Buying a rain jacket for hiking is not as simple as it sounds. A lot of technology and testing goes into the design of these jackets. When shopping, you'll encounter waterproof ratings, breathability ratings, DWR, and sealed seams.
That's why we went ahead and tested the recommended rain jackets on the market today. Read on to see which rain jacket or shell is best for you and some buying advice to help you choose.
Table of Contents
Best Rain Jackets
The best rain jackets are:
- Best Overall Lightweight Rain Jacket: ARC'TERYX ZETA SL
- Best Budget Lightweight Rain Jacket: FROGG TOGGS PONCHO
- Best Ultralight Rain Jacket: MONTBELL RAIN TREKKER
- Best Lightweight Rain Jacket: OUTDOOR RESEARCH MOTIVE ASCENTSHELL
- Best Full-Featured Lightweight Rain Jacket: COLUMBIA OUTDRY REIGN
|1. Arc'Teryx Zeta SL||10.9 oz||$300||2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, 40D ripstop nylon||7/10|
|2. Montbell Rain Trekker||6.9 oz||$179||2-layer GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper, 20-D ripstop nylon||7/10|
|3. Frogg Toggs Poncho||9 oz||$19.99||Breathable and waterproof nonwoven polypropylene||7/10|
|4. Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell||10.9 oz||$199||AscentShell 3L, 100% Polyester 50D Mechanical Stretch Plainweave with 100% Polyester 30D Woven Backer||7/10|
|5. Montbell Versalite||6.4 oz||$219||2-layer Gore Windstopper and 10-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon||7/10|
|6. ZPacks Vertice||6.5 oz||$299||Zpacks custom waterproof breathable fabric, 7D ripstop nylon, and a tricot lining||7/10|
|7. Enlightened Equipment Visp||4.9 oz||$210||3-Layer waterproof/breathable fabric composed of ultralight 7D ripstop nylon||6/10|
|8. Columbia Outdry Reign||12.8 - 16 oz||$150||OutDry EXTREME waterproof/breathable, 100% nylon||6/10|
|9. Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket||12.6 oz||$279||3-layer H2No®Performance Standard NetPlus, 100% recycled nylon ripstop||6/10|
|10. Skylight Gear||3.3 oz||$175||7d Silnylon||6/10|
|11. Marmot Precip Eco||11 oz||$100||Marmot NanoPro Eco Waterproof/Breathable Fabric, Nylon Ripstop||6/10|
|12. Black Diamond Stormline Stretch||11.3 oz||$159-170||BD.dry 2.5L and 100% Nylon||6/10|
|13. Outdoor Research Helium II||6.3 oz||$159||2.5L Pertex Shield+ and 30D ripstop nylon||6/10|
|14. Columbia EvaPOURation Jacket||10.56-12.8 oz||$100||Omni-Tech™ Plain Weave 2.5L 100% nylon||6/10|
|15. REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket||13 oz||$99.95||2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate, Recycled nylon ripstop||6/10|
|16. Marmot EVO-dry Eclipse||13.4 oz||$150.00||2.5-layer MemBrain Eco waterproof/breathable||6/10|
✅ Best overall
- Fabric: 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus, 40D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 10.9 oz (0.69 lbs)
The Arc’Teryx Zeta SL is a 2-layer coat weighing 10.9 ounces, right in the middle of the jackets, we reviewed. You get a lot of value for this weight, making it our best overall rain jacket. We like the use of Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric, which is outstanding in heavy rains. And it comes loaded with water-resistant zippers, velcro cuffs, and a hood big enough to fit a helmet under. The drawback of the Zeta SL is the cost. It’s the most expensive rain jacket on our list. But cost aside, we feel the combo of durability, breathability, and waterproofing will make this rain jacket last you a long time.
- Fabric: Breathable and waterproof nonwoven polypropylene
- Weight: 9 oz (0.56 lbs)
The Frogg Toggs poncho is popular among long-distance hikers because it is lightweight and affordable. The poncho will keep you bone-dry in the rain and we found the poncho cut to be naturally ventilated, giving this rain jacket excellent breathability. We like the side snaps as a simple design to open and close the jacket as needed. The biggest detractor we found with the Frogg Toggs Ultralite 2 Poncho is its durability. The polypropylene fabric may tear if it snags on a branch or scrapes up against a rock. We find it hard to go wrong with the Frogg Toggs Poncho, especially for the budget minded making this our top budget pick.
✅ Great balance of weight
❌ Average breathability
- Fabric: 2-layer GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper, 20-D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 6.9 oz (0.43 lbs)
The Rain Trekker is made with Gore-Tex Infinium, which we like for a top-of-the-line fabric for protection against the weather. We also like that the fabric keeps this jacket relatively breathable and light. It’s by no means the cheapest jacket on our list, but the Rain Trekker’s balance of cost, sub-7-ounce weight, and excellent waterproofing ability make this our top ultralight pick.
✅ 3-layer waterproof protection
❌ Lack of adjustable features
- Fabric: AscentShell 3L, 100% Polyester 50D Mechanical Stretch Plainweave with 100% Polyester 30D Woven Backer
- Weight: 10.9 oz (0.68 lbs)
The Outdoor Research Motive Ascent Shell offers a 3-layer membrane jacket in a lightweight 10.9 ounces package. We found the 50D polyester fabric makes it a durable option too. But we didn’t find many other frills. To save on weight, OR kept the jacket simple, leaving out pit zips, extra pockets, adjustable wrist cuffs, and an adjustable hood. The jacket excels at waterproofing, doing much better than its OR counterpart the Helium II. This is our pick for the best lightweight rain jacket.
✅ Inexpensive full-feature option
- Fabric: OutDry EXTREME waterproof/breathable, 100% nylon
- Weight: 12.8 - 16 oz (0.8 - 1 lbs)
This flashy, almost futuristic jacket is made from a new fabric from Columbia called OutDry Extreme which we think is giving Gore-Text a run for its money. This technology places the waterproof/breathable membrane on the outside of the jacket with a softer wicking material on the inside. We found this added breathability, waterproofness, and comfort. The jacket also features a large hood that allows for plenty of coverage under its adjustable brim, cinch cords at the waist, and pit zips. The Columbia Outdry Reign is our pick for the best full-featured rain jacket.
The Other Noteworthy Models
- Fabric: 2-layer Gore Windstopper and 10-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon
- Weight: 6.4 oz (0.4 lbs)
The Montbell Versalite was designed to be lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. We like that the jacket is cut using a single piece of fabric. As a result, we found that there are fewer seams to leak making it very waterproof. This also makes it lighter. What stands out for us is the Versalite full feature set, unique for an ultralight jacket. It includes pit zips, velcro cuffs, and an adjustable hood. Like other ultralight jackets, we found durability to be an issue. And it also comes at a premium cost.
❌ Few features
- Fabric: Zpacks custom waterproof breathable fabric, 7D ripstop nylon, and a tricot lining
- Weight: 6.5 oz (0.41 lbs)
The Vertice is a three-layer rain jacket made from a proprietary waterproof and breathable fabric made specifically for Zpacks. We found it amazingly light and breathable. Better than similar rain jackets. We like that it has pit zips, which other ultralight models lack. And we found the waterproofing to be better than other ultralight options in heavy rain. To save weight it keeps the features to a minimum. Durability and price are the drawbacks to most ultralight rain jackets and we found the Vertice to be no different. In fact, it’s the second most expensive rain jacket on our list.
✅ Great for high-intensity activities
❌ Not great in long heavy rains
- Fabric: 3-Layer waterproof/breathable fabric composed of ultralight 7D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 4.9 oz (0.31 lbs)
The Visp rain jacket by Enlightened Equipment is one of the lightest rain jackets on our list. The coat uses an ultralight 7D ripstop nylon with a waterproof and breathable membrane on the inside. We found this jacket to be very breathable, making it great for high-intensity outdoor activities in light rain. One of our favorite features is the drop tail hem which lengthens the back of the garment so it won't ride up when wearing a backpack. Due to the thin fabric, we found durability was less with the Visp than with other models we reviewed. We also found it less waterproof in all-day rains than thicker jackets. The price is also on the higher side.
✅ Lightweight all-around option for the town and the trail
- Fabric: 3-layer H2No®Performance Standard NetPlus, 100% recycled nylon ripstop
- Weight: 12.6 oz (0.79 lbs)
Patagonia's Granite Crest rain jacket’s 10,000mm waterproof rating is less than most rain jackets, so we’d recommend this for daily use around town or for short walks. We like that the thin fabric keeps the coat lightweight and protects against the weather using DWR, Patagonia's proprietary H2No waterproof membrane, and sealed seams. However, we found this rain jacket to be surprisingly expensive for a coat that doesn't particularly excel in any area.
Price: $175AVAILABLE ON INSTAGRAM
✅ Custom made to fit you
- Fabric: 7D Silnylon
- Weight: 3.3 oz (0.21 lbs)
If you want the lightest rain jacket look no further than the custom-made jackets from Skylight Gear. They specialize in making custom jackets based on personalized measurements. We like that the designs are incredibly lightweight without cutting on important features like snap wrist adjustments, an adjustable hood, a waterproof zipper, and pit zips. The silnylon material offers no special DWR or layering so we’d recommend these jackets for ultra-lighters willing to sacrifice a bit of waterproofing for weight.
✅ Great all-around jacket
- Fabric: Marmot NanoPro Eco Waterproof/Breathable Fabric, Nylon Ripstop
- Weight: 11 oz (0.69 lbs)
The Precip is the classic rain jacket for those looking for an affordable, entry-level rain jacket. We found it durable enough to withstand minor scrapes and scuffs, yet waterproof enough for hiking in the rain. It has a boxy cut that fits well over layers but isn't oversized. Marmot priced the Precip at the low end, but we like that it still has extras like pit zips, velcro cuffs, and pockets. While it excels in no one category we find it to be a great all-around entry-level coat.
✅ Stretchy material allows for mobility
❌ Heaviest model in the lightweight category
- Fabric: BD.dry 2.5L and 100% Nylon
- Weight: 11.3 oz (0.71 lbs)
The Black Diamond Stormline Stretch is the jacket you want when your outdoor pursuits require mobility and durability in a shell. We like that when you move, you can feel the jacket stretch to move along with you. The YKK zippers are coated with PU for water resistance and it has pit zips for added ventilation. And we could fit a bike helmet under it too. It’s on the heavier side of the lightweight jackets we reviewed.
❌ Lacks features
- Fabric: 2.5L Pertex Shield+ and 30D ripstop nylon
- Weight: 6.3 oz (0.39 lbs)
We love the Helium II for being one of the most compact rain jackets on the market. It stuffs into an interior pocket and packs down to the size of a Clif Bar. It is ultralight, making it one of our favorite rain jackets to throw in our pack as a just-in-case jacket. It is best suited for the occasional rain shower and will not stand up to extended rain or rough terrain. We don’t love that it’s not as full-featured as some other rain jackets, there are no pit zips for ventilation, no hand pockets, and only an elastic at the cuffs.
✅ Great in warm climates
❌ Average waterproofing and breathability
- Fabric: Omni-Tech™ Plain Weave 2.5L 100% nylon
- Weight: 10.56 - 12.8 oz (0.66 - 0.8 lbs)
We found the Evapouration to be a comfy jacket at a fair price. We like it as a good option for moderate hiking through drizzles or a misty afternoon around town. It's a thin shell that works well for warmer climates and will keep you comfortable and dry. We found it a little cold in cooler conditions, you'd want to add a layer for warmth. The good news is the jacket’s larger fit leaves plenty of room for this. The weight was on the heavier side compared to other models we reviewed. But it does come with a nice feature set such as a Velcro adjustable storm hood with cinch drawstrings, adjustable cuffs, dual hand pockets, and underarm vents.
- Fabric: 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate, Recycled nylon ripstop
- Weight: 13 oz (0.81 lbs)
Another inexpensive all-around option like Marmot Precip, we like that the REI Rainier rain jacket offers a nice entry point for those wanting a full-featured jacket for casual wear. It’s a thick, durable jacket, which makes it easy to work up a sweat. Due to this lack of breathability, we find it best suited for colder climates. It’s made of recycled (bluesign approved) nylon, making it a good sustainable option. We find this coat to be bulky and less packable than other models we reviewed.
✅ Top sustainable option
- Fabric: 2.5-layer MemBrain Eco waterproof/breathable
- Weight: 13.4 oz (0.84 lbs)
If sustainability is your top priority, the Marmot EVO-Dry is our top pick. It's made from Marmot's Eco-friendly EVO-dry materials that use fewer chemicals and dyes. The recycled nylon used in the jacket that’s PFC-free. We found it to be in the middle of the pack in terms of waterproof capabilities and breathability. And we don’t like that it’s one of the heaviest rain jackets on our list.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing
Waterproof RatingRain jackets vary widely in their ability to repel water, which is why there is a market standard that you can use to compare them. Many manufacturers provide a waterproof rating between 0 mm and 20,000 mm or higher. A rating of 10,000 protects you during light rain, while 20,000 or above is suitable for heavy rain. Look for waterproof zippers that are coated or covered with a layer of fabric to prevent water from seeping through the teeth. Seams are weak spots in heavy rain and should be sealed to prevent water from soaking through the stitching.
The most waterproof Rain Jackets:
BreathabilityIt's inevitable that over time sweat will build up inside your coat leaving you clammy and wet. The more breathable your jacket is, the more this process can be slowed. Features like pit zips increase a jacket’s breathability. Material and layer construction also play a big part.
Breathability is measured as the number of grams of water vapor that can pass through a square meter of fabric in 24 hours. Most jackets are rated between 10K (10,000g) and 20K (20,000g). The larger the number, the more breathable the fabric.
The most breathable Rain Jackets:
WeightHow much do rain jackets weigh? Rain jackets weigh from 3 to 16 ounces on average. We find jackets between 6 and 12 ounces offer a good balance of weight, performance, and features. Full-featured rain jackets can be over 12 ounces to offer maximum protection. Anything under 6 ounces is getting into emergency jacket territory best suited for hikes where rain is light or brief.
The Lightest Rain Jackets are:
PriceRain jacket price ranges dramatically, from $20 to $299+. Weight, features, and quality have the most effect on price. If you hike in an area with lots of rain paying more upfront for a tough long lasting jacket is a good idea. If you’re on a budget or hike in drier climates, a budget model may suit your needs.
Affordable Lightweight Rain Jackets (Least Expensive):
Premium Lightweight Rain Jackets (Most Expensive):
Lightweight Rain Jackets that provide the greatest value:
Other Things to Consider
The higher the denier, the higher the durabilityDenier measures the thickness of the individual threads or filaments used to make the fabric.
- Low (10-20D): Fabrics with a low denier are softer and less durable. Thus, a low-denier jacket will be lightweight and easy to pack, but it will tear more easily when you come into contact with branches, thick brush, or jagged rock.
- High (30D+): A higher denier jacket is recommended for winter activities and hiking in thick brush or rocky areas. It'll be heavier to carry and won't pack down compactly, but you'll appreciate its tear resistance on rough outings.
Plan to wear several layers underneath the jacketRain jackets are designed in two basic styles: 1. an athletic fit that is meant to be tight-fitting and 2. a loose, boxy fit for layering.
When purchasing a jacket, you don’t want it too tight in case you want to layer a down jacket or other clothing underneath. As a rule of thumb (although it depends on the brand):
- Athletic cut: go up a size to have that extra room for layers
- Boxy cut: buy true to size as you want to be able to use the adjustment points to secure the openings so rain does not leak inside the coat.
Pockets, Hood, Zippers, and MoreLike most backpacking gear, you can choose between minimalist or full-featured jackets.
A minimalist jacket does the job of keeping you dry without all the extras. These minimal jackets ditch the pockets, limit the adjustment options, and remove extra zippers to keep things simple and light. They also tend to be made with lighter material that packs more efficiently in a backpack.
A full-featured coat has everything you need and more. It will include things like:
- Pockets: While daily wear jackets will place their pockets down by the waist, performance jackets place their pockets up higher, allowing you to access the pockets even when you are wearing a climbing harness or a backpack with a hip belt.
- Hood: Some hoods are small and adjust to fit your head snugly, while other hoods are large enough to accommodate a helmet. The bill can be long or short, stiff, or flexible. The best bills are long and have some rigidity, so they hold their shape.
- Ventilation Zips: Pit and side zips are crucial for venting sweat when you start to heat up while exercising. These zippers allow fresh air to flow around your core, cooling you down quickly.
- Drawstrings and Straps: Most high-quality rain jackets will include adjustable waistbands, adjustable hoods, and sleeve cuffs to seal off any openings and create an impenetrable barrier from the rain.
- Built-In Stretch: Stretchable rain jackets tend to be expensive, but they provide undeniable comfortable, especially when hiking, skiing, or climbing. They are also not crinkly like a standard rain jacket.
Look for Defects in the Seams, Zippers, and Inner LayerSome manufacturers trim costs by minimizing the seam sewing, skipping the seam sealing, and choosing low-cost zippers instead of the more expensive and reliable YKK zippers.
Another factor is waterproofing, especially when buying a used jacket. The waterproof layers inside the jacket may delaminate (separate) with age, and the DWR on the outside may fail, especially if you are rough on your coat. The DWR treatment can be restored, but the delamination cannot be fixed.
In summary, you should look at the zippers and seams to make sure they will last. If you see a jacket that is flaking or bubbling on the inside, don't expect to stay dry.
SustainabilitySustainability, for good reason, has been a growing concern in the outdoor industry. Many rain jackets put this feature front and center. When shopping for a sustainable rain jacket look for bluesign-approved fabrics, use of recycled materials, and DWR coatings that use less harmful chemicals. Also, look into labor practices to ensure you’re supporting companies that support their workforce.
PackabilityCarrying a rain jacket is almost always a good idea, even if the weather forecast looks favorable. Thin ultralight jackets are easy to stuff down in your pack, and great for an emergency option. More bulky full-featured jackets don’t pack down as small, but if cold, rainy weather is on the horizon they are worth the space in your pack.
FAQsWhich rain jacket is best?
The best rain jacket is the Arc'Teryx Zeta SL.
What is the difference between water-resistant and waterproof jackets?
Waterproof jackets offer the most protection from rain while water-resistant jackets offer good, but a lower level, of protection.
Is GORE-TEX waterproof or water-resistant?
GORE-TEX is waterproof.
How long should a GORE-TEX jacket last?
A GORE-TEX jacket should last 3 to 5 years if used daily, and longer if used less frequently.