Best Waterproof Jackets For 2021 | The Latest And Greatest Shells To Keep You Dry On The Trail - Outdoors Magic

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Waterproof Jackets

Best Waterproof Jackets For 2021 | 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 2021

It’s vital to travel in the mountains with adequate protection from the worst the weather can throw at us and that means having a quality waterproof jacket. 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 getting, 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 such as Columbia’s OutDry, Outdoor Research’s AscentShell and H2No by Patagonia.

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. 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 pockets are essential for climbers who are frequently wearing a harness over their waterproof jacket.

Many of the jackets in this selection are featured in our Outdoor 100 2020/21 and our 2021 Green Gear Guide. 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.

  • CimAlp Advanced 2H – Best In Test Waterproof Jacket
  • Haglöfs L.I.M Jacket
  • Montane Duality
  • Berghaus Changste
  • Halti Next Generation DryMaxx Shell
  • Adidas Terrex Agravic Three-Layer
  • Klättermusen Allgron 2.0
  • Columbia OutDry Ex Eco II Tech
  • Patagonia Torrentshell 3L – Best Value Waterproof Jacket
  • Rab Ladakh
  • Outdoor Research Interstellar – Best Breathable Waterproof Jacket
  • Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Pro
  • Montane Podium Pull On – Best Trail Running Jacket
  • Cortazu Mountain Hardshell


BEST BUY: 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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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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Montane Duality

Price: £260
Weight: 620g
Best for: Hiking, everyday use
Key attributes: Gore-Tex, Primaloft insulation

This jacket is undoubtedly mountain ready. It has the credentials to withstand the worst weather you’re likely to encounter, and Montane confidently call it “the ultimate solution to warmth and weather protection in one jacket”. It’s made from top-class materials. The Gore-Tex, 40-denier outer has an impressive 28,000mm hydrostatic head for superb waterproofing, while 60g/m2 PrimaLoft Gold (which is 55% recycled) adds welcome warmth for colder winter days.

There are fully taped seams and the PEAQ Synthetic ECO lining is 100% recycled. Other features include a sturdy front zip with internal storm flap, two hand pockets, adjustable hook and loop cuff tabs, and an insulated hood with stiffened peak.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s (S-XXL) / Waterproof Gore-Tex 40-denier nylon outer fabric / PrimaLoft Gold 55% recycled insulation throughout / 100% recycled PEAQ Synthetic ECO lining / Fully seam taped construction / Fully adjustable roll away insulated hood with stiffened peak / Full-length YKK front zip with internal storm flap / Two hand pockets with YKK zips / External chest pocket with YKK zip / Adjustable hook and loop cuff tabs / Adjustable hem and cinchable drawcord

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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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Halti Next Generation DryMaxx Shell

Price: £249
Weight: 600g
Best for: Three-season hillwalking, everyday use
Key attributes: Durable, eco-friendly

The Next Generation shell from Finnish brand Halti has been designed with sustainability in mind. It’s built from PFC-free recycled materials and is also recyclable, so at the end of its life it can be disposed of easily. But what we like most is that it can be easily repaired, since the zips, tabs and panels are all easy to remove and replace if they happen to wear out.

The main material is a two-layer polyester with 50% recycled content. The outer has a very durable feel but is still soft and smooth to the touch. It has a dropped hem and an adjustable peaked hood for excellent coverage. There’s also toggled hem adjustment and Velcro cuff tabs. The main zip has a big buttoned external storm flap and a small inner one too to guard against water ingress.

Though it isn’t particularly lightweight or technical, this is a good looking jacket that is perfect for country ambles or three-season hillwalking. It is also a very green choice, with impeccable eco credentials. And though we tested the women’s jacket, a men’s version is available too.

Full Specifications

Men’s sizes XS-4XL / Women’s sizes EU32-48 / DrymaxX Ultimate PRO waterproof fabric / grown on hood with peak / drawcord hem and Velcro cuffs

Selected for our 2021 Green Gear Guide – Here’s our Halti Next Generation DryMaxX Shell 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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Klättermusen Allgron 2.0

Price: £450
Weight: 624g
Best for: Hillwalking and mountaineering
Key attributes: Eco-friendly construction, durable construction

The Klättermusen Allgron 2.0 might come with an eye-watering price tag, but you can at least expect to get top notch quality here. It also boasts some impressive eco credentials as well. 

It’s made from a unique material called Ultramid Bio-mass Balance, a Polyamide that’s derived from renewable resources. There’s also a water resistant coating that’s completely free from any eco-hazardous fluorocarbon chemicals. 

It’s also mentioning, on the sustainability front, that the zip is designed so that it can be easily replaced if and when it breaks, so it won’t have to go to the landfill due to one small malfunction.

One thing we particularly like about the Allgron 2.0 is its durability. The fabric has a slight bit of stretch to it but it also feels hardy – you can sense it’ll stand up to most abrasion and ultimately last a long time.

Features include a 3D adjustable hood, a RECCO reflector, underarm ventilation and an storm flap that covers the main zip.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s versions / 3L Cutan 148 g/m² 50% Ultramid Bio-Mass Balanced Polyamide / Bluesign approval / 20,000mm Hydrostatic Head / 20,000mm g/m² / fluorocarbon-free / two-way zip / 3D adjustable hood / RECCO reflector / pit zips / cuff tabs.

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Columbia OutDry Ex Eco II Tech

Price: £200
Weight: 260g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking and day-to-day use
Key attributes: Never saturates, durable, eco-friendly

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.

The fact that this contains none of those eco-hazardous PFCs that can often be found in technical waterproof clothing is a big tick. On top of that, all of the jacket’s trims are made from recycled materials. That includes the zip, toggles, eyelets, washers, labels and threads.

Full Specifications

Men’s sizes S-XXL / OutDry Extreme waterproof fabric / undyed cotton liner / external seam tape / adjustable storm hood / adjustable cuffs and hem

Selected for our 2021 Green Gear Guide – Here’s our Columbia OutDry Ex Eco II Tech 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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Rab Ladakh

Price: £340
Weight: 614g
Best for: Hiking, scrambling,
Key attributes: Gore-Tex, premium materials, proven performance

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. The Ladakh is one of Rab’s classic all-mountain waterproof jackets with a strong heritage. Its three-layer Gore-Tex fabric with C-Knit backer offers reduced weight, increased breathability and a smooth, soft-touch texture for next-to-skin comfort.

The two-way, deep-venting pit zips help improve moisture management and you also get an advanced, helmet-compatible mountain hood with an integrated wind collar, a laminated peak and windproof three-way adjustment. In addition to a secure internal zipped pocket, quick-stash storage comes from a zipped chest pocket with internal securing clip and a pair of harness-compatible YKK AquaGuard zipped hand pockets. Breathability is pretty good too, considering how durable, waterproof and windproof the Ladakh is.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s (XS-XXL) and women’s 8-16 / YKK AquaGuard Vislon front zip with internal storm flap / Three-way fully adjustable helmet compatible hood, with wired and laminated peak, roll down hood tab and wind collar / Recycled fabric with Gore C-Knit backer technology / Two YKK AquaGuard zipped hand pockets with internal securing clip / YKK AquaGuard zipped chest pocket / Two-way full venting YKK AquaGuard pit zips / Internal zip secure pocket / Fully adjustable cuffs & hem

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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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Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Inifinity Pro

Price: £600
Weight: 600g
Best for: mountaineering, ski mountaineering
Key attributes: Very durable, eco-friendly

This is a serious waterproof jacket; one that offers a high level of protection and that’ll suit any particularly demanding mountain activities. On top of all that, the Norwegian brand have clearly taken some big steps to make sure the jacket will appeal to those who like their gear to be eco-friendly.

It’s made entirely without added chemicals, which means no eco-hazardous PFCs are present in the fabric’s water repellent treatment (DWR). In fact, there isn’t actually a water repellent treatment here at all – that’s something you very rarely see with three-layer waterproof products. Helly Hansen say there’s no need for one, with their unique Lifa yarns being able to do the job without any added help.

The Lifa yarns featured here are actually based on the same fibres used in Helly’s legendary baselayers (those ones with the zebra stripes down the arms). These fibres themselves are naturally hydrophobic, able to push moisture out and into the atmosphere, and in the case of the Odin Mountain Infinity they’ve been so tightly woven together that water should effectively bounce straight off.

On test, it performed well. We particularly liked the functional and reliable hood, as well as the easy-to-use cuff tabs, one-handed adjustment at the hem, comfortable chin guard and harness/hipbelt compatible pockets. There are plenty of useful extra details as well, including a removable powder skirt, interior valuables/lift pass pocket, RECCO reflector and glove friendly zipper tabs.

Full Specifications

Men’s sizes S-XXL / LIFA Infinity Pro Technology 3-layer fabric construction / Helmet, backpack and harness compatible construction and pockets / Detachable powder skirt / Mechanical ventilation zippers / Inside pocket plus mesh dump pocket and ski pass pocket / RECCO Advanced Rescue system.

Selected for our 2021 Green Gear Guide – Here’s our full Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Pro Shell 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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Cortazu Mountain Hardshell

Price: €399
Weight: 620g
Best for: Mountaineering, climbing, hillwalking, skiing
Key attributes: High spec materials, good features, part of layering system

This is a waterproof jacket that’s made for backcountry pursuits such as ski mountaineering, climbing and backpacking, but it also has a sleek, subtle look that would fit in on the daily commute. Is this thing going to keep you dry and comfortable in the mountains? You betcha. Cortazu have used Toray’s high spec Dermizax material here, a three-layer waterproof fabric that brings a hydrostatic head of 25,000mm and breathability rating of 25,000g/m2/24hrs. If those numbers don’t really mean much to you, they basically put this jacket up there with the big hitters. This material brings the feel of a durable, high quality Gore-Tex Pro jacket and it’s got just a touch of stretch to it too, so you won’t feel it’s hindering your movement at all.

Cortazu have decked their Mountain Hardshell out with features to support more demanding excursions. You get loads of pockets (including a lift pass arm pocket), a three-way adjustable slightly peaked hood that’s easily big enough to accommodate a helmet when required, and glove-friendly tabs for cuff and hem adjustment. The jacket also has two-way zipped ventilation at the armpits for when you’re working hard and need to dump heat and there’s a tiny RECCO reflector built into the fabric. The hardshell can also be integrated with Cortazu’s Mountain Mid Layer via zips to create a warm and dry layering system.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s (XS-XXL) and women’s (XS-XXL)/  Athletic fit and technical stretch for extra comfort / Three-layer Dermizax EV waterproof fabric / Breathable fabric / Internal Recco technology / Waterproof YKK AquaGuard zippers / Zip-in system to connect to Mountain Mid-Layer or Fleece / Armpit zippers for ventilation / Soft chin guard / Dropped hem at rear / Adjustable cuffs / Sleek shoulder anti-slip / Athletic sleeves / Taped seams / Laminated brim / Sunglass & goggle wiper / Ski pass pocket on sleeve

Read our full Cortazu Mountain Hardshell review

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