Are you a die-hard hiker who walks their way to freedom, no matter what the weather is like? Or it could be just that you live in a cold wet region and need continuous protection from rain and sleet. You do not have to be confined indoors by the rain. Especially when you have the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking by your side. Be it a performance shell which is used for active outdoor activities or a casual waterproof jacket for walking to work, the market has it all. But brands get carried away with the scope of the word ‘waterproof’. Which is why, we took it upon ourselves to find truly waterproof jackets which will keep you dry as a bone. Whether you fancy a rainy-day hike down on Opal Creek or you are just rushing to the store for duct tape, these will be your staunch partners. “We have also written a complete guide about best rain jackets“.
What are the types of waterproof jackets?
Types of waterproof jackets based on fabric:
Coated fabric: Coated fabric waterproof jackets are double or triple-layer garments. Their coated layer keeps the water droplets on the outside. There are two types of coated waterproof jackets too. The cheaper ones have heavy coating, usually on the outside, and they are good for strolls or for travelling to work. Their breathability is limited for strenuous activities.
The other kind has coating on the inside. These are more expensive jackets which leave tiny pores for airflow. Consequently they are more breathable and lighter than the other coated type. These waterproof jackets can be used for short hikes. “We have also written a complete guide about best down jackets“.
Membrane/laminated fabric: These waterproof jackets are bonded with waterproof membranes. You are already familiar with Gore-Tex which is the gold standard for waterproof anything. However, once Gore-Tex’s patent ran out, other manufacturers caught on to the technology. So we have water-smart membranes like eVent and Polartec NeoShell.
The waterproof jackets with such membranes are generally lightweight and more breathable than coated fabrics. Gore-Tex is still leading from the front with the Gore-Tex Pro which is a truly air-permeable membrane with no PU layer choking it.
Directional Fabric: Some waterproof jackets use the highly evolved concept of directional moisture transfer. This simulates the functioning of animal fur. It moves moisture like sweat away from the body using a pump liner and a water-resistant inner layer. Similarly water vapor is prevented from entering inside the jacket. This fabric has unparalleled breathability and excellent water resistance. Paramo jackets are an example.
Types of waterproof jackets based on purpose:
Hiking Jackets: These are waterproof jackets that can be used for moderately arduous activities like hiking. These are designed to be light but they also balance good waterproofing and features. They are middle-of-the-road in terms of price and breathability. Based on price, they are reasonably strong. Simply wearing a backpack will not rip them out. These are also good for day-to-day wearing.
Performance Shells: If you are hiking in brutal wet conditions, the performance shell might be what you are looking for. They have excellent waterproofing combined with easy ventilation. The material is much tougher than the hiking jackets. When your body is in overdrive at hike, you don’t want to be sweating inside when it’s rainy and cold outside. Performance shells have a spacious and non-clammy feel.
Trail-running Jackets: Trail-running is a highly athletic outdoor activity. You will be covering distances fast on rough terrain. These are the lightest out of all types of jackets. Trailrunners usually carry minimum or no weight. These jackets are designed to be highly breathable and very light. But we would advise against carrying backpacks with these jackets. Sturdiness is not their strong suite. They go all out on waterproofing though.
Ultralight jackets: These feather-light jackets are meant solely for protection from rain and wind. They have limited features which they trade off for low weight. This is for casual use or for emergencies when you will not be annoyed by the lack of features.
How to choose the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking?
Not all jackets marked waterproof are actually so. They may be moderately water-resistant only. Likewise, there are a number of considerations for choosing the right waterproof jacket for hiking:
Water-resistance: This is the whole point of waterproof jackets. Do note that no jacket is invincibly waterproof. After a certain period of continued exposure to water, they will allow water inside. We looked at not just the fabric here, we also checked the focus points from where the water can get in like seams, cuffs, hood etc..Velcro closures on these areas and elastic bits keep these areas secure against rain in the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking.
Ventilation: The first thing that is compromised for water-resistance is ventilation. Fabrics are usually waterproofed by limiting the pore size of the layer so that they don’t allow water vapor in. This also inhibits the airflow. Fortunately, the newer fabrics have figured out how to maintain breathability along with water-resistance. With the best waterproof jackets for hiking and running, we checked for both ventilation and moisture-wicking properties.
Comfort and Fitment: The best waterproof jackets for hiking and running should afford the comfort for these activities. The fit should be such that it does not catch at awkward angles and provides full mobility to your limbs. Jackets should not leave your waist exposed when you raise your arms. Or the hood should be flexible to move with your neck. Pockets should have easy access.
Bulk: Different fabrics try to pare down the weight of the jacket. With performance shells and ultralight jackets, we have a bunch of lightweight garments to consider for hiking and running. You need to carry your essentials and emergency supplies. Your jacket should not weight you down. And weight also ties back to comfort and mobility. Lower the weight, the easier it is to move your arms.
Packability: Since waterproof jackets are usually outer shells, they can be peeled off when the rain is over. While hiking, the ability to pack the jacket into a small, lightweight bundle would be very convenient. Some of them fold into their pocket and have a lanyard strap.
Durability: This goes without saying. The best waterproof jackets for hiking and running have been thoroughly checked for durability. They live out long enough to be more than worth their price.
Best Waterproof Jackets for Running and Hiking In 2020
The Arcteryx Beta SL is a jack’et’ of all trades. Whether you want to take a walk to the store next block or go alpine climbing, the Beta SL delivers. What drives it to the top of our best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list is its enviably low weight. The water resistance and durability defy the weight. The design is simplistic and yet beautifully executed. It gives you a wide range of motion for all active sports and activities. The breathable Gore-Tex membrane is all you need to brave through the rain and storms. There are also other options under the best rain jackets.
Water-resistance and comfort
The Arcteryx Beta SL waterproof jacket has a 2.5-layer construction using Gore-Tex Paclite. This is a lightweight fabric so the overall weight of the jacket comes down to 11 ounces. It is not the most ventilated jacket in the list though. There’s a fair amount of air flow. The hood is attached flawlessly to the jacket. Whether you wear helmet under it or protective caps, the hood aligns around it properly. This keeps the water from seeping inside from the hood. The zipper effectively locks out water and is protected by a slim but effective internal storm flap. Altogether even the worst storms could not deter the Beta SL.
This waterproof jacket has one of the most comfortable designs. The low weight contributes to this. The cut of the jacket is such that it does not catch anywhere. The jacket will cover your torso even when your hands are raised.
The low-profile design of Arcteryx Beta SL waterproof jacket creates an excellent top layer for the wet trails. Apart from the zippers and the hood, the wrists are properly locked against moisture too. Velcro snaps limit the amount of water that might accidently soak your arms while raising them above you, for climbing etc. There is an Arcteryx symbol on the left hand side of the chest. There are two zippered pockets on each side for either trip essentials or your hands. This is an elegant jacket because of its good fit.
The lack of seams around the shoulder area improves the life of the jacket. The seams of this waterproof jacket are done with finesse. The light weight is achieved by economizing on things like seam tape thickness or wrist Velcro thickness. All these decisions actually work out in favor of its durability. The Beta SL jacket is available in 15 colors from poppy shades to somber black. Due to its petite body, it packs down into a small very portable bundle.
Gore-Tex Paclite, effectively waterproof in light to heavy rain
Columbia Watertight II waterproof jacket is for the folks on a shoestring budget. If you hike out to easy trails close to home or go walking around the block, this is the perfect water-repelling layer. We would not recommend them for difficult trails through unknown territories though. These have excellent value for money. The standard sizes leave space for a layer of warm clothing inside as well. It is doubtlessly one of the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking.
Water-resistance and comfort
The Columbia Watertight II waterproof jacket is made out of Nylon with a waterproof layer inside and a mesh lining. It has an athletic fit, but you can wear a layer inside. Water-resistance is top-notch. It can take sustained drizzle and normal rain on hikes. We would choose a more capable jacket for mountaineering though. The DWR(Durable Water Repellant) needs to be reapplied regularly, especially around the shoulders. The attached hood fits over baseball caps but it’s not big enough for helmets. There is no way to cinch it at the neck for a better fit. If you have a small head the hood will hinder the peripheral vision.
This waterproof jacket is quite comfortable for running and hiking. Even with your arms raised, your back will not be exposed. The wrist cuffs will be pulled down though. Your limbs remain fairly mobile. The jacket does not weigh you down or hitch when you move your arms.
The Columbia Watertight II waterproof jacket is a 2-layer outerwear. It resonates well with the fashion-conscious crowd because of its excellent fitment. There are two mesh-lined handwarmer pockets. The zippers are covered by storm flaps. All the zippers have a loop attached to them for easy operation. The wrist cuffs have elastic cuffs with Velcro straps for safe closure. The hem also has an elastic cinch with locking mechanism. The ventilation is good for the price. But you should stick to less strenuous hikes with Watertight II.
The hood of this waterproof jacket has a cinch as well. All the zippers and cinches are very easy to operate even with gloved hands. It weighs 13.5 ounces. Although heavier than Arcteryx Beta SL, it is still in the lightweight category. When packed, the jacket comes down to a cantaloupe-sized package. It is stuffed into its own pocket. The Nylon fabric holds up well against rips and grazes. But there’s only so much durability you can expect at this price. It is available in 23 different colors.
The North Face Venture waterproof jacket is quite the catch. With almost 50 colors to choose from, this affordable jacket is good for year-round use. Made of recycled materials, this is an eco-conscious jacket. It has a flattering fitment which would show off your gym curves in the hotter seasons. This is a godsend for folks in places like Seattle, who see rains almost through the entire year. With some regular maintenance, this is a long time investment. It ventures right into the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list.
Water-resistance and comfort
The North Face men’s Venture waterproof jacket uses 100% recycled Nylon for its construction, a fabric they term as HyVent. This is a 2.5-layer jacket. Water-resistance in the face of continuous light and moderate rain is good. The seams are taped to restrict the entry of water through those channels. The hood does its job well. It accommodates baseball hats or helmets easily. There’s a hidden drawcord to tighten the fit of the hood. The center front zipper has a storm flap to avoid water from entering that way.
The fit of this waterproof jacket is athletic. It will hug the contours of your body. You can slip in an inner layer based on your size and the jacket’s. The jacket is decently ventilated but the arms get muggy in peak summers. This can be avoided by wearing a thin layer inside.
The Venture waterproof jacket from North Face takes ventilation very seriously. It has pit zips to relieve the heat fast when it gets stuffy inside the jacket. The front zipper comes up to the chin. There’s a brushed lining in the chin area so that it does not rub against the skin. There are pockets on both sides of the waist. These can be zippered shut and are covered by thin storm flaps.
This waterproof jacket is also windproof. It weighs 14.1 ounces and edges towards high weight. The cuffs have hook-and-loop tabs for closure against water. It also has Velcro tabs. If you do not have to take off the jacket frequently, it will work. The hem has a drawcord that can be used to fix it against rising with your arms. There are 50 odd colors of the Venture. The Durable Water Repellant(DWR) wears off after a while. You can maintain it using Nik Wax or some similar DWR agent.
Marmot Men’s Precip waterproof jacket is an over-achiever in its price range. It looks and breathes like an expensive jacket. It is an excellent investment in terms of longevity and quality. Although it costs more than The Venture and Watertight II, it is well worth the extra bucks. If you can afford to shell out a few more greenbacks, the Marmot Precip can outstrip and outlast the other two. The exceptional ventilation and light build makes it one of the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking.
Water-resistance and Comfort
The Marmot Precip waterproof jacket resorts to proprietary NanoPro insert to shield against water. This is a 2.5-layer jacket with this coated insert. The primary material is 50D Nylon. Even when it’s raining cats and dogs, the Precip can withstand the onslaught. Because of the sterling air circulation, all taxing activities like running, hiking or mountaineering are a breeze, quite literally. The hood also seals out the head properly. The cinch of the hood closes around the forehead. This leaves plenty of space under the hood for the helmet or baseball caps. And it closes the hood effectively against windy rain.
This waterproof jacket is built to accept the contours of your body. You can move your arms around without catching against the seams. The hips and back remain covered even when you raise your arms during climbing. At 13 ounces, it is lightweight and hence, generally pleasant to wear. Having the cinch in the forehead also relieves unnecessary pressure on the head when you wear other headgear.
The Precip jacket from Marmot has the typical wrist cuffs with Velcro tabs. It has large pit zippers which provide additional airflow into the jacket if it gets too humid outside. There are two slanted pockets for the hands to rest. These are lined with mesh to provide better ventilation. Both the hood and the bottom hem close with elastic cinches. The elastic tabs are easy to operate. The zippers also have sizeable zipper tabs which can be used even with gloved hands. It folds easily into its own pocket with a carabiner clip to hang it off the loops of your bags.
You will need to maintain this waterproof jacket by replenishing the DWR coating. The center zip has a storm flap and remains shut tight against lashing rain. It is available in 32 odd colors. The jacket has a regular fitment. So it will fit the less maintained body forms as well.
Need a heavy-duty waterproof jacket for skiing strips and other snow adventures? The Arcteryx Alpha SV jacket is your closest ally. It is one of the more expensive choices on the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list. But it is truly winter-oriented. If you have a more sedentary lifestyle check out best winter jackets and down jackets. It is armed to the teeth with features that are important for survival out in the cold and wet regions. Arcteryx makes use of Gore-Tex Pro lining to stay dry in the face of rain and sleet.
Water-resistance and comfort
The major part of your investment in the Arcteryx Alpha SV waterproof jacket goes into the Gore-Tex Pro lining. It is the best fabric that Gore-Tex offers. It is waterproof, snow-proof and windproof. There is no questioning the durability. You will be boasting about the SV jacket all the way through your kids’ schooling. Moreover, the ventilation is top-notch too. There are pit zips to vent any heat that could build up after a tough patch of climbing. The Gore-Tex Pro can be used for hiking, running, climbing, cycling, mountaineering and what not. The airflow keeps your body dry and warm from the inside. The zippers have been meticulously designed to prevent water inflow.
This waterproof jacket weighs 17 ounces. That’s an achievement given the amount of features its packs. It economizes on weight by using microseams for sealing. The unrestricted mobility of the Alpha SV is a boon for a hardshell. You could feel like a stuffed turkey with the warm layers inside another such jacket. But the Alpha SV bends to your whim and range of movement during cardio activities.
The Arcteryx Alpha SV waterproof jacket packs some neat tricks. Being a jacket for the worst climate, it has both vertical chest pockets and hand-warming pockets. The waist pockets are positioned such that they are accessible with the backpack on. It also has two internal laminated pockets for small items like keys, phone etc.. The sleeve has another pocket for tools or MP3 player. The jacket is a mid-length model which is optimal for climbing and skiing. The arms are cut such that the jacket will not rise with the arms when you climb.
The hem, waist and the hood of this waterproof jacket has cinches. This allows you to tie on this warhorse and face the worst out there. You can easily slip in inner layers to protect against the cold. The wrists have long Velcro tabs for closing. The hood fits properly, with or without a helmet/cap. There’s a laminated chin guard so that your chin is not irritated by the front zip extending from the jacket. There are 9 classy colors available in Alpha SV.
The Marmot Minimalist waterproof jacket is making waves because of its reasonable price and excellent performance in rains. As the name suggests, this is a minimalist jacket. So Marmot has invested in pulling off the limited features with grace. The result is a form-fitting jacket with a dexterous hood and thoroughfare of air. It is sealed at all avenues. Only issue is that it’s not lightweight enough for a Minimalist jacket. Regardless, it has plenty of features for being in the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list.
Water-resistance and Comfort
The Minimalist waterproof jacket from Marmot is a 2.5-layer outerwear. It repels water using the Gore-Tex lining with Paclite technology. This is a high-performance watertight fabric. The collar extends all the way to the chin for coverage. The hood is descends on the forehead in complete protection against blowing rains. There are both interior and exterior storm flaps on the main zipper to obstruct water seepage. The area around the shoulders is one continuous piece of fabric without any seams. You can use this jacket in light to heavy rains and avoid being drenched.
The athletic cut of this waterproof jacket creates a flattering fit. So you end up looking slim in the Minimalist. The arms provide a good span of motion in vertical and horizontal planes. You remain well-ventilated through the pit zips. When opened, they can vent out any built up heat in the humid weather.
Although not big on fancy features, The Marmot Minimalist waterproof jacket has some small details which make it much more usable than the bulky feature-rich jackets. The hood has a lot of coverage. The fabric can be tightened by multiple cinches on the hood. This gives you greater control over the hood. Because of its low hang over the face, we found it slightly difficult to fit in a helmet there. The wrists are tightened by a Velcro tab. The hem has an elastic cinch with locking tabs on both sides.
The waist pockets of this waterproof jacket could be better designed. With the backpack on, the lower half becomes inaccessible. But it has a chest pocket as an extra asset. It clocks 15 ounces weight. But this is compensated by the fact that it is close to being a hardshell at the price and construction of a 2.5-layer jacket.
Excellent water-resistance and breathability
Extensive face coverage with double-cinched hoods
Slim athletic fit
Waist pockets will be obstructed by backpack waist strap
The Patagonia Torrentshell waterproof jacket is for those who are not tolerant even of little patches of wetness on the inner layers. This offers excellent water-resistance even in heavy downpour. But the ventilation is only average compared to other jackets here. If you don’t sweat as bad as pigs, the Torrentshell would make one of the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking.
Water-resistance and Comfort
Patagonia Torrentshell waterproof jacket uses 50D Nylon with proprietary H2NO waterproofing. This 2.5-layer jacket is no-nonsense in the face of extreme rain. Water beads consistently even after continuous use. The hood is well-designed. You get proper peripheral vision, which is critical while running. The hood can comfortably accommodate a cap or a helmet. Even the pockets are not mesh-lined. They have been sealed with the waterproof fabric so that water does not enter that way.
This waterproof jacket is for the hyperactive hikers. It will move with you. But it will not expose your back or wrists as you raise your arms above your head. The hood is also designed for easy movement even with a helmet beneath it.
The Torrentshell waterproof jacket from Patagonia is built to last. It has a long-lasting construction and a sturdy fabric. At 12 ounces it’s quite light. Even Marmot Precip is an ounce heavier. The cinch of the hood passes through a sleeve which eliminates any pressure point on the brow. It also rolls away from the head when you don’t require it.
There are pit zips under the arms for added ventilation in this waterproof jacket. The cuffs are sealed with Velcro tabs. The zips and pull tabs are not designed for tactile advantage of gloved hands. We wish they had taken a leaf out of Columbia Watertight II. The jacket packs into its own left pocket. It is easy to stuff and forms cantaloupe-sized package.
Want to foray into the toughest hikes in rainy season? The Outdoor Research Foray waterproof jacket will host your adrenaline rush. Its drastic ventilation options make it one of the most breathable jackets of the bunch. Its Gore-Tex Paclite material is no novice at creating a great shield from water. The Foray is moderately expensive. But with its talent, it forays right into the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list.
Water-resistance and Comfort
The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric used in the Outdoor Research Foray waterproof jacket is one that can easily juggle water-resistance and ventilation. From light to heavy downpours, you can venture out with the Foray and stay dry. The hood also covers a major portion of the face. The taut brim hangs low over the forehead. Only weak link are the seams along the shoulders unlike Marmot Minimalist which uses a single piece of fabric around the shoulders.
Ventilation is the highlight of this waterproof jacket’s repertoire. Instead of pit zips, the Foray opens up completely from both sides. It excels at facilitating air flow for the whole upper body. The chin area has been lined with micro-fleece to avoid uncomfortable contact with main zipper. The arms have a good range of motion. The torso is not exposed when the arms are raised.
The wrists of the Foray waterproof jacket are tightly sealed with elastic and Velcro tabs. It has mesh-lined pockets for improved breathability. These are at waist height and another one is on the chest. The DWR stays on for a long time. But it requires more frequent maintenance than Marmot Precip. The zippers and tabs of the jacket are built for use with gloved hands.
The hood of this waterproof jacket rolls away into a neat bunch. It weighs 16 ounces but the side zippers accumulate this weight. It is still lighter than the Alpha SV and other hardshells. The fabric used in Foray is top-notch and slated for longevity. The jacket can be packed into its pocket and comes with a clip for hanging it off your backpack.
The Helium II is a minimalistic but ultra lightweight jacket. This provides much better water-resistance than a rain coat but it packs as small as a rain coat. If you are planning to hike or go trail running in low-risk and hot areas, this is the perfect shell for you. This is the best waterproof jacket for running and hiking, if economizing on space and weight is your main priority. You can also check out the best down jackets.
Water-resistance and Comfort
The Outdoor Helium II waterproof jacket uses 30D Nylon with Pertex shield for its construction. The water-resistance is not as good as Marmot Minimalist but it is excellent at the 6.5 ounce weight compared to the 15 ounces bulk of Minimalist. The hood has a stiff brim that covers the forehead completely. The cinching system is interconnected in a way that you can tighten the hood around the temples and the back of the hood. Ventilation is average as there are no pit zips. The Nylon material has decent breathability.
Because of its low weight, this waterproof jacket is quite comfortable. This also results in greater mobility. The cut is such that it does not catch on your limbs as you move your arms. Your torso remains concealed when you raise your arms.
The Helium II waterproof jacket is designed to be worn in hot wet weather. So Outdoor Research opted for a slim fitment. So it plays into your physical appeal when you run or hike. To cut down on weight, they resort to only one zipper on the jacket. This is a straight pocket on the chest. On the upside, the pocket is big enough to hold an iPhone.
An issue we found with the design of the waterproof jacket is that the wrist has only elastic closure. There is no Velcro strip here. There are 5 colors in this jacket.
Westcomb Apoc waterproof jacket has all the frills you would want at its price. They have bundled the best materials into an innovative design for this jacket. It walks a fine balance between top-notch water resistance and breathability. It is abound with pockets, zippers and other features which make life in the wild easy. The Apoc is expensive but well worth it for the best waterproof jackets for running and hiking list.
Water-resistance and Comfort
Westcomb Apoc waterproof jacket detours from the Gore-Tex standard and uses the Polartec Neoshell for waterproofing. This uses a fibrous matrix of the thread to prevent water droplets from entering inside. But the small gaps are enough for moisture from the sweat to go in. It is as waterproof as Gore-Tex Pro but it has good scope for breathability. If that’s not enough, the Apoc also has pit zips. You can leave them open when you are taking tough hikes on a humid day or in between showers.
The waterproof jacket has a regular fit. You can slip in one or two layers of clothing under this shell. It is good for mountaineering, hiking, running etc. basically all sorts of cardio activities.
The Westcomb Apoc waterproof jacket has a spacious hood. It can easily stuff a helmet or a baseball cap inside. There are cinches at the back and the sides of the hood which help you taper it down to your size. There is a fleece patch near the chin area which prevents it from chafing against your skin. The slanted pockets of the jacket are positioned high so that the backpack straps do not obstruct the access of the zips.
This waterproof jacket also has internal pockets for media and keys. The jacket is done in a matte finish and the zippers are all glossy. There are four colors in this jacket.