The Best Gore-Tex Jackets to Buy in 2018


Outdoor Research Maximus

Outdoor Research Maximus

For outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking and mountaineering, it is good to have high-quality rainwear which protects you against the elements (rain, wind, snow etc.) and at the same time provides decent breathability, so you don’t soak in your own sweat. Today there are many so-called waterproof/breathable fabrics available, but Gore-Tex remains the most popular one due to its good reputation.

Here we selected the five best Gore-Tex rain jackets. We only listed high-quality rain jackets which besides from the qualities of Gore-Tex also offer good durability and functionality (freedom of movement, pockets, hood etc.). Note that not all Gore-Tex jackets use the same material as the Gore-Tex fabric is available in three different types; Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Active and Gore-Tex Pro. In the following we’ll also explain the difference between these three types of Gore-Tex fabric. As Gore-Tex is a high-end fabric, Gore-Tex jackets are not inexpensive. Therefore, if you don’t have the budget for jackets in this review, check out our review of the Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets instead (mid-end rain jackets). To see how Gore-Tex compares to other waterproof/breathable fabrics in terms of breathability and water resistance, see the chart in our article Rainwear: Hydrostatic Head and Breathability (MVTR).

1. Buying a Gore-Tex Jacket – What is important?

Type of Gore-Tex Fabric:

Gore-Tex fabric is available in three different types – Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Active and Gore-Tex Pro.

Gore-Tex:

The Gore-Tex fabric is the most versatile and can be used for almost everything, from around-the-town wear to hiking. It is less expensive than the Gore-Tex Pro but on the other hand it is also less breathable and heavier. Therefore, it is best for everyday use and low intensity outdoor activities.

Gore-Tex Active:

The Gore-Tex Active fabric is very light and provides superb breathability. However, it doesn’t match the other two types of Gore-Tex fabric when it comes to protection against the elements. The Gore-Tex Active fabric is designed for highly aerobic activities such as running, cycling and cross-country skiing.

Gore-Tex Pro:

The Gore-Tex Pro fabric is the most advanced fabric from this iconic brand. It provides great breathability, durability and protection against the elements. However, jackets made of Gore-Tex Pro material tend to be very expensive. These jackets are primarily intended for alpinism, mountaineering and expeditions but can also be worn for other activities.

Hood:

Gore-Tex rain jackets typically have an adjustable hood for good fit. If you often do technical activities which require a climbing helmet, go for a jacket that has a helmet-compatible hood (in the table below you can see which jackets offer this feature). All jackets in this review are equipped with adjustable hoods.

Pockets:

Because a rain jacket is worn as an outer layer, it is a great benefit if it has pockets for storing accessories. The pockets should be waterproof to keep your gear dry.

Taped Seams:

High-end jackets have taped seams which ensure that water doesn’t leak through them. All jackets in this review of the best Gore-Tex rain jackets naturally have taped seams.

Zippers:

High-end rain jackets use waterproof zippers (such as the YKK Aqua Guard zipper) which repel the water, so of course all jackets listed here have waterproof zippers.

2. The Best Gore-Tex Jackets Review

Best Gore-Tex Jackets

Best Gore-Tex Jackets

The Best Gore-Tex Jackets – List

  1. Arcteryx Alpha FL
  2. Outdoor Research Maximus
  3. Arcteryx Norvan SL
  4. Outdoor Research Axiom
  5. The North Face Apex Flex GTX

Comparison

Feature/Product Arcteryx Alpha FL Outdoor Research Maximus Arcteryx Norvan SL Outdoor Research Axiom The North Face Apex Flex GTX
Weight11 oz.23 oz.4 oz.14 oz.24 oz.
Weight (Metric)315 g649 g120 g402 g 680 g
MaterialGore-Tex ProGore-Tex ProGore-Tex ActiveGore-Tex ActiveGore-Tex
External Pockets14 /33
Helmet-Compatible HoodYesYesNoYesNo
Arcteryx Alpha FL

Arcteryx Alpha FL

1. Arcteryx Alpha FL

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Alpine Climbing
  • Backpacking

The Arcteryx Alpha FL is currently one of the most popular Gore-Tex Pro jackets on the market. Despite being very robust, it weighs only 11 ounces. Therefore, it is perfect for fast alpine ascents in challenging weather conditions. The Alpha jacket has one zippered chest pocket and a helmet compatible StormHood with good adjustment options. It also features an adjustable hem and fits perfectly under the climbing harness. The face fabric is made of 40-denier nylon and therefore the jacket provides good durability and abrasion resistance. The Arcteryx Alpha FL jacket is available in three different colors; neon green, grey and orange.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Weather Protection
  • Quality

Cons:

  • /

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Outdoor Research Maximus

Outdoor Research Maximus

2. Outdoor Research Maximus

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Alpine Climbing
  • Backpacking

The Outdoor Research Maximus jacket is made of Gore-Tex Pro fabric like the Arcteryx Alpha FL jacket mentioned above. However, it is more than twice as heavy because it has more pockets and uses an even sturdier face fabric (70-denier nylon). The Maximus jacket has two zippered hand pockets and two zippered chest pockets. The hand pockets are positioned high, so they don’t interfere with a climbing harness or the hip belt of your backpack. The jacket also has large pit zips for extra ventilation (pit-to-hem). It provides great freedom of movement due to the stretch panels (on the sides and in the elbows area) and features an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, adjustable wrist cuffs and adjustable hem. The Outdoor Research Maximus jacket is available in several different colors.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Weather Protection
  • Pit zips

Cons:

  • Weight

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Arcteryx Norvan SL

Arcteryx Norvan SL

3. Arcteryx Norvan SL

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Trail running
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Backpacking

The Arcteryx Norvan SL jacket is made of the Gore-Tex Active fabric and is super light – it weighs merely four ounces. Therefore, it is best for highly aerobic activities such as trail running, cross-country skiing and speed hiking. The Arcteryx Norvan SL jacket has a minimalistic, but adjustable, hood which can be rolled away and secured with a snap if not needed. It also utilizes the Gore-Tex ShakeDry technology which eliminates the need for a face fabric (typically rain jackets have a nylon face fabric) and therefore the jacket dries very fast. The Arcteryx Norvan SL jacket also features elasticized cuffs and hem for good fit.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • ShakeDry technology

Cons:

  • Durability
  • No pockets

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Best Buy!

Also available at:

Campsaver

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Outdoor Research Axiom

Outdoor Research Axiom

4. Outdoor Research Axiom

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking
  • Cross-country skiing

The Outdoor Research Axiom jacket is made of the Gore-Tex Active fabric like the Arcteryx Norvan jacket mentioned above. However, the Axiom jacket is sturdier as it features a 30-denier nylon face fabric and thus provides much better durability. Due to the sturdy face fabric, the Axiom jacket is also heavier than the Arcteryx jacket – it weighs three times more. The Outdoor Research Axiom jackets is primarily intended for hikers and mountaineers who prefer good breathability over waterproofness. It has three zippered pockets, helmet-compatible hood, elasticized hem and adjustable wrist cuffs.  The Outdoor Research Axiom jacket is available in several different colors.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Pockets
  • Quality

Cons:

  • Weight (for Gore-Tex Active)

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Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI

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The North Face Apex Flex GTX

The North Face Apex Flex GTX

5. The North Face Apex Flex GTX

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Around-the-town Wear

The North Face Apex Flex GTX jacket is made of the classic Gore-Tex fabric and thus it is heavier than other rain jackets in this review. However, as it uses the least sophisticated type of Gore-Tex fabric, it is also less expensive.  The jacket has three zippered pockets, adjustable wrist cuffs and a drawcord hem. The two large pit zips for extra ventilation allow you to easily regulate your body temperature. The hood is adjustable but not helmet-compatible. All in all, the North Face Apex Flex GTX jacket is a great budget option for low intensity outdoor activities. It is available in five different colors; blue, red, dark grey, light grey and black.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Price
  • Pit zips

Cons:

  • Weight
  • Breathability

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