Which rain jackets are best?
No matter where you live, you’re bound to run into some unfavorable weather every now and then. Whether you’re out running errands, hiking in the woods or attending an outdoor event, a handy rain jacket can help keep you dry and comfortable in wet weather.
The best rain jacket will provide ample protection from heavy downpours while also allowing for breathability without restricting your range of motion. For a versatile and highly durable option, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket is a top choice.
What to know before you buy a rain jacket
Waterproof vs. water-resistant
When searching for the best rain jacket you’ll likely come across both waterproof and water-resistant options. While water-resistant options can help shed water during light rain showers, waterproof options will provide the most versatility, keeping you dry no matter the conditions. Most waterproof rain jackets will also feature sealed seams and watertight zippers for complete protection.
Type of rain jacket
Soft-shell and hard-shell jackets are the two most popular styles. In general, soft-shell jackets will offer adequate water resistance, but will not be fully waterproof. These are better worn as mid layers under a hard-shell or as an outer layer on mild days.
Hard-shell jackets are likely what you picture when thinking of a classic rain jacket. Made from sturdier materials, these will usually be 100% waterproof and are worn almost strictly as outer layers.
What to look for in a quality rain jacket
Rain jackets that don’t allow for breathability can quickly become uncomfortable, as they will trap moisture within the jacket causing the interior to feel damp. The best rain jackets are those that feature a highly breathable membrane that keeps rain out but lets interior moisture escape. While GORE-TEX is the most popular waterproof breathable membrane, there are several other similar options.
Some jackets that sport a coating rather than a waterproof membrane will provide the necessary repellency but may lack overall breathability.
While breathable fabric is important, having ventilation also helps keep you dry and free from sweat or moisture buildup. Many rain jackets will feature underarm zippers — or “pit zips” — which can aid in airflow without letting water in. Others may even include a back vent to maximize ventilation, especially in warmer climates.
Sealed seams and zippers
Having fully sealed seams and zippers will ensure that even the smallest amount of water won’t permeate your rain jacket. Seams that aren’t sealed or reinforced can eventually start to leak. Zippers that sport a watertight seal or waterproof flap are essential for protecting the contents of your pockets whether it be a phone, wallet or other important item.
A majority of rain jackets will sport side hand pockets, but if you need extra storage you may want to consider models equipped with exterior chest pockets and interior pockets. However, be sure that the pockets all have a waterproof zipper or flap.
The weight of your rain jacket is especially important for those who want to travel with it or want to wear it while hiking and trekking. Lightweight models are extremely easy to pack and stow so you can conveniently carry them in any bag, pack or luggage.
A hood is a critical component of any rain jacket. Some models will allow you to adjust your hood to achieve the perfect fit, while others may even include a storable hood, which can fold neatly into the collar when not in use.
How much you can expect to spend on a rain jacket
Rain jackets vary in price according to material, style and additional features. Basic rain jackets can cost as little as $20 while advanced models can cost up to $300, though $60-$100 will likely get you a quality jacket.
Rain jacket FAQ
Will my rain jacket lose its water repellency?
A. Overtime rain jackets that utilize a waterproof coating may eventually start to lose their water repellency due to normal wear and tear. However, you can always reapply a DWR coating to restore the waterproof design.
Do rain jackets also block wind?
A. In general, yes, rain jackets will block wind. Seeing as rain jackets are designed to prevent water from permeating the material, they are also great at blocking cold or gusty winds.
What are the best rain jackets to buy?
Top rain jacket
What you need to know: This top-of-the-line rain jacket combines premium performance with stylish colors and designs.
What you’ll love: Available for both men and women, this three-layer jacket will keep even heavy rain out while still allowing for superior breathability. Featuring an adjustable hood, hem and cuffs, you can get the ideal fit for your body type, while the underarm vents add to the airy feel.
What you should consider: This rain jacket is somewhat pricey compared to other models.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Top rain jacket for the money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly option provides all the necessary features at a reasonable cost.
What you’ll love: The lightweight design makes it easy to pack and transport this jacket for on-the-go rain protection. The breathable material will keep you dry on the inside, while the cut is made to fit nicely over additional layers.
What you should consider: This particular model does not feature any underarm vents.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This sleek and stylish rain jacket from a trusted brand is perfect for any type of outdoor adventure.
What you’ll love: The sealed seams and waterproof pocket flaps help guarantee that your important items are kept dry and secure. The DRYVENT technology and DWR treatment offer a premium waterproof experience while this jacket’s ability to pack into its own pocket is convenient for travel.
What you should consider: For some, this jacket may run slightly large.
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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