We’ve got you covered
From April showers through to downpours in December... be prepared with these waterproof jackets, writes Jon Axworthy
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit. And, if you live in the UK, you’re definitely going to need a waterproof in your cloakroom to keep you dry and avoid the humiliation of wrestling with an unruly umbrella on wet and windy days. Obviously, your hard-shell needs to keep the wet stuff off the dry stuff underneath and, as your outermost layer, its construction
needs to form the most impermeable shell possible, whilst remaining breathable.
Jackets are usually constructed from two, 2.5 and three layers. That’s either a single layer with a connected membrane, a single layer and membrane finished with a water-repellent coating, or all of the above with another liner on the inside. It also needs to be effective against biting winds, and the panels of material that the jacket is constructed from need to be accurately taped and finished well, so they don’t become uncomfortable when moving. There needs to be a good level of adjustability too, with cuffs, zips, hoods and hem creating a tight seal when you’re walking into driving rain.
Often used within a layering system, waterproofs are usually on and off, according to the elements, so if they are to be considered truly practical then they need to be truly packable. Finally, the jacket needs to be tactile and wearable so that it moves with you as you go – we all remember the waterproofs of our youth that sounded like you were wearing a bin liner and occasionally felt like it too. So, here are the jackets that ticked all those boxes and had all the practicality of a Sou’wester, without making you look like a deckhand on a North Sea fishing boat.
How we tested
You’re never too far away from a soaking on Dartmoor, so that’s where we headed to test all the jackets we had been sent, so that we could test which were fit for purpose and offered plenty of functionality. Dartmoor’s unforgiving terrain also allowed us to test the durability of each jacket and the material’s resistance to contact with the environment. When the testing was done we also assessed each jacket in relation to its price point to see whether it offered value for money.
Cortazu mountain hard shell: £359, Cortazu
You may not have heard of this brand, but they’re creating a lot of buzz in outdoor circles for producing tough, technical jackets, loaded with functionality. And this three-layer – that uses a material called dermizax, which has a waterproofing rating very similar to that of gore-tex – certainly performed well in very heavy rain.
The jacket may not be as soft to the touch as some of the others on test here, however you can tell that the material will stand up to anything it comes up against, whether that’s a torrential downpour or a jagged rock. At the shoulders, there’s a printed pattern, which offers extra protection against wear and tear from a backpack.
The jacket is dotted with pockets, including two large hand warmers, two Napoleons and an arm pocket. Inside, there’s a big stash pocket and smaller phone pocket and there are smaller pockets too – one with a key clip and one with an attached cloth for wiping sunglasses or goggles. There’s also plenty of adjustability, a good low hem and pit zips which allow you to cool down when you’re working hard.
Arc’teryx beta AR: £500, Arc’teryx
This three-layer jacket with taped seams is feature packed and will be a welcome addition to any layering system for ambitious hiking adventures, but also performs well if you’re just grabbing it from the hook to take the dogs for a spin. The jacket’s construction is definitely going to keep you dry with its gore-tex fabric with gore c-knit backer technology, which basically means that it feels less stiff without compromising its waterproof qualities and also adds to how easily the jacket can be compressed, if you’re storing it away.
The thing we really loved about the beta AR though was that sometimes to guarantee that you’re going to stay dry you have to compromise a certain degree of comfort, but there was definitely none of that here. The beta AR provides a good, close fit when layered up and there’s no bulk, while the materials and finish are both quiet and soft.
There’s an internal zip pocket big enough for a smartphone and two comfortable hand pockets with cuffs that are finished with Velcro, and there’s a good stiff peak to the hood to keep driving rain out of your eyes too.
Thru Dark skirmish: £345, Thru Dark
Here is a three-layer jacket that provides a nice hugging, athletic fit, although with the right size you would still be able to layer up underneath, if you wanted to. The waterproofing was exceptional and the skirmish kept us bone dry even after walking through one of the most horrendous (and prolonged) Dartmoor downpours of our testing cycle. Thankfully, the jacket has a stiff, high neckline and an excellent adjustable storm hood with a very stiff peak that would not be moved by the driving rain. The dropped hem was also very welcome when we had our back to the weather.
The jacket is supremely suited for running and the brand have thought carefully about where the vents are located. This ensured that the skirmish didn’t just turn into a bin bag when we picked up the pace – which is an all too common occurrence with some pullover waterproofs. The cuffs were stretchy enough for us to access our watch without letting water in and the waterproofing on the zips was excellent, including the two chest zip pockets that finish the jacket.
The other big bonus with the skirmish is that it’s really quickdrying, so you won’t stay drenched after a particularly sharp shower.
Rab phantom pull-on: £160, Rab
This 2.5-layer pullover will make a great addition to your outdoor kit list and is highly adaptable for bike packing, hiking or mountain running. It features a Pertex outer that was effective in the wind and, more importantly, the wet, while also being lightweight, breathable, rugged and very stashable.
The taped seams did their job well in the wet, as did the hood, which was easy on and off and protected the face when things really turned nasty – we also liked the soft fabric at the zip closure, which was a nice detail. It’s slim fitting but there’s enough room to wear a technical tee or thin fleece underneath. There’s elastication at the cuffs and the hem and Rab have done a bang-up job optimising the construction of the jacket to work with the movement of running, which is also why the jacket doesn’t have any pockets.
Berghaus deluge pro 2.0: £135, Berghaus
Combining a Berghaus hydroshell outer and hydroloft insulation, this is a great jacket for wet and cold days and it may look plain but that belies excellent functionality. The waterproofing was efficient, creating an effective barrier against hard and soft rain and the hood, cuffs and hem are all adjustable if you need to seal in the warmth and really keep out the elements. The fit to the body was close, but still allowed for plenty of movement. We would have liked to have seen an inner pocket too, but that’s a very small niggle considering this is such a great all-rounder, at a really keen price point.
Belstaff airside jacket: £395, Belstaff
The airside is a no-nonsense, practical and lightweight two-layer jacket with gore-tex waterproofing that’s seam sealed and double taped, providing a supremely efficient barrier against the elements. Even when the rain started to come down really hard the material, in combination with the pullover design, wasn’t overwhelmed and the elasticated hood cinched down well. There was no water ingress through the quarter zip at the front either.
The material is tactile, soft and moves easily, making the jacket easy to get on and off over your head, and the whole piece is finished off with two side zip pockets that are roomy but never get in the way when riding or walking.
Mammut chamuera HS thermo hooded parka: £199, Mammut
Synthetically insulated throughout, Mammut’s hooded parka provides an excellent barrier against the elements whilst remaining breathable enough to avoid any danger of you overheating if you need to pick up the pace. The problem with many parka designs is that they can feel bulky once they’re on but this jacket offers up all the advantages of the parka look, while moving with the body really well, whether you’re just wandering through the park or running for a bus.
The cut of the jacket is classic, but very practical with a nice low, adjustable hem that travels diagonally up to below the waistband at the front. There’s plenty of pocketing too with a zipped arm pocket, an internal and four front pockets.
Haglofs astral GTX: £340, Haglofs
A two-layer Gore-Tex shell treated with DWR, this provided plenty of weatherproofing when it was needed, while the mesh lining worked well, wicking away moisture and allowing our body to breathe when things cleared up. There are also two pit zips to increase your control of the temperature inside the jacket.
The jacket followed our movements well too, with articulated sleeves that allowed for lots of freedom when we started to work really hard. With good adjustability, there are zipped chest and hand pockets with plenty of room for personal cargo, while there’s some extra detailing with an inner zipper and an arm pocket for your ski pass.
The North Face summit torre egger futurelight jacket: £515, The North Face
We really like The North Face’s futurelight fabric which is one of the most impenetrable waterproof skins that we’ve tested, and offers up one of the best combinations of waterproofing and breathability that we’ve seen in any jacket. There’s a lot of material in the three-layer jacket, but you never feel like it’s getting in the way of your movements, whether that’s forward progression or when you’re at camp, and it’s very comfortable on.
This comfort extends to the chin guard and cuffs and the fact that the shoulders are seamless make wearing a heavier pack less of a chore. The hood went on easily and the brim stayed in place to protect from headwind-driven rain, while the underarm zips were easy to get to and open and close, even while walking.
In terms of pocketing, there are hand pockets, two internal mesh pockets and a zipped chest pocket with a gear loop for easy access.
Montane phase nano jacket: £300, Montane
With great waterproofing-to-weight ratio, the slim profile of the phase nano means that it really suits running, with taped seams that were comfortable and didn’t chafe. The hood had a good stiff peak which remained in place and kept wind and rain out of our eyes, and there was good all-round adjustability and waterproofing around the zips, which have been kept to a minimum. The zipped chest pocket was big enough to carry the essentials but small enough to keep everything in place.
As with all jackets geared towards running, the nylon fabric and construction combined to work with the movement of the arms and was comfortable without compromising the excellent waterproofing.
Super tough, very protective and with some well thought out technical details, the Cortazu mountain hard shell allows you to completely forget the forecast knowing that you’re going to be fully protected in the rain. All the elements have been carefully considered and made with the outdoors in mind.
In addition to this, we also really liked the quality and attention to detail of the Thru Dark skirmish, which was one of the best of the best because of its ability to stop and shed water, whilst remaining breathable and, in keeping with the brand, was one of the toughest jackets on test.
Want your views to be included in The Independent Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your address
BACK TO TOP