Best Rain Jackets to Keep You Moving During Physical Activity and Inclement Weather

couple road running in the rain


If you live in a wet climate, adding a reliable rain jacket to your wardrobe could help you stay active throughout the year. Even when the rain rolls in, a good jacket will help you complete your outdoor workouts in comfort.

A quick search will show you nearly infinite options for a quality raincoat. So to help simplify the process, we're highlighting a few of our favorites so you can enjoy the outdoors whether it rains or shines.

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The Best Rain Jackets - Our Top Picks

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Best Rain Jacket Overall - Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: Recycled ripstop nylon, tricot lining, microfleece at the neck
  • Weight: 13.9 oz.
  • Waterproofing: 3-layer H2No® Performance Standard Shell with DWR coating
  • Category: Performance/hiking
  • Features: 2-way adjustable hood, microfleece-lined neck, zippered pockets, underarm venting zips, cuff closures, adjustable drawcord hem

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Patagonia built this rain jacket to complement active lifestyles. With three layers of specialized H2No® fabric, this rain jacket will keep you dry in a heavy downpour and cool during peak exertion. In addition to breathable fabric, there are two underarm venting zips, so you shouldn't get that swampy feeling even when pushing your body to its max.

This jacket has a large, adjustable hood with a small visor and a microfleece-lined neck that zips right up to the chin to help keep your head and neck dry. This design keeps your whole body warm and comfortable during a storm.

What We Like

  • Underarm venting zips
  • DWR-treated zippers
  • Super packable, stuffs into the left pocket
  • Made with some recycled materials and constructed in a Fair Trade approved facility

What We Don't Like

  • The material is loud and "crinkly" or "stiff," according to some reviews
  • No internal pockets for keeping phones or other sensitive items safe

BUY: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

Best Rain Jacket for Men - The North Face Antora Anorak - Men's

The North Face Antora Anorak - Men's

SPECS

  • Material: DryVent™ 2L shell (recycled nylon), recycled polyester taffeta lining
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Waterproofing: 2-layer DryVent, non-PFC DWR
  • Category: Everyday use/hiking
  • Features: 3-piece hood with drawcord, kangaroo hand pockets, concealed patch pocket, elastic binding on cuffs

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The North Face Antora Anorak is a two-layer rain jacket that features DryVent™ fabric. According to The North Face, this fabric is fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It has a non-PFC DWR finish to help repel water, and all seams are fully sealed.

With a solid waterproof rating, a large hood, and elastic binding on the cuffs, this jacket should keep you dry even when the worst weather hits. And because this jacket is a pullover, The North Face has included kangaroo pockets, so you can warm your hands easily in chilly weather.

What We Like

  • Large hood to keep your head dry
  • 3 pockets (including one concealed) to carry your belongings.
  • Made from recycled materials and non-PFC DWR

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm zips or extra venting
  • Pullover style can be harder to get on/off

BUY: The North Face Antora Anorak - Men's

Best Rain Jacket for Women - Outdoor Research Aspire II GORE-TEX Jacket - Women's

Outdoor Research Aspire II GORE-TEX Jacket - Women's

SPECS

  • Material: 2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE textile, 100% Polyester 50-denier plain weave lining
  • Weight: 11.7 oz.
  • Waterproofing: Waterproof/breathable laminate
  • Category: Performance/moderate activity/everyday use/hiking
  • Features: TorsoFlo™ hem-to-bicep venting, YKK Aquaguard® zippers, adjustable hood, cuff closures, elastic drawcord hem, chest and hand pockets

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The GORE-TEX PACLITE material puts the Outdoor Research Aspire II rain jacket at the cutting edge of waterproof clothing. It is a lightweight, breathable, and effective garment. With fully-taped seams and YKK Aquaguard® zippers, you should be able to withstand a big storm without feeling slowed down or drenched in sweat.

This rain jacket may also be the most adjustable and functional product on the market. It can transform with two-way venting zippers that run from armpit to hemline, allowing heat to escape rapidly. And, according to one reviewer, the hood on this rain jacket is large enough to fit over a bike helmet, so you can keep cruising even if it's wet outside.

What We Like

  • 2-way venting zippers that run from armpit to hemline
  • Oversized, adjustable hood to keep your head warm and dry
  • Lightly fitted, flattering design
  • Non-PFC DWR coating
  • Wide variety of sizes, XS to 3X

What We Don't Like

  • On the pricier side
  • Does not stuff into a pocket for easier packing

BUY: Outdoor Research Aspire II GORE-TEX Jacket - Women's

Best Lightweight Rain Jacket - Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: DryQ® 50D stretch ripstop, 100% recycled polyester
  • Weight: 10.9 oz.
  • Waterproofing: 2.5-layer DryQ® Active waterproof/breathable laminate
  • Category: Everyday use/hiking/moderate activity/travel
  • Features: 4-way allover stretch, 3-piece adjustable hood, one chest pocket, two hand pockets with mesh lining, adjustable cuffs, underarm venting zips

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Mountain Hardware has partnered with eVent, a leading performance textile producer, to create their revolutionary waterproof DryQ® fabric. What makes DryQ® special is its breathability. Unlike other waterproof membranes, DryQ® allows air and moisture to escape through the shell fabric, making this rain jacket almost two times more breathable than industry standards, according to Mountain Hardwear.

This rain jacket’s extreme breathability, lightweight fabric, and ability to adapt to your movements makes it a highly functional, highly comfortable choice.

What We Like

  • Fabric is lightweight, soft, and quiet
  • Large underarm vent zips
  • 3 pockets to store valuables
  • Super packable, stuffs into a pocket

What We Don't Like

  • Available in limited colors
  • One reviewer notes that the underarm venting zips are hard to use while running because the zip pulls up to open

BUY: Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket

Best Backpacking Rain Jacket - REI Co-op Groundbreaker Rain Jacket 2.0

REI Co-op Groundbreaker Rain Jacket 2.0

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester/polyester mesh lining
  • Weight: Unknown
  • Waterproofing: 2-layer waterproof breathable laminate, DWR finish
  • Category: Everyday use/hiking
  • Features: Drawcord hood, drawcord hem, two pockets

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REI is known for making high-quality goods at price points far below the name brands. And this rain jacket is no exception. While it doesn't have all the features you might find in top rain jackets, it does offer considerable protection from the elements in a lightweight, packable design. When space and weight are at a premium, this rain jacket is a great option.

According to the REI website, this rain jacket was designed for backpacking. The shoulder seams have been moved forward to prevent abrasion under backpack straps, keeping you comfortable on long treks.

What We Like

  • Lightweight fabric, highly packable
  • With a 30" back length, this jacket is a bit longer than most to provide more protection, especially under a backpack
  • Competitive price

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm venting zips
  • Sleeves are only partly elasticized, with some reviewers complaining that there is no way to keep the sleeves from dropping over the hand

BUY: REI Co-op Groundbreaker Rain Jacket 2.0

Best Running Rain Jacket - Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: Recycled nylon ripstop
  • Weight: 3.7 oz.
  • Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR finish
  • Category: Everyday use/moderate activity/travel
  • Features: Adjustable hood, drawcord hem, zippered chest pocket that converts to stuffsack with carabiner clip-in loop

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Why is this jacket called the Houdini? Because its disappearing act is magic. When you stuff it into the chest pocket, it becomes a tiny pouch that can easily fit into your pants pocket. It is an excellent companion for a morning jog when there’s the threat of fog or a drizzle. But beware, this jacket is only designed to handle light rain and winds. According to Patagonia, it's more of a weather-resistant windbreaker than a true rain jacket. So don't expect heavy storm protection. But if you want something you can squeeze into a fanny pack in case of a sprinkle, this jacket won’t disappoint.

What We Like

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Ultra-packable, jacket stuffs into chest pocket
  • Made from 100% recycled materials
  • Fair Trade Certified sewn

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm venting zips
  • Geared toward protecting you in light rain only, not recommended for heavy rain

BUY: Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Best Cycling Rain Jacket Overall - PEARL iZUMi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

PEARL iZUMi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: 100% recycled polyester ripstop, mesh
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Waterproofing: DWR finish
  • Category: Moderate activity/travel
  • Features: Removable sleeves (can be stored in back pocket), rear upper mesh venting panel, 2-way front zipper, dual-side hem cord locks, two front pockets and one rear pocket, BioViz® reflective elements for increased visibility

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Long rides often mean encountering a variety of weather conditions. The PEARL iZUMi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket is geared for versatility. With removable sleeves, a rear mesh panel, and a two-way zipper, this rain jacket provides mild protection and maximum ventilation. It will protect you from light rains and winds, but don't count on it in a big storm.

This jacket’s lightweight fabric allows it to fit into its rear pocket and comes with straps that can velcro to you or your bike. In warmer months, it is a no-brainer to add this jacket to your cycling arsenal.

What We Like

  • Zip-off sleeves for more versatility in warm weather
  • Rear mesh panel for extra venting
  • Ultra packable; can stuff into rear pocket
  • Available in super bright, "screaming yellow" to increase road visibility

What We Don't Like

  • No hood
  • Geared toward protecting you in light rain only, not recommended for heavy rain

BUY: PEARL iZUMi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket

Best Hot Weather Rain Jacket - Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse (2.5-layer) and 30D nylon ripstop
  • Weight: 6.3 oz.
  • Waterproofing: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse, sealed seams
  • Category: Everyday use/travel
  • Features: Adjustable hood, adjustable hem, elastic cuffs, one pocket on chest, packs into chest pocket

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Outdoor Research has teamed up with Pertex, a textiles manufacturer, to incorporate their Diamond Fuse fabric into this rain jacket. According to Pertex, Diamond Fuse is a revolutionary fabric made with a unique diamond shaped weave to create a "durable and highly abrasion resistant fabric." Pertex also says it is waterproof, windproof, and breathable.

This highly packable rain jacket is a good choice during warmer weather when an afternoon storm may catch you off guard. The oversized hood and breathable fabric provide comfortable protection in light rain.

What We Like

  • Ultra lightweight
  • Packs into chest pocket
  • Durable fabric

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm venting zips
  • Only one pocket
  • Geared toward protecting you in light rain only, not recommended for heavy rain

BUY: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Best Heavy-Duty Rain Jacket - Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell

Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell

SPECS

  • Material: BD.dry™ 2.5L 2-way stretch woven face (nylon)
  • Weight: 11.3 oz.
  • Waterproofing: BD.dry™ 2.5L waterproof breathable laminate, DWR finish
  • Category: Performance/hiking/moderate activity
  • Features: Underarm venting zips, adjustable oversized hood (climbing helmet compatible), adjustable hem and cuffs, packs into the right-hand pocket

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Black Diamond uses their proprietary 2.5-layer BD.dry™ fabric to make the StormLine Stretch rain jacket. According to most reviewers, this fabric offers superior wetness protection, even when compared to more well-known brands on the market. And, unlike most other rain jacket fabrics, BD.dry™ is flexible enough to move with you, so it won’t hold you back during vigorous activity.

While this jacket is a bit less fitted than some other rain jackets, the large hood makes it a great choice for those participating in sports that require a helmet. With underarm venting zips and an additional half layer on the inside, this jacket feels soft against the skin and performs well in a wide range of weather and activities.

What We Like

  • Built to withstand big rain storms
  • Added coating to the inside, so the fabric feels soft against your skin
  • Fabric stretches and moves with you
  • Underarm venting zips
  • Lightweight and packable

What We Don't Like

  • Hood may be too large for everyday use since it's compatible with a helmet.
  • Some reviewers say they have had issues with the zipper failing

BUY: Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell

Best Budget Rain Jacket - Columbia Hikebound Jacket

Columbia Hikebound Jacket

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester soft dobby, mesh lining
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Waterproofing: Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable fabric
  • Category: Everyday use/hiking
  • Features: Adjustable hood, two hand pockets, one chest pocket, adjustable cuffs, drawcord hem

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While this jacket is technically waterproof and breathable, Omni-Tech fabric falls on the lowest end of the waterproofing scale, so other jackets regularly outperform it.

Still, the Columbia Hikebound Jacket is a solid choice if you plan on using it during light activities like walks and don't anticipate getting caught in any major rain storms. With fully sealed seams, a large hood to keep your head dry, and plenty of pockets to stash your goods, this rain jacket delivers a lot for a reasonable price.

What We Like

  • 3 zippered pockets to stash all your goods
  • Mesh lining to keep outer fabric away from your skin
  • Nice assortment of two-tone color combos for a bit more style

What We Don't Like

  • No underarm venting zips
  • Some reviewers say the sleeves run very long

BUY: Columbia Hikebound Jacket

What to Consider When Buying a Rain Jacket


Waterproofing

The hydrostatic head test measures the degree of waterproofness of fabrics. Fabrics can range in rating from 1,500 to 40,000 millimeters or more. The higher the number, the more waterproof the material. Most manufacturers require the fabric to achieve at least a 10,000mm rating to earn the waterproof designation. Any fabric below 10,000mm is generally considered water-resistant, not waterproof.

Many manufacturers will add a chemical coating called durable water repellent (DWR) to increase a garment's waterproof rating. DWR causes water to bead up, preventing it from penetrating inner fabric layers. These beads easily shake off of clothing.

Manufacturers will also fully seal or tape their seams to keep water out. Without this feature, water can seep through the tiny sewing holes.

Breathability

The difference between wearing a plastic poncho (fully waterproof) and a nice rain jacket is the breathability. Plastic ponchos don't breathe. If you've ever worn one, you know that swamp-like feeling that builds up the longer you wear it. Plastic ponchos may succeed at keeping the rain out, but you still might end up soaked with sweat.

So if you plan on using your rain jacket while doing physical activity, breathability is perhaps as important as waterproofness. Some manufacturers use the moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) to measure how much water vapor (or sweat) can pass through a fabric in a given time frame, but there is no universal standardized test to measure MVTR. So your best bet is to read trusted reviews and, if you can, try on a jacket for yourself.

Materials

Raincoat technology has come a long way in the last decade. There are a variety of waterproof and breathable materials on the market, but most raincoats are made primarily from nylon. However, not all nylon is created equal. It can range considerably in structure and function. And to complicate matters even more, some nylon materials have been rebranded, so it can be difficult to know what a fabric’s name really means.

Some raincoats have an inner membrane, coating, or laminate layer that allows hot, moist air to escape while keeping precipitation out. Some raincoats also have an inner layer or half layer that protects the membrane from body oils that might cause degradation.

Weight

The weight of a rain jacket depends on the materials used, the type and number of layers, and extra hardware, like zippers and hoods. A heavier rain jacket doesn't necessarily mean a more effective rain jacket, as some of the best rain jackets weigh the least.

If you buy a rain jacket specifically for backpacking, cycling, or any other activity where small weight differences can affect performance, you'll want to select a lightweight, highly packable rain jacket. If you only plan on using a rain jacket for short, casual outings, weight won’t be as important of a factor for you.

Features

The basic features of a rain jacket include adjustable waist pulls, cuffs, venting underarm zippers, and hoods. You should select a rain jacket that has features suited for your planned activity. If you need a jacket that vents well, select one with good underarm venting zippers. If you hate getting your hair wet when it rains, look for one with a protective hood.

FAQs About Rain Jackets


Are Raincoats Waterproof?

Yes and no. The degree of waterproofing depends on the specific raincoat. Some rain jackets are fully waterproof, especially those with several layers of specialized fabric and a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. Other rain jackets, particularly those without a DWR coating or less-effective fabric, only reduce the amount of precipitation that can penetrate the fabric. These are referred to as water-resistant.

Should I Size Up for a Rain Jacket?

No. Most rain jackets are made to accommodate a number of base layers. It is a good idea to always reference a brand's size chart. If you are between sizes, then consider sizing up.

Are Rain Jackets Worth It?

If you're the type who prefers to hike through a drizzle, then a good rain jacket is essential. A lightweight, packable, go-anywhere rain jacket has the power to keep all of your outdoor activities dry and comfortable.

Do Rain Jackets Keep You Warm?

Most rain jackets are not insulated and are not intended to provide a layer of warmth. However, many rain jackets will trap body heat, especially if you're doing any kind of moderate activity. If you use your rain jacket in cold weather, we recommend you layer up underneath.

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