SIX OF THE BEST GREAT VALUE WATERPROOF JACKETS

A GOOD WATERPROOF JACKET IS THE ONE PIECE OF OUTDOOR GEAR EVERY WALKER NEEDS ON EVERY TRIP, BUT IS IT POSSIBLE TO FIND ONE FOR LESS THAN £200 THAT CAN HANDLE YEAR-ROUND MOUNTAIN USE? TRAIL PUTS SIX OF THE BEST TO THE TEST...

SIX OF THE BEST GREAT VALUE WATERPROOF JACKETS

by LFTO |

SPRAYWAY HAIN £130

As you’d expect from a company that hones its gear in the hills, crags and moors of the Peak District, the Sprayway Hain is a top quality outdoor coat built to stand up to the best the British weather can throw at it. We’d describe this as proper waterproof armour, and when you’ve got it fully fastened up and adjusted it feels like nothing can penetrate it.

The sizing is generous so your entire torso is fully encased, with the hem coming down well below your waist. The hood is roomy too, with a large stiffened peak that does a great job of keeping water off your face. The inner lining is a mixture of mesh and taffeta which adds comfort, there are two large zipped hand pockets and a smaller internal pocket, plus a big stormflap on the main zip held in place by velcro tabs. The hem and cuffs are adjustable, so you get a lot for your money.

if we’re being fussy... There are no pit zips so you can’t easily vent the jacket, and it’s quite heavy and bulky so you can overheat on strenuous ascents. It also takes up quite a bit of space in your backpack.

  • Material 2-layer HydroDry polyester waterproof fabric, with mesh and taffeta inner

  • Men’s sizes S-XXXL

  • Women’s sizes 8-18 (Oust)

  • Weight 640g (M)

VERDICT

Not one for people who like their kit fast and light, but in terms of protection against the elements the Sprayway Hain takes some beating.

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PATAGONIA TORRENTSHELL £150

The Torrentshell is a no-fuss jacket that offers excellent protection in all weather conditions, as we discovered while battling the elements on the Cairngorm Plateau (picture crawling on hands and knees to keep out of the brutal wind). It’s made from Patagonia’s own lightweight, tough and durable 2.5-layer H2No waterproof fabric, which not only keeps out rain, wind and snow, but also feels robust enough to withstand a few scrapes when you’re tackling rockier terrain.

Useful features include pit zips, a fully adjustable hood that moves well with your head, a fleece-lined inner panel on the neck that adds a bit of welcome comfort, and an external stormflap that covers the main zip to add even more weather protection. The Torrentshell is also very packable, with the added bonus that you can scrunch it inside either of its external pockets for easy storage in your pack.

If we’re being fussy... The hood leaves your face slightly exposed even when fully adjusted, hand pockets are covered by your rucksack hipbelt, and material bunches up around the belly a bit.

  • Material 2.5-layer H2No 100% recycled ripstop nylon

  • Men’s sizes XS-XXL

  • Women’s sizes XS-XL

  • Weight 380g (men’s M)

VERDICT

The Torrentshell is a stripped back and very impressive shell that offers superb protection.

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RAB DOWNPOUR ALPINE £150

Rab has designed the Downpour Alpine with performance in mind, stripping back on weight and making it the perfect jacket for hillwalkers who like to keep themselves cool as well as dry. Because of the time of year, it’s worth mentioning this is the thinnest jacket on test, so may not be the best option in full winter conditions but is a great option for year-round walking in most types of weather.

Made using 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric, you get plenty of useful features that make this jacket ideal for everything from walking and backpacking to scrambling and even climbing. There’s a helmet compatible hood with double adjustment, two zipped chest pockets that are accessible above a hipbelt and harness, pit zips, adjustable cuffs and hem, and a fleece-lined chinguard that feels soft against your skin. The fit is

quite athletic, making this an excellent active jacket.

If we’re being fussy... The thin material made the jacket feel a little cool when tested in Scotland in December, and there are no hand-warmer pockets so don’t forget to pack your gloves!

  • Material 2.5-layer Pertex Shield waterproof fabric with Dry Touch

  • Men’s sizes XXS-XXL

  • Women’s sizes 6-18

  • Weight 380g (M)

VERDICT

Very good lightweight mountain shell with loads of features, but maybe too thin for full winter.

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CRAGHOPPERS CALEB £175

The only jacket in the test with a Gore-Tex lining, the Craghoppers Caleb offers exceptional value and reliable performance in all types of mountain conditions. When you first put the Caleb on it feels quite thick, as a result of having both an inner and outer layer of polyester fabric, but the benefit of that double construction is the level of wet weather protection it provides.

This is a jacket that feels built for all activities, and would even be a good urban winter jacket that doubles up as an effective piece of mountain kit. You get two large zipped handwarmer pockets and one smaller zipped internal pocket, plus a waterproof front zip with a stormflap. The hood, cuffs and hem are all adjustable, plus you get reflective detail on all logos and drawcords, completing a very impressive set of features on a very impressive jacket.

If we’re being fussy... It’s quite a warm jacket, so the lack of pit zips could result in overheating. It feels a little more bulky than a standard waterproof ‘shell’, and there’s no women’s version.

Material 100% polyester outer with Gore-Tex membrane, plus a 100% polyester lining

  • Men’s sizes S-XXL

  • Women’s sizes n/a

  • Weight 560g (M)

VERDICT

Excellent no-frills Gore-Tex jacket that offers great waterproof protection for a wide range of activities.

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BERGHAUS CHOMBU £190

Not many brands understand the British hillwalker better than Berghaus, and this retro jacket is testament to that. If you like your jackets to simply do the (let’s face it) incredibly important job of keeping you dry in the mountains, the Chombu pretty much ticks all the relevant boxes. The 2-layer Hydroshell Elite waterproof fabric offers ‘storm-level’ protection according to Berghaus, and we can confirm it holds up to a serious battering from wind and rain.

You get a wired and stiffened helmet-compatible hood that can be cinched from the rear, plus dual adjustment at the hem designed to lock out drafts and spindrift. There are two big hand-warmer pockets, plus a useful chest pocket that’s easily accessible, and the mesh lining adds an extra layer of comfort. The triple tone colours may not be for everyone, but there are four options to pick from.

If we’re being fussy... There’s no women’s version, and the cut is slightly unrefined and baggy. The internal stormflap makes the zip a bit sticky and the weight and bulk are creeping up too.

  • Material 2-layer HydroShell Elite waterproof fabric

  • Men’s sizes S-XXXL

  • Women’s sizes n/a

  • Weight 620g (size M)

VERDICT

Superb waterproof protection and plenty of good features for hillwalking, if you don’t mind the extra weight and bulk.

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JACK WOLFSKIN EAGLE PEAK £199

The Eagle Peak is a new release by Jack Wolfskin for spring 2020, and just creeps into this test under the £200 barrier. This is one of those jackets that’s hard not to like from the second you get your hands on it, with a nice brushed feel to the Texapore O2+ fabric that makes it softer and more rustle-free than most waterproof jackets.

It’s very roomy and has a good length too, covering well below the waist and offering excellent protection from drafts as well as rain. The internal mesh lining adds comfort and a bit of warmth, with the whole package feeling durable as well as impressively lightweight for such a well featured jacket. Talking of features, you get double adjustment on the hood, velcro adjustment at the cuffs, a drawstring at the hem, two large zipped handwarmer pockets and an internal zipped pocket, plus an internal stormflap for extra water-resistance. Basically, it’s very good!

If we’re being fussy... The handwarmer pockets are a good size but almost totally obscured by a rucksack hipbelt, and the lack of pit zips reduces the venting options.

  • Material 2-layer Texapore O2+ ripstop waterproof fabric

  • Men’s sizes S-XXXL

  • Women’s sizes XS-XXL

  • Weight 500g (size M)

VERDICT

The whole package of the Eagle Peak feels classy and premium with great waterproof protection, making this an excellent top-end option.

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