Whether you’re splashing about town or trekking through a monsoon, these are the best rain jackets of 2021.
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 best rain jackets. Then, we tested the best of the best to determine which contenders stand out. We looked at materials, features (stretch, durability, breathability, packability), price, and more.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys, or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall
- Best Budget
- Best for the City
- Best Premium Rain Jacket
- Best Ultralight
- Most Sustainable
- Best of the Rest
Best Rain Jackets of 2021
Historically, the one drawback that came with any rainshell is that it feels like — well, a rainshell. Eddie Bauer cracked that nut with the BC Sandstone Stretch ($299). It’s a soft, stretchy, and, most importantly, quiet waterproof layer that feels more like a light autumn coat than a protective shell.
There are other options on this list with more advanced technology and a more impressive list of features. But when it comes to sheer comfort and reliability, we found nothing better than the BC Sandstone Stretch. It’s not as durable as more rugged — and less cozy — options, and with enough use, it will wet out.
But for its lifetime (we’ve had ours for nearly 2 years and it’s still going strong), this rain jacket looks and feels less like a waterproof shell and more like an about-town layer.
Not overloaded with features, the BC Sandstone Stretch has only the essentials you’d want: two zippered hand pockets and an interior zippered phone pocket. Cinch cord hem and hood, Velcro-adjustable cuffs, and four-way stretch throughout round out the build.
It’s the stretchiest, softest, and quietest rain jacket we tested. And with a sub-$300 price, it’s a fair bargain given the market for high-end raincoats.
Pros: Stretchy, quiet, simple, stylish
Cons: Less rugged than other options
Ordinarily, any jacket that casts under $50 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 of it is 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 $80 down jacket.
So it is with the brand’s Quechua MH100 rain jacket — a $30 shell that can compete with coats 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 wallop in terms of value and utility.
Cons: Limited colors, longevity
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). So if your primary needs are trips to the office, grocery store, or just about town, Columbia’s OutDry Ex Reign Jacket ($150-170) provides a dependable defense against the elements.
Pros: Longevity, durability
Cons: Not as breathable as other options
If money’s not a concern and you want a jacket that will beat back Mother Nature, has a plethora of nifty features, and looks as good in the wild as it does in the urban jungle, then look no further than the Canada Goose Seawolf and Seaboard rain jackets.
The men’s Seawolf and the comparable women’s Seaboard are shockingly lightweight — especially for their long cut — and they wear as comfortable as you’d hope a $750 coat would.
These three-layer rain jackets use the Toronto brand’s proprietary Tri-Durance fabric, roll up into their own hoods, and offer vented mesh back panels, four external front pockets, cinchable hoods with head skirts (to allow side-to-side movement), and reflective accents all over.
Plus, Canada Goose rates the Seawolf and Seaboard rain jackets down to 23 degrees Fahrenheit — so they’ll offer protection in cold rains as well as spring showers.
Pros: Style, features, comfort
Best Ultralight Rain Jacket: Rab Phantom Pull-On — Men’s
Hey, ounce-weenies: 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 90 g — 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 packs into its own removable (snap-on) stuff sack down to 4.5 x 2 inches.
Pros: Weight, packability, breathability
Cons: Quarter-zip, not for continuous hard rain
The primary reason you will wear Patagonia’s Torentshell 3L Jacket is that it will keep you dry and shield you from a multitude of elements. But many folks will choose this over other competing rainshells because the entire face fabric uses 100% recycled nylon ripstop (Bluesign-certified), Fair Trade sewing, and a PU membrane that employs 14% recycled content.
Throw in the fact that you can rejuvenate the DWR treatment after it’s completed its life and utilize Patagonia’s Worn Wear program to fix normal wear and tear, and you’ve got a waterproof layer with a smaller carbon footprint than many of its peers. And when you consider it’s under $150, you’ve got a budget- and resource-friendly rainwear option.
Pros: Sustainability, price
Cons: Plastic-y feel, no accessory pocket
Rain Jackets: Best of the Rest
A challenger to Rab’s Phantom for packability, the Montbell Torrent Flier ($249) doesn’t sacrifice creature comforts to achieve 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.
Way back in 2016, Outdoor Research pioneered electrospun membranes on a large scale to produce stretchy, reliably breathable rainshells. 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.
A hybrid between a hardshell and softshell layer, the Interstellar ($299) offers lots of mobility and plenty of breathability. It also has climbers and mountaineers in mind, placing the hand pockets higher to accommodate a harness.
Pros: Excellent stretch and breathability
Much like Outdoor Research, The North Face uses electricity to manipulate the air and moisture permeability of its rainshells. FUTURELIGHT marks TNF’s take on this process, and by our own tests, it marks a step forward in waterproof-breathable technology.
The Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT ($229) weighs in just under 12 ounces and works well to help shed heat. Its waterproof and windproof capabilities are trustworthy, and it offers some stretch and recycled content in the construction.
Pros: Comfort, cold defense
Cons: Limited stretch, no pit zips
If you had to choose the perfect (read: harshest) conditions to test serious rainwear, you’d basically arrive at Iceland. A nation beset by a cold, roaring sea and a culture founded on fishing and exploring that sea have, predictably, given rise to clothing that can withstand some harsh environs. And if it works on the cold Atlantic, it’ll work for everyday adventures.
Cold, dark, and drizzly for fully 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 is a no-frills rain jacket that justifies its hefty price tag ($532) with quality construction — Polartec NeoShell works to stop wind and rain but still vent excess body heat.
Pros: Durability, warmth
A solid blend of packability, stretch, weight, and value, Black Diamond’s Stormline Stretch provides a solid option for traveling and daily getaways. At under $150, it’s a very reasonable option from a trusted brand.
Underarm gussets pair with four-way stretch to allow greater freedom of motion, while Black Diamond’s proprietary B.Dry membrane seals out elements. The Stormline packs into its own pocket and has adjustable cuffs and a climbing helmet-compatible hood. Plus, the jacket weighs just 11.3 ounces.
Pros: Value, weight, packability
Cons: Not ideal over layers
Mountain Hardwear specializes in technical outerwear, suitable for high-alpine and particularly rugged pursuits. But the Exposure/2 Paclite Plus ($300) 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 — a good all-around, lightweight coat that’s capable on less-intense adventures.
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 Drypoint GTX performs more like a veteran piece of kit. The three-layer GORE-TEX Active membrane provides a stout barrier against wind and heavy rain. And it stands up to scuffs, scrapes, and abrasion with aplomb.
Most impressively, it manages this at under 11 ounces. Not a budget buy by any means, this $249 shell is meant for backpacking, with hip belt-friendly hand pockets that double as core vents to help dump heat. Plus, the Drypoint GTX carries both Bluesign and Fair Trade certifications.
Pros: Weight, materials
Cons: Price, not ideal for city use
A heavier option that’s built to hold up to pack straps and serious downpours, the Sherpa Pumori ($260) looks and feels more like a traditional raincoat. Suitable and stylish enough for city life, the Pumori falls somewhere between a softshell and hardshell with its stretchy, three-layer, 100-denier face fabric.
Burly zippers, deep pockets, and thoughtfully offset seams (to prevent chafing) combine for a very comfortable defense against precipitation and wind. Plus, like all of Sherpa’s products, a purchase of the Pumori helps provide schooling for a child in Nepal.
Pros: Comfort, construction
Cons: Less packable than other options
How to Choose a Rain Jacket
There are a lot of rain jackets on the market these days. And while having options is great, it can be overwhelming to choose. Here are four important considerations when deciding on the best jacket.
First, you need to decide how you’ll be using this piece of outerwear. Will most of your time be spent backpacking or hiking? Or are you commuting around town? There’s no right or wrong, but having a clear vision of the intended use will help you evaluate the following features.
A trash bag will keep you dry, but it will also make you sweat ’til you’re wet. And an unbreathable rain jacket will do the same. For short jaunts, you can get away with a less-breathable option like the budget-friendly Decathlon Quechua. But for activities like hiking, you need a well-ventilated jacket.
Look for pit zips to quickly air out and materials that maintain water-repellency while remaining breathable. The BC Sandstone excels in this arena.
How small your jacket packs down is particularly important if you plan to hike or backpack with it. In good weather, it will spend just as much time in your pack as it does on your back. So it needs to pack small. The Rab Phantom earns high marks for packability.
If you only need a rainshell for occasional showers, durability isn’t a major concern. But if you’ll rely on it in the backcountry, it needs to be built to withstand heavy use. If you regularly climb, scramble, or bushwack, forgo ultralight jackets like the aforementioned Rab Phantom and choose something a little heftier.
Rugged durability often comes at the expense of weight, but the Mountain Hardwear Exposure 2/Paclite Plus manages to seamlessly combine the two.
Have a favorite rain jacket we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.