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8 best men’s waterproof jackets for walking that are lightweight and warm

Take the unpredictable British weather by storm in these shells from Patagonia, Adidas and more

Charlie Allenby
Friday 01 October 2021 12:00
<p>We looked for warmth and breathability, while bonus points went to jackets with handy extras like pockets and layering ability</p>

We looked for warmth and breathability, while bonus points went to jackets with handy extras like pockets and layering ability

Walking has had something of a rebrand in the past 18 months. Previously the pursuit of dedicated ramblers and hikers, it’s become a popular activity for all ages as people have looked to exercise and socialise while adhering to various Covid restrictions and advice.

As any newbie will have discovered though, it’s not as simple as just slipping on some trainers and heading for a stroll. To be properly prepared for whatever the environment throws at you, it’s worth investing in some versatile kit that can hold its own when the sun is shining, but can also get you out of trouble when the weather turns – this is the UK after all.

Alongside walking boots, a waterproof jacket is essential in the wardrobe of a walker. Not only will it protect you from a downpour, but it will also offer some resistance from wind, enough warmth on all but the coldest days, and can generally be stuffed in a walking rucksack in case of a summer shower.

Waterproof jackets tend to come in two styles – hardshells or softshells – and the difference is the amount of insulation offered up. A hardshell is, as the name suggests, a protective, durable barrier against the elements. They tend to be lightweight, easily stowable and have a hood. A softshell, meanwhile, is less likely to be waterproof to the same degree as a hardshell, instead focusing on being breathable and lightweight but warm when needed – think of it as a step-up from a fleece.

How we tested

For this article, we only tested hardshell waterproofs, as these offer up the ultimate protection against wind and rain. To make them a true four-season option, they can simply be worn over a softshell.

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We tested the jackets in various settings – from jaunts around National Trust grounds and walks along the windy Suffolk coast, to everyday wear in the city – and each had to cope with its fair share of wind, rain and early autumn sunshine.

To be considered, the jacket needed to hold its own in anything from a sudden downpour to a light, sustained drizzle. It also had to keep us warm when the wind was up, but remain breathable enough that we could up the intensity without the inside turning into a sauna. Bonus features included good pockets and storage options, the ability to work in tandem with a rucksack, and room for some layering.

The best men’s waterproof jackets for walking for 2021 are:

  • Best for the environmentally conscious – Finisterre storm bird jacket: £195, Finisterre.com
  • Best for extreme pursuits – Adidas terrex MyShelter Gore-Tex rain jacket: £350, Adidas.co.uk
  • Best for hiking – Columbia men’s ampli-dry waterproof shell: £108, Columbiasportswear.co.uk
  • Best for those on a budget – Rab downpour eco jacket: £110, Rab.equipment
  • Best for looking seriously smart – Haglofs rubus GTX jacket men: £210, Haglofs.com
  • Best for storage space – Keela prosport jacket: £149, Keelaoutdoors.com
  • Best for lightweight protection – Arc’teryx men’s beta LT jacket: £350, Arcteryx.com
  • Best for packability – Patagonia men’s torrentshell 3L jacket: £160, Patagonia.com

Finisterre storm bird jacket

Best: For the environmentally conscious

Rating: 10/10

This all-rounder from Finisterre became a firm favourite during testing and seemed to be at home in any setting. Whether strolling around open settings or navigating streets between skyscrapers, we were confident that the storm bird could handle anything that was thrown at it. A three-layer waterproof with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish, it might get overlooked for something featuring Gore-Tex, but we didn’t find it wanting – rain would bead on the surface, keeping us dry throughout.

Its two front pockets are big enough to comfortably carry an Ordnance Survey map, there’s a third, internal pocket for keeping your phone dry, and an array of adjustable fastenings on the hem, cuffs and hood allowed us to get a perfect fit. Its biggest feature though is its sustainability status – the jacket is made from 100 per cent recycled fabric throughout.

Adidas terrex myshelter Gore-Tex rain jacket

Best: For extreme pursuits

Rating: 8/10

Adidas’ terrex myshelter Gore-Tex rain jacket is easily one of the more eye-catching waterproof jackets that we tested, thanks to pearlescent reflective detailing and its marigold-orange finish – but it’s more than just a looker. The jacket features Gore-Tex active fabric – the most breathable material in the iconic waterproof-specialising brand’s line – and you can tell. During some brisk hiking, the jacket kept us dry on the inside, while long, zipped vents on either side of the torso allowed us to up the airflow on milder days. Its helmet-compatible hood makes it one for climbers, and its big zip puller makes it easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves. Although it is designed to be oversized, we found that the medium tested was slightly larger than we’d like, so it might be best to opt for a size down when ordering.

Columbia men’s ampli-dry waterproof shell

Best: For hiking

Rating: 8/10

Hiking in the middle of the summer should only require a waterproof for the odd shower, but there were a few rather mild, wet weeks in August where we were glad to have packed this shell from Columbia in our holiday luggage. The jacket helped to keep us warm on cooler starts to the day or when entering sheltered, shaded areas, but it didn’t flounder when the mercury rose. Underarm venting added to the jacket’s overall breathability, and its fully seam-sealed construction ensured any water stayed on the outside. Nice finishing touches include a micro-fleece fabric lining on the zip that prevents it irritating your neck and face, and an easily accessible external chest pocket big enough for a smartphone and some snacks.

Rab downpour eco jacket

Best: For those on a budget

Rating: 7/10

While £110 might not seem cheap for a waterproof, it’s the minimum you’ll have to pay for something that actually does what it’s supposed to. The downpour eco is Rab’s everyday option and we found it to be a good addition for general wear and less taxing walks. Its 2.5-layer construction with DWR treatment is not only 100 per cent recycled, but can be fully recycled at the end of its life too, meaning it lives up to its “eco” label. The only downside we found when testing was that the inside of the jacket felt clammy against bare skin, but this is only an issue if wearing a T-shirt.

Haglofs rubus GTX jacket men

Best: For looking seriously smart

Rating: 9/10

A waterproof jacket can be quite an investment, so it’s understandable if you want to buy something that is not only functional on bridle paths but wouldn’t look out of place in the boardroom too. Enter the fubus GTX jacket from Swedish brand Häglofs. A long, parka-length cut ensures the tops of your trousers stay dry when the rain starts falling, and storm flaps over the top of the two front pockets keep your belongings safe too. Its two-layer construction uses Gore-Tex fabric to stop any wind or moisture getting inside, and a mesh-lined torso provides enough breathability to not need arm vents – whether on the trails or public transport.

Keela prosport jacket

Best: For storage space

Rating: 7/10

Waterproof hardshells have a reputation for being on the minimalistic side, but this isn’t an issue with Keela’s prosport offering. As well as passing the waterproof, windproof and breathability tests with flying colours, we found that the prosport gave us more storage than any of the other jackets we tried. In addition to two deep front pockets and a roomy chest one, the jacket even has its own concealed security pocket that’s big enough for an OS map. Although a little on the heavy side for a waterproof, we forgave it this slight issue because we rarely had to take a bag when wearing it.

Arc’teryx men’s beta LT jacket

Best: For lightweight protection

Rating: 8/10

If you were tasked with finding the most expensive jacket when it comes to cost-per-gram, then the beta LT from Arc’teryx is probably it. But for those who need their kit to be lightweight at all costs, it’s well worth the investment. Constructed from a three-layer Gore-Tex fabric, we found the jacket to be so minimalist, we almost forgot we were wearing it – until it started bucketing down, at which point we were glad we were. Its featherweight stature doesn’t mean it’s a pushover though, and it was durable enough to be wearing a bag or heading onto challenging terrain without fear of tears.

Patagonia men’s torrentshell 3L jacket

Best: For packability

Rating: 8/10

Waterproofs are an obvious layer to take with you if you’re heading out for a walk and it’s raining or looking like it will. But rain can sometimes appear from nowhere, and if your jacket is still hanging up in your hallway, you’re going to get wet. The torrentshell 3L from Patagonia solves this issue in a neat way – it can be self-stuffed into one of its pockets, leaving you with a compact package that can be shoved in a walking bag or even clipped to the outside of one courtesy of a carabiner. Aside from this party trick (which it takes about 10 seconds to unravel from, if you’re suddenly caught in a storm), the jacket features a three-layer shell that stood up to anything we threw at it, and had one of the best hoods on test.

The verdict: Men’s waterproof jackets for walking

The Finisterre storm bird jacket was the best all-rounder that we tested, combining everything you could want from a hiking jacket at a good price point and top eco credentials. The Haglofs rubus GTX was the best option if you want something that is smart while offering protection, while the Adidas terrex myshetler Gore-Tex is definitely the coolest looking one we tested.

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For the latest discounts on walking and other outdoor gear, try the links below:

Complete your outdoor ensemble with the best walking socks that keep feet warm, comfortable and dry

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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