The best rain jackets keep you both dry and cool, unlike the stuffy old-school rain jackets. The best option for you may offer extra insulation for cold rains. Or, it may be super light and pack up small into a tiny built-in pocket to stash in your hiking pack or the trunk of your car.
Read on to learn about what you should look for in a good rain jacket and explore top picks for lightweight, insulated, and performance designs.
- BEST OVERALL: The North Face Resolve Waterproof Jacket
- BEST BUDGET: FROGG TOGGS Pro Action Waterproof Rain Jacket
- BEST WOMEN’S HIKING: Hount Women’s Lightweight Hooded Raincoat
- BEST MEN’S HIKING: Columbia Men’s Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket
- BEST WOMEN’S INSULATED: Columbia Women’s Switchback Sherpa Lined Jacket
- BEST MEN’S INSULATED: Carhartt Men’s Insulated Shoreline Jacket
- BEST WOMEN’S PERFORMANCE: Marmot Women’s Precip Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
- BEST MEN’S PERFORMANCE: Eddie Bauer Men’s Rainfoil Packable Jacket
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rain Jacket
If you’ve only experienced the heavy, yellow, rubber-coated rain jackets from years past, the features included with today’s best rain jackets may impress you. This section highlights some of the factors you should keep in mind when choosing the one rain jacket that meets all your needs.
Most rain jackets today are lightweight and breathable. Many are tightly woven nylon or polyester. Other materials include natural fibers like wool and cotton and man-made microfibers and rayon. Manufacturers treat the fabrics with rain-repelling chemicals and compounds like resin, pyridinium, melamine, polyurethane, acrylic, or wax. You can reapply these products after a few years if your jacket no longer stands up to a storm like it used to.
Some materials in rain jackets also wick the moisture away from your body. The material grabs sweat droplets from your skin and moves them to the jacket’s outer surface, keeping you dry and comfortable inside. It can be challenging for a jacket manufacturer to provide both insulation and moisture-wicking, but there are some materials that do both naturally.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
Don’t let the terms water-resistant and waterproof fool you. There’s a big difference between the two.
Water-resistant or water-repellent jackets will help keep you dry in light rains, but they aren’t impervious to water. The seams where the fabric panels meet—like around the armholes, pockets, shoulders, and sides—are weak spots where water can penetrate after prolonged exposure.
Waterproof jackets, on the other hand, have taped seams that keep water out of these cracks in the armor. Inside these jackets, you’ll notice strips of tape-like material over the stitches. It’s this tape that makes a garment waterproof.
Chemical treatments also figure into the equation. Nylon and polyester are durable water repellent fabrics by nature. Chemical treatments and reinforced seams can take these materials from water-resistant to waterproof.
The term “weight” has a couple of meanings when it comes to rain jackets. It could refer to the jacket’s insulation, where heavyweight jackets are warm and insulated, and lightweight jackets have a mesh lining at most. Weight can also refer to the overall heft and packability of a jacket.
If you’re headed on an outdoor adventure, depending on the temperature, a light- or medium-weight jacket might be the best choice. These jackets will keep the rain off without overheating, and they’re light enough to throw in a backpack. Medium-weight rain jackets can offer a bit of insulation for chilly mornings or mild climates.
Today’s best rain jackets bring major improvements in the weight department over their older counterparts. Those rubber or polyurethane-coated jackets could weigh up to four or five pounds. Some rain jackets today barely register on a scale.
A waterproof jacket doesn’t mean much if you’re soaked in sweat underneath it. To stay dry on both sides of your jacket, your rain gear has to be breathable. Modern fabrics and treatments allow body heat to transfer through the material, which means you won’t sweat excessively underneath. This is a major improvement on old-school raincoats.
Breathability might not seem so important if you just wear your raincoat to run from the house to the car. But, it’s a game-changer on work sites or during outdoor activities. When body heat builds up inside a non-breathable jacket, it can make you soaked and uncomfortable.
If your outdoor pursuits take you into cooler temperatures, you might want to consider an insulated rain jacket. Insulation comes in a few different weights and many different materials.
Most insulated rain jackets use a medium-weight material that provides warmth in cool, but not cold, conditions. Fleece and sherpa linings are common. You may find premium jackets with a layer of wool inside. There are also brand-name insulations, such as PrimaLoft and Thinsulate, but they tend to go into heavier-weight jackets that may be more suitable for snow.
Style and Fit
The style and fit of your rain jacket are important. If you don’t like how it looks or feels, you may not wear it. There are plenty of styles available, from light and heavyweight or heavy-duty and light-duty. While you probably won’t see many of these designs on a fashion runway, choosing one that fits your personal style will ensure that you actually use it on a rainy day.
Fit is equally important. If you live in a mild climate, you’ll probably enjoy something sleek and form-fitting. In the chilly months, you might prefer a larger coat with some room to layer underneath. As usual, the sizes offered for men and women are S – 3X.
A few other extra features might make all the difference when choosing the ideal rain jacket:
- Packability: If it takes up too much space in a backpack or suitcase, your rain jacket may never make it out the door. Many of the top rain jackets pack into a small built-in pocket or an included bag. Just stow a packable rain jacket in the bottom of your bag until you need it.
- Adjustable hood: A rain jacket with an adjustable hood will fit securely around your head to keep the rain out without flapping in the wind.
- Pockets: Zippered or sealed pockets will keep your gear dry and safe. Pit zips, on the other hand, are zippers in the armpit areas, which expel heat and offer a bit more ventilation.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have an idea of what components go into high-quality rain jackets, you’re ready to shop. The following is a list of some of the best rain jackets to keep you dry and comfortable while you work or play in wet weather.
If you’re looking for a lightweight waterproof jacket for all your journeys and adventures, take a look at The North Face Resolve Waterproof Jacket. This jacket comes in both men’s and women’s sizes and has tons of the features hikers and adventurers want.
The rain shell, made of DryVent 2L fabric, is a two-layer waterproof membrane with breathable material. It has two zippered hand pockets, an adjustable and stowable hood, and sealed seams to keep the elements at bay. Although there isn’t a pocket for packing, this mesh-lined jacket will fold or roll and pack away easily.
- Material: DryVent 2L fabric
- Sizes: S – 3X
- Colorways: 24
- Packable and lightweight
- Windproof design
- Breathable mesh-lined interior
- 2 zippered hand pockets
- Adjustable and stowable hood
- Pricier than other jackets
For an affordable, ultralight rain jacket for drizzles and storms alike, check out the FROGG TOGGS Pro Action Waterproof Rain Jacket. This waterproof jacket uses FROGG TOGGS’ Dri-Pore Gen 2 performance waterproof and breathable fabric to keep you dry and comfortable.
The Pro Action isn’t short on features either. The raglan sleeves allow for full range of motion. Two zippered, lined pockets keep your hands warm and your gear dry. A button flap over the front zipper and taped seams provide extra protection against the rain. The stowable hood and adjustable waist let you tweak this tough jacket to just the right fit.
- Materials: Dri-Pore Gen 2 fabric
- Sizes: S – 3X
- Colorways: 11
- Budget-friendly option
- Raglan sleeves provide full range of motion
- 2 lined, zippered pockets
- Adjustable waist
- Includes stowable hood
- Some users reported larger-than-average sizing
Don’t let poorly-timed rain end your hike before you’re ready. The Hount Women’s Lightweight Hooded Raincoat can help shield you from the elements while you trek. The polyester-rayon blend is both waterproof and breathable. It has two front pockets, an adjustable drawstring hood, and an adjustable hem that you can cinch tight to keep out the wind and rain.
Since it is an ultralight rain jacket, you can pack the Hount Hooded Raincoat into your backpack and go. This option comes in over 20 colorways for your personal preference, with an additional carrying pouch for storing in your backpack or suitcase with your outdoor gear.
- Materials: Polyester-rayon blend
- Sizes: S – 3X
- Colorways: 20
- Lightweight and breathable
- 2 front pockets
- Adjustable drawstring hood and hem
- Comes with a carrying bag
- Some users reported smaller-than-average sizing
A lightweight rain jacket packed neatly in the bottom of your backpack can save your hike when the sky opens up. The Columbia Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket packs into a small mesh pocket, so it’s ready to go in such a scenario. Columbia’s own Hydroplus material is both lightweight and breathable.
The Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket has a zippered closure, adjustable sleeve cuffs, and an adjustable waist to keep the rain out when it’s blowing sideways. A stowable hood packs into the collar for casual wear, and it comes in a wide range of colors.
- Materials: Hydroplus fabric
- Sizes: S – 6X
- Colorways: 22
- Breathable interior
- Adjustable sleeve cuffs and waist
- Includes a small mesh pocket
- Stowable hood
- Some reports of manufacturing defects
If your work or outdoor activities require a bit more warmth than a basic rain jacket can provide, Columbia’s Switchback jacket could be a viable option. The rain shell is made of Columbia’s own lightweight, breathable Hydroplus fabric for an effective waterproof membrane, and the lining is 100% polyester sherpa.
The Switchback’s adjustable hood, waist, and sleeves help keep rain and wind out. The two front zippered pockets will keep your hands warm and your belongings dry. Plus, this jacket is 100% machine washable.
- Materials: Hydroplus fabric and polyester-sherpa blend
- Sizes: XS – 3X
- Colorways: 10
- Lightweight and breathable fabric
- Adjustable fleece-lined hood and chest
- 2 front zippered pockets
- Machine-washable design
- Sleeves are not fleece-lined
When you’ve got a job to do no matter the weather, the Shoreline Jacket from Carhartt can help. The quilted interior keeps you warm. The shell, made of Carhartt’s Storm Defender nylon material, lets heat out without letting rain in.
The Shoreline has two front zippered pockets, a left chest pocket with a hook-and-loop (or Velcro) closure, and adjustable sleeve cuffs. The front zipper zips in both directions, so you can get a little air when needed. The zipper’s interior and exterior flaps provide extra enforcement to keep rain from soaking through. The hood adjusts in size and seals against the rain. Taped seams throughout the entire jacket help ensure you’ll stay dry.
- Materials: Storm Defender nylon
- Sizes: M – XXL
- Colorways: 1
- Quilted jacket is suitable for cold climates
- Includes 2 zippered pockets and a chest pocket
- Adjustable sleeve cuffs and hood
- Only available in black
- Pricier than other options
The Precip Jacket from Marmot offers the kind of waterproofing and features you’d expect from a performance jacket. Marmot’s NanoPro nylon fabric is both waterproof and breathable. The completely sealed and taped seams keep water out without trapping body heat. For a little extra ventilation, open the built-in pit zips to dump heat.
Large flaps shield the front zipper and two front-pocket zippers against the rain. The adjustable stowaway hood, waist, and sleeve cuffs offer extra protection against wet weather. This design also comes in 6 colorways.
- Materials: NanoPro nylon
- Sizes: XS – XXL
- Colorways: 6
- Breathable material
- Pit zips provide extra ventilation
- Adjustable hood, waist, and sleeve cuffs
- Stowable hood
- Lightweight design; not suitable for heavy rainfall
If you need a packable jacket that can keep up with your activities, the Rainfoil Packable Jacket from Eddie Bauer is a solid option. This waterproof jacket uses Eddie Bauer’s breathable Weatheredge two-layer fabric to guard against rain and wind without trapping heat. Taped seams and StormRepel DWR treatment offer additional rain protection.
The Rainfoil has two zippered front pockets and a zippered interior pocket to keep your gear safe and dry. The interior chest pocket also holds this jacket when you pack it down. The hanger loop will attach to the outside of your pack, and the hook-and-loop flaps and tabs on the front zipper and sleeves keep rain and wind from ruining your outdoor adventures.
- Materials: Weatheredge polyester
- Sizes: S – XXL in Regular or Tall
- Colorways: 4
- StormRepel DWR treatment for heavy rainfall
- Tall collar provides wind protection
- 2 zippered front pockets and a zippered interior chest pocket
- Built-in hanging hoop
- Some users reported issues with sizing
For all-round waterproof and windproof performance, the North Face Resolve rain jacket is our top pick. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, this packable jacket features a breathable mesh interior and an adjustable hood that you can stow away when it’s not raining. Alternatively, the cozy sherpa-lined Columbia Women’s Switchback and Carhartt Men’s Shoreline jacket with a quilted interior are top insulated picks for cold weather.
How We Chose the Best Rain Jackets
When the rain starts to pour, the best rain jacket available can ensure you stay dry on your commute or while you complete your outdoor tasks. Selections for the best rain jackets for men and women alike depended upon materials, size and fit, and added special features included by certain brands.
Polyester, nylon, sherpa, and fleece are some of the main materials included in rain jackets to ensure they are both waterproof and insulated. As this list prioritizes options for both men and women, each comes in an array of sizes from XS – 3X to ensure a proper fit.
Some of these jackets also come with adjustable sleeves and hoods to ensure proper coverage from the rain. Other special features that factored into the list are carrying bags, taped seams, hanger hoops, pit zips, and multiple pockets with zippers or buttons to keep your belongings safe.
Below are the most commonly asked questions about rain jackets. If you still have questions about your jacket’s materials or features, reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service department.
Q: How do I know if my rain jacket is waterproof?
The best indication of whether your rain jacket is waterproof is if it has sealed or taped seams. Turn your jacket inside out and look at the stitching. If the threads have a waterproof tape or seal, the jacket is likely waterproof. Taping the seams is an extra step that manufacturers won’t take with standard, non-waterproof jackets.
Q: Why does my rain jacket get wet inside?
Your jacket could be getting older, which means the fabric or treatment could be breaking down. You could try reapplying a waterproof layer. Many spray treatments can improve or restore your jacket’s waterproofing.
If your jacket doesn’t have taped or sealed seams, it wasn’t waterproof to begin with, and you won’t be able to change that with exterior treatments.
Q: Is a rain jacket the same as a windbreaker?
Not at all. While some rain jackets can be windproof, few windbreakers are anything more than durable water repellent options. Their materials will shed a bit of rain, but water will make its way in after prolonged exposure.
Q: How do you wash a rain jacket?
It’s best to spot clean a rain jacket by hand, but most are machine washable if necessary. Just avoid the dryer. Rain jacket shells and their treatments are typically synthetic and might not withstand the heat.
Q: How long do rain jackets last?
Durable water repellent or waterproof jackets are meant to last until they begin to tatter or wear down. Most options can last for up to 6 years under heavy-duty use.