There is nothing better than spending time in the outdoors doing the things you love. Whether it’s hiking, climbing, mountaineering, or just having a picnic in your favorite spot, you’ll want the right outdoor clothing to make sure you enjoy your time out there as much as possible.
At A Glance: Our Top 4 Gore Tex Jackets
Picking the right clothing for being active in the outdoors can be a tricky game. You want something that protects you from the elements while stopping you from coming home in a puddle of sweat if you overheat. Thank god for Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is one of the best and most popular performance outdoor clothing materials in the world thanks to its ability to keep you safe from adverse weather and being highly-breathable to make sure you stay cool and dry.
We love Gore-Tex so much that we decided to find the best Gore-Tex jackets out there. We looked at hundreds of Gore-Tex jackets and narrowed them down to leave you with the best, which you’ll find below. We’ve reviewed each one and compared them against each other while looking at price, durability, performance, weight, and more. Have a read to see which is the best Gore-Tex jacket for you.
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Best For Weather
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Best For Trail Running
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Best On A Budget
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Arc’teryx is one of the best manufacturers of outdoor gear the world over and the Beta SL Hybrid Jacket is one of their most popular products.
The Beta SL Hybrid is made from a combination of Gore-Tex Paclite with a Gore C-Knit backer and a 40-D nylon face. These materials combined not only make this jacket durable, breathable, and weather-proof but it’s also incredibly light and packable.
Gore-Tex Paclite is specially designed to reduce the overall weight of clothing by replacing the normal backer used with Gore-Tex Active with an oleophobic (oil hating) substance that protects it from dirt and damage.
The Beta SL Hybrid is the ideal jacket for a life in the outdoors. It’ll keep you protected from wind and rain while also ensuring you stay exceptionally cool during activities thanks to its excellent breathability. The jacket comes with a helmet-compatible hood for skiing and/or climbing and two harness friendly deep zippered pockets.
Being so light, you’ll also barely notice it in your backpack and it stuffs down to a tiny size for packability.
The only downside to the Beta SL is how expensive it is, but it is one of the best Gore-Tex jackets on the market.
The Outdoor Research Furio Jacket is made for anyone who spends a lot of time being active in the mountains while it’s raining. It’s designed to provide exceptional weather protection while being breathable with great ventilation features that allow you to dump heat quickly.
The Furio is made with a 70D Gore-Tex outer shell for durability and weather protection along with a triple layer of GORE-TEX in places that suffer from wear and tear the most like the hood, shoulders, and the top of the arms. It’s exceptionally breathable to help keep you dry on the inside and it also features TorsoFlo hem-to-bicep pit zips that allow you to cool down quickly when you need to.
The jacket features 4 zippered pockets, two at the chest and two at your side. The side pockets are designed to be accessed while you’re wearing a harness or using the hip-belt of your backpack.
The jacket also comes with the wire-brimmed Halo hood which is compatible with a helmet and provides your face with excellent protection from a serious downpour.
The downsides to so many zips and using a ticker fabric is the weight gain, and the Furio is quite bulky and heavy. But, if you want serious weather protection, you’ll have to accept a bit of extra weight.
The Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody was made for one thing, keeping you cool and dry while you’re being very active in the outdoors. It’s the ideal jacket for trail-running in the wind and rain as it’ll give you ample protection from the elements while making sure you don’t overheat.
The Norvan is made of Gore-Tex Pro with ShakeDry technology that removes the need for a face fabric (usually nylon), making the jacket very thin and form-fitting for running around those mountain slopes.
It’s exceptionally breathable, windproof, and waterproof, so you’ll be able to venture on to the trail no matter the weather. The Norvan fits beautifully with a focus on freedom of movement so you don’t feel restricted at any point.
It has been stripped of any pockets to remove any additional unneeded weight and it weighs just 4 ounces, so you’ll barely even know it’s on. But, they did keep the hood, so you can slip it on during a down-pour.
The Norvan is a little light and cold for anything but very active outdoor fun plus being so light, it’s also very thin, and you’ll want to be careful not to rip it.
The Outdoor Research Foray Jacket is a rugged option for those who need ample weather protection and is similar to the Furio we mentioned above but a little lighter.
It’s made from two layers of Gore-Tex Paclite with a 100% polyester face fabric that will keep you dry and warm in a serious storm, and even in sleet while keeping you cool thanks to its breathability and ventilation options.
The fabric not only makes it great in weather but in regards to durability too. It’s quite rugged and will survive many a scrape more than other lighter jackets. It’s a bit heavier than other jackets but it’s fine for a day hike and tough enough for when you have to go a little off-piste.
The Foray features pit zips that run from the elbow to your hip. This allows you to completely open the side of the jacket to remove any excess heat very quickly.
It comes with 3 pockets, 2 at the sides, and one on the chest. There’s an elasticized hem to give you a tight fit, adjustable wrist cuffs, and a helmet-compatible hood. Plus you can stuff it into the left-hand pocket to store it neatly in your backpack.
The Marmot Knife Edge Jacket is a little thicker than a specialized running jacket to keep you protected from the elements while being thin enough to keep the weight down for packability.
It’s the ideal middle-ground and is great if you’re looking for something light to keep in your backpack and use when you’re being active in the outdoors.
The Knife Edge is made of two layers of Gore-Tex Paclite and is fully seam-sealed, even along with its zippers. It’ll keep you dry as a bone in the rain, protect you from wind, and ensure you don’t overheat.
It features large pit zips for dropping heat quickly and comes with 3 zippered sealed pockets that’ll keep your valuables dry. The hood does a good job of keeping you protected but it’s not helmet-compatible.
It has a regular fit which provides great freedom of movement and stops any internal pooling of moisture too. Some people find the fit a little slim though. Another great thing about the Knife Edge is that it doesn’t look too technical and you can get away with wearing it around town.
The Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket is their premium rain jacket and it does something that most rain jackets can’t quite manage. While being a lightweight rain jacket the Zeta LT offers almost as much protection as a hard shell, which is unheard of at 11.8 oz weight.
The Zeta LT is made from a triple layer of Gore-Tex with a thin inner C-Knit backer which is one or half a layer more than your usual rain jacket. This is how they managed to reduce the weight while upping weather protection.
The jacket will keep you dry and warm in serious winds and rain while being light and very packable. It’s also soft and comfy on your skin and the awesome breathability means you won’t have to deal with any clammy moisture inside.
It comes with two pockets, water-resistant zippers, and a storm hood. The hood fits amazingly well to give you ample protection and the zipper makes sure you and your packets stay dry no matter the weather.
The only downsides are the pit zips and the fact it’s quite expensive at over $400. But you do get what you pay for with the Zeta LT.
The Marmot Minimalist is an awesome way to get a durable weatherproof Gore-Tex jacket while on a budget.
The Minimalist is made from Gore-Tex with Paclite technology to make it windproof, waterproof, light, breathable, and packable. The internal membrane of the Gore-Tex has 9 billion pores per square inch to allow moisture and heat out making sure you don’t overheat. If you do overheat, there are pit zips so you can ventilate and dump heat quickly.
The outer shell is durable and it’s designed for a life on the trail. It’s made with fully taped seams so no pesky leaks can find their way in and there is a storm flap that protects the front zipper.
The Minimalist is described as having Marmot’s Angel Wing movement but when you’re having to reach for things, you’ll notice it riding up at the hem and on the cuffs, so it might not be the best choice for activities like climbing.
Overall it’s an excellent jacket for the price and you can’t really go wrong with it.
Read our full Marmot Minimalist review.
If you’re looking for a rain jacket for emergencies that’ll live in your backpack most of the time, then the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is the one for you.
Weighing just 6.3 oz and compressing down to a tiny pack size you’ll barely notice that this jacket has found its way into your backpack. It packs down into its own pocket, so you’ll be able to tuck it anywhere, even into a very full backpack.
It comes with just one pocket, a pretty solid hood, and YKK aqua guard zippers. It does an ok job of protecting you from adverse weather while being so thin, which is all you need from an emergency rain jacket.
But, if you’re caught out in poor weather often, there are better jackets to choose from that will provide you with better weather protection. it’s also not the best in terms of breathability either. Another thing it’s lacking is any kind of ventilation options like pit-zips.
Being so thin, it does fall down in the durability department. If you were to accidentally trip on a sharp stone or clip a branch, it could get damaged quite easily.
There are three types of Gore-Tex to choose from, all of which feature in the products above, and here are the differences.
The original Gore-Tex fabric can be used for everything from hiking gear to jackets for wearing in town thanks to it being weatherproof and breathable. It’s the least expensive of all the Gore-Tex fabrics but it’s also thicker and less breathable than the others. It’s ideal for clothing that is used for low-intensity activities and everyday use but it’s not ideal for performance gear.
Gore-Tex Paclite is a lighter version of Gore-Tex that has fewer layers and it, therefore, a little lighter and more breathable. It’s an ideal middle ground for reducing weight, increasing breathability while maintaining weather protection and durability.
Gore-Tex Active is super thin and breathable which is ideal for lightweight performance jackets that you use while trail running or other intense activities. Being so light and breathable makes it super thin, so it won’t provide as much weather protection or be as durable as the others.
Gore-Tex Pro does almost everything all the other types of Gore-Tex do and it’s the most advanced type of fabric Gore-Tex has come up with. It offers superior breathability, durability, and weather protection but jackets made from Gore-tex pro are usually the most expensive. They are made for technical alpine activities and expeditions and are only worth the investment if you intend to use them very often or are going to the top of a mountain.
Having a hood is a vital way to stay warm and dry while you’re trekking around in the outdoors. All the jackets in the review feature a hood, but not all of the hoods are the same. Some come with a wire rim to give you extra protection, others are helmet compatible for climbing and mountaineering, and some are just your standard hoods. Make sure to get a jacket with the right hood for your needs.
Gore-Tex jackets are made to be worn as outer-layers and come with a diverse range of pockets. Some have 4, others 3, some just 2. Some of the pockets are made for use with a climbing harness so you can access them while hanging on a wall, others are fully waterproof. Think about what you’ll use the pockets for and when and be sure to pick the right pockets for you. Most of them are waterproof/water-resistant for keeping valuables in too.
Breathability differs across the different types of Gore-Tex and how they are used to build the jackets. Some jackets use two layers to increase breathability and reduce weight, while others use 2.5 or three layers to provide better weather protection and durability.
The amount of breathability you’ll require depends on how active you intend on being whilst wearing the jacket. If you’re looking for a jacket to run in, you’ll want something thin and breathable, but if you’re planning on hiking gently through adverse weather often, you’ll want something thicker with more weather protection.
Ventilation is key when you’re over-heating and things like pit-zips allow you to dump internal heat very quickly without having to take off all your layers to do so. Some pit zips run from your elbow to your hip, others are a bit smaller. We highly recommend getting a jacket with pit-zips as they are exceptionally useful and their addition does nothing but add value, as long as their zippers are waterproof/repellent.
There is nothing worse than a leaky sticky zipper in a rain jacket. Luckily, all the Gore-Tex jackets in the review come with water-repellent or waterproof zippers to ensure you and the contents of your pockets stay warm and dry.
The best Gore-Tex jacket if you’re on a budget is the Marmot Minimalist. It provides ample weather protection, breathability, and ventilation while being lightweight. It truly does everything you need from a Gore-Tex rain jacket for hiking into the wilderness with.
The best Gore-Tex jacket for being very active, like trail running, is the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody. Made to be very thin while being exceptionally breathable and light, the Norvan keeps you cool and protected from the elements no matter how hard you’re running. It truly is one of the best performance running jackets on the market.
The best Gore-Tex jacket for weather protection and durability is the Outdoor Research Furio Jacket. While having all the benefits of Gore-Tex’s breathability the Furio also comes with a 70D outer shell for durability and ample wind and rain protection. It is a little bulky and heavier than the others but that’s what you get for something being a little bit more rugged.
The all-around best Gore-Tex jacket is the Beta SL Hybrid Jacket. It’s the ideal middle ground. The Beta SL Hybrid is thick enough for day trips and adverse weather while being thin and breathable enough for being active in. You can wear it for climbing and mountaineering and not overheat or for a chilled day hike without getting cold.
Gore-Tex jackets are not made to be warm and are designed to be an outer-layer that goes over a warm mid-layer like a down jacket. They help you stay warm by making sure your mid-layer stays dry and protected from rain and wind while letting heat out to keep you cool.
Gore-tex jackets are waterproof to a point but they are not fully waterproof due to their breathability. Gore-Tex does do an amazing job of stopping water from getting in and letting hot air and moisture out at the same time. But inevitably, water will get through the membrane eventually.
Yes, you can re-apply a waterproofing spray to Gore-Tex in order to make sure that any water beads off it, but make sure you choose a spray that allows the fabric to remain breathable.
You can machine wash a Gore-tex jacket but you’ll want to avoid it as much as possible. Machine washing a Gore-Tex jacket will wear off the water-repellent coating and you will need to re-apply some after.