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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Montane Featherlite (2015)

Features

The Montane Featherlite uses a lightweight eVent fabric called DV Storm with a 3-layer construction but a slightly different outer face fabric than the Rab Muztag, leading to a slightly lighter jacket at only 296g (size L). The fabric is 20 per cent more breathable than standard eVent and you get two good chest pockets with a wired peak on the hood. It looks outstanding on paper. 5/5

Size

This is only available in men’s sizes S-XXL. It is designed for alpine climbing so the fit is neat and precise, and closer than some others, particularly around the armpit. I noticed some movement in the cuffs and hem when raising my arms though. But the hood fit is superb and it moves really easily with the head. 4/5

Comfort

The underarm area seems slightly too close and some larger folk may find it uncomfortable. But the fabric is great in terms of condensation control, though as it is quite thin and a close-fitting design it can’t trap warm air inside so well, thus the Montane Featherlite isn’t the warmest option. The pockets aren’t mesh so they keep you dry. 4/5

In use

Used for hillwalking, this jacket feels superb. At just 296g it can easily be stashed in a pack. The two large pockets take maps or warm hands very easily while wearing a pack, and while a third would be good that would increase weight. The hood is outstanding. 5/5

Value

The price is higher than some other jackets at similar weights and designs so it isn’t the ultimate in value, but it’s still acceptable. 3/5

Verdict

The Montane Featherlite is not absolutely perfect, but the weight combined with what you do get is a great option for hillwalking and backpacking. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.2/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Regatta Vapourspeed (2015)

Features

The Regatta Vapourspeed’s weight of 301g (size L) and a cost of just £90 are the main attractions. For that weight and price you get a 2.5-layer fabric that cannot boast the performance of pricier jackets. There are two main pockets, without mesh linings, so they won’t leak easily, while the hood gets a wired peak. Not outstanding but excellent at this price. 4/5

Size

It comes in men’s size S-XXXL and women’s 8-20, a wider range than many jackets. Also it is longer than most and just about covered my bum. The cuffs and hem do ride up a bit when the arms are raised, but the hood fits and moves really well with the head and has a wired peak to protect the face. 4/5

Comfort

The Isotex 10,000 fabric feels a bit clammier than others (it lacks the breathability figures of jackets twice its price, and there is no liner to soak up any condensation). But the pockets are sealed, so they keep you dry. It covers more of your body too, so in some ways it is comfier than others. 3/5

In use

The Regatta Vapourspeed’s length is a bonus and the hood is excellent. But the two main pockets are very low so rucksack hipbelts can easily obscure access (although as this jacket is quite long that isn’t always the case). The two main pockets are map-sized, but a chest map pocket would be good. 3/5

Value

The Regatta Vapourspeed was the best jacket we looked at below £100 and while not perfect it competes well with higher-priced options. 5/5

Verdict

If your budget is under £100 then the Regatta Vapourspeed is an excellent lightweight jacket for hillwalking, but if you pay more you do get a better product. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Montane Minimus (2015)

Features

At just 265g (L) the Montane Minimus is exceptionally light, and the features are minimalist to reach that goal. The main weight saving comes from the Pertex Shield + fabric, which is very thin and feels quite delicate. Also the three pockets have mesh linings, to save weight. But at least you get all those pockets, and the hood has a wired peak, so this has some important features. 4/5

Size

This is available in sizes S-XL for men and 8-16 for women. The fit is quite close with an average length. The sleeve movement is very good with no movement in the hem or cuffs when raising the arms. The hood also fits exceptionally well with excellent movement, and the wired peak is superb. 5/5

Comfort

The close fit combined with the very thin fabric makes the Montane Minimus feel quite cold in a strong wind as any warm insulating air is easily squashed out. Also the pockets are mesh-lined so water can creep in through them. The close fit means there is less space for extra insulation underneath. 3/5

In use

The weight of 265g (L) means you’d barely notice the Montane Minimus in a rucksack. The hood is great and all three pockets take an OS map, but they’re mesh-lined, so water can get in. Also, lower pocket access isn’t great with a rucksack. The weight and hood are the benefits. 3/5

Value

The price is appealing and it is a very lightweight jacket so it compares well to those with higher price tags, but it has drawbacks too. 3/5

Verdict

Buy the Montane Minimus for the low weight and you will love it, but it inevitably has drawbacks that some hillwalkers will not want to tolerate. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Rab Muztag (2015)

Features

This 2015 jacket uses a very lightweight version of eVent fabric called DV Storm with a 3-layer construction so the inside layer can manage condensation. The fabric is said to be 20 per cent more breathable than standard eVent. You also get two huge chest pockets plus a hood with a wired peak along with face drawcords and rear volume adjustment. 5/5

Size

The Rab Muztag comes in size S-XXL for men and 8-16 for women. The cut and fit are similar to others with a length that doesn’t cover the bum and a fit that is averagely close. The sleeves and hem don’t ride up easily and the hood is superb, a close fit allowing it to move effortlessly with the head to maintain vision. 5/5

Comfort

The 3-layer eVent DV Storm fabric feels great and appears to manage condensation really well, without being too crinkly. Like all thin fabric it tends to buckle in the wind so it’s not the warmest. As the pockets aren’t mesh they will keep you dry, but you cannot use them as vents, though you have a front zip for that. 5/5

In use

The two large pockets are ideal for hands or map. I’d like a third ideally (but then it would weigh more). The weight is ideal for summer and the hood is fine all year round. Other Rab jackets will probably be more durable in the long term, but for hillwalkers this is ideal. 5/5

Value

Compared to other jackets the price is actually really good, but clearly £200 is not the cheapest option. 4/5

Verdict

Taking everything into account, the Rab Muztag is one of the best lightweight hillwalking jackets around, assuming you are able to splash out on the price tag. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade.

4.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Montane Atomic (2015)

Features

The Montane Atomic is made from Pertex Shield fabric, which boasts good waterproofness and breathability but isn’t as good as Pertex Shield + used in the Montane Minimus, although it does feel more robust. The two mesh-lined chest pockets would be better if sealed, but they have good access; and the hood gets a wired peak with face and volume adjustment. 4/5

Size

Available in men’s sizes S-XXL and for women in sizes 8-16. The body is typical of all these lightweight jackets in many ways, but with a slightly closer fit. The cuffs and hem move a bit when the arms are raised but not too much. The hood is exceptional with a great fit and superior movement to allow easy vision. 4/5

Comfort

This version of Pertex Shield is stiffer than Pertex Shield + fabric used on the Montane Minimus, so while not as light, it is warmer and comfier. Condensation builds up on the inside more than with Pertex Shield + though. The pockets are mesh-lined so good for venting, but water can creep in through them. 3/5

In use

The Montane Atomic’s weight is good and the two pockets large enough for OS maps while allowing access if wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt. The hood is ideal for hillwalking thanks to that wired peak and great movement. My niggles? The pockets are mesh-lined, so water can creep in, and condensation can be a problem. 4/5

Value

The Atomic’s price is very good and as it has a great hood and large easy-to-access pockets, this is the best option we looked at under £150. 5/5

Verdict

I’d like the pockets not to be mesh; but apart from that the Montane Atomic is an excellent lightweight jacket for hillwalkers who can’t extend their budget beyond its price tag. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Jöttnar Hymir (2015)

Features

There are lots of ways to save weight, and the Jöttnar Hymir strips away features to achieve its 346g (L). So it is a smock design with a short front zip, and it’s relatively free of seams too. There is only one pocket, but it does take a map. The hood gets a wired peak as well as face drawcords and rear volume adjustment. Other jackets have many more features. 3/5

Size

This jacket just comes in sizes S-XL; there is no women’s option. It is designed for climbing so the fit is reasonably close but you still get good arm movement without the hem or cuffs riding up. The large helmet-compatible hood cinches down neatly to fit and move with the head very well. The length is similar to others. 5/5

Comfort

The Jöttnar Hymir uses the lightest type of Polartec Neoshell fabric, so its breathability is exceptionally good. It is a 3-layer material, so an inner scrim soaks up and helps disperse any condensation. There is less ventilation due to the short front zip, and like most lightweights the fabric easily buckles in the wind. But overall it is great. 5/5

In use

If you don’t need pockets for hands, or a full-length front zip, this is the best jacket in our test. You can put a map in the single chest pocket and that pocket isn’t mesh-lined, so water cannot creep through. The hood is outstanding. But for hillwalking it isn’t ideal. 4/5

Value

The price is higher than some other jackets with more features, meaning it's not the best-value purchase. 3/5

Verdict

If you like smocks and don’t need two pockets then the Jöttnar Hymir is perfect, but it’s not the lightest in terms of weight or price. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Vaude Crestone (2015)

Features

The Ceplex Advanced fabric used in the Vaude Crestone is Bluesign-approved, meaning it meets stringent environmental standards. It is a 2.5-layer fabric, so it’s not quite as good as 3-layer materials for condensation management. But it is light at 313g (size L) and you still get two main pockets, plus a third chest pocket, a hood with a wired peak, and pit zips, which is remarkable at this weight. 4/5

Size

The Crestone comes in sizes S-XXL for men and 34-44 for women. The fit is slightly closer than some others, but I found the sleeves or hem did ride up when raising my arms. The hood fit was good but it did not move with the head as well as higher-priced jackets. The wired peak fits very well, though, to protect the face. 3/5

Comfort

As with all 2.5-layer fabrics, condensation isn’t controlled as well as in 3-layer jackets and it feels a little clammier in general. But you do get pit zips to aid ventilation. The pockets are sealed so no water gets through them. The close-fitting sleeves and soft fabric mean warm air is not easily trapped here, so it can feel a bit chilly. 4/5

In use

The Vaude Crestone is better than most. The two large pockets are ideal for maps or to warm hands. The third chest pocket is good for a GPS or compass. The peak is excellent, and the hood moves just about well enough with the head to be better than some. Condensation is the main drawback. 4/5

Value

The pros outweigh the cons when the cost is considered, as while not perfect this jacket is very good at the price. 4/5

Verdict

A very light weight combined with good pockets and a reasonable hood make the Vaude Crestone a good choice for the cost-conscious hillwalker. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Vaude Casson (2015)

Features

The Vaude Casson’s 2.5-layer Ceplex Advanced fabric gains Bluesign approval for its environmental benefits, but condensation control is not quite as good as 3-layer fabrics. There are two main pockets, pit zips and a hood with a wired peak. It has a decent weight of 310g too. The main drawback is the two pockets: they’re mesh-lined so they may allow water through. 4/5

Size

In men’s sizes S-XXL and women’s 34-44, the Casson’s length and fit are similar to other lightweight jackets’. But the hem and cuffs ride up a little when raising your arms. The hood is great though, with just a little cinch of the volume adjuster needed for a great fit and easy movement with the head. 4/5

Comfort

The 2.5-layer fabric feels a little clammy and doesn’t control condensation as well as 3- layer fabrics. The pit zips ease condensation build-up and the pockets are mesh for more airflow, but that’s no good in the rain of course, so you’ll need to keep those

pockets closed to stay dry. 3/5

In use

The Vaude Casson’s weight, hood and large pockets that can be easily accessed when wearing a rucksack with a hipbelt set this jacket apart from many others. But slightly better movement in the sleeves would be ideal, and having sealed rather than mesh pockets would be a bonus in the wet. But it’s better than most. 4/5

Value

This is the best jacket around this price when weight and performance are taken into account, so good value. 4/5

Verdict

The Vaude Casson is a reasonable jacket for hillwalking and a good price, with the main drawback being mesh pockets that can let water through. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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Arc’teryx Beta SL (2015)

Features

The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric used in the Arc’teryx Beta SL is designed to be lightweight and packable, but it doesn’t control condensation as well as 3-layer fabrics. You also get two good-sized pockets that are well-positioned and don’t have mesh linings, so they should keep water out. The hood has a stiffened peak, however it isn’t as well-stiffened as others. 4/5

Size

The men’s sizes are S-XXL and the women’s XS-XL. The fit is a bit more relaxed than others but it still allows good sleeve movement without hem or cuffs riding up. The helmet-compatible hood fits very well and moves easily with the head. The length is similar to others: in other words not quite able to protect the bum.  5/5

Comfort

As the Arc’teryx Beta SL is made of a 2-layer fabric rather than 3-layer, it feels a bit clammy and shows up any condensation that forms. But it is extremely breathable and extremely durable, and those pockets aren’t mesh so if water gets in them you will still stay dry. The looser fit and stiffer fabric is good for overall warmth. 3/5

In use

The 340g (men’s L) weight is good, the pockets are great, and the hood fit and movement are superb. But the peak isn’t stiffened with wire so you need to stash the jacket carefully to prevent this becoming misshapen. The main drawback is the 2-layer fabric, though. 4/5

Value

The price is high compared to what else is available, but it is typical for this type of design and material. 3/5

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta SL is a very good jacket for hillwalkers that’s better than most of a similar design, but it isn’t an outstanding option compared to the absolute best. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2015

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First test: Rab Flashpoint (2015)

The lighter your gear, the less you’ll be weighed down – and the more enjoyable heading to the hills will be. But we also like to be comfy when the weather turns ugly, and minimal weight at any cost is something few hillwalkers will tolerate. So the 182g weight of Rab’s Flashpoint jacket is certainly impressive, but it’s important that this does not come at the cost of performance.

The jacket is made from a new material – unique to Rab – called Flashpoint, a 3-layer laminate with a waterproof and breathable membrane sandwiched between an outer layer and an inner layer of fabric. In theory this means the waterproof layer is protected from abrasion on both sides, and the inner layer can soak up and disperse any condensation that may form inside the jacket. Rab quotes impressive lab results of 20,000+mm hydrostatic head and a moisture vapour transmission rate (MVTR) of 40,000g/m²/day. This puts the fabric at the top of the league table for waterproofness / breathability.

With a weight of 182g (size M) and a packed size of a large fist, if you wanted to leave this in your rucksack you’d hardly notice it.

I took the Flashpoint on the Lakeland fells during typical blustery sunshine and showers, the sort of weather where carrying a waterproof is important, but I didn’t want to be weighed down by full heavy waterproofs and I’d probably take it off for part the walk.

The design is quite short and close-fitting, which saves weight and also makes it more suitable for faster movement. But you do get a helmet-compatible hood with a wired peak, face and rear volume adjusters plus a full-length zip, hem drawcord and Velcro cuff adjustment. You do only get one pocket, though, so if (as I do) you like to have somewhere to put your hands, this jacket is not ideal. But at least that pocket is big enough for a map. It is also properly sealed, rather than mesh-lined, so if water does get inside it you will stay dry.

What is most noticeable about the Rab Flashpoint is that there are hardly any seams, and those that are there have narrow taping. This reduces weight and bulk but also improves breathability. On the hill I did find the taped areas held some condensation, but the body of the jacket stayed drier and was up there with the best in terms of moisture management. The thin fabric does mean this jacket can feel a bit cold in the wind, though, which is a problem with most lighter jackets. There’s no women’s version either, which is a shame.

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Flashpoint

Sizes S-XXL (men’s)

rab.equipment/uk

Verdict

The Rab Flashpoint’s weight, the fabric and the hood are great, but you might want more pockets for regular use. However this is probably a compromise worth making for a jacket designed for moving fast and having ready in your rucksack to throw on when needed in mixed conditions, rather than being worn all day in the foulest of weather. Pity there’s no women’s version, though.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine June 2015

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Marmot Artemis/Adroit (2014)

This jacket is made from Marmot’s latest fabric, NanoPro Membrain, which boasts excellent breathability in the lab and in my experience is one of the best 2.5-layer fabrics available for controlling condensation on the hill. It comes in men’s and women’s version called the Artemis and Adroit respectively. The jacket has a good water-resistant zip up the front with an internal flap to manage wind and water leaks through it. There are pit zips too for added control of condensation. There are just two outside pockets but these are huge and extend up most of the side of the jacket so you can easily access them and easily store maps in them. The drawback is that they’re mesh and the pocket bag extends to the hem, meaning retrieving items from them can be a chore – but at least the pocket zips are well-placed. The hood is reasonably well-designed with a stiffened peak that has a small soft wire in it, so it can be reformed if it becomes bent in the rucksack. The hood also fits on the head and moves easily to allow good vision. All that for 332g (size men’s large) is very good and a slight tweak to those pockets would make the Marmot Artemis/Adroit an excellent option, but with a price tag of £200 other jackets are slightly better in my view for hillwalking.

Specifications:

Fabric 2.5-layer NanoPro MemBrain

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL (Artemis)

Women’s sizes XS-XL (Adroit)

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? yes

Weight 332g (men’s size L)

Website www.marmot.eu

Verdict

The Marmot Artemis/Adroit’s fabric, hood and weight are great but I’d want slightly better pockets to guarantee my purchase of this jacket at £200.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Vaude Crestone (2014)

The 2.5-layer Ceplex Advanced fabric used in the Vaude Crestone meets the environmentally friendly Bluesign standards, while the pit zips and three pockets on the body will suit a wide range of user needs. The two main pockets are large enough for maps and they’re well-placed to maintain access while wearing a rucksack. These pockets don’t use mesh linings, but the third small chest pocket is placed higher on the body and has a mesh lining that drops into the main pocket. This means a heavy item such as a GPS receiver, phone or bunch of keys dangles annoyingly into the top of the main pocket. The pit zips are long so you can just vent the side of the jacket if needed. All the Vaude Crestone’s zips including the main front zip of the jacket are not the most water-resistant design, but the main zip does have an internal flap to limit water ingress. The hood is very interesting thanks to a wired peak and a drawcord system that is adjusted at the back of the head. This tends to leave the cheek and chin area looser than other designs, which I quite liked. There is also an interesting mesh panel that sits over the forehead to help hold the hood in place, and this worked well for me but it may not be to everyone’s taste.

Specifications:

Fabric 2.5-layer Ceplex Advanced

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes 34-44

External pockets 3

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? yes

Weight 308g (men’s size L)

Website www.vaude.comA>

Verdict

Some of the features on this environmentally friendly jacket are a little quirky, but overall the Vaude Crestone offers a good package for hillwalkers.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Rohan Elite (2014)

A frequent favourite in Trail tests, the Elite uses Rohan’s own fabric, Barricade Elite, which offers performance that is equal to the best in the industry. I’ve been using the jacket for several years and find that on the hill it is just as impressive. At only 334g the Elite packs in a host of useful features for heading onto the hills. The body is short like most lightweights and has an exposed front zip of the more water-resistant variety with a very stiff internal baffle to keep any leaks under control. There are an excellent pair of chest-mounted pockets, which aren’t mesh-lined, so they keep water out more readily than most. These pockets are huge and they’re ideal for stashing a map, guidebook or just for warming hands. The Rohan Elite’s hood can be rolled down and secured at the collar in mild conditions, but when the heavens open the stiffened peak and excellent fit and movement will really be appreciated. The hood drawcords extend around the outside, rather than through internal channels, so they look a bit messy, but they work well. The fabric feels a little like paper, but so far I haven’t torn my older version of this jacket, although I think it’s necessary to treat it a little more carefully than some heavier models.

Specifications:

Fabric Barricade Elite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes XS-L

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? yes

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 329g (men’s size L)

Website www.rohan.co.uk

Verdict

Thehood and pocket design set the Rohan Elite apart from many competitors, the only drawbacks being the price tag and the slightly fragile feel of the fabric. It won Trail’s ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Arc’teryx Beta SL (2014)

The Arc’teryx Beta SL weighs in at 349g (men’s size large) and is made from Gore-Tex Paclite, which is designed to be the lightweight and durable option from the house of Gore. The jacket, which was a comfortable fit on me, has a short body with a water-resistant zip up the front. There is a small baffle on the inside of the zip to keep draughts and leaks at bay. The two chest pockets are well-placed to maintain access above a rucksack hipbelt and they’re also large enough for maps and guidebooks. Most importantly the pockets are not mesh-lined, so they won’t leak through the jacket if water enters the pocket. The cuffs get Velcro adjustment and the sleeves have good movement, allowing this jacket to perform well when scrambling. The hood has face and volume drawcords, and these provided a close fit that allowed the hood to move really well with the head to maintain vision. The hook peak isn’t wired and isn’t as large as some, but it does have some light stiffening that works quite well. The main drawback with the Arc’teryx Beta SL is that Gore-Tex Paclite doesn’t control condensation as well as a 3-layer fabric such as Gore-Tex Active, but Paclite is durable and light and so for long-term performance it’s a good option.

Specifications:

Fabric Gore-Tex Paclite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes XS-XL

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 349g (men’s size L)

Website www.arcteryx.com

Verdict

The Arc’teryx Beta SL offers good features and weight for hillwalking, although slightly better hoods are available and some jackets manage condensation better.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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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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OMM Aether (2014)

The OMM Aether is made from 3-layer eVent fabric so you get the benefits of a 3-layer fabric – maximum condensation management – along with the top-end breathability and water resistance that this fabric is well known for. The Aether is available as a smock or the jacket design featured here. The style is slightly looser around the body than some other jackets in this test, but this is barely noticeable once a rucksack is being worn as the straps tend to prevent billowing. The front water-resistant zip has an internal flap, which is smaller than others, to prevent draughts and leaks through the zip. There are just two pockets, both on the chest and easily accessible above rucksack straps while being large enough to accommodate maps. These pockets aren’t mesh-lined so they won’t allow water to pass through the jacket. The sleeves are well-designed to allow easy movement without riding up while the Velcro tab cuff adjustment is simple and effective. The hood is particularly good with a stiffened, wired peak and a fit that allows it to easily move with the head and maintain great vision. You don’t get the pit zips and third pocket of other jackets, but for most hillwalkers the OMM Aether offers all you need from a lightweight jacket.

Specifications:

Fabric 3-layer Event

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XL

Women’s sizes none

External pockets 2

Stowable hood? no

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 238g (men’s size L)

Website www.theomm.com

Verdict

The OMM Aether offers a great fabric and feature combo for hillwalking if minimal weight and practicality are your priorities, but its price is less appealing.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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Mountain Equipment Aeon (2014)

The Mountain Equipment Aeon boasts a wealth of hill-orientated features. Firstly the Drilite fabric features top-end waterproofness and breathability, while the ‘dry-touch’ inner treatment helps to manage condensation – although higher-priced fabrics may be even better. The fabric also feels a little softer than some options, which gives the impression of being less durable, but I think it will be durable enough for most hillwalkers. The jacket has a water-resistant front zip with a soft internal flap to block wind and water, but this flap on other jackets has a gutter design and is stiffer, which may help to funnel water away from the wearer. The two main pockets easily take a map while being accessible when wearing rucksack belts. The third chest pocket is smaller but still useful for a guidebook, compass, phone or GPS receiver. The two main pockets are mesh-lined, so water could make its way through the jacket via these pockets. In warm weather those mesh linings add ventilation, and there are pit zips for further ventilation control. The hood can be rolled away and secured in the collar during calmer conditions, while in the foulest of weather the hood’s stiffened and wired peak along with drawcords ensure good protection. Not all is perfect with the Mountain Equipment Aeon, though, as the cuff adjusters are annoyingly narrow and faffy while the forearm of the sleeve is a little baggy.

Specifications:

Fabric Drilite

Lining none

Men’s sizes S-XXL

Women’s sizes 8-16

External pockets 3

Stowable hood? yes

Side/pit zips? no

Weight 350g (men’s size L)

Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Aeon is well-priced with a very high-performance fabric and generally great features for the hillwalker. Paying more may bring more durable fabrics and better condensation control.

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine July 2014

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