If you're in the market for the best rain jacket for hiking, start with one made with Gore-Tex or e-Vent fabrics. Together, these materials combine multiple layers and membranes that are water-resistant, windproof, yet breathable.
Best Rain Jackets For Hiking (Top Picks)
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Top Hiking Rain Jackets (Detailed Reviews)
Here are my top 5 rain jackets.
- Columbia Watertight Ii - Best Value
- REI Co-op Drypoint GTX - Best Overall
- North Face Apex Flex GTX - Editor's Choice
- Arc'teryx Beta - Best Lightweight
- Outdoor Research Foray
Read our complete buyers guide for hiking rain jackets.
Best Value Rain Jacket for Hikers
1. Columbia Watertight Ii Jacket
The Columbia Watertight Ii is a reliable rain jacket that is made from 100% recycled nylon fabric. This rain jacket is durable and will shield you from bad weather on your everyday excursions. The Watertight Ii is most suited for everyday wear and light outdoor activities. While its H2No Performance Standard Protection fabric and DWR finish makes the jacket waterproof, it doesn't do as well as other rain jackets in heavy, continuous rain.
The Watertight Ii packs away very neatly into one of its pockets, and at only 343g (12oz), it is ideal to take with you on trips where you might expect some showers. The hood and wrists are adjustable to help ensure that no water gets under the jacket, and while it does feature pit zips, the general breathability of the jacket could be better.
This makes it a great budget option for people wanting to use it for daily commuting, or light hiking and casual outdoor activities. The durability of the Watertight Ii is surprisingly good and it can wear for a number of years, depending on what you use it for.
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2. REI Co-op Drypoint GTX
The REI Co-op Drypoint GTX is a lightweight and functional rain jacket that will keep you dry and comfortable as you trek through the outdoors. The Drypoint GTX is great value for money and is one of the top jackets in its class.
With Gore-Tex Active fabric and taped seams, this rain jacket is waterproof and classed as a hardshell jacket. Despite not having pit zips, the Drypoint GTX has great breathability so you'll be able to hike for hours without feeling clammy and uncomfortable.
The Drypoint GTX has many of the key design features that you should look for in a rain jacket. It has an adjustable hood with a built-in visor, which comes in handy for extended periods of rain. The hand pockets are well placed and made out of mesh on the inside, which helps to expel body heat and avoid condensation within the jacket.
With its minimalist design, the Drypoint GTX weighs only 298g (10.5oz) and is one of the lightest hardshell jackets you will find. It's also fairly compact so it won't take up much space in your bag when you're not wearing it.
The Drypoint GTX's design focuses more on breathability rather than durability so be careful not to store it around sharp objects that could tear through the fabric.
For regular trekking and hiking, this rain jacket would suit you fine; but if you plan on going trampling through rough backcountry or rock climbing, a sturdier jacket would be better.
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3. North Face Apex Flex GTX
The North Face Apex Flex GTX provides excellent protection from the elements with its layered Gore-Tex fabric and Durable Waterproof Repellent (DWR) finish. This rain jacket is more of a softshell design, but is very durable and will keep you warm and dry. It's stretch-woven outer-layer allows for excellent range of movement, while its soft-knit inside keeps you comfortable.
While the Apex Flex GTX has excellent wind and waterproofing, it is also quite heavy and not very compact. This means that it wouldn't be the ideal choice for a lengthy or hardcore outdoor expedition, but is perfect for everyday winter use and for more casual outdoor activities. The Apex Flex GTX offers more than a simple rain jacket would, as its soft interior layer provides extra warmth and comfort, in addition to keeping you dry.
The Apex Flex GTX has quite good breathability, despite all its layers and thickness. It features pit zips, which help to expel excess body heat so you won't overheat during high-energy activities in which you perspire. However, this jacket would not be great in wet, summer weather conditions, as you may find it too thick and heavy. It's also a very durable rain jacket and very well made, so you will get a lot of use out of it.
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4. Arc'teryx Beta
The Arc'teryx Beta is designed specifically as a lightweight, compact, emergency rain jacket for any situation and environmental conditions. At only 315g (11oz), the Beta is super light and can easily be tucked away in your bags in case of bad weather.
Its Gore-Tex fabric is windproof, waterproof and has excellent breathability. It was designed to encompass all the basic needs for a rain jacket and does just that. Its articulated arms provide an excellent range of motion, so the jacket is comfortable and unrestrictive. This makes it a great rain jacket for any type of activity, including hiking, climbing or just everyday wear.
In addition to exceptional protection from bad weather conditions, it also has a good level of durability so no matter where you're going or what activities you have planned, the Beta is the rain jacket to take with you.
The Beta's main features deliver a high performance as well. The hood is adjustable with a stiff brim to protect your face from rain, and Velcro cuffs around the wrists ensure that no water can get inside.
The breathability of the jacket is quite good, but it doesn't have pit zips or any other ventilation features. This is because it was designed for emergency use, instead of 'high energy' activities, where you would need a way to get rid of extra body heat.
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5. Outdoor Research Foray
The Outdoor Research Foray is a versatile and all-encompassing rain jacket. It has many useful features, which function well to make using this jacket efficient and successful. Gore-Tex fabric technology ensures that the jacket is waterproof and wind-resistant so that it can protect you from any weather conditions.
The Foray is comfortable and absolutely excels in breathability. Instead of having the typical pit zips, the Foray has two large side vents, which can be unzipped right from the bottom of the jacket to under the armpit. This allows for airflow so that you don't feel clammy inside your rain jacket.
The Foray is quite light at 454g (16oz), and can be packed away into one of its own pockets for added convenience. It is comfortable and allows for a good range of motion.
A lot of effort has gone into making the Foray a highly functioning, comfortable rain jacket. Its zippers have small plastic tag, which makes them easy to use, even when wearing gloves. The hood is adjustable and elastic wristbands with a Velcro tab make sure that no water can get through.
Specific areas where the jacket makes contact with the skin, that could cause irritation, are lined with micro-fleece. The Foray is ultimately a great all-around rain jacket that covers all your needs and will keep you safe and dry on your outdoor excursions.
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Hiking Rain Jacket Buyer's Guide
To find the best rain jacket that suits your specific needs, it is important to consider all the various features that come with it and how useful each of those individual features will be to you.
Whether you're travelling to faraway places, hiking through misty mountains or simply need some protection from the weather in your everyday life, choosing the right rain jacket is an important decision that needs some consideration.
Rain jackets are designed to keep you warm and protect you from the weather on your outdoor adventures. Special windproof and water resistant fabrics are used to make rain jackets and will make sure that you stay dry and safe. Lengthy hiking trips in wet weather, without a rain jacket, can be very dangerous for your health.
Different rain jackets are designed specifically for different purposes. If you're hiking or doing any activity that makes you perspire, you will want a rain jacket with excellent breathability and ventilation.
If you're planning a long trip where you'll be carrying all your luggage along with you, you'll need a rain jacket that is compact and light so that it'll fit easily into your bags and won't weigh you down. This article will serve as a guide to some of the top rain jackets so that you can choose the perfect rain jacket for your own personal needs.
The weight of a rain jacket is an important key feature to consider for your decision. You don't want to choose a heavy rain jacket that is more of a hindrance to you than it is useful. Lightweight rain jackets are more compact, easily packed and usually fold up very neatly. They provide an extra layer of water and wind resistant protection over your other clothes and are great perfect for activities or travels where you expect some cold weather and light rain.
Rain jackets that provide more protection and warmth will be slightly heavier. If you're going on a long hike where you'll most likely be wearing the rain jacket most of the time then a little extra weight is worth it. Rain jackets are usually designed to be as light as possible so that they can be packed away easily and won't weigh you down when you're not wearing it.
It is important that the rain jacket you choose is made from good quality fabric so that it will last you a long time. Rain jackets are made from special fabric that is water resistant, windproof and breathable. Most brands use Gore-Tex or eVent fabrics that combine multiple layers and membranes to create the desired effects.
Depending on the purpose for your rain jacket, you'll want the fabric to be durable so that you'll be warm and protected from various weather conditions. Thicker, sturdier rain jackets will provide better protection for outdoor adventures but if you're simply looking for an extra layer to protect you from some light rain, a thinner fabric will suit you fine.
It is essential for your rain jacket to be water resistant. Water resistant fabric will make sure that you stay warm and dry underneath your rain jacket and can protect you from hypothermia in very cold weather. Usually a waterproof finish will be applied to a the fabric as well, which will result in water droplets simply running off the fabric instead of becoming absorbed.
Taped seams also help improve the water resistance and ensure that no water can get through the sewing holes. Some rain jackets have all their seams taped, while others may have only taped the seams in the more essential areas, such as shoulders and around the neck.
Warmth and Seasons
Rain jackets have various levels of warmth so that they can keep you warm in cold weather or simply be a light layer to keep you dry in the heat. Lightweight rain jackets are thin and compact so you can just slip it on over whatever you're wearing to protect you from some light rain or wind.
Heavier, thicker rain jackets are designed to keep you warm and protected in cold, harsh weather conditions. So it is important to consider what weather you need your rain jacket before so that you can choose the right one.
It is vital that your rain jacket has the right level of breathability for your needs. If the fabric isn't breathable, moisture vapor from perspiration will be trapped between you and the jacket and will result in you being cold and wet, which is the opposite effect of what a rain jacket is supposed to do.
Breathability is usually measured by the amount of grams of water vapour passing through the fabric per square meter. If you're doing activities in which you break a sweat, it is recommended to look for a rain jacket with a breathability level between 10,000 and 15,000g/m2. Hardcore hikers and outdoor adventurers should look for a rain jacket with breathability of over 20,000g/m2.
A challenge is finding a rain jacket that has good breathability but won't allow water or wind to pass through the fabric. Rain jackets will often have zips along the sides or under the arm pits to help improve ventilation and breathability.
Comfort and Ease of Movement
The fit of your rain jacket and its level of comfort is very important to consider when making your decision. You will want to be able to wear various numbers of layers underneath for different weather conditions and will need it to fit your body comfortably without being bulky. Make sure you can move around easily without it restricting your arms to ensure a maximum level of comfort.