, all-mountain protection'
Outdoors Magic: Solidly engineered, tough-feeling fabric, effective hood, venting pockets, Vislon main-zip, clean design.
Outdoors Tragic: Slightly heavy, stealth hood adjusters fiddly on the go, middling breathability. Pocket paucity.
Outdoors Grabbit? A proper, solid, all-round mountain jacket with a decent hood, venting pockets and smooth flowing YKK Vislon main zip. It's not super breathable or ostentatiously glamorous, but it's as tough as old boots and gets the job done even in nasty weather. A little pricey for an own-brand fabric, but gets a lifetime guarantee.
Tough unshowy mountain shell with a seriously capable hood and no-nonsense features. A little steamy under pressure, but otherwise decent.
Waterproof mountain jacket / Berghaus Hydroshell Elite Pro 3-layer fabric / 3D venting pockets / helmet compatible hood with wired and stiffened peak / internal mesh pocket / adjustable cuffs and hem / stealth adjuster cords for hem and hood opening / YKK Vislon molded main-zip with internal storm-flap
Black Diamond Helio Shell: £315 / 360g
'Softer, lighter version of Gore-Tex fabric cuts weight and bulk of the neatly-made Helio Shell, but it's quite a specialist lightweight alpine-orientated beast.'
Outdoors Magic: Beautifully put together, softer feel Gore-Tex C-Knit fabric, light and packable, easy to use Cohaesive cord-grips, decently breathable.
Outdoors Tragic: Cut is quite high volume for a lightweight, hood peak has minimal stiffening. Durability?
Outdoors Grabbit? It's Gore-Tex Jim, but not as we know it. The Helio is light, breathable, feels nice and is beautifully constructed. The C-Knit fabric lacks Gore-Tex Pro's toughness though, so we'd say it's quite a specialist shell that works best with a helmet thanks to the lack of peak stiffness. It also has quite a high volume and longer than average cut which won't suit everyone.
Nicely made, but cut on the large size and despite the Cohaesive grips, the single-pull hood and hem adjusters are fiddly to use. Hood could use a stiffened peak for UK winter use.
Lightweight alpine and ski-mountaineering jacket / GORE-TEX with C-Knit backer technology / Cohaesive™ cord management system / full-length pit-zips / custom-moulded cuff tabs / two Napoleon-style cross-access chest pockets / helmet-compatible hood with laminated brim / adjustable hem, cuffs and hood / soft-lined collar.[monetizer101 search='Black Diamond Helio']
Columbia OutDry Ex Platinum: £150 / 410g
'Ugly ducking looks mask beautiful swan performance with consistent breathability thanks to Columbia's radical OutDry Extreme fabric technology.'
Outdoors Magic: Interesting fabric with consistent breathability, pit-zips and venting pockets, deceptively okay hood, comfortable feel.
Outdoors Tragic: Hood could be better for UK use, ugly duckling looks are distinctive, but polarising.
Outdoors Grabbit? If you can get past the distinctive, slightly rubbery looks, the radical 'waterproofing on the outside' fabric is decently breathable and, more importantly, performance stays consistent no matter how long you're out for. The hood turns out to be better than it looks, but could be better for really gnarly use. We'd love to see this fabric in a sleeker fitting, more technical package.
Really interesting technology that gives consistent breathability no matter how long you're out for. Interesting looks and a basic hood cramp its style though.
Waterproof trail and walking jacket / OutDry Extreme fabric / external seam tape / bonded visor, cuffs and hem / adjustable storm hood / pit-zips / water-resistant PU front zipper with storm-flap / Light Rail™ zippered chest and hand pockets / drawcord adjustable hem / drop-tail
Craghoppers Jerome Gore-Tex Jacket: £110 / 630g
'A short-cut, two-layer Gore-Tex jacket with a decent hood that's best suited for lower-level use and happiest with overtrousers'
Outdoors Magic: Reliably waterproof, decently low-level hood, pleasant aesthetics, solid feel from the lined soft fabric.
Outdoors Tragic: Pretty heavy, short cut, fabric not as breathable as some Gore-Tex.
Outdoors Grabbit? If want something for low-level and hill-walking rather than a full-on mountain jacket, the Jerome's quite a neat-looking, short-cut shell made from dependable two-layer Gore-Tex. The spec and styling are neat, but it's a little short for us and the fabric isn't as breathable as more expensive versions of the fabric. Expensive at £220, but at the current £110 price, it's actually very good value.
Shorter-cut lower level walking jackets that's nicely specced and has a decent quality feeler, but could do with more length and, if you run hot, better breathability.
Waterproof hill-walking jacket / 2-layer stretch Gore-Tex fabric / moulded tooth YKK Vislon main-zip/ twin hand-warmer pockets / single phone-sized chest pocket / adjustable hem and cuffs / adjustable hood with stiffened peak
Dannah Alpine Jacket: £320 / 480g
'New UK start-up Dannah hits the hills running with a meticulously-designed, fully-functional all-round mountain shell that's up there with the best on the market'
Outdoors Magic: Meticulous design, ace hood, great fabric with UK-made membrane, excellent cut, Vislon main-zip, glove-friendly features.
Outdoors Tragic: Very slightly tight on the OM test chin.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Dannah brand name may be new, but eponymous founder Rich Dannah has been designing outdoor clothing for years and it shows. Take a great UK-developed fabric, add an innovative, easy-to-use helmet hood, a well-developed fit and features that just do the job and you have a cracking and versatile all-mountain waterproof shell jacket that you can use for everything from hill and mountain walking through to technical mountaineering. A great start for the new brand.
Cracking first jacket from UK start-up with an excellent, innovative hood design, superb functional detailing and a neat but winter-forcedly cut. It uses a UK-membrane-based fabric too.
Waterproof mountain jacket / Porelle Dry microporous 3-layer fabric / A-line hand pockets with Aquaguard vislon zips / Watertight Vislon front zip / reduced seam construction with microtape / Dannah 3D wedge grip corded zip-pull / soft cuff tab with Velcro closure / Dannah High density cold flexible peak / helmet-compatible hood with twin easy to use rear adjusters / scoop hem / pit-zips
Fjällräven Keb Eco Shell Jacket: £390 / 510g
'The Keb Eco-Shell manages to combine retro charm, eco-awareness and soft-feel fabric with impressive real world performance even if gnarly isn't in its vocabulary'
Outdoors Magic: Soft-feel, quiet fabric, beautifully made, good hood, cult retro vibe looks, sustainable credentials. And it keeps you dry too.
Outdoors Tragic: Polyester face fabric may not be as tough as Nylon. Top-end price.
Outdoors Grabbit? Gorgeous fabric, feel and build quality with gentle retro vibe and eco-awareness thrown in makes for something a little bit different, but no less effective. Not as brutally rugged as some more in-your-face technical shells, but still pretty capable just the same. We're slightly wary of the polyester face and soft feel, but our original launch sample is still going strong.
Beautifully soft and sustainable fabric in a generous, walking-friendly longer, looser cut. Great build quality too and a characteristic slightly retro style. We love that UN Blue colour. Only question mark is over the long-term durability of the Polyester face fabric.
Lightweight mountaineering jacket / stretch Eco-Shell fabric with polyester face / twin Napoleon-style chest pockets with media outlet and elastic mesh inner pockets / twin core vents / main water-resistant double-ended, molded zip / adjustable helmet-compatible hood with wired and stiffened peak / adjustable cuffs and hem.
Haglöfs Spitz Jacket: £380 / 470g
'The new Spitz is a super capable. beautifully-fitted, all-round mountain jacket that's being subtly brought up to date from the iconic original design.'
Outdoors Magic: Nice cut, good fabric, proven design, decent helmet-compatible hood.
Outdoors Tragic: Slightly pricey, no Vislon main-zip, hood doesn't cover above chin level.
Outdoors Grabbit? The updated Spitz is still a really nice jacket with a decent hood and a neat, shortish cut, but it's up against some fierce opposition. We're talking small margins here, but we reckon the hood could give more protection to the lower face and at this price, a free-flowing Vislon main-zip should be almost standard. Still a very nice mountain shell though and one that'll have a nostalgic pull for some.
Proof that class and a good cut are permanent. The born-again Spitz shows just how ahead of its times the original was when it launched back in 2007. Upgraded fabric makes it even better, slightly quibble is that we'd prefer more facial coverage from the hood for Scottish winter gnar.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket / Gore-Tex Pro 3L fabric / reinforced shoulders, sleeves, hips, hood areas / twin Napoleon-style chest pockets / pit-zips / water-resistant, PU-backed laminated, water-resistant zips all round / adjustable helmet hood with stiffened and wired peak / adjustable cuffs and hem / inside zipped mesh pocket / lift-pass pocket on upper sleeve
Full Review[monetizer101 search='Haglofs Spitz Jacket']
Jöttnar Asmund Hardshell: £300 / 340g
'The Brit' brand with the Scandi-Noir name has come up with a light, functional alpine jacket with class-leading breathability albeit at a less than lightweight price'
Outdoors Magic: Super breathable, soft-feel, NeoShell fabric, improved cut for 2017, capable hood, great weight and packability.
Outdoors Tragic: Not as outright waterproof as some rival fabrics, longterm durability question-marks.
Outdoors Grabbit? The latest Asmund gets a slimmer cut and 'upgraded nylon face', but its trump card remains the superbly breathable and lightweight Polartec NeoShell fabric making it a good call if you run hot. Question marks remain over the long-term durability and waterproofness of the lightweight fabric, but as a second call, lightweight alpine shell, it rocks.
Slimmed down cut, but higher priced than last year's Asmund. Brilliantly breathable NeoShell fabric meets low weight and small pack size making it an ideal back-up for technical softshell when the snow hits the fan.
Lightweight mountaineering jacket / stretch Polartec® NeoShell® fabric weight: 96g/m²/ twin Napoleon chest pockets with YKK® Aquaguard® water repellent zips / adjustable, helmet-compatible hood / wire-stiffened hood brim with moldable laminate peak / Corded, glove compatible zip pulls / anti-snag split hem draw cords / scooped drop back hem
Jöttnar Bergelmir Hardshell: £450
'Deluxe soft, strong and super breathable NeoShell fabric plus thoughtful design and cut make the Bergelmir a little bit different and a little bit good.'
Outdoors Magic: Fantastic soft and breathable NeoShell fabric, layering-friendly cut, solid feel, thorough spec, capable hood.
Outdoors Tragic: No pit-zips if you do want them, fabric needs care.
Outdoors Grabbit? The fabric is brilliant. Super breathable and with a lovely soft, stretchy feel. The rest ain't bad either. A big helmet hood, top spec components and a cut that's about right for cold weather layering without being baggy or flappy. It's not cheap, but it's a little special and a little different from the Gore-Tex Pro norm. A very nice shell.
The Bergelmir's a top-specced jacket, but what makes it stand out is the amazing soft, but substantial and super-breathable NeoShell fabric. Eerie silence is a welcome change from crackling alternatives.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket / 3L Polartec 80-denier NeoShell fabric / helmet-compatible hood / Velcro adjustable cuffs with Hypalon cuffs / scooped drop-back hem / wire stiffened hood brim with fully moldable laminate peak / anti-snag hem draw cords / YKK® Aquaguard® VISLON® water repellent chest pocket zips / two internal valuables pockets / YKK® Aquaguard® VISLON® water repellent front zip with internal storm flap
Keela Munro: £199.95 / 1070g
'Heavy but oddly effective in the right conditions, the Keela Munro is the brick-style Volvo of waterproof jackets in a heavy and outdated sort of way'
Outdoors Magic: Feature rich, protective feel, okay breathability, warm and with a reasonable hood.
Outdoors Tragic: Improbably heavy, huge, odd, bat-wing cut, hard-to-use pit-zips.
Outdoors Grabbit? The fabric system, though heavy, doesn't do too badly if you run cool, but the design and cut are seriously outdated, or if you prefer, 'traditional'. It's protective all right, but it feels clunky and cumbersome compared to contemporary jackets. And it's phenomenally heavy, over 1000g for a medium, which means it's essentially an all-day jacket. All that and it's relatively expensive too.
Incredibly heavy with a dated cut and very warm too, the Keela 'double-glazed' fabric technology is interesting, but the design needs some serious updating to be competitive.
Heavyweight winter mountain jacket / System Dual Protection fabric / 4-way adjustable roll-away hood / chin-guard / reinforced shoulder panels / two zipped chest-pockets / map-pocket / fleece-lined zipped hand-warmer pockets / detachable snow skirt / 2-way front zipper with double storm flap / adjustable hood, waist, cuffs and hem.
Marmot Red Star Jacket: £220 / 390g
'All on board the Red Star for a magic mix of breathability, lightness, protection and a good spec albeit with a couple of minor quibbles'
Outdoors Magic: Light and decently breathable own-brand fabric, quality components, good venting options, layering-friendly fit.
Outdoors Tragic: Pocket bags sit below waist-belt level, hood brim could be stiffer.
Outdoors Grabbit? Marmot's own-brand NanoPro 3-layer fabric has good breathability and feels light but tough. The generous fit is layering friendly with plenty of space inside for winter insulation and the spec is good and thorough. We have minor quibbles over the deep, belt-fouling pockets and the slightly floppy brim, but overall this is a light, versatile, all-mountain jacket at a competitive price.
Good breathability from the own-brand fabric and a layering-friendly fit, but the overly deep pockets are a weakness and we'd prefer a stiffer hood peak for UK mountain use. Fine with a cap though.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket | Nanopro™ 3 Layer Waterproof/Breathable fabric | 100% Seam Taped | Adjustable Hood with Laminated Moldable Brim | PitZips with Water Resistant Zippers | Water-resistant Zipper Pockets | Asymmetric Cuffs with VELCRO® Adjustment | Interior Zippered Pocket | Elastic Drawcord Hem | Angel-Wing Movement™
Montane Alpine Pro: £330 / 450g
'The Montane Alpine Pro is right up there with the best in its class with cracking mix of great cut, top build quality and ace details - lightweight mobile fortress stuff.'
Outdoors Magic: Tough, light, Gore-Tex Pro fabric, excellent cut, great hood, top build quality, neat detailing.
Outdoors Tragic: Fabric is a little noisy, no reinforcement on high wear areas.
Outdoors Grabbit? Montane's first ever Gore-Tex mountaineering jacket is a cracker. The combination of proven Gore-Tex Pro fabric, a neat, athletic cut and good build quality and detailing plus an effective hood makes for a great lightweight all-rounder. An impressive new arrival from the north-eastern brand. Slight quibble over the 40D fabric throughout - strategic reinforcement might up long-term durability.
Montane's debut Gore-Tex Pro mountain shell is a cracker with an excellent cut, great build quality, carefully chosen features and functionality and a great good too. Right up there with the best shells .
Lightweight mountaineering jacket / 40D Gore-Tex Pro fabric throughout / 12 – 13 stitch count per inch / 3mm seam allowance / adjustable climbing helmet compatible hood / man-sized A-line hand-warmer pockets / single chest pocket / internal right hand side stretch mesh pocket / YKK AquaGuard® VISLON® front zip with internal storm-flap / beardguard lined with brushed fine microfleece / underarm and side chest ‘pit zips’ / gusseted adjustable cuffs / adjustable hem
Mountain Equipment Janak: £300 / 470g
'The Janak's mix of bombproof fabric, sublime fit and a great all-round mountain hood makes it one of the best hunker-down, all-round mountain shell jackets we've used. Recommended.'
Outdoors Magic: Fantastic cut, super tough Gore-Tex fabric throughout, excellent hood, top notch build quality and components.
Outdoors Tragic: The fabric comes with added crackle - it's quite noisy. Just two outside pockets.
Outdoors Grabbit? An excellent, tough, no-nonsense UK mountaineering jacket that's similar to the cracking Lhotse jacket, but slightly lighter despite using a heavier duty fabric throughout. Hard to fault for general mountaineering and mountain walking use, though it has fewer pockets than the Lhotse. Not cheap, but should last a good while.
With the same cut and hood as the Lhotse - below -but a tougher, more durable fabric throughout and a lighter weight, the Janak ditches the chest-pocket. Excellent mountain functionality if you want tougher and can live with the stripped back pocketage.
Mountaineering jacket / 80D Gore-Tex Pro fabric throughout / Storm Construction / Mountain HC Hood / adjustable cuffs and hem / two chest pockets with YKK moulded Aquaguard zips / main moulded Aquaguard® centre front zip / 2-way YKK® WR underarm pit zips with laminated and bonded entry.
Mountain Equipment Lhotse Jacket: £330 / 520g
'Mountain Equipment's iconic Lhotse all-rounder is still the jacket to beat thanks to a mix of great fabric, solid build, über-protective hood and probably the best cut of any shell we've used.'
Outdoors Magic: Proven Gore-Tex Pro fabric, ME's excellent, sleek alpine fit, UK-friendly helmet hood with serious peak, plenty of pockets, solid build, quality components.
Outdoors Tragic: Fabric is quite noisy. Little face protection with helmet under hood.
Outdoors Grabbit? Our benchmark mountain waterproof for the past couple of years, the Lhotse is beautifully cut, uses a proven, tough and breathable fabric. It has one of the best hoods out there, which also works for occasional helmet use. Build quality is excellent and components are top notch. A great waterproof jacket for general mountain use and still hard to beat.
Arguably the definitive UK mountain jacket with a great cut and thoroughly functional feature set. Ideal for mountain walking and occasional mountaineering. For regular helmet use go for an ME jacket with the Alpine HC Hood like the Tupilak.
Waterproof mountain jacket / Gore-Tex Pro 40D fabric with 80D reinforcements / adjustable Mountain HC Hood / ME Alpine fit / 2 large pockets and 1 Napoleon chest pocket, laser cut and laminated with YKK® moulded AquaGuard® zips / 2-way YKK® moulded AquaGuard® centre front zip / 2-way YKK® WR underarm pit zips with laminated and bonded entry / Adjustable laminated cuffs and dual tether hem drawcords / single internal zipped pocket / tab-down hood facility / Storm Construction
Paramo Enduro Jacket 2017: £370 / 790g
'New longer cut Enduro works better for general mountain use than its predecessor, the rest is the same alternative cold/damp-friendly retro-styled cult technology with updated looks.'
Outdoors Magic: Slimmer cut, good breathability with minimal condensation, quiet fabric experience, proper hood, extra warmth and maverick retro vibe. Ethics.
Outdoors Tragic: Relatively heavy, bulky, warmer than conventional waterproofs, divides opinion.
Outdoors Grabbit? Arguably the best Paramo waterproof shell ever is updated for this winter with added length. It's superb in cold, damp, Scottish-style conditions, but added warmth and weight make it an acquired taste. Paramo fans will love it, others may struggle to understand. We like it a lot in deep winter conditions.
The best Paramo jacket yet. Longer cut makes it a better mountain all-rounder, the rest is a mix of classic Nikwax Analogy and new stretch fabrics. Soft and rustle free, warmer than average, great in Scottish winter conditions, but properly love or hate stuff.
Winter mountaineering jacket / Nikwax Analogy fabric / stretch panels in strategic areas / helmet-friendly hood with wired peak / arm vents / twin large chest pockets / map-pocket / fast access chest pocket with Velcro fastening / internal chest pocket / adjustable cuffs and hem / reinforced back panel / 2" drip skirt and scooped tail / reflective piping front and rear
Rab Firewall Jacket: £200 / 470g
'The Firewall's killer combination of soft-feeling, quiet fabric, great cut, top hood and design detail is topped off with the world's best pit-zips at a cracking price.'
Outdoors Magic: Demon pit-zips, nice, quiet fabric with stretch, decent breathability, good cut and at a super-competitive price too.
Outdoors Tragic: Adjusters a little fiddly with gloves, no posh Vislon molded main zip.
Outdoors Grabbit? Brilliant value for a great-feeling 'name' fabric backed up with an excellent cut and the best pit-zips we've ever used. The Firewall's a cracking mountain waterproof all-rounder, with the only signs of cost-cutting being the absence of a modish YKK Vislon main-zip in favour of a standard water-resistant one. A great jacket, particularly at this price.
Proven Rab shell design with radical Escape Artist pit-zip feature that allows rapid full arm evacuation for rapid cooling. Good, hood, pockets aplenty and an excellent price.
Lightweight mountain jacket / NEW Pertex Shield® + 3L fabric with stretch / helmet compatible hood with wired peak and brushed-tricot lined collar / roll-down anti-snag Velcro tab / 2-way YKK® AquaGuard® front zip with dual internal storm flap system / 2 YKK® AquaGuard® zipped A-line chest pockets with rain drain / 1 YKK®AquaGuard® zipped large Napoleon pocket with rain drains / full venting YKK® AquaGuard® Escape Artist™ pit zips / anti-snag Velcro adjustable cuffs / hem drawcord with cord retainers / Reflective trim
Sprayway Zeus Jacket: £260 / 440g
'The Zeus is a really capable all-round UK mountain jacket with a decent hood, but the basic Gore-Tex fabric isn't as breathable as the competition.'
Outdoors Magic: Decent spec, nice cut and thorough design with a capable mountain hood complete with wired peak.
Outdoors Tragic: The fabric is basic 3-layer Gore-Tex and not as breathable as higher spec materials.
Outdoors Grabbit? Sprayway's top of the range shell is a pretty decent bit of kit that's well designed and specced. It's expensive at full price, but we've seen it a lot cheaper online.
The only downside is that the standard issue Gore-Tex fabric isn't as breathable as some more expensive options, making it a tad sweaty at times.
A neatly cut, nicely-featured mountain-walking jacket in normal, no-frills, 3-layer Gore-Tex makes for a dependable shell if you don't run too hot. Can be found for less than the suggested price making it a potential bargain.
Mountain jacket / 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric / helmet compatible mountain hood / adjustable cuffs and hem / two-hand pockets / internal and external chest pockets / YKK moulded tooth zips throughout.
Upper Downs Neo Jacket: £189 / 305g
'NeoShell's class-leading breathability is ideal for this mountain biking jacket and works well, though it's still a bit of a work in progress.'
Outdoors Magic: Super breathable fabric, nice cut for biking use, comfortable, some thoughtful details.
Outdoors Tragic: Lacks a hem cord, vents fiddly to use on the move, hood has limited functionality.
Outdoors Grabbit? NeoShell's pack-leading breathability makes it a cracking choice for mountain biking's brutal on/off efforts and it works superbly. The cut is generally good, but the lack of any sort of hem adjuster or tensioner is a bit of an oversight, though less glaring if you're using a pack with waist-belt. Lots of potential here, but not quite the finished article yet. Watch this space.
Add a hem-cord to the Neo Jacket and it would be a really decent mountain biking waterproof thanks to the excellent fabric and neat cut. As it stands, it's somewhat flawed and the minimal zip-off hood needs a re-design too. Lots of potential though.
Waterproof mountain-biking jacket / 3 Layer Polartec® NeoShell® fabric / YKK water resistant zippers / vents / hand-pockets with internal phone sleeve / internal chest pocket / Key clip & lens cleaner / Removable hood
VauDe Croz 3L Jacket: £230 / 330g
'The lightweight Croz 3L has the features you need for all-round mountain use, but weighs in at just 330 grammes making it eminently packable too'
Outdoors Magic: Quiet, stretchy fabric, decent breathability, big pockets and pit-zips, okay hood, sustainable credentials. Decently light and packable.
Outdoors Tragic: Pockets could be deeper, hood offers limited facial protection, not as durable as heavier jackets.
Outdoors Grabbit? If you're looking for a good mix of lightness and functionality, the Croz 3L does a good job. It's fully featured with a helmet hood, pit-zips and handy, harness-friendly pockets yet packs away neatly. We'd prefer more facial protection for really gnarly Scottish winter days and heavier jackets will be more durable, but overall it's a good compromise. Vaude's eco-credentials are a valuable added bonus.
Lighter than most of the jackets here and with real packable, year-round potential. We suspect it won't be as tough as heavier jackets, but its a good compromise. Could use more facial protection in winter conditions.
Lightweight waterproof mountain jacket / 3-layer stretch Ceplex fabric / main water-resistant zip with storm-flap / two front pockets with water-resistant zips / adjustable hem and cuffs / attached, adjustable helmet-compatible hood / pit-zips
Overall Verdict: Top Waterproof Mountain Jackets
Which waterproof shell is best for you? The good news is that the overall quality of outdoor gear is so high that it's more a question of deciding on fabric and fit plus which colour your prefer.
That said, here are some of our favourites in different categories to help kickstart your decision-making.
Best Full-On Expedition Shell
We were massively impressed by the new Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro - above - developed by the brand's crack Mtn.Haus design team. It really does feel like wearing a mini-fortress even in the worst weather, 'a suit of armour' said Berghaus athlete Leo Houlding.
The attention to detail is amazing. The hood is arguably the best we've ever used and while the magnets used to adjust volume for helmet use may sound gimmicky, they simply work. We love the venting chin-piece, the expanding back gusset and, for expedition use, the multiple, easily accessible pockets.
It's not perfect. The stealth hem-cords can be fiddly to adjust and the fabric is quite noisy, but if you want a shell you can disappear into when the going gets tough, it does the job impressively well.
Also quietly impressive is our runner-up, the Jöttnar Bergelmir. It's not as innovative as the Berghaus jacket or, we suspect, as long-term durable, but the ultra-breathable Polartec Neo Shell fabric is fantastic if you run hot or you hate Gore-Tex Pro's snap, crackle and pop aural accompaniment. And as with the Berghaus, there's enough room for winter insulation without things getting loose and baggy.
Best Mountain All-Rounder
If you're looking for a jacket to use for everything from hill and mountain-walking through to winter mountaineering, the good news is that you're spoiled for choice. Our top pick from last year's group test the Mountain Equipment Lhotse is still a hard act to beat thanks to a brilliant, athletic cut, top fabric and ultra-thorough, functional design including an excellent compromise hood.
That said, the Mountain Equipment Janak has the same cut with a tougher fabric all round if you can live without the chest pocket.
Also super impressive is the new Dannah Alpine Jacket which benefits from owner designer Rich Dannah's 20 years in the outdoors design business and has been meticulously specced and neatly cut. It even uses a UK-made Porelle membrane and has a unique and easy-to-use hood design.
Also hard-to-fault is the new Montane Alpine Pro from the NE-brand's first Gore-Tex range. Again it's nicely cut and made, uses Gore-Tex Pro top-end fabric with a cracking UK-friendly hood and thorough features.
Similarly well-cut is the second coming of the Haglöfs Spitz which just goes to show what a ground-breaking design it was when the original appeared back in 2007.
Finally special mentions for the beautiful Arc'teryx Beta AR which just missed the cut thanks to its interesting hood design - don't write it off if you're prepared to use a balaclava/face-mask - and the updated Paramo Enduro 2017 which is the brand's best mountain jacket yet and ideal for Scottish winter lunacy.
Best Lightweight Mountain Jackets
Most of the shells here are designed for full-on all-mountain use, but what if you want something light and packable enough to use as a back-up to, say, a fully-featured soft shell when things go suddenly ballistic?
There are several decent options not included here, in particular Rab's excellent Flashpoint Jacket which is featured enough to work, but weighs in at less than 200g despite using a three-layer fabric. Of the shells included here, we recommend the updated version of the Jöttnar Asmund.
It's more expensive than the original, but the cut is far neater and the Polartec NeoShell fabric breathes brilliantly. At around the same 330g weight, the VauDe Croz 3L is let down a little by the pocket design, but otherwise is a very competent year-round shell in a stretchy, sustainable fabric.
Best Value Jackets
'Value' isn't the same as 'cheapness' and you can argue that many of the jackets here are good value for what you're getting in terms of advanced technology and fabrics. That said, if you're limited to a spend around the £200 mark - remember we're talking value not cheapness, we'd be looking at a couple of excellent mountain shells from top brands.
The Rab Firewall - above - uses a light, quiet, three-layer version of Pertex Shield+ fabric, is neatly cut and designed and has the best pit-zips we've used for those who run hot. You can remove your arm entirely with minimal hassle. Price is £200 for a cracking all-round mountain jacket.
Also very decent is the Berghaus Extrem Hagshu which is made from the brand's own-brand Hydroshell Elite Pro three-layer fabric and has an immensely competent helmet hood. Not flash or showy and less breathable than top fabrics, but sturdy, functional and protective.
For mostly walking use, the Sprayway Zeus is relatively expensive at full price, but can be found a lot cheaper online at which point it becomes a bit of a bargain for low-tempo use.
Waterproof Jackets - Other Options
There are plenty more waterproofs to choose from, see our 2016 Best Waterproof Shells round-up for some additional inspiration. Rab's top eVent jackets like the Latok and Latok Alpine are well worth a look for example. Plus don't write off the new Alpkit Definition Jacket, a seriously specced shell that we'll be reviewing shortly.