A decent waterproof jacket can be the difference between a miserable hike and a great adventure.
Here’s our selection of the best waterproof jackets to keep you dry on your next wet-weather hike, camping trip, or waterfall hunt.
What Makes a Great Waterproof Hiking Jacket?
First things first, your waterproof gots to be waterproof! But it has to be able to breathe too, or you may as well wear a garbage bag and save a heap of cash.
GORE-TEX is the most well known waterproof breathable fabric, but many other technologies are competitive including FUTURELIGHT, eVent, PERTEX and H2No. (They love their capitals, but that’s the last time we’ll use them in this article.) Waterproof jackets need to breathe (allow water vapour to escape) while keeping liquid water at bay, and this can get pretty complicated. Essentially you want to look for a hydrostatic head rating of greater than 10,000mm and a breathability rating of more than 10,000 g/m².
This article has everything you need to know if you’re keen to nerd out, but nothing compares to speaking to an expert in-store. We’ve picked out some of our favourite below as well.
Once you’ve ticked off the waterproof material, you’ll want to make sure your hiking jacket has a decent hood to keep the rain off your nog. Some hoods have peaks, some don’t, but you’ll want it to be a generous size to keep you dry without impacting visibility. Some also fit hats or helmets while others are tighter, just be assured that you’ll definitely be using it.
Stowability is another factor you might want to consider in your rainjacket choice. Unless you’re heading out in the middle of a week-long monsoon, chances are that the weather may change while you’re out hiking and if the sun starts a shining, you’ll want to pack away your jacket and feel the sun on your skin.
Final considerations for your rain jacket are gonna be the zippy bits; we’re talking pockets and pit zips. Chest pockets are great for hiking, as they’re easy to access when wearing a backpack with a waist strap. But for low-key packless hikes, a couple of handy hand-warming pockets are great for keeping gloves and your phone handy. Pit zips can be pretty vital for warmer weather hiking as they help provide ventilation while you’re getting physical in a downpour.
Read more: Check out our guide to the best waterproof hiking boots to keep yourself dry from head to toe.
How to Wash Your Rainjacket
A good waterproof jacket for hiking (or any activity) is a big investment, so it’s worth taking the time to take care of it properly!
Bodily oils, sweat and dirt can clog the tiny pores that let your jacket breathe. Rain jackets also feature a Durable Water Repellant coating, that makes water bead right off like a waxed bonnet, which works best when it’s nice and clean.
Once you’ve chosen your waterproof jacket, head over to our step-by-step guide on how to keep it clean!
Waterproof Jackets for Hiking
The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Waterproof Jacket
Fit for ‘Dryzzles’ and downpours alike, this waterproof jacket from The North Face is made with their new ultra-breatheable Futurelight material, featuring recycled polyester and a DWR finish. It’s a standard fit and pretty lightweight, making it easy to stuff into your backpack when the skies clear.
There’s a zippered chest pocket and zippered hand pockets for keeping snacks and valuables dry. Snacks are valuable too, right! Velcro cuffs and an adjustable hood will help keep rain and wind from sneaking into gaps, keeping away those drizzles fo shizzle.
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Waterproof Jacket
Another jacket featuring its very own waterproof material, the Patagonia Torrentshell jacket uses their H2No® technology. This is a 3-layer waterproof/breathable shell that’s also fair-trade certified sewn. Featurewise, the Torrentshell has a microfleece-lined neck for extra comfort, an adjustable hood with visor, and zippered hand warmer pockets. The jacket self-stuffs into the left handwarmer pocket and has a carabiner clip-in loop, so you can stash it in your pack or dangle it from your belt loop.
XTM Innisfail Unisex Waterproof Jacket
Aussie brand XTM are showing their snowy roots in this waterproof jacket. The extra length keeps you extra protected and will keep your bum dry when perching on a log for a mid-hike snack. It features a durable polyester tri-layer shell that’s fully seam-sealed. There’s a zippered chest pocket, generous hood, full-length pit zips and simple styling. You can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black.
Arc’Teryx Zeta SL Waterproof Jacket
This premium jacket from Arc’Teryx is made for the mountains, so should certainly hold up to your average Sunday hike. It’s super compact and packable, using a combination of Gore-Tex and Paclite® Plus technology. Taped seams up the waterproof ante and the adjustable hood features a laminated brim.
There’s microsuede facing on the chin guard for added comfort and you’ve got two hand-warmer pockets. Like most Arc’teryx products, this jacket’s certainly on the pricey side, but it comes highly recommended and you’ll definitely get what you pay for with the Zeta SL.
Team Timbuktu Elements Waterproof Jacket
100% recycled and DWR coated, this is a jacket that’ll keep you dry and make you feel good about yourself. One of the few outdoor brands brave enough to use patterns, Team Timbuktu are certainly bringing some style to the outdoors. The Elements jacket features a dipped back for extra waterproofing, internal and external pockets, and a generously sized hood.
Mont Raindance Jacket
The Raindance jacket boasts possibly the highest waterproof power of these jackets and it uses their WaterLab fabric. This claims to be totally waterproof, totally windproof and highly breathable, which is pretty darn impressive. Mont’s no-fuss jacket is also fully seam-sealed, is mid-thigh length and features a generous storm hood.
The main zipper has a storm flap and there are two large cargo pockets on the front. All this waterproofing comes at a slight weight cost, making it the least packable and heaviest of our selection.
Kathmandu Trailhead Jacket
The Kathmandu Trailhead jacket is fully seam-sealed and uses a Pertex™ shield, making it highly waterproof and windproof. It’s got two hand wamer pockets at the front and a chest pocket with a handy cord port if you want to get your podcast on while hiking.
The adjustable hood is a good size, although it doesn’t have a peak. Like with most Kathmandu items, signing up for their free store membership program will knock $100 off the listed price.
Feature photo by Matt Pearce