For walkers, hikers, climbers and bikers, there are few pieces of kit that are more important than a reliable winter jacket – a coat that will keep you warm, dry and ultimately happy on even the coldest, wettest days.
There are many different factors worth considering when buying a rain jacket for winter. How affordable is the jacket? What is the most reliable outdoor brand? How waterproof is the jacket? Is it warm and cosy, or does it focus more on being lightweight? Is the jacket designed for walkers and hikers, or for climbers and mountaineers? What is the hood like, and do the pockets suit your needs? Does the jacket make an effort to be more environmentally and ethically sustainable?
Over the past few months, we’ve tested and reviewed dozens of winter rain jackets, answering as many of these question as possible. Our round-up explores some of the best.
How to check the waterproof rating of a jacket?
Before you buy a rain jacket it is a good idea to check the waterproof rating. You can often find this on the product’s label or online page, displayed as either the ‘hydrostatic head’ (hh) or ‘water column’, followed by a large number (e.g. 15,000, 20,000 or 30,000).
This figure, derived in lab conditions, represents the amount of pressure of water that is required in order to penetrate a specific fabric. In other words, the test is designed to mimic the amount of rain that can fall on to a jacket before it is breached.
In the UK, jackets must have a hydrostatic head of 15,000 or more to be labelled as waterproof. The higher the number, the more waterproof the jacket is – garments with a hydrostatic head of 30,000 are considered to have a very high level of waterproofing.
These ratings are a good way to gauge the level of waterproofing you will get with the jacket, but it is important to remember that real-world variables – such as wind, temperature, sunlight and load carrying – will also play a part in the protection the jacket offers.
Best rain jackets for winter walking 2021–2022
Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket
Weight: 520g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hiking, skiing, climbing, backpacking
Verdict: Light yet protective eco-friendly jacket for changeable weather conditions all year round. 9/10
Expensive, yes, but this is a jacket that oozes quality while remaining highly practical, exemplifying Fjällräven’s aim to develop functional, durable and timeless outdoor gear, while acting responsibly towards nature and people.
One of the first things you notice when pulling on the Keb Eco-Shell is the softness of the inner fabric and the overall lightness of the jacket (520g). This is a real asset if you’re a hiker, biker or skier who likes to move at pace, not only because its modest weight keeps you cool – superb breathability and large ventilation zips on the sides of the jacket supplement this – and the fabric is comfortable against your skin, but also because it takes up very little room in your rucksack when not in use. If your speed is less rigorous, and you’re out in winter, you’ll need to layer-up beneath the jacket; the fit it generous, so you’ll have no trouble doing this.
The Keb Eco-Shell may not be as heavyweight as some of the other hard shells on test but don’t be fooled, this is a jacket designed for demanding adventures all year round. The wind- and waterproof three-layer construction is extremely protective. The 30K HH – on paper one of the most waterproof jackets on test – proved to be extremely effective out in the field in heavy rain. Additional protection comes through the protective flap on the inside of the front zipper and a substantial hood with large peak – the size of the hood, without a helmet, does mean that it doesn’t hold as tightly to your head as other jackets on review.
It’s clear from the size and positioning of the pockets that Fjällräven has designed the Keb Eco-Shell to be as practical as possible. The two chest pockets sit high on the jacket well away from the rucksack hipbelt or climbing harness. Both are large enough to fit an OS map and contain a small mesh pocket. There’s even a small hole inside the right pocket that allows you to thread headphones through to the inner jacket. There is another small pocket on the left arm, perfect for a ski pass, small device or snack, and one more meshed pocket inside the jacket for valuables.
As its name suggests, the jacket uses Eco-Shell, Fjällräven’s own PFC-free waterproof shell material made from 100% recycled polyester, which can be easily recycled at the end of its long life. Available in a wide variety of earthy tones for women and men.
The women’s version of the Keb Eco Shell varies only in cut, colour and weight (470g, women’s small). The rest of the jacket shares the same features at the men’s version
Read the full Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket review.
Finisterre Stormbird Waterproof Jacket
Weight: 645g (men’s small)
Best for: Hill walking, backpacking and local walks
Verdict: Superb, mid-price, planet-friendly jacket. Waterproof, breathable and durable. 9.6/10
- Buy now from Finistere
Waterproof, windproof, breathable, durable, comfortable, affordable, stylish, sustainable. The list of outdoor gear buzzwords that can be used to describe the Stormbird is a long one. As an all-rounder, few jackets on the market are quite as accomplished as this one.
UK brand Finisterre is one of the leading outdoor companies when it comes to sustainability. It’s no surprise, then, that their best waterproof shell jacket is made from 100% recycled nylon with a durable water repellent finish free of the harmful fluorocarbon chemicals used by many other waterproof gear manufacturers. Even the FSC-certified paper packaging is 100% recyclable.
Stormbird’s USP may be its environmental credentials, but this jacket has many more qualities that are worth shouting about. Fully taped seams, waterproof zips and a hydrostatic head rating of 20K (that’s good) create a protective shell that stops driving wind and rain from getting in – though it is worth noting that waterproofing around the shoulders is slightly compromised when wearing a large rucksack in long periods of very heavy rain. It’s a durable jacket, too, thanks to its rip-stock nylon outer, and can handle a bit of rough and tumble for those who like hands-on pursuits such as scrambling and bivvying.
The hem of the jacket, which sits just below your hips, can be adjusted with drawcords and the cuffs tightened with Velcro to ensure the most comfortable fit over or under gloves. The main zip, though quite bulky for a modern jacket, is two-way and pulls quickly and easily all the way up to your nose; combined with the three-point adjustable hood (helmet-compatible), this allows you to be completely shielded from bad weather.
For such a tough jacket, the brushed polyester inner feels soft, supple and breathable, while the Stormbird’s micro-fleece rear neck guard prevents the hood from rubbing against your skin. Finisterre suggests that the jacket fits slightly large, though on review it was spot on, offering enough room for several underlayers.
There are two deep pockets on the front of the jacket, which can be used to keep your hands warm or to store quick-access items. These pockets can be used with your rucksack hip-belt fastened, but you may need to unclip to access larger items such as an OS map – this is the only downside to the jacket. There is another medium-sized pocket inside the jacket for valuables. Available in black and olive green for women and men.
The women’s version of the Stormbird varies only in cut. The rest of the jacket shares the same features at the men’s version.
Read the full Finisterre Stormbird Waterproof Jacket review.
Haglöfs Astral GTX Jacket
Best for: Hill walking, mountaineering, backpacking, local walks
Verdict: Superb autumn and winter jacket, suitable of high energy pursuits as well as multi-days walks in the rain. 9.6/10
- Buy now from Haglöfs
Designed for hiking, skiing and snowboarding, the mid-weight Astral GTX has an instant air of versatility about it. It’s warm and comfortable but at the same time breathable, thanks to a loose, meshed inner lining and underarm ventilation; it’s durable and waterproof, and is spacious enough to allow free, energetic movement; the Astral GTX even looks cool, in a very practical, Swedish sort of way.
It’s the tough two-layer Gore-Tex material that really makes this jacket a high performer when it comes to dealing with wet winter conditions. It has also been treated with PFCEC-free (Per and Poly-Fluorinated Chemical of Environmental Concern) durable water repellent for extra weatherproofing. Storm flaps, fastened with Velcro and buttons, provide added protection to the two-way main zipper.
If you like pockets, you’ll like this jacket. It’s got six of them. Two zippered, water-repellent hand pockets, both large enough to fit an OS map (if you’re wearing a hip-belt you’ll probably need to unclip to gain full access); a water-repellent chest pocket; a small, water-repellent arm pocket; a zippered, mesh inner pocket; and a large, open-topped inner meshed pocket, offering another option for safe map stowing.
The hood is a comfortable fit, not too large, not too small, and can be adjusted using drawcords at the front and back. Drawcords around the waist and adjustable cuffs on the sleeves can also be tuned to gain the perfect fit.
If there’s one downside to the Astral GTX it’s the slightly fiddly nature of the main central zipper. It doesn’t always latch instantly, particularly when trying to operate with gloves. Available in a range of colours and sizes for women and men.
The women’s version of the Astral GTX Jacket varies only in cut, colour and weight (479g, women’s medium). The rest of the jacket shares the same features at the men’s version.
Berghaus Cornice III Jacket
Weight: 769g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hill walking, local walks, backpacking
Verdict: Traditional, reliable waterproof jacket with superb rollaway hood. 8/10
Traditional and simple in its appearance, and designed to cope with the elements, the Cornice III is a Berghaus classic. Standout features include the rollaway hood and an internal zip that allows you to attach Berghaus midlayers. Note: this is not a jacket for fashionistas, but it will keep you warm and dry.
First and foremost, the two-layer Gore-Tex fabric ensures that the Cornice is both waterproof and breathable. It really is storm-level protection, coping comfortably with heavy rain for sustained periods.
Weighing in at 769g (men’s medium), it’s a warm jacket, too. The high collar, with its soft inner, offers welcome protection around the neck and face in inclement weather, and the jacket’s long length, ending between the mid and upper thigh, means the top part of your legs stay dry even in heavy rain. Drawcords at the base of the jacket and just above the hips allow you to tweak the shape to fit your body.
When you need extra warmth, a subtle interactive zip (a zip that allows you to attach a different garment to the inside of the jacket) means you can quickly attach one of Berghaus’s compatible midlayers. The hood, which is roomy with a large peak, can be adjusted from the back and sides, and neatly rolled away when not in use. Unlike other jackets, the rollaway hood isn’t at all fiddly, and tucks tidily inside the collar to provide further insulation around your neck. Meanwhile, a substantial double stormflap on the central zip of the jacket prevents leaks from entering in driving rain. This zip pulls up to your nose, where two flaps fold across the lower half of your face to provide further defence from the weather.
Unusually for a rain jacket, the two outer pockets sit right at the bottom of the Cornice III, beneath rather than above the rucksack hip-belt. A zip-and-storm flap combination protects the pockets, though they are quite shallow. When full, these outer pockets make the jacket feel quite bottom-heavy and a little awkward. A third concealed pocket on the chest is large enough to fit an OS Map.
The Cornice fits large, which is an advantage if you like to wear several underlayers, but you might want to consider going with the smaller option if you usually fall between sizes. Available in black and dark blue.
The nearest equivalent for women is the Women’s Glissade (£157.50). The women’s Glissade shares many of the same attributes as the men’s Cornice III – the roll-away hood, the interactive zip and the two-layer Gore-Tex fabric. Features that differ include the colour and cut, the pocket size and positioning, and the weight of the jacket (650g, size 12).
Read to full Berghaus Cornice III Jacket review.
Rab Kangri GTX jacket
Weight: 525g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hill walking, backpacking
Verdict: This robust, medium-weight jacket is a solid all-rounder for autumn and winter adventures. 8/10
The Rab Kangri GTX jacket is all about waterproofing, windproofing and durability. You’ll notice the latter straightaway. The fabric on the inside and outside of the Kangri GTX feels really tough and, despite the relatively moderate weight of the jacket (525g, men’s medium), it is reassuringly thick, especially around the main zip. This imparts a certain confidence; no matter where your adventures take you – be it rocky scrambles, fighting through brambles or sliding down tussocky slopes – the jacket will stay strong.
The Kangri GTX can of course be worn for everyday use – with a simple, low-fuss design that will suit dog walks, urban wanders, and trips to your local park – but it really comes into its own out in the hills and mountains.
The hood handles windy conditions very well. It is close fitting and can be tightened to a point where it won’t blow off, no matter how strong the gusts. The main zipper fastens nice and high, which, combined with the strong, wired peak, keeps rain off your face. The fleece-lined chin guard stops the inner material from rubbing on your skin – a nice touch and something that not all jackets have.
The jacket performs superbly in wet weather, thanks to the Gore-Tex three-layer construction with recycled outer fabric. Added waterproofing comes with the two-way AquaGuard (water-repellent) front zip, which has an internal storm flap.
The two hand pockets, which are also water-repellent, are large enough to stow an OS map, though those wearing a rucksack with hip-belt will need to unclip to access the pockets fully. For most people this is a minor point, but for walkers regularly checking the map, this could prove tedious after a while, especially if you have a heavy pack. There is a small internal pocket.
The Kangri GTX is a hardshell, meaning you’ll need to layer-up underneath if the weather is cold. The fit is regular rather than close, so you will have room to do this while still maintaining good freedom of movement. Adjustable cuffs, an elasticated hem and drawcord around the waist (tightened on the inside) allow you to adjust the fit and seal in heat. If conditions warm up, large underarm vents mean you can cool off quickly without having to remove your jacket.
The women’s version of the Rab Kangri GTX has all the same features as the men’s version, though colour choices, fit and weight (468g, size 10) do differ.
Read the full Rab Kangri GTX review.
Páramo Alta III jacket
Weight: 805g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hill walking, mountaineering, backpacking
Verdict: Provides excellent waterproof protection and moisture management while maintaining supreme ethical and environmental credentials. 9/10
Páramo’s ethos is to create high-performing waterproofs without wearers having to sacrifice environmental and ethical principles. It’s a bold philosophy and Páramo are making great steps to achieve it. A case in point is the Alta III jacket, an extremely warm, waterproof and breathable jacket with superb ethical and environmental credentials.
All Paramo products are guaranteed Fair Trade by the World Fair Trade Organisation, and the brand’s long-term partnership with the Miquelina Foundation in Colombia – where the garments are made – provides employment for vulnerable women and practical support for their families. The fabrics used are environmentally sound, too. Firstly, unlike most other outdoor brands, Nikwax – the waterproof fabric used in Páramo’s garments – has never used PFCs because of the high risk of exposure to the consumer and environment. Secondly, Páramo products are made to last and can be easily repaired and re-waterproofed, removing the need to buy a new jacket every few years. And finally, the Páramo Recycling Scheme means you can return your jacket to Páramo once you’re done with it, to be either reused or recycled, and in exchange you’ll receive a discount on new Páramo products.
So, what about performance? The first thing you’ll notice about the Alta III jacket is its softness, from the cosy, meshed inner fabric to the almost indulgent outer. It doesn’t feel like it should be waterproof but, thanks to the Nikwax Analogy Waterproof fabric, it is. In Páramo’s lab, the jacket resisted more than four hours of heavy rain, five times the intensity of normal heavy rain in the UK. On review, it lived up to this, performing strongly in substantial downpours. The jacket is warm, too – the warmest on test – which is no surprise given that it weighs 805g (men’s medium). But one of the most impressive things about the Alta III is its ability to be warm, waterproof andbreathable. In fact, Páramo and Nikwax have gone one step further by creating a jacket that is, as they put it, ‘directional’, meaning it moves both water vapour andliquid water away from your body, thus avoiding water build-up in your clothing system.
There are lots of other features that make this jacket a great option for winter walking and backpacking. The adjustable hood with firm, wired peak offers good visibility and can be tighten securely over your head, and the adjustable cuffs provide enough wiggle room to wear thick gloves inside the jacket. There are six pockets in total: two waist-high pockets for warming your hands; two external chest pockets – one with hook and loop closure and D-ring attachment, and one for OS maps; and two internal zipped chest pockets – one large and one small – for safe stowing of maps and valuables. The central front zip, with inner storm flap and buttons, is easily fastened and pulled up, even when wearing gloves.
The fit of the jacket is quite generous, allowing for freedom of movement and under-layering. It’s also quite a long jacket, designed to protect your upper legs and backside from wind and rain. If there was one downside to the Alta III, it would be its bulk – it’s pack-down size is a little larger than most other jackets on review – but for the sake of guaranteeing warmth and waterproofing on a winter adventure, it’s a sacrifice worth making.
Available in a range of colours for women and men. The women’s version of the Alta III jacket varies in cut, colour and weight (702g, women’s medium). It has one less chest pocket than the men’s version, though the rest of the jacket shares the same features.
Read the full Páramo Alta III jacket review.
Patagonia Calcite Jacket
Best for: Hiking, climbing, mountaineering, trail running
Verdict: Quick drying, lightweight and durable, ideal for fast movers with light packs. 8/10
Simple in design, lightweight and built using Gore-Tex’s Paclite Plus technology, the Calcite is designed with two main attributes in mind: packability and durability. As a result, the jacket is perhaps best suited to climbers, hikers and skiers who like to move at speed through winter landscapes. When the weather is dry, its minimal pack-down size and weight (411g) means you hardly notice it in your rucksack, and when it’s wet you can rely on the jacket’s 2.5-layer Gore-Tex fabric to keep harsh winter rains at bay.
First and foremost, the jacket performs well in heavy rain, remaining dry on both the inside and outside – the DWR finish repels raindrops, which stops the material getting saturated and ensures it remains breathable. The watertight front zipper, which pulls all the way up to your nose, and a large, adjustable hood offer further protection. It’s quick-drying, too.
The two hand-warmer pockets are a good size (both can fit an OS map) but their positioning is a little awkward if you’re planning on wearing a rucksack with a hip-belt. There’s another outer pocket on the chest, which is handy for quick-access items, but no inner pockets.
What makes the Calcite different from most of the other jackets on review is its seasonal versatility. It’s a suitable option for British winters – the fit falls somewhere between athletic and standard, meaning you can wear a baselayer and thin fleece underneath, though you may need to go a size up if you’re planning on using more underlayers. But it can also be worn in the summer months – the inner, textured fabric feels soft and light against your skin and huge underarm vents offer excellent ventilation.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Gore-Tex laminate is not designed for use with heavy backpacks on long walks. This is a jacket better suited to day-long walks or climbs with small, light packs.
As always, Patagonia’s environmental and ethical credentials are impressive. The Calcite has a 100% recycled polyester face and is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn, meaning Patagonia pay a premium on the jacket – the extra money goes directly to the workers at the factory.
Available in a range of colours – including fire and oak grove green – for women and men. The women’s version of the Calcite Jacket varies in cut, colour and weight (371g, women’s medium). The rest of the jacket shares the same features as the men’s version.
Read the full Calcite Jacket review.
Alpkit Definition jacket
Weight: 525g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hill walking, mountaineering, climbing, backpacking
Verdict: Excellent value for such a technical jacket. Extremely hardwearing, storm-proof shell for hands-on adventuring. 8.4/10
- Buy now from Alpkit
This is one tough jacket. When you first pull on the Definition, its rigid fabric and thick zips feel a little old-school, but it’s this robust design that makes it such a reliable hard shell for wild winter climes.
Alpkit describes the Definition as a ‘fortress of a jacket’ for alpine climbing and year-round Munro bagging. On review, it’s just that. The three-layer construction – developed by Alpkit – is highly waterproof (30K HH) and the hardy nylon outer means you can scramble over rough rocks and through dense forests without risking a rip in the material. It really does feel untearable. It’s windproof, too, yet at the same time breathable thanks to its relatively modest weight (525g, men’s medium), zippered side vents and fabric layering.
The cut, which falls nicely just below your bum, is intentionally roomy, partly to avoid the jacket from riding up in times of exertion, such as reaching for climbing holds, and partly to allow a generous amount of space for under-layering, which you’ll need if conditions are cold – the jacket design is less about warmth and more about protection from wind and rain.
he main zip is water-resident and has an internal stormflap, which stops rain from seeping in. For added protection from the rain, tighten the hem cords and cuffs (these fit over or under gloves). The hood, with wired peak, is large enough to fit over a climbing helmet – for non-helmet users, this does mean there is quite a bit of excess material around the head, though the hood can be tightened using three elastic adjusters to reduce the volume. Fully tightened, the hood fits closely around your head and the wired peak is substantial enough to keep rain out of your eyes.
Another sign that this is a jacket made for epic adventures is the pocket design and layout. The main chest pocket is easily large enough to fit an OS map and other essentials, and is set high enough on the jacket to be clear of a harness or rucksack hip belt. There are two more large side pockets and one small internal pocket, ideal for quick-access valuables.
Available in chilli red and Nemo blue for women and men. The women’s version of the Definition varies only in cut and colour. The rest of the jacket shares the same features at the men’s version.
Read the full Alpkit Definition jacket review.
Adidas Terrex Techrock GTX Pro Jacket
Weight: 410g (men’s medium)
Best for: Hiking, trail running, climbing, skiing
Verdict: Stylish, active-fit jacket for high-energy pursuits. 8.4/10
- Buy now from Adidas
The light, active fit of the super-trendy yet high-performing Terrex Techroch GTX will suit energetic walkers, climbers and skiers.
At 411g (men’s medium), it is one of the lightest jackets on test, so will appeal to those who like to move at pace through the countryside. But it is also one of the most waterproof, thanks to the Gore-Tex Pro fabric, which successfully balances durability and breathability with an excellent level of wet-weather protection.
Perhaps the most notable element of the jacket’s design is the hem. Short at the front to offer your legs ultimate freedom of movement, it then lengthens around your back and bum, providing protection from the rain. When you tighten the hem drawcords, the jacket cleverly pulls in around your bum, yet remains unrestricted at the front. This is a real perk if you’re pumping your legs up or down the side of a mountain.
The high collar is another protective feature. It zips up to just below eye-level; with the hood (helmet-compatible) up and tightened, this means you have the option to (almost) completely enclose yourself within the jacket, keeping the wind and rain out and warmth in. The cuffs are easily adjustable, too.
The Terrex Techroch GTX is really breathable and has huge underarm vents to provide further options for temperature control. The fabric itself feels soft on the inside and outside – though does sounds a bit crinkly – and is comfortable against your skin. The lightness of the jacket means it has a small pack-down size, which is great for when it is not in use. It is minimal enough to function as a summer jacket for when rain suddenly strikes.
The two hand pockets are large – though it is a bit of a squeeze getting an OS Map in. They are well-placed for keeping hands warm but sit in line with your rucksack hip-belt, should you be wearing one. A third, smaller chest pocket is a good place to store a compass or snacks.
An added quirk and a bit of urban style comes with the reflective Adidas stripes over the hood, and some flashy colours – namely acid yellow and active gold.
One gripe would be that the zips are all quite sniff and clunky, making them a little difficult to operate when hands are cold. It is also worth noting that the active fit means the jacket is quite close-fitting, particularly under the arms.
The women’s version of the Terrex Techroch GTX has all the same features as the men’s version, though colour choices, fit and weight do differ.
Read the full Adidas Terrex Techrock GTX Pro Jacket review.
Decathlon Waterproof Mountain Walking Jacket
Weight: 538g (men’s large)
Best for: Urban walks, local walks, low-level walking
Verdict: Stylish and compact design, suitable for active, year-round use. Good jacket for the price, but may be too lightweight for harsh winter weather. 7.6/10
- Buy now from Decathlon
Decathlon’s Waterproof Mountain Walking Jacket is a standard year-round option, especially if you looking to save a bit of money. At 538g, it’s light enough to use in spring and summer when bad weather strikes, and can be easily stowed away in your pack when not in use, but the jacket can be worn in the colder months – with a few caveats – particularly if you’re a fast mover on the trail. The simple, stylish design will appeal to urban dwellers, too.
The three-layer construction includes a waterproof membrane, which gives the jacket a good level of protection against the rain – though not as much as some of the other jackets on test. In really heavy downpours for longer than an hour, water begins to seep in around the neck. The hood is minimal in design and close-fitting, adjustable from the front and back with a semi-rigid visor, offering protection from the elements while allowing good movement and visibility. The cuffs can be tighten securely using adjustable straps, and there are drawcords at the jacket hem.
There is elastane in the fabric, which makes the jacket stretchy, meaning you can move quickly, freely and comfortably, and underarm vents offer a chance for quick cooling.
On cold days you’ll need to wear a couple of layers beneath this jacket. It’s quite a close fit so if you usually teeter between two sizes you may want to opt for the larger option.
There are two zipped pockets on the outside of the jacket. These are designed for hands but can also fit an OS Map – though it’s a bit of a squeeze and is difficult to access if you’re wearing a rucksack with a hip-belt. Two small pockets on the inside of the jacket are handy places for storing snacks, GPS devices and phones. Available in a range of bold colours – from butterscotch to storm grey and blue.
The women’s version of the Waterproof Mountain Walking Jacket varies slightly to the men’s version, though maintains many of the same attributes, such as style, level of waterproofing and packability. It differs in cut and colour, pocket number and layout (it has more) and weight (425g, women’s medium).
Read the full Decathlon Waterproof Mountain Walking Jacket review.