/ Best lightweight waterproof

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MrToffee 15 Jan 2020

what in your opinion is the best packable waterproof jacket on the market? I’ve read good reviews on the new north face futurelight. Anyone had chance to use it? Is it as good a waterproof as a arcteryx? 

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In reply to MrToffee:

I'm going to be annoying here and ask what you mean by 'lightweight'? You can get a shell that weighs around 100g; anything under 200g has to be considered ultralight by most people's standards; and I'd say something in the region of 300g classes as bog standard 'lightweight'.

I'll be even more annoying and assert that there's no such thing as 'best'. Whether or not you get on with a particular jacket depends on a lot of factors:

Does it have all the features that match what you intend to do with it? eg. Sufficient pocket space, a helmet-compatible hood, a cut suited to climbing, pit zips... generally the more 'lightweight' you go, the fewer features you can expect.

Is it sufficiently breathable for the activity and conditions? It's easy to make a jacket that's comfy when strolling along the flat in cool weather, but walking uphill in humid conditions, or running, are a sterner test of breathability. If you're working hard enough all shells will get clammy eventually, but some are obviously better than others in that sense. 

Does it fit you, personally? We're all different shapes and sizes, while jackets only come in S, M, L etc. Not every model will fit every user equally well. Is there space inside for other layers, if it's cold? Is the hem long enough to properly cover your waist? are your arms free to move, and is there enough 'articulation' in the cut to prevent the hem lifting up when you raise your arms...?

We reviewed a load of lightweight shells in 2017, some of which are probably still available:

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/gear/clothing/waterproofs/lightweight_waterproof_shells-9159

And here's one from summer 2019 on the North Face Summit L5 Ultralight Storm Jacket: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/gear/clothing/waterproofs/the_north_face_summit_l5_ultralight_storm_jacket+summit_l1_climb_trousers-12144 

There's a review of the Patagonia Ascensionist Jacket (300g+) coming out in a few days

Also a review of tha Mammut Masao Light (200g+) in the pipeline, due soon   

Post edited at 16:56
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In reply to MrToffee:

After all that I forgot the two most important things of all, price and lifespan.

You can spend a fortune on a shell. To an extent you get what you pay for, but only up to a point. There's definitely better and worse value out there.

And as a general rule lighter = less durable.

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henwardian 15 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

I'd agree with essentially all the stuff that Dan said.... Except the bit about breathability. I'm afraid I'm one of those people who basically believes (based on personal experience) that if you are exerting yourself and it is raining (if it isn't, why are you wearing a waterproof?!), the waterproof you are wearing is going to get clammy and yucky in probably an hour or less, no matter how great it is.

You sound as though money is no object, is this really what you mean to say? You can pay £700 for a simple of-the-shelf jacket these days but I expect if you really want the best you would go find someone who can make a bespoke jacket to all your measurements and using the best construction techniques an fibres available. I have no idea where you would even start with enquiring about this but it's going to end up costing you £1000 or more for a service like that.

In terms of North Face in general, I've heard a lot of people say that it's very overpriced for what it is. In terms of Arcteryx, I've heard people say that it's absolutely top quality kit but obviously top notch prices as well. But none of that is based on my personal experience or any sort of rigorous testing so you should probably only lend my opinion slightly more weight than when Trump prefaces an statement with "people are saying...".

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MrToffee 15 Jan 2020

by lightweight i mean 200 or less the future light seems a good option reading the reviews on the topic page you posted Dan.

Not that money is no object at all mate, far from it but id rather not buy a cheaper jacket and end up having to buy another because it cant handle the conditions.

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John Kelly 15 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

What you going to do in the jacket?

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TobyA 15 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

I'm reviewing the North Face mountain shell in Futurelight, I think its just called the L5. Put me down as unconvinced so far, but I'm also not sure the light ones might not perform completely differently because they seem to make the membrane in different ways for different weights of outer fabric. Possibly a bit like the different PTFE membranes that all get called Goretex-something, and perform quite differently, I wouldn't listen to what I have to say about a 500 gram future light mountain shell and expect it to be true of a lightweight runner's jacket that happens to have the same word (2 words?) on it.

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TobyA 15 Jan 2020
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

Have you been watching the Spine Race video episodes? Seems some of the runners have plumped for quite full on winter hardshells rather than minimalist runner's jackets. You can sort of see why if you are going to jog through storm Brendan in the pitch dark halfway up some god forsaken Pennine having slept 15 minutes in the last 48 hrs and 100 miles!!

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captain paranoia 15 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

> far from it but id rather not buy a cheaper jacket and end up having to buy another because it cant handle the conditions.

Dan's point about "And as a general rule lighter = less durable" is applicable here.

A lightweight jacket won't last long, so you will be buying another soon anyway.

Light, strong, cheap: pick any two. I went with light and cheap: I bought one of these for £35, discounted, in lime/fluoro green, as my cycling waterproof had finally given up. The fact that I can cycle in it, without sweating to death, says something (although I've not tried it in summer). It fits me well, and the hood works well when cycling (turns with the head, and has good rear view clearance).

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/fh500-mens-waterproof-jacket-blue-id_8492424.html

I'm not expecting it to be very abrasion resistant, or long-lived. The w/p coating is likely to wear off at obvious contact/flex points.

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MrToffee 16 Jan 2020
In reply to John Kelly:

90% use will uk mountaineering during all 4 seasons 

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DaveHK 16 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

> 90% use will uk mountaineering during all 4 seasons 

I don't know how you define mountaineering but by my definition I wouldn't be going for a very lightweight jacket on durability grounds.

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Siward 16 Jan 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Agreed. An extra 500g is barely noticeable, a pint of beer. If using for general UK hill use the lightweight approach is only relevant, IMHO, if one is backpacking or carrying it as a 'just in case' garment on a nice summer's day. 

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captain paranoia 16 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

> 90% use will uk mountaineering during all 4 seasons

I wouldn't be using that Decathlon jacket (or any 200g jacket) for winter mountaineering.

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afx22 16 Jan 2020
In reply to MrToffee:

I have a Arcteryx FL that I use in the mountains in winter.  It's the most breathable waterproof I've had (I've had many).  Its apparently 12oz = 340gr so not as light as many of the running shells.  Hood is nicely adjustable for with or without a helmet.  It only has a single breast pocket, so not so great for walking round town, or stashing gloves.  The fit is one to watch out for as it's designed to layer over other layers.  Mine is a size Small and fills over my active winter fleeces.

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Freshprintce 17 Jan 2020

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