ALONGSIDE hiking boots, a waterproof hiking jacket is one of the best pieces of kit you can invest in if you’re planning on going walking regularly year-round.
Unlike a normal coat, a women's waterproof hiking jacket is designed with the conditions you’re likely to encounter when exploring footpaths and hillsides in mind.
A good jacket is waterproof, rather than simply water-resistant. The difference is that a waterproof jacket can withstand wet conditions for a long duration, and will continue to deflect rain long after a water-resistant alternative has started to absorb moisture.
A waterproof hiking jacket is also highly breathable – essential when you need to carry on walking even when the weather changes and you want to have to choose between turning into a sweaty mess or getting wet.
Key features to look out for include an adjustable hood, cuffs and hems, while more premium jackets will be made from highly technical materials such as the waterproof fabric Gore-Tex.
Not sure where to start in your search? The below is a round-up of the best waterproof hiking jackets for women currently available in the market, and there should be something to suit all budgets.
1. Quechua NH500 Waterproof Jacket
- Quechua NH500 Waterproof Jacket, £29.99 from Decathlon – buy here
Available at a tenth of the price of some of the other picks in this list, the NH500 by Decathlon’s in-house brand Quecha is certainly one of the cheapest waterproof jackets around.
But does it actually protect you from the elements? The answer is a resounding 'yes!'.
The coat has a waterproof coating that can withstand 2000mm of rainfall over the course of a day, so should be able to survive all but the most extreme conditions.
This is enhanced thanks to taped seams, high neck and elasticated cuffs that help keep the water out from the inside of the jacket.
It’s not just waterproof either, and its highly breathable design (ventilation panels at the rear, a mesh lining that keeps the coat from sitting directly on your skin) make it a solid choice for those after an entry-level waterproof hiking jacket.
2. Marmot Precip Eco Hardshell Rain Jacket
- Marmot Precip Eco Hardshell Rain Jacket, from £67.17 from Alpine Trek – buy here
If your budget can stretch a bit further than the Quecha offering above, then this hardshell from American specialists Marmot is your next best offering.
Currently available with a nice 30% discount, you’re getting a lot of coat for less than £70.
Fully waterproof, it benefits from sealed seams, adjustable cuffs, and a drawstring in the hem. Its breathable credentials are boosted too with the inclusion of zipped armpit vents.
Some of its biggest selling points though is its seriously lightweight design (weighing in at just 246.6g), and the fact it can be stowed away in its own pocket for when not in use.
3. Patagonia Women’s TorrentShell 3L Jacket
- Patagonia Women’s TorrentShell 3L Jacket, £160 from Patagonia – buy here
The TorrentShell 3L Jacket by Patagonia is such a great jacket, we even included it in our round-up of the best waterproof hiking jackets for men. But even if you don’t want to go down the 'his and hers' route, it certainly deserves your attention.
The first £100-plus jacket featured, it’s easy to see what that extra investment gets you. The shell is made from three layers of waterproof and breathable materials and gets Patagonia’s H2No seal of approval – its Gore-Tex equivalent.
What’s more, it’s one of the most ethical jackets on the market – its fabrics are 100% recycled and even the sewing is certified as Fair Trade.
4. Alpkit Balance
- Alpkit Balance Women’s Waterproof Jacket, £189.99 from Alpkit – buy here
If you’re looking for something of a do-it-all waterproof jacket that’s as at home when hiking as mountain biking, then the Balance by the Peak District-based independent Alpkit is the one for you.
The jacket is built to remain waterproof even in heavy rain or wet snow while simultaneously being breathable and ventilated enough for a high-intensity exercise such as trail running.
It manages this through the use of a three-layer construction that sandwiches a waterproof membrane between a sweat-wicking material on the inside and a nylon on the exterior that’s rugged enough to withstand the scraping of a rock face when scrambling or friction from a rucksack’s straps.
All this comes in a sub-300g package that’s perfect for shoving in a day bag in case the heavens open.
5. The North Face Women’s Dryzzle FutureLight Jacket
- The North Face Women’s Dryzzle FutureLight Jacket, £200 from The North Face – buy here
Want to combine staying dry with some serious style credentials? Then it has to be the Dryzzle FutureLight from The North Face.
The outdoor brand has attracted a cooler crowd over recent years and this waterproof will certainly get the seal of approval from the fashionistas in your friendship group.
It’s not just a good looking coat though. It’s waterproof and windproof and has adjustable cuffs, hem, and hood to keep you completely covered.
Its lightweight nature makes it a breathable option, but it can keep you warm when there’s a chill in the air too.
Available in a range of colours – from pink clay to a signature black – there’s sure to be an option to match your walking and fashion-focused wardrobe.
6. Jottnar Asmund
- Jottnar Asmund Women’s Hardshell Mountain Jacket, £260 from Jottnar – buy here
When a company has the backing of two former Royal Marine Commandos, you know that the kit is going to be built to last in extreme conditions.
Designed for all-mountain skiing, hiking, and mountaineering in the harshest environments, the Asmund utilises some of the best waterproof and breathable technology around to create a seriously impressive piece of kit.
Its streamlined fit is ideal for layering, and its hood and pockets are compatible with helmets and large harnesses or rucksacks respectively.
Available with a 26% discount, this is a great opportunity to get an industry-leading waterproof hiking jacket for a fraction of its original cost.
7. Arc'teryx Women's Beta SL Hybrid Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket
- Arc'teryx Women's Beta SL Hybrid Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket, £340 from Arc’teryx – buy here
The only jacket to feature Gore-Tex in our round-up, the Beta SL Hybrid by Canadian specialist Arc’teryx is a seriously versatile jacket that will keep you dry and well ventilated in any conditions you could potentially face.
Despite its lightweight stature, the Beta is as rugged as a hardshell, and uses a more durable Gore-Tex fabric in high wear areas such as where a bag strap rests on your shoulders.
Its hood is helmet-compatible, pit vents help boost breathability even more and its pockets are ideally located for easy access when wearing a rucksack.
How do I choose a hiking jacket?
Outside of your budget, the things to look for in a hiking jacket is whether they’re waterproof and breathable.
It’s important to be aware that not all ‘waterproofs’ are the same though.
Look out for jackets with high hydrostatic head ratings (1,500 is entry-level while 20,000+ is the maximum) or the use of materials such as Gore-Tex.
If you’re planning on carrying a rucksack or day bag, it’s worth looking into the durability of the fabric too, with some waterproof membranes not able to withstand the friction from a bag’s straps.
What is the most breathable waterproof jacket for hiking?
Breathability in jackets is measured using two different methods – Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate (MVTR) or Resistance to Evaporative Heat Loss (RET).
While how each are worked out doesn’t really matter to the everyday hiker, what their numbers translate to is important when comparing jackets.
With MVTR, the higher the number, the more breathable the jacket will be – something around the 8,000 mark will be fine for general walking, while 30,000 is aimed at high intensity activities such as trail running.
RET, on the other hand, is measured from 1-20 and, confusingly, the lower the number, the more breathable it is.
Using these numbers, the most breathable waterproof jacket for hiking featured in our round-up is the Balance by British brand Alpkit.
Are ski jackets good for hiking?
If you’ve ever been skiing before, there’s a good chance that you invested in a lot of expensive clothing and it’s only natural to want to get as much use out of it as you can.
The issue arises when hiking in all but the most extreme conditions. While breathable on the slopes, a ski jacket is designed to be used in cold conditions and protect you if you hit the deck.
If it’s not possible to remove the protective padding and lining from your ski jacket, then you can expect to get hot in most hiking conditions.
What are the best hiking jacket brands?
A lot of fashionable brands have an outdoor background, so companies such as The North Face and Patagonia are great options if you’re after something stylish and waterproof.
More specialist brands worth looking into include the likes of British brands Alpkit and Jottnar, or the North American specialists Marmot or Arc’teryx.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best waterproof hiking jackets for women? We've designed Sun Selects to help you to find the best products that won't break the bank.
Need some for your hubby? Check out our list of the best waterproof hiking jackets for men.
Going on a trek? Make sure you pick up one of the best rucksacks out there.
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