When looking to choose the right women’s waterproof jacket it’s important to consider the type of activity or activities you’ll be needing it for and the environments and seasons you’ll be using it in. For Munro bagging in the Highlands for instance, the best waterproof jacket for women will be one that’s tough and able to cope with very wet weather and cold temperatures, whereas if you need something for trail running in Spain during summer, then you’ll want something that’ll keep the rain out but that will be light and packable as it will probably remain in your bag for the duration. In assessing the suitability of a particular jacket, the main factors you want to consider are weight, packability, durability and most importantly, the levels of weather protection and breathability.
There are three different types of waterproof protection to consider: membrane lined, PU coated and wax proofed. They all have various advantages and disadvantages over each other, particularly when it comes to breathability, but the most popular form tends to be membranes which will offer good waterproof protection while still providing a level of breathability. Check out our Buyers Guide to Waterproof Jackets for more on the differences between these.
Technical features worth considering, and that we have addressed in these reviews, are how well the hood holds (if it lifts off at the slightest bit of wind it can be useless), pocket options and whether any of them will hold an OS map, how the zips are protected (if they’re not waterproof is there at least a storm flap?) and also adjustment options on the hem, neck and cuffs.
There’s also the fit. Baggy and loose means ventilation and also gives the options for layering underneath whereas a close trim can be more aerodynamic in strong winds and can also offer a lower weight overall.
Best Waterproof Jackets for Women in 2018
The majority of the jackets that made it into our list of the top jackets for women featured in our Outdoors Magic Winter 100 for 2017/18 and the Outdoors Magic 100 2018.
Images: Chris Johnson
Columbia OutDry Ex Featherweight Shell
“This breakthrough tech from Columbia has been around for a few years now, and we rate it highly.”
This is the latest and lightest jacket in Columbia’s innovative OutDry range of jackets. Its cleverly made waterproof membrane is on the outside of the jacket instead of being sandwiched between an inner and outer layer as is the common practice. By getting rid of that outer fabric, they’ve completely removed the risk of the jacket’s shell wetting out and causing the waterproof membrane to lose its breathability. The added bonus is that with this is that it’s very eco-friendly method.
Available for men and women / OutDry waterproof membrane / 100% nylon ripstop, 100% polyester mesh / adjustable hood with bonded visor / chest pockets / drop tail.
The North Face Apex Flex 2.0
“…it feels as comfortable and cosy as your favourite hoodie when you’ve got it on.”
The North Face Apex Flex 2.0 is made from a brilliant material that makes the jacket feel like a softshell. It’s so smooth, soft and stretchy you really wouldn’t believe that it’s waterproof – but it absolutely is. It’s also constructed to allow full articulation, so you can reach that hand hold when climbing or scrambling. At 800g it’s not the lightest, and at £250 it’s not the cheapest either, but if you want a clever, durable, waterproof and breathable jacket (that also looks great) this is a jacket worth considering.
Available in a men’s version / Velcro adjustable cuffs / hem adjustment / 3L Gore-Tex / fully adjustable hood with stiffened peak / chest pocket / two hand pockets / drop tail.
Arc’teryx Beta LT
“…an effective all-rounder when it comes to wintery mountain activities.”
Lightweight but still durable, waterproof but still breathable, the Arc’teryx Beta LT couldn’t be much better. Canadian brand Arc’teryx are specialists in mountaineering, climbing and snow sports, so you can expect plenty of features designed to help you through the rough stuff – features like a helmet compatible storm hood, protective water-resistant zips and glove-friendly cord locks. It’s top-level stuff and unsurprisingly comes at the top-level price of £420.
Available for men / Gore-Tex Pro 3L Shell / helmet compatible, fully adjustable storm hood / Cohaesive cordlocks / harness friendly / chin guard with microsuede / drop tail / adjustable hem / handwarmer pockets / internal chest pocket with zip.
“This is right at the top end of the scale in terms of protection and performance.”
This offering from the mountain marathon specialists is made from a waterproof fabric that’s lightweight and that also has a bit of stretch to it. We’ve tried it out in a number of jackets that use it and it’s never failed us. One for the runners, OMM’s jacket has a practical design to help you comfortably and quickly cover ground in bad weather. It has an aerodynamic close fit, pockets that double up as vents, thumb loops to stop the sleeves from riding up and a hood that holds closely and comfortably.
Available in a men’s version / 20,000mm hydro head / 4-way stretch – YKK Aquaguard zip / fully adjustable peaked hood / reflective detail / adaptable cuffs / zipped hand pockets / reflective detail / drop tail / available in black red or purple.
“Less is more is the motto as far as the looks of this jacket go, but don’t let the simplistic aesthetics fool you…”
If you’re looking for something a bit technical and that’s made for really bad weather but that won’t weigh you down too much, then look no further than the Virgo by Swedish brand Haglöfs. For anything from camping microadventures, to speedy ascents in the Alps, it’s an aesthetically simple jacket that should serve a range of activities.
Available in a men’s version / 2L Gore-Tex fabric / mesh-lined torso / mid-mounted hand warmer pockets / two-way adjustable hood with reinforced peak / cord adjustment on the hem / Velcro cuffs.
Páramo Alta III
“…it’s a moisture-wicking, weatherproof jacket that can be worn all day in the mountains.”
Páramo do things differently and with excellent results. What we’re mostly referring to here is their style of waterproofing. They don’t use conventional membranes, instead their jackets are treated with a clever wash-in solution called Nikwax Analogy. This repels water mightily effectively and makes fabrics dry faster. Best of all, it’s eco-friendly – which is something Páramo have long been able to boast ahead of other brands. This jacket is cut differently to the others on show here, with a much longer length that comes down to about mid-thigh. Some hikers might see this as a good thing, but fast and light hikers or trail runners probably won’t.
Available in a men’s version / Nikwax Analogy treated / upper arm vents / two handwarmer pockets / large external map pocket / internal pocket for valuables / fully adjustable hood with wired peak / hood stoves in collar / two-way locking front zip with poppered internal storm flap / adjustable cuffs / waist cord adjustment.
Jack Wolfskin Sierra Pass
“Waterproof, windproof, breathable, and fully recyclable – the Sierra Jacket gets a big thumbs up from me…”
We were excited to hear about the release of this jacket when it was first previewed around a year ago, and we’re pleased to tell you it’s now finally on the market. The reason for our hype is because this waterproof jacket is the first ever one to be made from 100 per cent recycled materials, and that includes the waterproof membrane. And it’s a good performing jacket as well, that’s the truly remarkable thing about it – just ask our team of testers.
Available in a men’s version / 100% recycled Texapore Ecoshpere 2L membrane / water column rating: 20,000 mm, MVTR: > 15,000 g/m²/24h / fixed hood with back cinch / venting zips underarms / reflectors.
Patagonia Cloud Ridge
“Weighing in at 343g, the Cloud Ridge is one lightweight package…”
Patagonia are well-known for their efforts in defending the environment, whether that’s fighting against government policies, encouraging people to reuse or recycle their kit rather than buying new Patagonia stuff or using recycled face fabrics in their waterproof jackets, as is the case here. The jacket itself is constructed nicely, with smart touches like the microfleece at the back of the neck and on the chinguard, and also the ventilating hand pockets and helmet compatible hood. With it’s climber-friendly features and simple aesthetic, it’s another one of those jackets that’s versatile enough to use for extreme stuff but also for short and simple jaunts.
Available in a men’s version / 3L H2No Performance Shell / 100% recycled polyester ripstop face fabric / two ventilating hand pockets / helmet-compatible hood with laminated visor / watertight front zip / adjustable hem and cuffs / stows away into stuff sack.