Five of the best lightweight waterproof jackets reviewed (2018)

There’s no need to be weighed down by a heavy waterproof jacket in summer, so here’s the best waterproof jackets that weigh less than 350g.

Weights

Manufacturers often give average weights or the weight of the medium jacket. All the jackets here were weighed when tested, so our stated weights may vary from manufacturers’.

Ventilation

Even the best waterproof and breathable fabrics allow condensation to form, so it’s important that you can increase ventilation. A front zip can be used for venting, as can pit zips, while mesh linings in pockets also increase airflow. Lightweight jackets are often fitted with mesh pockets but this may not be ideal for really wet weather as they may also allow water to pass through.

Hoods

The hood should fit snugly so it doesn’t blow off, but it must also move so you can see where you are going. The peak may become bent, so look for a wired peak that can be reshaped.

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Zips

Normal jacket zips aren’t waterproof, so are usually covered by a single or double stormflap, but these are often removed on lightweight jackets. Water-resistant zips are commonly used on high-priced jackets, and some of these are fitted with an internal flap to channel away any water that gets thorough.

Pockets

Big pockets are great for storing maps, guidebooks and GPS receivers, but they can also be used to protect your hands from wind and rain. Rucksack belts may obscure access to some pockets, so make sure they are well positioned to avoid this problem.

Fabrics

Higher-priced jackets will generally use the most waterproof and breathable materials available, so while there may be small differences between them this will be difficult to notice on the hill. Your comfort levels therefore will often be dictated by features such as hood, pocket and sleeve design. In contrast, lower-priced jackets generally have fabrics that are less breathable and may be less waterproof. Fabrics described as 2-layer or 2.5-layer tend to gather more condensation than fabrics described as 3-layer. Thin fabrics also tend to buckle in the wind, so they feel colder than stiffer fabrics that can trap warm air inside.


Rab Downpour Plus £130

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 329g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer Pertex Shield Plus

It's good

This offers exceptional lightweight performance for the price. So you get excellent chest pockets that easily take an OS map while wearing a rucksack. They are also sealed rather than mesh-lined, so they won’t allow water to easily pass through the jacket. The 2.5-layer fabric has a Dry Touch treatment on the inside to help manage condensation, but you also get pit zips to allow extra ventilation. The hood is great too, thanks to a wired peak and great drawcords at the face and rear, all of which combine to allow great vision as you move your head.

However

This is not the lightest jacket you can get, and it also feels slightly cold and clammy compared to a 3-layer fabric that controls condensation even better. A third chest pocket would be useful, like many lightweight jackets, but at least the two main pockets you get are great. There is very little wrong here if you want a practical lightweight jacket for hillwalking, but some details are better on higher-priced jackets.

Verdict

 For £130 this is a superb lightweight jacket, but a bit more budget may bring a few benefits.

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%

Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra £165

  • Men’s XS-XL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 202g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer 20-denier Pertex Shield with stretch

It's good

The 2.5-layer fabric is stretchy and very thin, which shaves off some weight. I found this jacket fitted closely while still providing very good freedom of movement without the hem or cuffs riding up. There are two main pockets with mesh linings, which are easily accessed while wearing a rucksack belt and just about take an OS map. The hood is elasticated at the back and has face drawcords as well as a wired peak. A nice touch is a section of soft brushed fabric at the chin behind the zip. The weight is very impressive for what you get too.

However

Those two pockets are mesh-lined, so water can potentially creep through this jacket, but also it is a tight squeeze to get an OS map into them. Also the cuffs are elasticated rather than having Velcro adjustment, so you cannot control their fit as well as others. The hood fit and movement is acceptable, but it does not move as well with the head as others. Finally, the fabric feels more cold and clammy than stiffer 3-layer fabrics.

Verdict

A lighter jacket with stretchy material – but the cuffs, pockets and hood are not perfect.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 3/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Alpkit Balance £175

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s 8-16
  • Weight 338g (size L)
  • Material 3-layer laminate with nylon face and PU/PTFE membrane

It's good

The 3-layer fabric feels a little tougher than lighter jackets, and also it benefits from a thin bi-component knit backer to manage condensation better than some lighter jackets. You get two good-sized pockets that take an OS map easily while wearing a rucksack. The pockets are mesh lined which reduces cost, weight and increases airflow for condensation control. The hood is very good thanks to a wired peak and excellent fit and movement. There is reasonable movement in the sleeves too. All that for this price and weight is hard to beat for hillwalking and backpacking.

However

It would be great if the pockets were sealed rather than mesh to help keep water out. Also a third pocket on the chest would be really useful. While the fabric is thicker than other lightweights, it still buckles easily in the wind more than heavier jackets. A slight niggle is that you do get a little movement in the cuffs when raising your arms such as during a scramble. There are lighter and lower priced jackets.

Verdict

The hood and 3-layer fabric set this jacket apart from others, but the mesh-lined pockets may let water in.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow £190

  • Men’s XS-XL
  • Women’s XS-XL
  • Weight 309g (size L)
  • Material 2.5-layer H2No 30d stretch nylon

It's good

Having a third chest pocket sets this jacket apart, and can be used for a GPS receiver while the two, larger main pockets can store OS maps or used as handwarmers. All these pockets are sealed rather than mesh, so water can’t creep through them easily. There are also pit zips for added ventilation. The main fabric has stretch, the body is slightly longer than others and there is good freedom of movement. The hood gets rear volume adjustment, fits very closely and moves well with the head.

However

That third pocket is a little small, so won’t take chunky guidebooks or maps, and access to the lower pockets is easily obscured by rucksack belts. While the hood does fit and move with the head well, it leaves the head more exposed than others as the peak is very small, and the sides of the hood don’t come very far forward. Finally, the material is a little colder and more clammy than stiffer 3-layer fabrics.

Verdict

Well-featured jacket with Patagonia’s eco-credentials, but some minor details could be better.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 3/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Rohan Elite £249

  • Men’s S-XXL
  • Women’s XS-L
  • Weight 303g (size L)
  • Material 3-layer Barricade

It's good

This is a 3-layer nylon fabric with high levels of waterproofness and breathability, but equally important is that this jacket has sealed rather than mesh pockets as well as a stormflap behind the front zip, which all adds up to more water resistance than many other lightweight jackets. Importantly it still has a good weight and the two pockets easily take an OS map, and you can access those pockets reasonably well while wearing a rucksack. The hood has a wired peak and also a great fit and movement with the head. So for general walking this is pretty good.

However

The fit is quite baggy compared to others, and also we noticed the hem and cuffs tended to ride up more easily than others. So this is fine for walking but less ideal for scrambling. The main two pockets are nice and large, but items tend to sink to their bottom, which places them below a rucksack hipbelt, so retrieval is not ideal. There are lighter and lower priced options.

Verdict

Good 3-layer fabric with sealed rather than mesh pockets but the fit is not ideal.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

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Arcteryx Beta AR womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Gore-Tex Pro used is one of the most rugged materials on the market: it’s stormproof, abrasion-resistant and intensely breathable. The material here is reinforced at the shoulders and forearms to make it even more durable. As well as a helmet-compatible, stiffened hood, the Arc’teryx Beta AR also has a separate collar with a micro-suede chinguard. Two outer pockets take an OS map (just) and the interior one swallows a smartphone. 5/5

Fit

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is available in XS-XL for women and XS-XXL for men. The cut is very good, with articulated elbows and gusseted underarms for a full range of movement, without the cuffs or hem riding up. It’s roomy enough to house warm layers but still neatly fitted, with enough length for a little bum protection too. The hood fits very snugly and moves almost perfectly with the head. 5/5

Comfort

There are softer materials available, but not many more durable, so this is a choice – it’s slightly stiff but tough, breathable and unbelievably light. When you’re being blasted by wind and ice, though, you want to feel snugly protected and you do in this, the very good cut elevating comfort levels. And if you get too hot, you can always undo the pit zips. 5/5 

In use

The Arc’teryx Beta AR offers high levels of protection, yet it’s still light and very comfy – which is impressive. The pockets zip close downwards, which is unusual but helps prevent water ingress; and getting an OS map in the smaller opening is a little awkward. There are only minor issues here, which may not be problematic for you: the hood peak is unwired and the drawcord at the back can whip around. But that’s really it. 5/5

Value

You’re paying for premium fabric and design and wow, are you paying for it! Comfort yourself with the fact that it should really last. RRP £430. 3/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is a top-end winter jacket, which is also light enough for year-round use – but at a very high price. 4.6/5

Haglofs Roc Spirit womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

This jacket features Gore C-Knit backer, which makes it lighter, more breathable and softer than standard Gore-Tex, though not as robust as Gore-Tex Pro. Pit zips add ventilation, and articulated sleeves improve the comfort. There are two OS map-sized pockets and one inner, which takes a smartphone. The hood has a wired peak and a soft, elasticated strip of fabric that helps stop water getting in and heat getting out.    5/5

Fit

Women’s comes in sizes XS-XL, men’s in XS-XXL. The neat cut allows for a warm layer underneath and is nicely fitted at the arms. The back gives good bum protection too, though it rides up a bit at the front when reaching. The helmet-compatible hood moves well, though not perfectly, with the head; and the elasticated ribbon of fabric beneath the peak is snug too. 4/5

Comfort

Thanks to the soft C-Knit backing (the inner layer of Gore’s 3-layer laminate system), the Haglöfs Roc Spirit feels very comfortable on, easy to move in and less plasticky next to the skin. Though breathability levels are technically the same as Gore-Tex Pro, because of the way the membranes work it feels a bit warmer – but the pit zips provide good ventilation. 5/5 

In use

Some jackets are designed for tough, higher-level mountaineering, while others focus on lighter-weight comfort, while locking out the elements. The Haglöfs Roc Spirit falls into the latter category. The material is soft, quiet, light and moves flexibly while still providing durable waterproof protection, which will be comfier in warmer conditions than others. All important features are present too, making this a good choice for year-round hillwalking. 5/5

Value

The price is high but you benefit from an excellent fabric, good features and extended use through the year. RRP £330. 4/5

Verdict

The Haglöfs Roc Spirit  is well-featured and very comfy. Not as tough as some, but a good choice for year-round hillwalking. 4.6/5

Mountain Equipment Manaslu womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Manaslu is an Mountain Equipment classic, and for good reason. Gore-Tex Pro fabric offers durable waterproofing and high breathability, and is extremely rugged. The three large pockets all take an OS map – and the inner chest pocket is smartphone-sized. Sleeves are preshaped and articulated for comfort, and there are pit zips to aid venting. The helmet-compatible hood is well-fitting with a stiffened, wired peak. 5/5

Fit

The Manaslu is sized 8-16 (the men’s Lhotse is S-XXL). It’s neat around the hips and waist with room for a thick warm layer and some bum protection from the length. There’s a little cuff movement when reaching, but not much, and the preshaped sleeves increase comfort. The hood moves well with the head, but some pricier options offer a more precise fit. 4/5 

Comfort

The Gore-Tex Pro used is a robust and slightly stiff fabric, designed to keep terrible mountain weather out – and this is very reassuring in the depths of a Scottish winter. Though relatively heavy, it’s breathable, and you can use the pit zips to cool down. Not as soft as some, but that’s the trade-off for bombproof weather protection. 5/5

In use

If you’re mainly a low-level hillwalker, the Mountain Equipment Manaslu may be too much; but if your ventures include winter forays to Scottish summits, it will suit you well. The three main pockets will swallow maps, GPS devices, phones and anything else you want to keep close. The helmet-compatible hood fits well and everything’s designed for use with gloves. The material is extremely robust. Made for high mountains. 5/5

Value

Impressive fabric and excellent features – this is real mountain armour. The price is high but it’s competitive in its market. RRP £330. 4/5

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Manaslu is a mountaineering jacket with the features and material to prove it. A safe choice for winter. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade. 4.6/5

Bergans Eidfjord womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

Bergans’ Dermizax/ecodear fabric is a 3-layer laminate, partially made from molasses, rather than crude oil, which is better for the planet. It’s extremely breathable, with added stretch; softer and comfier than most, with articulated elbows for greater freedom of movement. There are pit zips, three pockets (all a little smaller than OS map-sized) and a non-wired helmet-compatible hood with stiffened peak.    4/5

Fit

The women’s jacket comes in sizes XS-XL, the men’s in S-XXL. The fit is a little closer than some but will still comfortably cover a warm layer. Freedom of movement is very good, especially around the arms, thanks to the articulated elbows; and there’s no cuff movement when reaching. It’s cut longer at the back so you get some bum protection too.    4/5

Comfort

The Bergans Eidfjord is one of the more versatile jackets we looked at. Though not quite as bombproof as others it will be more comfortable in warmer conditions, thanks to its breathability and the lighter fabric. The pit zips are useful for cooling, making this well-suited to faster travel. The material is noticeably softer and easier to move in too, especially around the shoulders. 5/5 

In use

The Bergans Eidfjord offers durable waterproof protection while still remaining light, comfy and soft. You can’t fit a map into the pockets, but the chest pocket at least happily takes a large phone. The hood fits well and moves with the head, so there’s good visibility. All in all, this seems made for movement and it will have a greater reach into the summer months than some others. 4/5

Value

Here the focus is on comfort and durable waterproof protection, and the material is excellent so the price is competitive. RRP £280. 4/5

Verdict

The Bergans Eidfjord is light with good breathability, and durably waterproof. Not as bombproof as some, but comfier than most. 4.2/5

Berghaus Extrem Sumcham womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is made from Hydroshell Elite Pro, with a heavier variety of the same fabric over the hips and shoulders, to help resist backpack abrasion. There are two chest pockets, both of which take an OS map (the opening is slightly smaller than some but accessible with a rucksack hipbelt), and there’s a phone-sized inner Napoleon pocket. Ticks for cuff and hem adjustment and a wire-peaked, helmet-compatible hood, too. 5/5

Fit

The women’s Extrem Sumcham comes in sizes 8-16 (and the men’s Extrem Hagshu in XS-XL). The fit is loose enough for several warm layers, but still neat, with a bit more bagginess around the arms. There’s no cuff movement when reaching, and hem movement isn’t problematic either. It’s slightly longer at the back to give you some bum protection, but others offer more. 4/5 

Comfort

The Hydroshell Elite Pro used is a tough, stormproof fabric. There aren’t any pit zips but the chest pockets are mesh-lined so can be used for venting, though this does mean that water can pass through if they’re left open or if you stuff wet things in, and isn’t ideal if you’re carrying things in them. The jacket feels reassuringly protective in harsh weather but might be too warm in more forgiving conditions. 3/5

In use

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is a tough jacket, designed for British winters, but it’s less durably waterproof than those using laminate materials like Gore-Tex Pro. The material feels quite stiff and heavy – welcome when it’s howling a gale, especially with the excellent face protection you get when it’s fully zipped right up to the nose. The wired hood and moves well, though not perfectly, with the head. 4/5

Value

Map-sized pockets, tough fabric and a stiffened, wire-peaked hood: good features and weather protection here for a relatively low price. RRP £260. 4/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem Sumcham is on the heavy side, but this is an extremely durable jacket for the price, and well-featured. 4.0/5

Rab Latok Alpine Womens Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Rab Latok Alpine uses 3-layer eVent fabric for durable, breathable protection. There is drawcord adjustment at the hem and neck, and Velcro on the cuffs so you can effectively trap heat. The wire-peaked, helmet-compatible hood is good too, adjustable and moves well with the head. Two large chest pockets both swallow an OS map and are accessible with a rucksack hipbelt, plus there’s a smartphone-sized inner Napoleon pocket. 5/5

Fit

Available in sizes 8-16 for women, and men’s S-XXL. It’s cut to Rab’s Regular fit, which allows plenty of room underneath for layering while being contoured at the waist and neatly fitting. It offers a full, unrestricted range of movement, with negligible movement at the cuffs when you reach, and is long enough to cover the bum. The hood fits almost perfectly too. 4/5

Comfort

The Rab Latok Alpine belongs to the heavier and stiffer family of jackets. The material feels like armour when it’s on, which in terrible weather is reassuring but in milder conditions might prove a little too much – though you can always open the pit zips. The roomy interior allows for plenty of layering without compromising comfort, and the length gives you additional protection around the bum.  4/5 

In use

Fully zipped, your face is protected up to the nose, and it’s possible to cinch it even tighter. This, the tough fabric and other adjustments, mean body heat is really locked in. The pockets get a big tick for size and accessibility while wearing a pack with a hipbelt. All in all, the features list is impressive at this price; some may want an extra pocket, but if not – great. 4/5

Value

This is a robust jacket, with all the essential features ticked and good design around the hood, making it very good value. RRP £260. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Latok Alpine is a robust, well-featured jacket at a very good price, though you can get more if you spend more. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award. 4.2/5

Mountain Equipment Rupal Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Mountain Equipment Rupal is built with Gore-Tex, but not the higher-spec Pro version – although it does have the benefit of feeling very robust to fend off bad winter weather. You get two huge chest pockets that are easily accessed and a hood with a very well-stiffened wired peak. Pit zips are provided for more ventilation control. There are only two chest pockets though and some others are slightly lighter. 4/5

Fit

Available is sizes S-XXL for men and 8-16 for women. The fit is about 4cm longer than the short jackets we looked at, so it does give the bum some protection. The hood fits closely and moves easily with the head, and sleeve movement is very good with barely any movement in them or the cuffs when raising arms. The overall cut is less close than some. 5/5

Comfort

This does feel stiff, which you may not like in milder weather; but for me I prefer this when battling across the winter mountains as it buckles less in the wind and feels warmer as more air remains trapped inside. There is a massive patch of soft fabric at the top of the zip to protect the chin from being scratched, which I really like. 4/5

In use

On a tough day’s scrambling the Mountain Equipment Rupal really proves itself. It uses 75 denier fabric so it has more abrasion resistance than some others. It feels nice and protective, and those two massive pockets are ideal for maps, gloves or guidebooks. The hood really makes foul weather enjoyable as it offers so much protection. I’d like a third pocket ideally, but that is the only niggle. 5/5

Value

There are lots of lower-priced jackets but this has benefits that others cannot offer and you have to spend more to better it in my view. RRP £250. 4/5

Verdict

A really solid performance on the hill that is ideal for those heading into more challenging conditions. The Mountain Equipment Rupal wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Rab Firewall Jacket Review 2016

Features


Pertex Shield Plus with a 3-layer construction is the main fabric in the Rab Firewall. It offers excellent waterproofness and breathability, and feels soft and comfortable and relatively lightweight. You get three chest-mounted pockets, which are all OS map-sized. The hood has a wired peak and there are pit zips too. The niggle is that the fabric is less durable, thinner and softer than others for wild weather. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XL and the women’s 8-16. The body is about 5cm longer than the shorter jackets we looked at so it covered my rear better than others. The cut is slightly closer than some on the sleeves, which is good; and better still if you raise your arms the sleeves and hem of the jacket don’t ride up. The hood fits exceptionally well and moves effortlessly with the head. 5/5

Comfort

The use of 3-layer Pertex Shield Plus makes this very comfortable as the material is soft, flexible and lightweight. It does buckle more easily than heavier fabrics though so in strong winter winds it will feel a bit chilly. Also it is less durable than higher-priced Rab jackets so it needs to be respected. But overall a very comfortable option for lighter conditions.     4/5

In use

For mild weather the Rab Firewall is an exceptional jacket and at 503g it is light enough to stash in a rucksack. The three main pockets are all OS map-sized and easily accessed while wearing a rucksack. The hood allows very clear vision as it moves so well and has a great wired peak. If needed you can vent the sleeves with long zips. Others feel more durable and protective in wild weather, though – and that is my main concern. 4/5

Value

Good value for what you get, but higher-priced jackets have benefits around that extra durability to withstand tough conditions. RRP £200. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Firewall is an excellent jacket for milder hill and mountain days but others are more robust for tougher conditions. 4/5

Keela Cairn Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Cairn is a new jacket from Keela, using Aquaflex 3-layer fabric, which is thin, flexible and slightly rustly, but it does help to keep the weight down to a competitive 337g (size M). There are two main pockets that extend to close to the hem. The third chest pocket is quite small and potentially too high on the chest. You do get a wired peak on the hood, though, which is good. 4/5

Fit

This is only available for men but there is a wide size range, from XS-XXXL. The fit is shorter than other jackets by quite a margin, but it does have a good fit with excellent freedom of movement in the sleeves without the cuffs or hem riding up. The hood also fits and moves with the head exceptionally well. Pity there’s no version for women, though. 4/5

Comfort

The material is light and soft, so this moves with the body and feels very comfortable. 
The hood fits closely and is very comfy too. But as it is shorter than others my bum is less well-protected, so the Keela Cairn is not a jacket for the wettest and coldest of conditions. The thin material also buckles in the wind more easily than that used in heavier jackets. 3/5

In use

The weight is a real bonus but this is less suitable for wild conditions as it does not trap warm air inside so well due to that short length and flexible fabric. The hood is great though. The pockets are annoying as the main ones extend to the hem so they can be difficult to fully access while wearing a rucksack hipbelt. The high chest pocket is very small and a rucksack shoulder strap can partially cover it. 3/5

Value

The price is very good but with some slight changes in design this would offer far better performance for the money. RRP £176. 4/5

Verdict

The Keela Cairn is a light, well-priced jacket; but the details let it down, which makes it frustrating to use in challenging weather. 3.6/5

Berghaus Thunder Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Berghaus Thunder is made of Gore-Tex, but at this price it’s not the high-spec Pro version. However it has a nice robust feel and there is a mesh lining inside for more comfort. There are two main pockets, and a hood with volume adjustment and face drawcord. The hood peak does not get a wired or stiffened peak though. It does lack some extra features like a long body and a third pocket, but it has the basics. 3/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 8-18. It has quite a loose, baggy fit but is relatively short so it did not cover my bum as effectively as some higher-priced jackets. The hood fit is good, but I found the rear volume adjustment stiff to adjust and the hood did not move very well with my head. There was some movement in the cuffs and hem when moving my arms too. 4/5

Comfort

The Berghaus Thunder does feel generally comfortable as you get a mesh lining inside the Gore-Tex outer and the baggy fit does trap plenty of air. The material also does not buckle too much in the wind. You don’t get such good protection of the bum, though, and no soft brushed panel to protect the chin from the zip. Others are certainly less comfortable, but this could still be better. 3/5

In use

On the hill this provides the basics of protection you need. But the shorter length is a drawback and the style is overly baggy, I felt, and sort of gets in the way. The two main pockets are very large but access to them is easily impeded by rucksack hipbelts as they are quite low on the body. The hood does not turn as well as others either. But I do like that it provides more robust protection than lighter jackets. 3/5

Value

You are getting Gore-Tex here and it has plenty of features; if slightly better designed its value for its performance would be higher. RRP £170. 4/5

Verdict

The Berghaus Thunder is a good basic jacket if you’re heading to the hills, but little details are much better on other jackets. 3.4/5

Rab Charge Jacket Review 2016

Features

Rab Charge.jpg

The Rab Charge’s weight of 314g is really impressive yet you do get two large chest pockets. These pockets are mesh-lined to ventilate the jacket, but that also means they won’t keep water out as effectively. The main fabric is a 2.5-layer version of Pertex Shield Plus with stretch, so it doesn’t control condensation as well as 3-layer fabrics and it is also less durable. A great lightweight option though. 3/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s sizes are 8-16. The Rab Charge is about 4cm longer than the shortest jacket we looked at so it provides a little more protection to the bum. The sleeves are particularly well-shaped to fit closely, but importantly the hem and cuffs don’t move when you raise your arms. The hood adjusts and fits exceptionally well. Brilliant. 5/5

Comfort

This is very light, and the 2.5-layer stretch Pertex Shield Plus fabric offers little if any restriction to movement so it feels exceptionally comfortable in good weather. However it does not control condensation as well as higher-priced 3-layer fabrics and it buckles in the wind, making it feel quite cold in foul weather. So, good up to a point
– but others are better in poor conditions. 4/5

In use

The two huge chest pockets are great for handwarming or maps, but there is no third pocket. The pockets are mesh-lined too, so they can allow water to pass into the jacket if it enters the pocket, and it also means this area is less wind-resistant. But the hood is ideal for the hill, the sleeves are great and if used for milder conditions the Rab Charge is excellent. It is just less appealing in a blizzard. 3/5

Value

The price is very good compared to what others at this price can offer, but a higher price brings better mountain performance. RRP £150. 4/5

Verdict

The Rab Charge is a superb choice for milder weather, but in tougher conditions I’d prefer to use other jackets. 3.8/5

Montane Atomic Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Montane Atomic is made with Pertex Shield, which has a waterproof, breathable coating applied to the material rather than using the more durable laminated construction of Pertex Shield Plus. The material is 2.5-layer rather than 3-layer so condensation control is not ideal. The jacket has two large mesh-lined pockets and a hood with a wired peak. It weighs in at a very good 319g (size L), which is appealing. 3/5

Fit

Men’s sizes are S-XXL and women’s 8-16. The body is a little shorter than others so your bum is less protected. The fit is quite close, though, and there isn’t any movement in the cuffs or hem when raising the arms. The hood fit is very good and easily adjusted. This is virtually perfect, but others are slightly longer and offer very slightly better movement. 5/5

Comfort

This 2.5-layer garment does feel a little clammy compared to 3-layer jackets; also jackets using Pertex Shield Plus feel more comfortable against the skin. But this is stiffer than others, meaning it does not feel as cold in the wind, so in winter the Montane Atomic is a better option for hill-goers. The fabric does not stretch, but it does not restrict movement either. 4/5 

In use

You can warm your hands in the two chest pockets or stash a map for access on the go. The pockets are mesh-lined, though, so they can allow water to pass through into the jacket if you are not careful in a downpour. The hood is great, as is the sleeve movement, and I like the fact that this is a little stiffer for windier conditions. But I’d ideally like some more length and a third pocket. 3/5

Value

For just £120 you get a very lightweight jacket that competes well with higher-priced options so this is great value for money. RRP £120. 5/5

Verdict

The Montane Atomic is a very good jacket for its price if walking in milder conditions, but it’s worth paying more for better protection. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.0/5

Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid Jacket Review 2016

Features

The Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid uses Isotex 5000 fabric with stretch areas on the hood, shoulders and lower sleeves to improve fit and movement. There is a loose lining to improve comfort. You get two main pockets plus two Napoleon chest pockets higher on the chest. The hood has rear volume adjustment, face drawcords and a wired peak. There are pit zips too, and a very large, soft panel around the chin for more comfort. 4/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are S-XXXL and women’s are 8-20 – which is a wider range than most jackets can offer. The body is longer than most, and it fully covered my bum – unlike any other jacket we looked at. The hood fit is superb and moves effortlessly with the head. The sleeves do ride up a little when raising my arms, but that is the only niggle here. 4/5

Comfort

With its longer body the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid is comfier than many in bad weather as it offers more protection. Also that loose liner adds to the comfort and the excellent hood improves it further as it makes walking in the rain a real pleasure! The material is not as breathable as higher-priced jackets, but you get pit zips for ventilation and the loose liner prevents it becoming clammy. 4/5

In use

If you’re heading to the hills the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid feels great in many ways, with the hood being the highlight. But none of the pockets is big enough for an OS map, and access to the lower pockets is not ideal if wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. The pair of Napoleon chest pockets are handy for smaller items but they would be so much more useful if a little larger. But if you can live without perfect pockets this is a good choice for the hill. 3/5

Value

The price is good when you consider how many features you get; it is just a pity the pockets are not better designed. RRP £100. 5/5

Verdict

If you don’t need access to large map-sized pockets the Regatta Cross Pennine II Hybrid is great for hillwalking, and well-priced. 4.0/5

Sprayway Naxos Topaz Jacket Review 2016

Features

Using Sprayway’s well-proven HydroDry fabric with a loose lining for greater comfort, you also get three external main pockets and a hood with a wired peak. The two main pockets are placed quite low down so access to them won’t be ideal while wearing a rucksack. Having that mesh lining increases the weight a little, but it is still reasonable. For its price the Naxos offers a good set of practical features. 4/5

Fit

The Naxos is available for men in sizes S-XXL, with the women’s Topaz in sizes 8-16. The design is a little shorter than others, meaning it doesn’t quite cover the bum. The body is slightly baggy, and when I raised my arms the cuffs tended to ride up more easily than other jackets. The hood does fit and move well with the head however. 4/5

Comfort

The fabric is not as breathable as higher-priced jackets but you get that mesh and taffeta lining to hide any condensation so it does feel nice. It is also comfortable as it is a softer fabric than some 3-layer materials, and as it has a lining it tends to feel warmer and more comfortable in windier conditions when lighter, thinner fabrics buckle. 4/5

In use

The two main pockets are a big enough for OS maps but they extend quite low so when wearing a rucksack hipbelt access to them is impaired. The higher chest pocket is map-sized, though, and easily accessed. The hood is great and benefits from a wired peak, although this is not quite as good a peak as higher-priced jackets offer. But for general hillwalking the Sprayway Naxos/Topaz is pretty good overall. 4/5

Value

This is a good price for a jacket that may not be perfect but has a lot of advantages over many of its competitors. RRP £100. 5/5

Verdict

The Sprayway Naxos/Topaz is a good hillwalking jacket that has drawbacks but is very functional and well-priced. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Berghaus Stormcloud Jacket Review 2016

Features

Updated for 2016 from Berghaus’s AQ2 material to the brand’s Hydroshell fabric, the Stormcloud still offers the same basic performance. The 2-layer fabric keeps weight down and improves suppleness, but it does not control condensation as well as 3-layer or mesh-lined jackets. The two main pockets are sealed rather than mesh, so they are watertight. The hood does not have a wired peak. 3/5

Fit

The men’s is available in S-XXL and the women’s in 8-18. The body is quite short so you don’t get much protection for your bum. The sleeves are quite a close fit, while the hood fits very closely and moves well with the head. The hem and cuffs don’t ride up when raising your arms. Overall this has a far more tailored fit than many jackets in its price band. 5/5

Comfort

Combining a 2-layer fabric with a closer fit means the Berghaus Stormcloud is a little clammier than some other designs. It is quite a thin fabric too, so in really windy weather you can feel a bit cold and battered. The pockets are sealed rather than mesh-lined, though, so at least you’re more likely to stay dry in this compared to jackets with mesh pockets.  3/5

In use

If you put on a rucksack with a hipbelt it is not easy to get into the main pockets, which isn’t ideal (and there are no additional pockets). But at least they are map-sized. The hood would benefit from a wired or more stiffened peak to be perfect, but its fit and movement are very good. The weight of 319g (size L) is a real bonus so while not perfect this is better than many for hillwalkers. 3/5

Value

For its price the Berghaus Stormcloud is very good, but if you pay more you do get a much better jacket. RRP £80. 5/5

Verdict

If your budget is very tight then the Berghaus Stormcloud is a perfectly good jacket, but if you can pay more you get many benefits. 3.8/5

Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro Jacket Review 2016

Features

Littered with innovative features, the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is designed for mountaineering. Its Gore-Tex Pro material has a unique Xpanse back design for more stretch across the shoulders. There are two main pockets with mesh linings, a hood with wired peak and magnetic volume adjustment, and a zip-out perforated panel to allow easier breathing when the jacket is fully zipped up. 5/5

Fit

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro comes in men’s sizes XS-XL, but there’s no women’s version. The fit is reasonably close but still allows outstanding freedom of movement. The unique Xpanse back design means there is no hint of cuff or hem movement when raising the arms, and absolutely no restriction across back and shoulders. The hood fits superbly and moves effortlessly with the head. It’s a pity women cannot benefit from it, though. 4/5

Comfort

Gore-Tex Pro is the main fabric, and this offers a good all-round level of comfort. The hand pockets are mesh-lined so they can be used to vent the jacket, but in a hillwalking situation I would prefer that these were sealed to prevent water passing through pockets to the wearer. The two Napoleon pockets are sealed, however, which is better. 4/5

In use

Apart from those mesh-lined pockets the Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is stunning. It is about 5cm longer than the shorter jackets, with a scooped tail to protect the bum. The chest pockets and main pockets are all OS map-sized and easily accessed. The hood is superb, although others do have a deeper peak for even more face protection. The sleeve movement is outstanding. 5/5

Value

The price is extreme and hard to justify unless you really need the Xpanse back and the stunning freedom of movement. RRP: £450. 2/5 

Verdict

The Berghaus Extrem 8000 Pro is an extremely good design for extreme mountaineering conditions – with an extreme price tag. 4.0/5