Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

How to choose a waterproof jacket

By Alpkit
04, Dec, 2018

The choice of waterproof jacket is overwhelming, so how do you decide what to buy to keep you dry? Read our waterproof guide to decide.

How do you work out which waterproof is right for you when seemingly identical jackets can cost anywhere from £30 to £500?

Plus, the jargon used to describe the jackets can be so specialist that even the most enthusiastic enthusiast needs to look up every other word to begin to understand what they’re paying for. It’s complicated, so let's break it down to make it simple. That way you can decide which waterproof is best for you.

Before buying a waterproof jacket, check whether you can get more life out of your old jacket by reproofing or repairing. When you’re ready for a new waterproof, look for these simple things:

  1. How waterproof is it? The measure of waterproofing is hydrostatic head (HH), the higher the HH rating, the longer your waterproof will keep out the rain. Officially anything over 1500 mm is waterproof and ours range from 8000 mm – 30000 mm. Taped seams and waterproof zips give you even more protection from the elements.

  2. How  breathable is it? The higher your level of activity, the harder you’re working and the more heat and sweat you produce. If your jacket isn’t breathable, the sweat can’t escape and stays inside your jacket, making you feel damp.

  3. Is it comfortable to wear when you’re active? How much freedom of movement do you have for mountaineering, running, hillwalking, biking..? Does it ride up at the back when you lean forward on your bike or lift your arms when climbing? Does it flap about in the wind?

  4. How does it work with your activity? Or what’s its intended function? Runners need fabric that’s light, breathable and flexible whilst riders need a slim fit with a long back, good forward reach and easy access pockets. Walkers benefit from longer coats bigger pockets and snugger fitting hoods whereas mountaineers need a tough shell with space for warm layers underneath, good coverage when their arms are raised, higher pockets that leave room for a harness as well as a hood that goes over a helmet.

  5. How much protection do you need? A waterproof for regular hillwalking needs to be durable and highly waterproof, but not as durable as you’d need to climb a major Himalayan peak. You may not need taped seams for a short shower, but in prolonged rain they’re essential and they’re often specific in race kit lists.

So to sum up, the most important factors to consider when choosing a waterproof are:

  • Comfort – is it breathable enough for your level of activity? Does the fabric have the right feel and weight?

  • Function – does it have appropriate features for your planned activities? Of course you can wear a walking jacket to go biking, but a biking waterproof would be more appropriate.

  • Durability - does the jacket give the waterproof protection that you want and is the fabric tough enough for what you’re doing?

Environmental considerations

Be aware of the environmental impact of your waterproof jackets. The DWR coatings that make your waterproof repel water have historically had significant unintended environmental impacts. The outdoor industry is leading the way in minimising our environmental impact on the natural places that we love to play in.

Our range of jackets

Over to Ben and Gabe in Hathersage to talk you through our range. For more general help, scroll down for our tips for choosing a waterproof.


At Alpkit, all our waterproof jackets are highly waterproof and breathable, so your choice really comes down to what you want to use if for:

Squalline: a showerproof run/ride jacket for short cloud burst protection. It will stave off the worst of the weather and pack in your pocket when you don’t need it on. (Men's | Women's)

Argonaut: for fully waterproof multi-activity ease of use. (Men's | Women's)

Gravitas: for high-paced activity ... running, riding. It’s incredibly packable and minimalist for moving fast and light, but not as durable as a hillwalking jacket. (Men's | Women's)

Balance: a balance between durability, packability and breathability that’s excellent for hill walking, riding and tackling UK mountains.(Men's | Women's)

Definition: a durable and protective waterproof with features designed for mountaineering in winter conditions. (Men's | Women's)

Getting the most from your waterproof (tips from the CS heroes):

  • Protect your electronics by keeping them in a drybag. A waterproof jacket is designed to keep you dry by allowing airflow or damp air away from your body. This means things in your pockets can still get wet from condensation.

  • Clean and reproof frequently. All modern waterproofs need regular reproofing so that they maintain breathability.Read our How to Reproof post for step by step instructions.

  • Use the hood when you’re not wearing it. Fold your waterproof jacket into its own hood (it’s designed to fit) for a neat packed size and quick access in a downpour.

If you’ve decided to retire a waterproof, please consider passing it on to our Continuum project.

Further reading

Why reproof your waterproof

Designer Ronnie explains the benefits of regularly cleaning and reproofing your waterproof

How to reproof your waterproof clothing

Our step by step instructions for cleaning and reproofing your waterproof garment

  • Google+

Indepth Spotlight articles

Other related articles

The Squalline Story
Developing our new run/ride showerproof shell
In Develop
Designing the Argonaut Jacket
Creating premium performance without the price-tag
In Develop
Gravitas faces the Lake District winter
Rupert Bonnington braves the wintry Lakeland for some product testing
In News
Gravitas and Laika at the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc
Nick Spinks' kit report from one of trail runnings biggest events
In News
12 years in the making: the Definition Jacket
Designing our top-of-the-range mountaineering jacket
In Develop
Where do we get our waterproof fabrics from, and why?
Selecting the right fabric for the right job
In Develop
Gravitas Lightweight Activity Waterproof
New activity shell coming soon
In Develop