A rain jacket is, as we’re sure you know, a vital piece of equipment to have at home and in your backpack for any adventure in the outdoors. You never really know when the weather is going to turn and it’s becoming more and more unpredictable in this day and age.
There is nothing worse than being caught short on a lovely hike and having to shiver your way back home to get dry.
Finding the right rain jacket for your needs isn’t easy. There are quite a few different types ranging from hiking and daily use rain jackets to performance and trail running jackets. It’s often quite difficult to discern one from another making finding the right rain jacket for your needs a little tricky.
At A Glance: Our Top 4 Rain Jackets
In this article, we have reviewed some of the best rain jackets for men and women, across all the different types, in order to give you a holistic view of what’s available and to help find the one that suits your needs best.
Best On A Budget
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Best For Skiing & Climbing
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Marmot are a company that has got the formula for rain jackets down to a T. The Marmot PreCip Eco is one of their most popular rain jackets on the market and for good reason.
The PreCip Eco is made from polyester and recycled nylon, hence the Eco in the name. It uses 2.5 layers of NanoPro and fully taped seams to create a jacket that’s excellent at dealing with the rain.
The hood provides full protection during a downpour and neatly stuffs into the collar for when it’s not needed and the jacket comes with pit zips for breathability.
It’s also been designed with angle wing movement to ensure you have maximum mobility without letting any water or cold in, making you even more protected. And it neatly folds into its own pocket for easy storage in your backpack.
The fit is quite slim but spacious enough for some layers underneath. There’s a drawcord at the base to stop it from riding up and letting any cold air in, plus two hand pockets.
The best thing is, you get all of these great features and materials for under $75, that’s an incredible value. Overall, it’s one of the best rain jackets you can find on a budget.
The Arc’teryx Zeta SL Jacket is one of the best-looking rain jackets around. It’s ideal for daily use and for use in the mountains while hiking or camping in the outdoors.
This Gore-tex jacket is made from 2 layers with Paclite Plus making it pretty much weatherproof. It’ll handle rain and wind with ease while still being breathable, although, it’s not as breathable as others in the same price range, you’re not going to overheat.
The outer layer is made from a 40D shell, making it tough and able to take a beating. This jacket will outlast most others thanks to this and even though it’s tough, it’s still super light and packs down to a small size to fit in your backpack.
Once you put the jacket on, you’ll notice how nice it feels against the skin, something rain jackets can struggle with. The hood is also excellent and provides full coverage and protection from the elements.
If you’re looking for an all-rounder rain jacket that’s good for walking the dog, going to the mall, and climbing mountains, this is one to seriously consider.
The Black Diamond Liquid Point is one of Black Diamond’s top rain jackets and it’s easy to see why. Designed with style in mind, this rain jacket has all the features you need for the trail and all the great looks you want in town.
Made from GORE-TEX Paclite, it’s excellent at blocking wind and rain from getting inside. Couple that with fully taped and water repellent zippers, and you’re going to be dry no matter the weather.
The fit is excellent, it’s not too baggy but slim while still having enough space for layers underneath, this makes it ideal for climbers, hikers, and skiers, especially considering the helmet-compatible hood.
It comes with three pockets, two for your hands, and one internal chest pocket for any valuables you want to be protected too. And the pit zips help you regulate your temperature while being active.
Overall this is a super lightweight jacket that’s excellent for anyone who wants to be active in harsh conditions. The big hood may get a little annoying when you don’t need it, but you’ll be happy it’s there when you do.
The Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket is designed as an ultralight rain jacket. Weighing just 6.5 oz, you’ll expect to lose a few key features, like pit zips, but it’s still impressive what they have managed to pack into this super light rain jacket.
It’s made from 2.5 layers of Pertex Shield 2.5 L, 100% Nylon, and a 30D ripstop body to give you excellent weather protection, breathability, and durability. Combine that with the AquaShield YKK zippers, fully taped seam and you’re going to be fine during a storm.
Being just 6.5 oz, it packs down very small and you’ll barely notice it in your backpack. It’s ideal for use as an ultralight rain jacket whilst camping or hiking, or any outdoor activity for that matter.
Overall this is the best ultralight rain jacket in our eyes, plus it is priced very reasonably.
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is another great all-rounder from Marmot that’s priced exceptionally well. It’s ideal for daily use in winter or on hiking trips when you know rain and weather are a guarantee.
It’s made, like a few of the others, from 2.5 layers of Gore-Tex Paclite which is sealed with a durable water repellent coating. This provides excellent protection from wind and rain, plus it’s breathable so you won’t overheat, and if you do, there are pit zips for some extra ventilation.
The minimalist is a little heavy as rain jackets go and don’t pack down small. You might be a bit annoyed if you carried it around for 4 days in the blazing sunshine, so it’s better taken along when rain is pretty much guaranteed, then you’ll love having it.
The main downfall of the jacket is that the main zipper is not water-repellent/waterproof, meaning moisture will ooze in. This should not be the case at this price.
See our full Marmot Minimalist review.
The Black Diamond Stormline Stretch is packed full of features and technology and is an incredible value considering what’s been packed in there for the price.
Made from 2.5 layers of BD.dry material, the Stromline is windproof, waterproof, breathable, and stretchy to boot. This gives you excellent weather protection, durability, and freedom of movement making this a great choice for more active users who love to climb, ski, and more. The material is soft to touch and comfy as hell to wear.
It comes with three pockets, an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, a water-repellent main zipper, and water-repellent pit zips, to ensure you stay dry but don’t overheat. It packs all this in and still weighs under 10 oz. Amazing!
The only place it loses marks is in the fit, it’s a little baggy which is fine for wearing over down, but a little loose over base layers.
Overall an awesome rain jacket that’s worth every penny.
Columbia specializes in making pretty good budget outdoor gear and they are better than most at it. If you’re looking for a casual rain jacket for daily use like walking the dog and don’t plan on getting stuck in a torrential downpour, then the Columbia Watertight II is a great choice.
As well as its friendly price point, it’ll give you ample protection in light rain and wind, perfect for daily use. It’s made of 2 layers of Omni-Tech with well-sealed seams and a good build that’ll ensure it keeps you warm and dry in light weather and lasts a relaxed lifestyle.
The jacket comes in a huge range of colors, looks good, and is perfect for wearing in town or having as just in case extra layer for when the weather turns.
Overall a solid budget rain jacket for casual daily use.
If you love outdoor activities and need a rain jacket that suits them all, the Outdoor Research Interstellar is probably your best bet.
It’s been made with three layers of Ascentshell combined with a 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face with 100% polyester 12D backer. What does this mean? It means you get a highly durable rain jacket that’s stretchy, breathable, and excellent in rough weather.
And for you all adrenaline lovers, it comes with a helmet-compatible hood, large pockets that fit a harness, hand pockets and it’s light at under 12 oz. Plus it looks awesome.
The only drawbacks are that it’s expensive and how performance-orientated it is. The extra-large hood and pockets will get in the way during daily use.
Overall, it’s an awesome jacket for both weather protection and outdoor activities, plus it’s worth the investment.
The North Face Apex Flex is a serious rain jacket that is about as heavy as they get. It’s not made for being active but more for 100% all-around protection that you could just wear over T-shirt, depending on how cold it is.
It’s ideal for sports where you’re standing still a lot, like fishing or hunting. It’ll stop the weather from getting in and keep you warm whilst being inactive.
It’s made from a triple layer of Gore-Tex, making it exceptionally weatherproof and pretty warm for a rain jacket. The inside is soft to touch and comfortable while the outside is bombproof.
The jacket comes with three handy pockets, pit zips, velcro cuffs, and a big hood that cinches closed. It’s not going to pack down small, but if you’re going to throw it in the car and pop it on for a walk down the river, then it’s ideal.
If running down a mountain in the rain is your thing then the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody rain jacket is the one for you. This has been specifically designed for trail running and ensures you stay protected from the weather, have freedom of movement, and don’t overheat.
It’s made from two layers of Gore-Tex with Shakedry and once you get your hands on it you’ll notice how light and thin it is. It weighs just 4 oz and is one of the most breathable rain jackets on the market. You might think the thin layers and breathability compromise its water resistance but it doesn’t. This jacket is very waterproof.
The only downsides are the lack of pockets, the high price, and the thin fabric is rather delicate. Considering how expensive it is, you wouldn’t want to catch a branch and rip this.
There are five main categories of rain jackets on the market and it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Here we’ll explain a little bit about each of them.
Causal or daily use jackets are made for those of us who live in wet areas where it rains a lot. They’re made to look good, be comfortable, and have useful features like hand-warming pockets. They are usually a little less expensive than other jackets a bit heavier, as they’re not made for hiking on the trail or carrying in your backpack.
Hiking rain jackets are made to be light and easy to store in your backpack. They’re ideal for popping in your bag before going on a little adventure, knowing that if the weather did turn, you’d be safe from the wind and rain it might throw at you. They are a middle ground when it comes to technology and is semi-breathable but not much in comparison to performance jackets.
It’s also worth having a pair of waterproof pants on hand for when the weather really gets out of control. That way you can arrive at camp at the end of the day and not be completely soaked through on the bottom!
Performance rain jackets are built to withstand serious weather with tougher and more breathable materials and bigger hoods. They are a lot more expensive and only worth buying if you really need them. They include little tech add ons like large pockets that fit harnesses in them and helmet-compatible hoods. If you love to be active and climb, ski, mountain bike, or anything like that, a performance jacket is a way to go.
Ultralight rain jackets are more for emergencies than anything else, they’re not designed for walking through rain for hours on end. They are made to be super light, store easily in your backpack, and be there when you need them. The fabrics are much thinner and thus less waterproof and prone to rips than casual or hiking jackets.
Trai running jackets are exactly that, for trail running. They’re made to be waterproof, extremely breathable, and are super thin and light. They are expensive and lack durability due to their thin material but if you need a jacket to run in, these are the ones to get.
How waterproof a rain jacket depends on a lot of different factors from the materials and the seams to the zippers. No jacket will ever be 100% waterproof but some are a lot better than others. Some light jackets are labeled as being water-resistant, so they protect you in light rain but under prolonged rainfall, they will start leaking.
Waterproof jackets block moisture from getting in, are sealed along the seams, and have waterproof zippers. They use materials like Gore-Tex to ensure moisture stays out, to an extent.
Waterproof rain jackets are built with layers in order to create waterproofness and breathability. They come in either 2, 2,.5, or 3 layer options. The more layers the more expensive the rain jacket but also the more durable and breathable it will be. It’s best to stick around the 2.5 layer option unless you want something really robust, and in which case go for the 3 layer option.
Breathability is kept in a waterproof rain jacket and having a breathable jacket will ensure your comfort no end. Breathability comes down to the fabric used and Gore-Tex is one of the best when it comes to letting moisture out and stopping rain from coming in, so bear that in mind while shopping around.
Some rain jackets aren’t breathable at all while others are great at it. It’s true that the more you spend the more breathable your jacket will be.
Most of the time, you’ll be packing your rain jacket in your backpack to head on out on an adventure. You’ll want it to pack down to a small size for convenient storage. Some rainjackets pack into their own pocket, others are made from fabrics that stuff down to a very small size. It’s quite hard to tell how well they’ll pack down when looking online, the best thing to measure it against is the weight. The lighter the rain jacket, the smaller it’ll pack down.
Here are our top choices from the review.
The best rain jacket on a budget is the Marmot PreCip Eco. This rain jacket is full of features that you’d expect in more high-end jackets, is durable, and provides excellent weather protection. You can’t ask for much more at under $75.
The best rain jacket that can do it all is the Arc’teryx Zeta SL Jacket. It’s comfy, soft, weatherproof, looks good and it’s durable as hell. If you’re looking for an allrounder that’s going to last, this is it.
The best rain jacket for skiing and climbing is the Black Diamond Liquid Point. This jacket will give you all the protection you need but where it comes into its own is the fit. It’s very athletic and provides enough room for layering and great freedom of movement, plus it has a helmet-compatible hood, ideal for both sports.
The best ultralight rain jacket is the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket. It’s reasonably priced, super light, durable, and provides excellent weather protection.