Lightweight waterproof jackets

Escape the autumn showers

Autumn is an unpredictable time of the year when it comes to the weather. One minute you're enjoying bright sunshine, and the next the heavens have opened. This is where lightweight waterproofs come into their element. They pack down into tiny bundles, yet offer you all the protection you need for three-season hillwalking. Weight is lost by cutting out unnecessary features and sticking to the basics - a waterproof shell and a good hood. Lightweight jackets are, on the whole, cut shorter than their winter counterparts, which also make them ideal for mountain biking, cycling, trail running or just walking the dog on a blustery autumn evening. We’ve put four models to the test in a range of conditions and across various activities, primarily hillwalking and mountain biking. As you would expect from modern gear, all performed superbly on the waterproof and windproof fronts while breathability varied across the range.

Berghaus Paclite Jacket

Berghaus's ever popular Paclite jacket remains possibly the best lightweight waterproof jacket on the market today. The latest version introduced to the Spring and Summer 2003 Extrem Light range offers high performance in extreme conditions coupled with a comfortable cut and smart look. The jacket is made from Gore-Tex Paclite Helium fabric which is extremely waterproof and highly breathable. The rollaway hood with stiffened peak is neatly stored under a Velcro-fastened pocket in the neck. Features include a full length double stormflap zip with Velcro fastening and two generously sized angled front pockets with leak-proof zips. There is no adjustability in the neck but it is a good comfortable fit while the lower hem has an elasticated drawcord. The cuffs have Velcro fastened adjustment. The jacket comes complete with its own mesh stuff sack. The Paclite is a superb jacket and one that is impossible to fault. It is expensive but well worth every penny. Highly recommended.

Sizes S-XXL
Weight 340g
Colours blue, yellow, black, red
Price £140

Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket

The Epic jacket is an ultra lightweight waterproof and breathable jacket and offers superb performance coupled with value. It is made from Conduit Silk, a 100% nylon fabric with Polyurethane coating and is light and very compressible, packing down into a very small package for stowing. Features include a full length front zip with storm flap, adjustable waist hem, Velcro cuffs, a hood with drawcord and stiffened peak. There are two vented mesh zipped front pockets and a small zip-closed chest pocket which is glued on rather than stitched. This is big enough to hold a mobile phone or GPS unit. The Epic also has long zipped vents under each armpit and stretch panels at the shoulders, arms and elbows. A female Epic jacket is also available in sizes 8 to 16 and there are male and female Epic pants. Another excellent jacket and if you're not inclined to stretch to the £140 price tag of a Berghaus Paclite, this is the one for you. It's also a fraction lighter and performs every bit as well.

Sizes S-XL
Weight 317g
Colours burnt orange, sage, shark, titanium, ultramarine
Price £90

Nike ACG Storm-Fit Jacket

This jacket is made from Nike's waterproof and breathable Storm-Fit fabric. It has a full mesh lining and double stormflap with Velcro fastening. The fully adjustable rollaway hood has a stiffened peak. There are two very generous zip-fastened pockets, one incorporating a small Velcro-closed pocket suitable for keys. There is also an inner map pocket. The cuffs are partially elasticated but also feature Velcro straps. The waist hem is also fully adjustable. This is the heaviest of the jackets on test here but it does feel substantial while not impeding movement and did perform very well and was comfortable. It has a slightly longer cut than the others and a better range of features, including the plentiful pockets. This jacket is lightweight but not ultra-lightweight and we certainly felt confident enough to extend its use from three season to four season walking, given the protection offered and the range of features.

Sizes S-XL
Colours orange/grey, yellow/grey
Price £99

Snugpak Tropical Storm

The Tropical Storm is a waterproof and breathable jacket made from Pertex coated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR). The Endurance technology employed gives a windproof, highly breathable finish which remains fully waterproof, keeping moisture out over prolonged periods. Features include a full length front zip with Velcro-fastened double stormflap, full mesh lining, elasticated cuffs with thumb holes, and an adjustable waist and neck. There are two zipped pockets on the front but no inner map pocket. However, there is a very generous 'bum' pocket which is zip fastened. Snugpak describe this as a 'pillow pocket' as you can pack the whole jacket into it and use it as a travel or camping pillow, a handy feature. There is also a longer cut at the back, making this jacket ideal for mountain biking as well as hillwalking and mountaineering. This is a comfortable, well styled and designed jacket with a good range of features, although these do add slightly to the weight. Overall we liked it, a lot and recommend the Tropical Storm to you, particularly on the grounds of performance and price.

Sizes S-XL
Weight 570g
Colours black/red, black/yellow
Price £64.99