Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets of 2018


Outdoor Research Helium II - One of the best lightweight waterproof jackets currently available

Outdoor Research Helium II – One of the best lightweight waterproof jackets currently available

Backpackers regularly face harsh conditions like low temperatures, strong winds and heavy rain. Backpacking in such conditions is unpleasant, unless you have the right equipment and clothing – including a good waterproof/breathable jacket. A waterproof jacket will not only keep you dry on a rainy day, but it will also protect you against the wind and help you maintain your body’s natural temperature. In this review you will find a selection of the best lightweight waterproof jackets for backpacking. Nevertheless, all jackets in this review are also perfect for everyday use.

We only included super lightweight waterproof jackets which pack very small. All jackets in this review use 2.5-layer materials (face fabric, membrane/coating and protective film) as jackets of such a construction are the lightest. Furthermore, they are less expensive than 3-layer rain jackets (face fabric, membrane and lining). However, 3-layer rain jackets do offer slightly better durability, breathability and weather protection but they are usually also heavier. If you need a waterproof jacket for alpine climbing, mountaineering in very difficult weather conditions or highly aerobic activities, check out our review of the Best 3-Layer Rain Jackets instead.

If you want to protect your lower body against rain and wind as well, we also selected the Best Waterproof Pants.

If you are looking for women’s rain jackets, please check out our Best Rain Jackets for Women review which includes 2.5-layer rain jackets as well as 3-layer rain jackets.

This selection was updated on the 11th of January 2018.

1. Buying a Lightweight Waterproof Jacket – What is important?

Weight and Size:

Backpacking requires lightweight equipment so that you can walk easier and faster. Waterproof jackets are relatively light, but you can still eliminate some weight by wearing/carrying a particularly lightweight one. As you will typically only wear it in case of rain and wind, it is important that it can be packed small so it doesn’t take up too much space in a backpack. In this review we only included well-packable and lightweight waterproof jackets.

Waterproof Technology:

To make a jacket waterproof and breathable at the same time, manufacturers use two different methods; coatings and membranes/laminates.

Laminates offer better breathability than coatings but are also more expensive. They feature a very thin waterproof/breathable membrane (made of polytetrafluoroethylene or polyurethane) which is sandwiched between two other layers for protection.

Coatings on the other hand are made of polyurethane which is spread onto the fabric like butter on bread. Due to this technique of application, a coating can’t be as thin as a membrane and therefore it limits the breathability of the garment and makes it heavier/bulkier.

Most jackets in this selection of the best lightweight waterproof jackets use membranes because membranes offer better breathability and weather protection. Furthermore, they don’t make garments bulky.

Material:

There are many different waterproof/breathable (WPB) materials. Waterproof materials differ by construction, waterproof technology, breathability, water-resistance and durability. Some brands use well-known materials such as eVentGore-Tex and Pertex while others develop their own materials such as Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q, Patagonia’s H2No and Marmot’s NanoPro. For more detailed information about waterproof jacket materials, please check out the Hardshell section in our Shell Materials Guide.

Keep in mind that no jacket is completely waterproof – jackets must be breathable so that the condensation doesn’t build up on the inside and there is no such thing as completely waterproof material that is also breathable. Nevertheless, modern waterproof jackets offer great weather protection while they are also breathable.

The level of water resistance is measured by the hydrostatic head while the “breathability” is measured by MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate). Check out our article Rainwear: Hydrostatic Head and Breathability (MVTR) to learn more about these two parameters.

2. The Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets Review

Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets

Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets

The Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets – List

  1. Outdoor Research Helium II
  2. Montane Minimus
  3. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
  4. Patagonia Torrentshell
  5. Marmot Precip

Comparison

Feature/Product Outdoor Research Helium IIMontane MinimusMountain Hardwear Stretch OzonicPatagonia TorrentshellMarmot Precip
Weight6.4 oz.8.0 oz.10.0 oz12.1 oz.13.1 oz.
Weight (Metric)180 g228 g282 g343 g371 g
MaterialPertex Shield+ Pertex Shield+Dry Q ActiveH2NoNanoPro
Fabric Layers2.5-layer2.5-layer2.5-layer2.5-layer2.5-layer
Waterproof TechnologyLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneCoating
Taped SeamsYesYesYesYesYes
External Pockets1 External1 External2 External2 External2 External
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

1. Outdoor Research Helium II

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Outdoor Research Helium II waterproof jacket is extremely light (it weighs merely 6 ounces) and thus perfect for those who prefer lightweight backpacking gear. The jacket is made of a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ material (laminate/membrane) which combines good wind and rain protection with excellent breathability. The Pertex Shield+ material has a hydrostatic head of 20000 millimeters and breathability of 20000g/m2/24hrs which is indeed impressive. In comparison the highly popular Marmot Precip jacket (listed below) has a hydrostatic head of 10000 millimeters and breathability of 11500g/m2/24hrs and yet it is known for providing great weather protection and being very breathable. The Outdoor Research Helium II waterproof jacket is also equipped with a fully adjustable hood, taped seams, YKK AquaGuard zippers, elastic cuffs and a drawcord hem. For storing essentials, it has one easy-accessible zippered chest pocket. It can also be packed into the internal pocket for easy carrying. The Outdoor Research Helium II waterproof jacket offers great performance while being super lightweight and therefore it is best for those who need ultra-light yet reliable rainwear for their adventures.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • Freedom of movement
  • Packs into pocket
  • Waterproof zippers

Cons:

  • /

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Video

Montane Minimus Jacket

Montane Minimus Jacket

2. Montane Minimus Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Montane Minimus is another very light waterproof jacket which offers superb functionality. The jacket is like the Outdoor Research Helium II made of 2.5-layer Pertex Shield+ material and thus it offers similar breathability and weather protection. The jacket is equipped with articulated arms, helmet-compatible hood, adjustable cuffs, and one zippered chest pocket. The hood can be rolled together and locked away in the internal tab if you don’t need it. In addition to that, this waterproof jacket features a high-quality full length YKK AquaGuard front zipper and an adjustable hem (drawcord) which allows you to tighten the jacket at the bottom to reduce heat loss. The jacket comes with a stuff sack for easy packing and carrying. The Montane Minimus waterproof jacket shares many qualities with the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket above but is slightly heavier. Nevertheless, it is one of the best lightweight waterproof jackets currently available.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Breathability
  • Freedom of movement
  • Waterproof zippers

Cons:

  • /

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Backcountry

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

3. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket is made of Mountain Hardwear’s Dry Q Active material which was developed with aerobic activities in mind. Therefore, the jacket provides great breathability while being super lightweight. The material also offers good weather protection and is, due to the 40-denier face fabric, durable and abrasion-resistant. The Mountain Hardwear jacket is also equipped with AquaGuard Vislon zippers, two zippered hand pockets, adjustable hood and pit zips. Pit zips come in very handy as they allow you to easily regulate the temperature. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic waterproof jacket is a great option for backpacking as it is highly breathable, stretchy (comfort) and offers good weather protection.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Durability
  • Waterproof zippers
  • Stretch

Cons:

  • /

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Video

Patagonia Torrentshell

Patagonia Torrentshell

4. Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Patagonia Torrentshell waterproof jacket offers a great performance for a reasonable price. The waterproof jacket is made of the 2.5-layer H2No material (laminate/membrane) which features a 50-denier nylon outer layer. Therefore, it provides good abrasion-resistance and durability. The waterproof jacket is also equipped with an adjustable hood and fleece-lined collar for maximum comfort. Additionally, it has two zippered hand pockets, pit zips, an adjustable hem (drawcord) and Velcro cuffs. Unlike the waterproof jackets listed above, the Patagonia Torrentshell jacket doesn’t use waterproof AquaGuard zipper but instead has a storm flap which helps keeping the rain away from the zipper and thus from penetrating through it. The Patagonia Torrentshell jacket is best for those who want an inexpensive waterproof jacket for their backpacking adventures or everyday use.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Durability
  • Fleece-lined Collar

Cons:

  • Zipper (not waterproof)

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Video

Marmot Precip Jacket

Marmot Precip Jacket

5. Marmot Precip Jacket

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

 

The Marmot Precip waterproof jacket differs from jackets listed above by using a coating instead of laminate to be waterproof/breathable. Therefore, this waterproof jacket is slightly heavier – it weighs 13 ounces. However, it is one of the least expensive jackets in this review. The jacket is made of NanoPro material which has a hydrostatic head of 10000 millimeters and a breathability of 11500g/m2/24hrs. Such numbers are very impressive for a coating technology. Additionally, the waterproof jacket has an elastic hem (drawcord), pit zips, Velcro cuffs and a hood. Like the Patagonia Torrentshell jacket, the jacket doesn’t have AquaGuard zipper but uses a storm flap instead. All in all, the Marmot Precip jacket is a great choice for those who just need some basic weather protection for backpacking or everyday use.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Price

Cons:

  • Zipper (not waterproof)

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Backcountry

Video

 

3. The most attractive product in the review

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