The Didriksons Robin, in common with all the jackets tested, did a good job of keeping the rain out. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Didriksons Robin, in common with all the jackets tested, did a good job of keeping the rain out. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A good waterproof jacket is one of the essentials for any serious walker’s kit list.

In the UK, even in the height of summer, those blue skies can disappear and the weather turn to something a little damper.

A cheap waterproof will probably rely solely on a durable water-resistant coating to keep the rain out, and is unlikely to provide much in the way of breathability.

Paying a little more will get you a better performing garment and give you more comfort when heading into the countryside and hills.

The jackets in our test use a variety of systems to keep the rain out and help shift perspiration out. A DWR treatment to the face fabric is usually the first line of defence, but this will eventually lose its ability to repel rain and will need treatment to reproof.

Membranes, commonly of the PTFE compound, are used to stop rain droplets out but allow some of the body’s moisture to permeate back out. There are other systems designed to help keep the rain out and take the perspiration out.

Some of the jackets tested also provide warmth; others are minimalist lightweight versions that will suit fast movers.
Another factor that may be important to you is the green element. Some of the jackets have much stronger environmental credentials than others, a consideration we think will become more important in years to come.

And lastly, of course, there’s style: our test samples come in a wide variety of outdoor fashions, so choose the one that suits you, your pocket and your activities best.

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Jacket

Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Jacket
Price: £160
Colour: white
Weight: 378g
Material: 100 per cent recycled polyester
Waterproofing: OutDry Extreme
Country of manufacture: Indonesia
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s XS-XL
Recommended wash: 30C, no fabric conditioner
Women’s version: yes

Is this the future of waterproof jackets? The OutDry Ex Eco is made from PFC-free materials and its polyester fabric is recycled. Also, the material is undyed so, yes, it’s white.

The OutDry Fabric is sort of back-to-front of what you would normally get in a waterproof jacket. Instead of the membrane being bonded to a face fabric that is treated with a durable water-resistant finish, the OutDry membrane forms the outside shell of the garment, with the polyester face on the inside. The seam tapes, which would normally be hidden inside, are also markedly visible on the exterior of the jacket.

This gives the jacket a plasticky look and feel and it’s quite rustly. The dazzling white of the Columbia OutDry Ex Eco might be a bit difficult to keep clean after a few months scrambling around the hills, and be prepared to be asked if you’re prepping the dinner or selling ice-creams.

It’s undoubtedly a very eco-friendly garment – even the trims have recycled content. It’s also light and quite minimalist. There are two large external zipped pockets with stormflaps. The pockets are mesh lined which helps breathability in these area. They are both big enough to take a laminated OS map. The pockets are only partially accessible when wearing a rucksack hipbelt.

The jacket hem has drawcords to cinch it in to keep out updraughts, and the sleeves have hook and loop adjusters.

The hood is a bit of a let-down. There are twin front drawcords which work well with buried spring buttons to slacken them, but rear adjustment is limited with only a hook and loop strip. This made it hard to get a snug closure overall, and the hood didn’t turn well with the head.

The main, single-puller zip has double storm flaps to help keep out driving rain. There’s no chin-guard, so the puller can be felt against the chin when fully zipped up.

In use, the Columbia jacket kept the rain out well, the OutDry external membrane shedding heavy showers. Breathability was reasonable, though the inner fabric does feel comfortable. Overall, though, the jacket feels quite stiff.

If environmental considerations top your list, the Columbia jacket has to be a serious consideration.

Performance 23/30
Breathability 21/30
Comfort 6/10
Features 6/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 70/100

Craghoppers Jerome

Craghoppers Jerome

Craghoppers Jerome Jacket
Price: £220
Colour: black
Weight: 642g
Material: outer: polyester; lining, polyester/cotton; lower lining, polyester
Waterproofing: Storm System
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s XS-XXXL
Recommended wash: 40C gentle cycle. Low temperature iron to reactivate DWR
Women’s version: no

The Jerome is a nicely styled jacket with simple, clean lines.

The fabric has a slight stretch and the Gore-Tex membrane kept the rain out during our tests. Breathability was good.

The Craghoppers jacket has a single-puller water-resistant main zip and its hem has drawcords with spring toggle locking to help keep out the wind.

There are zipped handwarmer pockets, though these are in the area covered by a rucksack hipbelt. The Jerome has a small zipped chest pocket, big enough for a smartphone. Inside the jacket is a zipped mesh pocket, large enough to take an OS map, though the opening is only just wide enough.

The jacket’s hem has drawcord adjustment for cinching in, and the sleeve cuffs have hook-and-loop strips for adjustment.

The hood worked quite well. It has a rear ‘halo’ volume adjuster and also two front drawcords that are secured by little toggles which are a little fiddly to loosen when wearing gloves. There’s no chinguard so the zip puller can be felt when fully closed.

The Jerome kept out the rain well, and had good breathability. The upper lining is a mesh fabric, with solid polyester fabric in the bottom quarter. The jacket felt comfortable in use and has a reassuringly sold feel, though it does tend towards the heavier end of the scales in the test.

The Craghoppers Jerome is a good all-rounder that should cope with most conditions encountered in the UK.

Performance 25/30
Breathability 22/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 7/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 75/100

Didriksons Robin

Didriksons Robin

Didriksons Robin Jacket
Price: £130
Colour: black
Weight: 680g
Material: outer, polyamide; lining, polyester and polyamide
Waterproofing: Storm System
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s 8-20
Recommended wash: 40C liquid detergent
Women’s version: yes, women’s version Elina

The Scandinavian nations have been at the forefront of legislating on perfluorinated compound chemicals, and the Robin and Elina Jackets from this Swedish brand have PFC-free durable water-resistant finishes.

We tested the Robin version, which is a sold-feeling garment, styled for general use rather than with an athletic cut. The Didriksons jacket uses its Storm System which the company says provides protection to 10,000mm head and breathability of 4,000g/m2/24h.

The chunky single-puller main zip is backed by a large storm baffle. There are two large zipped handwarmer pockets, which again have a wide storm baffle. The hem of the jacket has shockcord adjustment, which is accessible from inside these pockets.

The pockets’ zips are only partly accessible when wearing a rucksack hipbelt.

Inside the jacket is a mesh pocket large enough to accommodate an OS map.

Sleeve cuffs have hook-and-loop adjusters and the jacket has a deep collar that keeps the wind out well when pulled up. The hood is removable, attaching via press-studs and two hook-and-loop strips. We’re not sure of the value of having a removable hood on a waterproof jacket. Personally, if it’s raining it’s likely we’ll want a hood.

That said, the hood worked quite well. There’s a rear halo volume adjuster and two front shockcords with spring toggles for locking. It turns reasonably well with the head, though not quite to 90 degrees. The thin shockcords used for adjustment can be felt against the head when pulled tight in. The hood stayed in position in a strong headwind.

There’s a good chinguard and the face is well protected when the zip is fully closed.

The Robin’s lining is mesh to help shift moisture and there is a row of small vent holes in the back of the jacket, which are protected by a mini cowl.

The jacket’s fabric feels robust and the Robin is one of the weightier jackets in the test.

In use, the Didriksons jacket performed the job of keeping out heavy rain showers. Breathability was good too.

It’s a robust-feeling general purpose jacket that has plenty of room and doesn’t feel restrictive.

Performance 24/30
Breathability 21/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 8/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 75/100

Haglöfs Virgo

Haglöfs Virgo

Haglöfs Virgo Jacket
Price: £225
Colour: dark blue
Weight: 462g
Material: outer, polyamide; lining, polyester
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex 2-layer
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Size: men’s S-XL; women’s XS-XXL
Recommended wash: 40C liquid detergent
Women’s version: yes

The Virgo is a fairly athletic fit, and is made from two-layer Gore-Tex.

The fabric feels robust but is lightweight and not too rustly. The design is fairly minimalist, with just two handwarmer pockets with diagonal zipped openings covered by a stormflap with hook-and-loop strip to keep them in place. They are partly covered by a hipbelt when wearing a rucksack.

The single-puller water-resistant zip is also backed by an internal stormflap and the zip parks neatly in a cowl when fully closed. There’s a thin tricot chinguard strip, but it is only narrow and not the most comfortable when the zip is fastened up.

The middle, torso section of the jacket’s lining is mesh to help vent moisture. In use, when working uphill, the Virgo’s breathability was good. There’s a smallish, zipped interior pocket, the lining of which is helpfully tethered to stop it turning inside out when getting items out.

The sleeve cuffs have hook-and-loop adjustment.

The hood is well designed and worked very well. A halo rear adjuster keeps it in place in headwinds and there are two front drawcord adjusters which can be used to pull the hood in close to the face. There’s a good, semi-rigid peak and the whole thing turns well with the head.

The jacket’s hem has drawcord adjusters for cinching in the garment.

In many ways, the Haglöfs jacket is an understated item. Its muted colour doesn’t shout gnarly outdoors – it doesn’t look out of place on the High Street – yet it performs well and is among the lighter jackets in the test. It will keep you dry on the hill and in the town, and is well designed. Quality is good too.

Performance 26/30
Breathability 23/30
Comfort 8/10
Features 6/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 78/100

Keela SDP Stratus Shell

Keela SDP Stratus Shell

Keela SDP Stratus Shell
Price: £174.95
Colour: red
Weight: 884g
Material: shell, polyester; lining, polyester
Waterproofing: Aquatec System Dual Protection
Country of manufacture: not stated
Size: XS-3XL;
Recommended wash: 30C pure soap
Women’s version: no

The Stratus is a beefy jacket, coming near the top of the weight table in the test, and feels robust.

As with many Keela products, you get a lot for your money, and the jacket has lots of touches that help keep the walker comfortable on the hill.

The main zip has a double puller and is covered by a double stormflap, the inner having a rain gutter. The flap is secured by a series of press studs. The jacket’s hem has twin drawcord adjustment, and the Status has pit zips for ventilation. These have double pullers and are covered by a stormflap with hook-and-loop strips to keep them in place.

The pit zips did provide some ventilation while working on uphill sections on the test.

The jacket has a plethora of pockets. There are two zipped hip pockets and two chest pockets, which also have zips and reflective strips. The zip pullers on the Keela jacket have plastic-tipped loops which help when using gloves. The two chest pockets each have an internal fabric strip with a plastic d-ring to attach small bits of gear such as compass or keys to. The right-hand strip is elasticated.

Under the main storm flap is another zipped pocket, large enough to take a laminated OS map, and on the other side of the zip is a smaller zipped pocket, just large enough for a smartphone. There’s a fabric pen loop tucked under the main zip too.

The hood has good adjustment, with a rear halo drawcord for volume and two front adjusters with spring toggles. The peak has an adjustable wire. There’s a tricot-lined chin protector at the top of the zip. The hood can be rolled up when not in use, and there is a flap with press-stud fastening to keep in place and stop it blowing against the back of the head.

The sleeves are articulated and have hook-and-loop adjustment strips with a gusset. There’s a small, zipped pocket on the left forearm, big enough for a compass.

Waterproofing is via Keela’s Aquatec fabric and its System Dual Protection. This consists of the outer material with its membrane, combined with a hydrophilic mesh liner. Keela says this draws perspiration away from the user and the air gap between the liner and outer fabric helps provide warmth. The brand says the system works better in cooler weather and likens it a little to a double-glazing system.

In use, the Status was certainly one of the warmer jackets and provided good breathability.

The material has a soft but strong feel, and the rustle factor was low.

Keela have incorporated lots of useful little features into the Stratus, which feels at home on the hill in even the most severe conditions, though we found it quite warm for summer use.

Given the competitive price, the SDP Status Shell offers very good value and good performance.

Performance 26/30
Breathability 24/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 9/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 81/100

Maier Functional Jacket Meteor

Maier Functional Jacket Meteor

Maier Functional Jacket Meteor
Price: £135
Colour: red
Weight: 538g
Material: shell, polyester lining, nylon
Waterproofing:
Country of manufacture: not stated
Size: short, standard or long, men’s 36-58 (XS-7XL); women’s 8-26
Recommended wash: 30C short wash
Women’s version: yes

The brand is fairly new to the UK market, and its big plus point is the number of different size combinations its garments come in. The less-than-snappily named Functional Jacket Meteor is available in short, standard and long versions, with a large range of sizes in each length, both for men and women.

The polyester face material is soft feeling and rustle-free. The ripstop fabric is rated to 10,000mm hydrostatic head for waterproofing and on test the Meteor kept out the rain well.

The main zip has a single puller and is protected with a rear stormflap and a larger one at the front, secured by a combination of hook and loop strips and press studs. A cowl covers the puller when fully closed, but there’s no chin guard and the top press stud in particular could be felt against the face when the jacket was fully zipped up.

The Maier jacket has two zipped hip pockets, covered by storm flaps, and there are two drawcords at the Meteor’s hem. The right-hand pocket can be used as a stuff sack for the jacket, which works well, with a reversible zip puller enabling easy closure. There is a small plastic loop for attaching the packed-up jacket to a trouser or pack loop. There is a large internal mesh pocket, with a hook-and-loop fastener. It easily accommodated a laminated OS map. The two hip pockets are covered by a rucksack hipbelt when wearing a pack.

Sleeve cuffs have hook-and-loop strips for adjustment.

The jacket’s lining is part mesh in the main torso area and this helped breathability, which was good in this part of the garment. It’s also treated with anti-microbial Agion Active to help keep odours down.

The hood is detachable and is held on by a combination of a zip and press-stud. It was comfortable in use but not effective in a headwind. Volume adjustment is by a rear hook-and-loop strip and there are twin front drawcords, but we found it difficult to get a good seal around the face to keep the rain out. It didn’t turn fully with the head.

The cut of the Maier jacket is generous and it’s a good, comfortable all-rounder for walkers, let down only by the hood. Breathability was good. Its price represents good value.

Performance 23/30
Breathability 23/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 8/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 76/100

Mammut Masao

Mammut Masao

Mammut Masao Jacket
Price: £240
Colour: orange
Weight: 606g
Material: polyester
Waterproofing: DRYtech Premium
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s XS-XL
Recommended wash: 30C mild detergent; 15 mins tumble dry
Women’s version: yes, Makai

The Masao is a fully featured mountain waterproof which uses Mammut’s own DRYtech Premium waterproof fabric, rated at 20,000mm static head, and it certainly kept the rain out during our testing.

The material feels tough without being too rustly. The jacket is well designed and didn’t ride up when we were reaching up for holds. There’s a slight stretch to the fabric.

The main zip is water-resistant and has a double puller. It’s backed by a storm flap and the puller sits in a cowl when fully closed. There is a soft tricot patch backing the storm flap at chin level, as well as two similar ones either side of the zip, making it comfortable against the face.

The jacket’s hem has twin drawcord adjustment and there are two hip pockets, again with water-resistant zips. These sit high enough to be used while wearing a rucksack hipbelt, which covers only the lowest section of the zips.

The Masao also has a small zipped chest pocket, big enough for a smartphone or GPS unit. The pocket has a cord exit for earphones. There is also a zipped stretched mesh pocket inside the jacket.

The articulated sleeves have hook and loop adjustment at the cuffs, and there are pit zips with double pullers under each sleeve to help ventilation when working hard uphill.

The hood worked well, it has a stiffened peak and a rear volume adjuster, along with two front drawcords, enabling it to be pulled snug into the face in a headwind. It turned well with the head when cinched in.

In use, the DRYtech provided good breathability and the pit zips also helped ventilate the jacket when the interior temperature started to rise.

There’s little to fault on the Masao. It performed well on the hill and has all the features you’re likely to need in the countryside and on the mountains. It’s cleanly designed and quality was good. Weight is reasonable for a robust fully featured hardshell jacket.

Performance 26/30
Breathability 25/30
Comfort 8/10
Features 8/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 82/100

Outdoor Research Foray

Outdoor Research Foray

Outdoor Research Foray Jacket
Price: £175
Colour: grey
Weight: 436g
Material: polyester
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex with Paclite
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s XS-XL
Recommended wash: 40C
Women’s version: yes, Aspire

The Outdoor Research Foray and its women’s version the Aspire use lightweight Gore-Tex with Paclite waterproofing in a two-layer system.

The face fabric is a soft-feeling polyester though there is some rustle.

The design if fairly minimalist and clean, with just two mesh-lined, zipped hip pockets plus a zipped chest pocket, large enough for a smartphone or GPS receiver. The left hip pocket has a double-sided zip puller, which enables it to be used as a stuffsack for the jacket. A rucksack hipbelt does cover part of the pockets, but they are still useable.

The Foray’s main zip is water resistant with a stormflap backing, and has a double puller. The jacket’s hem has twin drawcords for cinching in, and the sleeves have cuffs that adjust with a hook-and-loop strip combined with an elasticated section.

The hood is well designed, with halo-type rear drawcord for volume adjustment, plus two front, tethered drawcords. It held in place well in a headwind and turned well with the head. It has a semi-stiffened peak. A hook-and-loop strip enables the hood to be folded in, via its rear hanging loop.

An unusual design feature of the OR jacket is its TorsoFlo venting zips. Rather than a pit zip, these run either side of the jacket, from hem to just beyond the armpits. Using the double pullers you can vary the amount of ventilation from just a few inches to the whole of the side of the jacket. If you unzip from the bottom hem, the jacket becomes a sort of cape.

On a test walk in persistent rain and strong breezes, we opened the vents from the top downwards to provide a good amount of fresh air into the jacket. Rain ingress was minimal.

Breathability of the jacket is good, with the TorsoFlo system helping to get air into the chest and back areas.

Quality of the Outdoor Research jacket was good.

The Foray is one of the lighter jackets in the test, and it performed well. It’s a no bells-and-whistles design. The clean, minimalist look helps keep weight down without compromising performance on the hill.

Performance 24/30
Breathability 24/30
Comfort 8/10
Features 7/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 79/100

Páramo Velez

Páramo Velez

Páramo Velez Jacket
Price: £285
Colour: orange/red
Weight: 614g
Material: polyester
Waterproofing: Nikwax Analogy
Country of manufacture: Colombia
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s XS-XL
Recommended wash: 30C in Nikwax Tech Wash
Women’s version: no

The Velez is the full zipped jacket version of the best-selling Velez Smock.

Páramo aficionados will appreciate the rustle-free, soft feel of the jacket’s fabric, which works on the Analogy principle of pumping out moisture to keep the wearer dry.

There’s no membrane as used by most waterproofing systems. Instead the Páramo jacket relies firstly on the Nikwax treatment to repel rain, then for its ‘pump action’ directional fabrics to move both water and water vapour outwards from the body.

So the material won’t withstand penetration by a column of water as used in standard tests. This means if you lean against a wet surface or sit on something wet in your Páramo, the water will soak through.

But the lack of a membrane aids breathability and the Velez jacket is zoned with different weights of Analogy fabric, with standard material in parts combined with a lighter version. The Velez is aimed at active users, likely to participate in a range of different outdoor pursuits, from mountain walking to cycling to climbing.

Styling is slightly more athletic too, and the bright colourway gives the Velez a more contemporary look. The jacket has small reflective triangular patches on the rear of the shoulders, sleeves and hood, along with similar areas at the front shoulders plus a reflective logo.

The sleeves are articulated and have hook-and-loop strips at the cuffs for adjustment.

Páramo describes it as lightweight and, in its range, the Velez is lighter than many in the brand’s range, but still sits in the middling area of our test jackets at 614g for a medium size.

The design of the jacket maximises the ventilation possibilities in line with its intended use.

There are short pit zips on the underside of the top section of the sleeves. These open up to reveal the mesh linings of the jacket and provide some venting. There is also a clever arrangement in the pair of chest pockets, which helpfully sit clear of the rucksack hipbelt area.

The outer zip provides ventilation, again via the mesh lining of the jacket. The pockets themselves are protected by a second zip, so the contents aren’t going to fall out even if you choose to open the venting zips. The right pocket has a small fabric loop inside it too.

All this helps get cool air inside the jacket as, as we’ve found with most Páramo clothing, it’s quite warm compared to a standard shell jacket, despite some of its panels being made from the lighter material. We found wearing just a t-shirt under the Velez was adequate in all but the coolest weather in spring and summer.

The hood is comfortable and works well, a rear halo-style drawcord enabling volume adjustment and two front cords providing a means of cinching it in tight to the face. The hood turns well with the head and also has a wired peak.

The Velez jacket has very good ethical credentials too. The Páramo garment is free from perfluorinated compound treatment and is easily recyclable polyester, qualifying for the brand’s recycling scheme which offers up to £50 off a new garment when trading in an Analogy item. It is made at the Miquelina Foundation in Colombia.

The Velez performed well and was very comfortable, with good breathability but we still found it quite warm in spring and summer conditions. Páramo’s designers seem to understand the walker well, and this jacket aims to extend that to climbers and mountain bikers too. Quality was good, though the price reflects that quality. Bear in mind that regular retreatment with Nikwax products or similar will be necessary to maintain the jacket’s performance.

Performance 23/30
Breathability 26/30
Comfort 8/10
Features 8/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 6/10
Total score: 79/100

Rab Flashpoint

Rab Flashpoint

Rab Flashpoint jacket
Price: £220
Colour: orange
Weight: 178g
Material: polyamide
Waterproofing: Pertex Shield+
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s 8-16
Recommended wash: 30C
Women’s version: yes

The Flashpoint is by far the lightest jacket in the test and uses Pertex Shield+ as its waterproof fabric. This uses a hydrophilic polyurethane film that is designed to increase its breathability the harder you work.

The Rab jacket takes minimalism to its extreme, yet still offers full waterproof protection. The seam tapes are narrow, but work perfectly well at keeping out the rain. Rain beads up initially as with conventional PTFE membrane clothing that has been treated with a durable water-resistant finish, but then looks like it has ‘wetted out’. Despite this appearance, the Flashpoint keeps the water out and had good breathability.

As you would expect from such a lightweight jacket, there’s little warmth to be had, though windblocking was good. This is a jacket for those who want to move fast with minimal pack size and weight.

It comes with its own little stuffsack for easy packing.

The main zip has a single puller and is backed by a stormflap and sits in a small cowl when fully fastened. There’s no chin guard but the fabric of the jacket is soft so there’s no discomfort when the zip is pulled right up.

The Flashpoint has a single zipped exterior chest pocket and the jacket’s hem has a drawcord adjuster to cinch it in. Sleeve cuffs have hook and loop adjustment.

The hood works well and has a rear halo adjuster and two front drawcords with spring toggles. It stayed up well in a headwind and turned well with the head too.

This Rab jacket is a full mountain waterproof without the weight or pack size of more conventional garments. It functions well, but is pared down to the minimum to suit fast and light hillgoers, whether trekking, climbing or scrambling. We encountered a heavy torrential downpour during testing the Flashpoint and it kept us dry.

The Flashpoint is a great choice for anyone wanting to keep the weight to a minimum while keeping full waterproof protection.

Performance 27/30
Breathability 25/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 6/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 79/100

Salomon La Cote Flex 2.5

Salomon La Cote Flex 2.5

Salomon La Cote Flex 2.5
Price: £160
Colour: lime green
Weight: 324g
Material: polyester
Waterproofing: AdvancedSkin Dry
Country of manufacture: Bangladesh
Size: men’s S-2XXL; women’s XS-XL
Recommended wash: 30C, inside out
Women’s version: yes

This lightweight Salomon jacket was formerly known as the Nebula and uses the AdvancedSkin Dry waterproof membrane.
It’s described as a ‘2.5-layer’ fabric, which means there’s a printed inner face to the bonded material and membrane to help protect it.
The waterproofing is rated at 10,000mm hydrostatic head, and it kept the rain out well during our tests.

Features are pared down to keep weight to a minimum, and it has a single-puller main zip backed by a stormflap. There are two zipped hip pockets, which are partly in the rucksack hipbelt area, but we did manage to use them while wearing a pack. The pockets are mesh lined.

The fabric is fairly soft and slightly stretchy, with a feel somewhere between a softshell and a hardshell. There was little rustling from the La Cote Flex while out on the hill.

Sleeves cuffs have hook-and-loop strips for adjustment, and the jacket’s hem is adjustable via two drawcords with spring toggles.

The hood is quite small and has only a rear halo volume adjuster. This works well but, when cinched tightly, the hood rides back quite a way on the head, leaving most of the face exposed. There’s a small soft peak and the hood’s front hem has a narrow lining strip extending to the chin area.

Out on the hill, the Salomon jacket kept us dry and breathability was reasonable. The jacket stretches a little when reaching up, which adds to the comfort. There’s little insulation from the jacket, but windblocking was good.

It’s the second-lightest jacket in the test and packs down quite small, which makes it a good choice for summer excursions into the hills.

Performance 24/30
Breathability 22/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 6/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 73/100

Snugpak Torrent

Snugpak Torrent

Snugpak Torrent Jacket
Price: £149.95
Colour: blue
Weight: 952g
Material: shell and lining, nylon; filling, polyester
Waterproofing: Snugpak PU membrane
Country of manufacture: China
Size: men’s XS-XXL
Recommended wash: 30C
Women’s version: no

The Torrent couldn’t be more different from the Rab jacket. This new addition to the Yorkshire brand’s range is a beefy waterproof jacket that also combines insulation for temperatures down to five below zero.

The Torrent uses the brand’s Softie filling, as used in its sleeping bags, to produce a combination jacket that will both keep you warm and dry.

Styling is up-to-date, as with many more recent Snugpak designs, with a definite outdoors look aimed at hillwalkers and mountaineers. The jacket is fully waterproof, with taped seams and rating of 10,000mm hydrostatic head.

It’s no lightweight, tipping the scales at almost a kilo, and pack size isn’t particularly small, though you are, in effect, getting two types of jacket in one.

The Torrent is certainly warm, so not the jacket to use when moving uphill in the height of summer. Breathability was quite good and there are pit zips with a mesh liner to help provide some ventilation when heading uphill.

The main zip has a double-puller and is water-resistant, with a stormflap backing. It sits neatly in a cowl when full close, but there’s no chin guard, which is a little odd because the collar has a brushed polyester neck warmer panel at the back, which could have been extended round to the chin. That said, there’s little discomfort though the zip puller and the hook-and-loop strip for the hood detachment can be felt.

There are two handwarmer hip pockets, again with water-resistant zips. Although a pack hip belt blocks their full use, access is possible while wearing a rucksack. There is a good-sized internal pocket with a zip too.

The hem of the jacket has twin drawcord adjusters.

The hood is detachable, using a combination of zip and hook-and-loop strips. It’s fairly low in volume and difficult to adjust properly, despite having a rear halo volume adjuster and twin front cords for adjustment. It didn’t turn full with the head and the fairly large peak is not very stiff and flapped about in the wind.

The Torrent is a good choice for those cool, showery days on the hill when you need a reliable waterproof that also provides warmth. Its fabric feels durable and styling is good. The price is very competitive too for a combination jacket offering both synthetic insulation and waterproofing.

Performance 24/30
Breathability 23/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 8/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 77/100

Sprayway Maxen

Sprayway Maxen

Sprayway Maxen Jacket
Price: £170
Colour: blue
Weight: 512g
Material: face, polyester; lining polyamide
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Size: men’s S-XXL; women’s 8-18
Recommended wash: 30C in Grangers 2 in 1
Women’s version: yes, Era

The Maxen has clean lines and offers a Gore-Tex jacket at a competitive price.

The single-puller main zip has a double stormflap, secured by a combination of press-studs top and bottom, and hook-and-loop strips. The hem has twin drawcord adjustment and the sleeves’ cuffs have hook-and-loop strip adjustment combined with an elasticated section.

The jacket’s lining is a combination of mesh at the back, and nylon taffeta in the front torso, sleeve and lower back sections.

The Maxen has two zipped, mesh-lined hip pockets, which are partly covered by a rucksack hipbelt but still useable. Inside, there’s a smallish pocket secured by a tab and hook-and-loop strip.

The hood has rear halo adjustment, combined with front drawcords with buried spring button toggles. It stayed in place well in a headwind and turned with the head, but is a little on the small side. There’s a tricot chin guard though the top press-stud on the main zip could be felt a little through it. The hood has a wired peak and the whole thing can be rolled away and secured by a combination of press-studs and a hook-and-loop strip.

On the hill, the Sprayway jacket did a good job of keeping the rain out, and breathability was reasonable, though the lack of any venting meant there was a build-up of moisture when working hard.

The mesh back helps but there was more dampness in the areas with solid nylon material lining.

The Maxen provided a little bit of customary hardshell rustle while walking, but it wasn’t excessive. It’s fairly lightweight and packed down reasonably well.

For reassurance against the wind and rain, the Sprayway jacket worked well while walking on the hill, and was comfortable. It’s also a good price for a Gore-Tex jacket, and nicely styled.

Performance 24/30
Breathability 22/30
Comfort 7/10
Features 7/10
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 75/100

The Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Jacket represents a radical departure from traditional design. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Jacket represents a radical departure from traditional design. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Mammut Masao was the best waterproof jacket in the test. It’s a solid piece of mountain kit that performed very well in terms of breathability and comfort and displayed good quality.

The Keela SDP Stratus came a close second and offers pretty much everything you need in a mountain waterproof at a very competitive price.

The Rab Flashpoint, Páramo Velez and Outdoor Research Foray all performed very well too. The Flashpoint is incredibly lightweight yet offers full waterproof protection. The Velez provides warmth and very good breathability and will appeal to those who love the Páramo system and perhaps to newcomers to the Analogy waterproofing. The Foray offers good comfort and plenty of ventilation for fast movers.

All the jackets tested kept us dry, and the ratings differentiate largely on factors such as comfort, breathability and features. For those who are not heading for the high mountains, there are a few well-priced jackets that are ideal for lower-level walks or urban use.

And outdoor brands continue to innovate, with interesting jackets from Columbia and Snugpak in particular.

  • All the samples used in the test were supplied to grough by the brands.

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