Reviews You Can Rely On

The 3 Best Rain Jackets of 2022

We tested rain jackets from Arc'teryx, REI, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, The North Face and more to find the very best
Best Rain Jackets of 2022
Nine of the top rain jackets, ready for our testing. There are three distinct types of jackets here, and one will meet your needs best.
Credit: Brandon Lampley
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Friday November 11, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Over the last 10 years, we've tested over 50 of the best rain jackets. This review features 12 of the market's top contenders. Pitted against each other in rigorous side-by-side and real-world tests, we've identified the pros and cons of each model, what applications they are best suited for, and the best overall. In addition to wearing each under heavy downpours, snow, and sleet, we've soaked them with garden hoses and showers to assess their performance. We've taken them skiing, backpacking, and even mountaineering. After almost a decade of hands-on testing, we offer you unbiased and honest recommendations to help you get the best possible option for your needs.

While most of these models are available in men's and women's versions, we've found that they don't always perform the same. With this in mind, we publish a detailed review of women's specific rain jackets performed by the female members of our review team. Spanning the range of a decade, GearLab has tested a variety of products, including hiking gear and backpacking gear. If you are getting into more burly weather, you might consider a hardshell jacket.

Related: Best Rain Jackets for Women

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $300 List$248.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$169 List
$169.00 at REI
$249.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$225 List
$225.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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73
Star Rating
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Pros Super light, ultra compact, trim fit, excellent breathability, weather protection compared to others in its weight class, stuffs into a pocket, hood moves very well with its userGreat storm protection, above average breathability, no clammy feeling, packs tightly into reversible stuff pocket, helmet-compatible hood, less crinklyIncredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volumeUnmatched stretch, mobility, freedom-of-movement, good breathabilityStormworthy, versatile, durable, comfortable, high level of ventilation
Cons Average weather protection overall, no pockets, no clip in point on stuff sack, elastic wrist loops are basic, trim/athletic cut doesn't facilitate layeringAverage freedom of movement, less stretchy than most other air-permeable models, fit, low handwarmer pockets could be more functionalWets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interiorAverage weather protection, you might find the slim fit doesn't accommodate layeringOn the heavier side
Bottom Line If you participate in activities where every ounce matters and you also need excellent weather protection and breathability, few can match this model for its weightThis jack-of-all-trades jacket offers some of the best weather protection and durability for an air-permeable modelOne of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional featuresThe stretchiest rain jacket we have ever tested, it provides unmatched freedom of movement and great breathability, making it ideal for cool weather activitiesA fantastic all-around shell with some of the best ventilation features out there, in a fairly light, durable, and stormworthy package
Rating Categories The North Face Flig... Outdoor Research Mi... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Rab Kinetic 2.0 Outdoor Research Foray
Water Resistance (30%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
Breathability & Venting (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort & Mobility (18%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
9.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Durability (5%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Packed Size (7%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Specs The North Face Flig... Outdoor Research Mi... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Rab Kinetic 2.0 Outdoor Research Foray
Measured Weight (Medium) 7.25 oz 14.5 oz 12.5 oz 12 oz 16 oz
Waterproof Fabric Material 20D FutureLight 3L Ascentshell 3L 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite Proflex 2.5 layer Gore-tex with PacLite Technology
Face Fabric and Layer Construction 100% recycled polyester, DWR finish 100% nylon stretch ripstop Polyester 3-layer, 100% recycled polyester 50D w/ Gore-tex PacLite waterproof breathable membrane
Pockets 1 interior 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand 2 hand 1 chest pocket, 2 hand pockets
Are Lower Pockets Hipbelt Friendly? Yes No No Yes Almost
Pit Zips No No No No Yes
Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight) No Yes No Yes Yes
Stows Into Pocket? Yes No No Yes Yes


Best Overall Rain Jacket


The North Face Flight Lightriser Futurelight


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Breathability & Venting 8.0
  • Comfort & Mobility 8.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Durability 5.0
  • Packed Size 8.0
Weight: 7.0 ounces | Pockets: One chest
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight and tiny compressed size
Stows into a hidden mesh pocket
Hood maintains great peripheral vision
Respectable storm worthiness
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacking ventilation options
Mesh stuff pocket leaves something to be desired
No pockets
Wets out slightly faster than others in prolonged downpours

The insanely light and compact The North Face Flight Lightriser Futurelight practically disappears in your pack. It's a versatile, excellent option. As one of the lightest and most compact models in our review, it provides adequate storm protection while conveniently stowing away into its reversible chest pocket and packing down to roughly the size of your fist. Our review team loves its athletic cut and stretchy material, providing good movement freedom. Its air-permeable design is also decently breathable.

While minimal weight and respectable storm protection are why you buy this model, many shells we tested offer better storm protection. Not surprisingly, this is one of the least durable models in our review, as it uses the thinnest fabrics and the tiniest zippers, meaning you need to exercise a little more care with it — depending on the terrain you are traveling in. If you know you're going to have a week of bad weather on a backcountry trip and are likely to wear your rain jacket over large portions of most days, you'll want to consider something different. However, for people who are likely to stow their shell in the bottom of their pack and only break it out for a few hours every other trip, it's hard to beat.

Read more: The North Face Flight Lightriser Futurelight review

Best Bang For The Buck


REI Co-op XeroDry GTX


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Breathability & Venting 8.0
  • Comfort & Mobility 7.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 6.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 12.5 ounces | Pockets: Two hand pockets
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible price for a Gore-Tex jacket
Stormworthy
Very breathable
Respectable packed volume
Nice hood design
Pit zips
DWR is robust
Affordable
REASONS TO AVOID
Slightly clammer than other Gore models
"Wets" out slightly quicker than comparable models
The hood doesn't fit over a helmet
So-so mobility and freedom of movement

The REI Co-Op XeroDry GTX is a nicely-designed model featuring Gore-Tex at an unbelievable price. While you can buy a nicer, lighter, or more storm-worthy rain shell, it will be tough to buy one for less money. The Xerodry outperforms all less expensive options while offering comparable performance to many more expensive ones. The Xerodry offered above-average weather protection and breathability at a good weight and packed size — for a far lower price than its competitors.

This model does have a few downsides, though these downsides are only when directly compared to more expensive models, most of which feature Gore-Tex rather than a more price-oriented, proprietary 2.5-layer coated-membrane option. Compared to several higher-end models, we found the XeroDry had a slightly clammier interior and a tendency to wet out faster than spendier 3-layer models. However, these are minor differences, and this model's price is hard to beat for its performance; it blows away the competition in a similar price range.

Read more: REI Co-Op XeroDry GTX review

An Excellent Air-Permeable Option


Rab Kinetic 2.0


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 6.0
  • Breathability & Venting 8.0
  • Comfort & Mobility 10.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 14.5 ounces | Pockets: One chest, two lower
REASONS TO BUY
Good storm protection
Very breathable
Stretchy fabric
Versatile
Well designed hood
REASONS TO AVOID
Pockets aren't the best with a pack on
Average weight and packed volume

A new wave of stretchy air-permeable models has flooded the market, and it can be hard to keep track. However, even in this newly crowded market sector, the stretchiest of the stretchy Rab Kinetic 2.0 still stands out. No model could match its blend of durability, comfort, and freedom of movement while maintaining top-tier breathability and respectable storm protection. The advantage of the Kinetic and other air-permeable materials is the relatively high and steady level of breathability, regardless of user temperature or external environmental factors. They continue to breathe better in warmer conditions or after their user cools off. The other advantage of most air-permeable models is how stretchy they are, and the Kinetic offers excellent articulation, an athletic cut, and the stretchiest fabric we have ever seen.

A downside of many of the new air-permeable models is that they can't even match the weather protection for extended, low-activity days as the top-performing models and tend to wet out much faster. The Kinetic was no different but was in the upper third of air-permeable models. It is acceptable for a few hours of wet hiking or ice climbing, snowshoeing, or ski touring in the snow but hanging out in camp on a rainy day, we'd rather have something else. It's so breathable it isn't as comfortable for those "soggy days in camp," as it keeps breathing even when you aren't moving. This usually results in a net heat loss and the user feeling colder than if they were not wearing an air-permeable model. Again it isn't that the Kinectic doesn't offer solid weather resistance; there are just a handful of burlier models that perform even better for straight-up hanging out in the rain. This model is better suited for aerobic activities (hiking, backpacking, ski touring, or anything moving). Other benefits of non-stop breathability and incredible mobility are more important than absolute storm protection.

Read more: Rab Kinetic 2.0 review

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
77
The North Face Flight Lightriser Futurelight
the north face flight lightriser futurelight rain jacket review
$300
Editors' Choice Award
75
Outdoor Research Microgravity
outdoor research microgravity rain jacket review
$249
74
REI Co-op XeroDry GTX
rei co-op xerodry gtx rain jacket review
$169
Best Buy Award
74
Rab Kinetic 2.0
rab kinetic 2.0 rain jacket review
$250
Top Pick Award
73
Outdoor Research Foray
outdoor research foray rain jacket review
$225
72
Marmot Minimalist
marmot minimalist rain jacket review
$199
70
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
patagonia torrentshell 3l rain jacket review
$150
70
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket
outdoor research helium rain jacket
$160
70
Patagonia Storm10
patagonia storm10 rain jacket review
$300
66
The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight
the north face dryzzle futurelight rain jacket review
$230
64
Marmot PreCip Eco
marmot precip eco rain jacket review
$100
49
Columbia Watertight II
columbia watertight ii rain jacket review
$100

rain jacket - what does waterproof really mean? rain creates three pounds per...
What does waterproof really mean? Rain creates three pounds per square inch of pressure being applied to the fabric; however, most waterproof breathable fabrics can withstand a lot more than that. The US military has a 25 PSI standard that most companies use as a guideline. All the fabrics are plenty waterproof to keep you dry out in the rain. How long they last, how well they keep water out, and overall design have a major impact on their ability to keep you dry.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Why You Should Trust Us


Author Ian Nicholson is a professional internationally licensed IFMGA/UIAGM mountain guide who has spent over 2,000 days guiding in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, the Andes, European Alps, and beyond. Ian estimates he has worn a rain jacket over 800 days over the last two decades because he guides AND lives in the rainy and wet Pacific Northwest. He has guided nearly 1,000 clients and helped them select gear for climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, and ski trips. In addition to staying up to date on the latest and greatest innovations in weather protection, Ian spent over 20 hours meticulously inspecting and considering over 80 contenders before selecting the best products for our review. OutdoorGearLab then bought these products at the same retail outlets available to you and sent them to Ian's house, where he immediately got to work putting each product through its paces.

We rate rain jackets on six performance metrics:
  • Water Resistance tests (30% of total weighted score)
  • Breathability & Venting tests (25% of score)
  • Comfort & Mobility tests (18% of score)
  • Weight tests (15% of score)
  • Packed Size tests (7% of score)
  • Durability tests (5% of score)

This review results from over 350 field hours hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and just plain hanging out in wet conditions around the Pacific Northwest. We loaned these jackets out to our friends to get more opinions on less objective tests like comfort and fit. Ian tested each jacket in our review in the Cascade Mountains and temperate rainforests of Western Washington and while milling around Seattle with a coffee in hand. When the rain wasn't pouring from the sky, it was pouring from our garden hoses, where we had timed spray tests with each product to figure out the limits of each jacket in a focused, side-by-side setting. As you can see, we take testing seriously in the field and in our home labs to help produce the best reviews possible.

Related: How We Tested Rain Jackets

None of the models we tested offered terrible peripheral vision but...
None of the models we tested offered terrible peripheral vision but some certainly maintained it better than others.
Not all models fit the same and you may need to size up or down to...
Not all models fit the same and you may need to size up or down to help your jacket to best suit your needs. For example with the Patagonia Storm Racer, marketed as a trail running jacket; tester Ian Nicholson could only fit a technical fleece underneath or a super thin puffy (in a pinch) where with a majority of models he could fit more.
While you can buy a rain jacket for less than half the price, this...
While you can buy a rain jacket for less than half the price, this model easily outperforms cheaper models. This jacket uses Gore-Tex Active and boasts awesome features and performance. This is one of the better values out there for a rain jacket, period.

Analysis and Test Results


Our selection involves a wide range of products, from the most stormworthy to the most budget-friendly. We also select some of the best models geared for specific applications or with particular attributes, like being the most lightweight and packable or facilitating the greatest freedom of movement. Each is evaluated across several important metrics to determine which models are the best overall and which are best for specific applications or specific user types.

Related: How to Choose the Right Rain Jacket


Value


You've likely asked yourself something along the lines of "is this piece of gear the extra money over that piece of gear? The answer is rarely crystal clear, as so much depends on the user and their intended product use. We quantify the differences (if any) by spending more with the end goal of helping you decide if you'll get the most out of the best or if you'll be happy with a model that will keep your wallet happy.

Likely wider than any other product, there is an enormous price range of rain jacket options on the market today. The most expensive options represent those built with the best materials and have years of engineering behind them. Nine times out of ten, these jackets will keep you dry (or at least drier) all day, from a drizzle to a downpour. More price-pointed models use proprietary fabrics, often with coated waterproof membranes that'll do the trick but most frequently won't perform as well as a higher-end option.

Of the highest value options on the market today, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L and REI Co-op XeroDry GTX are two of the best. Both offer great functionality and will keep you dry in most rainy conditions. Neither are as high quality as our top-scoring models, but both are roughly half the price of higher-end products without a massive drop in performance. They are a little more expensive than the lowest-priced models in our review but provide a significant step up in performance.

Why Are Higher-End Products More Expensive

Various products on the less expensive end use coated membrane fabrics, which aren't as long-lasting or as breathable as laminated membranes. These higher-end laminates are more costly to produce, and when looking at Name Brand materials, you are paying for the "name" and the years of engineering that went into it. It isn't that more basic coated materials don't have any engineering behind them; they are just generally less expensive and easier to produce.

After extensive testing, we found that there is a good reason that most companies use more expensive materials like Gore-Tex made by a third party on their more performance-focused pieces — rather than use proprietary fabrics. While it might be a slight downer to hear that these more expensive fabrics tend to work better and last longer, quality fabrics make a difference from a waterproof/breathability perspective. While generally not the case with most outdoor products, there is often a direct relationship between price and performance when it comes to rain jackets.

rain jacket - rain is not going to penetrate the fabrics that any of these jackets...
Rain is not going to penetrate the fabrics that any of these jackets are constructed with. In a downpour, however, running water can seep its way in through a pocket zipper, down your wrist when you reach overhead, or where the hood meets your neck, and thus the features and design of each model is the most critical part of keeping you dry.
Credit: Ian Nichcolson

Water Resistance


A rain jacket's most important job is to keep its wearer dry, whether hiking, backpacking, ski-touring, or simply taking the dog out for a walk on a rainy day. You can have all the best features in the world and the most packable product, but if your rain jacket doesn't adequately keep you dry, not much else matters.


We extensively tested each model in the real world using these models in the rain, wind, sleet, and snow. We conducted side-by-side tests to quantify performance and how each model compared. Some of our tests include a four-minute shower and a spray down with the garden hose. We did this to help find weak or potentially problematic spots and to get a feel for how long it took them to wet out.

rain jacket - obviously, the waterproof material itself is important, but with...
Obviously, the waterproof material itself is important, but with nearly all manufacturers offering a material that is more than adequate, those jackets with features that kept the rain out and move moisture scored the best. Ian Nicholson climbing "Pretty Nuts" near Kicking Horse Pass in extremely wet conditions.
Credit: Andy Dahlen

All tested products are water-resistant enough to use in a rain shell, and all meet the technical requirements to be waterproof. This doesn't mean they all perform at the same level, but they are all weather-resistant enough to be called waterproof.

rain jacket - all the models we tested are technically waterproof but not all...
All the models we tested are technically waterproof but not all offered the same level of storm protection or resisted "wetting out" in similar amounts of time.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

All of the models tested feature a waterproof fabric that is subsequently seam-taped after sewing, creating a completely sealed envelope. What differentiates each model's performance is how well each keeps the water out and how long they keep the water out and from wetting out. This is a columniation of several factors but generally refers to several design aspects of the jacket, particularly each model's hood, cuffs, pocket(s) front/primary zipper, pit zips, or other vents, and how well they keep water out. A jacket's ability to keep its wearer dry also has a lot to do with the make-up and construction of its waterproof insert (more frequently called a membrane) and the longevity of DWR, and its subsequent ability to resist wetting out after extended periods — that can be hours or weeks of use.

rain jacket - garden hose to the face and wrists? check. the foray can handle it...
Garden hose to the face and wrists? Check. The Foray can handle it. All of these jackets do a good job keeping you dry in your average rainstorm. But models with adjustable cuffs and well-designed hood adjustments are superior in howling rainstorms or when working with your hands overhead in the rain.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

The Marmot Minimalist offers some of our group's most robust weather resistance. These models all do an excellent job of sealing out precipitation in all forms and have well-designed wrist cuffs and hoods that cinch down to help seal out the elements, keeping us dry.

All the tested products will keep you dry in a storm. The primary differences in our water resistance metric come from individual fabric characteristics and, to a lesser extent, each model's respective hood's design, cuffs, pocket closures, and the longevity of a model's DWR.

rain jacket - a well designed hood is one of the most important factors...
A well designed hood is one of the most important factors influencing how dry a rain jacket is going to keep you.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Another essential component of a jacket's water resistance is its Durable Water Repellent or DWR treatment. This treatment is factory applied to the fabric's exterior and makes the water bead when it lands on the surface of the jacket, allowing it to shed the precipitation. Even though both nylon and polyester are hydrophobic, if they aren't treated with a DWR (or after the treatment wears off), they will "wet out"or become covered with a thin but continuous film of water and will frequently appear wet, hence the term wetting out. Besides the models we mentioned above, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L, Patagonia Storm10, and the REI XeroDry GTX offer good DWR and resist wetting out — both over time and during a single day out in heavy weather.

rain jacket - while these jackets weren&#039;t designed with sea kayaking in mind, that...
While these jackets weren't designed with sea kayaking in mind, that didn't stop our review team from utilizing a trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island to put them to the test. Trips like this only added to the testing of each model's versatility. In this photo, lead tester paddled over 20 miles in the Broken Islands in non-stop rain.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

This result of a jacket wetting out significantly reduces breathability in that wet area. This water may or may not be making it through the fabric. Still, in nearly all cases, the continuous film of water eliminates all breathability. The wet-looking area will feel cold and wet, or clammy, from the inside and look as if the liquid is getting through. A jacket that is wetting out will also be heavier due to water weight and feel cold or damp — which no one appreciates.

rain jacket - the previous metric compared how well each model kept us dry from...
The previous metric compared how well each model kept us dry from the outside where this one compares how well they helped us stay dry from the inside.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Breathability and Ventilation


Our water resistance metric measures and compares how well each contender kept its wearer dry from the outside; in contrast, our breathability and ventilation metric quantifies how well each model kept its wearer dry from the inside by allowing sweat, moisture, and heat to escape. We considered two main factors when awarding scores for this metric.


First and foremost, we researched and tested each fabric's breathability. This is undoubtedly where waterproof-breathable fabric technologies distinguish themselves the greatest from one another — even more so than weather protection. While some may not always feel like it, all of these multi-layered fabrics are all breathable (to varying extents), meaning they all allow water vapor to be wicked through the material from the inside to the outside, where it can subsequently evaporate.

rain jacket - breathability and ventilation are both significant factors in...
Breathability and ventilation are both significant factors in keeping the wearer dry, minimizing how wet they get from their own sweat. We weighted breathability slightly higher than ventilation because sometimes when it's really raining or snowing hard, opening your vents can make you wetter.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Secondly, we examined and studied how well each model's ventilation features performed. Besides examining how effectively each model's ventilation options could dump heat and moisture, we also evaluated how much the vents could be left open in a downpour. We measured if we could use them to dump heat while it was raining when hiking, trail running, and backpacking, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors in active ways. A vent might be well-designed at dumping heat, but it isn't doing its user much good if it lets more rain in than moisture out. By prioritizing real-world venting functionality, our review team noticed some of the more significant differences between models and ventilation designs. Some models offered ventilation designs far better than others at allowing sweat to escape or keeping rain from getting in.

rain jacket - we compared each jacket&#039;s overall breathability as well as their...
We compared each jacket's overall breathability as well as their ability to ventilate, allowing moisture and heat to escape. Here, wet skinning with intermediate sun-breaks and heavy snow flurries up the Southwest Face of Lichtenberg Mountain near Stevens Pass, WA.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Breathability Versus Ventilation

When comparing different ventilation options compared to a given model's overall breathability, it is essential to remember that these two design aspects, while related, are not equally important. Between the two, a fabric's breathability is far more important than ventilation. If it's raining, but particularly if it's raining hard, you'll likely batten down the hatches by closing the pit zips and cinching up the hood to keep the rain out, even if it means trapping some of your body-made moisture in. No ventilation designs proved to keep more water out than they let in during heavy rain or even walking up bushy trails after a storm.

rain jacket - we love the foray. if you want a durable rain jacket with...
We love the Foray. If you want a durable rain jacket with class-leading ventilation features, it's a great option.
Credit: Amanda Fenn

A Note on Breathability

As we mentioned, all models we reviewed here allow moisture to pass through them; however, none allow an infinite amount of moisture to pass, and even the most breathable models have their limitations. Remember, most people can drench a lightweight t-shirt if they work hard enough. Even the most basic lightweight synthetic t-shirt is significantly more breathable than any waterproof jacket we tested. Set yourself up for success and wear the lowest layers you can get away with to minimize overheating unnecessarily.

rain jacket - breathability is an important factor when considering shells. at...
Breathability is an important factor when considering shells. At some point, you can't shed any more layers under your rain shell while hiking with a heavy pack uphill and you're going to sweat no matter the outside temperature. Here, Mark M pushes the breathability to the max on a Marmot PreCip Jacket on a wet approach to Mt. Baker, North Cascades, WA.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

People are often more worried about being too cold, but in our experience, we see more people that are wearing too much clothing; they end up too hot even when it's "cold out." We recommend the be bold and start cold start or at least cool to the point where it takes you 5-10 minutes once you get moving to get comfortable. If you're warm before you start and taking part in any aerobic activity, you'll likely produce far more sweat than your jacket can handle and soak yourself.

rain jacket - even the most breathable models have a limit on the amount of...
Even the most breathable models have a limit on the amount of moisture they are able to pass through. Set yourself up for success by wearing the minimum layers you can get away with. Remember that nearly everyone can drench even a t-shirt if they're working hard enough.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Air-Permeable Fabrics

Air-permeable is a new buzzword (and a technical term) in the outdoor world that is a design characteristic of a number of the new wave of stretchy, mostly proprietary waterproof-breathable jackets that have recently surged onto the market. We feature several air-permeable models in our review; the Rab Kinetic and Outdoor Research MicroGravity being two of our favorites.

rain jacket - air-permeable fabrics are a cool new trend in the outdoor industry...
Air-permeable fabrics are a cool new trend in the outdoor industry, and they offer a static level of breathability, regardless of user output and external environments. This means your jacket keeps breathing even after you've cooled off.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

What is an air-permeable fabric or jacket? Well, it's nearly exactly what it sounds like — a fabric where air can pass through the material at all times. This is in contrast to most waterproof-breathable garment industry, which relies on a disparity in heat and/or pressure to get the moisture to pass through the material. This does mean that air-permeable jackets, on a micro-level, aren't technically windproof. With that said, all these models feel windproof but do feel cooler than most folks are used to once they have stopped exercising or are just hanging out in the rain.

rain jacket - a number of models in this review, like the outdoor research...
A number of models in this review, like the Outdoor Research Microgravity, are air permeable. This means air can pass through the fabric itself, and on a micro-level, these models aren't technically windproof and don't require as much internal heat build-up as more traditional fabrics. Most of these models breathe quite well.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

One common misconception is that because a given model might be air-permeable, people assume it must be more breathable than a non-air permeable jacket (such as Gore-Tex or eVent, or other proprietary waterproof fabrics), but the truth is that this isn't always the case. Air-permeable fabrics offer a much more static level of breathability, meaning they always let the same amount of moisture pass through the material, regardless of user excursion or external temperature.

rain jacket - nice features include a microfleece-lined zipper and good fitting...
Nice features include a microfleece-lined zipper and good fitting cuffs. Here, tester Ian Nicholson with The North Face Dryzzle's under-the-helmet hood on a very wet day.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Sounds great, right? Several high-end materials like Gore-Tex Paclite, normal Gore-Tex, or eVent all have a fluctuating level of breathability. These fabrics breathe when there is a temperature difference (and temperature differences inherently create a pressure difference) between the inside of the jacket and the outside environment. They will perform, for example, if you are hiking uphill and it's cold and rainy outside because there will be a significant temperature difference. In these ideal conditions and scenarios, these materials, like Gore-Tex, will likely breathe better than most air-permeable models, as they have a higher ceiling of potential breathability that is likely reached with some excursion in a cold environment.

rain jacket - as useful as many ventilation features are, a fabric&#039;s breathability...
As useful as many ventilation features are, a fabric's breathability is more important than ventilation. When it is storming hard and you want to batten down the hatches by closing pit-zips and cinching the hood, a breathable fabric is paramount.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Conversely, the pressure difference will be lower because they don't breathe as well once the user has stopped and cooled down. These fabrics don't perform as well if the environment is hot and humid and the user is working hard and warm (which will likely be the case if the user is exercising in a warm, moist environment).

Ventilation Features and Comparison

For users who run warmer in lighter drizzle or in the time between cloudbursts when they want to continue wearing their jacket for wind protection, or as you suspect the next storm is just minutes away, venting your jacket can prove incredibly useful.

rain jacket - the patagonia torrentshell has large pit zips with easy-to-use pull...
The Patagonia Torrentshell has large pit zips with easy-to-use pull strings on the zippers. Pit zips let the wearer ventilate the jacket for high energy activities. Some models have mesh-lined pockets for additional ventilation. The Torrentshell's hand pockets are lined with waterproof fabric.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Pit zips, side zips, core vents, or other zippered ventilation designs have their place. Besides a model's front primary zipper, pit zips are the next most effective ventilation tool for dumping heat and moving moisture, with the advantage of not letting much moisture in. Pit zips generally allow more moisture to escape than core vents, a fairly generic term for mesh-lined pockets that you can leave open to let a little moisture out.

Side-By-Side Hiking Test

We tested the breathability of these jackets while hiking, backpacking, climbing, and ski touring. We looked at the technical states of the volume of water each fabric can pass and performed a series of side-by-side stationary bike and 10-minute Stairmaster tests (thanks, Vertical World Seattle) to compare better and analyze breathability. When looking at the numbers, more than half the jackets in this review don't have a static level of breathability. The amount of moisture you will pass will depend on your activity and the environmental conditions. Our review team conducted our tests several times, comparing models with many ventilation options; we compared and contrasted performance, keeping vents completely closed, partially open, and completely open.

rain jacket - there are a lot of breathable fabrics out there, but in our...
There are a lot of breathable fabrics out there, but in our side-by-side 10-minute stairmaster tests (and in real-world use) we found eVent to be one of the most breathable. Not by lots, but enough to notice. We even found that it was breathable enough that we would get cold faster during breaks.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The most breathable materials in our review were the Gore-Tex and Gore Paclite Plus. These two fabrics were a cut above the rest when we were out on a rainy winter hike, where they could pass an impressive amount of moisture at an astounding rate. While these two fabrics scored the best overall, several proprietary air-permeable models and materials, like the Rab Kinetic, using Proflex and Outdoor Research MicroGravity using Ascentshell, allowed for exceptional breathability and were nearly as breathable.

rain jacket - john yarnall testing and checking the wind resistance of his...
John Yarnall testing and checking the wind resistance of his air-permeable Rab Kinetic on a six day traverse of the Northern Picket Range, WA.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The next round of most breathable options included Gore-Tex, like the Marmot Minimalist and The North Face Dryzzle, along with our two top-performing air permeable models, the Rab Kinetic 2.0, The North Face Flight Lightriser and Outdoor Research MicroGravity. With these air-permeable jackets, we noticed ourselves becoming colder during breaks than with the non-air-permeable ones.

rain jacket - comfort and mobility are extremely important factors that are often...
Comfort and mobility are extremely important factors that are often under-considered when purchasing a jacket. This is likely because there are less quantifiable metrics to go along with a given jacket's mobility. Or some people might simply think, "I'm just hiking, I'm not climbing." However, whether crawling over a downed tree, setting up a tarp at camp, or climbing the most epic peak of your life, you'll repeatedly utilize the maximum mobility of your jacket. Josh Brewer (in a green Patagonia Torrentshell) and Alex Chew enjoy the fruits of their labor in camp, Jones Island State Park, WA.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


Comfort and Mobility


For whatever activities you have planned, you'll want a jacket that moves comfortably with you and doesn't inhibit your movement. In the mobility portion of this metric, our review team compares how each model moves with its use or how restrictive it may be depending on the activity required. We tested each model's overall freedom of movement for general applications and a handful of specific activities like climbing and ski touring.


We also explicitly compare how well a model's hood maintained the peripheral vision and how it moved with our heads. We compared each jacket with our arms facing straight forward, straight up, and straight out to the sides. We also examined how easily each model lets us accomplish these tasks. We measured how much each one pulled back from our wrists and if the hem of the jacket pulled up around our waists.

rain jacket - we tested the maximum range of motion of each jacket by seeing how...
We tested the maximum range of motion of each jacket by seeing how well we stayed covered while reaching straight out in front of us, as well as above our heads. This is where stretchy fabrics and specific designs really stood out. Here Graham McDowell tests the range of motion of the Patagonia Torrentshell while climbing the Southwest Rib of South Early Winter Spire near Washington Pass in an early season snowstorm.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

In the comfort portion of this metric, we consider the small features that made a given product more comfortable to wear (and how easy specific features were to use), as well as the feeling of the interior material; was it more or less clammy feeling on our bare skin? Base layer T-shirt? Lastly, we evaluate the basic but essential bit about how each model felt.

rain jacket - which jacket has the best range of motion? only one way to find out.
Which jacket has the best range of motion? Only one way to find out.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

We note small features, like a microfleece patch at the chin or soft fabric where the hood rests on your brow, which are appreciated touches that feel nicer. We also considered the ease of use of each feature, comparing cinch cords for the hood and how easy to access and adjust they were. Some jackets add larger fabric pull tabs to the zipper — rather than small pieces of cord — to ease operating with cold fingers or gloves.

The model with the best range of motion was the ultra-stretchy Rab Kinetic 2.0. It is just one of many new models that are part of the fresh new wave of stretchier, waterproof shells. While the number of stretch models continues to grow, the Kinetic is the stretchiest shell we have ever seen and offers nearly restriction-free movement. The only thing worth noting about this model is its ultra-slim fit aimed toward more technical pursuits. Those who might want to add more than one thin layer underneath should consider sizing up.

Next in line for the best freedom of movement and mobility are the Patagonia Storm10 Outdoor Research MicroGravity, and The North Face Flight Lightriser. These models feature mobility-oriented designs and offer a functional range of motion that is just a small notch below the Rab Kinetic, though all scoring well for different reasons. The MicroGravity and the Storm10 are stretchy and appreciated.

rain jacket - hood designs varied considerably between jackets. a good hood design...
Hood designs varied considerably between jackets. A good hood design will keep the water out while moving with you and allowing you to hang on to a good amount of your peripheral vision. Here, Tester Ian Nicholson tends a backcountry breakfast on a stormy morning.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Features


If you're wearing your jacket around town, having room in the pockets for gloves and a warm hat or a phone and keys can be nice. Some folks don't like using hoods in a more urban setting and consider an umbrella for wet days. In the backcountry, a hood that rolls away and stows can be appreciated but is generally a lot less of a big deal.

rain jacket - consider whether you would like to use your rain jacket with a...
Consider whether you would like to use your rain jacket with a climbing or bike helmet. While any hood can be worn under a helmet, it can be more convenient (and comfortable) if it can be pulled on and off quickly by fitting over the top.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Hood Design

The effectiveness of each model's hood (of keeping our heads dry while not chafing our chins or cutting off our peripheral vision) varied wildly. Our favorites are the Rab Kinetic 2.0 and the REI Drypoint, while the Outdoor Research Foray, Patagonia Storm10, and Patagonia Torrentshell scored not too far behind.

When talking about hoods, the Rab Kinetic 2.0 is of special note because it features an internal elastic band designed to ride directly on the wearer's forehead, acting as an internal gasket to the main hood. As crazy as this sounds, and trust us, most of our review team was skeptical, it turned out to be comfortable and effective, maintaining top-notch peripheral vision.

rain jacket - here tester ian nicholson showcases the rab kenitic&#039;s cool &quot;double&quot;...
Here tester Ian Nicholson showcases the Rab Kenitic's cool "double" hood design.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

From beanies to baseball caps, each one of these jackets featured hoods that cinched down over a range of headwear, maximizing the hood's ability to turn with its user's head — instead of turning into it — though our hands-down favorite hood is on the Patagonia Storm10.

Pockets

It is tough to argue the utility of pockets, as everyone uses them at least sometimes. They are unquestionably useful to help keep track of small items, keep certain things close at hand, and are a convenient place to keep your hands warm. Not all pockets are created equal, and their size and location can greatly impact their overall usefulness, depending on the user.

rain jacket - if a jacket&#039;s handwarmer pockets are too low, they are rendered...
If a jacket's handwarmer pockets are too low, they are rendered totally useless by the waist-belt of a pack or a harness and can pinch the wear's hips quite uncomfortably under heavier loads. We prefer models with higher handwarmer pockets, or at least lower-profile zippers to minimize pinching.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

For example, having lower handwarmer pockets is great for around town but can be a nuisance and rendered nearly or completely unusable while wearing a harness or heavy pack.

rain jacket - we love slightly elevated pockets that remain accessible under a pack.
We love slightly elevated pockets that remain accessible under a pack.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

While on adventures requiring wearing a pack, most of the jacket's pocket is under a weighted hip-belt strap and is frequently uncomfortable due to the zippers being pinched under the waistbelt (or harness) and the pockets themselves unusable. The zipper-pinching-induced pain only compounds itself the longer the trip, so if you're planning on using your rain jacket for day hiking, backpacking, or mountaineering, steer clear of models with low front handwarmer pockets. Besides discomfort, lower hand pockets are far less accessible with a pack on, and at times can be inaccessible.

rain jacket - all of our testers appreciated the slightly elevated and...
All of our testers appreciated the slightly elevated and function-oriented pockets on the Rab Kinetic.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Nearly all of our reviewers love pockets that are slightly higher and out of the way of a pack's hip belt or a climbing harness, so we can still access items and more importantly, so the zipper doesn't cause us pain under heavy loads. Low pockets are slightly more comfortable for keeping your hands warm while cruising the farmer's market on a drizzly day for less technical applications.

rain jacket - these pocket designs are popular with the casual crowd, but are...
These pocket designs are popular with the casual crowd, but are often impractical while hiking since they are nearly inaccessible while wearing a pack or harness. Shown here is the Interstellar, with so-so pockets.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Weight


Light is right for many, and weight is a crucial factor for any gear used on human-powered adventures. All of our testers value lightweight clothing and equipment, but not at the expense of basic functionality. If you're thru-hiking 2,650 miles, climbing technical terrain, or riding your bicycle from coast to coast, weight may (and should) be one of your primary concerns. For burlier adventures, soggy backpacking trips, expedition-type mountaineering trips, or even daily use, you'll want to consider durability and stormworthiness just as much as weight.


Most of the models in our review are already on the lighter end of the weight spectrum, particularly when compared to beefier 3-layer models. Many of the contenders in our review weigh less than a pound, which is the unofficial benchmark for what is considered a lighter weight jacket.

rain jacket - we weighed all the models in our review on a postal scale.
We weighed all the models in our review on a postal scale.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

While one pound might be a benchmark, the average weight in our review is closer to 12-14 ounces, with some models dipping down to an impressive 6-7 ounces — an unfathomable weight even just five years ago. While some folks might not care about spending more or sacrificing some features or storm worthiness for just a few ounces; for the most weight-conscious of users, or those who own a quiver of jackets; these lightest of light jackets are impressively light and might allow you to get away with bringing a slightly smaller pack or to bring one when you otherwise might forgo a rain shell altogether.

rain jacket - for many users, weight is possibly the single most important...
For many users, weight is possibly the single most important attribute of a rain shell because they will be carrying it more than 90% of the time. Often times, it's a "just in case" layer, brought along in the event of an afternoon thunderstorm, strong winds, or a drizzle that is not in the forecast. Photo: Phil Wadlow on the Upper Curtis Glacier.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain weighs in at 6.5 ounces and can be stuffed into a built-in reversible chest pocket with a clip-in loop, a nice feature for climbers carrying it on their harness. It could also be useful for anyone wanting to clip their jacket to something.

rain jacket - graham zimmerman wearing the lightest and most compressible jacket...
Graham Zimmerman wearing the lightest and most compressible jacket in our review, the Outdoor Research Helium Rain.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Quite close in weight is The North Face Flight Lightriser. It weighs seven ounces; while around half an ounce heavier, it's more breathable and stretchier and provides decent weather protection. Those seeking the lightest, fully featured model should check out the Patagonia Storm 10, which unlike the two previous models listed, actually has front pockets that offer superior storm protection and weighs 8.5 ounces.

rain jacket
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Packed Size


We've all been caught in a storm, getting soaked when we left our jackets in the car at the then-sunny trailhead. As the weather can change quickly and unexpectedly, it's these just-in-case packing scenarios when having a light, compact rain shell is useful, and there is less of a personal debate on whether to throw it in your running vest or the bottom of your pack.


It's just easier to forget about until you need it. Even on multi-day trips with perfect or less-than-perfect forecasts, packed size should be high on most outdoor enthusiasts' priority lists. In reality, most folks carry their rain shell nine times out of ten, so the smaller it packs, the more room you have for other items.

rain jacket - jackets stuffed and ready to travel. the jackets we evaluated that...
Jackets stuffed and ready to travel. The jackets we evaluated that do not stuff into one of their pockets can be rolled into their hood as shown here. L-R top row: Helium and Minimus, Essence, Resolve, Minimalist. Bottom row: Torrentshell, Venture, PreCip, Watertight.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Approximately half of these models stuff into one of their pockets, and others can be rolled and stuffed into their hoods. Our rating for packed size considers the compressed size and the ease of using the integrated stuff pocket. Some compress relatively small but require wrestling to get them stowed; others fit comfortably into their stuff pocket.

rain jacket - the storm10 reverses into a chest pocket to help stow it. while it...
The Storm10 reverses into a chest pocket to help stow it. While it takes a little more effort than most to pack it away in this pocket, we appreciate how much it compresses.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

A clip-in loop (for use after the jacket has been stuffed) is a nice feature that many climbers or hikers will appreciate and use at some point. As for packed volume, the Outdoor Research Helium Rain is the most compact. This model is significantly smaller and half the compressed volume of the average packet size in our review. the

rain jacket - this model, the north face lightriser (in green) is shown next to...
This model, The North Face Lightriser (in green) is shown next to some of the other more packable models in our review.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The Patagonia Storm10 packs tightly into its chest pocket and is as small as the slightly lighter Outdoor Research Helium Rain. Among the smallest models, though just a little bit bigger, The North Face Flight Lightriser is far tinier than the majority of models in our review. The only thing that kept it from being more compact is that its mesh pocket didn't do quite as good of compressing it.

rain jacket
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Durability


A rain jacket must stand up to the demands its user places on it. While we know everyone would like their rain jacket to last an eternity, many people are better off going with a lighter weight model that they will use infrequently and carry around a good chunk of the time. Unfortunately, as jackets get more lightweight, they also generally become less durable. This is in both abrasion and cut resistance but also in overall longevity. This is particularly true among the lightest models, exponentially less durable than products weighing three to five ounces more.


The exterior material (also known as the face fabric) is either nylon or polyester, and this material plays a huge role in the overall durability. For the most part, the lighter the face fabric is, the easier it tears or the faster it is to abrade. Most of the jackets tested use 30-50 Denier face fabric, with the 50D shells being notably more robust than the 20-30D. All but the Columbia Watertight II feature ripstop material. A ripstop weave doubles up on the thread at intervals, providing a grid of strong fibers to stop tears from growing once a rip has occurred. This is a significant advantage and a reason that many outdoor products utilize it.

rain jacket - a rain jacket needs to stand up to the demands of your activities -...
A rain jacket needs to stand up to the demands of your activities - if it becomes ripped or shredded, no amount of features or special designs will keep you dry. Chris Simrell crossing the upper Elwah River in the Olympic Mountains, WA. This Patagonia Torrentshell jacket withstood quite a bit of bushwhacking use and abuse, particularly considering its weight and price.
Credit: Max Neale

While polyester is generally stretchier and more durable than Nylon, thickness matters. For example, a 50D nylon jacket is likely more robust than a 30D polyester, even though Polyester is "generally" tougher. If you plan to use your jacket off-trail or while bushwhacking, choose a model with a higher denier and ripstop face fabric, and at least consider a polyester model. Lastly, after years of experience, we have come to find that jackets with fewer seams in the shoulders hold up better, especially if you plan to carry a pack regularly.

rain jacket - nothing like starting a trip on a very, very rainy day in...
Nothing like starting a trip on a very, very rainy day in Washington's North Cascades to learn a lot about different models and how they compare to one another.
Credit: Ian Nicholon

The most durable models in our review are the Marmot Minimalist, The North Face Apex, and Outdoor Research Foray. Except for the Apex, all three pair 50D polyester ripstop face fabrics with a much longer-lasting Gore-Tex Paclite membrane. Each proves to be able to handle anything we could hope a backpacking-oriented rain jacket could take. With its 50D ripstop polyester shell, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is one of the more robust budget-friendly models.

Our team focuses on each product's face fabric when assessing its overall durability, as this is the layer that has the most impact on a given product's tear and abrasion resistance and how well its DWR might hold up. As discussed in the weather resistance section, models with laminated membranes, whether name-brand ones like Gore-Tex or proprietary ones, far outlasted products with coated membranes.

rain jacket - we hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your...
We hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your selection, until next time...
Credit: Graham Zimmerman

Conclusion


Determining which rain jacket is right for you might seem complicated. While staying dry is the goal, aspects like breathability, hood design, or a given model's level of mobility can make a big difference in daily use. Our metrics are in place to help you decide based on what design characteristics YOU want to focus on and, subsequently, which model is best suited for your needs. Once you've considered which metrics are most important for your adventures, our review can help you narrow your decision down.

Ian Nicholson


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