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Waterproof jacket buying guide

Waterproof jacket buying guide

How to choose a waterproof jacket

A reliable waterproof jacket is an essential piece of outdoor kit, so how do you choose the right one?

We offer a variety of waterproof jackets, from lightweight to insulated. This guide will explain some of the technology and how to buy the best waterproof jacket for you.


How do waterproof jackets work?

There is a lot of science behind waterproof jackets to create different levels of water resistance, breathability, and durability. Modern waterproof fabrics use a thin membrane and often apply a durable water-repellent treatment (DWR).

Another method of construction is waterproof laminates, which come in 2, 2.5 and 3-layer constructions. Laminates are fine membranes made separately as a sheet of material, which is then glued or bonded (laminated) to the face fabric.

Both types of waterproof technology have uses for different activities and types of forecasts.

Male Runner zipping up an orange lightweight waterproofMale Runner zipping up an orange lightweight waterproof

Lightweight

Lightweight and packable waterproof jackets are needed for summer weather with changeable forecasts. You will need a jacket that can easily be stashed away on fast and light adventures. Jackets like the Namche GORE-TEX PACLITE® or the Phantom provide waterproof performance but won’t weigh you down.

Our lightweight waterproof jackets feature:

  • 2-layer construction to reduce weight
  • Technologies like GORE-TEX PACLITE® or Pertex® Shield
  • Taped seams and waterproof zips
Two hikers in waterproofs in Norwegian mountainsTwo hikers in waterproofs in Norwegian mountains
Midweight

For days when you need more protection from the rain, a more substantial but waterproof jacket will keep you going, whatever the forecast. An all-day shell needs to be comfortable and breathable with an active fit like the Kinetic Alpine or the Kangri GORE-TEX Jacket.

Our midweight waterproof jackets feature:

  • Breathable membranes to stop moisture from being trapped inside
  • Helmet-compatible hoods
  • Vent features such as pit zips

 

Mountaineer gearing up for a winter climb in an orange waterproof jacketMountaineer gearing up for a winter climb in an orange waterproof jacket
Heavyweight

If you’re taking on a storm in extreme mountains, you need a jacket that is equally tough. We offer hard shells that won’t let you down, like the Latok Mountain GORE-TEX® Pro Jacket with 3-layer shell or Zanskar GORE-TEX® Jacket, perfect for hiking in winter.

Our heavyweight waterproof jackets feature:

  • Tough 3-layer construction
  • Two-way adjustable hoods
  • Sleeve articulation for easier movement
  • Taped seams and water-resistant zips
Skier wearing waterproof insulated jacket in the mountainsSkier wearing waterproof insulated jacket in the mountains
Insulated Waterproofs

For cold, damp conditions, you may need your waterproof also to provide some warmth. All our down jackets, up to 900 fill power, are finished with a hydrophobic treatment. We also offer some completely waterproof pieces, such as the Valiance. You can find out more in our Down Jacket Buying Guide.

Our waterproof down jackets feature:

  • Waterproof YKK® zips

  • Pertex® Shield fabrics with bonded box wall baffle construction

  • Rab® Fluorocarbon free Hydrophobic Down developed in conjunction with Nikwax®


Hikers in waterproof jackets hiking through mountainsHikers in waterproof jackets hiking through mountains

Which waterproof jacket is best?

Our waterproof collection is specifically designed for mountain pursuits, from mountaineering to cycling. They’re packed with activity-specific features to keep you comfortable and protected, whatever the day throws at you. That’s why our climbing and biking waterproofs have helmet-compatible hoods, while our running shell jackets have pit zips, allowing you to dump heat on tough uphill stretches.

Female hiker in a red waterproof in snow covered Norwegian mountains.Female hiker in a red waterproof in snow covered Norwegian mountains.

Hiking

You need a versatile and protective waterproof jacket. A jacket that can pack down easily into your rucksack but also provides you with a high level of mobility and functionality.  

What makes a great waterproof jacket for hiking?

  • Two-way adjustable hoods with stiff peaks will keep the weather off your face and move easily with your head to maintain visibility.
  • If you like to move quickly, pit zips allow you to keep the air flowing.
  • A selection of pockets will keep essentials close at hand.
Trail runners in black and red jackes running in the mountainsTrail runners in black and red jackes running in the mountains

Trail Running

You need an ultralight and highly breathable waterproof jacket that packs down small making it easy to stash when not needed without compromising protection when the weather turns.

What should I look for in a trail running waterproof?

  • A close-fitting, capped hood with an elasticated fit will be lightweight, secure on the move, and protective in rain and high winds.
  • A slim fit without an ounce of extra fabric is key for mountain runners looking to go far and fast.
  • Reduce weight and volume with minimal pockets and adjustable features.
Gravel bikers cycling through a stream wearing waterproof jackets.Gravel bikers cycling through a stream wearing waterproof jackets.

Cycling

Whether it's mountain biking or gravel riding, cyclists know that a good waterproof is the difference between a great ride and an uncomfortable one on days with a changeable forecast. Our cycling waterproof jackets have a bike-specific fit to keep you on the trail longer.

What features do you need for a cycling waterproof?

  • Bike-specific fit with a longer back hem to cover your hips while riding.
  • Lightweight to minimise bulk and increase packability.
  • Helmet-compatible hood.
  • Easy to access pockets for gadgets and snacks.
Male mountaineer ice climbing in Scotland wearing an orange hardshell jacketMale mountaineer ice climbing in Scotland wearing an orange hardshell jacket

Mountaineering

You need a jacket that can protect you in some of the worst mountain conditions on the most rugged terrain. A hardshell for mountaineering needs to be reliable and durable, with space for a layering system underneath. 

How to choose a waterproof jacket for mountaineering?

  • Reinforcements in high-wear areas for scraping up against rock and ice.
  • Helmet-compatible TriPoint hoods for maximum protection and great visibility.
  • Two-way front zips that work seamlessly with a harness.
  • Extra-long underarm vents to control airflow.




Can I wash my waterproof jacket?

Regularly washing and caring for your waterproof gear is essential for maintaining its performance.  Our Service Centre team have created this ten-step guide to show you how to wash your waterproof jacket at home on our YouTube Channel.

You should use a specialist wash and proofer, such as Nikwax, following the instructions to get the best results and avoid damage to your garment. Alternatively, you can return your Rab item to us to wash it professionally. Find out more about our wash services and products at the Service Centre



What is DWR?

Regularly washing and caring for your waterproof gear is essential for maintaining its performance.  Our Service Centre team have created this ten-step guide to show you how to wash your waterproof jacket at home on our YouTube Channel.

You should use a specialist wash and proofer, such as Nikwax, following the instructions to get the best results and avoid damage to your garment. Alternatively, you can return your Rab item to us to wash it professionally. Find out more about our wash services and products at the Service Centre



Can I repair my waterproof jacket?

In the field, you can temporarily mend rips, tears, and holes in your waterproof jacket. This patch fix will keep you on the move until you can send your jacket to the experts at our repair service. 

Our Rab Repairs service is here to help you extend the life of your kit. We offer an expert repair service for all Rab gear. From near-invisible repairs and colourful patch-ups to new zips, straps, or toggles, there’s virtually no rip, tear, or damage our team can’t handle. Visit the Service Centre to find out more.



Responsibility

Can I buy a recycled waterproof jacket?

We have a range of waterproof jackets and pants built with recycled materials. Often, the garment is not made entirely from recycled materials but features a 100% recycled face fabric or lining. You can learn more about each jacket’s recycled content in its Material Facts table in the product description.

What does fluorocarbon-free DWR mean?

Durable water repellent (DWR) coatings are applied to fabrics, encouraging water to bead and roll off. This keeps the fabric free from standing water, preventing it from wetting out. We're experiencing a lot of change in the outdoor industry as we shift to using fluorocarbon-free DWR (Durable Water Repellent). We’re trying our best to find high-performance, fluorocarbon-free solutions with a lower environmental impact.  These DWRs are made of a different chemical compound. Although they don’t have the same oil repellency as their fluorocarbon-based counterparts, they deliver the water-resistant or waterproof performance you need.


Know your MVTR, from your hydrostatic head? Your boxwall baffle, from your stitch-through?

Know your MVTR, from your hydrostatic head? Your boxwall baffle, from your stitch-through?