Best budget waterproof jackets 2024: affordable hardshells

Waterproof jackets are a hiking essential, but often very expensive. These are our favourite waterproof jackets costing £190 or less.

Three photos of hikers wearing budget waterproof jackets

by James Forrest |
Updated on

When window shopping in an outdoor gear store, it's nice to gaze in wonder at the top-end hiking jackets. But few of us really need them. While a waterproof jacket is a hiking essential, there are some excellent budget waterproof jackets.

Some would argue 'cheap and waterproof' is an oxymoron and, of course, for the most part, you do get what you pay for. One of our most important pieces of advice is to get the outdoor gear that suits you best. If that means saving up for a little longer, we think it's worth it. But even so, many of us don't want or need to spend big money on a feature-rich winter waterproof jacket. Or a super high-tech, lightweight waterproof, for that matter. Just a reliable hillwalking waterproof please.

Waterproof jacket bargains are out there if you know where to look. In this round-up, we've selected the best budget waterproof jackets under £200. That's still a relatively hefty price tag, but we've tried to mitigate that age-old risk of 'buy cheap, pay twice'.

The best budget waterproof jackets at a glance:

Best in Test: Mountain Equipment Garwhal Jacket

Best Value: Berghaus Paclite Dynak Jacket

Best waterproof jacket under £150: Rab Downpour Eco Jacket

Closeup of rain beading on a waterproof jacket
©LFTO

Each jacket selected (except one) has an impressive hydrostatic head rating of 20,000mm or higher – a solid guarantee that it can cope with a torrential downpour. We've also kept an eye out for rain-resisting features such as visored hoods, zipper stormflaps, durable fabrics and sealed seams.

The best budget waterproof jackets in detail

Male hiker wearing an orange waterproof jacket
©LFTO

Best in Test

Mountain Equipment Garwhal JacketLFTO

Mountain Equipment has a long-standing reputation for reliable waterproof jackets. Garhwal is Mountain Equipment's second cheapest offering. Made from Gore-Tex's Paclite fabric – a 2.5-layer construction of 100% polyester with an ePTFE membrane – the jacket has a 28,000mm hydrostatic head rating and a breathability rating of RET <6.

Not everything in a waterproof can be judged on geeky stats alone, but these figures are as good as it gets for a budget waterproof.

In use, the Garhwal strikes an impressive balance: it feels light and minimalist enough for high levels of comfort and breathability, yet simultaneously, it's tough and sturdy enough to keep you dry when the heavens open. Features include Velcro cuffs, a waist drawcord, two large handwarmer pockets, an internal stormflap, and an adjustable hood with peak. The fit is best described as 'athletic', and it's the lightest jacket here.

The 'alpine fit' suits skinnier body shapes and may feel too tight around the chest for fuller figures. In a show of admirable honesty, the brand admits that despite "advanced construction techniques", in "exceptionally wet conditions, water may get into the pockets".

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • High waterproof rating
  • Good breathability
  • Mountain Equipment, a Fair Wear Foundation member
  • PFC-free DWR

Cons

  • Not recycled
  • Slimmer 'alpine' fit won't suit everyone

Best Value

LFTO

This is the cheapest Gore-Tex jacket in this round-up and the most affordable option if you want the reassurance of the big name in membrane technology.

Made from a lightweight and packable Gore-Tex Paclite fabric (100% polyester with ePTFE membrane), the Paclite Dynak has a 28,000mm hydrostatic head rating and a breathability rating of RET <6. It's a touch roomier – and thus better for layering – than the Mountain Equipment Garwhal and Montane Spirit, and it has good features too.

The hood is adjustable, with a stiffened visor, protective chinguard and good coverage of the face. The waist hem can be fine-tuned for a good fit, Velcro cuffs prevent water ingress, and the central zipper has an internal stormflap. Two handwarmer pockets have both internal and external stormflaps, and the dropped hem provides extra coverage of your backside.

A few features are omitted, including pit zippers and internal pockets. The handwarmer pockets are big enough to take an OS map, but the small pocket entrance makes getting the map in or out rather awkward. All-round performance is, perhaps, ever so slightly lower than the Spirit or Garhwal.

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • Very affordable Gore-Tex jacket
  • Ideal emergency rain layer
  • Good fit for layering
  • Bluesign approved

Cons

  • Missing some key features

Best waterproof jacket under £150

LFTO

This is Rab's cheapest waterproof jacket. The 50 denier Eco Downpour looks excellent on paper: 20,000mm hydrostatic head and 20,000g/m²/24hr breathability, with good all-round features including Velcro cuffs, adjustable hem, underarm vents, two handwarmer pockets, YKK zippers throughout, large external stormflaps on all zippers, and an adjustable hood with flexible peak.

Made from a 100% recycled 2.5-layer Pertex Shield Revolve fabric, it has excellent eco credentials too. Interestingly, because the jacket is a monopolymer (both the outer and membrane are 100% polyester), the jacket has "the potential to be recycled at the end of its life".

Compared to Gore-Tex fabrics, the recycled Pertex shell feels thinner, softer and less noisy. This might limit long-term performance and durability, but it enhances comfort a fair bit. However, the fit around the waist and backside feels tight.

We have confidence in the Pertex fabric, but nevertheless, the Downpour Eco ultimately seems best suited to light showers.

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Sustainable
  • Rab a Fair Wear Foundation leader

Cons

  • Some others here are better for downpours

Best waterproof jacket under £100

Helly Hansen Moss Rain JacketLFTO

This jacket is a total left-field option for hillwalkers, but we've included it as a maverick alternative – mainly because it's the cheapest 20,000mm-rated jacket we could find anywhere.

The catch? Modern waterproof jackets aim to strike a perfect harmony between waterproofing and breathability. The Moss doesn't bother trying – instead, it only aims to be waterproof. Breathability is nil, and, therefore, when you're working hard, it can be a complete sweatbox – a clammy, sweaty, plasticky nightmare of condensation.

For many, this will be a deal-breaker, but for those who walk slower (and tend not to overheat or over-sweat), it may work.

Based on the original 1950s Helly Hansen fisherman's raincoat, the 2-layer Moss is made from the brand's Helox+ fabric – a 100% polyurethane shell. This provides a thick, tough barrier to rain.

It's hardly feature-rich. The hood is only adjustable at the front and doesn't have a proper peak, and the cuffs are only adjustable via press stud buttons, for example. But you get two handwarmer pockets, chunky zipper stormflap and a cinchable hem.

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • Very waterproof
  • Great price
  • Durable

Cons

  • No breathability

Best for versatility

LFTO

With jackets sporting the Gore-Tex name you immediately categorise them as a proper hiking waterproof jacket. While that's fine, a bona fide hiking jacket isn't necessarily what we all need. Some of us, for example want a waterproof we can use around town, commuting, and weekend walks.

This is where Sherpa's Nima 2.5-Layer Jacket comes in. While it doesn't have the same waterproof rating of Gore-Tex (10,000mm HH vs GTX's 28,000mm HH) it's still high enough for fending of rain - just not persistent driving rain. It also has a number of other hiking-friendly touches. Firstly, it's very lightweight, weighing less than 300g thanks to the 2.5-layer construction. We also like the mesh-lined pockets and pit zips which aid breathability. There are Velcro cuffs, double storm flap on the main zip, and an adjustable hood too, which are useful weatherproofing touches.

For use in urban environments and travel, this jacket is better than many waterproof jackets because it's a lot more subtly stylish.

One of the other huge strong points with this jacket is its eco credentials. Apart from being recycled and PFC-free, the brand has a mission to support Nepalese schoolchildren, and employment opportunities in Nepal through its Handcrafted Collection, which we think is pretty cool.

Check out the men's version.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sustainable
  • Mesh-lined pockets
  • Pit zips
  • Double stormflaps

Cons

  • Outperformed by Gore-Tex Paclite

Best for durability

Keela Pinnacle JacketLFTO
Price: £159.95 (RRP £185)

www.outdooraction.co.uk

Like a throwback to the era when hillwalking jackets were uncompromisingly bombproof, this jacket is easily the toughest shell on test – the kind of jacket designed for an apocalyptic downpour when you're halfway up a Munro in far-flung Sutherland.

For some, it'll feel too heavy, clunky and boxy – it's not for fast 'n' light outings – but for others, the strong, muscular build will be reassuring. Made from Keela's in-house membrane, Aquaflex Extreme, which has a 20,000mm hydrostatic head rating and a 17,000g/m²/24hr breathability rating, the Pinnacle has a 3-layer construction.

The price is excellent for a 3-layer jacket – we couldn't find any cheaper from a reputable brand. Top-notch features include helmet-compatible hood, underarm vents, adjustable waist, four pockets and Velcro cuffs.

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • 3-layer construction
  • Durable and bombproof
  • Plenty of features

Cons

  • Will be too heavy and bulky for some
  • Not PFC-free or recycled

LFTO
Price: £210.00

montane.com

There is minimal variation between the Montane Spirit and Mountain Equipment Garwhal. Same price, similar weight, near-identical features, same waterproofing stats, same breathability rating – it's tricky to pick out any differences.

This is because they're both made from Gore-Tex's Paclite fabric (28,000mm hydrostatic head and RET <6 breathability), with a classic 2.5-layer design and all the features you'd expect.

Unlike the Garwhal, the Spirit's pockets have a mesh lining, which may enhance ventilation but increases the risk of water ingress. The Spirit is also 21g heavier, using a 75-denier construction compared to the 40-denier Garwhal. The Spirit's front hood adjustment – with internal toggles rather than external, as on the Garwhal – is a tad fiddlier, but means the toggles are tucked away and don't flap around.

Other features on the Spirit include fully taped seams, two map-sized handwarmer pockets, an AquaGuard central zipper with internal stormflap, cinchable waist hem, Velcro cuffs, reverse hang loop, superb hood with stiff peak, and an athletic fit.

Check out the women's version.

Pros

  • High waterproof rating
  • Gore-Tex name brings peace of mind
  • Light and packable
  • Montane, a Fair Wear Foundation member

Cons

  • 3-layer construction is more effective and durable
  • Not PFC-free or recycled
  • No pit zips

How we test

James Forrest tested the majority of the waterproof jackets recommended here, and is a freelance gear tester for Live For The Outdoors and Trail Magazine. He's a prolific peak-bagger and wild camper who's climbed hundreds of mountains in the UK and abroad, James gives his gear a serious thrashing on every trip.

As you would imagine, we do indeed spend a lot of time in the rain to find the best waterproof jackets for real-world conditions. But we do more than that. While value becomes a greater priority for budget waterproof jackets, we still consider every aspect of the garment, which includes waterproofness, breathability, durability, comfort, and sustainability. After all, if you get a cheap waterproof that isn't comfortable and doesn't last, well, that's hardly good value, is it?

Read more about how we test here.

What to look for in budget waterproof jacket

Two hikers climbing a hill wearing budget waterproof jackets
©LFTO

Is a budget waterproof jacket less waterproof?

Short answer is, generally yes; longer answer is, not always. Waterproof jackets with a lower price tag carry fewer features, and often the waterproof ratings are lower than higher priced options. However, for a waterproof jacket that can fend of sustained rain a waterproof rating of at least 15,000mm HH is needed (20,000mm HH is better). And there are more affordable waterproof jackets that meet this, as we have demonstrated with our test winners above.

Can I get a budget waterproof jacket with Gore-Tex?

In most cases with waterproof jackets under £200, you can forget about Gore-Tex. In the lower price range, brands most often use their own waterproof membranes. That's not necessarily a bad thing, some are pretty good. It's just worth being realistic.

Most affordable waterproof jackets are made from polyester because it's cheaper than nylon. Nylon is used in more expensive jackets because it's stronger, but polyester is still a good option.

How should a waterproof jacket fit?

Opting for a regular fit or something slimmer depends on what you're using your jacket for. If you're a summer hiker and don't need to layer much, you can go for something with a more athletic cut. But 3-season and year-round hikers are better served by a jacket you can layer with.

What are 2-,2.5-, and 3-layer constructions?

Whether to go for 2-, 2.5-, or a 3-layer construction is a common question. Regarding budget waterproof jackets, when the price range gets under about £170, there aren't many 3-layer jackets to be found. A triple-layer construction is the most durable and suited for harsh conditions but, predictably, the most expensive.

The 2- and 2.5-layer approaches are more widely used. It's partly for cost reasons but also because not all jackets need to be suitable for mountain use. 2.5-layer waterproofs are generally quite lightweight and good for stashing away in your pack for when you need them. 2-layer waterproofs vary quite a lot in performance, depending on how they're made. Some are very weatherproof, others are more for everyday use.

What features should I look for?

Although unlikely to carry a rich list of features, you should still expect a number of important additions on a more affordable waterproof jacket. These include Velcro-adjustable cuffs for a tight fit around the wrist, stormflaps, good pockets, and adjustable hood.

Waterproof jacket care and maintenance

Hiker walking in a waterproof jacket
To maintain waterproofing, it's important to clean and reproof your jacket ©LFTO

Care and maintenance are vital to jacket performance and longevity. Some of our favourite gear care products come from Grangers and Nikwax. Their products are both effective and PFC-free.

Grangers Performance Wash or Nikwax Tech Wash (below) are both far better at cleaning waterproof gear than washing detergent because they maintain the fabric's DWR coating. If you want to rejuvenate your gear's waterproofing, too, grab the Grangers or Nikwax kits.

And if you want to save yourself more money over the medium and longer term, remember to repair, not replace. If your jacket zip breaks, a seam needs fixed, or your jacket gets torn, investigate repair options. More often than not, you can get your jacket repaired as increasing numbers of outdoor retailers and outdoor brands are introducing or expanding their gear repair services. Use these, they save you money and promote sustainability.

Best waterproof jacket wash

Grangers performance wash

Rrp: $21.25

Price: $17.94

Bluesign-approved and PFC-free, this water-based fabric cleaning is ideal for any technical or waterproof fabric, including Gore-Tex.

Pros

  • Bluesign-approved
  • PFC-free
  • Water-based
  • Highly concentrated

Cons

  • No larger bottle available (but 1L eco pouch refill is available)

Highly recommended waterproof jacket wash

Alternative retailers
evo$10.95View offer

Like Grangers, this is water-based and PFC-free. It too is a very effective cleaner of outdoor and technical garments.

Pros

  • PFC-free
  • Water-based
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • Grangers is better value

Best waterproof jacket care kit

This kit supplies a big one-litre volume of Tech Wash and the 300ml bottle of reproofing TX.Direct. With TX.Direct, add it to the washing machine and run a second cycle after cleaning with Tech Wash.

Pros

  • Bigger Tech Wash bottle
  • Includes dry bag
  • PFC-free

Cons

  • Spray on re-proofing spray is more convenient

Highly recommended waterproof jacket care kit

Grangers Clothing Care Kit

Rrp: $37.00

Price: $20.31

This combo is perfect for cleaning outdoor garments and then adding durable water repellency to waterproof fabrics. The Performance Wash is used like a laundry detergent, while the Repel Plus is a simple spray.

Pros

  • PFC-free
  • Fast and easy spray reproofer
  • Includes sample of Active Wash

Cons

  • Nikwax kit has larger volume of wash

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