Gone are the days when heading out for a walk involved dutifully wearing a bog-standard pacamac. Now, there’s a huge range of choice when it comes to jackets, from lightweight fold up jackets to highly technical outwear, specifically designed for alpine conditions.
Pretty much all of the manufacturers have their spring/summer ranges out now, but the recent cold spell has highlighted you’re never really safe in the UK with just a lightweight summer jacket. So this list has a range of winter and summer outwear.
Of course, a great idea is the three-in-one jacket. This is a waterproof outer jacket and a separate fleece-style inner jacket – which, when zipped together, form a thick, warm, waterproof coat suitable for most sudden winter snaps.
1. Rohan Men's Atlas Jacket: £147, Rohan
Rohan has given its Atlas Jacket a facelift for 2016, and it is an improvement over an already great jacket – the larger, zipped hand pockets are a big bonus. Rohan makes clothing which doesn’t look like walking gear and, true to form, the Atlas has a slightly longer cut so it covers a suit jacket when you’re commuting. It is a full-spec walking jacket though, and can be also be machine washed.
2. Regatta Wrightbridge 3-in-1 jacket: £49.95. Regatta
In the value stakes, this three-in-one is a super buy. The main jacket looks the part and uses Isotex fabric to give great waterproof capabilities together with a water repellent finish for good measure. The inner fleece is wearable on its own and features a peaked hood and underarm ventilation. The outer coat and the fleece zip together easily when you need it.
3. Mammut Crater Jacket: £270, Mammut
It doesn’t get more technical or waterproof than this. Mammut’s reputation for looking after the extreme hill-walkers among us is certainly maintained with the Crater. It’s made from three layers of waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex material, and has essential underarm ventilation. Other well thought-out features include a helmet-friendly hood. Bold colours make it stand out from the norm.
4. The North Face Men’s FuseForm Dot Matrix Insulated Jacket: £110, The North Face
This proves it's possible to have a jacket which is warm, waterproof, wind-resistant and very lightweight. A stylish piece with integrated cinch-cords and a fully adjustable hood, it features 120g of insulation in the body and collar (where you need it) and 80g in the sleeves and hood (where you need it less). Excellent value.
5. Sprayway Maxen: £160, Black’s
This is lightweight despite being made with a two-layer Gore-Tex fabric – meaning you’ll stay dry in most weathers Britain can throw at you. The wire-peaked hood rolls away at the back and is adjustable to make sure wind doesn’t whip around your neck. The map pocket under the storm guard is a great touch, as are the two mesh-lined storage pockets.
6. Bergans Eidfjord Men’s Jacket: £290, Nordicliffe
The Eidfjord is Bergan’s first jacket in three-layer Dermizax, a material made from 30 per cent plant material. It’s a more eco-friendly option than others on the market yet is waterproof and windproof. All the usual features are there too: a large hood, underarm vents – plus it’s extremely light.
7. Berghaus Men's Arran 3in1 Hydroshell Jacket: £200, Berghaus
The Arran is Berghaus’ new season three-in-one jacket. All the benefits of a three-in-one are here: the Hydroshell fabric providing great waterproofing for the outer jacket, a thin, but snug fleecy inner jacket, and the combination of them both for when the weather is really bad. There are pockets galore, too.
8. Schöffel Ptarmigan Ultralight: £299.95, Schöffel
Perhaps not an obvious walking jacket, but this Schöffel Ptarmigan is very practical, albeit expensive. It’s lightweight, feels very comfortable on and the two-layer Polyamide ripstop fabric offers great protection against the wind and rain. Being a shooting jacket, it has large bellow cartridge pockets, which we walkers can fill up. Plus, it’s machine-washable and quick drying.
9. Sherpa Lithang Hardshell Jacket: £140, Sherpa Adventure Gear
A jacket designed for an area in South-west Tibet where the weather changes by the minute seems a wise choice for walking in the Lake District. The Lithang is a hardshell jacket, so it’s waterproof and warm, but still lightweight and fairly stretchy. A three-layer fabric provides the warmth, together with many zippers to stop water and wind. The huge pockets can hold even ski goggles.
10. Keela Saxon Jacket: £84.95, Keela
This remarkably light jacket from newcomers Keela is pretty robust against the toughest of British downpours. The generously-sized, fully adjustable hood fits over most helmet sizes too. Reflective piping around the edges is a nice safety touch.
With so many different styles to choose from, it is always difficult to pick out one, but for its excellent style, and the fact it has all the benefits of an outdoor coat without screaming that it is, our best buy is the Rohan Men’s Atlas Jacket.
Andrew White is a writer, filmmaker and broadcaster. He edits the website Walks Around Britain.