Hiking and backpacking are some of those outdoor activities that require you to travel with essentials. In such scenarios, you'll need to make the most of your packing space. And that's where light waterproof jackets come in.
These jackets can be folded into really compact sizes, and some of them can even be stuffed into their own pockets.
They won't weigh you down, and they'll protect you from the elements. Light waterproof jackets are also more reliable compared to umbrellas and ponchos, especially if you're trying to hike in the rain or navigate a trail with wet vegetation.
We did some research and narrowed down the best light waterproof jackets on the market. Our selection consists of jackets that you can wear throughout the year, as long as you layer up in the fall and winter.
But before you check out the list, let's look at some of the things that you should keep in mind when buying a light waterproof jacket.
How to Choose the Best Light Waterproof Jackets
Here are some of the factors that you need to consider when making your selection.
Light waterproof jackets come in different sizes. Picking one can be challenging, especially if you're not in a position to try it on before you make the purchase. Fortunately, most manufacturers provide size charts, and others even advise buyers on how to take their measurements to increase their chances of getting a jacket that perfectly fits.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that your jacket shouldn't be too snug. You want something that will fit you but still provide enough room for you to layer up when necessary. You should also avoid jackets that are too big because their loose fit will make it easy for rainwater to leak into the jacket.
Some brands offer jackets with different fittings. Jackets with an athletic fit are designed to hug your body. If you come across such jackets, make sure you order a size up so that you can get more room for layers.
As the name suggests, a light waterproof jacket needs to be lightweight. However, the balance between a jacket's weight and its performance is something that shouldn't be overlooked.
You need a jacket that won't weigh you down. But then again, it shouldn't compromise on durability. Ultra-light jackets tend to be less durable, and most of them don't even have features like pit zips or pockets.
We recommend that you choose well-rounded jackets like the ones we have listed in this review if you want something functional that will at least serve you for some time.
Seams and Zippers
Most manufacturers prefer using special waterproof seam tapes or even weld fabric panels together to keep water from leaking into the jacket. Your preferred jacket should have such waterproof seams or techniques to ensure that you stay dry.
Avoid jackets with regular seams (seams that aren't waterproof) because rainwater will easily seep in through the small needle holes in the fabric. You should also go for jackets with protective zipper flaps or plasticized water-resistant zippers.
Breathability and Ventilation
A jacket's breathability often depends on the waterproofing methods used by the manufacturer. If possible, go for jackets with breathable tech like Gore-Tex because they let moisture out and also prevent water from getting into the jacket.
Some jackets also have mesh linings and added ventilation features like pit and side zips to help promote air circulation. Jackets with either of these features enable users to comfortably go about their activities for extended periods without feeling excessively hot or sweaty.
Top 10 Light Waterproof Jackets
1. Arcteryx Beta AR Jacket
- 100% Nylon
- Rugged shell
- 13.5 ounces
If you're looking for light, packable storm protection, you should consider purchasing this Arcteryx Beta AR Jacket. The jacket can handle a wide range of conditions, and its design focuses on flexible movement, and performance.
It features the breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex pro fabric and Hybrid mapping technology to optimize the fabric's performance benefits. That's part of the reason why this jacket comes highly recommended. It will most likely meet or surpass your expectations.
The jacket also has N40p-X face fabric, which makes it light and packable. It's also durable and features the hardwearing N80p-X GORE-TEX Pro in the forearms and shoulders for abrasion resistance. Users also like that the jacket's underarm gussets and elbow articulation promote ergonomic performance.
It also allows for freedom of movement and has enough room for layering because of its e3D streamlined fit. This jacket also stands out because of its hip length design. It won't ride up under your climbing harness or pack belt, and you'll also get ample coverage. You'll be comfortable because it will stay in place and water won't drip into your pants when it's raining.
Other features worth noting include the jacket's drop hood, collar, pit ventilation zippers, and pockets. Users like how the hood provides sufficient coverage with minimum impact on their vision. You'll also be able to use the collar for draft protection even when you're not wearing the hood.
Pros & Cons
2. CAMEL CROWN Women's Rain Jacket
- Breathability rating: 8500-9000 g/m²/24 hours
- Waterproof rating: 10000mm/H2O
- 210T Nylon Fabric
Camel Crown rain jackets are some of the most reliable waterproof alternatives on the market. This jacket features high density, 210T nylon fabric to prevent water and wind from getting in. The brand also used Camel-Tex technology and pressed hotmelt film for waterproofing.
The tech ensures that no water soaks through the material. Rainwater will bead up and slide off, leaving you completely dry. The jacket also has taped seams for added protection. You'll find it breathable, thanks to its skin-friendly mesh lining. The mesh dries quickly and helps wick away moisture to keep users dry and comfortable.
The jacket also features a hood with an adjustable drawcord. You can use the hood for extra coverage and facial protection. Users have the option of rolling it down when they're not using it. This jacket also has a high stand collar that prevents water and wind from leaking inside. The collar helps preserve body heat as well.
Other protective features include a Velcro storm flap that covers the jacket's YKK zipper, and adjustable hem and cuffs. The hem and cuffs also add to its heat retention and windproof properties. This jacket also stands out because of its humanized design. It's made to conform to your body's movement thanks to its 3D tailor-made features and ergonomic trimming.
Pros & Cons
3. Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket Men's
- 1.6mm micro seam allowance
- Gore C-Knit technology
- DWR treated
Arc'teryx offers a versatile, stylish, high-performance weather protection jacket for remote and varied conditions. It's a lightweight jacket that's designed for both comfort and efficiency. It comes highly recommended by outdoor enthusiasts because it's hardwired for the trail and built for exploring different terrains.
The jacket consists of Gore-Tex textiles and GORE C-KNIT backer technology. The tech is responsible for its soft and comfortable feel, not to mention its waterproof and breathable nature.
The jacket features watertight front zippers, a Durable Water Repellent finish, and taped seams for additional weatherproofing. It also has a chin guard with brushed microsuede, gusseted arms, and anatomical shaping for added comfort, improved mobility, and a better fit.
Pros & Cons
4. Helly Hansen Men's Dubliner Jacket
- Front: 100% Polyester
- Back: 100% Polyurethane
- Velcro-free design
Like other quality waterproof jackets, this Helly Hansen option will keep you dry on the outside and comfortable on the inside. The brand used its own tech – the Helly Tech system, to deliver a weatherproof solution for harsh conditions.
The tech will shield you from the elements since it's a combination of a breathable waterproof membrane and a DWR treated outer fabric. The jacket also has a mesh lining for added ventilation and comfort.
It features a packable hood designed for convenient one-hand adjustments, exterior and interior pockets, and adjustable cuffs.
Pros & Cons
5. Outdoor Research Men's Helium II Jacket
- 30D Nylon Ripstop
- Infinity Guarantee
Outdoor Research offers a jacket with a standard fit. It's not tight, but it's also not too loose. You can comfortably layer up if and when you need to. The jacket weighs less than half a pound, and it can easily pack into its internal hook-and-loop stuff pocket. The pocket even has a small loop for connecting a carabiner.
It features Pertex – a waterproof breathable laminate, and ripstop nylon for waterproof, windproof, and breathable protection. The hip-length jacket is also seam-sealed and has an interior storm flap behind the water-resistant zippers.
The jacket also has a hood that can be adjusted with a single pull and a reflective hood trim for added visibility in low light conditions. Other jacket features include one chest pocket, a drawcord hem, elastic cuffs, and a chin guard.
Even though it doesn't have some fancy features, the jacket will still come in handy when hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and climbing. You can wear it while taking on several other outdoor activities, although some people prefer it for everyday use because of its minimalist nature.
Pros & Cons
6. Mountain Hardwear Women's Plasmic Ion Jacket
- Center Back Length: 27in/67cm
- Standard fit
- Weight: 9.9 oz
To provide you with a durable, tough, abrasion-resistant garment, Mountain Hardware used 70D face fabric when making this jacket. It features Dry Q EVAP waterproofing technology, which is also known for its breathability. The tech also accelerates evaporation, so you won't ever feel sticky or sweaty.
It has a center-front Aquaguard Vislon zipper, which helps seal out moisture. The jacket's Velcro cuffs also protect users from the elements by preventing wind and water from leaking inside. Mountain hardware also included two zippered hand-warmer pockets, which are pack and harness compatible.
Pros & Cons
7. Marmot Precip Men's Lightweight Rain Jacket
- NanoPro tech
- DriClime chin guard
- Built-in Angel-Wing Movement
Marmot made this jacket to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable, regardless of your activities. It features the brand's NanoPro waterproofing technology, which is both breathable and comfortable.
Aside from the NanoPro coating, the jacket also has fully taped seams for added weather protection. It also features a DriClime chin guard for additional comfort and protection from scratching when you fully zip the jacket.
Users also benefit from ventilation features like pit zips meant to help them cool off by increasing the air circulation. The jacket also has a built-in Angel-Wing Movement feature for mobility retention.
Pros & Cons
8. Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket
- 100% Polyester
- Fully taped seams
- Hem to bicep zippers
You can trust that this Outdoor Research jacket will keep you dry and comfortable since it's made of breathable waterproof Gore-Tex fabric. The laminated jacket also has TorsoFlo side zippers for extra ventilation.
It has reliable YKK AquaGuard Zippers, and an internal front Storm Flap to keep water from seeping in the jacket. Its hook and loop cuff closures and elastic drawcord hem also keep out the elements and help trap body heat.
Pros & Cons
9. Columbia Men's Watertight Ii
- 100% Nylon shell
- 100% Polyester lining
- 4" high, 21" wide
The Columbia Men's Watertight Ii jacket features a waterproof nylon shell and microporous Omni-tech fabrication that shields users from wet weather. Its Omni-Shield tech is designed to resist the absorption of liquids. The tech is effective because it's quick-drying and repels moisture.
Other jacket features include its elastic hem, cuffs, abrasion-resistant chin guard, and zippered side pockets. The jacket is also packable into its left pocket.
Pros & Cons
10. The North Face Women's Venture 2 DWR Rain Jacket
- Relaxed fit
- Nylon, Polyester, and Polyurethane construction
- XS - 3XL sizes
This lightweight jacket is easily packable and will only take up a handful of space. It's designed for versatile use and is available in over twenty colors. The jacket features a DryVent shell and has a Durable Water-Repellent finish. Its seams are fully sealed as well, for extra weather protection.
The jacket also has a hem-cinch cord for a personalized fit, an adjustable hood for extra coverage, and pit-zips for extra ventilation when you're on the move.