The best lightweight waterproof jackets reviewed (2022)

The best light waterproofs to fend off heavy downpours

Six of the best waterproof jackets for summer walking reviewed

by James Forrest and Nic Hardy |

Anyone who loves the outdoors needs one of the best lightweight waterproof jackets. Sometimes you don’t want to be carrying around a heavy and bulky winter waterproof, especially on days where it might not be needed. Carrying it around at the bottom of your backpack, never to be reached for during a dry hike is highly inefficient - it’s just too heavy and doesn’t pack down small enough.

What you need instead is a lightweight waterproof that’ll stash neatly into the smallest of backpack pockets and weigh next to nothing, yet still keep you dry when the showers do come – and we all know the cruel British mountains can serve up apocalyptic downpours at any time of year.

You may have some questions about the strength of lightweight waterproof jackets - especially given that they are, well, lightweight. You may be wondering if a lightweight waterproof really deliver adequate weather protection, or will a lower weight inevitably result in compromised performance?

Some cheap lightweight waterproofs are indeed wafer-thin and flimsy, with their waterproofing stats (10,000mm hydrostatic head or lower) leaving much to be desired. They are gossamer-light and highly compact, which is great, but if you are caught in a sudden downpour or storm, they are likely to let you down. However, there are plenty of genuinely fantastic lightweight waterproof jackets available - we know, because we’ve tried them. In this article, you’ll find our six favourite lightweight waterproof jackets.

The best lightweight waterproof jackets shortlist:

• Berghaus Paclite Peak

• Montane Pac Plus

• Haglofs L.I.M Jacket

• Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell

• Dynafit Transalper Gore-Tex Jacket

• Patagonia Storm10 Jacket

What are the criteria for our best waterproof jackets?

We’ve only selected waterproofs with a 20,000mm+ HH - a reliable grade that will offer premium weather protection no matter how gnarly the conditions get. Yet despite this impressive weatherproofing, we’ve made sure that each jacket weighs under 400g, with some even come in under 200g. (Maybe you can get the best of both worlds – ultra-light and super-waterproof – after all?)

Features vary a little from jacket to jacket – from adjustable hoods and Velcro cuffs to ventilating pit zips and water-resistant zips. With these finer points, we outline everything you need to know in our detailed buyer’s guide to the best lightweight waterproofs. Let’s go...

The best lightweight waterproof jackets

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Berghaus Paclite Peak

Berghaus Paclite Peak
©LFTO

Berghaus Paclite Peak

Berghaus Paclite Peak

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LFTO

Verdict: A well-priced, reliable waterproof with great credentials but it's a tad heavy and not the comfiest.

At 355g for a men’s small, this is the heaviest jacket here. For gram-counting ‘ultra-lighters’ that’ll be a deal-breaker. For others it will be a positive – a reassuring sign that the fabric is thick and sturdy enough for some real mountain weather. The Paclite Peak could, therefore, be seen as a halfway house between a fully-fledged winter waterproof and a super-thin summer one.

The cut is rather traditional and roomy (with space for layering underneath), while the features are similarly classic: adjustable hood, dropped tail, Velcro cuffs, hem drawcord, two hand pockets and one internal zippered pocket. Large pit zips under each armpit provide good ventilation – a nice feature that lighter jackets often omit – and the YKK front zip has a robust stormflap and zipper garage at the collar. The Paclite Peak utilises Gore-Tex’s Paclite fabric (not Paclite Plus), with a 28,000mm HH rating.

If we’re being fussy...

For some the fit will be too baggy (the fabric had a tendency to bunch up in folds for me, particularly at the arms), so it’s best to try before you buy. The fabric is noisy and feels a little plasticky, and the overall construction is a tad heavy.

Men’s sizes XS-XXXL | Women’s sizes n/a | Weight 355g (men’s small)

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Montane Pac Plus

Montane Pac Plus
©LFTO

Montane Pac Plus

Montane Pac Plus

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LFTO

Verdict: A lightweight, fully-featured and top-performing jacket at a superb price, but you don't get pit zips.

This is a well-designed, ultra-light jacket at an excellent price. As the name implies, it’s made from Gore-Tex’s Paclite Plus fabric – a 2-layer unlined construction that’s “thin, light and highly packable, as well as durably waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable”, according to the membrane brand. Bold claims, but it lived up to that billing during our horribly rainy Lake District hikes.

It was comfy, fitting, moved well with the body, didn’t feel clammy and – most importantly – kept out the rain. The Montane Pac Plus has a superb hydrostatic head rating of 28,000mm and a decent RET breathability grade of <9. The excellent cut is athletic and minimalist, with an adjustable peaked hood (our favourite across all six jackets), Velcro cuffs, drawcord hem and dropped tail for coverage over the top of the backside.

The 30-denier nylon face fabric feels sufficiently sturdy, and you also get mesh-lined hand pockets, stormflapped front zip and mid-height collar.

If we’re being fussy...

You don’t get any pit zips, so ventilating when you’re working hard isn’t so easy, and there’s no internal pocket for a phone or valuables. It rustles and crinkles a little too. But this is all nit picking – there’s not much to dislike about this excellent jacket.

Men’s sizes S-XXL | Women’s sizes 8-16 | Weight 275g (men’s small)

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Haglofs L.I.M Jacket

Haglofs L.I.M Jacket
©LFTO

Haglofs L.I.M Jacket

Haglofs L.I.M Jacket

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LFTO

Verdict: A ridiculously lightweight jacket that's waterproof and breathable, but it'll be too minimalist for some.

Ultra-light, supremely packable, protective and super-comfortable, the L.I.M (Less Is More) jacket ticks nearly all the boxes at an incredibly low weight. At a crazy 188g for the women’s small that we tested (men’s small is 196g), it’s ideal for stashing away at the bottom of your rucksack and forgetting about. But when you do need it, it performs in a manner belying its miniscule weight.

The Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric ensures an impressive 28,000mm hydrostatic head rating and RET breathability rating of <6, while the minimalist design cuts out superfluous features yet retains what you really need: a three-way adjustable hood with visor, one chest pocket (for phone and valuables), and a waist hem toggled drawcord.

Comfort is excellent and the fit is slick and athletic, which feels on point for warmer weather adventures. All in all, this jacket nails the lightweight yet waterproof niche with some Scandinavian flair.

If we’re being fussy...

You don’t get any hand pockets or pit zips. The hood’s peak isn’t the stiffest and could easily misshape when stashed away. The elasticated wrist cuffs aren’t adjustable and the overall ultra-light, super-thin construction might not prove the most durable in the long run.

Men’s sizes S-XXL | Women’s sizes XS-XXL | Weight 188g (women’s small)

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Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell

Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell
©LFTO

Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell

Black Diamond Highline Stretch Shell

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LFTO

Verdict: A premium jacket with good features and reliable performance, but it's not the cheapest or lightest.

This jacket has a trophy cabinet full of gongs thanks to its “revolutionary” PFC and water-free DWR coating that delivers “superior and longer-lasting performance”. How? The chemistry is somewhat bamboozling, but basically this eco-friendly DWR (known as GTT Breathable Water Protection Technology) is “hyper-fused” to individual fibres, rather than being sprayed onto the surface. This means there is more DWR in the actual fabric, so it won’t wash out or rub off as quickly as conventional DWR treatments (as you see when jackets stop beading rain). The result is a longer-lasting DWR that never requires re-application.

More time is needed to fully judge this long-term durability, but our initial tests were positive with excellent beading. Everything else with this jacket feels premium: the drop tail for full bum coverage, excellent adjustable hood, slim-line cuff tabs, humongous pit zips, 3-layer construction with comfy stretchiness, and fully taped seams. The membrane is Black Diamond’s in-house BD.dry fabric with a 20,000mm hydrostatic head rating.

If we’re being fussy...

It’s rather pricey, at £80 more expensive than the Berghaus and Montane offerings. The dropped tail over the backside won’t appeal to those who prefer a jacket cut at the waist, and the weight is higher than other ultra-light jackets.

Men’s sizes XS-XL | Women’s sizes XS-XL | Weight 335g (men’s small)

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Dynafit Transalper Gore-Tex Jacket

Dynafit Transalper Gore-Tex Jacket
©LFTO

Dynafit Transalper Gore-Tex Jacket

Dynafit Transalper Gore-Tex Jacket

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LFTO

Verdict: An impressively lightweight, stylish jacket with good performance, but it's not as sturdy as some might like.

There’s a lot to love about this jacket. It has an eye-catching style with bold colours and an athletic cut, it weighs next to nothing (at 265g it’s the lightest men’s jacket on test), and the hybrid construction – a mix of Gore-Tex Active in the arms and Gore-Tex Paclite Plus in the body – is designed to maximise waterproofing and breathability where you need it most.

The adjustable hood has a nifty internal feature – a stretchy mesh lip that sits comfortably over the forehead – to ensure the hood moves seamlessly with you as you turn your head, while the curved visor sheds rain effectively. It really is a great hood.

Other features include two hand pockets, stretch bindings at the elasticated hem and sleeve, and a stormflap underneath the central zipper. Particularly interesting are the breathability vents – perforated holes protected by a waterproof flap, akin to the vents on some tents.

If we’re being fussy...

Neither the hem nor the cuffs are adjustable, so the jacket either fits snugly or doesn’t. The lightweight build won’t be as protective as heavier duty options, and arguably this jacket might appeal more to trail runners than to hikers. We’re not too convinced by the weird chest vents either.

Men’s sizes S-XXL | Women’s sizes XS-XL | Weight 265g (men’s medium)

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Patagonia Storm10 Jacket

Patagonia Storm10 Jacket
©LFTO

Patagonia Storm10 Jacket

Patagonia Storm10 Jacket

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LFTO

Verdict: A fully-featured, high-performing and lightweight jacket, but it's arguably over-priced.

Everything you’d expect from Patagonia is present here: proficient technical performance, market-leading environmental credentials, and a stylish, good-looking design. The Storm10 is “for moving fast and light through the mountains”, according to the brand, and the 3-layer construction is certainly featherweight.

It has a slim cut and clocks in at just 210g for the women’s small we tested. For that impressive weight, you get lots of good features: helmet-compatible hood, front zip with internal stormflap and zipper garage, two hand pockets, one chest pocket (which the jacket stuffs into for a nifty pack-away), Velcro adjustable wrist cuffs and a waist hem drawcord.

The jacket complies with Patagonia’s H2No waterproofing standard, which guarantees a minimum 20,000mm hydrostatic head rating, and has a DWR finish too. The 20-denier face fabric is a 100% recycled ripstop nylon with a seven-denier tricot backer. The Storm10 is also Fair Trade Certified sewn.

If we’re being fussy...

It’s not the best value – you’re probably paying about £100 extra for that cool Patagonia logo. The RECCO reflector in the hood is only useful if you’re doing some gnarly alpine adventures, and the featherlight face fabric feels a tad flimsy.

Men’s sizes XS-XXL | Women’s sizes XXS-XL | Weight 210g (women’s small)

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