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

It’s impossible to predict the weather. Stay prepared on your next trip by packing one of the best rain jackets for women!

Wherever you roam, carrying a durable waterproof jacket is never a bad idea. When the weather takes a turn for the worst, the perfect women’s rain jacket can help salvage the day.

Not sure where to start looking? Keep dry with one of these 12 best women’s rain jackets of 2021…

Best women’s rain jackets of 2021: Top 12 reviews

Shopping for the perfect women’s waterproof jacket for your travels can be confusing. Rain gear today is far better than what you’d find even a decade ago.

Fabrics are becoming ever more durable, water-resistant, and breathable. At the same, they’re also lighter and more packable. And since space is always at a premium, that’s fantastic news for travellers!

The problem with choosing your perfect rain jacket comes with the sheer amount of choice. Everything from the best ultralight rain jackets to stylish raincoats that fit any occasion are all at your fingertips.

Not all, however, are created equal or work well in all situations.

Some of the best waterproof jackets for women are best suited for walking around London in a drizzle. Others are more at home protecting you from a downpour on a hike in Taiwan during typhoon season. Which will you need? Let’s see…

In a rush? Here are the best rain jackets for women of 2021 compared…

  Product More Info
Patagonia Torrentshell
  • Weight: 11.3 oz.
  • Rating: 9.5/10

Best Overall

Arc’teryx Beta SL
  • Weight: 9.9 oz.
  • Rating: 9.5/10

Best Lightweight

Outdoor Research Aspire
  • Weight: 13.7 oz.
  • Rating: 9.0/10

Best Hiking

The North Face Venture 2
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10

Best Classic

Outdoor Research Helium
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • Rating: 9.0/10

Best Ultralight

Columbia Arcadia II
  • Weight: 14.4 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10

Best Budget

The North Face Resolve 2
  • Weight: 14.5 oz.
  • Rating: 8.5/10
Helly Hansen Long Belfast
  • Weight: 29.6 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10
Marmot Precip
  • Weight: 11.4 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10
Marmot Minimalist
  • Weight: 13.5 oz.
  • Rating: 8.0/10
Columbia Switchback II
  • Weight: 10.4 oz.
  • Rating: 7.5/10
Charles River Apparel New Englander
  • Weight: 16.0 oz.
  • Rating: 7.0/10

Patagonia Torrentshell

Weight: 11.3 oz.

Best Uses: Casual

Best Overall

When you fit yourself into a Patagonia Torrentshell you’re not just getting an excellent rain jacket. You’re getting one created with the utmost care for the planet.

Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability is second-to-none among outerwear manufacturers. And despite its eco-friendly outlook, Patagonia’s products are still some of the most robust in the field.

At the heart of this rain jacket is the H2No® Performance Standard protection. The waterproof and breathable 2.5-layer fabric repels water as well as any jacket in the mix. Maybe even better.

Throw in the stowable visored & adjustable hood and cozy micro-fleece neck liner, too. With all its features, it’s obvious why this coat is one of the top choices in tough conditions.

For adventurers, there’s a carabiner clip-in loop on one of the two zippered handwarmer pockets. The jacket is also lightweight, docking in at 301 grams (10.6 oz). It even stuffs completely into the left pocket for ultra-quick stowage. The only major downfall of the Patagonia Torrentshell is the zipper. It seems to catch the fabric on nearly every attempt.

Pros

  • Superb waterproofing
  • Lightweight
  • Simple functional style

Cons

  • Substandard zipper design

Arc’teryx Beta SL

Weight: 9.9 oz.

Best Uses: Active, hiking, backpacking

Best Lightweight

The simply-styled Arc’teryx Beta SL wins massive points. And not just for its sleek good looks. It also offers superb rain protection in a variety of conditions.

At the heart of this rain jacket is its N40r GORE-TEX with Paclite technology. It throws the Beta SL into the ring among the lightest & most packable contenders in the bunch.

Even with all that powerful waterproofing, the Arc’teryx Beta SL jacket remains breathable. Even if your travels see you hitting the trails with some gusto, you won’t leave feeling sticky.

The articulated design and gusseted underarms further enhance its mobility. This raincoat is adept at supporting your movement when you’re at your most active. It also features an adjustable helmet-compatible hood.

The Beta SL was designed as an ultralight emergency shell. It’s not one of the most well-suited rain jacket picks for backwoods outdoor adventures. Brushing up against sharp branches or rocks, you’ll need something more durable. The face fabric does feature mini ripstop construction. But it’s not as robust or durable as slighter heavier raincoats like the Patagonia Torrentshell.

Pros

  • Ultralight construction
  • Articulated jacket design for better movement
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Excellent breathability

Cons

  • Ultralight fabric is less durable than heavier jackets
  • Premium price point

Outdoor Research Aspire

Weight: 13.7 oz.

Best Uses: Emergency shell

Best Hiking

When staying dry is the name of the game, the Outdoor Research Aspire doesn’t hold back any punches. Finished with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex shell, this sporty jacket sheds off the elements with ease. The Aspire is also fitted with fully-taped seams and YKK® AquaGuard® zippers. It helps hold back moisture where many other rain jackets fail.

The arm and hand pockets leave plenty of room to store items on the fly. Even with all its features, the Outdoor Research Aspire rolls into a tight package no bigger than a breakfast burrito. It fits into its own left-hand pocket.

The jacket wears on the warmer side. You’ll want a lighter jacket like the Outdoor Research Helium II for outdoor activities in hotter destinations. (Such as hiking through the rainforests of Costa Rica or the lowlands of Southeast Asia.)

The hood, although adjustable, is also a tight fit for most women.

Pros

  • Lightweight & packable
  • Good waterproofing

Cons

  • Not suitable for warmer climates
  • Hood too small

The North Face Venture 2

Weight: 10.6 oz.

Best Uses: Casual, hiking

Best Classic

Long-time fans of TNF will love The North Face Venture 2. It’s an noteworthy update on their best-selling Venture waterproof jacket design.

All the main features of the original Venture stayed intact. Meanwhile, they’ve added a handful of improvements. Among them are easier-to-use zippers, improved hood adjustments, and more comfortable pockets.

The Venture 2’s excellent performance is propelled by its 2.5-layer DryVent™ shell. This waterproof and breathable fabric is normally found in jackets in much higher price categories

Even with its spectacular rain protection, the Venture 2 is lightweight. It weighs in at just 11.9 ounces. It’s super easy to jam it into your daypack as an emergency jacket. All without sacrificing much space for other items.

Unlike many other waterproof jackets for women, the Venture 2 works as a three-season jacket. The 2.5-layer shell and pit-zip ventilation provide comfort in a variety of conditions.

The Venture 2 is best suited, however, for casual hikes and urban exploration. For hardcore adventures in the wilderness, you’ll want a more robust jacket.

Pros

  • Excellent waterproof
  • Lightweight & packable

Cons

  • Not as breathable as other top-rated jackets

Outdoor Research Helium II

Weight: 5.5 oz.

Best Uses: Minimalist travel

Best Ultralight

The Outdoor Research Helium II weighs in at just 5.5 ounces. It shines as the ultralight champ among these A-list waterproof jackets for women.

Minimalist packers will love how this gear folds into a tight package. It hardly takes up more space than an iPhone.

Even with its feather-like weight and slim profile, this rain jacket is no slouch at protecting you from the elements. The Pertex Shield DS fabric gives the jacket its water-repelling power. It also delivers a stretchiness that allows for a full range of motion on the trail. The seams and YKK AquaGuard zippered are sealed to keep you bone-dry.

The intense focus on weight & packability in the jacket design comes at a cost. The jacket may leave some hikers & travellers itching for some omitted features. Extras like hand pockets and hood visors aren’t standard here in a bid to minimize the weight. For more storage space, the heavier but more expensive Arc’teryx Beta SL is a (very) worthy upgrade.

Pros

  • Ultra-lightweight construction
  • Amazing packability
  • Good rainy weather protection

Cons

  • Limited features (e.g. no pockets or hood visor)

Columbia Arcadia II

Weight: 14.4 oz.

Best Uses: Casual

Best Value

There are plenty of reasons that Columbia sits atop so many best-of lists. And the Columbia Arcadia II proves that it isn’t all hype.

With the Acadia II, Columbia created one of the most versatile rain jackets for female travellers. The Omni-Tech waterproof and breathable lining is excellent. It’s a step above the Omni-Shield technology in the Switchback II.

All the seams are sealed to stop water from seeping into the jacket’s most vulnerable areas. The adjustable storm hood is perfect for keep your hair dry in a sudden downpour.

Even with the extra dash of rain protection, the Arcadia II remains packable. When the clouds’ taps turn off, stuff it into your daypack, and be on your way!

With this rain jacket, it’s not function over form. The Arcadia II is stylish, too. It comes in a variety of colours and skips between city and the countryside with ease.

Like other Columbia rain jackets, the Arcadia II is made slightly small. You may need to move up a size from your usual, especially if you’re planning to dress in layers.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Stylish & comes in a variety of colours

Cons

  • Odd sizing

The North Face Resolve 2

Weight: 14.5 oz.

Best Uses: Casual wear in warmer temperatures

Compared to its Venture 2 sibling, The North Face Resolve 2 is a bit sleeker and cooler (in temperature). It offers superb rain protection at a price that’s easy on your pocketbook.

This rain jacket features the same DryVent™ waterproofing as other popular TNF jackets. It’s designed with a 2-layer construction that sports a mesh lining for breathability. A fully-adjustable hood shelters your head from the rain or hides away inside the collar when not in use.

The Resolve 2 isn’t the warmest rain jacket of the bunch. It’s better suited for summertime or late-spring travel than fall or winter.

If you’re planning on wearing the jacket as a shell over a fleece, you may need to move up a size. The jacket is slimmer than others here, tapering in at the waist for a more contoured fit.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Slim contoured fit

Cons

  • Minimal insulation

Helly Hansen Long Belfast

Weight: 29.6 oz.

Best Uses: Casual wear in cool rainy weather

The name says it all. The Helly Hansen Long Belfast is tailored for the cool, wet and windy weather of the Atlantic. With a dash of Scandinavian style.

The minimalist & slimming design of this rain jacket is simple. It keeps the most important features at the forefront and dispenses with the frills.

The Long Belfast features Helly Tech Protection. It’s the same technology found in many of the best Helly Hansen rain jackets. It even gives more expensive Gore-Tex linings a run for the money. The two-layer fabric is not just waterproof, but windproof, breathable, and surprisingly warm.

The jacket also features an adjustable cinch hood. It’s combined with the anti-chafing chin guard to keep your head and face sheltered from nasty weather.

Although the style is one-of-a-kind, the Long Belfast doesn’t suit everyone the same. Women with shorter torsos might find the 3/4 length too long. (It might end up looking more like a lab coat than a cute rain jacket.)

The rain coat is also made a little small. Move up a size if you’re planning to layer it.

Pros

  • Good weather protection during rainy days in cooler climates
  • Unique style

Cons

  • Non-standard sizing
  • More suitable for longer torsos

Marmot Precip Jacket

Weight: 11.4 oz.

Best Uses: Hiking

No doubt, you’ll get better performance out of a more expensive rain jacket. But the Marmot Precip Jacket does what it does well. (All while remaining affordable for travellers.)

At the jacket’s core is Marmot’s PreCip Dry Touch fabric. This upgraded technology provides better waterproofing and breathability than its predecessors. Seam tape further enhances the water-tightness of the jacket to keep you from getting wet.

For day hikes on a budget, there’s little doubt that the PreCip is a top contender. The fit is slimming yet allows active travellers to move freely.

Convenient pit-zips help regulate your temperature and improve breathability. It’ll help you avoid feeling clammy on hikes and other active outdoor pursuits.

Not only is the PreCip lightweight (it’s only 11.4 oz!), it also stows away in its own pocket. It’ll leave you plenty of room to carry other items.

Pros

  • Lightweight & packable jacket
  • Good for budget travellers

Cons

  • Not one of the top performers in terms of waterproofing

Marmot Minimalist

Weight: 13.5 oz.

Best Uses: Casual

With its Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, the Marmot Minimalist is a (small) step ahead of its PreCip brother. It’s ahead of the curve when it comes to performance and helping you stay dry.

The style follows its name. It’s simple yet sporty, holding its own on both the trails and the streets.

The Marmot Minimalist adds taped seams to the mix. They provide deeper water-tightness to keep you dry on rainy days. Battening down the adjustable hood and chin guard helps further divert the rain away from your hair and face. If the fabric is still leaving you clammy, open up the underarm pit zips for extra airflow.

Despite all its good features, the pockets on the Minimalist are a weak point. They lack a watertight and water-resistant zipper. Heavy downpours will leave the insides of the pockets drenched. (No iPhones allowed, I’m afraid!)

Other options like The North Face Venture 2 or Columbia Arcadia II provide better value in that regard. They’ll do a better job of keeping your belongings from getting wet.

Pros

  • Simple casual style
  • Budget price point

Cons

  • Lacks water-resistant zippers on the pockets

Columbia Switchback II

Weight: 10.4 oz.

Best Uses: Emergency shell in light rain

Few women’s rain jackets offer better value than the Columbia Switchback II. At its heart is a lightweight nylon fabric protected with Columbia’s Omni-Shield technology.

As expected for the price, the jacket’s not full-on waterproof; it’s merely water-resistant. Combined with the stow-away hood, however, it holds up its promise. It’ll keep you dry in light and moderate rain. Just don’t expect it to protect you in an all-day downpour or a quick & intense rainstorm.

Side vents improve breathability. They help make the jacket more comfortable to wear on warmer days. The lack of a liner means that this is the climatic sweet spot for the Columbia Switchback II. It also proves useful as a light water-repellent layer. It pairs well over a women’s fleece jacket should the temperature dip a little.

The best feature of this rain jacket though might be its packability. The Columbia Switchback II is so lightweight that it fits into its own front pockets. That means more room in your backpack for other travel essentials like water bottles, umbrellas, and camera equipment.

Pros

  • Low price point
  • Lightweight & packable

Cons

  • Waterproofing not extensive

Charles River Apparel New Englander

Weight: 16 oz.

Best Uses: Casual emergency shell

One of the best choices in the sub-$100 range, the Charles River Apparel New Englander is a simple wind & waterproof jacket. It repels the rain and keeps you dry without breaking the bank.

A polyurethane face fabric combines with a lined mesh. It offers better durability and comfort. All of the seams on the jacket are heat-sealed. It ensures that the elements can’t bore through to the inner layers. The adjustable shock-cord drawstring hood tightens snugly to keep your face and head dry.

Although the New Englander offers good value, the fabrics and materials of this jacket aren’t to everyone’s taste. Even with the mesh lining and underarm vents, the polyurethane provides limited breathability. In warmer climates, extended wear can leave you feeling wet, sticky, and unpleasant.

The New Englander is certainly a good choice when you’re in a bind and don’t want to spend big on rainwear. Just don’t expect to stay dry and comfortable when donning the jacket all day long in humid conditions.

Pros

  • Good for travellers on a budget
  • Simple style

Cons

  • Not breathable
  • Heavier than more expensive emergency shells

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

We’ll agree: A rain jacket is not as exciting as the latest mirrorless camera or iPhone, but they’re among the most essential travel gear for your trips!

No travel destination is perfect. And in many, there’s zero chance you’ll escape without experiencing a torrential downpour. Maybe even multiple times a day!

Still having trouble choosing the perfect waterproof jacket for your travels? Take a look at the guide below.

We’ve outlined some of the biggest things to look out for. We’ve included an overview of fabrics, materials, waterproofing, breathability, and ventilation. Let’s get started!

Fabrics & Materials

Fabrics are what make—or break!—a rain jacket. There’s a surprising amount of science that goes into it. It’s not as simple as sourcing materials and throwing it into a sewing machine.

Hood & Face Fabric

How well a jacket performs in the rain and how comfortable it will be in terms of breathability all comes down to the construction of its shell. Rain jacket shells generally fall into three categories:

  • 2-Layer: A loose mesh inner layer combined with a waterproof outer layer. It’s generally less expensive but heavier and less compressible.
  • 2.5-Layer: Instead of mesh, polyurethane (PU) is “painted” on a waterproof membrane. The membrane lies under a durable water repellant (DWR) outer layer. Since the second layer is thin, 2.5-layer construction produces lighter coats. The trade-off is that the PU layer is less breathable. It will often feel wet & clammy from the inside.
  • 3-Layer: Like the 2.5-layer construction, 3-layer consists of an outer layer and a waterproof membrane. A thin layer, most often polyurethane, is added to the back of the membrane. This PU inner layer protects the membrane from getting clogged with sweat and oils from the skin. It helps maintain breathability.

Rain Jacket Lining

You might have noticed that these various constructions sound similar. There is quite a difference, however, between high-end 2.5- or 3-layer jackets and lower-end 2-layer jackets. The latter tend to be lighter, more breathable, and more packable. Not surprisingly, they often fetch a premium.

Before we move on to these other features, let’s take a closer look at what to expect in each of these jacket layers:

Face Fabric (Outer Layer)

The jacket’s first line of defense against a heavy onslaught of rain is the face fabric. Outer layers generally consist of a nylon or polyester shell treated with a durable water repellent (DWR). This water-resistant coating helps the fabric keep you dry. It repels water and beads it off so it doesn’t get absorbed.

Depending on the jacket, the DWR doesn’t always last forever. Often, it can be re-engaged by washing and quick drying on low/medium heat or retreated with a DWR product. (For more information, check out this guide to caring for your DWR.)

Waterproof Membrane (Middle Layer)

What truly makes or breaks the rain jacket, isn’t the outer layer; it’s the waterproof membrane of the middle layer.

This is where most of your hard-earned dollars are spent when buying rain gear. Much of the science and research that goes into rainwear ends up on slight improvements in the waterproofing. This can sometimes lead to big leaps in jacket performance, comfort, and in helping you stay dry.

Waterproofing on Rain Jacket

If the outer layer is the first line of defence, the middle layer is the last. As the outer layer is treated via individual fibres, droplets will find their way into the middle layer of the jacket. What the waterproof membrane does is stops the water from entering inside. It also allows the vapour produced through sweating to escape. Not exactly an easy task, eh?

Many of the most common waterproof membranes among these coats are Gore-Tex. Their waterproofing has been an industry staple for many years. It still rocks out among the best of them.

Gore-Tex’s polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membranes offer some of the protection. But that performance often comes at a price.

Jacket manufacturers have swooped in and created their own technologies to combat the dominance of Gore-Tex. Membranes like Helly Hansen’s Helly Protection and Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q™ EVAP compare favourably the more expensive Gore-Tex products.

Lining (Inner Layer)

The lining of the inner layer is often the most important factor when it comes to your comfort. More expensive rain jackets often come with a thin PU film layer. It’s often better at keeping moisture at bay than a directly-applied PU coating or mesh. The lightest and most packable coats for women are generally those with a PU film or coat rather than mesh.

Weight & Packability

As a traveller, one of the most important things to consider in a rain jacket is its weight and how packable it is. Although an extra few grams won’t likely tip the check-in scale, the amount of room a coat takes up will.

You’ll generally find that the lighter the coat, the more expensive it is. A ton of R&D dollars swirl about to create fabrics that are both light and durable.

There’s a certain trade-off with extremely packable ultralight rain jackets, though. Most of the lightest products are designed for emergency use. They’re generally not meant to be worn all day in crazy weather conditions.

The lighter fabrics are not as abrasion-resistant as on more robust coats. Wearing ultralight waterproof jackets in cooler climes, you may also need to layer-up or go with something warmer.

Breathability & Ventilation

Don’t fall for the marketing hype: No rain jacket will be 100% breathable. The technology keeps getting better. But even in the most high-end jackets you’ll have to expect some moisture to build up in the inner layers.

Manual ventilation is an important feature if you often travel to warmer countries. Many jackets offer armpit ventilation (pit-zips) and side ventilation to circulate air. These features will help keep you cool when you’ve been exerting some energy.

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