Eddie Bauer BC Sandstone Stretch rain jacket

The Best Rain Jackets of 2022

Whether you’re splashing about town or trekking through a monsoon, these are the best rain jackets of 2022.

We’ve all worn a trash bag in a pinch. And while almost anything is better than being soaking wet, nothing beats a purpose-built rain jacket with the right combination of features and price to meet your needs.

We scoured the internet, spoke with brands, and researched a wealth of online reviews to narrow down the top contenders for the best rain jackets. Then, we tested the best of the best to determine which contenders stood out. We looked at materials, features (waterproof membranes, durability, breathability, packability), price, and more.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive rain jacket buyer’s guide, as well as our comparison chart. And if you still have rain jacket questions, take a look at our list of frequently asked questions.

The Best Rain Jackets of 2022

Best Overall Rain Jacket: Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 — Men’s & Women’s

Rab Downpour 2.0
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but the Downpour Plus 2.0 Jacket ($160) sure does get close. Combining an admirable balance of waterproofness/breathability, features, and price, this Rab rain jacket strikes the perfect balance across the spectrum and easily lands as the best rain jacket overall in our testing.

The Pertex Shield 2.5-layer waterproof membrane sports what we believe is just about the perfect balance of waterproofing to breathability: 20,000mm to 20,000g/m², and generous pit zips help to avoid perspiration when the difficulty really ramps up. There are certainly other rain jackets that fill special niches better than the Downpour, but none tick more boxes across the range.

In our own testing, we were consistently impressed by the well-thought-out features that round out this shell. During a trail ride on Washington state’s Galbraith mountain, we battled on-again, off-again showers with the Downpour, and were keen on the roll-away hood, which easily tucked away for the rip down, as well as the drawstring hem which kept mud from going where the sun don’t shine.

There are a few stumbles: such as the sometimes difficult-to-manage left-hand zipper, and the need to mechanically vent to avoid interior slickness typical of 2.5-layer waterproof membranes — but we’re willing to look past these minor flaws for the sheer utility the Downpour provides.

It is the most well-rounded rain jacket we’ve tested, and at the price (less than $200), it’s an easy go-to for anyone looking for a shell to do most everything. Read more about the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 in our in-depth review.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Pertex Shield 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 20,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 20,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 13.2 oz.
Pros:
  • Feature-rich
  • Adaptable
  • Price
Cons:
  • Less intuitive left-hand zipper
  • 2.5-layer membrane needs pit zips down for added breathability

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at Amazon

Runner-Up Rain Jacket: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket — Men’s & Women’s 

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Recently updated, Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket ($149) gained a three-layer H2No waterproof membrane, something that many other jackets at the price point can’t match.

Many will also appreciate the number of sustainable choices Patagonia made when creating the new Torrentshell, such as the 100% recycled nylon ripstop face fabric, the Fair Trade sewing, and a PU membrane that employs 13% biobased content. For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to find another rain jacket that provides the same level of performance, which is why the Torrentshell was our Runner-Up choice.

We did find it disappointing that Patagonia is still using a less environmentally-friendly fluorinated DWR finish, but the company is moving to become PFC-free in 90% of its waterproof garments by Fall 2022. The face fabric is also a bit crinkly and bulky, something we attribute to working out the kinks in using recycled nylon, but it did soften some with use.

When you consider it’s under $150, you’ve got a budget- and resource-friendly rainwear option that’s just as at home on the trail as it is kicking around town. Check out our in-depth review for more information on why we chose the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L as our runner-up choice.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary H₂No three-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 20,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: Unpublished
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 13.9 oz.
Pros:
  • Sustainability
  • Price
Cons:
  • Plastic-y feel
  • Fluorinated DWR finish

Check Men’s Price at REI Check Women’s Price at REI

Best Budget Rain Jacket: Decathlon Quechua MH100 — Men’s & Women’s

Decathlon Quechua MH100

Ordinarily, any jacket that costs under $60 is probably just a waste of time and money, as it will likely let you down and need to be replaced (sooner rather than later).

But Decathlon — still a relatively new player in the U.S. outdoor gear market — achieves bargain basement prices primarily through vertical integration. Because it controls its own manufacturing, distribution, and retail, it purports to pass along the cost savings to the end consumer.

We’ve tried some of its wares, and while some are a bit more far-out than we’re used to, plenty of its products meet our (and others) standards for quality outdoor gear — like Decathlon’s $90 down jacket.

This is also true with the brand’s Quechua MH100 rain jacket ($60) — a shell that can compete with jackets 10 times the price. We’re not saying it will outperform the best rain jackets the industry has to offer. But, for moderate use and reasonable expectations, this jacket punches way above its weight class.

The two-layer rain jacket provides respectable waterproofing (the brand claims 5 inches of water over 2 hours) and the basic features: two hand pockets, an inner chest pocket, and zippered pit vents. But it also allows the wearer to fully remove the adjustable hood (via snaps) — a handy feature for those who just don’t need it.

By no means the most breathable nor the most stylish, the Quechua MH100 still packs a punch in terms of value and utility.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary Decathlon two-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 5,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: RET of 12 (~10-15kg/m²)
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 22.4 oz.
Pros:
  • Good value
Cons:
  • Limited colors
  • Longevity

Check Men’s Price at DecathlonCheck Women’s Price at Decathlon

Best Rain Jacket for the City: Columbia OutDry Ex Reign — Men’s & Women’s

Columbia OutDry Ex Reign

Columbia put the outdoor industry on notice in 2015 when it revealed a new take on waterproof-breathable membranes with its OutDry Extreme tech. Doing away with DWR coatings — which “wet out” with time and abrasion — Columbia made the exterior of its OutDry Extreme a permanently waterproof PU layer.

The result has been one of the burliest and most dependable waterproof materials we’ve tested (if not the most breathable), but the Ex Reign will require more frequent DWR re-waterproofing to stay that way.

So if your primary needs are trips to the office, grocery store, or just about town, Columbia’s OutDry Ex Reign Jacket ($150) provides a dependable defense against the elements.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary OutDry Extreme two-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 20,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: Unpublished
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Active
  • Weight: 14 oz.
Pros:
  • Longevity
  • Durability
Cons:
  • Not as breathable as other options
  • Need to stay on top of DWR waterproofing

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Columbia

Best Premium Rain Jacket: Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket

From the skin track to the ice climbing crag, the Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket ($799) ticks the boxes for our needs when it comes to a rain jacket that can simply do it all.

Utilizing the crème-de-la-crème of GORE-TEX membranes and a super durable face fabric, this is the shell of serious mountaineers and alpinists who need absolute protection, no matter the price. Our own testing has taken the Alpha SV to places where other jackets shudder to dream of. Through it all, this jacket came out ready for more.

The Alpha SV certainly isn’t cheap. At its premium price point it’s better thought of as a long-term investment piece that’ll be around far into the future. One downside of the über burly fabric is the distinct crinkle of fabric on fabric, which can become a drone on repetitious missions like ski touring.

One benefit of the buy-once-cry-once ethos is getting access to brands that are pushing innovation. Arc’teryx works closely with GORE-TEX to produce leading-edge fabric technologies, and if the leading edge is where you spend most of your time, the Alpha SV is up to the task. It’s probably the best rain jacket money can buy.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Membrane: GORE-TEX Pro three-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 28,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 24,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 18 oz.
Pros:
  • Burly construction
  • Ample cut for easy layering
Cons:
  • Price
  • Noisy

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Best Ultralight Rain Jacket: Rab Phantom Pull-On — Men’s & Women’s

Rab Phantom Pull-On

Hey, ounce-counters — Rab has you covered. The Phantom Pull-On ($200) is Rab’s latest uber-packable shell for fast-and-light pursuits. The quarter-zip Phantom Pull-On weighs a scant 90g — that’s just a shade over 3 ounces.

Semi-stretchy (and semi-see-through), the Phantom uses a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric that resists tearing and held up to its fair share of branches and boulder scrapes in our tests. It even packs into its own removable (snap-on) stuff sack — down to 4.5 x 2 inches. There’s always a trade-off for trimming the fat, and here, the addition of pit zips could have added to the mechanical ventilation.

When you’re pushing the limits or pushing for the FKT, ultralight shells like the Phantom take up scant real estate in a running or climbing pack, making this an ideal rain jacket for those who need to check the box without being saddled down.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Pertex Shield 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 20,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 20,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Active/Slim
  • Weight: 3 oz.
Pros:
  • Weight
  • Packability
  • Breathability
Cons:
  • Quarter-zip
  • Not for continuous hard rain

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Best for Running: Janji Rainrunner Pack Jacket — Men’s & Women’s 

janji rainrunner

One of our favorite jackets for rainy and windy weather, this runner’s-specific jacket packs down small, but also packs a punch in terms of features.

To start, the Rainrunner has vented panels around the entire torso to vent the core, right where it’s needed most. The jacket has a full-length zipper that extends from the zippered hand pockets to the scuba-style hood. A hip-length hem, cinchable wrists, and reflective touches add to this jacket’s greatness.

But the best feature is the jacket itself: specifically, the newly updated fabric. It’s a lightweight, 2.5-layer 30,000mm waterproof fabric with 100% taped seams, that packs down to just 8 ounces (7 ounces for our women’s size small.) The protective snugness at the wrists and hood lock water out, but at the same time, the design isn’t too restrictive or heavy.

This jacket will move with you, and due to its small packed size, you can take it on almost all adventures. Durability can take a hit when you’re a featherweight like the Rainrunner Pack Jacket ($198), so choose your trails with care.

On top of all that, Janji donates 2% of proceeds to a different clean-water project nonprofit org each year. For the eco-conscious, it might be the best rain jacket for your mind and body.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary Janji 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 30,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 30,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Active/Slim
  • Weight: 8 oz.
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproofing
  • Good for high-aerobic activities like running
Cons:
  • Not as durable

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REICheck Men’s Price at JanjiCheck Women’s Price at Janji

Best Breathability: The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT

Many brands in recent years have begun prioritizing breathability in their rain shells, and The North Face uses electricity to manipulate the air and moisture permeability of its offerings. FUTURELIGHT marks TNF’s take on this process, and by our own tests, it marks a step forward in waterproof-breathable technology.

FUTURELIGHT fabric boasts an incredible breathability rating by utilizing a method known as nanospinning, creating a nano-sized fiber matrix that allows for air to flow freely from inside to out. For non-stop active pursuits where moisture management is key, the Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT ($230) scores high marks.

Coupled with a weight of just under 12 ounces and trustworthy water/windproof capabilities, the Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT is more than a one-trick pony. We only wished there was a bit more stretch incorporated into the fabric weave.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary FUTURELIGHT three-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: Unpublished
  • Breathability Rating: 75,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 11.9 oz.
Pros:
  • Excellent breathability
  • Cold defense
Cons:
  • Limited stretch
  • No pit zips

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at evo

Best of the Rest

The North Face Venture 2 — Men’s & Women’s

The North Face Venture 2

The Venture 2 ($99) rain jacket has long been the go-to option for all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. One member of our team owned their first Venture 2 for over 5 years before it needed to be replaced. Windproof, waterproof, and designed for all sorts of outdoor adventures, this jacket will quickly become a standard part of your kit.

With fully sealed seams and a high-quality DWR coating, the Venture 2 can handle even the heaviest of downpours without rain soaking through. When the weather warms up, large underarm zipper vents open up in an instant to help regulate your body temp. Also, the whole jacket packs down into its own pocket and easily stores in even the smallest daypack.

While most of the Venture 2’s features are relatively standard, we absolutely love the value it provides. For less than $100, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more reliable rain jacket.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary DryVent 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 25 PSI
  • Breathability Rating: Unpublished
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 11.6 oz.
Pros:
  • Great value
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Limited stretch
  • Not the most breathable

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at evo

Montbell Torrent Flier — Men’s & Women’s

Montbell Torrent Flier

A challenger to Rab’s Phantom for packability, the Montbell Torrent Flier ($249) doesn’t sacrifice creature comforts to achieve its light weight. A full front zip, accessory pocket, GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS construction, adjustable hem and hood, and reflective hits all combine in a 7.3-ounce jacket that packs down to about the size of a softball.

Utilizing an original “K-Mono Cut” pattern, Montbell is able to utilize a single piece of fabric for the construction of the Torrent Flier, greatly reducing the number of seam lines where water would traditionally penetrate and wet out a jacket. Being a Japanese company, these jackets tend to fit a bit smaller than a traditional Western cut, so try before you buy.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 50,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 44,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 7.3 oz.
Pros:
  • Top-notch features
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Expensive compared to similar options
  • Sizing can be difficult

Check Men’s Price at MontbellCheck Women’s Price at Montbell

Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell Rain Jacket — Men’s & Women’s

Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell
(Photo/Outdoor Research)

Way back in 2016, Outdoor Research pioneered electrospun membranes on a large scale to produce stretchy, reliably breathable rain shells. Now more widely adopted, this manufacturing process effectively allows venting more easily than other options, which require the wearer to reach a high temp before hot air (from the body) can push through.

The Motive ($199), with OR’s electrospun AscentShell tech, boasts the brand’s lightest and most streamlined construction. Though not truly a softshell, the Motive still blends maximum stretch in a surprisingly quiet hardshell, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be.

It is important to note that waterproof membranes with stretch tend to wet out faster than their static counterparts, which makes the Motive a go-to for activities like backcountry skiing where moisture can’t soak in as easily.

At less than 11 ounces for the men’s version and 10 ounces for women, OR managed to make a surprisingly lightweight offering that still has conveniences like zippered hand pockets, an internal chest pocket, and an adjustable hood.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary AscentShell three-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 15,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 30,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Active/Trim
  • Weight: 10.9 oz.
Pros:
  • Excellent stretch and breathability
Cons:
  • No sustainability certifications
  • Waterproof membranes with stretch tend to wet-out faster

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at Amazon

66 North Snaefell — Men’s & Women’s

66 North Snaefell

If you had to choose the perfect (read: harshest) conditions to test serious rainwear, you’d basically arrive in Iceland. A nation beset by a cold, roaring sea and a culture founded on fishing and exploring has given rise to clothing that can withstand some harsh environments. And if it works on the cold Atlantic, it’ll work for everyday adventures.

Cold, dark, and drizzly for nearly half the year, Iceland sits at the 66th north parallel of Earth. And to honor that, 66 North, the brand, makes its reputation on burly, durable garments that reliably keep you warm and dry.

The Snaefell jacket ($525) is a no-frills rain jacket that justifies its hefty price tag with quality construction. Hailed for its revolutionary breathability when it was released, the Polartec NeoShell material works to vent excess body heat with an exceptional breathability rating, but suffers a little with water resistance on the lower end.

When moving quickly through harsh environments is on the menu, the Snaefell is certainly a contender for the best rain jacket.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Polartec NeoShell three-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 10,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 30,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 18 oz.
Pros:
  • Durability
  • High breathability
Cons:
  • Price
  • Water resistance on the lower end

Check Men’s Price at 66 NorthCheck Women’s Price at 66 North

Black Diamond StormLine Stretch — Men’s & Women’s

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch

A solid blend of packability, stretch, weight, and value, Black Diamond’s StormLine Stretch ($149-159) provides a solid option for traveling and daily getaways. At around $150, it’s a reasonable option from a trusted brand.

Underarm gussets pair with four-way stretch to allow greater freedom of motion, while Black Diamond’s proprietary BD.dry membrane seals out the elements. The StormLine packs into its own pocket and has adjustable cuffs, and also features a climbing helmet-compatible hood. Plus, the jacket weighs just 11.3 ounces, which means you’ll hardly register that it’s hanging from your climbing harness or stashed away in your pack.

While not the best-suited for layering, the StormLine is just the jacket for when a shower surprises you halfway up a climbing route.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: Proprietary BD.dry 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 10,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 10,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: Yes
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 11.3 oz.
Pros:
  • Value
  • Weight
  • Packability
Cons:
  • Not ideal over layers

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Jack Wolfskin Go Hike Softshell — Men’s & Women’s

Jack Wolfskin Go Hike Softshell

Full disclosure: Jack Wolfskin’s Go Hike Softshell ($120) is not a true rain jacket. So if you’re planning to slog through a monsoon outside, look elsewhere. But the Go Hike makes this list for everyone else who might get caught unawares in some surprise elements.

The Go Hike is water-repellent enough to protect you from drizzles, damp snow, and light rain (we know, the Colorado spring has given us all three).

More than that, though, the Go Hike is almost totally windproof and super stretchy. So it’s a fantastic layer to bring for bad elements in general if you want to add comfort to the mix. More breathable than a true shell, the Go Hike is plenty packable and a terrific all-around option.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Membrane: No
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 14.9 oz.
Pros:
  • Super stretchy
  • Versatile layer
Cons:
  • Not a complete replacement for a true rain jacket

Check Men’s Price at AmazonCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Paclite Plus — Men’s & Women’s

Mountain Hardwear Exposure2 Paclite Plus

Mountain Hardwear specializes in technical outerwear suitable for high-alpine and particularly rugged pursuits. The Exposure/2 Paclite Plus ($300), however, strikes more of a balance with everyday needs than you might expect.

Sure, it packs into its own pocket and boasts a (claimed) 9-ounce weight, but it also uses GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS — a 2.5-layer membrane that adds packability at a slight sacrifice of overall durability.

An accessory chest pocket and stretchy mesh-lined hand pockets offer convenience and comfort. A brimmed, adjustable hood also helps cinch out moisture. Overall, it’s a good all-around, lightweight coat that’s equally capable on less-intense adventures.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Membrane: GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS 2.5-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 28,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: Unpublished
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 9 oz.
Pros:
  • Lightweight yet waterproof
  • Nice pockets
Cons:
  • More expensive than similar options

Check Men’s Price at BackcountryCheck Women’s Price at Amazon

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX — Men’s & Women’s

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

REI often focuses on gear to help folks get into the outdoors, especially those on a budget or who are dabbling on a first excursion. But the Co-Op’s XeroDry GTX jacket ($169) performs more like a veteran piece.

The two-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE membrane provides a stout barrier against wind and moderate rain, though it suffers a bit when it comes to breathability — rated at 15,000g/m². And it stands up to scuffs, scrapes, and abrasion with flying colors.

Most impressively, it manages all of this at under 13 ounces. At an approachable price, this $169 shell is meant for backpacking, with hip belt-friendly hand pockets that double as core vents to help dump heat. Plus, the XeroDry GTX carries both Bluesign and Fair Trade certifications.

Specs:
  • Waterproof Material: GORE-TEX PACLITE two-layer
  • Waterproof Rating: 28,000mm/24 hours
  • Breathability Rating: 15,000g/m²
  • Pit Zips: No
  • Fit: Regular
  • Weight: 12.5 oz.
Pros:
  • Weight
  • Materials
Cons:
  • Breathability
  • Not ideal for city use

Check Men’s Price at REICheck Women’s Price at REI

Rain Jackets Comparison Table

Rain Jacket Waterproof Material Waterproof Rating Breathability Rating Weight
Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 Pertex Shield 2.5-layer 20,000mm/24 hours 20,000g/m² 13.2 oz.
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L H2NO three-layer 20,000mm/24 hours Unpublished 13.9 oz.
Decathlon Quechua MH100 Proprietary Decathlon two-layer 5,000mm/24 hours RET of 12 (~10-15kg/m²) 22.4 oz.
Columbia OutDry ExReign Proprietary OutDry Extreme two-layer 20,000mm/24 hours Unpublished 14 oz.
Arc’teryx Alpha SV  GORE-TEX Pro three-layer 28,000mm/24 hours 24,000g/m² 18 oz.
Rab Phantom Pull-On Pertex Shield 2.5-layer 20,000mm/24 hours 20,000g/m² 3 oz.
Janji Rainrunner Pack  Proprietary Janji 2.5-layer 30,000mm/24 hours 30,000g/m² 8 oz.
The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Proprietary FUTURELIGHT three-layer Unpublished 75,000g/m² 11.9 oz.
The North Face Venture 2 Proprietary DryVent 2.5-layer 25 PSI Unpublished 11.6 oz.
Montbell Torrent Flier GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS 2.5-layer 50,000mm/24 hours 44,000g/m² 7.3 oz.
Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell Proprietary AscentShell three-layer 15,000mm/24 hours 30,000g/m² 10.9 oz.
66 North Snaefell Polartec NeoShell three-layer 10,000mm/24 hours 30,000g/m² 18 oz.
Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Proprietary BD.dry 2.5-layer 10,000mm/24 hours 10,000g/m² 11.3 oz.
Jack Wolfskin Go Hike Softshell None N/A N/A 14.9 oz.
Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Paclite Plus GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS 2.5-layer 28,000mm/24 hours Unpublished 9 oz.
REI Co-Op XeroDry GTX GORE-TEX PACLITE two-layer 28,000mm/24 hours 15,000g/m² 12.5 oz.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team of testers has braved storms from the rain-drenched foothills of the Pacific Northwest to the mountains of Colorado to review and publish rain jacket guides for men and women. For this guide, we considered a broad range of uses for rain jackets, and included selections for both city and outdoor use.

Senior Editor Nick Belcaster is no stranger to a little precip. Living and playing in the state of Washington requires either a lot of patience in waiting for the weather to change, or a lot of gumption to get outside anyways. Exploring in the rain can be an exciting change, and having an appropriate rain jacket can make all the difference.

In considering these rain jackets, we consulted online resources, talked shop with brands, and then hit the field to pull our hoods up and let the skies open. From time spent on the Pacific Crest Trail to running laps on ice climbs, rain shells are often put to the test in a wild variety of conditions, and we aimed to review in a broad spectrum of environments.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Rain Jacket

There are a lot of rain jackets on the market. And while having options is great, it can be overwhelming to choose. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll explain the most important factors to keep in mind when deciding on the best rain jacket for your needs.

Waterproofness

Given enough time and pressure, nothing is truly waterproof. Even the yellow rubber slickers that swaddle fisherfolk will eventually yield to enough H₂O, which means a little science is needed in order to understand relative water resistance in rain jackets.

Waterproofness is measured by the amount of water that can pile up on fabric before it leaks over a period of 24 hours. The minimum standard to call something waterproof is 1,000mm, which should be generally capable of handling everyday front country use, like walking your dog around town in a light drizzle. But for outdoor adventures with severe weather, you’ll want to find a jacket with a waterproof rating between 5,000mm and 30,000mm.

Pressure can also lower the waterproofness of your rain jacket, and can be introduced from backpack straps or heavy snow.

  • 5,000mm: Where technical rain outerwear for outdoors adventures begins
  • 5,000-10,000mm: Waterproof under light rain or snow and no pressure
  • 10,000-15,000mm: Waterproof under many conditions, except under pressure
  • 15,000-20,000mm: Waterproof under heavy rain and snow
  • >20,000mm: Waterproof under heavy rain, snow, and pressure

Breathability

As humans, we tend to perspire as we run, hike, or climb in our rain jackets, so having a shell that is breathable should be highly valued. Measured most often by the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) test, higher values in g/m² denote a better ability to allow perspiration to pass out of a jacket.

Many companies are now creating their own proprietary waterproof membranes that boast high breathability ratings, but often in a trade-off for water resistance. These include FUTURELIGHT by The North Face, AscentShell by Outdoor Research, and NeoShell by Polartec.

Jackets intended for high-output activities will have a breathability rating of 20,000g/m² or more, while lesser ratings between 10,000-15,000 will suffice for in-town use or when packability is the primary goal. The jacket with the highest breathability in our testing was The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Jacket at an astounding 75,000g/m².

Northface Apex Flex GTX Rain Jacket Review
Testing waterproofing.

​​Fabric Layers

2-layer

About as simple as simple gets, two-layer jackets utilize a waterproof membrane and outer face fabric to guard against scuffs and scrapes. These jackets often require hanging linings to protect the waterproof membrane from abrasion, which ups the bulk and weight factor, but can also keep the cost down on entry-level pieces like the Decathlon Quechua MH100 rain jacket.

Some innovative membranes, like the OutDry Extreme used in the Columbia OutDry Ex Reign, eschew the face fabric altogether, creating a jacket that won’t hold onto a wet-through outer layer.

2.5-layer

Jackets made with 2.5-layer fabrics incorporate a very thin protective lining to the inside of the waterproof membrane, which is typically laminated, screen printed, or sprayed on. These linings often increase the longevity and breathability of the jacket by decreasing the body oils and dirt that can clog the pores of the membrane.

One unfortunate drawback to these jackets is that they often feel clammy against the skin in continuous rain, and lack the moisture-wicking of three-layer jackets.

3-layer

By adding a third wicking textile to the interior of the membrane, three-layer jackets benefit from a significant bump in moisture management, but also typically in price. This is the realm of true all-day-deluge performance jackets, and most often use the big name-brand membranes that have come to dominate the industry, such as GORE-TEX or eVent.

Waterproof Membranes

Waterproof membranes come in a number of flavors these days, but all operate on a similar principle. Best thought of as a piece of plastic stretched very thin, these specialty materials (polytetrafluoroethylene, to be specific) are expanded, creating micropores that act as a filter to inhibit water penetration, but allow water vapor to be expelled.

Most waterproof membranes today also include a polyurethane coating on the inside to stop contaminants such as body oils from clogging these pores.

Alpha SV Sleeve
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

GORE-TEX Pro

Used in higher-end jackets where maximum protection from wild conditions is needed, Gore’s three-layer Pro membrane is made of several ePTFE membranes bonded together. A >28,000mm water resistance and 24,000g/m² breathability put GORE-TEX Pro jackets at the top of the heap.

GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS

When packability is at a premium, Gore’s PACLITE PLUS is a 2.5-layer membrane that cuts down on bulk by stripping out the inner lining and spraying a double layer of polyurethane to increase durability. At >28,000mm/24 hours of water resistance, PACLITE is plenty waterproof, but its breathability suffers some at 15,000g/m².

GORE-TEX Active

The airiest of the GORE-TEX offerings, this variation of the Gore membrane boasts a higher breathability rating than other styles, making it ideal for high-exertion activities where moving water out is more important than keeping it out.

eVent

A three-layer membrane that is a close competitor to GORE-TEX, eVent adds even more breathability by coating the pores of its membrane with a water- and oil-shredding chemical that allows the fabric to stay air permeable. 30,000mm/24 hours water resistance, >20,000g/m² breathability.

Polartec NeoShell

Hailed when it first came out as revolutionary for its breathability (30,000g/m²), Polartec’s NeoShell is better suited for high-perspiration activities where users are more worried about the moisture coming from within than from out. Its water resistance is mid-tier at 10,000mm/24 hours.

Downpour Hem
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Pertex Shield+

Using a polyurethane film membrane, Pertex Shield+ is able to achieve a good balance of water resistance and breathability at 20,000mm and 20,000g/m², respectively. Produced as a 2.5-layer fabric, jackets made with these membranes can sometimes be overwhelmed by perspiration and feel slick to the touch.

Proprietary Membranes

These include numerous specialty textiles that are created directly for manufacturers to their specifications, which allows them to fine-tune their membranes as well as keep overhead costs down and produce more affordable rainwear. Examples include Outdoor Research’s AscentShell technology, Black Diamond’s BD.dry, and many more.

We’ve found that rain jackets made with proprietary membranes are often significantly less expensive than jackets using name-brand membranes.

Torrentshell Sleeve
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Durable Water Repellent Finish (DWR)

The first line of defense for a rain jacket, a durable water repellent finish (DWR) is a hydrophobic coating that gives it that ‘duck’s back’ look of rain beading away harmlessly. This keeps water from overwhelming the waterproof membrane and prolongs its ability to stay waterproof.

DWR coatings also affect the ability of the jacket to breathe, as a wetted-out face fabric will inhibit the jacket’s ability to expel moisture. Abrasion, oils, and trail funk can all degrade the coating, so keeping your rainwear clean and re-waterproofed is the best way to ensure that your jacket continues to function at peak performance, as we discuss below.

Historically made from environmentally harmful chemicals known as perfluorocarbons (PFCs), many companies are now working on using PFC-free DWR finishes in their rain jackets. Patagonia has pledged to use a PFC-free DWR in the majority of its outerwear by Fall 2022, and we are happy to see this trend spreading throughout the industry.

Comfort

It’s important that your rain jacket moves comfortably with you and does not overly restrict your movement. A comfortable rain jacket will keep you dry without feeling annoying or cumbersome.

A growing trend has been incorporating built-in stretch into rain jackets, which greatly increases their abilities where high mobility is needed. Jackets we reviewed like the Black Diamond StormLine Stretch and Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell Rain Jacket incorporate stretch and will move with you outdoors.

Small features usually define the overall comfort of a rain jacket. For example, a hood that fully blocks peripheral vision will not be comfortable to use. Ideally, your rain jacket will minimally limit your range of motion, and the interior lining will feel good against your skin.

Rain Jacket Size Comparison
Packed size can really add up in a tight backpack; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Weight & Packed Size

Most people agree weight is an important consideration for any piece of outdoor gear. If you’re going to be carrying your rain jacket in a pack when it isn’t in use, you want it to be as light and compact as possible — without sacrificing usability. Many lightweight rain jackets, like the Montbell Torrent Flier, weigh less than a pound without sacrificing durability and functionality.

Many rain shells stuff easily into their own pockets and become barely larger than a baseball. Once packed down, it’s nice to have an external clip-in loop on the stuff sack — especially for multi-pitch rock climbing or backpacking. If your rain jacket packs down conveniently, you’re more likely to bring it along and have it when it’s needed most.

Zippers, Pockets, and Seams

It’s nice to have a well-placed pocket or two in your rain jacket. However, more pockets mean more material, and more material means increased weight and decreased packability.

Also, pockets create seams that may also decrease the waterproof capability of the jacket. Still, it’s nice to at least have two hand pockets to keep your hands warm and dry in a storm. Waterproof zippers on pockets and front zippers can add increased water resistance and protect your valuables inside. Also, rain jackets will often incorporate underarm zippers to increase ventilation.

Sewing together a rain jacket introduces hundreds of holes into the fabric, so most incorporate taped or bonded seams to ward off leaks. Seam tape can be added to all seams, or sometimes only essential seams, in order to save weight.

Downpour Hood
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Hood

Some rain jackets have hoods that double as a convenient stuff sack. Generally, if it’s raining hard enough to warrant a rain jacket, you’ll probably also have the hood up.

A well-designed hood should be strategically designed to offer full protection without limiting peripheral vision. It’s also important to ensure that your hood will fit over any helmet you may be wearing.

Extra Features

Ultimately, a rain jacket’s sole purpose is to keep moisture out. However, some jackets also include some extra features that add further value.

Some jackets come with features such as handwarmer pockets, large pit zips, and a roomy cut that allows space for warm layers underneath.

Sustainability

In striving to create the most waterproof membrane, the outdoor industry created a number of unsustainable practices which are slowly beginning to be rectified: using recycled materials, PFC-free DWR finishes, and ensuring sustainable practices are used during production.

Being Bluesign certified means that the fabric used in the jacket has passed an independent approval process to ensure that they are safe for the environment and consumers. A similar process is used in being Fair Trade Certified, where producers must ensure sustainable livelihoods for textile workers.

The most sustainable rain jacket in our review was the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket, which utilizes a 100% recycled face fabric, is Fair Trade Certified sewn, and is Bluesign approved.

Durability and Caring for Your Rain Jacket

A rain jacket is designed to be exposed to the elements, and a good one will do its job without falling apart. As rain jackets become lighter, users should expect a dip in durability, too.

However, on this list, we’ve included rain jackets that are both lightweight and reliable. A jacket that is abrasion-resistant will have much greater overall longevity. Purchasing a shell that utilizes a higher denier face fabric, such as the Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket, will greatly increase its durability over time.

Often overlooked, regular upkeep of your rain jacket is essential to keeping the waterproof membrane happy and working as it was designed. When body oils and grime clog the interior pores, the breathability suffers, and a worn-away DWR finish does little to keep a jacket from wetting out. A quick and easy way to breathe some life into your DWR is a brief cycle in the dryer on medium heat.

When a more thorough cleaning is in order, begin by washing your rain jacket with a detergent that is made for waterproof fabrics, such as Nikwax Tech Wash. We’ve found that this will cleanse the waterproof membrane and allow it to function as designed.

You can go a step further by reapplying a fresh coat of DWR such as GEARAID Revivex Durable Water Repellent Spray, and then turning the jacket inside-out and drying on high heat to set. This is a common fix and with frequent reapplication, it will keep water beading off your jacket when it counts.

FAQ

What Is the Best Waterproof Rain Jacket?

The best waterproof jacket is one that fits well, meets your needs, and provides reliable waterproofing. On this list, we have included several high-quality rain jackets.

When deciding which one to purchase, consider factors including the jacket’s waterproof rating, weight, durability, and extra features.

Is GORE-TEX 100% Waterproof?

GORE-TEX is the gold standard for waterproof fabric. When undamaged and in good shape, GORE-TEX-treated fabrics will keep out any liquid water that lands on the surface.

However, over time, the quality of the waterproofing of GORE-TEX will degrade, and it will no longer perform like new. Most GORE-TEX materials have a waterproof rating of 28,000 mm.

Do I Need to Take a Rain Jacket Hiking?

It’s wise to always go into the outdoors prepared with a rain jacket. Many rain jackets are light and packable, so you’ll hardly notice them in your pack during the hike. In wet and cold conditions, a good rain jacket can keep you comfortable and safe.

Why Do Jackets Stop Being Waterproof?

Waterproof membranes in rain jackets degrade slowly, but are sensitive to becoming dirty and clogged with sweat and dirt. Often, a jacket still retains much of its original waterproof ability, and only needs to be cleaned with a waterproof fabric-safe detergent and re-waterproofed with a new DWR finish.

Why Do Rain Jackets Wet Out?

Wetting out occurs when the face fabric of a rain jacket becomes overwhelmed by water from the outside, saturating the outer face and limiting the ability of the waterproof membrane to do its job.

This can occur when a DWR finish has worn out, or external pressure from a heavy pack presses the moisture into the fabric. Frequent washing and re-waterproofing is the best bet to avoid wetting out.

Is There a Breathable Rain Jacket?

Rain jackets are designed to keep water out while still allowing your body’s moisture to escape as vapor. Unlike a trash bag or plastic poncho, rain jackets are semipermeable and designed to keep you both cool and dry at the same time.

Still, a rain jacket is certainly less breathable than other kinds of layers, and you can expect some heat and moisture to get trapped underneath.

Are Rain Jackets Insulated?

Strictly speaking, rain jackets are not usually designed with insulation. Most of the jackets we’ve recommended on this list are not insulated.

The main job of a rain jacket is to protect you from rain, snow, wind, and other adverse weather. While rain jackets will add a little warmth, other layers such as fleece jackets and puffies provide much more and can easily be worn underneath a rain jacket.


Have a favorite rain jacket? Let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.


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