We review 10 rain jackets to help you make the right choice
We recently wrote a post on what to look for when buying a rain jacket: materials, construction, features, and the kind of weather and activities that different jackets are suited for. And it’s great to know what to consider- but what about some actual recommendations? That’s what this post is for.
We have worked through many a website, collating reviews and product specs on the effectiveness and usability of 10 different rain jackets, to help you make the right choice. As most of our readers are women, all our links are to the women’s versions of the jackets, but most of them have a men’s version available too.
A few general notes to help you choose the right jacket for you:
- Always buy with your purpose in mind. What conditions do you hike in? How often are you likely to need it? You may not need to spend the big bucks if you’re only ever going to get caught in a shower, and never go on multiday hikes in winter.
- Think about what features are important for you. Is lightweight your number 1 priority? Or is it waterproofing? Or durability? If you’ll be sweating a lot, you may want to prioritise breathability. Maybe you want something that you can wear on your bike, or under a harness. Maybe you want to be able to put your hands in your pockets, or maybe you just want to look good! Everyone has different priorities, so make sure you know yours before you go diving in!
- Outdoor gear goes on sale OFTEN. If you have the time to wait for a sale, you might find that you can afford the jacket you really want, without going over budget.
- Try them on in person. If you’ll be wearing it over a puffer jacket, bring it with you so you can make sure it fits over your bulky layers. Sizing can vary considerably, as some manufacturers take the need for layering into account, whereas others put the onus on the buyer to choose a size above their normal fit.
- A note on waterproof and breathability ratings: With waterproof ratings, you’ll generally want something above 10000mm if you’re using it for hiking, and above 20000mm if you’re looking to be out in seriously wet conditions. Wearing a pack will cause your jacket to soak through faster, so if you’re doing overnight pack hiking, you’ll want something with a higher rating than if you prefer packless hiking. The breathability you need will depend on the weather conditions and your level of exertion. If you’re hiking up hills, you’ll want a breathability rating of 10 000 or above, and if you’re really exerting yourself, or hiking in a humid location, you’ll want something above 15 000. It’s also important to note that the figures refer to the materials, not the rain jacket itself. Keep in mind that construction also has a huge effect. You’ll want to look for a jacket that doesn’t have any gaping holes around the neck (that’s another good reason to try a jacket on in person). Features such as pit zips will increase the overall breathability of the jacket.
Jackets under $100
Kathmandu Pocket-it Women’s Rain Jacket
At $79.98 and weighing 290g, this is a cheap option to put in your bag in case of a quick light shower. It has a waterproof rating of just 3000mm, so it is not designed to keep you dry for long, or in heavy rain. Reviewers also complain that the jacket is not very breathable, and some have reported that the lining comes off after machine washing.
Overall- an ok option to keep in the car to get between your carpark and the office, but probably not your best hiking friend.
Waterproof rating: 3000mm
Breathability rating: No figure available
Pros: Packs up small
Cons: Should be more waterproof
Ideal for: Alternative to an umbrella in short, light showers.
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Rain Jacket
This is the cheapest option we looked at. It is a no-frills option, and is priced at just $24.99. While we couldn’t find a waterproof or breathability rating for this jacket, the general consensus among reviews is that it is waterproof, but not breathable. For hiking, breathability is an important consideration, because you’re working up a sweat in there, and need to let that moisture out- a prolonged sweaty period in a non-breathable jacket can leave you damp and cold, even if it does keep out the rain.
Some people swear by frogg toggs, and we agree that if you’re looking for a very cheap, lightweight, waterproof option, this is a pretty good one. It has a simple but effective construction, with elastic around the hood and wrists to seal you in. Keep in mind that absolutely zero consideration has been put into style: it looks like a hazmat suit. The hips are non-adjustable, so if you ever have issues with jumpers riding up, this is probably not the jacket for you.
Overall, a good option for short showers, but the breathability issue means you won’t want to be walking in it all day.
Waterproof rating: No figure available, but reports indicate reasonable waterproofing
Breathability rating: No figure available, reviews indicate this is lacking
Pros: A cheap, no frills option
Cons: Not very breathable or durable
Ideal for: Put it on to keep you dry in a short shower.
Jackets around the $200 mark
Kathmandu Trailhead Women’s Rain Jacket
This is a mid-range option that will keep you dry for longer periods in medium rain.
With a waterproof rating of 15000mm, and no major reported issues with construction, this seems to be a solid option. The fabric has a reasonably high breathability rating of 15K, and the jacket is constructed with armpit vents, which further improve ventilation, so you can get sweaty over a long period without getting too damp.
At 420g, the weight is comparable to other jackets around the same price point.
Overall, a good mid-range all-rounder.
Waterproof rating: 15 000
Breathability rating: 15K
Pros: Reviews indicate that it does the job it says it will!
Cons: No major cons, average across the board.
Ideal for: Good option for on track walking in rainy weather, may not withstand a torrential downpour.
The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Jacket
A similar jacket to Kathmandu’s Trailhead. Reviews say that the fabric itself holds up to the weather, but some issues with construction compromise the overall waterproofing of the jacket: Some users reported water coming in through the sleeves, or that cinching the waist caused a break in the zip, letting some rain in.
The jacket does have some handy features, like a hood that packs away into the collar. This is a particularly useful feature for bike riding, as a loose hood can get in the way when head checking.
Overall, a mid-range all-rounder that may have a few waterproofing issues.
Waterproof rating: No figure available
Breathability rating: No figure available
Pros: Packable hood
Cons: Some construction issues that may compromise waterproofing
Ideal for: Relaxed, on track hiking in light-medium rain.
Patagonia Womens torrentshell 3L
This seems to be a great all rounder. Its waterproof rating of 20000mm is high for its price point, and at 350g, it is a little lighter than other similar jackets. Most reviews report that it holds up well in the rain, however there were a couple of reports of water coming in through the neckline. Patagonia don’t provide a figure on the breathability of the fabric, however reviews are mostly positive in this regard.
Waterproof rating: 20 000
Breathability rating: No figure available, but positive reviews
Pros: Light and highly waterproof for its price point
Cons: Potential issues with water coming through neckline
Ideal for: All rounder
This is a light jacket designed for trail running. At 204g, it is much lighter than other jackets around the same price point. It has a medium waterproof rating of 10000mm, and a medium breathability rating of 10K. With these ratings, you’ll probably get a little damp over a prolonged period, but if you’re after something ultra light to take running with you, it’s probably worth the trade-off!
Waterproof rating: 10 000
Breathability rating: 10K
Pros: Super light, reasonable waterproofing and breathability.
Cons: Lower waterproof and breathability than other options at a similar price.
Ideal for: Trail running, or otherwise a light option for hiking in light-medium rain.
This jacket has the highest waterproof rating at its price point, but at 438g, it is also the heaviest! It is constructed from Gore-Tex Paclite, which has a waterproof rating of >28000mm, and breathability of 15K. Keep in mind that Paclite is not as durable as other Gore-Tex fabrics, so it may not hold up if you’re planning on pushing through scoparia in south-west Tassie, but it is still a durable option and should be fine for most other walking.
It has a longer silhouette, and covers your bum, which is a big plus in my opinion, and makes the extra weight worth it if you’re the kind of hiker who is not put off by rain. However, if you’re expecting to leave it in your pack more often than you actually put it on, you might prefer to opt for a lighter option.
There were quite a few reports of the jacket fitting strangely, so we definitely recommend trying it on in person, rather than trusting in your normal size and buying online!
Waterproof rating: >28000
Breathability rating: 15K
Pros: Longer silhouette, and best waterproofing and durability for its price!
Cons: Could be lighter
Ideal for: Great all-rounder for wet weather
Jackets for getting serious
A very highly waterproof and breathable jacket, but also the heaviest of the jackets reviewed here, at 466g. It is constructed from 3 layer eVent material, has a waterproof rating of 30000mm, and breathability rating of 20K. However, some reviews note that it may not retain its high waterproofing over time, and you may need to re-apply DWR sooner than with other jackets. The jacket is designed for maximum breathability, pairing highly breathable material with full length arm zips to increase ventilation. This makes it a good option for high exertion activities.
Overall, its main feature is its high breathability. It will also do the job keeping you very dry, although its waterproofing ability may fade faster than other jackets.
Waterproof rating: 30 000 (but note that this may reduce faster than other jackets with a similar rating)
Breathability rating: 20K
Pros: Best option for breathability and ventilation, highly waterproof.
Ideal for: Working up a heavy sweat in wet weather
Arc’teryx Womens Beta LT Jacket
This jacket combines high waterproofing, high breathability and light weight. It is constructed from GORETEX 3L material, so has a waterproof rating of >28 000, and breathability of 17K. It also features pit zips to improve ventilation. At 350g, it keeps your pack light. The front zip is water resistant, but uncovered, which can often be a point of entry for water, but reviews indicate that the zips hold up. An adjustable hood keeps water from seeping in the top, and it has a functional design that works well for hiking- think pockets that sit above your pack waist strap, so you can use them without unbuckling.
Overall, a great jacket, but at $700 you may want to consider whether other cheaper options will be more suited to your outdoor activities.
Waterproof rating: >28 000
Breathability rating: 17K
Pros: Fairly light, highly waterproof, highly breathable, highly durable, great features.
Ideal for: Hiking in serious rain
Arc’teryx ZETA SL JACKET WOMEN’S
The SL in this jacket’s name stands for “super light”. This is a jacket for people who want a highly waterproof, reasonably breathable, durable jacket, without carrying extra weight. At 270g, there’s no excuse not to bring it with you. It’s made from 2 layer Gore-tex, so it has the same waterproof rating as the Beta, but a slightly lower breathability of 15K, and also lacks pit zips, so won’t have great ventilation.
In order to achieve its super light weight, the Zeta has sacrificed a few features- there are only two pockets (not fully water tight), the hood is adjustable by only a single drawcord, and it lacks pit zips. The hood is large, and one user reported that this can be an entry point for water- however it’s definitely worth noting that all other reviews rated this jacket very highly for waterproofing. Others have complained that even with the drawcord pulled tight, it was unstreamlined, and needed to be propped up with a hat to keep it from blocking their vision. The 2L Gore-Tex material is also a little less durable compared to the 3L material of the Beta, however it is still one of the most durable materials out there, and unless you’re planning on pushing through dense scrub on most of your walks, it shouldn’t make a difference.
Overall, this is a great choice for people who want a jacket that will protect them from a downpour without adding too much to the weight of your pack.
Waterproof rating: >28 000
Breathability rating: 15K
Pros: Light weight, highly waterproof, reasonably breathable, durable.
Cons: Average breathability, no extra ventilation options
Ideal for: Lightweight option that will keep you dry in a downpour.