The Best Rain Jackets Fully Reviewed

Not many people plan to go outside for a hike, walk or run in the rain, but often you may be caught outside in a downpour nonetheless. Being outside and wet can make the difference between life and death if it’s cold, and even if it is not cold enough for hypothermia, it is still unpleasant, and just maybe your Mum was right and you might just catch pneumonia. But since Charles Macintosh discovered how to bond rubber to a fabric in the 1830s there has been no need to be wet in the rain.

However, rainproof material and jackets have come a long way since the 1800s and the bright yellow rain Macintosh, and breathable waterproof fabrics are now widely available. And believe me, unless you are planning to just stand or sit still in the rain, intending to walk, run or do any kind of activity, you’ll want a breathable fabric. Otherwise, with a non-breathable waterproof the rain will be kept out but your sweat will be kept in and you will end up just as wet as if you wasn’t wearing a rain jacket in the first place. 

Below, you’ll find our guide to the best rain jackets available today, starting with a popular option from Patagonia. Let’s dive in!

Our Top 3 Picks

Patagonia Cloud Ridge
  • Patagonia Cloud Ridge
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable & reliable
  • Price: See Here
Mammut Kento HS
  • Mammut Kento HS
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Excellent featureset
  • Price: See Here
Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid
  • Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight and effective
  • Price: See Here

7 Best Rain Jackets

 

Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid

Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid
Material: Gore-Tex

Layers: 3 Layer

Weight: 349 grams

Mesh or air vents: Pit zip vents.

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Storm hood and helmet compatible

Pockets: 2 pockets
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Made from two different types of Gore-Tex fabrics this jacket hopes to maximize the performance in heavy and driving rain conditions whilst still allowing for good breathability and minimum weight. The overall appearance of this jacket is pleasing and it certainly looks the part and looks very waterproof. Well, it is as good as it looks. It is available in a range of colors from grays to bright reds, blues, and yellows. The helmet compatible storm hood is a great feature, which with its adjustable cinch cords which can adjust the brim and lower hood, so that even in high winds this hood will not be blown off. The laminated brim will keep rain from dripping into your face, unless of course, the wind is blowing the rain into your face, then nothing short of a full face guard will keep your face dry. The Jacket is lightweight, waterproof and windproof but breathable and durable.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Multiple colors available
  • Packs small
  • Durable
  • Taped seams
Cons
  • No storm flap over zips
  • Pockets not as waterproof as the rest of the jacket

Mammut Kento HS

Mammut Kento HS
Material: Polyurethane Membrane

Layers: 2.4 Layer

Weight: 400 grams

Mesh or air vents: Underarm vents

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Adjustable

Pockets: 3 pockets
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Designed for high alpine terrain weather protection. The use of breathable material will keep you dry and enable you to regulate your temperature. And if it gets too hot you have the option to unzip the underarm vents to allow air circulation. The jacket is rated to 20,000 mm so it is incredibly waterproof, also it looks quite stylish and available is 6 colors. The 3 pockets are all positioned so that they can be accessed even when wearing a pack. The hood is helmet compatible and tailored to be adjustable, so that it will fit snug and the hood shield is reinforced to withstand even the strongest winds. He sleeves also have adjustable cuffs with easy to use Velcro type fasteners.
Pros
  • 3 pack accessible pockets
  • Helmet compatible hood
  • 6 colors to choose from
  • waist draw cord
Cons
  • No stuff sack

Rab Muztag

Rab Muztag
Material: eVent

Layers: 3 Layer

Weight: 340 grams

Mesh or air vents: No

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Adjustable

Pockets: 2 pockets
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This jacket from Rab is an extremely lightweight, waterproof and breathable. It was designed for adventure racing and mountain marathons so it has to be light, but that said it is still just as useful for day hiking or backpack adventures. It is available in 3 colors, which might not give you much choice, but the zippers and draw cords have been color coordinated to give the jacket an attractive appearance. The hood is helmet compatible and adjustable with a wired peak to enable you to adjust the hood shape to best protect from driving rain. The Zippers as well as being waterproof zippers also have an internal storm flap for extra waterproofing protection. The cuff is adjusted with Velcro and easy to adjust with one hand.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Colour coordinated zippers and cords
  • Storm flaps to protect the waterproof zippers
  • Packs small
  • Durable
Cons
  • Not too many colors options
  • No underarm vent
  • No extra vents

Berghaus Arran

Berghaus Arran
Material: Hydroshell Elite Polyurethane membrane

Layers: 2.5 Layers

Weight: 652 grams

Mesh or air vents: No

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Adjustable

Pockets: 4 pockets
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The Berghaus Arran Jacket is heavier than all of the other jackets in this guide, and at 652 gram almost double the weight of some. However, the design and look of the jacket mean it looks good if you are shopping in the town center or hiking in the mountains. The wire peaked hood completely rolls away into the collar. The jacket is made from Berghaus Hydro-shell material which is a polyurethane membrane backed fabric with a DWR coating on the surface. The means the jacket is waterproof breathable and more durable than other less flexible membranes. The jacket has 4 very usable pockets one of which is inside the jacket and therefore more suitable for items which you need to keep dry, the other pockets two hand warmers and a chest pocket are all zipped and protected with storm flaps. The cuffs are adjusted with Velcro type adjusters and the hem can be adjusted with the hem draw cord. To top it all it comes with Berghaus lifetime guarantee.
Pros
  • Colour coded with two colors giving it a street fashion feel
  • All zippers have storm flaps
  • Wire peaked hood completely rolls into the collar
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Limited choice of colors
  • No extra air vents
  • No Pit vents

The North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix

The North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix
Material: Gore-Tex

Layers: 3 Layer

Weight: 350 grams

Mesh or air vents: Pit-zip venting

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Adjustable

Pockets: 3 pockets
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The FuseForm looks very waterproof, it has an almost shiny rubbery appearance, which gives you the feeling that it will be very hot once you are wearing it. However, this should not be the case as it has been made with breathable Gore-Tex fabric. The hood is helmet compatible and fully adjustable. The jacket was designed for climbing and vertical movement, which give the sleeves the reaching movement you need from climbing but with adjustable cuffs to keep water from running down your arms and into the jacket. The seams have been specifically engineered to withstand the extra punishment climbing puts on material regarding stretch and durability. The front zipper is made from polyurethane and in its self is waterproof. Available in three colors Navy blue, Urban and Fuse(red), 3 pockets, one chest and two-hand warmers. The breast pocket is accessible when wearing a pack but the two side hand warmer pockets might not be fully accessible when wearing a pack or climbing harness.
Pros
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Designed for climbing
  • 100% windproof
  • Waterproof Polyurethane pocket zippers
  • Hem cord
Cons
  • Only three color options
  • No extra air vents
  • No pit vents

Outdoor Research Helium II

Outdoor Research Helium II
Material: Pertex Shield+ Polyurethane film coating

Layers: 2.5 Layers

Weight: 180 grams

Mesh or air vents: No

Adjustable hood or storm hood: Adjustable

Pockets: 1 pocket
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Helium is a good name for this jacket, not just because it is lightweight, but somehow the name just suits the jacket. This jacket is ultra light weighing around 180 grams that are only slightly heavier than a cell phone. It is available in seven colors. It is made from Nylon with a Pertex interior laminated coating and DWR outer coating, this keeps the weight extremely low. The zippers are waterproof and the internal pocket doubles as a stuff sack with a loop to clip it to your pack or carabiner. The hood is adjustable but if it is helmet compatible I am not sure. The hem has a drawstring but the cuffs are elasticated, this might allow for water to run inside the jacket when climbing. The overall appearance is shiny and sort of rain Macintosh look to the fabric, but the selection of colors and option of zipper colors will appeal to many.
Pros
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Seven colors to choose from
  • Hem cord
  • Internal pocket is its stuff sack
Cons
  • Elasticated cuffs
  • Hood does not fold away
  • No storm flaps on zippers

 Criteria for Evaluation

Which fabric is best?

When looking for a rain jacket the most important feature is that it actually keeps you dry from the rain. And although a cheap plastic or rubberized raincoat will do this, it will also keep your sweat inside the jacket. So you need a breathable but also waterproof fabric. Gore-Tex is the oldest and possibly the world leader in breathable waterproof fabrics, but others are available, eVent, Sympatex, MemBrain Strata to name a few, plus the many generics are now available. You also have the choice of laminate or coated fabrics.

All breathable and waterproof fabric work because they prevent or repel water from the outside but also allow perspiration vapor to escape allowing for the body to maintain a good temperature via the evaporation of sweat. To do this the fabric has to have special features on the inside and outside of the fabrics.

The outside of the fabric, the side that will face the elements and rain (or face fabric) will be treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. The purpose of this finish is to cause water to bead and roll off the fabric instead of soaking into the fabric and adding to the weight. Over time this coating may become less effective due to dirt, grease, abrasions. It is advisable to clean these fabrics regularly, and occasionally you may need to re-apply the DWR with a spray on DWR.  

The inside of the fabric, the interior will either be coated or laminated. The coating is liquid chemical solutions which have been applied to the inside of the fabric, like painting the wall. Obviously, these coatings are super thin and a lot more flexible than paint.  Laminates are another material, a waterproof and breathable membrane is applied to the fabric wall. Similar to covering your kid’s school books with sticky back plastic or a cell phone screen protector. The laminates are either a stretched PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), or Teflon to use DuPont the paint and chemicals companies brand name, PU (polyurethane) film or Polyester film.

PTFE Membranes

Both Gore-Tex and eVent use a PTFE membrane laminate. PTFE membrane under a very high powered microscope you will see millions of holes, Gore-Tex stated one square centimeter of PTFE membrane has around 1.4 billion holes.

Wait a minute, we are putting a membrane that is literally full of holes on a fabric to make it waterproof, well yes and it works because the holes in the membrane are too small to let liquid water molecules through, but large enough to let water vapor molecules out.

PTFE also has a low surface energy, opposed to water which has a high surface energy, what does that mean, when water hits a PTFE membrane if beads up to form droplets and just runs off, you can try this at home. Pour a small amount of water in a steel cooking pan and the water flattens out, pour a small amount of water in a non-stick frying pan (it has a Teflon coating) you will see the water bead up on the surface, even though gravity is trying to push it flat.

This means that the only ways in which water can penetrate through a PTFE membrane are either the PTFE becomes contaminated or damaged in some way, or the water is pushed at high pressure onto the membrane, in excess of 13psi, even the strongest winds will not produce a pressure greater than 3psi, well unless you happen to be in a hurricane, but if you are, becoming wet will be the least of your worries.

Polyester and Polyurethane Films

Polyurethane and Polyester films as laminates work in a very similar what to PTFE laminates. They have some advantages over PTFE laminates, such as they are usually lighter, they can handle being stretched without damaging and are generally less expensive, however, PTFE membranes are harder wearing and will take more punishment before failing, and PTFE membranes have better breathability.

Coating

A coated fabric is simply a polyurethane coating on the interior of the fabric. This coating can be either waterproof and breathable or waterproof and non-breathable. Coated fabrics are less expensive than laminated, however, it is less breathable and a little heavier than laminated fabrics, and can be affected by contamination, and dirt or detergents which can cause it to start leaking.

Gore-Tex and eVent

Both Gore-Tex and eVent use a PTFE membrane as a laminate, Gore-Tex also applies a very thin polyurethane film as a protective layer on the PTFE to protect it from dirt and other contaminates, eVent doesn’t. Both have many advantages. Both have excellent waterproof performance, both have excellent durability, but eVent has better breathability than Gore-Tex.

Layers

You will see rain jackets stating the layers, 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer. The layers don’t refer to the insulation value, but how many layers of protection is provided to the jackets membrane or coating.

2 Layer

The membrane is applied to the inside of the jacket fabric, forming a single material. A light and loose jacket liner is added to protect the membrane. This is mainly found in jackets used for general everyday walking around town use.

2-Layers offer good waterproof and breathability, but they are heavier than 2.5-layer and 3-layer, but are usually reasonably priced.

2.5-Layer

This is the lightest way of creating a waterproof and breathable fabric. They take the fabric and apply the membrane to the inside (layer1), then they apply a polyurethane coating is applied to the first layer (layer 2), then a protective print (.5 layer) is placed over the second layer. These are generally not as breathable as other methods but a lot lighter if this is an issue for you.

2.5-Layers offer good waterproof and breathability and are ultralight and are generally the least expensive.

3-Layer

These are the hardest-wearing and will take the most punishment. There are no coatings to be rubbed off or contaminated. The membrane is sandwiched between an outer face fabric and an interior lining fabric.

3-Layers give the best performance, with regards to waterproof and breathability and are lightweight, but are generally priced the highest

Other things to consider

Every rain jacket needs a hood, and the hood needs to be useful for you. Most hoods have adjusting cords to adjust the fit and opening of the hood. Many jackets have hoods which can be rolled up and stored in the collar or even slipped off completely. Pockets, how many do you need or want, some jackets have so many pockets you might not need a day pack at all, other have a minimal amount or none. Will you want to be able to access your pockets whilst wearing your pack? Check the positions of the pockets are good places for you. Check the zips, are they coated zips to maintain the waterproofing, do the pockets double up as air vents with mesh inners.

And maybe most importantly, how easy is it to pack, is it light, does it pack really small, does this even matter to you. Maybe you just like the color.