Best Waterproof Jackets For 2020 | The Latest And Greatest Shells To Keep You Dry On The Trail - Outdoors Magic

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Waterproof Jackets

Best Waterproof Jackets For 2020 | The Latest And Greatest Shells To Keep You Dry On The Trail

From lightweight to heavyweight and everything in between, here are the best waterproof jackets out there in 2020

Due to their unique geographical features, mountainous areas are more than happy to throw a storm or two your way, even when you’re slap bang in the middle of what was turning out to be a lovely day. Therefore, it’s vital that we always travel around the mountains with adequate protection from the best the weather can throw at us – and this is where waterproof jackets come in. When you’re in the wild, you want a good rain coat that you can count on.

The most obvious concern when buying a waterproof jacket is the type of protection that you’re buying into as this influences the price, weight, breathability and of course the level of waterproofing on offer. You obviously don’t want the jacket to start leaking water after just a month of wear, yet you don’t want to pay over the odds for something that may feel a little overkill for the type of activity that you’re buying the jacket for.

There are three main types of waterproof protection to consider; wax-coated (pretty rare for technical outdoor jackets these days), PU-coated, and membrane lined jackets. Give our Buyer’s Guide to Waterproof Jackets a read to understand the differences between the three waterproof protections.

You’ll notice that membrane lined jackets are the most common in this roundup. They’re favoured for their good balance between weight, breathability and waterproofness. The most common type of waterproof membrane is of course Gore-Tex, but we’ve also included some of the various own-brand waterproof technologies (we’re still keeping our eyes peeled for the elusive FutureLight from The North Face to hit the shelves).

Aside from the type of waterproof protection on offer, it’s also important to consider other features that the jacket carries in order to find the best waterproof jacket for you. Choose these features based on the type of activity that you’re buying the jacket for. For instance, if you’re going to be mostly cycling and trail running then a lightweight and breathable jacket will be the best option for you (there’s more on that on our guide to the best lightweight waterproof jackets). A jacket that holds a mixture of features makes for a great multi-activity jacket that can be used and abused wherever you take it.

What To Look For When Buying a Waterproof Jacket

Venting – This not only comes from the breathability of the fabric, but manufacturers are also able to increase venting through the use of pit zips and mesh lined pockets.

Zips and pockets – The type of zip a jacket has influences how waterproof the jacket is. Premium zipper technology creates a zip that locks together tight, to remove the need for a PU or fabric coating that covers the entire zip. However, this also adds a little more to the price of the jacket.

Hoods – Hoods come in a variety of shapes, sizes and adjustability, which all depend on the type of brand you’re looking to buy – it’s again important to try them on before you buy. You’ll be looking for a good range of adjustability and if you’re climbing a lot, then a helmet compatible hood is essential.

Pockets – A good all-round jacket will hold a few pockets for stuffing various items in throughout the day. Considering the pockets based on the activity you’re buying the jacket for is important, as if you’re frequently strapping your backpack up, then you don’t want pockets that can’t be used whilst wearing a pack. Similarly, Napoleon chest pocks are essential for climbers who are frequently wearing a harness over their waterproof jacket.

All of the jackets in this Top 10 are featured in our Outdoor 100 2020/21 and other previous editions. Within these product guides, you’ll be able check out a more in depth review of each jacket, including tester’s verdicts and industry trade secrets.

  • Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket – Best In Test Waterproof Jacket
  • CimAlp Advanced 2H – Best Technical Waterproof Jacket
  • Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody – Best Insulated Waterproof Jacket
  • Montane Podium Pull On – Best Trail Running Jacket
  • Outdoor Research Interstellar – Best Breathable Waterproof Jacket
  • Patagonia Torrentshell 3L – Best Value Waterproof Jacket
  • Black Diamond Highline Shell
  • Adidas Terrex Agravic Three-Layer
  • Berghaus Changste
  • Columbia OutDry Ex Reign
  • Haglöfs Grym Evo
  • The North Face Summit L5 FutureLight


BEST BUY: Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket


Price: £220
Weight: 230g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running
Key attributes: Lightweight and highly packable, high-spec fabric

LI.M, in case you weren’t aware, stands for less is more and that name does describe this waterproof jacket quite well. It’s simple but will deliver the goods when it needs to be pulled out of your backpack when the heavens open.

Haglöfs have used Gore-Tex’s relatively new Paclite Plus waterproof technology here. This is a two layer system involving a membrane that’s glued to a light outer fabric. In other words, there’s no backer fabric and therefore a fair bit of weight is saved by its exclusion.

Water resistant zips, very similar to YKK Aquaguard ones, feature on the main zipper and the chest pocket. On the subject of that pocket, that’s all the storage you get here (‘less is more’ remember). Still, it’ll look after your phone, car keys and/or your lift pass.

The cuffs are elasticated and don’t have any adjustment. The hem does have adjustment though and this is via a toggled drawcord at the hem.

As for the hood, this holds really securely thanks to its three-point adjustment and the laminated peak does the job it’s supposed to. 

Full Specifications

Men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL / Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof shell / 3-way adjustable hood with a laminated and reinforced peak / water-resistant zips / zippered chest pocket ‘ elasticated cuffs / reflective details.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2020/21 – Here’s our full Haglofs L.I.M Jacket Review

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CimAlp Advanced 2H

Price: £270
Weight: 390g
Best for: Hiking, ski touring, mountaineering
Key attributes: Excellent hood, built in RECCO, high-spec waterproof fabric

CimAlp claim this has a breathability rating of 80,000g/m2. If that figure is true, those are industry leading levels of moisture vapour management. 

The jacket is cut at a standard height at the front of the hem but at the back it drops down to partially cover your backside. This really helps to prevent the jacket from riding up too much when you’re wearing a backpack or climbing harness. The overall volume is on the athletic side but not so much that it’s constricting and it will be able to accommodate a mid layer underneath.

There are a bunch of useful features, including a YKK waterproof main zip, an adjustment cinch at the hem, dependable Velcro tabs on the cuffs and long pit two-way pit zips that are backed by a mesh gusset. The two handwarmer pockets are quite small but they can still be accessed when you’re wearing a harness or backpack with a hipbelt. You also have a zippered mesh pocket on the chest for things like your phone and wallet and then another open mesh pocket on the inside for storing gloves. One notable addition is the RECCO reflector on the shoulder, something that belies this jacket’s alpine focus.

“While I’d say its breathability is better than many jackets out there, I’m still a little sceptical about the 80,000g/m2 claim,” said OM editor Will Renwick after his testing run with this. “Perhaps they’ve factored in the pit zip ventilation with this. Still, with those open I found there was enough airflow to tolerate wearing this even during some long and steep climbs.”

Full Specifications

Men’s and women’s versions XS-XXL / 3-layer Ultrashell fabric / Vislon waterproof YKK zips / RECCO reflector / 3-way adjustable hood / 20,000mm hydrostatic head / 80,000g/m2/24h / PFC-free DWR / bluesign approved.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2018 – Read our full CimAlp Advanced 2H review

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Berghaus Changste

Price: £290
Weight: 375g
Best for: Hiking, climbing
Key attributes: New Gore-Tex technologies, great stretch and durability

You know there’s going to be a lot to get excited about when a jacket features three different types of Gore-Tex waterproof fabrics. At 375g, the Changste (which is also available in a men’s version) isn’t the lightest jacket out there, but this clever fabric innovation certainly makes for a very useful option for hiking, trail running and climbing, that still maintains high levels of breathability and waterproof protection.

Gore-Tex Active brings the breathability aspect, then there’s Gore-Tex Paclite in the high-wear zones – the shoulders and along the arms – and finally Gore-Tex Topo Stretch is used on the hem, hips and cuffs to give the jacket a close fitting, natural fit that doesn’t require adjustment.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s / sizes S-XXL / bluesign approved / single point adjustable hood that’s helmet compatible / water repellant zipped chest pocket / water repellant two-way front zip / press stud at the base of the zip

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/18 – Here’s our Berghaus Changste Full Review

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Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody

Price: €400
Weight: 270g
Best for: Trail running in bloody miserable weather
Key attributes: waterproof and warm, high-spec materials

Similar to Columbia’s well-received OutDry waterproof fabric, Gore-Tex ShakeDry does away with the outer fabric normally found on traditional waterproof jackets – the one that eventually ‘wets out’ after persistent rain or when the DWR wears out and prevents the membrane underneath from ‘breathing’. With the membrane switched to the outside of the jacket, rain will be able to bead off permanently, in turn maintaining breathability and allowing the jacket to dry quickly.

The all-new Norvan SL Insulated Hoody continues on from the Norvan SL Hoody, but with the addition of CoreLoft insulating synthetic fibres underneath the ShakeDry fabric. It’s a combination that makes for an extremely lightweight, yet waterproof and insulated jacket that’s ideally suited towards fast and light missions in the mountains.

Related: Best Down Jackets

Just like OutDry, Shakedry suffers from the usual durability niggles you’d expect to come across when a waterproof membrane is applied to the outer fabric of the jacket – don’t expect the fabric to hold up too long if you’re pushing through branches or even wearing a backpack with niggly straps or a heavy load.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s / sizes S-XXL / ShakeDry waterproof fabric / CoreLoft insulation mapped across the body / roll away hood with slight peak / elasticated hem and cuffs / internal zipped chest pocket

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Arc’teryx Norvan SL Insulated Hoody Full Review

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Adidas Terrex Agravic Three-Layer

Price: £230
Weight: 231g
Best for: Trail running and hiking
Key attributes: Good waterproof and breathable fabric, simple but effective

Adidas have been making more and more inroads in the outdoor world recently, most notably with their Terrex range of clothing and equipment which is geared towards performance sports in the mountains. This, the Agravic from Adidas Terrex lies well within this category, offering runners who like going into the mountains in rubbish conditions something that’s absolutely up to the task.

The Agravic carries an athletic fit that’s wider at the chest while snug in the lower body and sleeves. Aside from it’s lightweight wet weather protection, it’s the articulation it has in the arms which has impressed us, giving completely unhindered movement when you’re at full swing. Chuck in the effective adjustable hood, the elasticated hem that has a drawcord for good measure, plus the large zipped chest pocket and you’re left with an extremely capable jacket for going at high-tempo in unpredictable weather.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s / sizes S-XXL / seam-sealed durable Climaproof / long sleeves with elastic cuffs / 100% nylon ripstop / front zip pockets with waterproof zips / pack-it pocket

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Adidas Terrex Agravic Three-Layer Full Review

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Columbia OutDry Ex Reign

Price: £155
Weight: 380g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking and day-to-day use
Key attributes: Never saturates, good value

OutDry Extreme is a waterproof system that utilises an external waterproof membrane combined with a soft, wicking fabric lining the inside. As the membrane isn’t hidden beneath an outer fabric (as you’d expect to see on traditional three-layer fabrics), this method ensures that the fabric will always be able to uphold that satisfying beading of water that’s typically reserved for brand new, or freshly proofed jackets. Oh, and it means no DWRs with nasty, environmentally hazardous PFCs need to be used. This is the latest jacket from Columbia to use the system, and it’s a winning combination in our books.

Other useful aspects here include an adjustable storm hood, waterproof PU-coated main zip, and ventilation in the form of mesh hand pockets and underarm zips. It may not be the lightest waterproof jacket out there, but we’ve been impressed with the use of the OutDry fabric, and that pretty decent price tag.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s / sizes S-XXL / OutDry Extreme waterproof fabric / external seam tape / adjustable storm hood / underarm venting / PU coated centerfront and hand pockets / adjustable cuffs and hem

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Columbia OutDry Ex Reign Full Review

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Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

Price: £300
Weight: 640g
Best for: Day-to-day wear, hiking, scrambling, climbing
Key attributes: Great value, durable, protective, eco-friendly fabrics

The last Patagonia Torrentshell went down well with Outdoors Magic gear testers when it was released a few years ago. ‘A sturdy, no-nonsense jacket at a great price,’ were the exact words used. Now for 2020, Patagonia have released a brand new variation of it, switching it up from a 2.5 layer waterproof construction to a 3 layer.

That previous Torrentshell, like all 2.5 layer waterproof jackets, featured an outer fabric, a waterproof membrane underneath it and then a backer layer that was laminated or sprayed on. 3-layer constructions, like this new update, use an extra layer of fabric for the backer. This not only adds to the overall durability of the jacket but it also helps to prevent the membrane from getting clogged up by your sweat and lovely natural body oils.

The face fabric is made from 100% recycled fabrics, the sewing is Fair Trade Certified, the membrane uses 13% bio-based content and PU rather than the harmful ePTFE that the likes of Gore-Tex use. Finally there’s bluesign approval, meaning it conforms to a number of strict standards when it comes to environmental health and safety.

Full Specifications

Women’s XS-XL, men’s XS-XXL / 3L H2No Performance Standard waterproof fabric / two-way adjustable hood with laminated peak / storm flap-backed zipper / handwarmer pockets (left doubles as stuff sack) / pit zips / Velcro cuffs / toggled hem / Fair Trade sewing / bluesign approved / 100% recycled nylon face / 13% bio-based membrane.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our full Patagonia Torrentshell 3L review.

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Haglöfs Grym Evo

Price: £310
Weight: 580g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, climbing and ski mountaineering
Key attributes: Eco-friendly fabrics, great technical details, very protective

A long cut and durable three-layer waterproof material here gives you a jacket that’s built to last and one that you can really hunker down in for full protection from the elements.

Haglöfs are working hard to create eco-friendly products across all of their ranges, and this is certainly true with the Grym Evo, with a DWR finish that’s free of any nasty PFCs, a membrane built from recycled materials and full bluesign approval in the pipeline for AW19.

Nifty features here include handwarmer pockets with storm flaps and popper seals, a built-in RECCO reflector, zipped chest pocket, two-way front zip and three-way adjustable hood. Interestingly the seams have all been ‘ultrasonically bonded’, where a machine applies vibrations of such a high frequency that heat is generated and sets of polymers join to form a bond. The idea behind this is to get a super tight, protective and reliable closure that keeps the fabric completely smooth and flat against the skin.

It’s one very impressive jacket from the Swedish brand that strikes the difficult to achieve lifestyle/mountain performance balance perfectly.

Full Specifications

Sizes S-XXL / treated with a fluorocarbon free DWR / ultrasonic-welded seams / three-way adjustable hood with reinforced peak / RECCO reflector in brim of hood / underarm pit zips / two storm hand pockets with snap buttons / one zippered chest pocket

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our Haglofs Grym Evo Full Review

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Outdoor Research Interstellar

Price: £290
Weight: 329g
Best for: Backpacking, hiking, trail running and climbing
Key attributes: Stretchy, very breathable and protective fabric

This is the lightest three-layer hardshell that US-based Outdoor Research has ever produced. It’s made from their hugely impressive AscentShell fabric which has a lovely bit of stretch to it (so it’s perfect for climbers), but best of all it really does offer some top notch wet weather performance.

You don’t find many jackets out there with breathability levels like this. You’ve also got a fully adjustable hood to accommodate climbing helmets, an internal storm flap behind the main zipper for full waterproof protection, a chest pocket and handwarmer hip pockets – all at the usefully light weight of 329g.

Full Specifications

Sizes: S-XXL / three-layer AscentShell waterproof fabric also gives additional stretch to the jacket / 20D ripstop face fabric / dynamic reach underarm panels / helmet compatible hood

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2018 – Here’s our Outdoor Research Interstellar Full Review

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The North Face FutureLight Summit L5

Price: £550
Weight: 660g
Best for: mountaineering, ski mountaineering
Key attributes: Very breathable, technical details

The FutureLight part of this jacket’s name refers to its membrane, which is rather special. In fact, The North Face have called it the most breathable waterproof fabric ever created and they might just be right there. We’ve tried a number of products that feature it over the past year, including the Summit L5 featured here, and we’ve been very impressed. It really is breathable – and it gives a nice bit of stretch to boot.

There’s plenty to like from an eco perspective as well. It’s produced in solar-powered factories, is made from over 90% recycled materials and there are none of those nasty PFCs used either.

The jacket itself, the North Face FutureLight Summit L5, is very much a high mountain option and the price tag reflects that. It’s designed to protect the wearer through some mightily rough conditions and help them carry and operate all of their technical equipment. What we mean here is that it’s cut for harness and helmet compatibility and there are loads of deep pockets in all the right places. There are also plenty of adjustment options so that you can really hunker down in it.

The L5 is available in both men’s and women’s versions and has also been split up depending on the intended use of the jacket – for example, there’s a heavier weight version suited towards ski mountaineering, and a lightweight version suited towards climbing and alpinism.

We’ve also recently tested out their superlight FutureLight offering. Check out our The North Face Flight FutureLight review for more on that.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s versions / three-layer 70D x 70D 93% nylon fabric with 7% elastane / 3D ergonomic patterning / fully adjustable, helmet-compatible hood with perforated chin guard and wire brim / two chest pockets and bellowed front pocket – all harness-compatible / three internal pockets / internal elastic thumb loops.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Here’s our full The North Face Apex FutureLight L5 Summit review. 

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Montane Podium Pull On

Price: £110
Weight: 110g
Best for: Trail running, ultra marathons and fast packing
Key attributes: Ultra-light, good value

At just 110g, Montane’s Podium Pull On is an exceptionally lightweight waterproof jacket. It’s one of those options that’s designed to be barely noticeable in a pack (or when clipped onto your harness) while also being well capable of doing the job you need it to when it’s called upon.

The waterproof material Montane have opted for with the podium is a micro fabric called Aqua Pro Lite. It’s super, super thin. So thin it’s actually slightly transparent. Don’t worry, it’s not as fickle as it might sound. It actually feels slightly tougher than some similar jackets in its category. 

As you’d expect for something so light, this is pretty light on features. You get a hood that’s semi-elasticated around its rim, the hem is elasticated as well and so are the cuffs (slightly though). Then there’s that quarter-length zip which is made from water resistant YKK Aquaguard with a protective storm flap on the inside. 

Full Specifications

Unisex in sizes XS-XL / elasticated hood with slight stiffened peak / Aqua Pro Lite fabric / 15,000mm hydrostatic head / 15,000g/m2/24hrs MVTR / reflective details / elasticated hem.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2020/21 – Here’s our full Montane Podium Pull On review.

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Black Diamond Highline Shell

Price: €280
Weight: 360g
Best for: Hiking, alpinism, ski mountaineering
Key attributes: Long lasting DWR, great ventilation, excellent storm proofing

Black Diamond have come up with something very interesting here. Their brand new Highline Stretch waterproof jacket features a tech we’ve not seen before, one that supposedly means the jacket will never need to be re-proofed to restore water resistance to the outer fabric. 

The waterproof system is a tough three-layer design with a nice bit of stretch to it and an overall lightweight feel. Expect excellent breathability, mainly thanks to the long zipped vents at the armpits.

The main talking point is the GTT Breathable Waterproof Protection Technology it uses. In other words, the type of durable water repellent treatment (DWR). Made by a company called Green Theme Technologies, the Highline’s DWR is not only PFC-free and made with low water wastage, but it’s also much, much longer lasting than standard DWRs as well. The secret is in its method of ‘covalent molecular bonding’. This causes the polymers of the DWR to lock to the fibres of a fabric, as opposed to just layering on top and washing away with a few heavy spells of rainfall or after going in the wash. To cut to the chase, this is a jacket that isn’t going to ‘wet out’ and become saturated after just a couple of big days out. 

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s versions / sizes S-XL / 3-layer BD.dry shell / PFC-free DWR / 100% nylon / 20,000mm hydrostatic head / 20,000g/m2/24hours MVTR / pit zip ventilation / YKK Aquaguard zips with internal storm flap / Velcro cuffs / three-way adjustable hood /toggled hem / zipped hand pockets / small zipped chest pocket.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2020/21 – Here’s our full Black Diamond Highline review.

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