As travellers we know perfect weather doesn’t exist. Even our most well-intentioned travel plans throw us climatic curve balls. We’d best be prepared!
When travel is as unpredictable the weather we’re confronted with, it’s important to fill your travel backpack with all the right gear. No, staying comfortable while travelling isn’t always easy. But if there’s something you absolutely shouldn’t skimp on, it’s proper outerwear.
A sturdy rain jacket is one of the most essential pieces of travel gear in a traveller’s arsenal. Whether you want to explore a city or graze through momentous hiking trails, don’t let wet weather soak an otherwise memorable experience. Stay dry with these best rain jackets for men & women who love to travel…
Table of Contents
- The best men’s rain jackets for 2018: Top 11 reviews & recommendations for travellers
- In a rush? Here are the best rain jackets for men of 2018 compared…
- Arc’teryx Men’s Beta SL
- Outdoor Research Men’s Foray
- Marmot Men’s Minimalist
- Outdoor Research Men’s Realm
- Marmot Men’s PreCip
- Arc’teryx Men’s Zeta LT
- Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell
- Columbia Men’s Watertight II
- Helly Hansen Men’s Highlands
- Columbia Men’s EvaPOURation
- The North Face Men’s Venture 2
- Best lightweight rain jackets for men of 2018: 8 top recommendations
- In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the best lightweight & ultralight men’s rain jackets of 2018…
- Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II
- Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan SL Hoody
- Marmot Men’s Essence
- The North Face Men’s HyperAir GTX
- Marmot Men’s Mica
- Montane Men’s Minimus Stretch
- Endura Men’s MTR Emergency Shell
- Montane Men’s Minimus 777 Pull-On
- The best women’s rain jackets of 2017: Top 10 reviews & recommendations for travellers
- In a rush? Here are the best rain jackets for women of 2018 compared…
- Columbia Women’s Arcadia II
- The North Face Women’s Venture 2
- Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell
- The North Face Women’s Resolve 2
- Helly Hansen Women’s Long Belfast
- Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket
- Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire
- Marmot Women’s Minimalist
- Columbia Women’s Switchback II
- Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander
- Best lightweight rain jackets for women of 2018: 7 top recommendations
- In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the best lightweight & ultralight women’s rain jackets of 2018…
- Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II
- Mountain Hardwear Women’s Stretch Ozonic
- Arc’teryx Women’s Beta SL
- Mountain Hardwear Women’s Plasmic Ion
- Marmot Women’s Essence
- The North Face Women’s HyperAir GTX
- Rab Women’s Kinetic Plus
- How to choose the perfect rain jacket: A buyers’ guide
The best men’s rain jackets for 2018: Top 11 reviews & recommendations for travellers
When choosing between rain jackets for your next trip, you’re hardly spoiled for choice. The selection here ranges from some of the most robust waterproof jackets for men to ultra-lightweight rain jackets that will shed off the elements while lightening your load.
If you’re not quite sure of what you’re looking for, a quick-and-easy rain jacket buyers’ guide follows the recommendations. Otherwise, let’s dig right in…
In a rush? Here are the best rain jackets for men of 2018 compared…
Arc’teryx Men’s Beta SL
Weight: 11.1 oz.
Best Uses: Emergency shell
As far as lightweight waterproof jackets go, it’s going to be challenging to find a competitor that takes down the Arc’teryx Men’s Beta SL. Weighing in at 315 grams, you’ll hardly even notice this infinitely packable jacket, whether in your backpack, carry-on or daypack.
The secret is in the N40r GORE-TEX® fabric. It’s not just lightweight and packable, but breathable. The design for the Arc’teryx Beta SL is purposely minimalist, with only some sacrifice to watertightness and durability noticeable. Micro-seams are sealed with a 13mm GORE® seam tape that keeps you dry while maintaining the jacket’s light weight.
Travellers dead set on keeping it light will love the next-to-nothing weight of the Arc’teryx Men’s Beta SL. It hardly occupies any space in your daypack, saving room for other travel accessories. The lightweight breathable fabric is comfortable for travel activities while the simple, minimalist aesthetic blends equally well on the trails and the streets.
The Arc’teryx Beta SL is designed for quick emergency use, not all-day wear in inclement conditions. Although the jacket is waterproof and breathable, the minimalist construction sacrifices some durability to maintain its ultralight weight. The jacket will hold up to some abrasion but would not be suitable for outdoor activities involving frequent physical contact with obstacles. A jacket like The North Face Venture is more robust.
Outdoor Research Men’s Foray
Weight: 16.3 oz.
Best Uses: Active travel in mild temperatures
Staying dry and comfortable is hardly a stretch of the imagination with the Outdoor Research Men’s Foray.
A lightweight GORE-TEX® shell hooks you up with reliable protection from the elements while allowing for breathability.
One of the best features is the TorsoFlo™ technology, a pit-zipper on steroids 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.
Thanks to the pit ventilation, the Outdoor Research Men’s Foray is one of cooler men’s waterproof jackets. The jacket’s breathable GORE-TEX® shell stays comfortable in most temperatures in the mid-range, when conditions are neither too hot nor too cold. A simple design moves between city and the outdoors with ease.
There are certainly lighter jackets on the market than the Outdoor Research Foray. Travellers looking to keep their load minimal should look for a rain jacket with better packability and a lighter weight like the Arc’teryx Norvan SL.
The jacket is marketed as all-season, but, 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 not warm enough for winter in many North American or European destinations.
In wearing the jacket during 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 Men’s Minimalist
Weight: 15 oz.
Best Uses: Casual wear in light rain
At over 300 grams, the Marmot Men’s Minimalist is neither the most lightweight nor minimalist of the top men’s rain jackets. Even if its name is a little misleading though, the Marmot Minimalist is a good fit for budget-conscious travellers.
The Marmot Minimalist features a GORE-TEX® shell with Paclite® technology that’s normally reserved for more northernly price ranges. Pit-zips provide extra ventilation for active travellers needing to stay both dry and cool.
As one of the cheapest waterproof jackets in our recommendations, the Marmot Men’s Minimalist should be top of mind for those on a tight budget. The jacket holds up in most “normal” conditions, but keep in mind that with the lower price comes the possibility of reliability issues.
If you’re planning a trip to a place 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 and hardly as reliable as those found in higher-end men’s rain 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 Men’s Realm
Weight: 10.9 oz.
Best Uses: All-day wear
Few rain jackets for men are more versatile than the Outdoor Research Men’s Realm. This hardshell rain jacket sheds off the elements flawlessly with its special AscentShell™ fabric.
The performance, from waterproofing to breathability, is comparable to the more famous, but more expensive, GORE-TEX® used in several of the best men’s rain jackets.
Although it sits outside the ultra-lightweight category, the Outdoor Research Realm weighs in at just 308 grams. The extra weight is more than compensated for by the increased usability of the jacket.
Unlike the lightest options the Outdoor Research Realm functions as a great all-day activity jacket, rather than just an emergency jacket, in a wider variety of conditions.
Any traveller looking for an all-around rain jacket that prides itself on breathability and watertightness should give the Outdoor Research Realm a try. You may even prefer the feel of the unique AscentShell™ fabric over the GORE-TEX® common to many men’s waterproof jackets.
If you’re simply looking for a jacket to keep you dry on the off-chance of a downpour, the Outdoor Research Realm might be more than you need. While still lightweight, others here are far more packable, lighter, and more suitable for infrequent use. The lack of pit-zip ventilation also leaves the Outdoor Research Realm faltering in the face of extreme heat.
Marmot Men’s PreCip
Weight: 11.0 oz.
Best Uses: Casual, emergency shell
For anyone looking for an affordable rain jacket for casual use, the Marmot Men’s PreCip should scoot up the list. The jacket sports Marmot’s own NanoPro™ waterproof and breathable shell, a (much) cheaper alternative to the GORE-TEX® membranes used in most of the best men’s rain jackets.
The Marmot PreCip offers simple standard features such as an adjustable roll-up hood and lined chin guard to 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.
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.
With the lower cost comes the trade-off of the Marmot PreCip being one of the least reliable jackets in the mix. While it will hold up to light rain, getting caught in a heavy downpour might leave you jaded. Anyone needing dependable protection—and willing to spend a little more for—should look elsewhere such as to the Columbia Watertight II.
Arc’teryx Men’s Zeta LT
Weight: 11.8 oz.
Best Uses: All-day wear
Priding itself on versatility, the Arc’teryx Men’s Zeta LT is the perfect companion for anything from urban backpacking to backwoods trekking.
The lightweight and packable three-layer GORE-TEX® fabric is highly breathable and sheds off wind and water with ease. The Arc’teryx Zeta LT is among the most comfortable rain jackets on the list thanks to the GORE® C-KNIT™ (circular knit) backer. In bigger downpours the Arc’teryx StormHood™ secures with a single adjuster without impairing your line of sight to keep your head dry.
If you need a rain jacket that stands up to extended wear, the Arc’teryx Men’s Zeta LT is a good performer. The circular knit backer improves the jacket’s breathability and comfort, especially combined with the trim fit. On most wearers, there’s enough room for an extra layer underneath to extend the jacket’s warmth.
While the Arc’teryx Zeta LT is a good all-around performer, the zippered pockets are merely water-resistant not waterproof. Items that could get damaged—such as a passport or compact camera—should be stored in the internal pocket rather than the externals.
Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell
Weight: 12.0 oz.
Best Uses: Casual
The name says it all: the Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell can take a bad-weather beating and come out on top. Since 1973, Patagonia has built its brand on quality and sustainability, and the Torrentshell reflects that mission perfectly.
A 100%-recycled nylon lies at the heart of the jacket. With its H2No® Performance Standard barrier the Patagonia Torrentshell shields you from the elements while remaining comfortably breathable. Extra ventilation via the armpit zippers cool you down even further when the temperature starts to creep upwards.
As one of the more eco-friendly options on the block, the Patagonia Torrentshell gets a huge thumbs up for green travellers. Not only does the jacket aim for sustainability, the function is impressive. The DWR (durable water repellent) is among the best in the price range.
Although the material on the Patagonia Torrentshell is a champion against nasty weather conditions, breathability isn’t one of the jacket’s finest points. It’s perfectly comfortable in most situations, but a scorching heat wave or extended strenuous activity will leave you wishing for an airier model like the Arc’teryx Norvan SL.
Columbia Men’s Watertight II
Weight: 13.5 oz.
Best Uses: Casual
What’s in a name? Apparently a lot. What makes the Columbia Men’s Watertight II such a compelling choice among the best men’s rain jackets 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 that outfits both impressive waterproofness and breathability. Two zippered side pockets are perfect for stashing away valuables that need to stay dry for your journey.
Nearly any traveller would appreciate the value of the Columbia Watertight II. The proprietary Omni-Tech® fabric does as good a job at shedding rain as the more expensive GORE-TEX® membranes. In fact, there’s nothing else in the Columbia Watertight II’s price range that compares in terms of reliability.
Even with the breathable Omni-Tech® shell, the lack of pit-zips push the Columbia Watertight II out contention for more active travellers. Rain jackets like the airer Columbia EvaPOURation and ultralight Arc’teryx Norvan SL offer better ventilation options.
Helly Hansen Men’s Highlands
Weight: 22.0 oz.
Best Uses: Casual, professional
If you’ve grown weary of rain jackets that look like, well, rain jackets, buck the trend with the Helly Hansen Men’s Highlands. This jacket is easily the most stylish of the bunch, featuring a contemporary design of Scandinavian simplicity that’s as welcome on the streets of Paris as on the trail.
The Helly Hansen Highlands features the company’s own Helly Tech® Protection for waterproofing. And it does quite a fine job, comparing favourably with the likes of the popular GORE-TEX® membranes found in so many other men’s rain jackets.
It’s highly breathable, too. The cargo hand pockets and chest pocket add storage capacity and give the jacket a sophisticated explorer’s air. No wonder the Highlands is considered one of the best Helly Hansen rain jackets out there!
Any traveller seeking a rain jacket that’s a cut above in style needs to add the Helly Hansen Highlands to their arsenal. Not only does the jacket look incredible, the waterproofing is stellar, keeping you dry in the harshest of conditions.
The beautiful style of the Helly Hansen Highlands comes at the expense of the jacket’s weight and packability. If you need an emergency jacket to stuff into your day pack, the ultra-lightweight Arc’teryx Norvan SL is a better choice.
Columbia Men’s EvaPOURation
Weight: 11.3 oz.
Best Uses: Active travel, hiking
An intense focus on breathability defines the Columbia Men’s EvaPOURation, one of the top picks for the best rain jackets for men. With its classic simple Columbia style, the EvaPOURation 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 is kept out without sacrificing much breathability.
Where the Columbia EvaPOURation truly steps up though is with the Omni-Wick EVAP™ advanced evaporation system that gives the jacket its name. When the temperature kicks up a notch, the wick-ed fabric scatters sweat over a larger area to help it evaporate quicker. The underarm venting on the Columbia EvaPOURation, the only Columbia rain jacket in the series to feature it, speeds the process further.
If you’re planning to get active on your travels (or are travelling to a warmer destination), the spectacular ventilation on the Columbia Men’s EvaPOURation is truly best-in-class for the price range. On top of that, when considering how well the jacket holds up in the elements, finding better value is tough.
Only a small percentage of travellers would find their needs unmet by the Columbia EvaPOURation. When in need of something more stylish, The Helly Hansen Highlands makes a more satisfying statement.
The North Face Men’s Venture 2
Weight: 11.6 oz.
Best Uses: Active travel
Striking in its simplicity, The North Face Men’s Venture 2 delivers on both an elegant, streamlined style and reliable rain protection.
A waterproof and breathable outer layer, designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, sheds off the elements to keep you as dry as possible in a variety of conditions.
The zippered underarm ventilations adds extra air flow to cool 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 while the adjustable hood and chin guard shields you from harsh weather conditions.
The simple yet stylish The North Face Men’s Venture 2 is perfect for anyone needing excellent waterproofing at a good value. The breathability and extra ventilation in the armpits makes this jacket one of the better choices in warmer climates.
Although certainly not heavy or bulky, The North Face Venture 2 is not the most suitable candidate for stuffing into a tight corner in your carry-on luggage or daypack. The ultra-lightweight and packable Arc’teryx Norvan SL fits the bill better for minimalists.
Best lightweight rain jackets for men of 2018: 8 top recommendations
Textiles might seem less-than-exciting, but top outerwear brands like Arc’teryx, The North Face, Outdoor Research and Marmot are far from boring. Their dedication to keeping you sheltered from harsh elements borders on obsessive. Each is constantly refining their products and pushing their technologies further.
Every year, better waterproof jackets emerge onto the scene. The quality today is far superior to even just five years ago. Fabrics are always becoming more durable and more watertight, all while adhering to a quest to shave off a couple ounces here and there.
Whether you’re looking for featherlight emergency shells or ultralight waterproof jackets, you’ll find something worthy of taking a place inside your backpack in this comprehensive list of the best lightweight rain jackets for men of 2018.
In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the best lightweight & ultralight men’s rain jackets of 2018…
Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II
Weight: 6.4 oz
Best Uses: Light hiking, emergency shell
Weighing in at just 6.4 ounces, the Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II isn’t just one of the lightest rain jackets on the list, but one of the best overall. When we say that you won’t notice carrying this jacket, we absolutely mean it. The Helium II packs down to the size of protein bar; it’s not just small enough to stuff into a tiny corner of your travel daypack, but into the front pocket of your hiking pants!
The excellent waterproofing of the Helium II comes courtesy of the 2.5-layer Pertex® Shield+ shell. Fully-taped seams and YKK® AquaGuard® jolt the impermeability up a notch.
Although the Outdoor Research Helium II is ultralight and breathable, it still functions best as an emergency shell to combat a sudden downpour. The lack of pit-zips for manual ventilation, omitted presumably to stick to its lightweight reputation, means that the jacket doesn’t hold up as well in hot and humid conditions. Look to other ultralight options like the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody for something a little airier.
Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan SL Hoody
Weight: 4.2 oz
Best Uses: Trail running, jogging, hiking
You don’t have to be a trail runner to get some serious mileage out of the Arc’teryx Men’s Norvan SL Hoody. Rockin’ out a barely-registrable 4.2 ounces and highly compressible, this truly minimalist jacket is a travellers dream.
The Norvan SL Hoody depends on Gore-Tex’s latest technology, a permanent beading surface that’s both superbly waterproof and surprisingly breathable. It’s designed for sporty travellers who love to spike along the trails with a little more fury than your average hiker.
In hot and humid weather, the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody shines and will become one of your go-to pieces of travel gear. The Venturi-style ventilation replaces the more common pit-zips, doing an impeccable job of cooling you down when the sweat starts to ramp up.
For many situations, though, the Norvan SL Hoody is a little less jacket than you’ll need. Planning a fall trip to Central Europe? The cool autumn winds of the Alps or High Tatras will leave you chilled to the bone without other provisions in place.
You could, of course, just layer-up. But that’s not the point of this jacket. The Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody is meant for active travellers who are obsessed with packing light. And in this role, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best.
Marmot Men’s Essence
Weight: 6.3 oz
Best Uses: Trail running, hiking, climbing
There’s hardly a more fitting name for the Marmot Men’s Essence. Stripped down to the bare essentials without sacrificing its ability to repel wind and water, this jacket weighs in at just 6.3 ounces making it one of the lightest in the pack.
At the core of the Essence is Marmot’s own Stretch NanoPro™ Membrain® nylon ripstop fabric. All the seams are fully taped to ramp up the waterproofing and keep you dry in rough conditions. Built-in ventilation helps the jacket perform better in warmer conditions than its watertight construction would normally allow.
If there was any question who the Marmot Essence was designed for, the Angel-Wing Movement, allowing for a full-range of motion, points towards its true masters: active travellers, whether trail runners or hikers. Affixed with full 360-degree reflectivity and a helmet-compatible hood, the Marmot Essence even appeals to alpinists in need of a featherweight shell.
Like some of the other ultralight men’s rain jackets, plummeting temperatures will require some extra layers to stay toasty. There are no hand-warming pockets on the Marmot Essence, relying on just one chest pocket with a water-resistant zipper in a bid to keep the jacket as light as possible.
The North Face Men’s HyperAir GTX
Weight: 7.2 oz
Best Uses: All-around sports & travel rain jacket
It might be ever-so slightly heavier than some of our other recommendations, but The North Face Men’s HyperAir GTX performs with the best of its ultralight buddies. The jacket’s high quality hinges on its Gore-Tex Active shell with its unique SHAKEDRY™ technology that keeps rain and wind at bay while allowing sweat to escape.
What’s special about Gore-Tex Active is that it doesn’t require a face fabric. The membrane itself provides the protection and is the outer layer that faces the elements. Not only does this enable the HyperAir GTX to stay ultra-lightweight, but stack it up among the most breathable jackets on the market.
There is a downside. Lighter weight and extreme breathability, as it often does, comes at the price of durability. The North Face HyperAir GTX is not the jacket for rough backwoods hiking. Brushing up against a spruce tree or taking a fall into gravel could mean hundreds up the creek.
It is however an impeccable choice for trail running or more urban adventures. Articulated sleeves allow for a full range of motion as you frolic in the rain. There’s even a media-compatible internal pocket to slip your headphones through while keeping your iPod dry.
Marmot Men’s Mica
Weight: 7.0 oz
Best Uses: Minimalist travel, hiking
Like all the best ultralight rain jackets for men, the Marmot Men’s Mica dispenses with all the frills you’d find in more robust shells to focus a single goal: to be as light as possible. And at just 7 ounces, we’d have to say that Marmot did a stand up job.
The Mica wields Marmot’s own MemBrain® Strata™ fabric. It’s highly breathable and waterproof, featuring fully-taped seams and water-resistant zipper to propel water from where it should not be. For travellers obsessed with saving space, the Mica packs into a tight package, securing itself safely into its own pocket for extreme portability.
An extra dash of rain protection is provided by an adjustable hood, hem and Velcro-laden wrist cuffs. Running around or performing intense activities in rain is a breeze with the full-motion capabilities of Marmot’s unique Angel-Wing Movement technology. For a lightweight jacket, the nylon ripstop face fabric is surprisingly durable, certainly less anxiety-ridden than chancing it to thin, but expensive, waterproof membranes without a protective outer layer.
Montane Men’s Minimus Stretch
Weight: 9.0 oz
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking, climbing
Designed for those who feel more at home in the mountain air, the Montane Men’s Minimus Stretch is a lightweight and packable rain jacket that’s the perfection companion for your weekend hiking or climbing trips. At the heart of the jacket is Montane’s Pertex Shield+, a 2.5-layer fabric that’s as at home in a downpour as on a cool, windy cliffside.
Travellers who can’t stop moving will dig the Minimus Stretch. The breathable, stretchable fabric and articulated design doesn’t restrict your movement as other coats might. Active travellers are further driven to love this jacket with its peaked hood that opens up large enough to fit a helmet yet cinches small enough to shield your face from the elements.
Unlike the ultralight competitors, the Montane Minimus Stretch features two hand pockets and an external chest pocket, both protected by YKK AquaGuard zippers for full waterproofing. The adjustable hem and cuffs go one step further in keeping you shielded from the elements.
Truthfully, in spite of carrying a couple extra ounces and taking up slightly more room in your daypack than other models, there’s little to dislike about this jacket. It’s an all-around performer that’s one of the most versatile choices on the list.
Endura Men’s MTR Emergency Shell
Weight: 5.6 oz
Best Uses: Emergency shell for hiking and cycling
Featherlight can’t even begin to describe the airy Endura Men’s MTR Emergency Shell. At just 5.6 ounces, this is the second-most ultralight rain jacket in our mix. It’s so compressible and packable, you won’t even need to lug around a daypack. The shell can stuff easily into a pair of cargo pants or a fleece jacket, keeping you prepared should the weather take a quick turn for the worst.
Designed primarily for cyclists, the MTR Emergency Shell dispenses with common rain jacket features like pockets, pit-zips and cinches in favour of lighter and more compressible materials. The athletic fit supports the whims of active travellers who don’t want to let a little rain stop them from hitting the trail or the streets.
Although it does an excellent job of repelling moisture, the fabric isn’t the most breathable among our top picks. Naturally, the extremely light materials also drop the Endura MTR Emergency Shell’s a notch. But there are no qualms here; the name says it all. Use this shell as a reliable “just-in-case” travel accessory rather than an all-around travel rain jacket.
Montane Men’s Minimus 777 Pull-On
Weight: 5.1 oz.
Best Uses: Emergency shell
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, featuring 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 with its special YKK® AquaGuard® zipper technology.
It’s the perfect size to stow away your mobile or a small compact camera to capture your moments on the trail or the boulevards.
Backpackers who take their packing weight seriously should consider the Montane Minimus 777 Pull-On. At just 140 grams, this rain jacket is, along with the Arc’teryx Norvan SL, in rarified air. And surprisingly durable considering.
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, so 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 the same job off similarly at a lower price point. And as full-zip jackets, some travellers might find these options more appealing.
The best women’s rain jackets of 2017: Top 10 reviews & recommendations for travellers
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 just a decade ago. Fabrics are becoming ever more durable, water-resistant, and breathable while becoming lighter and more packable. And since space is always at a premium, that’s fantastic news for travellers!
The problem comes with the sheer amount of choice. Everything from the most ultralight rain jackets for women to stylish rain coats that fit any occasion are all at your fingertips.
Not all, however, are created equal or work well in all situations.
Some of these best waterproof jackets for women are better suited for walking around London in a drizzle than protecting you from a downpour on a hike in Taiwan during typhoon season. Let’s see what awaits!
In a rush? Here are the best rain jackets for women of 2018 compared…
Columbia Women’s Arcadia II
Weight: 14.4 oz.
Best Uses: Casual
There are plenty of reasons that the best Columbia rain jackets top so many best-of lists. And the Columbia Women’s Arcadia II proves that it isn’t just all hype.
With the Acadia II, Columbia’s created one of the most versatile rain jackets for female travellers. The Omni-Tech waterproof and breathable lining is 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, just stuff it into your daypack, and be on your way!
With this jacket, it’s not just 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.
The North Face Women’s Venture 2
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Best Uses: Casual, hiking
Those who’ve been fans of TNF for awhile will notice that The North Face Women’s Venture 2 is an update on their best-selling Venture design. All the main features of the original have stayed intact while adding on a handful of improvements such as 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, a waterproof and breathable fabric that’s normally found in jackets in much higher price categories. Even with its spectacular rain protection, the Venture 2 is lightweight, weighing in at just 11.9 ounces. It’s super easy to jam it into your daypack as an emergency jacket without sacrificing much space for other items.
Unlike many other waterproof jackets for women, The North Face Venture 2 works as a three-season jacket. The breathable 2.5-layer shell and pit-zip ventilation provide comfort in a variety of conditions. You’ll find the Venture 2 better suited, however, for casual hikes and urban exploration than hardcore adventures in the wilderness.
Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell
Weight: 11.3 oz.
Best Uses: Casual
When you fit yourself into a Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell you’re not just getting an excellent rain jacket, but one that was 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 the Patagonia Torrentshell 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 ever better. Throw in the stowable visored hood and cozy micro-fleece neck liner, and it’s obvious why this coat is winner in inclement conditions.
For adventurers, there’s a carabiner clip-in loop on one of the two zippered handwarmer pockets. The lightweight jacket, docking in at just 301 grams (10.6 oz), even stuffs completely into the left pocket for ulta-quick stowage. The only major downfall of the Patagonia Torrentshell is the zipper, which seems to catch the fabric on nearly every attempt.
The North Face Women’s Resolve 2
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Best Uses: Casual wear in warmer temperatures
A bit sleeker and cooler (in temperature) than its close sibling the Venture 2, The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 offers superb rain protection at a price that’s easy on your pocketbook. The jacket features the same DryVent™ waterproofing as other top TNF jackets in 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 certainly isn’t the warmest jacket of the bunch. It’s much better suited for summertime or late-spring travel than fall or winter. If you’re planning on wearing the jacket as an shell over a fleece, you may need to move up a size. The jacket is slimmer than others here, tapering in slightly at the waist for a more contoured fit.
Helly Hansen Women’s Long Belfast
Weight: 29.6 oz.
Best Uses: Casual wear in cool weather
As its name would imply, the Helly Hansen Women’s Long Belfast is tailored for the cool, wet and windy weather of the Atlantic with a dash of Scandinavian style. The minimalist and slimming design is simple, keeping the most important features at the forefront and dispensing with needless frills.
The Long Belfast features Helly Tech Protection, a technology found in many of the best Helly Hansen rain jackets, that gives much more expensive Gore-Tex linings a run for the money. The two-layer fabric not just waterproof, but windproof, breathable, and surprisingly warm. An adjustable cinch hood combined with the anti-chafing chin guard keeps your head and face sheltered from nasty weather.
Although the style is one-of-a-kind among these women’s rain jackets, the Long Belfast doesn’t suit everyone the same. Women with shorter torsos might find the 3/4 length a little too long (might look more like a lab coat than a cute rain jacket). The coat is also made a little small, so you might want to move up a size if you’re planning to layer it.
Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket
Weight: 11.4 oz.
Best Uses: Hiking
No doubt, you’ll get better rain performance out of a more expensive model. But the Marmot Women’s 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, an upgraded technology that provides better waterproofing and breathability than its predecessors. Seam-tape further enhances the watertightness of the jacket.
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 to regulate your temperature and improve breathability on hikes when you start feeling clammy. Not only is the PreCip lightweight (it’s only 11.4 oz!), it also stows away in its own pocket, leaving you plenty of room to carry other items.
Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire
Weight: 13.7 oz.
Best Uses: Emergency shell
When staying dry is the name of the game, the Outdoor Research Women’s 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. Both the fully-taped seams and YKK® AquaGuard® zippers on the Aspire hold back moisture where many other rain jackets fail.
While it’s not 100% breathable (no waterproof jacket truly is!), the TorsoFlo™ side zippers, stretching from the hem to the bicep, cool you down better than most other competitors could dream of. Arm and hand pockets leave plenty of room to store any items you’ll need on the fly. Even with all the features, the Outdoor Research Aspire rolls into a tight package no bigger than a breakfast burrito that fits into its own left-hand pocket.
The jacket wears a little on the warmer side. Look for something a little lighter like the Outdoor Research Helium II to take you through the rainforests of Costa Rica or for lowland hiking in Southeast Asia.
Marmot Women’s Minimalist
Weight: 13.5 oz.
Best Uses: Casual
With its Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, the Marmot Women’s Minimalist is a (small) step ahead of its PreCip brother when it comes to performance. The style holds up to its name, simple yet sporty, holding its own on both the trails and the streets.
The taped seams on the Marmot Minimalist provide a deeper watertightness. 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 some nice extra airflow.
Despite all its good features, the pockets on the Minimalist are a weak point. A lack of watertight and water-resistant zipper will leave the insides of the pockets drenched in heavier downpours. (No iPhones allowed, I’m afraid!) Other options like The North Face Venture 2 or Columbia Arcadia II provide a better overall value in that regard.
Columbia Women’s Switchback II
Weight: 10.4 oz.
Best Uses: Emergency shell in light rain
For travellers, few women’s rain jackets offer better value than the Columbia Women’s 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, merely water-resistant. Combined with the stow-away hood, however, it holds up its promise to keep you dry in light and moderate rain. Just don’t expect it to protect you through an all-day downpour.
Side vents improve breathability to 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 tremendously useful as light water-repellent layer over top of a fleece jacket should the temperature dip a little.
The best feature might be its packability. The Columbia Switchback II is so lightweight that it’s able to fit easily into its own front pockets. That means more room in your backpack for other travel essentials like water bottles, umbrellas, and camera equipment.
Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander
Weight: 16 oz.
Best Uses: Casual emergency shell
One of the best choices in the sub-$100 range, the Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander is a simple wind & waterproof jacket that will repel the rain without breaking the bank.
A polyurethane face fabric combines with a lined mesh to offer better durability and comfort. All of the seams on the jacket are heat-sealed to ensure than the elements can’t bore through to the inner layers. The shock-cord drawstring hood tightens snugly to keep your face and head dry.
Although the New Englander offers good value, the fabrics and materials aren’t to everyone’s taste. Even with the mesh lining and underarm vent, the polyurethane provides limited breathability. In warmer climates, extended wear can leave you feeling sticky and unpleasant.
The New Englander is certainly a good choice when you’re stuck in a bind and don’t want to spend big on rain wear. But don’t expect to stay comfortable when donning the jacket all day long in humid conditions.
Best lightweight rain jackets for women of 2018: 7 top recommendations
If you live to pack light, you’ll absolutely love the selection of ultralight rain jackets for women we’ve laid out below! All of these jackets—designed by the likes of The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Arc’teryx and others—weigh in at less than 10 ounces. Some even push the limits to half of that!
While carrying around a jacket that can stuff into your back pocket is pretty rad, you have to remember that there are certain trade-offs. Keeping the weight down to a minimum means fewer features and less durable fabrics. These jackets are meant to keep you dry in a pinch, not for enduring tough conditions like serious backwoods hiking. But for the former, these are the best gals for the job.
In a rush? Here’s a quick comparison of the best lightweight & ultralight women’s rain jackets of 2018…
Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II
Weight: 5.5 oz
Best Uses: Emergency shell for hiking
At a feathery and airy 5.5 ounces, the Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II is one of the lightest women’s rain jackets and among the true “stuff-it-and-forget-about-it” items in your rain gear collection.
You’ll hardly even notice carting around the Helium II. Compressed, the jacket jams down to a size comparable to your mobile phone and can be clipped to your harness with the attached web loop.
Even with its intense packability and cloud-like weight, the water-repelling prowess of the Helium II is worthy of a thumbs-up. The jacket sports a stretchy Pertex Shield DS fabric that’s not just effective at knocking off the elements but promotes a full range of movement. All the seams are fully sealed as are the zippers, protected with the popular YKK® AquaGuard® waterproofing technology.
To keep the Helium II as light as possible Outdoor Research stripped it of several common rain jacket features. Don’t expect frills like hand pockets or a hood visor to divert rain from your face. For extra storage space while maintaining a light weight, you’ll need to move towards the slightly heavier jackets in our recommendations.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Stretch Ozonic
Weight: 8.4 oz
Best Uses: General travel, outdoor activities
If you’re convinced that there’s always a trade-off between great performance and style, you should take a look at the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Stretch Ozonic. The jacket’s unique stretch fabric slims down the often bulky look of high-performance rain jackets, creating a stylish fit that better suits the needs of active travellers.
What makes the Stretch Ozonic special is the 2.5-layer construction featuring Dry.Q™ Active moisture barrier. Not only are its waterproofing abilities top-notch, the stylish stretch fabric makes for a slim and comfortable fit that most rain jackets for women lack.
Even the zippers, a well-known failure point on many waterproof jackets, are protected with Aquaguard® VISLON® seals and keep your belongings bone-dry in the harshest of conditions. Unlike other lightweight jackets, the hood on the Stretch Ozonic features a structured brim that deflects water from your face.
Even with its proficiency in keeping water out, the fabric is fairly breathable and enhanced by the underarm pit-zip ventilation. While its not the coolest or breeziest lightweight rain jacket, it fares well in warm weather. For trip to exceedingly hot and humid places though, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic might leave you a little sticky.
Arc’teryx Women’s Beta SL
Weight: 9.9 oz
Best Uses: Emergency shell for trekking
Even at just 9.9 ounces, the Arc’teryx Women’s Beta SL barely made the cut-off for our top lightweight women’s jacket. That’s not to say it doesn’t deserve to be here.
What the Beta SL adds in a tiny bit of extra weight it more than makes up for in function. The jacket’s Gore-Tex Paclite waterproofing works wonders for repelling nasty elements while remaining super compressible. It features a trim fit, designed specifically for women, that drops gussets in the underarms to extend the coat’s range of motion.
While the performance of the Arc’teryx Beta SL can’t be questioned, it shares one common weakness with many lightweight rain jackets: durability. The mini-ripstop fabric is more robust than most in its weight class, but can’t be counted upon for serious backwoods hiking where disaster is just a brush-up with spiky pine branch away. Stuff the Beta SL in your daypack for emergency rain protection though, and you don’t be disappointed.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Plasmic Ion
Weight: 10.0 oz
Best Uses: Backwoods hiking
The heaviest pick among our lightweight women’s rain jackets, the Mountain Hardwear Women’s Plasmic Ion is built for hardcore travellers that need a little more durability than the ultralight offerings are able to put forward.
Better tear-resistance is set forth with 2.5-layer construction featuring a tough 70-denier face fabric. Dry.Q™ EVAP technology seals water out while faithfully allowing sweat vapour to escape. The pockets, protected with Aquaguard® VISLON® zippers, are similarly waterproof, protecting your belongingd from nasty weather.
If there’s any downside to the Plasmic Ion, it’s the hood. Although it cinches up to protect your face, the hood lacks a visor, presumably one of the elements chopped away to cut down on the coat’s weight. With it’s abrasion-resistant face fabric though, the Plasmic Ion is still one of the best choices for backwoods explorers facing tougher-than-normal conditions.
Marmot Women’s Essence
Weight: 5.0 oz
Best Uses: Active travel, trail running
Tonight we crown a new featherlight champ: the Marmot Women’s Essence. Coming in at an unbelievable 5 ounces, this jacket punches well above its weight and is the best choice for anyone needing to shed a little poundage in their carry-on luggage.
Marmot went to town applying its NanoPro® MemBrain® fabric to its most ultralight women’s rain jacket to date. Not only is it waterproof and breathable, but stretchy with a slimmer athletic fit. Combined with Angel Wing Movement, the design of the Marmot Essence is never limiting; you’ll always be able to carry on with whatever travel throws at you, whether that’s bolting down a trail or taking pictures in the city.
To cut down its weight, the Essence naturally dispenses with a few features like handwarmer pockets. We hardly see that as a deal breaker considering the slew of other bonuses like a moldable hood visor, side ventilation and drawcord hem to seal out moisture. (Oh, and let’s not forget the extreme lightweight and packability!)
The North Face Women’s HyperAir GTX
Weight: 6.7 oz
Best Uses: Active travel, trail running
We’ve always loved The North Face rain jackets, even if they weren’t the most lightweight on the market. All that changed, however, when they released The North Face Women’s HyperAir GTX.
What’s most impressive is that the HyperAir GTX achieved its minimalist weight without stripping away too many essential features. This ultralight waterproof jacket features a Gore-Tex Active shell that repels rain and wind without getting sticky underneath. The secret of the HyperAir GTX lies in eliminating the face fabric, an unusual feat that saves several ounces while increasing breathability.
Even if airiness were in question, pit-zips further enhance the jacket’s ventilation. To protect from the harshest of elements, the cuffs and hem adjust to seal in warmth and keep out moisture. There’s even a set of watertight hand pockets, usually one of the first features to dispense with in a bid to drop a couple extra ounces.
Rab Women’s Kinetic Plus
Weight: 8.5 oz
Best Uses: Active travel, hiking, climbing
We’re fine with the couple added ounces that push the Rab Women’s Kinetic Plus out of ultralight territory. What the jacket lacks in featherlight qualities it more than makes up for in the durability boost over it’s airier sisters.
As the name implies, the Kinetic Plus is adept at getting moving. The lightweight softshell sports Rab’s Proflex™ fabric, designed for maximum motion. A flexible waterproof membrane delivers top-notch performance without hindering the jacket’s movement. It’s remarkably breathable, too. Active travellers will love the jacket’s ability to glide across climatic changes without feeling too cool or too sticky.
Where the Rab Kinetic Plus feels most at home is on the trail and on the mountainside. This is one of the best women’s rain jackets for hiking thanks to both its versatility and durability. When the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can trust the YKK® AquaGuard® VISLON® front zipper and YKK® AquaGuard® A-line pockets to keep you and your belongings dry.
How to choose the perfect rain jacket: A buyers’ guide
While it’s not as exciting as carrying around the latest mirrorless camera or iPhone, rain jackets is among the most essential travel gear for your trips. No travel destination is perfect. And in many, there’s about zero chance you’ll escape without witnessing a torrential downpour—maybe even multiple times in a day!
If you’re still having trouble choosing the perfect waterproof jacket for your travels, take a look at the guide below. I’ve outlined some of the biggest things to look out for including the fabrics, materials, waterproofing, breathability and ventilation. Let’s get started…
Fabrics & Materials
Fabrics are what make—or break—a rain jacket. And there’s a surprising amount of science that goes into it, certainly nothing as simple as just sourcing some materials and throwing it into a sewing machine.
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: Loose mesh inner layer combined with a waterproof outer layer. Generally less expensive but heavier and less compressible.
- 2.5-Layer: Instead of mesh, a polyurethane (PU) is “painted” directly on a waterproof membrane that lies under a durable water repellant (DWR) outer layer. Since the second layer is thin, 2.5-layer construction tends to produce lighter coats. The trade-off is that the PU layer is less breathable and feels clammy.
- 3-Layer: Like the 2.5-layer construction, consists of an outer layer and 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, maintaining breathability in the process.
You might have noticed that these various constructions sound fairly 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 much higher premium.
Before we move on to these other features, let’s take a closer look at what to expect in each of these 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 coating helps the fabric to repel water, beading it off so it doesn’t get absorbed.
Depending on the jacket, the DWR doesn’t always last forever. Often it can be reengaged 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 jacket, isn’t the outer layer, but 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, which can sometime leads to big leaps in performance and comfort.
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. What the waterproof membrane does is stops the water from entering inside while allowing the vapour produced through sweating to escape. Not exactly an easy task, eh?
Some of the most common waterproof membranes you’ll find among these coats are Gore-Tex. Their waterproofing has been an industry staple for many years, and 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 a created their own proprietary technologies to combat the dominance of Gore-Tex.
Some technologies like Helly Hansen’s Helly Protection and Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q™ EVAP even compare favourably with 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 that is better at keeping moisture at bay than a directly-applied PU coating or mesh. The lightest and most packable coats 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. While 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, naturally, not as abrasion-resistant as on more robust coats. You may also find yourself either layering-up or needing something a little warmer if you’re planning to wear these ultralight waterproof jackets in cooler climes.
Breathability & Ventilation
Don’t fall for the marketing hype: No jacket will be 100% breathable. The technology keep 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 to consider if you’re planning to travel to warmer countries. Many jackets offer armpit ventilation (pit-zips) and side ventilation to circulate air and help keep you cool when you’ve been exerting some energy.