At some point, you’ve probably felt the pressure of grey clouds on your back whilst out and about. Perhaps you were hiking in the Scottish Highlands or trekking in the French Alps. Just getting the fire lit to cook your camp meal on — ah, you can’t beat camping in the rain! Or maybe you’ve been caught out in a heavy downpour wearing a rain jacket that simply didn’t live up to its waterproof promise? Either way, since hiding under a well-placed rock or tree isn’t always a practical option, a lightweight rain jacket is an essential addition to your outdoor kit list, wherever your adventures take you.
- The 10 best rain jackets for women in 2018
- What to looking for when choosing a rain jacket
- Features of rain jackets
Picking the right rain jacket, however, can feel like quite a task. There’s certainly a lot of styles and brands on the market to choose from. So how do you know which is the best rain jacket for hiking or climbing or mountaineering, and which is more appropriate for everyday use? Well, fortunately, your friends at Cool of the Wild have been asking the same questions and our insatiable interest in the great outdoors has led us to put together this list of the best rain jackets for women in 2018.
|Arc'teryx Beta SL Jacket||280g / 9.8oz||Hiking/trekking||Gore-Tex||$$$$|
|Mammut Meron Light HS||331g / 11.6oz||Mountaineering||Gore-Tex||$$$$|
|Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket||175g / 6.1oz||Trail Running / endurance||Pertex Shield||$$|
|Rab Downpour Jacket||281g / 9.9oz||General / everyday||Pertex Shield||$|
|Marmot Precip Jacket||430g / 15.1oz||Hiking / every Day||Marmot NanoPro||$|
|Columbia Arcadia||303g / 10.6oz||Casual hiking / every day||Omni-tech||$|
|Berghaus Ridgemaster||487g / 17.1oz||Mountaineering / trekking||Gore-Tex||$$$|
|Outdoor Research Panorama Point Rain Jacket||273g / 9.6oz||Hiking||Ventia||$$|
|Mountain Hardwear ThunderShadow||285g / 10oz||Hiking / trekking||VaporDry||$$|
|The North Face Apex Flex Gore-Tex 2.0||453g / 16oz||Hiking / mountaineering||Gore-Tex||$$$|
Looking for some cracking men’s options? Take a look at our pick of the best rain jackets for men.
The 10 best rain jackets for women in 2018
The Beta SL Jacket from Arc’teryx really excels when it comes to lightweight rain jackets. This jacket makes use of Paclite technology and super lightweight N40r GORE-TEX fabric and GORE-TEX zippers which, aside from being highly waterproof, makes the jacket easily packable. At less than 300 grams you’ll hardly notice that it’s inside your pack. The Beta SL women’s rain jacket is designed to provide maximum comfort whilst walking, it is highly breathable, with two side pockets which are large enough to hold a phone or GPS device, and an adjustable peaked hood. There’s no excess fabric on the Beta SL either, it’s stylish trim fit and laminated cuffs keep the weight and bulk to a minimum and also reduce the possibility of snagging on branches or flapping on gusty days. While the Beta SL is a little on the pricey side it’s certainly a practical and efficient companion on a rainy hiking trip.
- Very lightweight
- Waterproof and breathable
- GORE-TEX fabric with mini-ripstop construction
- Stylish Design
- Available in multiple colours
- Less abrasion resistant than heavier jackets
- High price tag
If you’re heading into the mountains then the Meron Light HS by Mammut is worth taking a look at. This hard-shell rain jacket features a 3-layer GORE-TEX design which is both waterproof and breathable without becoming bulky or limiting movability. Meanwhile, the moisture-wicking outer layer has a 28,000 mm water column, which should be tough enough withstand even the heaviest downpour. In terms of practicality, the Meron Light HS has an internal pocket for storing valuables, easy to use Velcro cuffs, and an elastic hem which fits snuggly on the hips. The Meron Light HS is also a good choice for climbers. The two front pockets are harness compatible while the single pull hood is large enough to accommodate a helmet.
- Large front pockets
- Suitable for climbers
- Lightweight and highly durable
- Body length could be longer
Find the latest price on:
The super flexible Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is made for situations when movement and breathability are essential, for example running, or trekking in humid climates. It has a slim design, with shaping elbow darts, adjustable waist and elasticated cuffs which fit tightly to the body without restricting movement. The Pertex Shield material provides waterproof protection of up to 20,000 mm, which is comparable to its higher-priced GORE-TEX competitors, and at only 175 grams the Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is the lightest on our list. It’s also one of the best lightweight rain jackets for travel due to its portability, the Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket conveniently packs inside its own pocket. Another great feature of this rain jacket is that it’s headphone compatible, with an opening for MP3 cable in the left pocket, so you can listen to music whilst exercising.
- Lightweight and breathable
- Stretchy fabric
- Easily Packed
- Headphone Compatible
- Not as waterproof as other jackets
Find the latest price on:
This is ideal for anyone wanting a reasonably priced rain jacket to pop in their back ready for a rainy day. The Downpour Jacket comes with an integrated stuff sack making it both easily packable and portable, meanwhile, the 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric is quick drying so it can be stored soon after use. The fabric is not as breathable as GORE-TEX but the jacket is fitted with 2 YKK pit zips and 2 side pockets which provide a decent level of ventilation. The hem and hood use a simple drawcord and the cuffs can be adjusted with Velcro loops for a tailored fit.
- Lightweight and very portable
- Pit-zips for extra ventilation
- Reasonable price
- Not as breathable as other fabrics
Admittedly this is one of the heavier rain jackets on the market but it’s still one of the best in terms of value for money. The PreCip Jacket from Marmot is made from 2.5 layers NanoPro and ripstop nylon making it highly resistant to wind and water as well as hard-wearing. The fabric is also DWR (durable water repellent) treated and features fully taped seams to make sure that the water stays out. For ventilation, the jacket has 2 pit zips, 2 zip hand pockets and a full-front zip with a hook and loop storm flap. The PreCip Jacket also has a roll-away hood which makes it more comfortable to wear with a backpack after the rain stops. The hood is also attached to the shoulders instead of the collar so it can be worn up without closing the zip. This jacket may not be the most durable or lightweight option but it’s certainly a step ahead of other budget raincoats and is highly suited to everyday use.
- Highly waterproof and windproof
- Unique hood design
- Machine washable
- Less durable than other jackets
- Heaviest item on our list
Columbia has created the Arcadia II rain jacket for urban users looking for and an affordable jacket for getting around town or day hikes. This is the perfect jacket to tuck inside your bag on your way to work or take with you when there is only a mild chance of wet weather. The polyester mesh lining does add to the weight of the jacket but even with this the Arcadia II packs away inside its pocket and weighs only 300 grams.
The Arcadia II is the cheapest item on our list. Despite this, it’s sufficient to keep you dry during short exposures to wet weather. The 100% nylon fabric and Omni-tech coating do a good job of repelling moisture and the fully sealed seams prevent the wind and rain from seeping in. That said, the Arcadia II probably won’t hold up to the same gnarly weather and heavy downpours that its pricier competitors can deal with. Furthermore, the material is not particularly breathable so this rain jacket is better suited for use in cooler temperatures.
- Lightweight and compact
- Adjustable hood and waist
- Velcro wrist adjustments
- Machine washable
- Reasonable Price Tag
- Limited breathability
- Not suitable for extreme weather or mountaineering
If the prospect of trekking through mountain regions in rain, wind, or even snow, doesn’t phase you then you’ll need a jacket which can hold up to these conditions. Berghaus have created the Ridgemaster with this in mind. The 2-layer GORE-TEX membrane fabric is designed to hold up to tough weather conditions in all 4 seasons. The jacket has a fully adjustable hood for a comfortable fit and excellent rain protection.
The jacket’s mesh liner provides some extra insulation, which is ideal if you’re out in cooler climates. But this compromises on breathability slightly and is, therefore, not the best rain jacket for trekking in warmer climates or during long ascents. The fit is also roomy enough to allow for a mid-layer but fitted enough that it doesn’t inhibit movement or catch on things whilst walking.
Weighing in at nearly 500 grams this is definitely not the lightest rain jacket on the market, but for extreme hikers and tough weather you might find that it’s worth the extra weight.
- Highly waterproof and durable
- Suitable for use in 4 seasons
- Mesh liner for extra warmth
- Large interior pocket
- Stylish design
- Not comfortable when hiking in warmer weather
Find the latest price on:
The Panorama Point Rain Jacket by Outdoor Research is a stylish addition to any wet and windy hiking trip. It comes in a range of understated colours which makes it suitable for city use as well as hiking excursions. For maximum comfort and water protection, the cuffs and hem can be fitted using a simple drawstring while the hood is fully adjustable and wire brimmed so your face will be sheltered from crosswinds. Like the ThunderShadow (below) the Panorama Point Jacket is made from 40D mechanical stretch ripstop fabric, making it suitable for a range of activities and weather conditions.
- Stylish design
- Elasticated cuffs and hems
- Wire brimmed hood for extra rain protection
- Sizes are smaller than average
With its lightweight, compact design and high-level waterproof consistency the ThunderShadow by Mountain Hardwear is the best rain jacket for all-around usage. The VaporDry 40D 2.5 layer stretch ripstop guarantees protection from the wind and rain as well as breathability and a comfortable fit. Despite its weight, the jacket is by no means flimsy. Quite the opposite — the Tactel nylon is extremely durable and flexible for maximum movement whilst hiking. The peaked hood can be adjusted at the front and at the back of the head for a close fit or packed away when not in use. Meanwhile, the water resistant outer pockets can be accessed while wearing a climbing harness or a backpack. The ThunderShadow also has pit zips to provide extra ventilation for hiking in warm weather and, while this jacket has no insulation, it is light enough to be combined with a mid-layer or down jacket when hiking in colder temperatures.
- Very lightweight and comfortable
- Durable ripstop fabric
- Comfortable fit
- Suitable for use when climbing or backpacking
- Breathable pit zips
- Not insulated
The North Face Apex Flex Gore-Tex 2.0 is one stylish-looking, slim-fitting rain jacket. But it’s not just its good looks that have won the hearts of rain jacket wearers of late. It offers superb waterproofness via a seam-sealed 3-layer Gore-Tex shell that also maintains excellent breathability when stepping up a gear on steep ascents. Couple that with zippered pit vents, and temperature regulation is a breeze. Along with the Berghaus Ridgemaster, this is one of the heavier jackets on our list. But it makes up for it’s weight by offering superb durability, and an exceptionally soft and stretchy face fabric. Comfortable, flexible, hard-wearing and waterproof makes the Apex Flex as well suited to long trips in the backcountry as it is to rainy days about town.
- Underarm vents
- Flexible and soft face fabric
- 3-layer Gore-tex
- Slim fitting
- A little on the heavy side
What to looking for when choosing a rain jacket for women
Rain jackets that are designed specifically for women have a very different cut to men’s jackets. Some are subtly shaped with discrete darts in all the right places. Whilst other women’s jacket designs are much more fitted to the female form. The cut that you choose will depend heavily upon your own figure and curves. But also on how many layers you prefer to wear underneath your rain jacket. A highly fitted jacket over a single base layer will provide plenty of room for movement. Add in a couple more layers, however, and you may find that a very fitted cut doesn’t leave quite enough roominess to be unrestrictive and totally comfortable.
The primary function of a rain jacket is to protect you from the rain! If it does this well, then it will also protect you from the wind. In the past waterproof jackets were renowned for keeping water out, but creating internal condensation — which kind of defeated the point! Thankfully, waterproofing technology has come a long way in recent years and most jackets have a waterproof membrane that is also breathable. This means that moisture generated on the inside of your jacket (sweat and condensation), can get out of the jacket without moisture from the environment (rain) getting in. Clever stuff!
Gore-tex is the most well-known brand that creates waterproof and breathable membranes for jackets. But there are more and more alternatives emerging, that are usually cheaper that Gore-Tex. Some brands even create their own versions. Either way, a waterproof membrane that is also breathable is a non-negotiable feature of modern-day rain jackets.
There are certain scenarios where the weight of your rain jacket has little effect or relevance on your activity. Obviously you don’t want to be lugging around a 2lb jacket on your back. But the nature of rain jackets means that there is no reason for them to be especially heavy. Under 1lb (450g) is suitable for most outdoor adventurers, unless your are trail running, or trying to keep your pack weight as low as possible on long distance treks.
Features of rain jackets
Pit and side zips/vents
Ideal for getting a bit of extra air flowing to help regulate your temperature on big ascents or in hot and humid conditions.
Usually zippered, hand pockets on rain jackets are essential. Some are even lined with cozy soft fabric for chilly hands to enjoy.
Super useful for carrying mobile devices, maps or keys. Chest pockets are zippered, and found either on the inside or outside of some, but not all, rain jackets.
A useful added extra that doesn’t come with all rain jackets.
An essential feature that all rain jackets will have. A high neck, peak and adjustable drawcord are desirable features of a good hood.
Most rain jackets cinch in at the hem with a drawcord to adjust the fit to the wearer.
Some jackets have elasticated cuffs. But most have a velcro tab that can be fitted easily over gloves.
If it’s wet enough to warrant putting a rain jacket on, then you’ll probably need to keep your bottom half dry too! Check out our pick of the best waterproof pants for men and women.