A good rain jacket is an essential piece of your wardrobe and outdoor kit, keeping you dry should any sudden downpours – or even light mist – hit. Light, packable and durable, they fit right into your bag for instant access when the weather turns foul. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a quick buying guide of the 10 best rain jackets for 2017. There’s a jacket on this list for every budget.
What to Look For in a Rain Jacket
When looking for an outdoor rain jacket, you’ll want to look for a few different things. Make sure the jacket has a DWR coating, as well as sealed seams to keep rain from trickling in. You’ll obviously want to make sure it has a hood, and that the hood fits over any headgear you may be wearing – such as a helmet. Vents probably aren’t a bad idea of if you get heated frequently, and if you like to bike or run on roads- look for reflective strips.
The Marmot Minimalist is one of the most popular rain jackets amongst outdoor enthusiasts, and for good reason. It’s a high-quality, sleek and low-profile jacket, made with a 2.5 layer Goretex Paclite and coated with DWR for the reliable protection in any weather. Fit is tight and athletic – trim enough for running in warm weather, but also roomy enough for when the temperature drops and it’s time to pack a mid-layer – meaning it works well both on backpacking trips and around town.
The Marmot Precip is another very popular waterproof shell, as it is very similar to the Minimalist but at less than half the price. It’s not quite as trim as it’s more expensive counterpart, but nor is it big and baggy. The Precip is made with Marmot’s 2.5-layer NanoPro fabric with DWR, that allows you to breathe during exercise. It’s versatile enough for backpacking, hiking and running, as well as just for throwing on while running errands.
The hood is large enough to fit climbing helmets under. While this is great, should you be climbing – it can be a bit annoying without something else on your head.
ARCTERYX ZETA LT
Money no object? Then you may as well pick up the best rain shell in the outdoor world – the ArcTeryx Zeta LT. Arcteryx is leagues ahead when it comes to outdoor gear, and with the Zeta, you get a jacket that functions just like their hardshells but in a much lighter construction.
As you would expect from Arcertyx, the Zeta is trim, sleek and solid – made from 3-layer Gore-Tex C-layer, that is surprisingly soft. It’s also wicked breathable, keeping you cool no matter how hard you’re exercising. The hood is extra-large, and will fit climbing headwear.
Like the Marmot offerings above, we would be remiss if we didn’t include the Patagonia Torrentshell – a time-tested shell made of 2.5-layer H2No and very similar to the PreCip, thanks to its minimal-but-not-too-trim cut and lower price tag. There’s a large hood, and drawstring cinches to keep things snug and dry around your waist. There’s even a cinch on the hood – something most of the other jackets on this list are missing. It’s good hiking, running or around town.
REI has started making some excellent apparel, and the Rhyolite is a very nice rain jacket at a decent, in-between price. A nice trim fit is complemented by 2.5-layer E-Vent waterproof fabric with DWR coating. It’s ultralight and ultra-breathable, though there are no pit zips. There are two large mesh pockets that act as vents, though. REI also included Velcro cuffs on the sleeves, as well as a perfectly size hood – big enough for headwear but small enough for wearing without.
NORTH FACE VENTURE 2
Another budget option, the Venture 2 is in the same playing field as the Torrentshell and PreCip. It’s not cut quite as slim or tight as the others on this list, but does have quite a bit of taper. It’s also quite breathable, with large vents and pockets. The Venture is one of the few jackets, however, in which the hood does not fit over a helmet – which is something to keep in mind if you will be climbing. Still, it makes a excellent jacket for running and weekend hiking.
ARCTERYX BETA SL
The Beta SL fits a spot somewhere between cheaper rain jackets and the ultra-expensive, like the Zeta LT. At about $200 than the Zeta, it is also very similar to Arcteryx hardshell offerings. Thanks to its ultra-slim cut, it is mobile and comfortable during hiking, climbing and running, and the hood is actually designed to stand up on its own, using cinch straps and elastic – with or without headgear underneath. And thanks to Arcteryx’s undeniable quality, you know you’re getting a comfortable, exceptionally lightweight – and best of all – dry jacket.
We’ve highlighted relatively newcomer Cotopaxi before, with their eco-friendly, repurposed material apparel. The Tikal shell is made from 2.5-layers of water-resistant yet breathable shell fabric, with a three-way, adjustable laminated visor. It’s very breathable, with perforated pit zips. The Tikal is designed for travel, hiking, backpacking – and just about any outdoor activity. At 10 oz, it’s light enough to fit in your bag without taking up much space. It also comes in some pretty snazzy colors.
SHOWERS PASS SYNCLINE
If you’re looking for a rain jacket perfect for mountain (and road) biking, the Shower’s Pass Syncline is an ultra-breathable, ultra-light and ultra-visible jacket. Named after a popular trail in the Columbia River Gorge, it’s made with 2.5-layer Artex Hardshell fabric with fully-taped seams, with cross-core vents for enhanced airflow to keep you cool as you pedal up steep inclines. There is also 360° 3M reflective trim on the front and sleeves, to alert motorists to your presence as dark sets in.
OUTDOOR RESEARCH HELIUM II
The Helium is an exceptionally light 6.4 ounces, meaning you’ll barely notice it as you throw it on as the rain comes it. It’s got 2.5-layer Pertex ripstop nylon with sealed seams, as well as an interior storm flap, chin guard, Drawcord hem and elastic cuffs. This thing will keep you dry, no matter the weather. Reflective trim on the hood improves visibility and safety at night. The chest pocket also doubles as a stuff sack, packing down nice and tight into your bag. It’s got a solid athletic fit – trim, but more than roomy enough for insulating layers beneath. For ultralight protection on all outdoor escapades, the Helium makes a trusty companion.