Best Rain Jackets for Men: Reviews + Buyer’s Guide

To deal with climatic curve balls & rough weather on your trip, packing one of the best rain jackets for men is a must. A sturdy rain jacket is one of the most essential pieces of travel gear to stuff into your travel backpack.

Whether exploring cities or grazing hiking trails, get your outerwear in order & stay dry with one of the 14 best men’s rain jackets of 2021…

The best men’s rain jackets for 2021: Top 14 reviews

When choosing between waterproof jackets for your next trip, you’re spoiled for choice.

Planning tough-nosed backwoods adventures? Opt for one of the more robust waterproof jackets for men. Want to pack light? Go with one of the best lightweight rain jackets to shed off the elements while lightening the load. We’ll cover them all here.

Not sure what you’re looking for? We’ve also included a quick-and-easy rain jacket buyers’ guide following the recommendations.

Let’s dig in…

  Product More Info
Patagonia Torrentshell Patagonia Torrentshell
  • Weight: 12.0 oz
  • Rating: 9.0/10
Best Overall
Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid
  • Weight: 12.7 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Outdoor Research Foray
  • Weight: 16.3 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Marmot Minimalist
  • Weight: 15.0 oz.
  • Rating: 7.5/10
Outdoor Research Realm
  • Weight: 10.9 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Marmot PreCip
  • Weight: 11.0 oz.
  • Rating: 7.0/10
Arc'teryx Zeta LT Arc’teryx Zeta LT
  • Weight: 11.8 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10
Outdoor Research Helium II
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody Arc’teryx Norvan SL
  • Weight: 5.2 oz.
  • Rating: 9.0/10
Best Ultralight
Columbia Watertight II
  • Weight: 13.5 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Best Value
Helly Hansen Highlands
  • Weight: 22.0 oz.
  • Rating: 9.0/10
Best Style
Columbia EvaPOURation
  • Weight: 11.3 oz.
  • Rating: 9.0/10
The North Face Venture 2
  • Weight: 11.6 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10

Patagonia Torrentshell

Patagona Torrentshell

The name says it all: the Patagonia Torrentshell can take a bad-weather beating and come out on top. Since 1973, Patagonia has built its brand on quality and sustainability. The Torrentshell reflects that mission perfectly.

A 100%-recycled nylon lies at the heart of the jacket. The Patagonia Torrentshell is set with its H2No® Performance Standard barrier. It shields you from the elements while remaining breathable.

You’ll also enjoy extra ventilation via the armpit zippers. They’ll cool you down further when the temperature starts to creep upwards.

Who should buy it

As one of the most eco-friendly options, the Patagonia Torrentshell gets a thumbs-up for green travellers. Not only does the jacket aim for sustainability, the function is impressive. The DWR (durable water repellent) puts it among the best waterproof jackets in the price range.

Who should NOT buy it

The material on the Patagonia Torrentshell is a champion against nasty weather conditions. Breathability isn’t one of the jacket’s finest points though. It’s comfortable in most situations. But a heat wave or extended strenuous activity will leave you wishing for an airier model. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL would be a better choice here.

Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid

Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid

For lightweight waterproof jackets, it’ll be a challenge to take down the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid. Weighing in at 360 grams, you’ll hardly notice this infinitely packable jacket.

The secret is in the N40r GORE-TEX® fabric. It’s not just lightweight & packable, but breathable. The design of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid is minimalist. And they’ve only sacrificed minimal watertightness and durability to achieve it. Micro-seams are sealed with a 13mm GORE® seam tape. It keeps you dry while maintaining the jacket’s light weight.

Who should buy it

Travellers set on keeping it light will love the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid. With a next-to-nothing weight, it hardly occupies any space in your daypack. It saves plenty room for other travel accessories.

The lightweight breathable fabric is also comfortable for travel activities. On top of that, the simple minimalist aesthetic blends equally well on the trails and the streets.

Who should NOT buy it

The Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid is designed for quick emergency use. It’s not a good option for all-day wear in inclement conditions.

The jacket is waterproof and breathable. To maintain its ultralight weight though, the minimalist construction sacrifices durability. The Beta SL jacket will hold up to some abrasion. But it’s not suitable for outdoor activities involving physical contact with obstacles. A jacket like The North Face Venture 2 is more robust.

Outdoor Research Foray

Staying dry and comfortable is hardly a stretch of the imagination with the Outdoor Research Foray.

A lightweight GORE-TEX® shell hooks you up with reliable protection from the elements. At the same time, it maintains breathability.

One of the best features is the TorsoFlo™ technology. It’s a pit-zipper that opens up all the way from the hem to your biceps.

What results is one of the most breathable waterproof jackets on the market.

Who should buy it

The Outdoor Research Foray is one of cooler men’s waterproof jackets thanks to the pit ventilation. The jacket’s breathable GORE-TEX® shell stays comfortable in most mid-range temperatures. It’s a good choice when conditions are neither too hot nor too cold. A simple design moves between city and the outdoors with ease.

What should NOT buy it

There are lighter jackets on the market than the Outdoor Research Foray. Travellers wanting to minimize the load should look for a rain jacket with better packability and a lighter weight. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL is a better choice here.

The jacket is marketed as all-season. Realistically, it’s more suitable for three seasons in most climates. The Outdoor Research Foray is too warm to wear at the height of summer. And it’s not warm enough for winter in many North American or European destinations.

Wearing the jacket in frequent heavy downpours? The durable water repellent finish (DWR) doesn’t always hold up. Cleaning the shell according to the instructions and drying can often help revive the DWR.

Marmot Minimalist

The name’s a little misleading. At over 300 grams, the Marmot Minimalist is neither the most lightweight nor minimalist. Even so, the Marmot Minimalist is a good fit for budget-conscious travellers.

The Marmot Minimalist features a GORE-TEX® shell with Paclite® technology. GORE-TEX’s waterproofing is normally reserved for jackets in higher price ranges.

Pit-zips provide extra ventilation for active travellers. It’s a fantastic feature when you need to stay both dry and cool.

Who should buy it

The Marmot Minimalist is one of the cheapest waterproof jackets in our recommendations. It should be top of mind for those on a tight budget. The jacket holds up in most “normal” conditions. Keep in mind that with the lower price comes the possibility of reliability issues.

Who should NOT buy it

Planning a trip to a destination where heavy rains are common? The Marmot Minimalist might not be as trustworthy as other coats below. The GORE-TEX® with Paclite® is one of the company’s lower-end membranes. It’s not as reliable as those found in higher-end jackets.

Although the jacket features three pockets, only the chest pocket is protected by a water-resistant zipper. You may need to look elsewhere if you need more dependable storage such as The North Face Venture 2.

Outdoor Research Realm

Few jackets are more versatile than the Outdoor Research Realm. This hardshell rain jacket sheds off the elements flawlessly with its special AscentShell™ fabric. From waterproofing to breathability, the performance is excellent. It’s even comparable to the more famous (but more expensive) GORE-TEX® used in other jackets on this list.

Although it sits outside the ultra-lightweight category, the Outdoor Research Realm weighs in at just 308 grams. The increased usability of the jacket compensates for the extra weight though.

Unlike the lightest options, the Outdoor Research Realm functions as a great all-day activity jacket. It’s more versatile than most emergency jackets.

Who should buy it

Travellers looking for an all-around rain jacket should consider the Outdoor Research Realm. The jacket prides itself on breathability and watertightness. You may even prefer the feel of the unique AscentShell™ fabric over the GORE-TEX® common to many men’s waterproof jackets.

Who should NOT buy it

On the hunt for a jacket to keep you dry on the off-chance of a downpour? The Outdoor Research Realm might be more than you need.

Although lightweight, others here are more packable, lighter, and better for infrequent use. The lack of pit-zip ventilation also leaves the Outdoor Research Realm faltering in extreme heat.

Marmot PreCip

Need an affordable rain jacket for casual use? Scoot the Marmot PreCip up the list.

The jacket sports Marmot’s own NanoPro™ waterproof and breathable shell. It’s a (much) cheaper alternative to the GORE-TEX® membranes.

The Marmot PreCip offers simple standard features. Included is an adjustable roll-up hood and lined chin guard. They’ll protect your head and face from the elements.

The main drawcard, however, is its affordability. Finding another brand-name rain jacket at this price point might well be impossible.

Who should buy it

Anyone on a tight budget should consider the Marmot PreCip before all else. In most common travel situations, the jacket will hold out well as emergency rainwear. It is, however, more well suited to light rains and as a temporary fix than a solution to a thorough day-long soaking.

Who should NOT buy it

The lower cost comes with a trade-off: The Marmot PreCip is one of the least reliable jackets in the mix. Although it’ll hold up to light rain, getting caught in a heavy downpour might leave you jaded. Anyone needing dependable protection—and willing to spend more—should look elsewhere. The Columbia Watertight II is a good alternative in the price range.

Arc’teryx Zeta LT

Arc'teryx Zeta LT

The Arc’teryx Zeta LT prides itself on versatility. It’s the perfect companion for anything from urban backpacking to backwoods trekking.

The lightweight and packable three-layer GORE-TEX® fabric is highly breathable. It sheds off wind and water with ease.

The Arc’teryx Zeta LT is among the most comfortable waterproof jackets on the list. It’s fitted with a GORE® C-KNIT™ (circular knit) backer.

In bigger downpours the Arc’teryx StormHood™ secures with a single adjustment. It never impairs your line of sight while keeping your head dry.

Who should buy it

Need a rain jacket that stands up to extended wear? The Arc’teryx Zeta LT is a good performer. The circular knit backer improves the jacket’s breathability. Combined with the trim fit, it also adds plenty of comfort.

On most wearers, there’s enough room to wear another layer underneath. It’ll extend the jacket’s warmth into the cooler months.

Who should NOT buy it

Although the Arc’teryx Zeta LT is a good all-around performer, it’s got a few weak points. The zippered pockets are merely water-resistant not waterproof. You should store damage-prone items—such as a passport or compact camera—in the internal pocket rather than the externals.

The jacket also commands a premium price. Travellers on budget will need to look elsewhere.

Outdoor Research Helium II

The Outdoor Research Helium II is favourite among minimalist packers. For its lightweight & packability, it’s among the top rain jackets for men.

Weighing in at 181 grams, it’s hard to find a jacket you’ll notice less in your backpack than this. And let’s not forget: You can squeeze the Helium II into your pocket; the jacket compresses as small as a protein bar.

The Pertex® Shield+ shell provides watertightness on the Outdoor Research Helium II. The fabric is breathable. The jacket lacks pit-zips though. It’s more suitable as an emergency rain jacket than for all-day wear in warmer weather.

Who should buy it

Feel space is at a premium? You’ll love the ultra-compressibility of the Outdoor Research Helium II. It’s among the lightest offerings on the market. It’s just shy of the ultra-lightweight Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On. You’ll hardly even notice carrying it.

The Outdoor Research Helium II defeats the Minimus 777 in other categories though. The Helium II is more practical and budget-friendly. It’s offered at a more reasonable price point and the full-zipper gives it an edge.

Who should NOT buy it

The jacket’s intense focus on compressibility and weight comes at a cost. The Outdoor Research Helium II isn’t a good all-around choice for trips where you expect a large range of temperatures. The jacket functions best in mild weather. The jacket’s lack of pit zips will leave you feeling sticky in warmer conditions. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL is an airier choice.

The Outdoor Helium II’s hood is helmet-compatible. If you’re a climber or skier, it’s bonus. Otherwise, you may find the hood too large and loose—even when fully cinched up. Once again, the Arc’teryx Norvan SL might be a better option.

Arc’teryx Norvan SL

Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody

At a feathery 120 grams, no ultralight men’s rain jacket impresses the scale gods like the Arc’teryx Norvan SL.

The minimalist design uses the brand-spankin’-new GORE-TEX® with Permanent Beading Surface. It adds up to the most breathable shell on the market.

With the new technology, the jacket functions without an external textile to weigh it down. What results is one of the driest, lightest and most comfortable rain jackets on the market.

For trail runners or hikers, nothing matches the vapour movement of the Arc’teryx Norvan SL.

Who should buy it

Space at a premium? Need to shed pounds in your carry-on luggage? You’ll appreciate the ridiculously light Arc’teryx Norvan SL.

It’s also a top performer in warmer conditions. Even without pit-zips, the Venturi-style continuous ventilation is excellent. It’s among the best waterproof jackets for extended wear during outdoor activities.

Who should NOT buy it

Depending on the weather conditions, the Arc’teryx Norvan SL might be too minimalist. The waterproofing and breathability are second-to-none. But don’t expect the jacket to keep you warm in plummeting temperatures. The jacket appeals more to active travellers who work up a good sweat than run-of-the-mill urban explorers.

Columbia Watertight II

What’s in a name? Apparently a lot. What makes the Columbia Watertight II such a compelling choice is that it does exactly what is says. It simply provides excellent waterproofing and keeps you dry.

It’s hard to find better value than the Columbia Watertight II. This ultralight rain jacket uses Columbia’s own guaranteed Omni-Tech® fabric. The material outfits both impressive waterproofness and breathability. Two zippered side pockets are perfect for stashing away valuables that need to stay dry.

Who should buy it

Any traveller will appreciate the value of the Columbia Watertight II. The proprietary Omni-Tech® fabric sheds rain as well as more expensive GORE-TEX® membranes. In fact, no other jacket in the Columbia Watertight II’s price range is as reliable.

Who should NOT buy it

Even with its breathable Omni-Tech® shell, the Columbia Watertight II lacks pit-zip. It pushes it out of contention for active travellers.

Other waterproof jackets offer better ventilation options. The airer Columbia EvaPOURation and the ultralight Arc’teryx Norvan SL are better choices here.

Helly Hansen Highlands

Grown weary of boring waterproof jacket designs? Buck the trend with the Helly Hansen Highlands.

This jacket is the most stylish of the bunch. It features a contemporary design of Scandinavian simplicity. This outerwear is as welcome on the streets of Paris as on the trail.

For waterproofing, the Helly Hansen Highlands features the company’s own Helly Tech® Protection. And it does quite a fine job. It even compares favourably with popular GORE-TEX® membranes. It’s highly breathable, too.

The cargo hand pockets and chest pocket add storage capacity. And they add oomph to the design. They give the jacket a sophisticated explorer’s air. No wonder the Highlands is one of the best Helly Hansen rain jackets out there!

Who should buy it

Seeking a rain jacket that’s a cut above in style? Add the Helly Hansen Highlands to your outerwear arsenal.

The jacket doesn’t just look incredible. The waterproofing is stellar, too. It’ll keep you dry in the harshest of conditions.

Who should NOT buy it

The beautiful style of the Helly Hansen Highlands comes at the expense of weight & packability. Need an emergency jacket to stuff into your daypack? The ultra-lightweight Arc’teryx Norvan SL is a better choice.

Columbia EvaPOURation

An intense focus on breathability defines the Columbia EvaPOURation. The jacket’s is designed in classic Columbia style. It sways between urban environments and the backwoods without a second thought.

The function of the Columbia EvaPOURation rests upon the Omni-Tech™ membrane. With it, water stays out without sacrificing much breathability.
 
The Columbia EvaPOURation steps up with its Omni-Wick EVAP™ advanced evaporation system. It gives the jacket its name. When the temperature kicks up a notch, the wick-ed fabric scatters sweat over a larger area. It helps it evaporate quicker. The underarm venting on the Columbia EvaPOURation speeds the process further. (This is only Columbia rain jacket in the series to feature it.)

Who should buy it

Planning to get active on your travels? Travelling to a warmer destination? The spectacular ventilation on the Columbia EvaPOURation is best-in-class for the price range. On top of that, considering how well the jacket holds up in the elements, finding better value is tough.

Who should NOT buy it

Only a small percentage of travellers would find their needs unmet by the Columbia EvaPOURation. Need something more stylish? The Helly Hansen Highlands makes a more satisfying fashion statement.

The North Face Venture 2

The North Face Venture 2 is striking in its simplicity. It delivers both an elegant, streamlined style and reliable rain protection.

The waterproof and breathable outer layer is designed to be eco-friendly. At the same time, it’s adept at shedding off the elements. It helps keep you as dry in a variety of conditions. The adjustable hood and chin guard further shields you from harsh weather conditions.

The zippered underarm ventilations adds extra air flow. Opening them up cools you down as you scour the trails or the streets in search of the sublime.

Two zipped hand pockets help you safely stash away your travel gear.

Who should buy it

Simple yet stylish, The North Face Venture 2 is perfect for anyone needing excellent waterproofing at a good value. The breathability and extra ventilation in the armpits are a bonus. They make this jacket one of the better choices in warmer climates.

Who should NOT buy it

Although neither heavy nor bulky, The North Face Venture 2 isn’t the most packable jacket of the bunch. It won’t stuff into a tight corner in your carry-on luggage or daypack. Want something ultra-lightweight and packable? Go with the Arc’teryx Norvan SL or Outdoor Research Helium II instead.

Summary: Our top recommendations

Still can’t decide on the perfect rain jacket for your travels? Here are the top picks:

  • The Handsome Devil (Most stylish): Need to look good and stay dry? The Helly Hansen Highlands is the top choice. The design, based on a parka, adds an air of adventure and mystique that sportier models lack.
  • The Storm Defeater (Best rain protection): Of all the jackets the Patagonia Torrentshell is the best performer in the rain. The hood keeps your face shielded better than most other competitors. The lined pockets reliably protect your belongings.
  • The Featherweight Champ (Lightest & most packable): At just 120 grams, no jacket is lighter than the Arc’teryx Norvan SL. It’s so light you’ll hardly even notice it in your daypack!
  • The Generalist (Best value): As an overall performer, the Columbia Watertight II is the best choice in the mix. It equals or even outperforms many other top jackets in reliability and comfort. All at a reasonable price point.

Discontinued men’s waterproof jackets (2019 and before)

Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On

Sitting near the top among ultralight rain jackets, the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On is about as light as they come. The jacket’s design pushes minimalism to the extreme, weighing in at a scant 140 grams. Less than the weight of a baseball!

The PERTEX Shield+ fabric provides a breathable and waterproof shell in three layers. Seams are tight. They features a 12-13 stitch count and micro-taped for breathability and watertightness.

Unlike many men’s raincoats, the zipped external chest pocket on the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On keeps water out. It’s treated with YKK® AquaGuard® zipper technology.

The pocket is the perfect size to stow away your mobile device. You can even fit in a small compact camera to capture your moments on the trail or the boulevards.

Who should buy it

Backpackers who want to minimize their packing weight should consider the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On. At 140 grams, this rain jacket is, along with the Arc’teryx Norvan SL, in rarified air. And it’s surprisingly durable considering.

Who should NOT buy it

With an obsession with minimalist design comes a trade-off. The Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On is most suitable for mild weather. There are no pit-zips for increased ventilation. In hotter climates, the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On does not shine. Likewise on very cool days.

Budget backpackers may also find the price of the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On off-putting. Other competitors like the Outdoor Research Helium II and Arc’teryx Norvan SL pull off the same job at a lower price point. And as full-zip jackets, these options may be more appealing to some travellers.

How to choose a men’s rain jacket: A buyers’ guide

A rain jacket could be one of the most important pieces in your travel gear arsenal. It’s rare to find a travel destination where staying dry isn’t at least a minor concern. In some of our favourite places–whether Iceland, Bali, Taiwan or Scotland—getting drenched is almost inevitable.

Still confused and can’t decide? Let this buyers’ guide help push you towards finding the perfect rain jacket for your next trip…

Fabrics & Materials

Effective waterproofing starts with the fabric. All the waterproof jackets reviewed here use either a 2-, 2.5- or 3-layer shell. Where it gets confusing is that all three share the same basic design principles. It’s not always easy to spot the differences at a quick glance.

Hood & Face Fabric

In typical rain jacket shell design, there are three basic components:

  • face fabric (outer layer)
  • waterproof membrane (middle layer)
  • lining (inner layer)

Differentiating between different layered shell constructions boils down to the inner layer. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at what to look for in each of the layers.

Face Fabric

The so-called face fabric is the outer layer. It’s the jacket’s first defence against the elements. This layer is generally coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) for protection. The DWR coating ensures that the face fabric doesn’t absorb water and weigh down the jacket, impacting its comfort.

Waterproof Membrane

It seems logical that the outer layer is the most important. But the real rain jacket magic happens in the middle layer.

The strength and design of the waterproof membrane, wedged unseen between the outer and inner layers, is where the R&D dollars float away. It’s what separates the bad from the good and the good from the great.

Waterproofing on Rain Jacket

Most waterproof membranes share similar characteristics. They’re all designed to prevent liquid water droplets from entering the jacket. At the same time, they also allow water vapour to escape.

The most famous waterproof membranes—and a staple among many of the top men’s waterproof jackets—are those designed by Gore-Tex. Their polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes are among the best in the industry. But they’re also some of the priciest.

Other manufacturers like eVent go even further. They treat their ePTFE membranes with a special process that coats individual fibers. This avoids clogging the material’s pores, resulting in better breathability.

Lining

The inner layer distinguishes 2-, 2.5- and 3-layer jacket constructions. Here’s how to tell the difference:

  • 3-Layer: The three-layer designs builds upon two distinct layers: a DWR-treated outer layer and a waterproof membrane. In 3-layer construction, a third layer is added to the mix. Most often, it’s a polyurethane (PU) film. This third layer protects the membrane from oils and sweat. It ensures that the membrane remains breathable.
  • 2.5-Layer: This design is like a three-layer fabric. But instead of a separate layer, it has a thin PU coating applied to the back of the waterproof membrane. The 2.5-layer construction is lighter but often less comfortable. The big disadvantage is that sweat clings to the inner layer, leaving you feeling sticky.
  • 2-Layer: The two-layer jacket design features a loose mesh instead of a PU-based inner layer. Two-layer jackets are generally less expensive than 2.5- and 3-layer. They tend to be less packable and heavier, too.

Rain Jacket Lining

Weight & Packability

Most travellers should aim for the lightest rain jacket that still fulfills their travel needs.

There’s a trade-off though. Reducing materials without sacrificing quality and creating lighter fabrics doesn’t come cheap. The lightest & most packable waterproof jackets are also usually among the most expensive.

Another consideration is that ultralight rain jackets don’t suit all weather conditions. In cooler climates, you might need to look to something heavier. (Or dress in layers, including a good down jacket or fleece jacket, to stay comfortable.)

Breathability & Ventilation

Waterproof membrane technology is always improving, especially in terms of breathability. Most of the mid- to high-end jackets feature highly breathable membranes. The market leader for many years has been Gore-Tex. Fabrics like eVent and proprietary technologies are catching up though.

Some models also feature armpit or side ventilation. These features allow for better airflow and extra comfort. If you’re travelling in hot & wet climes like Southeast Asia, extra ventilation always comes in handy.

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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