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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Patagonia Triolet Jacket Review 2016

Features

The combination of two main pockets and two Napoleon pockets means you have room to warm your hands as well as space to maintain access to maps, guidebooks and GPS receivers on the move. The material is Gore-Tex, but it’s not the Pro version. You also get pit zips for ventilation and a hood with a peak (but this is not as well-stiffened as others). 4/5

Fit

The Patagonia Triolet is available in sizes XS-XL for men and XS-XL for women. The fit is about 8cm longer than the shorter jackets here and it completely covered my bum, but it was a little baggy round the stomach area. Sleeve movement is not ideal either, as the hem or cuffs tended to ride up more easily than others. The hood fit and movement are excellent but a wired peak would make it even better potentially. 4/5

Comfort

This is made from Gore-Tex but it’s not the Pro version so you don’t get the knit backer for better condensation management; however it does feel nice and robust so it withstands wind well. The pockets are sealed rather than mesh-lined, so they will keep water out. There is also a patch of soft fabric at the top of the zip to protect the chin. That extra body length also makes this warmer in foul weather. 5/5

In use

The Napoleon chest pockets are not big enough for maps, but are useful for a GPS or phone. The lower pockets are OS map-sized and can just about be accessed while wearing a rucksack with a big hipbelt, but others are higher on the body for better access. For scrambling better sleeve movement would be good. The Patagonia Triolet is workable; but others are slightly better. 4/5

Value

The price is competitive and you get lots of decent features, with only small benefits available if you pay more. RRP: £300. 4/5

Verdict

A good all-round design but the details won’t be right for all so the Patagonia Triolet is a considered purchase. 4.2/5

Patagonia Torrentshell Plus (2014)

The Torrentshell Plus is the heaviest jacket in our test, but it has the lowest price tag and also boasts some pretty good hillwalking features. It is made from Patagonia’s H2No 2.5-layer fabric, which gives top-end lab results for waterproofness and breathability; but like all 2.5-layer constructions it doesn’t manage condensation as well as 3-layer fabrics. Like some other jackets you get pit zips to help to control any condensation. The front zip is a decent water-resistant design with an internal stormflap, and the pockets are also sealed rather than mesh, so all in all this offers good waterproof protection. The two lower pockets are smaller than on some other jackets but you can still squeeze an OS map into them and access is maintained when wearing a rucksack. More importantly those lower pockets aren’t mesh-lined, so the Torrentshell will keep you dry more easily than some other lighter jackets with mesh pockets. There is good movement in the sleeves and the cuffs are easily adjusted. The hood is not the best available, but it does fit and move with the head well; indeed the only drawback is that there is no wire in the peak. Bearing in mind the price tag, waterproof pocket design and reasonable weight I suspect many walkers will prefer the Patagonia Torrentshell Plus to other jackets here.

Specifications:

Fabric 2.5 layer H2N0 Performance Shell

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? yes

Side/pit zips? yes

Weight 350g (men’s size L)

Website www.patagonia.com/eu

Verdict

A great price for a jacket with a very waterproof design, but the Patagonia Torrentshell Plus is not the lightest option and the hood would benefit from a wired peak. It won Trail’s ‘Best Value’ award.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Patagonia Piolet (2012)

This one feels bomb-proof. The fit is long enough to cover the hips and hands, with gusseted underarm panels for easy movement. There’s a very comfortable, high fleece-lined collar, and a deep hood with a stiffened peak. The main zip is covered by an external storm flap with slightly fiddly Velcro tabs, but it does a great job of keeping the rain out. Breathability is good, with a mesh lining throughout to wick away sweat, and there are deep pit-zips. The handwarmer pockets are on the small side, but have a soft fleece lining which feels great against your hands.

Sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: 2-layer Gore-Tex
Weight: 530g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: 00800 0000 0041; www.patagonia.com


Patagonia Storm (2012)

The Storm jacket has been a part of Patagonia’s waterproof offering for 20 years. The current version is made of H2NO, Patagonia’s own brand of fabric, which boasts extremely high levels of waterproofness and very good breathability. The fabric is quite a robust material, which gives this a stiffer and more durable feel, making it ideal for hard days on the hill. Inside these is a loose-knit lining that makes this very comfortable to wear. For extra condensation control you get pit zips and to keep the rain out the main zip gets a good external double stormflap. The pockets are large enough for an OS map and are placed high enough to allow good access while wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. Those pockets have a bellows design so you can easily pack spare hats or gloves into them for easy access on the move. The hood cannot be rolled and secured at the collar, but the fit and movement are
very good. The peak is quite small so it does not offer the protection of larger peaks, but it is still pretty good for general walking. The Patagonia Storm is slightly heavier than some jackets in its price category, which is a slight drawback.

Weight 733g (men’s L)
Fabric 2-layer H2No polyester ripstop
Lining polyester knit
Men’s sizes XS-XXL
Women’s sizes XS-XL
External pockets 2
Can hood be rolled down? No
Side/pit vents no
Website www.patagonia.com

 

Verdict

The Patagonia Storm is a jacket that’s well-designed for general hill and mountain walking, but the weight is not ideal and some might prefer a slightly larger peak.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2012


Patagonia Torrentshell Parka

A lighter weight, and therefore more reasonably priced jacket here. Although lighter, the face fabric does have Ripstop properties to boost resilience, and it coped well enough with a few scrapes and bumps. The lower price point also means that there is no membrane waterproofing. Instead the H2No coating does the breathable/waterproof job, and as a result it can get a little sweaty inside on warmer days and on steep ascents. The longish, Parka-style cut to the jacket does a good job of covering the backside, which is useful when walking. The lighter nature of the jacket does make it eminently packable and it even stows away in one of its pockets.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: XS-XXL
Materials: 100% nylon Ripstop with waterproof/breathable H2No barrier and DWR finish
Weight: 385g
Pockets: 3
Women’s version: No
Contact: 0800 0000 0041; www.patagonia.com


Patagonia Torrentshell

In terms of performance, this top sits somewhere in the upper middle of the lightweight jackets available. Patagonia’s own h2n0 waterproofing system provides the dryness, but like many others, keeps the weight down by removing a scrim layer on the inside. This means that condensation builds up, especially on colder, windier days. The underarm venting does do a little to help counter that, though. The face fabric is a little noisy but fairly hard-wearing with a tough ripstop construction. The hood works well enough, although it’s not the best, and would benefit from a stiffer peak. The jacket does pack down into its own pocket, so making it a good bet stashed away in a pack for emergency use. The two pockets, although too low for use with a pack, are of a decent size.

VITAL STATS
Sizes:
M-XL
Fabric: h2n0
Weight: 378g
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 00800 0000 0041; www.patagonia.com
• Review from Country Walking magazine, May ’11


Patagonia Shelter Stone 2010

The Patagonia Shelter Stone weighs 616g (size L); stretch fabric on shoulders and underarms; two chest pockets; two Napoleon chest pockets; double stormflap over main zip; pit zips. But it would be better if the main pockets were slightly higher on the chest to maintain better access when wearing rucksacks or harnesses; hood fit and movement are not as good as others.

The Patagonia Shelter Stone is a good general jacket, but for this price others have a slight performance edge.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Patagonia Torrentshell 2010

The Patagonia Torrentshell multi-activity jacket weighs 368g (size L); 2.5-layer H2No fabric; two large hip pockets; pit zips; all zips gets external stormflaps for extra waterproofness; hood fit and movement are good; hood can be rolled to collar; excellent sleeve movement. But higher-priced 3-layer fabrics control condensation better; hood peak would benefit from being stiffer or wired; hip pockets access easily obscured with rucksack belts.

The Patagonia Torrentshell is a good multi-activity jacket, but the pockets don’t have ideal ease of access.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Patagonia Rain Shadow 2010

The Patagonia Rain Shadow weighs 362g (size L); H2No is an extremely waterproof and breathable fabric; pit zips; two zipped pockets that offer reasonable access while wearing a rucksack; fixed hood with volume adjustment; Velcro-adjustable cuffs. But large, soft hood peak may obscure vision; some jackets are lighter; external main zip stormflap has been removed for this year.

The Patagonia Rain Shadow is a great price and weight for a lightweight general walking jacket.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Patagonia Storm 2010

The Patagonia Storm general-purpose jacket uses H2No barrier and recycled materials; pit zips; reasonably long body; front zip gets double external stormflaps; small chest pocket under main zip stormflap; excellent movement in sleeves. But 810g (size L) is very heavy; pocket access easily obscured by rucksack hipbelts; hood fit, movement and soft peak are not ideal.

The Patagonia Storm gets full marks for recycled materials, but fewer marks for hood and performance for walkers.

First published in Trail magazine November 2010


Patagonia Torrentshell

The Torrentshell is a surprisingly well-featured waterproof for its very modest weight and price. The 2.5-layer Nylon H2No ripstop fabric is soft yet tough, and it kept rain out well, although it didn’t deal with perspiration as well as some. It’s let down by its hood, which is a bit on the small side, and also by a floppy peak. However, in its favour it has lengthy underarm zips so vents well when needed. It has decent pockets and good adjustment at the hem and cuffs.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: XS-XX
Hood: Fixed
Weight: 385g
Women’s version: Unisex
Contact: 00800 0000 0041; www.patagonia.com


Patagonia Stretch Element 2009

The Patagonia Stretch Element multi-activity jacket uses H2No stretch; extremely high waterproof-ness; mesh pockets can be accessed while wearing harness; pit zips; hood can be rolled to collar; outstanding sleeve movement. But 590g (men’s L); front zip does not get external stormflap; hood is not the best.

Verdict: The Patagonia Stretch Element jacket is good for alpine peaks but not ideal for biking, running and fast, light multi-sport outdoor action.

 

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2009


Patagonia Kids Snow Patrol 2009

As the name suggests the Patagonia Kids Snow Patrol jacket is designed for cold winter days when snow is a likely occurrence. It is insulated with recycled polyester and feels very warm. The waterproof material is also made from recycled material and is seam-sealed so it will keep both the wet and cold at bay. Draughts are locked out by hem drawcords, Velcro cuff adjustment and the stormflap over the main zip. There are two hip pockets with zips too. The hood is also well-insulated and it can be removed. The hood also gets face drawcords. This is going to be a very warm and cosy waterproof that is ideal for cold winter weather and playing in the freezing snow. But to warrant spending this much money, the child would need to be using the Patagonia Kids Snow Patrol regularly in the cold before they grow out of it! In warm weather the jacket will be too hot so it is has only a small window of use in the UK’s typically wet and relatively mild climate. The weight and bulk are a drawback too if carried by parents ‘just in case’ it gets cold.

 

Outer H2No barrier on 100% recycled polyester
Inner 90% recycled polyester Thermogreen insulation
Fabric waterproofness waterproof
Fabric breathability breathable
Sizes XXS-XL (kids’)
Weight 822g (kids’ S/8 years)
Made in China
Stores in the UK no info provided

Verdict: The Patagonia Kids Snow Patrol is ideal for regular use in the snow, but not as a waterproof for walking in the UK.

 

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2009


Patagonia Rain Shadow 2009

The Patagonia Rain Shadow weigh 374g (men‘s L); H2No is extremely waterproof and breathable fabric; pit zips; two zipped pockets; fixed hood with volume adjustment; Velcro adjustable cuffs; front zip has external stormflap; super price.
But the Patagonia Rain Shadow’s large soft hood peak may obscure vision; pocket access is not ideal while wearing a rucksack hipbelt; some jackets are lighter.

Verdict: The Patagonia Rain Shadow is a great price and weight for a lightweight walking jacket.

 

First published in Trail magazine November 2009


Patagonia Rain Shadow

The Rain Shadow has excellent features. The sizing is generous and the cut is long, and it has a deep, volume-adjustable hood which swivels easily with head movement and a nice high collar and soft chin guard. It performs well, and although the fabric isn’t as breathable as some, it will keep you dry, it’s lightweight, and it packs down easily. It has deep pockets, although they’re a bit low for easy access when wearing a pack. Venting is provided through two large pit-zips.

 

Sizes: XS-XL
Hood: Rollaway
Weight: 340g
Men’s version: Yes 
Contact: 0800 0260055; www.patagonia.com


PATAGONIA SHELTER STONE

Review: The Shelter Stone is an odd shape, with long arms and a short body, and we found Patagonia’s own H2No fabric a little stiff and cardboardy. On the hill it’s workmanlike and kept out pretty yukky weather, but it would benefit from a stiffer peak. Not as breathable as some, but greener credentials.
VITAL STATS
Sizes: S-XL
Fabric: Three-layer Nylon H2No W
Weight: 650g
Women’s version: Unisex
Contact: 0800 0260055, www.patagonia.com

Patagonia Rain Shadow 2008

The Patagonia Rain Shadow is a very good lightweight jacket, and the price is particularly appealing. The jacket uses Patagonia’s own waterproof and breathable fabric, which works well. There is a front zip and hem drawcord to keep out draughts and rain, while long side vents can be used to ventilate the jacket if you overheat. You get just two pockets, which are placed high on the chest, and they’ll easily take a map as well. The hood can be rolled down and secured, and when worn on the head it benefits from excellent movement and adjustment thanks to a rear volume adjuster. There is a large peak on the hood to protect the eyes.  But the Patagonia Rain Shadow’s front zip does not get an external stormflap (like a lot of lightweight jackets), so it may not keep out the worst of the rain. The hood peak is very large and tended to obscure vision easily, while a stiffer peak would be better in windy weather. There are only two pockets, so you may prefer a jacket with more options. Some other jackets are lighter too.

Outer 2.5 layer H2No ripstop nylon
Inner none
Fabric waterproofness no info provided
Fabric breathability no info provided
Sizes XS-XL (large); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 382g (men’s M)
Made in China
Stores in the UK no info provided
Verdict
The Patagonia Rain Shadow is a lightweight jacket at a great price with good pockets and a reasonable hood. It was awarded ‘ Best Value’ in this review.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2008

Patagonia Shelterstone 2008

Patagonia has long been the most ethical of outdoor brands and now with the Shelterstone winter jacket  it has pushed the bar one notch higher by producing the outdoor industry’s first recyclable nylon jacket. What this means is that when you fancy a change you can hand this back to Patagonia so they can break it down and make it into a new jacket. It has great features too, with two small, high chest pockets and two larger lower pockets, which can all be accessed while wearing a rucksack. The front zip gets a double stormflap too so the worst of the weather is kept at bay. The hood is pretty decent too with a stiffened peak that works well. There is good arm movement too. Pit zips and a sensible price complete the package. This jacket would be at home throughout the year for mountain walking, scrambling trekking and backpacking.  But the Patagonia Shelterstone’s lower pockets would be easier to access if they were a bit higher, as rucksack belts tend to obscure entry a little more than you would want. You can get lighter jackets of course, and even lower-priced options. The chest pockets are too small for OS maps.

Outer: H2No
Inner: none
Fabric waterproofness: no info provided
Fabric breathability: no info provided
Sizes: XS-XL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight: 672g (men‘s M)
Made in: Vietnam
Stores in the UK: no info provided

Verdict: The Patagonia Shelterstone is a  very good winter jacket that you can recycle when you get bored of the colour (or annoyed by the pockets).

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2008

Patagonia Storm 2008

The Patagonia Storm general-purpose jacket features 100% recycled polyester with H2No waterproof and breathable treatment: double stormflap; mesh lining; pit zips; excellent movement in sleeves; good hood fit and movement. But 844g (men‘s L) is very heavy; access to main hip pockets is easily obscured; chest pocket too small for maps; large, soft hood peak can flatten.Verdict: The Patagonia Storm jacket is ethical, but very heavy; poor pockets and hood peak are not ideal.

First published in Trail magazine November 2008