Outdoor Jacket Buying Guide

Confused about the options? Wondering which to choose? When it comes to buying outdoor jackets, the choice available can be quite overwhelming. But don’t worry, help is at hand. Whether you’re looking for the best waterproof jacket to see you safely through a winter hike in the Alps or the best lightweight jacket to protect you from the occasional summer shower on the South Downs, we’re delving behind those listings to explain exactly what you should be looking for whatever you’re up to on your next adventure.

What to consider when buying outdoor jackets

All outdoor jackets that you view will vary greatly, that’s why it’s useful to have a way of comparing them. This can be done by looking at a few key features:

Waterproofing – Waterproofing is measured from 0-20,000mm+, where the highest rating indicates that a fabric is rainproof or waterproof even in high humidity. But a high-performing outdoor jacket isn’t just about preventing the weather getting in. There are other things to think about too…

Breathability – This is the ability of the jacket to allow perspiration to escape. If you plan on doing anything particularly active you will want to ensure your jacket is breathable. If you don’t, you may feel uncomfortable and damp, and in extreme cases this can lead to a risk of hypothermia.

Warmth – Some outdoor jackets will include extra insulating layers for warmth, useful if you’ll be hiking or climbing in a chilly environment. It’s worth remembering though that some of the best waterproof jackets aren’t necessarily designed to be warm, their main function is as an additional waterproof barrier or top layer.

Weight – You should always think about how heavy a jacket is as well as how small it packs down. After all, if you’re looking for the best rain jacket for hiking you’ll need to carry it with you at all times, and pack it away in your day sack when you don’t need it.

Let’s look at some of the most popular types of outdoor jacket:

The Best Waterproof Jackets

Classic waterproof hard-shells are some of the best waterproof jackets available at an affordable price:

Most shell jackets are made from a series of layers. The most important of these is a porous waterproof membrane that is also breathable, carrying perspiration away from your body while preventing rain from getting in. This membrane is what makes the jacket waterproof, and it is applied to the inside of a stiffer outer fabric. A further protective layer is usually added to the inside of the jacket to help with breathability and to protect the waterproof membrane from sweat.

The best rain jackets for hiking offer great wet weather protection thanks to plenty of handy features:

  • Taped Seams – to prevent water entering through the stitching.
  • Adjustable waists and wrists – to reduce wind and water entry.
  • A hood that fits well over your head and ears - Hoods can be adjustable or detachable or can sometimes fold away neatly into a collar.
  • Reflective panels for safety
  • Stow pockets – the best packable rain jackets fold into their own pocket making them a small as possible to pack away in your bag.

Look for these cutting-edge Craghoppers fabric technologies:

Aqua Dry offers guaranteed waterproofing and breathable fabric, designed for moderate to heavy downpours.

AquaDry Membrane is durable and water repellent, constructed to provide exceptional waterproofing and breathability in the heaviest of downpours.

GORE-TEX® Outdoor Jackets

Much of the best rain gear is made from GORE-TEX®, a high-performing fabric technology producing jackets that are waterproof, breathable and ideal for all-weather wear.

GORE-TEX® is made from multiple layers, usually an outer shell plus two separate GORE-TEX® layers that work together to repel water from the outside while at the same time wicking away and dispelling moisture from the inside. These two layers may also provide some insulation to keep you warm. And the best GORE-TEX® jackets are designed to be extremely light making them some of the best lightweight waterproof jackets, offering outstanding performance in the worst conditions.

Look for this logo:


Softshell Outdoor Jackets

Softshells are made using a softer fabric, often treated with a water repellent. The best hiking jacket for a drier climate, a softshell will offer more protection from light rain than a fleece would but will not usually withstand a heavy shower.

Softshells can be more comfortable and easier to move around in than traditional waterproof jackets, particularly if you are active. A softshell doesn’t tend to provide much in the way of insulation but can work brilliantly as a mid-layer or on its own if you are generating your own body heat through an activity like running, or hiking in a warmer environment.

Look for these cutting-edge Craghoppers fabric technologies:

SmartDry Technology is a water repellent that bonds to the fabric so that rain simply runs off and clothes stay drier, warmer and more comfortable.

Our Insulating technology makes sure vital body heat is retained for additional warmth, but it’s also lightweight making it perfect for a range of activities in any season.

Insulated Outdoor Jackets

An insulated jacket provides a layer of warmth or padding and some level of water-resistance. It can be worn as a more substantial mid-layer underneath your waterproof jacket if necessary.

Made from a luxuriously soft down and synthetic fill blend that is extremely lightweight, our insulated jackets are some of the best winter jackets for use in high altitudes, colder climates or on days where little exertion is required. And many can roll up small enough to fit snuggly in the bottom of your rucksack making them some of the best packaway jackets for hiking in the mountains when you pair them with a waterproof layer too.

Look for these cutting-edge Craghoppers fabric technologies:

ClimaPlus is an advanced, ultra-lightweight insulating layer that has all the suppleness and warmth of down, but in a 100% synthetic form that is both quick drying and compact.

Our WindProof fabrics are designed to completely block out even the harshest wind while trapping in body heat and remaining breathable.

Which outdoor jacket should you choose?

Ultimately, the outdoor jacket you choose should depend on the type of activity you’re planning and the climate of the place in which you’ll be doing it.

Consider the levels of waterproofing, breathability and warmth you’ll need, whether you’re hiking at altitude or trekking in a warmer climate. And always think about choosing the best packaway jacket you can so that when you want to shed a layer you won’t have to carry it around your waist.

And remember, it pays to invest in the best waterproof jacket you can afford. It’ll pay for itself again and again in terms of the length of time it’ll last and the amount of enjoyment you’ll get from all your adventures together. Shop our full collection of men’s outdoor jackets and women’s outdoor jackets online.