Do you want your rain jacket to be burdensome or comfortable? If that’s the only thing you’re wondering about, you’re probably not going to have an easy time picking the best rain jacket for bad weather conditions. Choosing the finest rain jacket for the occasion is about more than just the weight, color, or fit. You need to know what features come with it and what they do or don’t do for you.
The Outdoor Research Foray is perhaps the best rain jacket overall as it strikes a good balance between essentials and quality of life features. It has multiple pockets, an adjustable hood, and extra waterproofing in all the vulnerable areas.
If you want to learn more about it and also about rain jackets in general, we have an extensive guide to help you out. We also have some alternatives to show you, some that are more activity-specific and others that might just save you a buck or two.
The best rain jacket should allow you to cover all your bases. It should feel comfortable yet tight enough so that it provides warmth. It should also let you breathe well enough and not at the expense of staying dry. The Outdoor Research Foray checks almost all the right boxes when it comes to rain jackets for men and women and everyday use.
Top 5 Rain Jackets
|Outdoor Research Foray||All-purpose||2.5L||Check Price|
|Marmot Minimalist Women’s Rain Jacket||Casual/Hiking||2.5L||Check Price|
|Marmot Minimalist Men’s Rain Jacket||Casual/Hiking||2.5L||Check Price|
|Baleaf Rain Jacket||Casual||2L||Check Price|
|The North Face Dryzzle Rain Jacket||Extreme weather||2.5L||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Foray
If you’re not looking for anything specific and just want a do-anything rain jacket, we’ve got you covered. The Outdoor Research Foray Rain Jacket is perhaps the most versatile one on our list. It has a superior ventilation system that offsets the extra weight.
The seams are taped and there’s also a stormflap on the inside of the front zipper. The chest pocket also has a water-resistant design that should keep the insides dry during light and heavy downpours.
The material is polyester which is one of the reasons why this rain jacket is a bit on the heavy side. The side vents or pit zips are larger than usual which is why you get better temperature regulation.
The left hand pocket is deep and well protected and it’s also what you use to package the coat when you’re not using it.
The hood design is a bit loose but you can still adjust the fit. It also allows you to have good peripheral vision, which is not something that we can say about all rain jackets.
Although the investment is a bit higher, the multiple protective layers, color variety, relaxed fit, and all-round useful features make the Outdoor Research Foray rain jacket the best overall pick in our opinion.
Pros and Cons
- 2.5L fabric
- High-end ventilation
- Superior breathability
- Protected pockets
- On the heavier side
2. Best Women’s Rain Jacket
Marmot Minimalist Women’s Rain Jacket
While there are plenty of unisex rain jackets out there, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get a gender-specific one. Unisex jackets tend to have more gaps as they’re not made for a specific body type. Therefore the chances of catching a draft are higher.
The Marmot Women’s Minimalist rain jacket is a lightweight design tailor-made to fit on the female body. It has waist cinches on both sides which are easy to adjust and ensure a tight fit for cold weather.
The jacket is also rated waterproof but that shouldn’t be a surprise given that both the women’s and men’s jackets from Marmot use Gore-Tex and Paclite technology to repel moisture. More so, the seams are also taped and sealed from the inside.
Unlike the Men’s model, this Minimalist rain jacket doesn’t have a chest pocket. That means that it will be more comfortable to wear if you’re carrying gadgets with you.
The pit zips allow you to regulate the internal temperature when needed. The hand pockets come with water-resistant zippers so anything you put inside should be fairly protected even in heavy downpour.
The hood is quite large and adjustable so it should fit nicely even over hats or large hairdos.
Pros and Cons
- Designed for the female body
- No chest pocket
- Protected hand pockets
- Adjustable hood
- Huge color variety
- The internal temperature heats up fast
3. Best Men’s Rain Jacket
Marmot Minimalist Men’s Rain Jacket
The Marmot Minimalist Men’s Rain Jacket is a lightweight design made with 100% polyester. It also uses Gore-Tex to provide extra protection from exterior moisture. As an added bonus, there are also pit zips featured on each side which you can use to regulate the interior temperature.
If you’re looking for something to wear for hiking, backpacking, cycling, or even doing some emergency work in the yard during a storm, this is a good choice. The fabric is breathable and the coating can withstand quite a bit of downpour.
The jacket is waterproof which is not that common with most lightweight designs, seeing as they usually come with just a water resistant tag.
The seams are taped on the interior but that’s to be expected considering the rating. What’s most important is that this jacket is easy to move around in. It has an adjustable hood which can protect you from cold winds if needed.
Although it’s a men’s jacket, the color selection might be a bit too bright for some. Luckily there is an all-black model if you’re looking for something neutral. The Minimalist Men’s only features a chest pocket but it’s quite deep so it should be enough for storing your phone, camera, wallet, keys, etc.
Pros and Cons
- Adjustable hood
- Water -resistant zipper
- Pit zips
- Average color varieties
- No side pockets
4. Best Cheap Rain Jacket
Baleaf Rain Jacket
The Baleaf Packable Rain Jacket is our top pick for tight budgets. It features a unisex design and it’s made of 100% nylon.
It has good water resistance though it’s not waterproof. This means you’ll have to clean it often to ensure that the seams don’t get clogged and deteriorate over time.
The hood has a funnel shape and comes with a drawstring that lets you adjust the tightness. Still, it’s not the best fit out there since the hood is a bit large. If you’re worried about drafts or wind, this might not be ideal for you.
Nevertheless, the hood comes with a reflective logo which is nice to have if you’re using it in high-traffic areas at night. The elastic cuffs will help you stay warm as well as prevent water from getting in.
The pocket situation is not ideal as the only one is at the back. What’s nice is that the jacket can be rolled and packed in that same back pocket. When completely dry, it weighs just half a pound so it shouldn’t be too hard to carry around.
It may not be ideal for extreme weather conditions but for a short camping trip, a hike in bad weather, or casual use in the city, it’s a very budget-friendly alternative which benefits both genders.
Pros and Cons
- Unisex design
- Reflective logo
- Adjustable hood
- Water resistant only
- Bad pocket positioning
5. Best Rain Jacket for Heavy Rain
The North Face Dryzzle Rain Jacket
The North Face Dryzzle Jacket line is what you’ll need if you’re facing harsh weather conditions. Hard winds, heavy downpour, even cold weather.
This jacket offers a more relaxed fit that the others on our list. It’s fully waterproof since it uses a Gore-Tex Paclite shell. The seams are sealed from the inside and even the chest pocket has a stormflap for extra protection.
There are also two side pockets which feature water-resistant zippers so you’ll have plenty of safe storage for your gadgets and other items.
The fabric is also windproof which says a lot about what this jacket can do in worst-case scenarios. Although it is also breathable you won’t feel any cold air getting inside. The hood has a standard design, not too big, not too small, just enough to cover your head and offer cheek protection when tightened.
The design may not be the best. The sleeves can pull back at times and the chest feels a bit boxier than on your traditional rain jackets. Still, if you’re looking for something to get you out of tight situations, The North Face Dryzzle offers the best protection against wind and water.
Pros and Cons
- Superior waterproofing
- Good peripheral vision
- Adjustable hood
- Multiple pockets
- Extra zipper water protection
- Boxy cut
- Sleeves aren’t sealed
Why You Need a Rain Jacket
No one really plans on spending too much time in the rain but it does sometimes sneak up on you. When it does, it’s a good idea to have some protection around. Seeing how rain jackets tend to roll up just like a sleeping bag, it’s not one of those items that are hard to store or have within reach.
A rain jacket will not only prevent you from getting wet but it will also help protect your valuables and anything else that doesn’t handle contact with water well.
Let’s face it, umbrellas don’t offer you much if you’re in a storm and the wind is blowing hard. A rain jacket is the best way to keep most of your body dry in extreme weather conditions.
DWR and Maintenance
Cleaning your rain jacket is often important if you want it to last. There are a lot of membrane designs that can get clogged in debris. Rain jackets are coated with durable water repellent or DWR. There are also fabric layers between the waterproof coating and the breathable membrane which allows vapors in.
Because of this, clogging happens if you use the jacket often and don’t bother cleaning it. Most people just leave them out to dry and that’s how most of the wear and tear starts to show.
If you want to safely clean you rain jacket, you need only follow the instructions on the label. Be careful with the temperature specifications. A certain amount of warmth is required to replenish the DWR coating but too much will ruin it.
Softshells and Hardshells
It’s not just rain jackets that can offer you protection from rain. Softshells and hardshells are interesting alternatives to the traditional rain jacket.
Softshells tend to be cheaper since they use less fabric to accomplish the same goal. Not only that but they also use different coatings. But sometimes softshell jackets aren’t as waterproof as you think.
They still come with a DWR coating that lets water just roll off the jacket, but the seams aren’t always treated or taped. This means that under heavy rain, water will eventually find its way through the fabric.
Although not fully waterproof, softshells are still popular alternatives as casual rain jackets. They are breathable and fairly water resistant. They’re just not that great if you plan on going on long hikes through rough weather.
Hardshell jackets are just as their name implies, made for extreme weather conditions. They can protect you from heavy continuous rain because the fabrics come with superior coating.
Of course, there’s one downside. Hardshells can get quite expensive. If you’re not sure of traveling through extreme conditions, you might not want to pay so much just for the high-end detailing.
Rain jackets can weigh as little as 6 ounces. Others weigh a couple of pounds. Most people tend to mistake the thickness or weight of a rain jacket with its ability to repel water.
The weight doesn’t always determine how efficient a jacket is. Most of the time heavier jackets come with more features such as pockets, large hoods, tapped membranes, etc.
Whether you pick a heavier or a lighter jacket, you should consider the activities you need it for or the region you plan on traveling through. A heavy jacket might make it uncomfortable for you when climbing or hiking on steep mountain trails in sustained downpour.
Heavy jackets might be better suited for casual use. Because they come with multiple pockets and you don’t have to walk around in them for long, the extra weight shouldn’t bother you too much.
Some rain jackets will cause you to sweat excessively. Not because they’re heavy or they’re too tight, but because the fabrics just aren’t breathable. Some people prefer to compromise waterproofing to get that extra bit of air in.
Also, don’t mistake breathability for a lack of insulation.
Pockets, Pit Zips, and Vents
Since we carry around so many gadgets with us, it makes sense that we get a jacket with enough pockets to store them. While most everyday jackets and coats have this feature, the designs are a bit different for rain jackets.
Ultra-light rain jackets, the ones most consumers choose because of the lower price, don’t always come with more than one pocket. Not only is that not enough for all you gadgets, wallet, and keys safe, it’s usually not stylish either.
Heavier rain jackets will come with side pockets. You can keep your hands dry in them while also keeping your valuables on you at all times. You might even be able to find a chest pocket too for extra storage.
The number of pockets will not only determine how much use you can get out of your rain jacket but also how much you’ll have to pay for it.
With some rain jackets you might also get side vents or pit zips. The side vents can help you breathe a bit better. They come in handy if you’re stuck wearing a rain jacket during the summer or while hiking up a mountain.
There’s one thing you should know. Not all rain jackets come with a hood attachment. There are budget-friendly options out there that come without any head protection.
The size of the hood should also be a deciding factor. If you want a rain jacket for climbing or hiking then you’ll need a hood that can cover a helmet. Or at least one that doesn’t interfere with your headlamp, if you’re wearing one.
There are also hoods that can be removed and stored separately from your jacket. If traveling light is more important to you than the quality of the rain jacket, you might want to look into a detachable hood. It should take up less storage space.
Some prefer big hoods, but the bigger they are the harder they are to close up. This could expose you to cold drafts while traveling. You probably shouldn’t opt for a large hood unless you need it to cover a hat, helmet, or something else besides your head.
One more thing to keep in mind is that not all hoods are adjustable. The ones that come with Velcro straps are the easiest to use but they don’t offer the same security in harsh weather conditions. If you’re looking for something that pins down the fabric with ease, then probably a cord wrap system is better.
That’s not to say that Velcro-style hoods don’t have other advantages going for them. Because they don’t use cords or toggles they tend to be lighter on your head and sit more comfortably. These hoods are usually recommended for casual rain jackets.
One of the features that most people underestimate is having an adjustable waist band. The extra security is essential for keeping you dry during powerful storms. It’s also good if you want to have better insulation.
It may not always be comfortable. Most designs use a cord and toggle because they’re easy to use and hold very well. You will have to get used to the sensation.
Heavy rain jackets come with two cinches, one for each side. This guarantees that not only will you be able to secure the jacket but it also won’t pull to the side while you’re walking, hiking, or climbing.
Waterproofing vs. Water Resistance
Not a lot of people can tell the difference between the two. Light rain jackets and soft shells tend to be labeled as water resistant. This means that they allow water to roll right off the coating to a limit. They may not have the ability to repel water for a long period of time or during intense downpour.
Another trademark of water-resistant rain jackets is untapped seams. The taping of interior seams adds an extra layer of protection during heavy rain. Without those tapes water will eventually infiltrate the interior fabrics.
Waterproofing is achieved by filling all the holes in a water-resistant jacket. The seams have extra protection, and there’s also a laminate layer (Gore-Tex usually) that helps prevent exterior moisture from infiltrating the jacket.
The waterproof rating is usually represented by a number between 0 and 20,000mm. This is how you determine how much water you jacket can handle before it infiltrates. The number refers to the height of water in a 1” diameter tube that a jacket or fabric can withstand in a laboratory setting.
While the tests can’t really give accurate real-world results they are good at approximating how the rain jacket will perform. Again, the more often you clean the jacket, the higher chances of you staying protected for longer, even if it doesn’t come with the highest waterproof rating.
Waterproofing a rain jacket also has something to do with picking an appropriate number of layers and fabrics to keep the moisture out. It’s not just about the coating. There are three types of layers used:
When you see the 2L, 2.5L, 3L abbreviations, you’ll know that they refer to the number of layers. The higher the number, the higher the waterproof rating and also the price.
2.5L rated rain jackets are popular for casual use since they offer the best combination of protection and breathability. They also typically come with some pockets too. At the same time, they are a bit heavier but still quite useful for hikers, campers, bikers, etc.
Why is the Outdoor Research Foray the best rain jacket for most people? It’s because it can protect both the casual wearer and the diehard adventurer from sustained downpour. It’s also because it comes with plenty of quality of life features such as pockets, ventilation, adjustability, and extra protection across all seams.
This guide should help you better understand how to approach buying a new rain jacket, no matter what occasion you need it for. Whether you’re looking for a gender-specific or -neutral jacket, we’re comfortable that our top picks will make you feel safe and comfortable in all foreseeable conditions.