Seven of the Best Waterproof Jackets Under $200
Amongst the many potential banes of a hiker’s life (or at least their days on the trail), is the regret of setting off into the backcountry with leaky or underperforming waterproofs when we need them the most. They can, after all, spoil your day. Finding a balance between style and performance is key for the outdoor enthusiast. Buying cheap, and unaware, you run the risk of a little leakage or drip or two somewhere along the line, eliminating its purpose of existence.
At the other end of the price scale, options are endless but not always quality-guaranteed. Fortunately, for those of us who are not in the position to drop $300+ on a waterproof jacket, there are plenty of moderately priced options avail that offer superior performance without skimping on quality. Here, we bring you seven of the best waterproof jackets in the market, all of which you can get your hands for under $200.
1. North Face Venture 2 ($99)
While not particularly heavy-duty, the North Face Venture 2 is an amazingly simple, 3-season jacket that is ideal for less extreme users who don’t envision finding themselves caught in a storm half-way up Mount Rainier or enduring days of torrential rain on the PCT. The North Face Venture has won awards for its Eco-conscious construction (it’s made from 100% recycled, 40D ripstop nylon) and is favored by thousands of outdoor adventurers across the globe, from your average weekend-warrior to low-level mountaineer.
The North Face Venture 2 offers great value for money and is ideally suited for hikers looking for a reasonably priced waterproof jacket with no frills and without a great deal of shortcomings either. If you’re likely to be trekking in the Nepalese monsoon or dealing with slues of spindrift bombarding you on an alpine route, you’d maybe be better spending a few more bucks to get a jacket with a slightly tougher build, better closures and a peaked hood, but if you only need protection from a few hours’ worth of rain out on the trail, the Venture won’t let you down.
- Very affordable!
- Good value for money
- Great ventilation – pit zips are particularly effective and mesh hip pockets offer further air-flow when needed
- Light (14.11oz)
- Brushed chin guard lining prevents chafing when zipped up to the top
- The hood lacks a stiff brim or peak and can be prone to flopping over your forehead and eyes
- Toggles on hood and hem a little bit fiddly
2. Marmot Minimalist ($99-$199 depending on color)
Minimalist by name, minimalist by nature, this tiny, 15-ounce beauty from Marmot may be small but in this case, less is more. The Gore-Tex Paclite technology guarantees a dry day out, even if you’re caught in the type of downpour that has your less optimistic neighbors building arks. The polyester shell on the minimalist is tough enough to deal with some serious abuse and features-wise the adjustable hood, hem and cuffs, zippered underarm vents and DriClime chin guard make this a highly versatile, comfortable and efficient jacket that offers great value for money.
- Great value for money
- Versatility: Suitable for hiking, long-distance treks, alpine-climbs, cycling, everyday carry use, down to simply walking the dog in the park
- Lightweight (15oz)
- Not as durable as some competitors – after months of repeated use, certain parts of the jacket are prone to delamination and, some, have been known to eventually lose their waterproofing capability.
3. Rab Hardshell Downpour Jacket ($105)
Given the Downpour’s fairly modest price, you’d expect its performance to be similarly unexceptional. Not so…! This incredibly light, tough and functional jacket is a high-performer that will keep you dry under any circumstances and includes a number of features occasionally missing from other jackets in its price range. The most appealing of these features are the peaked hood and extended rear area, which keep the rain off of your face and posterior respectively. A great choice for any occasion and tough enough to deal with the worst conditions even the high mountains can throw at you.
- Very rugged and durable
- Good wind protection in addition to waterproof capacities
- Adjustable hood with stiff-rim and peak
- Internal and external storm flaps on zips and pockets
- Sits low over hips and doesn’t scoot up your back when wearing a backpack
- Incredibly light (11.4 oz) and stuffs away to the size of a beer can
- Great overall value for money
- When we find one, we’ll let you know!
4. Cotopaxi Tikal Active Shell ($149.95)
Cotopaxi is relatively still a newcomer to the outdoor arena and have catapulted themselves straight into the favor of many die-hard outdoor enthusiasts. Not only due to their ethical brand ethos and “Gear for Good” charity program, but also because of the exceptional quality of the products they’re putting out there. The Tikal lightweight hardshell rain jacket is no exception. Although a fraction pricier than some competitors (such as the NF Venture and Rab Downpour jackets above), the Tikal weighs in at a very friendly 10oz and includes all the features you’d expect from a jacket at this price – great breathability, laminated visor, three-way adjustable hood and a fully taped, 2.5-layer water-resistant shell fabric with four-way stretch. Although this isn’t quite as high-performing as some other items in our review, what this jacket lacks in terms of performance (which isn’t a great deal) it makes up for with its eco-ethics. A good choice for those not planning on anything too extreme or those looking to make a more conscientious purchase.
- Ethical choice: Cotopaxi’s philanthropy, eco-friendliness and worker empowerment are humblingly impressive and a great reason why you should feel good about buying their products. Read more here.
- Very light (10oz)
- Under-arm perforations work just as well as pit zips
- Laminated visor and adjustable cuffs
- Good breathability
- Flexible enough to accommodate puffy layers underneath
- Good enough for a few hours in a moderate shower but not as well-equipped to deal with long-term heavy downpour as some of the others
5. Marmot Precip ($70)
In terms of overall value, the Marmot Precip is hard to beat. Given that you’d get a fair amount of change out of a $100 bill when buying this tidy, highly functional little jacket, the question shouldn’t so much be ‘why should I buy this jacket?’ as ‘why haven’t I bought it already?’!
Weighing in at just 11oz and boasting a ton of tidy, user-friendly features, the third question on our minds is ‘why aren’t they charging us more for such an excellent piece of kit?’ Until they do, the Precip is sure to remain one of our strong favorites. Boasting great breathability and ventilation, a roll-away hood, pit zips, water-tight cuffs and hood closures, this little beauty packs everything you’d expect from a more expensive jacket at a very, very friendly price…winner!
- Price, very inexpensive and reasonably priced!
- Lightweight (11oz)
- Very breathable for a non-membrane jacket
- Where’s the chest pocket?
6. Outdoor Research Helium II ($159)
While a bit pricier than the other jackets we’ve covered thus far, the OR Helium II provides a notch up in terms of performance. This tiny, incredibly light jacket packs away inside its own internal pocket to the size of a baseball and weighs a mere 6.4oz, meaning you could leave it in the bottom of your pack and pretty much forget it’s there until the rain comes. When that happens, the Helium II won’t let you down either, with its Pertex Shield+ fabric offering superb waterproofing abilities and superior breathability to other competitors in its price range. Features-wise, the Helium II offers a fully adjustable hood, elasticated cuffs and a very handy carabiner loop in the storage pocket so you can clip it to your harness for easy access when on the move.
- Incredibly light (6.4oz)!
- Packs away very small
- Greater breathability than competitors
- Adjustable hood and hem
- Very handy carabiner loop
- No velcro cuffs on wrists (they’re elasticated – good enough but not to everyone’s liking)
- No hand pockets!
7. Patagonia Alpine Houdini ($99-$199 depending on color)
Just like its namesake, the famous magician, the Patagonia Alpine Houdini is a jacket sure to be famed for its ability to disappear from one moment to the next. Weighing in at a tiny 7.1oz and packing away to a fist-sized little bundle, the Houdini certainly isn’t a jacket you’re going to have to worry about squeezing into your backpack or making allowances for weight-wise, and could easily be popped in a trouser pocket. The handy carabiner loop means it can be clipped to your harness on an alpine ascent and the breathable H2No shell, taped seams, helmet-compatible hood, watertight zippers and durable water repellent finish mean you’ll stay totally dry while you do so.
- Very light (7.1oz)
- Ripstop nylon shell
- Great breathability
- Packs into chest pocket
- A little pricey for some
- Not an athletic fit – always looks a little bit baggy