Best Waterproof Jackets 2020
The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day … Actually, you know what? Bring it on. Because we’ve just put together the ultimate buyer’s guide for the best waterproof jackets you can buy. So whether it’s summer showers or winter storms, put on these coats, throw open your door, and charge into the great unknown.

In this guide, we’ll be listing some of our favourite jackets, as well as telling you why they’re so great, and where they’ll excel. That way, you can buy the perfect one. Hiking the mountains, shredding downhill trails on your bike, or just bracing the elements in the city.

We’ll cover it all. Ready? Let’s jump in.

waterproof jackets by dopesnow

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Men’s Outdoor Jackets |
Women’s Outdoor Jackets

Rating The Best Waterproof Jackets

You might think that a waterproof jacket’s quality comes down to its water column (don’t worry, we’ll explain this later). And you’re right for the most part. But there are some other features we look for too, and below you’ll find a quick rundown of what we think makes a waterproof jacket truly awesome!

Waterproofing

When we talk about waterproofing, we’re looking for that ascribed number. Sometimes it looks like 10,000mm, or even 10k, but what does that mean? We’ll cover it in detail later, but for now, all you need to know is that the higher the number the longer you can stay in the rain before moisture gets in. This is an essential element when it comes to finding the right jacket, and works in tandem with all other features. But be aware, higher may not always be better!

Breathability

If you’re running around on a rainy mountainside, out for a jog, or peddling up a craggy hill on your bike, you’ll be working up a sweat. And while waterproofing keeps the water out, breathability is what keeps it from being locked in. Measured in the amount of grams of water that pass through a square metre in a 24 hour period, a high breathability rating allows you to push as hard as you want, and not feel clammy! 

Dope Hiker Waterproof Jacket Women

Functionality

This is a tricky one as it’s a little bit subjective. But what we’re trying to quantify is, beyond it’s ‘technical stats’, how useful is this jacket actually going to be when you take it out in adverse conditions? We’re going to be averaging hiking, biking, and running here, so that you get a general feel for the practicality of the jacket for those with what we like to call an ‘active lifestyle’. Which basically means you’re a rad person who does loads of cool stuff. 

Value For Money

How much bang are you getting for your buck? More expensive isn’t always better. These jackets need to take a lot of punishment, so how do they stack up for the cash? Do we think they’re expensive, or do we think that they’re practically a steal? We’ll be laying out the price, and whether or not we think that you’re getting a lot for your money.

These are our 4 metrics, and using some seriously complex mathematical algorithms, we’ll be finding the average score and ranking them for you below. So check out this quick rundown of our top 5 waterproof jackets for men, and our top 5 waterproof jackets for women, and then read on to get the lowdown on each one. 

Note: for the full effect, you should play ‘Africa’ by Toto while reading this. Or ‘It’s Raining Men’, by The Weather Girls, if you’d prefer. 

Top 5 Waterproof Jackets For Men 2020

Name

Style

Rating

Price

Review

Availability

#1 Dope Hiker

dope hiker outdoor jacket black batic men
5/5

$$

#2 Dope Trekker

dope trekker orange product
5/5

$$

#3 TNF Quest

the north face quest tnf outdoor jacket
4.5/5

$

#4 TNF Arque Active Trail Futurelight

the north face arque active trail futurelight
4/5

$$$

#5 Dope Drizzard

4/5

$

Top 5 Waterproof Jackets For Women 2020

Name

Style

Rating

Budget

Review

Availability

#1 Dope Trekker

dope trekker faded green wmns
5/5

$$

#2 Dope Hiker

dope hiker wmns
5/5

$$

#3 Peak Performance Nightbreak

4/5

$$$

#4 Dope Rambler

dope rambler wmns
4/5

$

#5 Peak Performance Argon Light

3.5/5

$$$

Top 5 Waterproof Jackets For Men

Men's #1 - Dope Hiker

dope hiker outdoor jacket black batic men

Waterproofing

5,000mm

Breathability

30,000g/m2

Functionality

9/10

Price

€130

Snagging the top spot on our list is the Dope Hiker, which comes with some awesome features that’ll keep you cool and dry in all situations! While 5k isn’t a super high waterproof rating, its waterproof membrane has plenty of tech to shrug off showers, and with an eco-friendly DWR coating to help water bead off, it’s never let us down. Throw in the interstellar 30k breathability rating, and this jacket is ideal for those tough adventures!

As an anorak, it also has less chance for water to ingress, and with an internal media harness in the belly pouch to keep your phone from bouncing all over the place, this jacket is perfect for more strenuous hikes and for biking in. 

Add in the rear yoke and underarm vents for the ultimate in air circulation, along with an adjustable cowl and lots of storage options, and this jacket reigns supreme when it comes to sheer outdoor usefulness for those with one of those, er, whaddyacallits, active lifestyles.

And at just over £100 British and just under €130 Euros, it’s an affordable, tough, and gorgeous piece of gear that’ll make a brilliant addition to any outdoor wardrobe.

Men's #2 - Dope Trekker

dope trekker orange product

Waterproofing

5,000mm

Breathability

30,000g/m2

Functionality

8/10

Price

€130

Sliding into second place, the Trekker jacket from Dope embodies the same DNA as the Hiker jacket, but utilises a zip-through design for easier entry. And while this jacket is super comfortable and just as ready to brace the elements thanks to its waterproof membrane and eco-friendly DWR coating, the zip adds a different dynamic for us and is better suited to those changeable days where it goes from warm and dry to wild and wet at the drop of a hat. 

It sports the same back yoke as the Hiker, and pit vents too, to keep you cool. In terms of storage, you get four pockets — two hand-warmer, and two zipped chest, one of which includes a media harness for your phone! 

And with its front placket (the flap that covers the zip), it stands up well to both rain and wind, making it an ideal choice for anyone who’s looking for a lightweight waterproof jacket that’s happy to be put through its paces.

Coming it at just over £100 and under €130, it’s a well-priced item that’s going to change up your outdoor game in ways you never thought possible. 

Men's #3 - The North Face Quest

the north face quest tnf outdoor jacket

Waterproofing

DryVent Tech

Breathability

DryVent Tech

Functionality

8/10

Price

€100

Much like Madonna, the Quest has been around in some form since the beginning of time. A true staple in The North Face’s lineup, the Quest is simple and elegant, and it does the job.

Using The North Face’s DryVent tech, you get a sturdy and waterproof outer shell equipped with a rugged DWR treatment for some extra protection. But that doesn’t mean it’s not breathable, either. The exact specs are a mystery, but these jackets are high performers and are super reliable in a range of conditions.

In terms of its functionality, it comes with a mesh liner to make it more comfortable against the skin without adding bulk, and a pair of zippered hand warmer pockets for stuff, or your hands. 

Up top you’ve got a micro fleece-lined collar that sits nice and high and a reliable, rear-adjustable hood. Now, in terms of fancy things like media pockets or zip plackets, it’s lacking. But, when it comes right down to it, this is a no-frills, effective jacket that’ll perform, day in and day out. 

In terms of its pricing, it’s around the same price as the Hiker and the Trekker, but lacks some of the panache and style they bring to the table. As such, the value for money for us is just a little bit lower. But in terms of sheer build-quality and lightweight performance, it earns its place on this list with ease. 

Men's #4 - The North Face Arque Active Trail FUTURELIGHT

the north face arque active trail futurelight

Waterproofing

Futurelight 3L Shell

Breathability

Futurelight 3L Shell

Functionality

10/10

Price

€230

The Arque Active Trail FUTURELIGHT must be pretty good to have a name like that, and you know what? It is.

FUTURELIGHT is The North Face’s newest invention, and is a collection of clothing built to endure tough conditions. More than just a fabric, the range is designed from the ground up to deal with snow, rain, wind, and everything else that wants to make you cold and wet. The TNF AATF then, because I’m too lazy to type the whole name out a bunch of times, is a force to be reckoned with. 

In terms of style it has a cool, laid-back anorak look, and when it comes to functionality you get a lightweight shell with a tricot backer for comfort and moisture wicking, as well as a sizeable belly pocket, quarter zip, and cuff snappers to get the right fit. 

Perfect for use when hiking, biking, or even running, this jacket is a real performer and won’t let you down. So why’s it only at the number four spot? Well, it’s not exactly cheap. And with other items on the list that perform almost as well for nearly half the price, for us, the value doesn’t quite stack up. But, if money is no object, and you need the best performance, then this jacket should be your first choice.

Men's #5 - Dope Drizzard

dope drizzard black

Waterproofing

5,000mm

Breathability

30,000g/m2

Functionality

8/10

Price

€120

The Drizzard is a curious little number that sneaks into the number 5 spot. Not quite as robust as the Trekker or the Hiker, the Drizzard is designed as a lightweight outer shell. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a slip-over style, and comes with most of the stuff you’d find on the Hiker, but it loses the zippable collar, as well as some of the thickness. 

Rated with a 5k water column, it’s still a pretty great jacket, and with a DWR coating to boot, it’ll stand up to most conditons. We love it for those more strenuous excursions like mountain biking or some good old mountain scrambles. But for us, it lacks the all around versatility of the Hiker or the Trekker, as it isn’t quite as effective at warding off the wind or keeping the cold at bay.

If you live somewhere warm, though, or you need something for those summer hikes — something that’ll cram right down into a tiny little backpack — well, the Drizzard is a superb choice, and might just be the perfect packable jacket. In both Dope’s lineup, and dare we say it, the world…

And hell, when it comes to value for money, you get lots of awesome tech, top of the range DWR, and it’s still the lowest priced item on this list. All of which more than qualifies it for the final spot on our list.

Top 5 Waterproof Jackets For Women

Women's #1 - Dope Trekker

dope trekker faded green wmns

Waterproofing

5,000mm

Breathability

30,000g/m2

Functionality

9/10

Price

€130

The Trekker is aptly named, we think. And there’s probably no other jacket we’d want watching our back when we were out on a long trek. Versatile and lightweight, it’s got everything you need for a day on the mountain. 

Designed with lightweight performance in mind, this shell jacket combines a respectable 5k waterproof rating with Dope’s own DWR treatment, which bolsters that waterproofing and makes it super versatile. But it’s in the breathability that it really comes alive.

30k will keep you dry and sweat free in warm conditions and during strenuous hikes, which means that this is an ideal summer shell to wear when the weather is balmy, but with some layers, will also be a great outer as the seasons start to turn.

And with two waterproof zipped pockets, an adjustable hood and cuffs, and plenty of other tech to keep you going on those long days, it’s a true all rounder. And coming in at just half the price of some of the jackets that made this list, there’s no wonder it’s claimed the top spot.

Women's #2 - Dope Hiker

dope hiker wmns

Waterproofing

5,000mm

Breathability

30,000g/m2

Functionality

8/10

Price

€130

The Hiker is a true slip-on-and-go companion that’s ideal for those autumn and spring hikes. And while it’s made from the same awesome stuff as its sister, the Trekker, for us, the anorak styling here is just a little less versatile. But still, an amazing buy that’s stacked with tech. Which is why it has claimed the number two spot. 

The Trekker is given a zip-through construction, which the Hiker does away with in favour of a kangaroo style dump pocket. And while it’s super handy for carrying larger things like sandwiches (or maybe that’s just us), we feel it loses a little of its versatility. The underarm vents, quarter zip, and out-of-this-world breathability rating do a lot for keeping you cool, but there’s just no replacing a full zip.

Though if you like the anorak style better then this may just be your top pick! It comes down to preference, really, and you certainly won’t be missing out with either. And with a 5k waterproof rating and the same DWR coating, you can be sure that it’ll stand up to the elements. If you like anoraks, then you certainly won’t be disappointed with this. If we could have two first-place jackets, this and the Trekker would be tied.

Women's #3 - Dope Rambler

dope rambler wmns

Waterproofing

Water Resistant

Breathability

Softshell

Functionality

8/10

Price

€100

Summer hiking just got better with the Dope Rambler. That’s how it’s packaged and we can’t help but agree. It’s made from bonded polyester softshell which means high breathability and a good natural water resistance. On the outside you get a smooth, DWR coated outer shell, and on the inside a soft micro fleece liner. It’s also windproof and comes with some interesting design quirks to keep you warmer than the average bear — we mean, er… hoodie. 

A taller cowl-style collar and drawstring hood combo means locking down heat is an easy task. And with elasticated cuffs and an elasticated hem, you’ll not feel any sneaky drafts creeping in. 

Top that off with a double-zipped belly pocket with internal phone harness, and an extra zipped pocket on the upper arm perfect for keys, cash, or cards, and this really is a great hoodie for fair-weather hiking.

Definitely more capable than your run-of-the-mill cotton hoodie, this thing is the ideal middle ground between a sweater and a fully fledged jacket. And it’ll even stand up to some light drizzle. Though, if the weather takes a wetter turn, you’ll feel a little left out in the cold… or rain. Which is why it doesn’t quite grab a top spot. Still, for rain-free hikes, it’s a great choice, and the most reasonably priced item on this list, too.

Women's #4 - Peak Performance Nightbreak

Waterproofing

10,000mm

Breathability

10,000g/m2

Functionality

8/10

Price

€250

The Nightbreak may sound like something Batman whips out when it begins to rain, but it’s a lot more ordinary than that. A solid all-rounder that’s lightweight, waterproof, and ready for adventure, you won’t be busting bad guys in it, but it’ll definitely stand up to a hike. 

Made with Peak Performance’s 3-layer HipeCore+ material, you get solid 10k/10k waterproofing and breathability, which means this jacket is good all year round and won’t balk at a spot of rain! It also comes equipped with an adjustable hood, ventilation zippers, articulated sleeves with velcro cuffs, and an elasticated hem. All of which makes it a pretty great jacket. It also looks nice, too.

So why does it only get to number four? Well, at the end of the day, it’s not going to let you down, but we never really felt wowed by it. I think the best way to package it is comparing it to a hard boiled egg. It’s very… as expected. It doesn’t have the excitement of a fried egg. Nor the finesse of poached. And it doesn’t have the decadence of silky scrambled eggs. It’s just very… ordinary. It will always perform. It will always deliver. But if you’re looking for something special, you won’t find it here.

And for the price, well, there’s a lot of other jackets out there within reach. Still, we found it was great in the summer as a lightweight shell, in the winter as a layered shell, and in the months between, versatile and comfy. But, we like to be wowed. And while more than good enough to claim the number four spot, we couldn’t in good conscience place it higher.

Women's #5 - Peak Performance Argon Light

peak performance argon light jacket black

Waterproofing

Water Resistant

Breathability

Highly Breathable

Functionality

7/10

Price

€240

We love the Argon Light. We really do. But it does a few things really, really well, and others, not so well. So while we’re always glad to have one hanging in the wardrobe, we don’t find ourselves reaching for it as much as we’d like. Still, if the following situations suit your lifestyle, then you may be asking why this is all the way down at number five and not topping this list.

The Peak Performance Argon Light jacket is stacked with tech, and insulation, too. It’s made from completely recycled polyester (definitely a plus in our books), and has a special kind of insulation called Thermore. And, furthermore… (see what we did there) it has a special way of being made. The insulation is blown into woven channels, rather than being sewn into place, which gives you that ‘quilted’ look and feel without the weakness of stitched seams. Which means better waterproofing and wind resistance. Though be wary of the ‘waterproofing’ label, as from our experience, it’s not something we’d want to rely on in heavy rain. Though that doesn’t mean it’s useless on the mountain.

Very wind proof, and very warm, this jacket is our top pick for cold and dry conditions. The Thermore insulation is great — really lightweight and toasty, and surprisingly breathable, too. And with an ergonomic profile, elasticated cuffs and an elasticated hem, along with a tall cowl collar and comfy hood, when the temperature drops, this thing is ideal to have crammed in your bag. Because it can be. Because it’s packable. 

All of this puts us in a love-hate quandary. It’s so good at what it does — cold weather hiking — but for us lacks the versatility of the jackets higher up the list. And for a pretty penny — which is what it costs — we want something we can reach for day in day out. And as much as it pains us, we reach past this jacket more than for it. Though if cold-weather hiking is your jam, then there’s really other choice!

How To Choose The Perfect Outdoor Jacket

Still here, are we? Well that’s good. Because I’m on the clock until five and my fingers are nowhere near sore yet. 

If you’re reading this, that means not only do we have your attention firmly within our grasp, but it also means that you likely want to know more about how we, and better yet, how you can choose the perfect jacket. Or at the very least, what a water column is, how a jacket breathes, and just why some cost twice as much as others.

Well, the tech explanations will come a little later, so you don’t have to trawl through them for the good stuff. But for now, let’s get into the quick and dirty of it. How we approach buying a new jacket. 

how to choose a waterproof jacket

Price

So often will we look for something like a hiking jacket, or a new piece of gear, and think, Yeah, it’s nice. But it’s kind of costly. Do I really need it?

I can’t answer that for you. But if you’re here, you’re probably pretty serious about needing a new jacket. And when it comes right down to it, price and value are two separate things. And if you’re going to get loads of use out of something, the value is high. As such, the price is less significant. So we always say to think of price in terms of value, rather than cold, hard numbers!

Area Of Use

Let’s take my needs for example. I’m in the market for a jacket that I need for mountain biking. I need a jacket that’s lightweight and can deal with warmer temperatures when I ride in the spring and summer, as well as having great breathability. I need a jacket that packs down super tightly to fit in my small pack. And I need a jacket that has some stretch in it to cope with the stresses of riding.

The Drizzard is a lightweight shell, is super breathable, very packable, and ideal for warm weather rides with its insane breathability rating. And it’s stretchy, too. Which makes it perfect. It’s not number one on the list, but it suits my needs perfectly. The best jacket it the one that meets your needs. It’s just that simple!

Value

The tech that goes into these jackets (and all outdoor/active wear) tends to directly correlate with the price. More tech equals a higher price tag more often than not. And sometimes you’ll see a jacket that’s two or three hundred of your preferred currency and think, gee whiz, that’s an expensive coat! It is, but what are you getting for it? 

We threw around some terms earlier, and now it’s time to revisit them. Because as well as giving some perspective on that all important word: Value.

Dope Hiker Waterproof Jacket Women Faded Green

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is usually sold to us as thousands of millimetres. A 5,000mm rating, or 10,000mm rating, for example. Or even 10k, for shorthand. But what does that mean? Well, that figure is the water column. The higher the figure, the taller the column, and the better the waterproofing. Simple. 

To measure it, you take the fabric of the item in question, pull it taught and suspend it flat. Then, you place a 1-inch tube of infinite height on the fabric, and fill it with water. If it gets to 1,000mm (that’s a metre, to you or I) and water begins to leak through the fabric, that means that it has a water column of 1,000mm. If it gets to 5,000mm up the tube, then the fabric has a 5k rating. 

As more water is added, the weight and pressure increases, and it pushes through the fabric harder. So, the higher that number, the better suited it is to wear in rougher conditions! But, the water column isn’t the only contributing factor to waterproofing. As you might have seen above, there’s also…

DWR or Coatings

A DWR coating or treatment is a substance that is placed on a fabric by a garment manufacturer in order to increase the outer water resistance of the fabric. 

It’s important to note that DWR doesn’t improve the water column of the fabric, and nor does it make the fabric more waterproof. What it does do, is form a protective layer over the fabric to help repel water. 

We could, of course just make jackets and pants out of plastic and have no water get in ever. But then you’d get all hot and sweaty. So it’s kind of a balancing act! But how does a DWR coating work? 

When a jacket is treated with a DWR coating, the water hits the coating, and runs right off – like water out of a non-stick pan. This keeps the fabric underneath dryer, and prevents so much water from coming in contact with it, which sort of simulates lighter conditions. So while the DWR coating doesn’t improve the waterproofing of the fabric, it reduces the amount of water it has to endure, and brings that amount (hopefully) down within its water column, keeping you dryer, for longer.

Breathability

Breathability, a little like the water column, is one of those terms that’s thrown around pretty freely. But what is it, and how is it measured?

Breathability is generally talked about in terms of how much sweat is let out of the piece of clothing. And that’s correct in a sense, but there’s a little more to it than that. 

You may have seen it written as 10,000g, or 10,000g/m2, or even 10,000g/m2/24hr. What they all mean is that if a square metres of fabric is spread across an opening, over the course of 24 hour period, 10,000g of moisture (or 10kg) will naturally permeate it in a single direction. 

Now, does that seem like a lot? It does, doesn’t it. But let me put it in perspective for you — in a single exhale, the average human can expel up to 750ml of vaporised water. That’s 750g when condensed. So yeah! Maybe 10kg isn’t that much. And when you’re sweating a lot on a hike, or biking, a high breathability rating is as important, if not more important than waterproofing! No point keeping water out if you’re soaked with sweat inside anyway.

Dope Rambler Green Outdoor Jacket

Best Brands

Dope Snow – This is a company that is taking the snowboard and outdoor apparel industry by storm. It has fresh and functional products.

Peak Performance – This brand stands for modern designs, technical solutions and high quality. 

The North Face – Their jackets feature innovative waterproofing and insulating technologies to keep you dry and warm.

FAQs About Waterproof Jackets

How Much Waterproofing Is Enough?

There's no strict answer to that. If you're going to stand under a waterfall, a lot. If you're going to endure some drizzly showers, less is fine. So it comes down to where you use it and the conditions you're using it in. Usually below 5,000mm is designed for light use. 10,000mm is a good all-around figure. 15,000mm+ is pretty much going to keep you dry in all situations.

What Breathability Rating Is Good For hiking?

This comes down to two factors - one, what kind of activity you're doing, and two, how much you sweat. If you're running up a mountain and you sweat a lot, the breathability of a jacket will probably never be high enough to let all your moisture out. But if you're doing more of a walk and you're not a big sweater, then you can probably rely on the figures your jacket is putting out.

how to choose a waterproof jacket

Does Waterproofing Degrade?

The question of whether jackets get less waterproof over time is one we get asked a lot. The answer is that yes, they probably do. Though it's quite difficult to measure! The fabric doesn't get less waterproof as such, though, it just tends to get worn over time. The threads may begin to stretch or pull a little, which can affect the structural setup of the fabric, allowing more water through over time. This can be combatted with the use of a stretchy material, though, or with something like ripstop. The best thing we can say is try to take care of your jacket, and get one to suit your needs. One designed to put up with the punishment you're giving it!

Can You Wash Waterproof Jackets?

Probably. Sometimes. With the right cycle and detergent. The idea of washing a waterproof jacket may seem scary at first, but most of the time, you can use a low-temperature cycle, and a special detergent which doesn't affect waterproof materials in the same way it does regular laundry. If you get a nasty spill on your jacket, some tree sap, or something else that won't come off with a cool, damp cloth (always our first recommendation), then definitely go specialist, buy a detergent designed for the job, and always - and we mean always - follow the washing instructions on the label. You take care of it, and it'll take care of you.

But Won't That Affect The DWR Coating?

You're right that some detergents will strip DWR, and that high temperature washes probably will, too. But over time, continual rain, as well as general wear may begin to remove the DWR coating as well. The good news is that there are lots of products out there which allow you to top up the DWR coating. Maybe companies offer spray or roll-on options for prolonging or bolstering the DWR coating on a garment.

dope trekker outdoor jacket orange

Wrapping It Up

Here we are, my dear friends. At the end of the pixelated road. It’s been a fine journey — one for the ages, even. But alas, all things must end. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this read, and that you found plenty to get excited about. If you need any more help, tips, recommendations, reviews, or general internet reading for those long moments where it’s just you, your phone, and the porcelain, well, you know where to find us.

Happy trails, my friends. And as always, happy shopping!