Reviews You Can Rely On

The 5 Best Budget Rain Jackets for Women of 2022

We test the best affordable rainwear from Marmot, The North Face, Columbia and more
Best Budget Rain Jackets for Women of 2022
Credit: Laura Casner

Our Top Picks

By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday November 16, 2022
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Seeking to stay dry without spending too much money? We researched dozens of top-selling coats and chose the nine best women's rain jackets to put to the test. We've put the most impressive contenders in the field to the test over the past five years, this time challenging affordably priced competitors to measure up in all the same tests. We pushed them under a full hose spray and holding puddles of water to see where their limits are. From hiking or biking to running or running errands, we've found the best high-value jackets with low price tags to keep you dry and comfortable.

Looking for higher-performing models? See our Best Women's Rain Jackets review. We've also gone puddle splashing in the best women's rain boots to find the top-performing pairs.


1

Best Women's Rain Jacket


Marmot PreCip Eco - Women's


Weight: 8.7 oz | Material: 100% recycled ripstop nylon, NanoPro technology
REASONS TO BUY
Great venting and breathability
Good coverage and weather protection
Lightweight and comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Zippers not waterproof
Smaller fit may be harder to layer

For affordable rain gear, you can expect to make a few sacrifices in protection to save extra cash. For the fewest sacrifices and a very well-worth-it price, we love the Marmot PreCip Eco. This coat kept us pleasantly dry, from regular summer rainstorms to standing under a high-pressure hose and letting water sit pooled for extended periods. It's thin, fairly flexible, and comfortable to wear against your skin, even in warmer climates. Rolling the hood into the collar and taking advantage of dual venting through mesh-lined pockets and zippered armpits help you release built-up heat when needed. A slim, athletic fit keeps it looking classy while ready for action. Rain cloud passed? Stuff this coat into its pocket and clip it outside your pack as you continue your adventure.

The slim fit of the PreCip can make it more challenging to comfortably fit on the wide variety of shapes of womankind, so if a slim fit sounds small to you, consider sizing up. It can also make layering more challenging, especially over bulky warm layers. It's also not the lightest jacket we tested, though it's within a couple of ounces, which we find acceptable. And, like all jackets in this review, it lacks certain amenities like waterproof zippers and extra-durable fabric that can get you through the harshest conditions. We adore this rain jacket's look, feel, and performance and highly recommend it as our top choice.

Read more: Marmot PreCip Eco review

Vents: Armpit zips and mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro and bottom snap
Packability: Packs into the left-hand pocket

Hood Type: Stows into the collar, adjustable bungees on sides, velcro on back, stiffened brim

budget rain jacket womens - best women's rain jacket
We love the fit, feel, and protection the Marmot PreCip Ecoj provides - and all for a reasonable price.
Credit: Laura Casner

2

Best Bang for Your Buck


Columbia Switchback III - Women's


Weight: 7.3 oz | Material: 100% nylon exterior, 100% polyester liner
REASONS TO BUY
Super light and packable
Soft and comfortable to wear
Reasonable emergency protection
REASONS TO AVOID
Less waterproof than some
Thin, not ripstop exterior

If you came here thinking, "sometimes it rains, but mostly I want a light jacket for crisp days, that can handle the odd spatter from the sky," then you're in the right place. The Columbia Switchback III is an affordable, extremely comfortable, lightweight jacket that comes in an array of colors we love. This jacket has a soft, flexible exterior that blocks out wind and offers above-average water protection and a hood that easily stows into the collar. Gussets on the back help this coat move with you rather than restrict your shoulders like many others. It's one of the lightest rain jackets we tested and easily packs into its own pocket for a quick stash or as an emergency back-up option that lives in your bag.

When it comes to heavy or prolonged rain, this model isn't our top choice. The non-waterproof zipper has no storm flap to protect it from the outside. An interior storm flap helps slow the spread of rain onto the front of your shirt but isn't a long-term solution. The Switchback III is also rather thin and not made of ripstop material, lowering our confidence in its ability to withstand hardcore adventuring. Yet, when it comes to a super comfortable, lightweight jacket that's easy to pack with and offers reasonable protection against a quick shower, all for a reasonable price tag, we love this little number from Columbia.

Vents: Mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Standard, inner storm flap
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket

Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim

budget rain jacket womens - best bang for your buck
The Columbia Switchback III is super comfy and up to the job against light rain.
Credit: Laura Casner

3

Best on a Tight Budget


SoTeer Lightweight Hooded - Women's


Weight: 6.6 oz | Material: 100% polyester
REASONS TO BUY
Water-resistant for short periods and light rain
Thin, lightweight, and breathable
Inexpensive
REASONS TO AVOID
Very short sleeves
Pockets have no closure system at all
Sloppy construction

If you're reading this in search of a lightweight jacket for warmer days with some precipitation protection and a low price, the SoTeer Lightweight Hooded may be your dream come true. This polyester layer is super thin and the lightest coat we tested. Despite not being able to find information on any waterproof coating, we're impressed by how long this modest windbreaker-like jacket held out before becoming saturated. Though we wouldn't head out on a rainy winter day in Seattle wearing it, it'll keep you dry enough to run errands for a short time. It's also exceedingly breathable, making it one of the better options for warmer weather and high-output activities like bike commuting or running.

However, the SoTeer isn't without its drawbacks. Namely that in a category of raincoats, it's not up to the task of heavy precipitation or all-day deluges. It has some of the shortest sleeves of any model we tested, and easily exposes not just wrists, but a good chunk of the forearm while moving around. The pockets hang open, quickly collecting stray droplets, making them useless for anything other than soggy hands. And this inexpensive jacket has some corner-cutting construction, from thin, flimsy fabric to giant overhangs of excess fabric flopping around inside, lined with loopy, sloppy hems. But if you need to save serious cash and only need a little bit of water protection, this lightweight windbreaker-like option may be right up your alley.

Vents: None
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, no storm flaps
Packability: None

Hood Type: Nylon ties, no brim

budget rain jacket womens - best on a tight budget
The inexpensive SoTeer sounds like a dream come true. And if you want a windbreaker with minor water-repelling properties, short sleeves, and questionable construction, it might be.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

4

Best for Cold Weather


The North Face Resolve - Women's


Weight: 13.0 oz | Material: 100% 70D ripstop nylon exterior, 100% polyester liner, DryVent DWR technology
REASONS TO BUY
Fully fleece-lined neck
Good coverage and protection
Holds heat in cold weather
REASONS TO AVOID
Flaps covering pockets point forward awkwardly
No vents

Are you always cold whenever you go out in the rain? Then The North Face Resolve 2 is the ideal rain jacket for you. It's a simple, athletically oriented coat with a drop hem to cover the top of your pants and a warm fleece-lined neck that feels like a cozy hug. It's solidly waterproof in moderate precipitation, with a velcro storm flap to cover the non-waterproof zipper. With an extra layer of mesh inside, this jacket is warmer than most, making it ideal for running errands in a cold fall downpour. When it's not raining, the Resolve is still a good choice, as the hood can pack away into the collar (making it thicker and even more cozy) and wide elastic cuffs can be comfortably pushed up your forearms to free your hands. It also comes in many colors that we are big fans of.

Yet all this warmth comes at the cost of breathability. The TNF Resolve 2 has no vents and is so insulating compared to the rest of these rain jackets that it's our last choice for a running garment or cross-country skiing layer. The forward-facing flaps over the pockets are also a bit awkward to use, though not a dealbreaker. While we like the comfortable width of the elastic cuffs, they do prevent the sleeves from falling down over your hands — which may be exactly what you want them to do for extra protection on a particularly cold day. And when it comes to packability, this thick coat is bulky and doesn't stuff into its own pocket. It's better suited to hanging in your closet than being bundled on a backpacking trip. Still, for protection against cold and rain, the Resolve 2 is a solid option at a reasonable price.

Read more: The North Face Resolve 2 review

Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro
Packability: None (can roll into hood)

Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim

budget rain jacket womens - best for cold weather
The fully fleece-lined neck of The North Face Resolve 2 makes it warmer than most - perfect for the perpetually cold woman.
Credit: Laura Casner

5

Best for a Simple Trench Coat


Arthas Light Trench - Women's


Weight: 19.0 oz | Material: 95% polyester, 5% spandex, DWR treatment
REASONS TO BUY
DWR treatment
Good coverage and decent protection
Classic trenchcoat look with a fashionable upgrade
REASONS TO AVOID
Not for all-day torrential downpours
Hood closure system is awkward

Obsessed with the look of a classic trench-style rain coat but looking for a fashionable upgrade? Check out this sweet slicker from Arthas. With a long cut and high-waisted tie-cinch waist, this jacket offers a more stylish approach to staying dry. Not enough? The interior is lined with thin contrasting stripes, for extra appeal — you can even roll up the sleeves on a warm day for an extra pop of color. While the internet seems to be filled with similar trench coats, this one actually has a DWR coating that does a decent job providing moderate rain protection — and can be easily reapplied in your washing machine when it starts to get too leaky. It also has a large hood to keep your hair dry or can be zipped off for sunshine.

Trench coats aren't made for seriously sweaty activities (like running) and this double-layered model is extra thick and heavy with a total lack of vents. It's one of the bulkiest, heaviest jackets we tested, making it not a great option for a packed emergency layer. Though it withstood our hose testing handily, letting water pool on it for an extended period of time did lead to a soaked interior. We're not big fans of the closure drawstrings in the hood, either, as they're positioned awkwardly to leave a giant gap for your hair to poke out or rain to get in around your chin and neck. And while we like the look of the stripes inside, the yellow model we tested easily shows those stripes through the outer fabric. But out of the numerous trench-style rain jackets we tested, this one is our favorite to wear, keeps us the driest, and gives us the highest level of confidence in its durability.

Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, outer storm flap with snaps
Packability: None

Hood Type: Zips off, nylon ties, no brim

budget rain jacket womens - best for a simple trench coat
The look and feel of this trench coat has us feeling like there's a lighthouse that needs visiting...
Credit: Laura Casner

6

A Good Active Jacket


The North Face Venture 2 - Women's


Weight: 9.3 oz | Material: 100% 40D recycled ripstop nylon, DryVent DWR technology
REASONS TO BUY
Armpit vents
Solid weather protection
Good fit and coverage for staying active
REASONS TO AVOID
Loud, crinkly, and stiff
Slick interior more easily collects sweat

The North Face Venture 2 is a solid choice for adventuring women who need a light waterproof layer. A stowable hood and moderate-sized zippered armpit vents help let off steam as you continue to hike or bike. It's one of only two rain jackets we tested that successfully repelled all water throughout our extended period water pooling test, despite not having a waterproof zipper (dual storm flaps keep you covered instead). A DWR finish assures that you can perform adequate maintenance right from home, helping this jacket keep you dry for longer. A trim, athletic fit isn't so thin you can't layer underneath on chilly days and the sleeves are long enough to keep even your hands covered if you so choose. It's also packable into its own pocket when you're not actively wearing it.

What this jacket lacks is in the details. The pockets aren't lined with mesh, missing another venting opportunity that the Marmot PreCip provides. It's also rather challenging to get this jacket to fit into its own pocket for stowing. It's quite loud and crinkly, both making it less comfortable and potentially more annoying to wear. This added noise is due to stiffer fabric that's less breathable and slightly less pleasant against the skin than many others. This coat also marginally heavier than similar jackets, though only by fractions of an ounce. Despite these relatively minor complaints, the Venture 2 is still a pretty decent choice for an adventure rain coat.

Read more: The North Face Venture 2 review

Vents: Armpit zips
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro and bottom snap
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket

Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides and back, stiffened brim

budget rain jacket womens - the north face venture 2 is one of just a handful of jackets we...
The North Face Venture 2 is one of just a handful of jackets we tested with armpit zippers - crucial for dumping heat without getting wet.
Credit: Laura Casner

7

Solid Around-Town Layer


Columbia Arcadia II - Women's


Weight: 10.9 oz | Material: 100% nylon with 2D full dull plain weave, Omni-tech technology
REASONS TO BUY
Decently waterproof
Good coverage
Great cinched-down hood
REASONS TO AVOID
Not very breathable
Mesh layer on skin isn't everyone's favorite

The Columbia Arcadia II is somewhere between a light rain jacket and a thicker coat for colder precipitation. It lacks the added warmth and cozy features of the TNF Resolve 2 but is thicker and warmer than almost every other rain jacket we tested other than the Resolve. A looser fit easily allows you to layer warm garments underneath it though. It has one of our favorite hoods to cinch down tight around our faces to keep the rain out without blocking our vision. The non-waterproof zipper is covered on the inside and outside by dual storm flaps, to keep all but the most torrential of storms away from its wide teeth. And despite its slightly above-average bulk, the Arcadia still packs into its own pocket for easy storage when you want to toss it in your bag and go.

Though it's an athletic fit, this isn't our favorite jacket to exercise in, as it lacks conventional vents. Mesh-lined pockets and the barrier created by the full mesh lining inside the jacket help some, but sweat still readily collects inside the waterproof exterior. The interior storm flap is the same width as the exterior flap, and easily gets caught when trying to zip up the front. This careless, slightly simplistic design extends to the use of non-ripstop main material and inclusion of pretty basic elastic cuffs, making this above-average-price jacket a bit lacking in the details that could make it a high-value commodity. Yet it's also frequently available on super-sale, which then might make it a decent choice for a casual-use rain jacket.

Vents: Mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Standard, dual storm flaps with velcro
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket

Hood Type: Adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim

budget rain jacket womens - though less impressive than several others, the columbia arcadia is...
Though less impressive than several others, the Columbia Arcadia is still a solid choice for lowkey activities like running errands or walking the dog.
Credit: Laura Casner

8

Thin and Inexpensive


Hount Lightweight Packable - Women's


Weight: 8.0 oz (in bag; 7.5 oz alone) | Material: 100% polyester
REASONS TO BUY
Very light
Packs into its own pouch
Thin and breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Awkward design
Not waterproof

With high hopes, we purchased the Hount Lightweight Packable, hoping for a handy little emergency layer on our outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment. When it comes to protecting us from the rain, the Hount lasted just a few short minutes before becoming completely saturated to the point where we had to peel it off inside out. The zipper almost immediately soaked through and the cotton drawstring ties instantly became heavy, sopping messes. But if all you need is a few minutes of rain protection on a windbreaker, this jacket may yet be your cup of tea. It's one of the lightest models we tested and packs easily into a small pouch (which you can leave at home to shed half an ounce). Its thin polyester fabric makes it one of the most breathable options of the bunch too, putting it at the top of the list of enjoyability for high-output activities like summiting mountains.

Yet, beyond the Hount's lackluster water protection, we're not in love with its awkward design. While it's short enough to allow adequate movement, the arms are also far too short while the torso is exceptionally wide, creating a very boxy shape. Sure, you could layer under this jacket, but since its main draw is breathability, we're not sure why you'd want to. The zipper is also inconveniently located several inches above the bottom of the jacket, while the hem has drawstrings that can be used to tie up the base around your waist like a 90's windbreaker. The cuffs end in a very narrow band of elastic, making these too-short sleeves uncomfortable to push up your forearms for long stretches of time. Perhaps this inexpensive, packable jacket, with its throwback style and super thin fabric is the windbreaker you've been searching for. But if you want protection you can count on, we don't recommend the Hount.

Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, no storm flaps
Packability: Included pouch

Hood Type: Cotton ties, no brim

budget rain jacket womens - the cotton-like ties of the hount get soaked easily (as does the...
The cotton-like ties of the Hount get soaked easily (as does the polyester fabric) and are oddly located several inches below the bottom of the zipper of this boxy jacket.
Credit: Laura Casner

9

Heavy and Underperforming


LOMON Trenchcoat - Women's


Weight: 17.2 oz | Material: 97% polyester, 3% spandex
REASONS TO BUY
Removable hood
Mesh lining is warmer in cold weather
REASONS TO AVOID
Not waterproof
Poor design
Tight fit in arms and shoulders

The LOMON Trenchcoat appears to be a fashionable trench-style rain jacket. While it certainly looks the part, its waterproofness completely let us down, performing at the bottom of the pack, despite its thicker material and double layers. The hood can be zipped off for wearing in un-rainy weather (which, based on its lack of water protection, is when you'd want to wear it) and the sleeves have loops and snaps to allow them to be rolled up away from your hands. If you're a bit on the cold side, the mesh lining may be just what you're seeking to add that extra little bit to keep you warm. It also comes with a series of small stick-on repair patches in case of tiny rips.

However, don't expect the LOMON to keep you dry. The polyester fabric immediately starts soaking up even light rain, becoming drenched all the way through after just a few minutes of consistent precipitation. The sleeves are shockingly narrow, making them difficult to layer and challenging to roll up. If you do manage to get them rolled and snapped, the exposed interior is an unsightly layer of mesh over fabric — easy to catch on objects and difficult to look at and enjoy. The shoulders are also exceptionally narrow and allow for very little movement, readily exposing wrists and forearms while feeling on the verge of bursting open at the seams. And as one of the heaviest models we tested, it's not a great minimalist travel companion or squirreled away emergency layer. For its performance and price point, there are several other trench-style jackets that we think are more stylish, more protective, and a better value than the LOMON.

Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, no storm flaps
Packability: None

Hood Type: Zips off, hemmed fabric ties, no brim

budget rain jacket womens - the narrow sleeves of the lomon are difficult to roll up and expose...
The narrow sleeves of the LOMON are difficult to roll up and expose the unattractive inner mesh of this not-waterproof jacket.
Credit: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us


Before our testing process began, we spent hours researching the best rain coats to find the most promising contenders that won't break the bank. We then purchased 10 of them to test side by side. We tested their waterproofness under and uniform sprinkle and spray of a hose and pooled water on zippers to see how wet the inside got. We played outside in them, testing their ability to twist and move with us as well as keep us from sweating too much during aerobic activities. We scrutinized construction methods and materials and weighed and packed up every option. Our unbiased testing methods provide the most honest and accurate picture of these jackets available today.

This review is lead by long-time outdoor adventurer and Senior Review Editor, Maggie Brandenburg. Maggie never lets the weather stop her from heading out for a run or having an adventure with her canine companion of over a decade. Living in the mountains and exploring the Pacific Northwest, she loves kayaking, biking, and hiking when the bulk of the crowds go home. Maggie has guided backcountry expeditions in jungles and mountains for over 15 years and also leads our team of women's high-end rain jacket testers. She's been using her background in scientific research to test and write for GearLab since 2017.


Analysis and Test Results


We tested each coat across five different mutually exclusive, weighted metrics to provide a complete picture of the performance, versatility, and appeal of every model. In this section, we'll run through how we tested and which jackets perform the best in specific areas, helping you to find the perfect fit for your life.

budget rain jacket womens - many of the rain jackets we tested also have features that make them...
Many of the rain jackets we tested also have features that make them usable when it's not raining - like stowable hoods. (Pictured: Marmot PreCip Eco)
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Related: Best Rain Jackets of 2022

In addition to the line-up you see here, we also tested the LOMON Active Mesh Lined trench-style rain jacket. Aside from an insignificant weight disparity from the LOMON Trenchcoat, we couldn't find any differences between the two jackets.

budget rain jacket womens - we did our best to stay dry, but got totally soaked testing these...
We did our best to stay dry, but got totally soaked testing these jackets for you.
Credit: Laura Casner

Waterproofness


The most important aspect of a good rain jacket is that it keep you dry. However, the actual ability of each coat to adequately do that varies widely from model to model. We tested each coat in laboratory conditions to ensure consistency across the board. We used a hose to simulate varying intensities of rain and left water pooled on fabric and zippers for extended periods of time. We evaluated all parts of each jacket, from the fabric and zippers to the coverage provided by the hood and protection offered by the pockets. As much as we'd love to be able to report that all the rain jackets we tested will protect you from rain, unfortunately, this is not the case.

What's DWR treatment?
DWR, or Durable Water Repellent, is a fabric treatment applied to a garment to help it repel water. It's applied to a huge variety of outdoor gear, from coats to shoes to tents. However, this is just a treatment to your garment, which will wear off after time - especially with frequent wear or laundering. Fortunately, you can easily reapply it right at home with a product like Nikwax Tech Wash. Be sure to research how your rain jacket is waterproofed so that you can extend its use for as long as possible.

The best performing products in this metric have solid materials with DWR coating, long, protective sleeves, storm flaps to cover zippers, and great fitting hoods. Leading the pack is the Marmot PreCip Eco. Dual storm flaps keep the water-resistant zipper away from the rain, long sleeves and a drop hem keep you covered in all the right places, and a fitted adjustable hood with a brim keeps your face shielded. The North Face Venture 2 is also impressively waterproof with very similar features to the PreCip, but with a slightly less impressive fit. These two jackets are the only two that successfully prevented any water from getting inside the jacket through all of our testing.

budget rain jacket womens - the dwr treatment on the marmot precip eco, along with its active...
The DWR treatment on the Marmot PreCip Eco, along with its active fit that lets you move while keeping you dry, make this jacket one of our favorite options to wear when the weather turns sour.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Columbia Arcadia II and The North Face Resolve 2 also proved to be solidly waterproof. However, they both let us down slightly on their main zippers — once water got under the storm flap, it soaked right through. Each of these jackets is also a bit lacking in certain details (like adjustable cuffs or serious pocket protection) that would have earned them higher scores.

budget rain jacket womens - the north face venture 2 is another solidly waterproof active option...
The North Face Venture 2 is another solidly waterproof active option we love for rainy day adventures.
Credit: Laura Casner

Though we generally don't like to highlight the worst products (we are a glass-half-full sort of team), when it comes to rain jackets, we feel compelled to mention a few that utterly failed. The LOMON Trenchcoat offered a shockingly poor performance, instantly soaking up water and easily transferring it through all the coat's layers and onto our clothes. The Hount held out for slightly longer, but after just a few short minutes, it too became saturated, like wearing a soggy sweatshirt. If you need serious rain protection, we do not recommend these products.

budget rain jacket womens - the north face resolve 2 is a warm jacket that kept us cozy and dry...
The North Face Resolve 2 is a warm jacket that kept us cozy and dry even through chilly rain.
Credit: Laura Casner

Comfort


Any garment you wear must be at least moderately comfortable. As we all have differing ideas and needs when it comes to exactly what makes something comfortable to wear, we tested some of the most obvious factors that we can all agree on. We wore them over our skin and over layers, to see what they feel like and how happily we can put them on over warm clothes or tank tops. We moved in them to see how they twist, if they rise up and leave torsos or wrists exposed and if you can still see with the hood up. We considered their overall style — are they slim and trim or boxy and loose? And we considered how easy they are to use — do the zippers catch on storm flaps? Are the pockets useful?

Choosing Your Ideal Jacket
The best way to figure out what type of rain jacket you need is to think about where and how you want to wear it. If you're looking for something to don under your pack before heading out for a weekend backpacking trip, you'll want something durable enough to withstand straps, light enough to pack down small while it's sunny, and waterproof enough to handle hours of rain. If you just need something to wear around town and protect you from short bursts of drizzle as you walk from the coffee shop to the library, something longer to cover the top of your pants and perhaps more fashionable to go with your carefully crafted Saturday morning outfit. Whether you want to pack it away and only use your jacket a couple of times a year or need it to keep you dry during a long PNW winter, there's a jacket that's right for you.

The Marmot PreCip Eco is one of our favorites to wear. Despite being impressively waterproof, it's more flexible and less crinkly and plastic-feeling than many others. It has long enough sleeves to keep us covered and moves as we move. It is a bit on the slim side though, so if that sounds small or harder to layer, consider sizing up. The North Face Venture 2 and Resolve 2 are also quite comfortable to move and be active in, though they're both much closer to that "classic" stiff crunch of a rain coat.

budget rain jacket womens - the marmot precip eco is a slim-fit coat that's less crinkly than...
The Marmot PreCip Eco is a slim-fit coat that's less crinkly than others and has all the right features to move with you while you play.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Columbia Switchback III is very soft and flexible, feeling more like a windbreaker than a rain jacket, though (aside from the zipper) it still functions pretty well under pressure from precipitation. The Columbia Arcadia II is also pretty pleasant to wear for casual activities, with a mesh inner lining that acts like a separate layer to keep you warm. The feel of the super-light SoTeer is excellent for a windbreaker, but it has exceptionally short sleeves. If you're someone who is always pushing up your sleeves anyway, you may not mind, and may actually appreciate the wide cuffs on this warm-weather jacket.

budget rain jacket womens - the soteer is soft and flexible, with wide cuffs that make the...
The SoTeer is soft and flexible, with wide cuffs that make the sleeves comfortable to wear pushed up your arm.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Breathability


The ability of your jacket to breathe while still protecting you from the wind and rain is essential. After all, if you didn't care about breathability, you'd be happily wearing your plastic poncho right now rather than reading this article. But breathability is more than just zippers and vents (though the right vents can make a massive difference). We wore these jackets in light to moderate exercise to see which ones let off steam and which collect sweat. We also tested them from the opposite direction, examining how windproof they are in front of our laboratory fan.

Understanding Your Layers
The number of "layers" listed in a rain jacket is a confusing term. No matter if the coat is made of 2, 2.5 (yes, really), or 3 layers, all of them combine an external waterproof layer with some sort of breathable inner layer, that are typically fused together to appear as a single layer — you can't tell how many layers are in your rain jacket just by looking at it.
  • 2 layer jackets are made in two different ways. In the lower budget version, a waterproof layer is added to a separate mesh lining to increase breathability. More technical jackets fuse these layers together (think of GORE-TEX), increasing the price and required upkeep but cutting down on weight and bulk.
  • 2.5 layer jackets are one of the most common budget options and achieve that "half-layer" by spraying on a protective coating over the inner membrane. This strategy used more affordable materials like polyurethane, offering a middle ground between protection, breathability, and cost.
  • 3 layer jackets are robust and durable, combining a waterproof outer layer, breathable middle layer, and protective inner layer (protecting the jacket from the oils of your skin). They require slightly less upkeep than 2 layer jackets and offer some of the best and most consistent protection in harsh weather.

For a more thorough look at all the different layering technology that goes into making modern rain jackets, check out our guide to choosing your perfect rain jacket.

Only two jackets we tested have zippered armpit vents - the Marmot PreCip Eco and The North Face Venture 2. These perfectly placed pit zips make a massive difference when it comes to exercising in the rain, and these two ended up being our favorite choices for precipitous hikes and drizzly bike commutes. They also both have hoods that can be packed away to get them off your back when you're sweaty (and it's not raining). The PreCip also features mesh-lined pockets, effectively making the hand pockets an additional set of vents for your torso.

budget rain jacket womens - the marmot precip eco is one of very few jackets we tested with...
The Marmot PreCip Eco is one of very few jackets we tested with zippered armpit vents - an ideal way to dump heat without getting wet while you keep moving in the rain.
Credit: Laura Casner

Using a different strategy, the Columbia Switchback III employs thin, flexible fabric with a higher level of permeability that keeps you cooler even as your activities start to heat up. It also has a hood that packs away and mesh-lined pockets that double as vents. The SoTeer uses a similar thin-fabric strategy to help your torso breathe, but doesn't have the extra features to go the distance, like vents or the ability to stow the hood. You can push the sleeves up, but that's true of many elastic-cuffed jackets.

budget rain jacket womens - the columbia switchback iii is super soft and fairly thin, with...
The Columbia Switchback III is super soft and fairly thin, with breathable fabric and a stowable hood for when the rain clouds pass.
Credit: Laura Casner

Durability


Even when you're saving money on your new gear, you still want to know that it's going to last a while. We didn't have years to test each coat, but we spent significant time scrutinizing and comparing building materials, design flaws, and the minute details of every jacket. We looked for weak spots and made note of places that seem likely to fail through longterm use. And to broaden our pool of input, we also scoured the internet for frequently reoccurring complaints from other users to see if we found the same issues in our jackets.

Don't Let it Die!
No matter what rain jacket you ultimately choose, none of them will be waterproof forever (unless you buy a plastic poncho ane never tear a hole in it). Every coat has different treatments to actually be waterproof and requires different upkeep to extend the life of that treatment. Some require reapplication of a DWR treatment, tossing it in the drier to reactivate a layer or periodic upkeep on your seams. Your rain jacket is one garment you should keep the tags on to be able to adequately provide the care it needs and keep you dry for as long as possible. For more tips and tricks on caring for DWR-treated fabric, the most common type of waterproof treatment, check out this article from REI.

Once again, the Marmot PreCip Eco and The North Face Venture 2 are at the top of the pack when it comes to durability. They may not be as sturdy as some super-thick (and super expensive) options out there, but they're solidly built. Simple construction with good designs and quality materials make both these recycled-nylon coats ready to go the distance.

budget rain jacket womens - the north face venture 2 is one of just a few jackets we tested made...
The North Face Venture 2 is one of just a few jackets we tested made of ripstop material.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Columbia Arcadia II and The North Face Resolve 2 are thicker jackets, with multiple, warmer layers, that also display above-average materials and construction. Both The North Face jackets and the Marmot PreCip are all made with ripstop material as well, adding to our confidence in their ability to hold up to adventuring.

budget rain jacket womens - several coats we tested exhibit this sloppy construction, where a...
Several coats we tested exhibit this sloppy construction, where a large flap of useless fabric is left -- poorly hemmed -- flopping awkwardly inside the jacket. The Romanstii (pictured) is one such unimpressive option.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Weight and Packability


If your rain jacket lives in your closet rather than in your backpack or suitcase, this metric may be of little importance to you. However, the jackets we tested represent a wide range of weights and packed sizes that can be easily felt just by wearing them. We weighed every coat we tested (all size small), packed them up into pockets or hoods, and compared their overall sizes and the ease at which we could bring them along with us.

budget rain jacket womens - several of the jackets we tested can be packed up into their own...
Several of the jackets we tested can be packed up into their own pocket (or an included pouch), including the pictured, Marmot PreCip Eco.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Several jackets in our line-up can be packed up into their own pockets and easily tossed in or clipped to a bag. The Marmot PreCip Eco, Columbia Switchback III and Arcadia II, and The North Face Venture 2 all squeeze into their left pockets and can be zipped closed to become a small package. The Hount comes with a small drawstring pouch that it can be packed into. The lightest rain jackets are the SoTeer (6.6 ounces) and the Columbia Switchback III (7.3 ounces). Though the Hount, PreCip Eco, and Venture 2 are all within a couple of ounces of the lightest two, making them also good choices for when weight matters.

budget rain jacket womens - much to our dismay, numerous rain jackets we tested did not actually...
Much to our dismay, numerous rain jackets we tested did not actually keep us dry, including this one - the Hount.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


We spent a lot of time attempting to stay dry to tease apart the differences between this line-up of promising women's rain jackets. No one wants to get caught in a storm unprepared and we hope that our rigorous, intensive testing, to bring you honest, unbiased results to help you choose the best rain coat for your outdoor adventures.

Maggie Nichols


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