Sometimes we just need a jacket to keep us dry, without making us too hot. And if we’re hiking, running or cycling, we want a lightweight jacket which won’t weigh us down. Check out our 10 lightest waterproof jackets for this season.

Living on an island like good old Blighty has its good points, and you’re only ever really a couple of hours drive from a beach. But with it comes pretty changeable weather. If you’ve ever left the house in gorgeous sunshine, totally unprepared for that heavy shower which seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, then you know what we mean! A good umbrella is a wet weather essential, but you can hardly carry an umbrella while running or cycling. That’s where a waterproof jacket comes in useful. But in warm weather, you’ll need something that’s super lightweight and breathable so you don’t get too hot, and one that can also be packed away into your bag when the weather brightens up. So we’re going to take a look at some of the things to look out for when buying a waterproof jacket, and give you our pick of the best lightweight waterproof jackets for spring/summer.


What are the different types of rain jackets?

Protection from the elements while you hike, run or ride is essential, and the key to comfort when doing sport in any weather is waterproof and breathable outerwear. A waterproof jacket is the first step to staying dry, so your day won’t be ruined by bad weather. But there are many different types of water resistant fabrics and materials, so how do you know what to go for? Well this really depends on what you’re going to be using the jacket for.

  • Daily use rain jackets: An everyday rain jacket can be a useful part of your wardrobe. The British weather can be unpredictable, so a light waterproof jacket can come in handy on your daily commute, for running errands or walking the dog. A casual fit will allow you to wear it all year round, over a t-shirt in the summer, or over a fleece or thick jumper in cooler weather. Useful features are handwarmer pockets, and Velcro wrist cinches. Daily use jackets don’t normally focus on weight or packability, instead they’re usually thicker and more durable. And they range from budget-friendly to stylish designer jackets.
  • Hiking rain jackets: A hiking waterproof jacket tends to be a little lighter and more compact than a daily use jacket. You don’t want anything too thick and bulky as hiking can be quite active, and you don’t want to get too hot. It also needs to be packable so you can store it away in your backpack when you’re not using it. A waterproof jacket for hiking needs to withstand heavy rain and wind, and it needs to be durable. These jackets won’t be as breathable as a high-performance waterproof jacket, but they do offer a good compromise between price and performance.
  • Performance rain jackets: These technical jackets are one step down from your full-on hardshell jacket. They’re made to withstand extreme conditions, and the fabrics are tougher, more breathable, and the hoods are more substantial. The interior fabrics are also much softer and have a more premium feel compared to basic jackets. As you’d expect, these high-performance jackets are more expensive, though you get a lot more bang for your buck.
  • Ultralight rain jackets: These thin and ultralight jackets have a whole lot of technology packed into 190g or less. They may look basic, and the thinner fabrics are more prone to tearing, but these sacrifices are well worth it if you’re a climber or backpacker and you want something that’s super lightweight, but will still protect you from the elements.
  • Running rain jackets: Trail runners in particular want something extremely light, and a good running jacket can be even lighter than those in the ultralight category (above). They’re extremely waterproof, with taped seams and 3-layer membranes, which makes them more breathable than 2-layer and 2.5-layer jackets. They’re less durable than performance rain jackets, and they can be quite pricey, but you certainly get what you pay for in terms of weight and performance.
  • Cycling rain jackets: To stay comfortable in the rain, a cyclist will need a jacket which is waterproof, lightweight and breathable. And with today’s technology, you can find a jacket which meets all three of these properties, while looking stylish too. A waterproof cycling jacket will be cut slightly longer at the back to keep you protected when in a forward position on the bike. It will usually have reflective panels so you’re seen when cycling on the road, and it can be packed away into your bag when not in use.

Unfortunately, no jacket will offer total protection from rain and moisture, but it’s important to know the difference between a ‘water-resistant’ jacket, and a ‘waterproof’ jacket. Many light rain jackets are water-resistant, meaning they shed water in light rain, but won’t keep you dry in anything more than a shower. Waterproof jackets have a built-in laminate layer or a coating that blocks outside moisture from getting in. They will also have waterproof taping along the seams on the interior of the jacket to help keep you dry.

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How many layers does a waterproof jacket have?

To create a waterproof rain jacket that resists moisture, yet also allows your skin to breathe, requires a combination of fabric layers. There are three types of layering construction in the majority of waterproof jackets: 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer construction. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

Breathability

  • 2 layers = average
  • 2.5 layers = good
  • 3 layers = good

Durability

  • 2 layers = good
  • 2.5 layers = good
  • 3 layers = best

Waterproof

  • 2 layers = good
  • 2.5 layers = good
  • 3 layers = best

Weight

  • 2 layers = midweight
  • 2.5 layers = ultralight
  • 3 layers = lightweight

Price

  • 2 layers = £
  • 2.5 layers = ££
  • 3 layers = £££

The three layers consist of an outer layer, a waterproof and breathable membrane, and the inner layer. The outer layer’s function is to ensure durability and the initial protection from the elements. And to look good, of course! This layer is usually treated to make it waterproof. Although the coating does wear off over time, so it's important to know how to clean and re-waterproof your rain jacket.

The membrane layer is there to ensure waterproofness and breathability. It’s made up of a very thin sheet with tiny pores, through which perspiration can escape. This layer, bonded with the outer fabric produces a 2-layer jacket.

The inner layer has two main functions: to protect the outer 2 layers, and to increase breathability. A PU film or lining covers the membrane layer, which acts as a shield. This stops sweat and oils from clogging the pores in the waterproof-breathable membrane.

How many layers required will depend on your activity:

  • 2-layer jackets: Perfect for easy day trips and urban environments with a light bag, and low exposure to prolonged weather conditions.
  • 2.5-layer jackets: Suited to moderate activity like hiking or climbing. They offer good performance in moderate wet weather exposure.
  • 3-layer jackets: A high-performance jacket, ideal for demanding activities like hiking with a heavy backpack, or mountaineering. It provides the highest possible protection against the elements, and it’s the one to go for if you need a jacket that’s reliable and durable.
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What other technology goes into a waterproof jacket?

A lot of technology and testing goes into the design of these jackets, and how waterproof a jacket is will depend on its waterproof rating. The higher the rating, the longer the fabric will remain waterproof for. Measured in millimeters (mmH20), it refers to the pressure at which water is able to press through the fabric.

  • 5,000mm: This is the minimum rating for a jacket to be called rainproof, although it will only withstand a light shower.
  • 10,000mm – 15,000mm: A jacket with this rating will protect you from most downpours, as well as heavy snow. But it will soak through over time if subjected to pressure. eg. sitting down, or wearing a heavy backpack.
  • 20,000mm & above: This is what you need if you plan to be out in all conditions, and carrying a heavy backpack.

But if you need to wear a waterproof jacket in milder weather, you’ll need a jacket that’s breathable too. A jacket made from a breathable material will also allow sweat to escape from the inside of the fabric to the outside. When the breathability of a fabric is measured in g/m², it tells us how many grams of moisture vapor can pass through a square metre of the fabric in 24 hours. So the higher the rating, the more breathable the fabric.

  • 5,000g/m²: This level of breathability is fine for camping in the rain, but you might get a bit hot if you do much more than this.
  • 10,000 – 15,000g/m²: These jackets are suitable for a moderate amount of activity, but you may get uncomfortably hot during high-intensity hiking, running or cycling.
  • 20,000g/m² & above: A day trekking in warm climates, or intense activity where you’re perspiring heavily will require a jacket with this level of breathability.

Buying a waterproof jacket can be a confusing task, so understanding the terminology and how waterproof and breathability ratings work will help you make your decision. It’s common for a fabric to be both waterproof and breathable, though some may be more waterproof, and some fabrics may be more breathable. You can choose a jacket with the right balance of waterproofing/breathability to suit your level of activity.

Our pick of the top 10 lightest waterproof jackets

The best waterproof jacket for you will depend on your sport. At Decathlon, we have lightweight waterproof jackets for hikers, runners and cyclists. We’ve put together our list of the best waterproof jackets for men and women to keep you dry and protected this spring.

Lightest waterproof jackets for hiking:

Men’s FH500 Helium Waterproof Hiking Jacket

This waterproof jacket is ideal for hiking, offering great protection from the rain and wind. It’s light and breathable, with side zips under the arms for good air circulation. And it can be folded up and stored in its chest pocket, so it’ll take up minimal space in your rucksack. It has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm and weighs just 230g.

We love it because:

  1. Underarm zips for ventilation
  2. Light & compact
  3. Adjustable hood

Women’s FH500 Helium Waterproof Hiking Jacket

This jacket enables you to travel light, with the confidence that you’ll know you’ll be protected if it rains. It has side zips under the arms so you don’t get too hot, and you can adjust the height and depth of the hood with the elastic drawcord and toggles to keep the rain out. It weighs just 200g and has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm.

We love it because:

  1. Good air flow
  2. Feminine cut
  3. Excellent waterproofing

Men’s FH900 Waterproof Hiking Jacket

Weighing just 180g, this waterproof jacket is super lightweight, while offering good protection from wind and light rain. It has perforated underarms for ventilation, and a secure chest pocket with zip for your valuables. It’s also very compact and can be stuffed into your backpack on your hikes.

We love it because:

  1. Stylish fitted cut
  2. Secure chest pocket
  3. Lightweight at just 180g

Women’s FH900 Waterproof Hiking Jacket

The lightest rain jacket in our women’s hiking range (178g), it comes in a slim fit, but with plenty of room to wear a fleece underneath on cooler days. It has a stiff visor for maximum face protection in windy and rainy conditions, and it can be packed away for easy storage when hiking.

We love it because:

  1. Lightest jacket in the range
  2. Stiff visor to protect the face
  3. Breathable with perforated underarms


Lightest waterproof jackets for running:

Men’s Kiprun Light Showerproof Running Jacket

Available in 3 different colours, this lightweight and compact men’s showerproof jacket will protect you while running in wet weather. It’s made from a breathable material, and it has 2-way zips under the arms so you can adjust your temperature as you run.

We love it because:

  1. 3 colour options
  2. Light & breathable material
  3. 2-way zips for ventilation

Women’s Kiprun Light Showerproof Running Jacket

This lightweight and compact women’s showerproof jacket is ideal for protecting you from bad weather while you run. The essential accessory, whatever the season, it weighs just 150g, and the ventilation holes will let you regulate your temperature so you don’t overheat.

We love it because:

  1. Soft & lightweight material
  2. Ventilation holes to keep you cool
  3. Folds into its own pocket


Lightest waterproof jackets for cycling:

Urban Cycling Jacket

This hi-vis lightweight (300g) jacket is perfect for city cycling. It’s ideal for throwing in your bag to protect you from that unexpected rain shower. The coated fabric will also protect you from the wind, and the side zips will keep you well ventilated while riding.

We love it because:

  1. Windproof & waterproof
  2. Side zips for ventilation
  3. Folds into its own pocket

Men’s RCR Ultralight Packable Showerproof Jacket

This compact rain jacket will be the perfect companion when cycling in wet weather. It’s super lightweight (140g) and conveniently tucks into its inside pocket so you can throw it into your bag when you hit the road, and bring it out when you need it to protect you from scattered showers. It also has ventilation openings at the back and on the underarms to keep you cool.

We love it because:

  1. Lightweight & compact
  2. Smart fitted cut
  3. Ventilation openings to keep you cool

Hi Vis Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Meeting EN1150 standards for rider visibility, this Hi-Vis waterproof cycling jacket makes the ideal outer shell when riding or commuting in low light conditions and at night. Perfect for road cycling, this lightweight jacket weighs just 227g and the perforations at the front above the chest limit condensation.

We love it because:

  1. Keeps you safe at night
  2. Large rear pocket
  3. Made from recycled polyester

Waterproof Mountain Bike Jacket

The ideal mountain biking jacket (381g), it has been designed to protect you and keep you dry on your rides thanks to its waterproof 10,000mm 3-ply membrane. The cut has been tailored to give you maximum freedom to move when navigating technical trails, and the tough outer fabric withstands abrasion and tearing.

We love it because:

  1. Triple-layer waterproof membrane
  2. Hood adjusts to fit your helmet
  3. Lightweight & packable


When choosing a lightweight waterproof jacket, you need to take into account the conditions, the level of activity and of course your personal preference. If you’re doing an intense activity like hiking, running or cycling in mild weather, then you’ll need something that’s super lightweight and breathable. But if you’re looking for something a little warmer, check out our guide to the Warmest Waterproof Coats for Winter.