In this text, you have 20 best waterproof shell jackets for men, from many different top brands, plenty of various options to choose, so keep reading.
The term ‘shell’ is used to describe the fact that you do not have insulation here. So these are jackets built to protect you from the rain. But they can be combined with some fleece jackets, and in such a combination, you can have a piece of garment suitable for a very cold weather as well. This is how I myself use my rain shell jackets all the time.
The term ‘waterproof’ should be obvious. But you should know that not all materials are equally waterproof. There are differences and those are described in millimeters of water that the material can withstand before the water passes through. You can read more about this in my separate text.
The jackets presented here are for men. If you are looking something for women, please see my another text.
How to choose
With so many models available on the market, and in this text, it may be hard to choose. I still remember when we started buying these jackets after moving to Belgium. This is a country with a lot of rain, so having such jackets is pretty much essential.
This was many years ago, and trust me, we had no idea what we were doing. Now, 17 years later, and after having this site built and so many jackets described in it, I feel I am rather familiar with this subject. Right now, I have five rain jackets of my own, and my wife and daughters have several of them, so we have them more than 13 altogether.
The purpose of this text is to point out the essential features of these top-rated jackets side by side, so that you can make an educated and right choice.
When you see all provided for you here, I am sure you will know what to choose and where.
So here is my list of the waterproof jackets ordered alphabetically:
1. Arc’teryx Alpha SL Jacket For Men
The letters SL in the name of this jacket mean ‘super light’, so indeed it is only 305 grams. This is a Gore-Tex jacket with the PackLite membrane and the nylon ripstop fabric. There is only one pocket here, and you can see it in the picture, so bear this in mind if you love pockets.
This is a very breathable and lightweight jacket which will keep you dry. The hood has 3 adjustment options.
As you surely know, the Arcteryx is an expensive brand, but this particular model is quite moderate with respect to the price. Please see more in my detailed review.
2. Arc’teryx Men’s Alpha SV Jacket
If you are not familiar with the terminology of this brand, the letters SV mean ‘severe’. In other words, this is a jacket built for severe weather conditions. So this is a hardwearing GORE-TEX Pro hardshell for extended use in severe alpine conditions, designed for climbing and similar alpine activities.
The word Alpha means lightweight, minimalist climbing and alpinist products that protect from alpine environments.
So this is a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable jacket that offers full protection from elements. You have a strong and light, exceptionally durable N100p-X 3L GORE-TEX Pro fabric that significantly increases abrasion resistance.
On the front you have WaterTight zippers with RS sliders. The StormHood is fully featured and helmet compatible. You also have pit zips here, and an articulated construction.
This jacket is built in XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL sizes. The average weight is 490 g (1 lb 1.3 oz), the fit is regular, and the center back length is 78 cm (30.75 in).
Please see a bit more in this short video:
3. Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket For Men
Perhaps it is best first to describe the terminology which you see in the title. So the words Beta and AR imply a moderate design, for all-around use, with a moderate articulation and length, normal hand pockets, yet helmet-compatible hood. This is what makes it different from the Alpha models from the same brand.
What you have here is a 3-layer Gore-Tex with 40D outer fabric in the most of the jacket, but with 80D in the areas which are more exposed to abrasions, like shoulders and elbows.
The jacket comes equipped with pit zips, and the seams are welded. All the zippers are made watertight. The hood is fully adjustable and helmet-compatible.
4. Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket For Men
Again about the name first. So the meaning of the Beta here is the same as in all other Arc’teryx Beta jackets. But the letters SL mean super light. In practical terms, this implies a 40D nylon ripstop outer fabric, and underneath it, you have the Gore-Tex Paclite membrane. This is a 2-layer design with minimum seams and they are all taped.
This SL jacket is meant to be just a shell, nicely packable and lightweight, an item which you will keep in the backpack until you need it. The model is perfect for hikers, backpackers, and climbers. You should know that it weighs only 11 ounces (312 g).
Although lightweight, it still has all essential features, so the helmet-compatible hood is there, and it is with a single drawstring on the back. There are two hand pockets with laminated WaterTight zip. The front zip is of the same design.
5. Columbia Sportswear men Sleeker jacket
This Sleeker Jacket is one of the most affordable items here in the list. The fabric is a durable Omni-Tech Grey Back ripstop 100% nylon, and you also have a lining which is polyester and nylon 210T taffeta.
The jacket is waterproof and breathable but I do not see it as a tool for very aerobic activities; this is more suitable for around town use and for some simple outdoor activities.
There are two pockets only but they are with LightRail zippers. You have mesh inside and the openings are very long on purpose, to improve ventilation. Note that there are no pit zips here. In principle, this is not compulsory, I have jackets of this type.
The design is such that it allows for layering, so with a good fleece underneath this jacket, you can use it in the winter time. This is how I use my own rain shell jackets.
6. Columbia Watertight II rain jacket for men
If you check this jacket on Amazon, you will notice i) tens of different colors, and ii) incredible price which is around $60 or so. But there is one more thing: it has received more than 3300 reports from Amazon customers, so this is simply unbelievable. The average rating is equally incredible, 4.5/5.
This jacket has three external pockets and one pocket inside the jacket, and it can be stowed in one of the hand pockets. It is built in three sizes and with sub-sizes in each of the main three sizes.
The jacket is waterproof due to Columbia’s Omni-Shield membrane and this is a 2-layer design. It is breathable, but note that there are no pit zips. The jacket is hooded and the hood is helmet-compatible.
7. Craghoppers Bear Grylls Men Mountain Jacket
If you are one of those like me who loves pockets, this is the jacket to consider, you have them 5 here. So two are on the sides and two are inside, and you have one extra on the left sleeve which you can see in the picture.
The jacket is the 2-layer type with the AquaDry membrane, completely waterproof and breathable, and the external fabric is a polyamide ripstop. You also have a mesh liner inside. We have such liners in several jackets and we love them. The liner adds some cushioning and I am convinced it also adds to the warmth of the jacket.
The front zipper is the two-way type and it is also with double storm flap. The jacket is on the heavier side, 690 grams, but this is due to so many features and the liner.
8. Marmot Essence jacket for men
If you want something truly lightweight then this is it, the Marmot Essence is only 6.3 oz (179 g). But you should know also that this jacket is award-winning, so it comes with some great features.
This is a 2.5-layer type, and this is partly behind such a weight. The material is a stretch nylon ripstop, extremely breathable and fully waterproof.
The jacket comes with only one pocket which you see in the picture. For extra ventilation, they have added pit vents, so notice that these are not zips. Instead, you have flaps that are always open.
The jacket is with Marmot’s Angel-Wing design, the hood is with 3 adjustment elements and you also have a brim wire. See more in my review.
9. Marmot Magus jacket for men
When you compare the jackets form the same brand you might realize that they look similar, but there are small details that make the difference. So when you compare this Magus with the Spire from the same brand you realize that here you have the front zipper without the storm flap, but there are more differences of course.
The Magus is a 2.5 layer type waterproof piece with the Marmot’s NanoPro membrane. So it is very breathable and it offers a full protection against the rain.
The hood has three adjustment elements and it is not a roll-away type. Observe also that the jacket is very light, only 300 grams.
You have 3 external pockets, no pockets inside, and it has pit zips as well. The material is nylon plain weave stretch.
10. Marmot Minimalist rain jacket for men
The Minimalist is a 2.5-layers Gore-Tex Packlite waterproof and breathable jacket built from a very durable polyester fabric 3.6 oz/yd. In spite of its name, it comes with plenty of features. These include very long pit zips for extra ventilation and three zippered external pockets.
The hood is large and helmet-compatible, with three adjustment points and with the brim. The main front zipper is with a storm flap and you have Velcro tabs to keep the flap in place. So as you realize, there is nothing missing here, the jacket has all the features you need.
The weight is 425 grams, so I would say in the mid-range when you compare it with all the other jackets here in the list. All in all, this is a very versatile jacket equally suitable for outdoor and around town use.
11. Marmot PreCip rain jacket for men
The PreCip is a very popular jacket from Marmot, with a NanoPro 2.5 layers waterproof and breathable membrane and with all seams fully taped. So you have 10000 mm waterproofness and breathability 17000 g/24h, equivalent to Hohenstein RET 5.0 to 5.4.
Like several other jackets here in the list, it can be stowed in its own left pocket. I own one jacket of that type and can tell you this can be handy if you are on the trail or on travel, so compactly packed it can fit anywhere and it is zipped-in with the pocket’s zipper. My own jacket has a small hook and I can attach it to pack.
The hood here can be rolled into its own collar, I have jackets of this type and must admit this is my favorite feature related to the hood.
They have added pit zips here for a better ventilation. The jacket has two external pockets. Note that they build it in no less than 27 colors.
12. Marmot Spire Jacket for men
Here you have an example of technical jackets with many small details that make it suitable for highly aerobic activities. These include the Gore-Tex membrane and the 3-layer construction, pit zips, two-way front zipper, and also laser drilled holes in its pockets.
The hood is with 4 adjustment elements and it is big enough for any helmet. If you love pockets, you have them four here, three are outside and one is inside.
The jacket comes with the removable powder skirt and the design also includes what they call the Angel-Wing, which implies a regular fit with lots of space for layering.
So this is a very breathable and fully waterproof jacket but quite pricey, please see more in my review.
13. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket
The Ozonic jacket has an exceptional feature (though this is not unique), and this is its stretchy fabric. So you have what they call the four-way all-over stretchy fabric which is at the same time fully waterproof and breathable.
The jacket is also very lightweight, so it is very suitable for trail runners, but also for hikers and backpackers. Note that it stows into its own chest pocket.
The fabric is 40D nylon and this is combined with their Dry.Q Active membrane, so the average weight is only 10 oz (282 g). Note that it comes with a very reasonable price for such a quality item. Please read more in my full review.
14. Outdoor Research Foray rain jacket for men
The Foray jacket is built with the Gore-Tex PacLite technology and as a 2-layer structure, and the external fabric is 100% polyester 50D plain weave. In addition to this, you have the double-sliding TorsoFlo hem-to-bicep zippers, so the ventilation is optimal, it can be better only without a jacket.
The weight is moderate, 16.3 oz (463 g) for the L size jacket. The hood is with a specific roll-away feature, I have the same system in my Sprayway jacket – there is a piece of fabric inside on the back, with a snap button, so you can pass it over the rolled hood and fix it in place by connecting the snap button with yet another button which is on the back. The hood is helmet-compatible and you also have a brim.
There is a two-way zipper on the front but without an external storm flap, you have an internal instead.
The jacket packs into its own left pocket, and you have 3 external pockets. The zippers are YKK AquaGuard water-repellent.
15. Outdoor Research Men’s Interstellar Jacket
The Interstellar jacket which you see here is a true hard shell type, so you have three layers, the external fabric, a waterproof and breathable membrane, and an inner backer layer. The jacket has some unique features and one of them is its stretchy fabric.
At the same time, this is probably the lightest hard shell jacket currently on the market, with only 11.6 oz (329 g) for size L. The jacket is incredibly packable and it stows in its own left-hand pocket.
The membrane used here is something special, they call it the Ascent Shell, incredibly breathable, but at the same time completely waterproof.
You have three external pockets with YKK waterproof zippers, and the hood is helmet compatible. Please read more in my full review.
16. Outdoor Research Revel jacket for men
Here you have hem-to-bicep full-length zippers, so you cannot have any better ventilation. With such a design you can pass the hip belt of your pack under the front of the jacket, so you can have all ventilation while on the go.
In addition to this, the front zipper is two-way type so this again adds to ventilation. The jacket is constructed as a 2.5-layer type, and the system used here is what they call the Pertex Shield 100% nylon 40D, with movement-mirroring stretch properties.
The waterproof rating is 10000 mm and breathability rating of 7000 g/m². The former is quite good and the latter is moderate.
The hood is completely adjustable and with a nice brim. I like the fact that it rolls into the collar. You have 2 external and 1 internal pocket.
17. Patagonia Torrentshell jacket for men
This is a jacket with Patagonia’s 2.5-layer H2No waterproof membrane, and it is built from a 50D ripstop nylon. It is quite lightweight, so you have only 12.2 oz (345 g).
The fit is standard so you can add lots of layering and this makes it suitable for all seasons. The hood is with 3 adjustment elements and you have a laminated brim as well, and the hood is the roll-away type. The fabric is very breathable but they have still added large pit zips. The front zipper is with a 3-layer storm flap.
The jacket has only 2 pockets which you can see in the picture, and they are fully waterproof, just to know. Note that you can stow it into one of these pockets.
18. Sierra Designs Men Elite cagoule
This piece is particularly suitable for backpackers and hikers. This is a 3-layer structure but very lightweight in spite of its length. So you have only 9 oz (255 g). The waterproofness rating is impressive, over 12600 mm and the fabric is also breathable.
As you realize, it is very long, and to increase the breathability, they have added very long vents on the sides. They close with snaps and with Velcro tabs.
The great thing about this design is that you can pass the hip belt of your backpack under the flap. In such a way, you are still protected and you have ventilation under the front flap of the jacket.
Note that you still have pit zips, and two pockets in the upper part are with flaps so they are always open and this also adds to ventilation.
19. The North Face Resolve jacket for men
The Resolve is a jacket very suitable for around town use but also for some outdoor adventures. This is a 2-layer design with the DryVent waterproof and breathable technology.
The outer fabric is a pleasant nylon ripstop, 70D, so it is a bit heavy, in the range 460 – 500 g. This is one of the jackets with the additional inner mesh liner, so this adds some weight but I love to have it.
The jacket is with two pockets only, and they are with mesh, so you can have a bit of ventilation through them. The front zip is with a double storm flap. The hood stows into the collar, and you have two adjustment elements on the sides.
This is a very popular jacket with an exceptionally high average rating by Amazon customers. But this is not so surprising when you see its price; this is a really affordable jacket, a great value for the money. Please see more in my review.
20. The North Face Venture jacket for men
Here you have a 2.5-layer ripstop nylon, so this is a bit different from the other NF jacket above, but this is again the DryVent membrane.
This is a nice jacket but not so breathable, you have 750 – 800 g/m²/24 hours average, therefore I would not use it for very demanding physical activities. But this low breathability is compensated with 2 pit zips. In any case, it is best suited for around town use.
Waterproof rating is 25 PSI minimum after 20 launderings. Note that 1 PSI is equivalent to 704 mm, so this is a highly waterproof item, in the range between the highest groups IV and V.
You have 2 pockets and they are with storm flaps. Note that they are sewn-in in such a way that they create two inner pockets as well.
The hood is helmet compatible and adjustable, with 3 points of adjustability. You also have a very useful brim and a soft chin guard.
The most technical jackets in the list
- Marmot Essence jacket.
- Marmot Spire jacket.
- Arc’teryx Alpha SL jacket.
- Outdoor Research Revel jacket
- Outdoor Research Foray jacket
- Sierra Designs Men Elite Cagoule.
So what I mean by the term ‘technical’?
This includes several factors like:
- The number of layers.
- The type of zips (two-way or not).
The construction. For example, you have the so-called Angel-Wing construction in Marmot’s jackets, which implies that the motion of arms and the torso is in no way restricted, so the jacket can be used for any type of exercises.
Jackets most suited for a casual use
I would put both Columbia models and both The North Face models in this group. To some extent the Craghoppers Bear Grylls Men Mountain Jacket is in the same category. All other models (except for those listed above in the group of technical jackets) are in between, suitable both for outdoor and around town use.
The lightest jackets in the list
Here are a few numbers for the lightest of them:
- Marmot Essence jacket: 179 g.
- Arcteryx Alpha SL jacket: 305 g. Note, SL in the name means ‘super light’.
The most breathable of all jackets
- Marmot Essence jacket is without a match. Please follow the link to see more.
- Marmot PreCip jacket.
- OR Interstellar.
But the breathability of the fabric is only one side of the coin. Some jackets have very long pit zips which help in ventilation a lot. So, I point out these:
Jackets without pit zips
This is partly related to the item above. In total, 5 of the jackets are without pit zips:
- Arcteryx Alpha SL jacket.
- Columbia Sleeker.
- Columbia Watertight II jacket.
- Bear Grylls Mountain Jacket.
- The North Face Resolve jacket.
I do not find the pit zip essential, some of my jackets are without it.
Jackets with mesh liners
Such liners add weight, but they also add comfort and a bit of warmth. In most cases, you have these liners in jackets that are less technical and more for a casual around town use. I simply love to have them. Here are jackets with liners:
I love to have pockets, the more the better. The champion with respect to this is the Bear Grylls Mountain Jacket. It comes with 5 pockets in total.
The jackets with only one pocket:
- Marmot Essence.
- Arcteryx Alpha SL.
Jackets with no roll-away hood
This is a feature that may be important to you. I love to have a hood that can roll into the collar. The following models do not have this option:
- Arcteryx jackets.
- Columbia Watertight II.
- Marmot Minimalist.
- The North Face Venture jacket.
- Sierra Designs Men Elite Cagoule.
How about so-called 3-in-1 jackets
There are many of the interchange jackets, also known as 3-in-1 jackets, reviewed here in the site. They have a removable inner insulating layer. So when you remove it, you have a perfect rain shell jacket. So these can certainly be added here. I have collected them in my separate text so please have a look.
So, to summarize this text about waterproof shell jackets for men, so many models presented here are not to confuse you but to show you a variety of options. The features discussed here should help in narrowing your search. I assume that the most essential is to start from the question: technical or non-technical jacket, and then check other features that may or may not be essential for you.
If of any help, to add that for myself, I choose jackets that are suitable both for outdoor and around town use. I simply do not have any other type of jackets. I love to have pockets and a mesh liner inside, and all my jackets are with roll-away hoods.
All of these jackets can be combined with some good fleece jacket and so combined, you have a tool for all seasons. One great example is this Columbia Steens Mountain fleece jacket for men.
Thank you for reading. If you need something for women, please check this text with a long list of such great rain shell jackets. If you need a winter jacket, check my list with best insulated jackets for men.
If you find the text useful, do share it with others. In the case of questions or comments, please use the comment box below. Have a nice day.