As spring has arrived, there’s more reason - and light - to spend an increasing amount of your time outside. But with the change in season comes April showers (which aren’t exactly confined to April in the UK). So you’ll need a great waterproof to keep the weather at bay and stop it from spoiling your fun. The weight, style, waterproof rating and other extra features your jacket will need depends on whether you’ll be doing heavy duty mountain biking or more leisurely walks around parks.
Lighter jackets range from around 200-300g and use a stripped down three-layer system of materials that are waterproof and breathable and are better for cycling, mountain running and climbing. While mid-weight jackets weigh between 350-550g which can be chunkier and less packable, making them better for walkers rambling through the hills.
You might need pit zips for more ventilation, especially if you’re carrying a backpack and can’t take your jacket off, and some coats have large hoods that can fit properly over helmets. When it comes to keeping the rain out, waterproof ratings range from being suitable in light rain at 5000mm (millimetres) to 16,000mm which is suitable for heavy rain and wet snow.
So to cut the excuses for not getting out and about, we’ve rounded up the best women’s waterproof jackets and put them to the test in the elements.
1. Keela Ladies’ Storm Jacket: £99.95, Keela
Made with cyclists in mind, it weighs 240g and has an active cut, meaning it allows for plenty of movement. It also has a longer back hem and a hood to fit over your cycle helmet. The newest orange version has reflectors on the back, sides and front, so you’ll be seen on dark roads. The thin material is completely waterproof, quick drying and breathable. You can stash valuables in the large back pocket and the internal closure around the face won’t let any rain in.
2. Patagonia Women’s Torrent Shell Jacket: £100, Patagonia
This one can be packed up into either pocket and clipped to the outside of your bag. Its green ethos means its manufacturing methods have minimal effect on the environment and the 2.5 layer system is made from 100 per cent recycled nylon which repels light rain and is both windproof and breathable. The peaked hood keeps rain off and there are pit zips for when you need a bit more air circulating, while its regular fit means you can wear layers. Available in a range of other colours.
3. Colombia Women’s Outdry Ex Eco Jacket: £156.95, Trekk Inn
It may look like an odd choice of colour for an active jacket, but it’s actually colourless. The eco-friendly jacket is free of any chemical dye and has been made from 21 recycled water bottles, while the additional trims and components are also made from recycled materials too. It is suitably waterproof and comes up quite large, so there’s room to layer up, but it’s not as quick drying as some of the others.
4. Rab Firewall Jacket: £210, Cotswold Outdoor
Suited to mountain activities from climbing to biking, the jacket has three ways of adjusting the wire-peaked hood to fit perfectly over a helmet. The medium weight of 435g and regular fit means it can be worn all year round, as a range of layers can fit underneath, while the pit zips that run down to the wrists allow for plenty of ventilation. But make sure you put any electronics into dry bags before pocketing them as the brand warns moisture may build up inside.
5. OMM Ava Jacket: £250, OMM
Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) organises two-day-long mountain races all over the world, so you’d expect its purpose-made jacket to deliver. It’s lightweight at 200g and is extremely breathable, and has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm. Its newest features include sealed zips, wrist closures that can be wrapped around the thumb for extended hand protection and an inner circle of material in the hood that tightens around the face. So if you’re serious about active performance wear - or doing the run - it’s worth the price tag.
6. Sherpa Lithang Jacket: £200, Sherpa Adventure Gear
Taking its inspiration from the Himalayas, Sherpa’s adventure gear is made specifically for alpine climbing and trekking. The technical fabric is breathable and slightly stretchy, and despite its brushed cotton feel, it’s completely waterproof and dries quickly. One thing it’s not short of is pockets, with an extra two on the inside for phones or keys. For practicality, you can wear a helmet under the wired hood and the pit zips have two-way sliders for custom ventilation.
7. Berghaus Long Hillwalker: £170, Berghaus
This one is a welcome option for women with longer bodies and its lifetime guarantee and tough nylon material makes it robust. The two-layer system has a Gore-Tex outer layer that repels water well and the thin mesh material inside makes it breathable. For layering, it uses the brand’s zip system so you can zip-in other Berghaus products, a fleece say for those chillier walks. The hood conveniently rolls away but at 560g its better suited for more leisurely country walks than extreme activities.
8. Sprayway Women’s Skala Jacket: £170, Cotswold Outdoors
This one might look like a jacket you’d throw on to go shopping, but it’s still activity-worthy. Using Gore-Tex material, the jacket is waterproof and its longer length protects more of you. Inside, the part taffeta and part mesh lining makes it breathable but slightly chunkier than some on the list. Although you won’t be climbing mountains in this one, it’s ideal for walks when you suspect inclement weather is on its way. Coming in standard dress sizes, we also found it fit well, with enough space for extra layers.
9. Rohan Women’s Elite Jacket: £249, Rohan
Packing away into a small, zipable bag formed from the mesh pocket, this one has the highest waterproof rating on the list at 20,000mm – making it a great option for people who are short on space but not on adventure. The lightest jacket in the range, it has a peaked hood which is tightened with just one pull and can be rolled away if you don't need it, while the material is quick drying. Although Rohan bills it as a “just in case” jacket, its versatility makes it extremely useful.
10. The North Face Shinpuru Gore-Tex Jacket: £250, Wiggle
This one is ideal for spring mountain hiking as it weighs 340g and the three-layer Gore-Tex lining is breathable and keeps water out. But when the weather turns, the inner hood (which is helmet compatible) and drop-bottom hem are pre-elasticated for extra protection from rougher weather, while the long pit zips will keep you ventilated and the inner mesh pockets are large enough to stash maps in. Shinpuru means “simple” in Japanese, which is reflected in this jacket’s fuss-free design, but it still offers excellent protection.
11. Kathmandu Flinders Women’s Rain Jacket: £199.99, Wiggle
Designed especially for hikers, it’s 340g, packable and side pockets sit higher than usual so they are easy to reach even if you have a rucksack strapped on. The hood also rolls away into the neck and the three-layers of fabric are efficient at keeping water and wind out, while still being breathable. And for when you want to listen to music, there’s a cord port in the chest pocket. It comes in standard dress sizes so is a more flattering fit than some. Comes in two colours.
The Verdict: Women’s waterproof jackets
For something that covers all activities and can easily be packed away, the Keela Storm Jacket comes top. Despite the minor issue of large toggles, at less than half the price of the OMM, it’s a worthy compromise to make for a technical jacket that keeps out the rain and helps you to be seen on the road. For a general walking coat, the Berhagus Long Hillwalker ticks all the boxes but if you're after something in-between, go for Patagonia’s Torrent Shell.
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