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Best lightweight jackets 2022: spring layers for weather protection


Spring weather is anyone’s guess. Between April showers and heatwaves in May, layering up is a tricky business in the months before summer.

Wrap up for inclement conditions and you can bet the sun will shine all day. But leave home without a jacket and you’re guaranteed to be caught in a squall as soon as you step off the bus.

Need a waterproof layer that’s thin and breathable, but tough enough to survive a sudden downpour? From recycled raincoats to packable jackets, the coats below can cope with the most confusing of forecasts, without weighing you down around town.

Buying tips

Wrapped jackets

How heavy are April showers? Some jackets are coated to repel rainwater, while water-resistance will only shield your skin for so long. Proper waterproofing requires sealed seams and an impermeable material to resist sustained drizzle.

Packed jackets

The coat/no coat call is never an easy one. Packable jackets mean you can forget the guesswork and always have an extra layer at the ready. Some stuff into their own chest pocket; others pack away in a separate pouch.

Flapped jackets

Even in a whipping wind, your body needs to breath. Most lightweight layers are breathable, but some feature additional ventilation to assist air circulation. Look for zipped flaps below the arms or on the hips.

Capped jackets

Hoods are more than umbrellas for your bonce. A larger cowl can cover a cycling lid or ski helmet, while a peaked bonnet will stop precipitation from dribbling into your peepers. Drawcords can also hide your face from frigid air.

Protective pullovers

The mustard mantle: Fjällräven Vardag

Buy the Fjällräven Vardag here from Bergfreunde

It’s an unwritten rule that raincoats should be yellow. Just ask your friendly neighbourhood trawlerman. For an overcoat that continues the custard tradition, don this durable outer jacket – complete with kangaroo pocket for all your angling accessories. Timeless by design, the Vardag’s waterproof properties can be revived again and again with Greenland Wax. It’s also available in mellower shades, but where’s the sun in that?

The old-school overcoat: Burton Freelight

Buy the Burton Freelight jacket here

The Nineties might be back in fashion, but nostalgia alone won’t keep you dry in a deluge. For retro slope style that sheds the wet stuff, try this two-tone topper. Inspired by Burton’s classic snowboarding shells, the nylon ripstop finish is water-repellent, ventilated and sure to please Gen Z. And if Mother Nature delivers a winter throwback, you can layer up with hip knitwear beneath.

The Scandi skin: Didriksons Slaghöken

Buy the Didriksons Slaghöken here

Scandinavia gets its fair share of squalls, so it’s no surprise that the Swedes know their way around a waterproof. Didriksons began outfitting Baltic seafarers in 1913 and its roomy rainwear soon found favour with fishermen and fashionistas alike. Its latest layer stays true to those coastal roots, with welded seams and a Galon construction that readily repels the elements.

Recycled raincoats

The stormy shield: Finisterre Stormbird

Buy the Finisterre Stormbird here

From misty hillsides to inclement headlands, conditions can be hardcore in the great outdoors. You could stay cosy at home. Or for wearable shelter while you wander, you could add this pac-a-mac to your daypack. It won’t clear the skies, but it will withstand whatever the weather throws at you: with a 20K Hydrostatic Head rating, its recycled shell is as waterproof as they come.

The packable patchwork: Cotopaxi Teca Cálido

Buy the Cotopaxi Teca Cálido here

Jumper above, shorts below: spring attire is nothing if not diverse. Keen to complete your mix ’n’ match menagerie? Cotopaxi’s colourful coats have plenty of clash potential. Crafted from fabric leftovers and stuffed with recycled polyester, the Teca Cálido can squeeze inside its own pocket when the climate calls for a lighter outfit. Plus it’s reversible, so you can easily switch up your eco ensemble.

The capable cagoule: Patagonia Calcite

Buy the Patagonia Calcite here

You don’t need the forecasting wisdom of Michael Fish to know that spring can bring four seasons in a single day. Wrapped in recycled polyester, this packable proof is prepared for erratic elements: hand-warming pockets and drawcord hems seal out sudden chills, while a watertight chest compartment stops your stuff getting soggy in unforeseen storms.

Sporty shells

The rainproof runner: Adidas Terrex Agravic

Buy the Adidas Terrex Agravic here

Getting soaked in a surprise downpour won’t do much for your sprinting PB, but spring drizzle can be tricky to predict. This lightweight layer packs away into its own chest pocket for easy toting on the trail, ready to deploy when the clouds roll in. Four-way stretch fabric lets you flex on the fly, while the nylon construction is resistant to wind and wet weather.

The alpine anorak: Arc’Teryx Alpha SL

Buy the Arc’Teryx Alpha SL here

Mountain goats don’t need anoraks. For mammals that shimmy up cliffs without the help of hooves, this pullover provides featherweight protection from alpine draughts. Less insulated than an ibex, its hardy Hadron fabric is windproof, breathable and built to withstand rock face abrasions. And at just 209g, it won’t be a burden on your carabiners.

The reflective rider: GoreWear Endure

Buy the GoreWear Endure here

Long winter break left you with a serious case of Saddle Absence Disorder? Don’t let uncertain skies keep you off your steed: be showerproof and seen with this neon number. Designed for cyclists, the streamlined Gore-Tex shell has a long back for better bum coverage, while an over-helmet hood keeps rain at bay without compromising the safety of your can.


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