Men's Waterproof Jackets
Looking for men's waterproof jacket? Look no further than our terrific selection here at Gear-Zone.
We've a range of hardshell mens waterproof jackets from cheap macs-in-a-sac, ideal for keeping handy in the car or daysack; through to the latest top-end mountaineering jackets, perfect for alpine ascents and tough backpacking adventures.
With fabric technologies from Gore-Tex, eVent, Polartec, Pertex, and our suppliers's own proprietary fabrics, there's going to be a style and budget to suit all.
Read our guide below for a quick lowdown on mens waterproof jackets and their features.
Choosing a Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof jackets are a mixed blessing. On one hand there’s a huge amount of choice, so you can get a perfect shell for any occasion; on the other hand, there’s a huge amount of choice!
Waterproof jackets are often the pinnacle pieces of a brand’s range, packed full of the latest technology developed in a never-ending arms race for the latest innovation. Of course this also means that waterproof jackets tend to have a technical specification sheet like a jet fighter. So how do you choose which will be best for you?
In this brief guide I’ll run through differences to help you filter the list down to garments that’ll do the job.
The key things most people tend to look for:
This one is easy; all our fully waterproof jackets far exceed the levels required for waterproof certification, as do most bin-bags. Measured in Hydrostatic Head (HH) tests, it’s basically a measure of how much water pressure is required to force water through the fabric. The higher the number, the more waterproof something is. Anything over 1,500mm is classed as waterproof. Most of our jackets fall between 10,000mm and 25,000mm (approx.), so you can rest assured the fabrics won't leak.
Top-tip – You are unlikely to actually make any modern waterproof fabric leak during normal use, although bear in mind that a coated fabric’s HH will drop over time with washing and wear whereas a membrane’s HH won’t decrease until you put holes in it. Much more likely in either case is that the seam tape will fail before the waterproof fabric itself.
Measured in Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate (MVTR) or Evaporative Resistance of Textile (RET) tests, breathability rates are more confusing than waterproofing ones. Breathability is also the hard part of the equation to get correct, and you will pay more for higher breathability fabrics, although the higher the breathability, the more comfortable you will be when working hard or over the course of a longer day.
Currently, membranes (Gore-Tex, eVent) tend to have higher breathability levels than all but the most specialist (i.e. expensive) coated fabrics.
Top-tip – Breathability levels decrease when waterproof fabrics get dirty. Periodically clean them in Nikwax or similar, and give them a re-proofing when necessary as well. For more please see our waterproof cleaning guide. Also make sure not to wear ‘normal’ wool or cotton under a technical shell, it won’t allow moisture to escape and your clothing will become very damp.
At its simplest, coated fabrics will degrade over time, membranes will not (Gore-Tex and eVent are made from ePTFE, which is also used in hip transplants, space shuttles and the like). Of course the fabric that the coating or membrane is applied to are also important in this equation. A super-lightweight fabric is usually more prone to abrasion or puncture damage than a heavier one. The more expensive lightweight fabrics do have impressive durability, but generally they’re reserved for climbing- or mountaineering-cut jackets. Of course lightweight jackets have the huge advantage of taking up less weight and space in a rucksack, which is often more important that an extra year or two in lifespan.
Top-tip – Don’t fold waterproofs, always stuff jackets into packs or bags, and always store them on hangers rather than packed. This will greatly reduce creasing and weakening. Punctures and abrasion are regarded as ‘fair wear and tear’ for guarantee purposes, no matter how ‘bomber’ your jacket is, treat it with some care if you want to keep it for as long as possible!
This is usually the crux of selection, and is a combination of all the above points, plus end-use. A pac-in-a-sac style lightweight coated jacket will be much, much cheaper than a 3-layer Gore-Tex mountaineering jacket. It’ll also be less waterproof, much less breathable, much much less durable, and have far fewer features. Of course if you only want a jacket for occasional showers or to keep in a car or a work for emergencies, £35 is probably preferable to £200+. In general and comparing end-use (e.g. coated vs. membrane walking-cut jacket) the more you pay, the better the breathability, durability and features will be.
Top-tip – If you only intend to buy one jacket in the next 10 years, then you’ll want a membrane, however given care even coated fabrics can last until you’re well past bored of them, or put a hole in it of course!
Like any tool, there’s usually one designed for the job, so although a butter knife can double as a screwdriver, you’ll probably damage it and it won’t be easy - the same applies to waterproofs.
Decide on the primary use of the jacket, the below should help you out.
|Lightweight Jackets – generally use very lightweight fabrics, with a shorter ‘active-style’ cut, and minimal internal lining to save weight and pack-size. They are ideal for people who need to be able to pack them away, and thus are great for spring-autumn walking, travel or trekking, and cycling. Please note that for frequent use with heavy rucksacks, a lightweight jacket with reinforced or stronger shoulders is quite a good idea.||Walking Jackets – tend to be the more ‘classic’ cut waterproofs, often with a longer length and heavier (but less plasticy) looking fabric, and usually with a mesh lining inside for comfort against the skin. They tend be ideal for those who will wear them for longer periods (autumn-spring walking), are not too concerned with pack-size and weight, or like to mix between town and country without looking like they fell straight off a hill.||Mountain Jackets – are usually engineered from tougher nylons and 3-layer membranes to be durable above all else. They often have a shorter cut so they don’t interfere with climbing movements, raised pockets to keep hands out of the way of rucksack or harness belts and large hoods for use with hats and or helmets. Feature-wise, they’re available from ‘all the bells’ to a ‘less-is-more.’ They’re ideal for mountaineers, climbers and trekkers expecting bad weather.|
Fabrics – Coated vs. membrane
There are two main ways of making a jacket waterproof; a coated fabric or a membrane laminated fabric.
A coated fabric (e.g. Berghaus AQ, The North Face HyVent, Regatta Isotex) is where a waterproof ‘paint’ is applied to the inside of the coat’s external fabric. Generally speaking this is polyurethane (PU) although exact composition or number of layers applied varies between suppliers.
Coated fabrics generally represent excellent choices for walkers, urban and general purpose wear.
- Waterproofness: 5,000-15,000mm HH
- Breathability: Average - very good
- Durability: 3-10 years
- Cost: £25-£150
A membrane laminate (e.g. Gore-Tex or eVent) is where a separate waterproof fabric is glued to the inside of the coat’s external fabric. Membranes are currently the most waterproof, breathable and durable method of waterproofing, however they're also the most expensive.
Membrane fabrics are ideally suited to year round use, higher-energy sports or those who need durability.
- Waterproofness: 10,000mm - 30,000 HH
- Breathability: Very good - excellent
- Durability: 10+ years
- Cost: £120 - £300+
Key Features of Waterproof Jackets
Nearly all waterproofs include a hood and they tend to either pack into the collar - which looks neater when not in use - or roll up and are secured with a tab - which is quicker to access or put away, saves weight and allows for a bulkier hood (especially on mountain jackets). Cords or Velcro allow the hood to be adjusted around the face aperture, and also tailor the internal volume.
Most hoods also have a peak or visor to help keep rain out of the face. The stiffer the peak, they better the job it tends to do but at the cost of weight and bulk around the collar.
Mountain jackets tend to have large hoods for hat/helmet use, lighterweight or walking jackets tend to have smaller hoods for weight/bulk saving.
This is basically a piece of fabric which covers the top of the zip and helps prevent the metal rubbing on the face, or men catching facial hair in the zip. Most jackets have one, and usually it’s fleecy.
Main Zip & Storm Flaps
Jackets will have a full length zip, which often opens from both the top and bottom for ventilation purposes. Smocks often have a ¼ to ½ length zip to save weight. Always try and exercise care when using the zips to stop fabric becoming trapped, or teeth snagging.
Storm flaps are designed to help stop and water which seeps through the zip getting any further and acts like a gutter to channel out the base of the jacket. Many jackets have one on the outside and one on the inside for maximum protection. If the jacket has water-resistant zips, or was designed with weight or cost savings in mind, it may only have one stormflap
Generally a waterproof will have an internal ‘map’ pocket for valuables, and then a configuration of between two and four on the outside. More pockets equals more storage options, however it does increase weight and slightly decrease breathability. Of course the fact that many pockets have mesh linings does help vent heat and moisture, but generally only when they’re raised to above waist level.
Waist/Hem draw cords
They allow the fit and ventilation to be tailored. Open them for airflow and cooling, close them to keep warm air trapped. In combination with zips and pockets, this can help you manage your ‘micro-climate’ without constantly taking off or putting on your jacket. Most longer length jackets have a draw cord at both waist and hem. Most lightweight jackets only have the hem, if at all.
Cuffs are usually secured with Velcro (or similar) and fulfil much the same role as draw cords. They adjust the fit and can be used for ventilation. Super-lightweight or cheap jackets may only have elastic for weight/cost saving. Mountain jackets often have over-large cuffs to allow for the sleeve to go over, or under heavy gloves.
Reinforcement comes in many flavours, whether it’s a ripstop weave to give a fabric extra tensile strength at no weight cost, and help prevent punctures tearing; to thick heavy denier nylons around the shoulders for use with heavy rucksacks or when climbing. Those looking to abuse their jackets will most likely want some sort of reinforcement.
Sleeves are cut with a pre-made bend to keep fabric bulk to a minimum around the elbows and therefore make them more comfortable when using arms, especially with regards to climbing-type activities.
Technical (active) cut
Technical or active cut jackets are cut to be close to the body, and help reduce excess fabric for both weight and to provide a better fit for activities where upper body movement is the norm.
Many shorter length jackets have an extended back to help protect the bum and lower back from dirt or water. Especially useful for cycling jackets or climbing.
Underarm zips allow for extra venting when working really hard, although can allows water in when open.
3, 2.5 or 2-layer jackets
Jackets will generally either have the coating sandwiched by two sheets of fabric (3-layer), with a protective paint over the coating (2.5-layer) or with a mesh liner stitched inside (2-layer).
Generally 3 layer jackets are stiffer and tougher than the others, 2.5 layers are used on ultra-lightweight jackets where pack-size is essentials and 2 layer jackets are more comfortable next to the skin (less clammy) and tend to hang better and be more supple.
Mountain jackets are nearly always 3-layer, walking or casual tend to be 2-layer, hi-intensity jackets tend to be 2.5-layer.
This allows a compatible fleece or insulation layer to be directly zipped into a jacket via an extra set of internal zips, effectively making two jackets into one. It has advantages when jackets come on and off (like in town or general purpose use); however it can lead to a drop in thermal efficiency and make adjusting layers to maximise comfort harder. We’d always suggest wearing each layer separately when out on the hill.
Most jackets with a reversible YKK zip will fit, but often the zip length will be different between brands to there’s no guarantee a Berghaus fleece will zip into North Face jacket, and if it does, it might not fit perfectly. For best results buy the two jackets from the same brand, or together as a 3-in-1 jacket.