How to choose a waterproof jacket

The key to choosing the right waterproof jacket is to understand exactly what features are best for you. Whether you need a jacket for your morning commute or you’re heading out on a hike or even mountain climbing, there’s a jacket that’s ready to face any challenge. Without a waterproof jacket, you’re fully susceptible to the elements, non-waterproof clothing will quickly become saturated in a downpour – soaking your inner layers and leading to lost body heat. Not the best situation to be in when you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors!

At World Backpacker we offer a wide range of waterproof jackets in a range of weights, sizes and waterproof capabilities. We’ve made it easier than ever to find the right one for your needs, but first, you need to understand exactly what to look for when buying a waterproof jacket.

How does a waterproof jacket work?

Waterproof jackets are designed to keep you and your insulating fabrics dry so you can go further on your next adventure. In order to do this, you need to be protected from both external water (rain, sleet or snow) and the internal sweat vapour that builds up inside the jacket.

Here we’re going to look at the two main types of waterproof technology; membrane and coating.


Waterproof jackets incorporate a sophisticated membrane material with microscopic holes spread across the surface. It is either bonded to the face fabric or suspended between fabric layers. Although holes may not seem like the key to staying dry – they are so small that liquid cannot pass through, but vapour can escape freely. Jackets with membrane are ideal for high-impact activities as they are highly durable and breathable.


Jackets without a membrane instead use a ‘coating’ that is painted on the material and seals the jacket in a similar way to the membrane. The coating is a thin layer of polyurethane and is painted or sprayed on the inside face of the outer layer. Jackets with a waterproof coating offer good breathability, wind resistance and are ideal for casual use or low-intensity activities.

How to find the right waterproof jacket for your needs

Waterproof jacket ratings?

The waterproof rating lets you know exactly how waterproof a jacket is, and what conditions they are suitable for. The higher the rating, the longer the jacket will remain waterproof.

Resistance Weather Condition
Water Resistant / Snowproof Very Light Rain
Waterproof Light to Average Rain
Very Waterproof Moderate to Heavy Rain
Highly Waterproof Heavy Rain


Along with these ratings, there are four main design components that work together to create a great waterproof jacket.

Water resistance

Will your jacket keep your dry in the conditions you’re facing?


Every gram counts when you’re outdoors and a great jacket should offer all of the functionality without dragging you down.


The jacket fabric should be highly breathable to let your body breathe when on the move.


Your jacket should fit properly, offering optimum comfort and temperature control at all times.

Waterproof jackets are often designed with an activity in mind, balancing these four components to create a jacket that is specifically designed for your needs. If you’re taking part in intense activities such as cycling or running, breathability will take a higher priority as you need to ensure you’re comfortable and that all extra heat and moisture is able to escape.

If you’re heading into a tough terrain such as those faced when mountain climbing, your jacket must be fully waterproof, breathable and durable enough to protect you from the elements.

If your jacket is for everyday commutes or walking the dog, it needs to incorporate elements of each of these functions but doesn’t need to be overly specialised.

The Fit

We’ve already discussed the importance of comfort when choosing a waterproof jacket, but here we’re taking a closer look at how your jacket should fit. There is an element of personal preference with both men’s and women’s waterproof jackets, some people prefer them long enough to cover the waistband whereas some prefer them to be short and tailored. Whatever your style, you still need to make sure your jacket is ‘fit for purpose’.

When choosing a waterproof jacket, keep the following things in mind, while it’s easy to return items for a size exchange its better all round if you can get the fit right the first time!

  • Check that the material is not too tight across the shoulders and underarms to avoid restricting movement. Most manufacturers offer handy ‘fit’ descriptions such as ‘athletic’, ‘standard’ or ‘relaxed to help you find the right one for your body shape. If you prefer a tight fit, opt for a more athletic jacket, if you prefer yours to be less tailored, opt for standard or relaxed.
  • Consider how many layers you will need to fit underneath the jacket in different conditions
  • If you’re planning an activity like running, is the jacket tailored enough to avoid unnecessary drag and ‘flapping around’
  • Does the hood cover your face and head? Put up the hood and ensure it firmly fastens around your head and face without obstructing vision.
  • Does the jacket offer pull cords and velcro to effectively seal the jacket from the elements?
  • Check for additional features such as internal zip lock pockets to protect valuables and a stuff sack for easy storage.

Waterproof jackets at World Backpacker

In our range of waterproof jackets, we’ve sourced some of the best designs from leading outdoor brands including Berghaus, Patagonia, Marmot and Columbia. Each jacket has been tried and tested by our team and you can easily find the right waterproof jacket for you by reading our in-depth product specifications and reviews. Whatever your next adventure is, make sure you do it in comfort and style with a high-performance waterproof jacket from World Backpacker.

Looking for more advice from our expert team? Take a look at our guide to choosing the right down jacket for you.

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