A quality, lightweight rain jacket makes all the difference when you are hiking, trail running, or climbing in the rain or mist. If you’ve ever been stuck out in the rain, you know how miserable and heavy wet clothing can be. Wet socks are not only uncomfortable; they can also rub your feet raw. Staying dry is even more important on backpacking or camping trips where you may not have access to a dry change of clothing. Many people also keep a lightweight rain jacket for times when it’s helpful to be prepared for unexpected rain while avoiding excess weight and bulk, such as traveling or emergency preparation.
- What to look for when choosing a rain jacket
- Features of rain jackets
- The 12 best rain jackets for men in 2020
Start by checking out this quick overview of the best rain jackets for men:
|Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Tech Jacket||260g / 9.2oz||OutDry||$$|
|Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell||400g / 14.1oz||Texapore Ecosphere||$$|
|RAB Flashpoint Pull-On||130g / 4.6oz||Pertex Shield||$$$|
|Outdoor Research Foray||463g / 16.3oz||Gore-Tex||$$|
|Marmot Minimalist||102g / 3.6oz/yd||Gore-Tex||$$|
|Montane Ultra Tour||437g / 15.4oz||Pertex Shield||$$$|
|Patagonia Torrentshell Pullover||289 g / 10.2 oz||H2No Performance Standard||$|
|Columbia Watertight II||453g / 16oz||Omni-Tech||$|
|Norrona Bitihorn Gore-Tex Active 2.0||311g / 11oz||Gore-Tex||$$$$|
|Mountain Equipment Impellor||170g / 6oz||Gore-Tex||$$$|
|Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic||311g / 11oz||Dry-Q||$$|
|Arc'teryx Beta AR||453g / 16oz||Gore-Tex||$$$$$|
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What to look for when choosing a rain jacket
When it comes to picking the best lightweight rain jacket, consider the following details:
In general, the material and fabric layers are what determine a jacket’s weight. Most waterproof rain jackets are made from nylon or a breathable waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex or Pertex. There may or may not be a thermal layer between the waterproof layers for warmth. Jackets that include a thermal layer are heavier than those without. Based on when and where you expect to use your rain jacket, you will need to make the decision whether or not you want the lightest jacket you can find or if you need something that also provides warmth. If you are looking for an extremely lightweight jacket, Outdoor Research’s Foray is worth a look. Arc’teryx’s Beta AR is warmer than some of the jackets on our list, making it perfect for cold weather hiking.
The best lightweight rain jackets are made from Gore-Tex or other similar breathable membranes because they can repel more water without adding unwanted bulk. The Marmot Minimalist goes one step further by sandwiching an extremely thin layer between the Gore-Tex to take up even less space and weight in your pack.
Hydrostatic Head Rating
Hydrostatic head (HH) rating is a method of measuring how well a fabric repels water. A simple way of explaining hydrostatic head rating is that fabric is subjected to water at varying pressures until water leaks through. A high hydrostatic head rating denotes that the fabric withstood higher water pressure before leaking. In general, a rating of 1000mm is plenty for a light rain or drizzle, while 2000-4000mm can withstand average rainfall. For heavy rain and wind, look for a rating of 5000mm or more.
Where do you plan to wear your jacket? Are you looking for the best rain jacket for hiking or travel? Will you be climbing or skiing in your rain jacket? Articulated sleeves—such as the ones on the Impellor from Mountain Equipment—or stretch fabric—like Mountain Hardwear’s Stretch Ozonic—give you a larger range of motion for climbing. If you plan to ski or snowboard in your rain jacket, look for a style like the Montane Ultra Tour that includes a helmet-compatible hood.
Features of rain jackets
Not all rain jackets are created equal. And although their main function of keeping you dry is the most important thing, there are a few design features that also need considering.
Most jackets open up fully via a full length front zip. However, some designs opt for a short zip that only opens down to the mid chest. This is to save weight and is desirable for fast and light hikers.
Pit and side zips/vents
Located on the underarms of some rain jackets, pit vents are a really good addition to help regulate your temperature in consistently rainy conditions.
Almost all rain jackets have hand pockets. Ideally they should be closeable with a zipper. Or a velcro flap at the very least. For those needing to wear a harness, pockets should be placed high up on the jacket.
An additional pocket at the chest is a nice addition for extra storage. They are located either on the inside or outside of the jacket, and some are big enough to store a map.
Some jackets are designed to stuff into their own pocket for storage, or they come with a separate stuff sack. This is a really useful feature, especially if you’re not likely to use your rain jacket loads during your hike.
All rain jackets should have a hood. Some are removable, many have a peak that helps keep the rain off your face, and most have a drawcord to tighten the hood around your head.
Most jackets have an elasticated and adjustable drawcord on their bottom hem. This enables the wearer to customise the fit, and to keep the rain and wind out!
Some rain jackets have elasticated cuffs, whilst others have a velcro tab that can be tightened to the wearers preference.
The 11 best rain jackets for men in 2020
Eco-conscious: Fabric and all components are 100% recycled
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly rain jacket that performs as well as its less responsible competitors then look no further than the Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Tech Jacket. Not only is the fabric of this jacket made from 100% recycled polyester, all of its components are also constructed with recycled materials too. Impressive! But not as impressive as how efficiently this thing beads water and keeps out even the heaviest downpours. It’s also highly windproof and has an exceptionally well-fitting hood which, when cinched down, keeps out sideways rain and doesn’t fill with air in windy conditions.
The lack of stretch in the fabric makes it less versatile than other jackets on our list, but it makes up for it with an unusual design that certainly makes it stand out from the crowd on, or off the trail.
For more information read our full review of the Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Tech Jacket.
- Lightweight (260g / 9.2oz)
- Highly waterproof
- Excellent hood design
- Highly packable
- Style isn’t to everyone’s tastes!
- No pit vents
- Not as versatile as other jackets (non-stretchy fabric)
Eco-conscious: Made from 100% recycled materials and PFC-free
Though the Columbia Ex Eco might just come up trumps in terms of sustainability, this Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell is not far behind. Made from recycled Texapore Ecosphere stretch fabric, and offering PFC-free waterproofness, this jacket ticks some huge eco-friendly boxes without compromising on style and performance. The simple, modest design means that casual hikers can glide seamlessly from the trail to the town making it an ideal rain jacket for travel and everyday wear. Plus, packs down into its own pocket for easy carrying. Performance-wise, the two-layered jacket (it has a mesh lining) deals with moderate rainfall well, and does a very good job at blocking out the wind, too. The outer stretch fabric also makes it a good option for more active adventures. Its main downside, however, is the hood design which can be slightly problematic when a combo of heavy rain and strong winds hit you – it can’t be cinched down at the front so the wind fills it up and blows it backwards. This is no problem in less severe conditions.
For more information read our full review of the Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell.
RAB’s Flashpoint Pull-On Jacket is a slim-fit option made from Pertex 3-Shield, a lightweight waterproof membrane. The fabric is also coated with a water-repellent finish to even further slow any water soaking through. Although the jacket pulls on, a half zipper does make it easy to get on and off without messing up your hair or knocking off a slim cap. Other nice features include a zippered chest pocket, a hood that zips up over the chin, and waterproof zippers.
- Extends to (or below) the hip
- Made from Pertex waterproof membrane
- Slim fit
- Only one pocket
If you need a lightweight jacket for occasional rain on the trail, Outdoor Research’s Foray could be the jacket for you. With eight different color combinations—some with contrasting zippers and some in solid colors—there is sure to be a Foray to match your style. This jacket is easy to get on and off thanks to a full-length zipper that is both water resistant and backed by a storm flap to prevent water from leaking. The Foray is made from lightweight Gore-Tex and weighs less than 16oz.
- Extremely lightweight
- Three zippered pockets
- Zippered ventilation on the sides
- Not as breathable as other comparable jackets
The Marmot Minimalist is a lightweight, Gore-Tex shell designed to be worn over warmer base layers in the cold or over regular hiking clothing in the summer without adding too much bulk. If you do feel too warm, zippered vents on the side allow you to regulate the airflow without removing the jacket. A drawstring waistband keeps water from splashing up underneath with a perfectly snug fit. A Paclite layer is sandwiched between the Gore-Tex membrane to reduce bulk and take up less space in your pack.
- Easy to pack without excess bulk
- Four colour options
- No hanging loop
One of the most useful features of the Montane Ultra Tour is its adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, which makes it a rain jacket you can use both on the trail and on the slopes. You will pay a bit more for the Ultra Tour than some jackets on our list, but that cost is justifiable if you plan to use it as both a hiking and ski/snowboarding jacket. The Ultra Tour also includes three zippered pockets and underarm vents.
- Made with Pertex Shield membrane
- Adjustable, helmet-compatible hood
- Sleek design
- Only one colour and fit available
The Patagonia Torrentshell jacket is another pullover option that combines practicality with style. This is an especially great budget option because it is made from durable nylon ripstop fabric instead of a name-brand waterproof membrane. You will lose some breathability as a result, but the nylon ripstop will keep you plenty dry. Storage is as simple as stuffing the jacket in its front kangaroo pocket whenever the skies are clear.
- Fully taped seams
- Good for layering
- Not as breathable as some options
The least expensive rain protection on our list is Columia’s Men’s Watertight II Jacket. It comes in over 20 color combinations ranging from solid black to neon green and gray. While you won’t find some specialty features in this jacket, the price more than makes up for it. This makes a great option if you want backup rain protection for occasional moisture on the trail or need a jacket you can leave at work or in the car for unexpected rainfall.
- Multiple style options
- Basic design
- Runs large
Both lightweight and durable, Norrona’s Bitihorn Gore-Tex Active 2.0 makes the most of its Gore-Tex membrane by giving you a breathable, waterproof jacket that compresses down to next to nothing at just 311 grams. You also have multiple storage options with a front zippered pocket, back zippered pocket, and two zippered hand pockets. Reflective trim is especially helpful if you do any early morning or late evening hiking.
- Fully taped seams
- Gore-Tex membrane
- No thermal layer
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Unrestricted movement is the primary advantage of the Impellor from Mountain Equipment. Featherweight material is guaranteed not to slow you down, and pre-articulated sleeves have been designed with flexibility in mind. The hood, hem, and cuffs are all adjustable so you can achieve the perfect fit. This is the lightest jacket on our list at only 6 ounces. Some extras are missing to hit such a light weight, but the Impellor still has a zippered chest pocket, a Gore-Tex Active 2.0 membrane, and drawstring hood.
- Extremely lightweight at only 6 ounces
- Adjustable at three points: hood, cuffs, and hem
- Only one pocket
Mountain Hardwear’s Stretch Ozonic is adjustable at the cuffs and hood to seal out rain from leaking in even during your most active outdoor adventures. Slightly stretchy, DryQ construction gives you maximum mobility even in pouring rain. Both zippered hand pockets have been placed in just the right location to allow you access while wearing a pack so you won’t have to stop and unload to get to your phone, map, or snacks.
- Side vents
- Structured brim
- Adjustable cuffs and hood
- No stuff sack or packing pocket
- Not as breathable as some
Head and neck protection are no longer an all-or-nothing deal with the Arc’teryx Beta AR. Since the high neck and adjustable hood are separate, you can cover your head with the jacket zipped down, warm your neck with the hood off, or use both at the same time. Elongated arms give you the freedom to lift your arms above your head—for climbing or setting up camp—without rain dripping down your sleeve. This Gore-Tex jacket is heavier than some on our list and can stand up to even the heaviest rainfall.
- Helmet-compatible hood
- Adjustable cuffs and hood
- Micro seams reduce bulk
- Can be too warm in some situations
Whether you are looking for a minimalist rain jacket or the best rain jacket for your next hiking adventure, you are sure to find a fantastic option on our list. Once you find the best rain jacket for your needs, you will never want to be without it. Staying dry on the trail lets you extend your adventure instead of heading back indoors when rain is in the forecast.