We took a collection of top rated rain pants into the mountains and around the rainy Pacific Northwest to find the best We took a collection of top-rated rain pants into the mountains and around the rainy Pacific Northwest to find the best ones. There are a lot of different types of rain pants, and we'll help you understand how we separated them and declared winners.
For this test, our home range of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest proved a perfect testing platform. We tromped around the forest, ran on the trails, and tried our best to climb (or mountaineer) in these rain pants. We even went ice climbing to really test the limits of these pants.
Comfort and Mobility
We started by walking and hiking in the rain in these pants. For those that proved plenty comfortable, we progressed to running. Those that proved to have an adequate range of motion then got to go on increasingly difficult objectives, anything from mountaineering to ice climbing. This helped us clearly define the movement qualities and comfort of each pair in a realistic outdoor setting.
Breathability and Venting
Similar to the metric above, we took these pants out on long hikes, treks, and climbs to assess just how well they breathe and expel moisture. We wore them in both humid and dry locations — everywhere from the Pacific Northwest to Montana and even the drier desert states — to see how differently they performed in different climates.
In our test, we weigh the small size pair of pants to ensure we're comparing apples with apples. Then we rated them strictly based on ounces: the lightest got the highest score, and we worked backward from there.
For this metric, we packed each pair of pants up as small as possible and set them side-by-side. Then we rated them, relative to each other, with the most compact pants getting the highest score. We also factored in how easy they were to stuff into our backpacks because we noticed that some of the pants that pack into a pocket make a tighter package, and others have more airspace in the stuffed pocket. We tried to correct for this discrepancy between pants.
The features of each pair of pants tell a story. We tried to decipher that story by figuring out why the manufacturers included certain features and not others. As such, each set of features can optimize a pair of pants for specific uses—or otherwise make them very versatile. We rated each pair of pants according to how useful these features made them, but also boosted some scores if their features were intelligently streamlined for the obvious niche that the pants fill, such as being ultralight.
We used these pants as most users would — rigorously and in bad weather. We spent a lot of time in the field with each pair to allow any durability issues to shake out. Additionally, we researched each type of fabric and gave points to more durable fabrics as a way to assess the long-term durability of each item.