The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The Best Rain Jackets for Men of 2018

Lead tester Ian Nicholson shown here in the Outdoor Research Interstellar jacket
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday October 18, 2018
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To find the best rain jackets for hiking, backpacking, and general outdoor use, our experts researched over 70 models. We then bought 17 of the best contenders for specific attributes or value, putting each one to the ultimate test. Our review team sought out downpours in the Pacific Northwest, analyzing via soggy backpacking, mountaineering, trail running and ski touring adventures. We performed side-by-side weather resistance tests in a lab environment and in extensive real-world applications in the pouring rain. While we declare an overall winner, we also identify the best jacket for many utilizations such as commuting, climbing, and travel. Whether you want a top-of-the-line, tricked-out model, or something under $100, we have a recommendation for you. See our windbreaker review for light rain conditions and our rain pant fleet, where we found highest rated jackets don't always correspond with the best bottoms.


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Updated October 2018
After considering dozens of new products for our latest Winter 2018-19 review, our staff carefully selected three of the top new models, each offering a notable benefit or excellent all-around performance. We've also put the updated Arc'teryx Beta SL, our Editors' Choice award winner, to the test. As always, we've put new contenders up against products from our previous testing to see how each one fared. We brought these jackets on soggy trips to the Washington Coast and the West Coast of Vancouver Island and tested them while ice climbing in Banff National Park; we also ski toured and trekked hundreds of miles of trail in the Sierra and Cascades. We've now included 17 of the industry's top models within a range of budgets, which you'll find below.

Best Overall Model


Arc'teryx Beta SL


Editors' Choice Award

$298.99
at Amazon
See It


Weight: 11 ounces | Pockets: Two elevated pack-friendly hand pockets
Exceptional hood design
Outstanding mobility and range of motion
Ultra stormworthy
Surprisingly small packed volume
Good breathability
Lightest Gore-Tex model we tested
Hip belt and harness-friendly pockets
Long-lasting DWR
No ventilation options
Not stretchy
One of the few models that doesn't stuff into its pocket
On the more expensive side

If we could only own one jacket for everything from week-long backpacking trips to walking the dog, this would be it. Several models excelled in specific niches, but no one model offered an outstanding performance like that of the Arc'teryx Beta SL, though the REI Drypoint GTX came close. However, the do-everything Arc'teryx Beta SL won our award as it scored the best, or nearly the best, in almost every category.

Our testing team loved the Beta SL's fantastic hood design, top-tier storm worthiness, and outstanding breathability and mobility - all while maintaining a below average weight. While some jackets offer advantages for specific applications, this is the do-everything model that performs fantastically for a broad range of activities.

Read review: Arc'teryx Beta SL

Best Bang for the Buck


Marmot PreCip


Best Buy Award

$69.73
(30% off)
at REI
See It

Weight: 13.1 ounces | Pockets: Two hand pockets
Better breathability than others in its price range
Above average ventilation
Rollaway hood
Nice pit zips
Affordable
No chest pocket
Not quite as breathable as membrane models
DWR lasts decently long

The Marmot PreCip remains our Best Buy award winner. Just over a decade ago, it basically invented the high-performance $100 waterproof breathable jacket category. While it lagged for a bit, its most recent update with Marmot's NanoPro 2.5-layer coated technology, as well as some slight overhauls, takes back its claim for the best model under $100. The PreCip offers solid storm worthiness with a number of pleasantly designed featured including hand pockets, pit zips for ventilation, and a rollaway hood.

It breathed the best of any of the sub-$100 models and was a review team's favorite for high-energy hiking and backpacking. A few other models we tested are similar when it comes to the price point, but our testing team determined that the PreCip delivers the most functionality and versatility for your money. The demanding budget-conscious buyer won't find a better deal than this jacket, ringing it at an even $100.

Read review: Marmot PreCip

Top Pick for Hiking and Backpacking


REI Co-op Drypoint GTX


Top Pick Award

$249.00
at REI
See It

Weight: 10.5 ounces | Pockets: Two zip hand pockets
Most breathable material in our review
Hood design
Incredibly lightweight
Small packed volume
Stretchy fabric
Extremely stormworthy
Good quality construction
Cut is slightly on the boxy side
Not quite as abrasion-resistant nor not as durable as other models
Okay, but not fantastic mobility

The REI Drypoint GTX is a superb all-around model that was in the running for our Editors' Choice winner. While it barely missed our award, it remains one of our review team's go-to favorites for backpacking and hiking and is a staff Top Pick for these types of applications. It earned this award for a variety of reasons; most notably is for its exceptionally breathable fabric, which ranked the best overall in our review.

Not only is the Drypoint incredibly breathable, but it features one of the most stormworthy designs. It's also lighter and more packable than the majority of the competition, make this model perfect for backpackers, mountaineers, and hikers. Its stretchy fabric allows excellent freedom of movement, which helps this model adapt to a wide range of users, adding to its extraordinary versatility.

Read review: REI Drypoint GTX

Top Pick for Mountaineering and Alpine Climbing


Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II


Top Pick Award

$149.83
(50% off)
at REI
See It


Weight: 12 ounces | Pockets: Two elevated pack-friendly hand pockets and two internal ones
Fabric is impressively stretchy
Best mobility and range of motion in the review
Layering-friendly design
Excellent breathability
Hip-belt and harness-friendly pockets
Long-lasting DWR
Sweet hood
Functional venting design
Can feel a little clammier than other models
Average weight

The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II is another strong contender for our Editors' Choice Award, and it remains among our favorite overall models. Most impressively is that it's incredibly stretchy, which results in mobility and freedom of movement. Out of all of the stretchy, waterproof models we reviewed, it easily resisted wetting out over the longest period of time and provided some of the better storm protection among all the models in our fleet. Thus, the Quasar earns the award of Top Pick for Mountaineering and Alpine Climbing.

Like many of the new wave of stretchy rain jackets, the Quasar is ultra-breathable and is air permeable in its design. This means that not only does it breathe well but it continues to breathe well even after you cool off (but might still be wet from sweat). We liked the balance Mountain Hardwear found with its fit which offered just enough room for layering underneath without being too baggy. All of these attributes made it one of the more versatile models in our review where the outdoor activities that these models don't excel at are few and far between.

Read review: Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite

Top Pick for Range of Motion


Rab Kinetic Plus


Top Pick Award

$114.83
(50% off)
at REI
See It


Weight: 10 ounces | Pockets: Two elevated pack-friendly hand pockets
Fabric is impressively stretchy
Best mobility and range of motion in the review
Unique and effective hood design
Excellent breathability
Long-lasting DWR
No ventilation options
Wets out slightly faster than others in prolonged downpours

The Rab Kinetic Plus is a frontrunner among the new wave of stretchy, air permeable waterproof breathable fabrics. The double-layered hood and impressively stretchy material set the Kinetic Plus apart from others in our fleet, as the material is one of the stretchiest we have ever seen in a waterproof rain jacket. In fact, the material looks and feels more like a softshell than a hardshell; rest assured, it is not a softshell and is plenty stormworthy and entirely waterproof.

This model is an excellent option for anyone that needs a waterproof jacket where mobility is key. This advantage is amplified by its athletic fit, which was the slimmest fitting model we tested. These qualities make it perfect for everyone from Nordic skiers to ice climbers; it's worth noting that folks planning to layer a fair amount underneath will want to consider sizing up.

Read review: Rab Kinetic Plus

Notable for Light Weight


Patagonia Storm Racer


Weight: 6 ounces | Pockets: One functional pocket chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
Incredibly lightweight
Above average breathability
Sweet stuff pocket
Great mobility
Stretchy fabric
No hand pockets
Difficult to layer underneath without sizing up

The Patagonia Storm Racer is notable for weight-conscience hikers, backpackers, and climbers and is an excellent just in case style layer. Weighing in at a scant six ounces, this is the lightest and most compact shell we tested and is roughly half the weight of the majority of jackets we tested. It isn't feature-rich, lacking the several common designs such as lower hand pockets and Velcro closure wrist cuffs; however, despite this minimal design, our review team discovered solid performance in keeping the wearer dry, which is the primary purpose.

Carrying around a few extra ounces might not seem significant, and feature-rich jackets might seem more appealing in the store, but it is important to remember that all those additional features increase weight. Then think that most hikers, climbers, and backpackers will likely end up carrying their waterproof layer 90% of the time. While extra features might seem sweet, they won't do much living at the bottom of your pack. Each year, more and more super light rain shells come out on the market, and this model is currently our favorite for the weight weanies out there.

Read review: Patagonia Storm Racer

Notable for Ventilation


Outdoor Research Foray



$149.73
(30% off)
at REI
See It

Weight: 16 ounces | Pockets: One chest pocket and two hand pockets
Extremely versatile
Durable
Comfortable
Exceptional ventilation
Good breathability
On the heavier side
Not as packable as several other models in our review

The Gore-Tex Paclite Outdoor Research Foray is a bomber rain jacket that seals out rain, snow, wind and proved to be one of the most durable products we tested. It provides excellent ventilation and excels at dumping heat during highly aerobic activities or for folks who simply run on the warm side. It goes far beyond pit zips and venting pockets and includes "torso flow pit-zips" that fully separate the sides of the jacket more attuned to a poncho, unzipping from the hem to your triceps down the sides of the jacket.

Not only that but the Foray was one of the most durable and stormworthy models we have seen. If you are going to be subjected to the elements for lengthy periods of time, you'd be much happier in this model than several of the lighter ones in our review. If you seek a product that could cross over into the durable hardshell category and highly value ventilation features, the Foray might be for you.

Read review: Outdoor Research Foray

Notable for Technical Endeavors


Black Diamond Fineline



$128.95
at MooseJaw
See It

Weight: 7.5 ounces | Pockets: One chest
Superlight
Extremely packable
Stretchy fabric
Incredible freedom of movement and range-of-motion in our review
More breathable than average
Well-designed hood
No closure on the cuffs, only elastic
No ventilation options
Not as tear resistant as other models

The Black Diamond Fineline offers better overall functionality than a majority of superlight rain shells and sports outstanding freedom of movement; in this regard, it's an excellent rain jacket for climbers. It is one of the lightest and most compressible models in our fleet and has been constructed with a stretchy fabric, which is cut to be climbing focuses in that it is harness friendly. It's a favorite for our testers that are climbers, trail runners, or those that participate in other outdoor activities where solid mobility and a small, packed volume are appreciated.

The Fineline offers more weather resistance and breathability than most super light or similarly priced models, though we found the Patagonia Storm Racer offered better breathability and similar mobility at a marginally lighter weight.

Read review: Black Diamond Fineline


Analysis and Test Results


We researched over 70 potential models before narrowing it down to the 17 finalists that you see in our review. We purchased each model and put each of them through an intensive testing process, which you can learn more about below and in our How We Test article.

We considered over 90 different rain jackets before choosing the best 17 under $300 and 16 ounces. We tested each jacket by spraying them with hoses  wearing them in the shower  and spending countless hours hiking  climbing  skiing  and backpacking in them. Our findings are reported below.
We considered over 90 different rain jackets before choosing the best 17 under $300 and 16 ounces. We tested each jacket by spraying them with hoses, wearing them in the shower, and spending countless hours hiking, climbing, skiing, and backpacking in them. Our findings are reported below.

Our review team took each model into the field for real-world performance testing, as well as specific side-by-side comparisons in a more controlled environment (AKA a shower, a stationary bike, and pulling hoods over lots of different types of headwear). Our ratings are based on the most critical factors you should you consider when trying to decide which model is best for your needs.

Nine of the top rain jackets  ready for our testing. There are three distinct types of jackets here  and one will meet your needs best.
Nine of the top rain jackets, ready for our testing. There are three distinct types of jackets here, and one will meet your needs best.

Below you'll find descriptions of each of our evaluation metrics, as well as information about the top performers and how they compare to one another. For more specific comparisons, such as each model's hood cinch performance or exact hem adjustments, see each product's review.

We weighted weather resistance as the most important metric in our review  since a rain jacket's primary function is to keep you dry  whether you are hiking  backpacking  or just out walking the dog. Here  Graham Zimmerman is trying to keep it positive in yet another torrential downpour in Torres del Paine  Chile.
We weighted weather resistance as the most important metric in our review, since a rain jacket's primary function is to keep you dry, whether you are hiking, backpacking, or just out walking the dog. Here, Graham Zimmerman is trying to keep it positive in yet another torrential downpour in Torres del Paine, Chile.

Value


One of the most common concerns we hear from our friends and readers is: "Is that expensive piece of outdoor gear really worth the price?". There's no denying that it's easy to drop of a lot of money on outdoor apparel and few product categories offer as wide of a price range as waterproof jackets. Below we clarify what the discrepancies between some of the budget picks and the higher-end options actually are and how they may, or may not, be a factor for you. We also do our best to specifically answer the question in our individual reviews on want you are specifically getting by spending more money on a higher-end option versus a lower end model, and what we found to be marketing and hype.

Besides just selecting our favorite overall models  our team also selected the best performing models at different price points. Here Michael and John Yarnall posse in a Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite (left) and a Rab Kinetic Plus (right) on a soggy morning starting a 6-day trip in North Cascades National Park.
Besides just selecting our favorite overall models, our team also selected the best performing models at different price points. Here Michael and John Yarnall posse in a Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite (left) and a Rab Kinetic Plus (right) on a soggy morning starting a 6-day trip in North Cascades National Park.

When it comes to our review, prices range between $60 and $300! That's a pretty significant jump. A large part of that has to do with the materials that some of the higher end models use. There is loads of engineering going into Gore-Tex, eVent, and even some proprietary fabrics, and those drive up the overall cost. However, as a baseline, it is those fabrics that make the world of difference from a waterproof/breathability perspective. As you can see from the graph below, there is almost a direct correlation between price and performance for these items. (This is not always the case by the way!)

If you are specifically looking for a budget pick that also performs well, look for items that run on the bottom of the Y-axis (price) but are still far along the X-axis (score). In this case, the best value picks are the Patagonia Torrentshell ($129) and the Marmot Precip ($100), which is our Best Buy winner. While not as high-performing as a number of the more expensive models, they performed pretty darn well overall and are no doubt incredibly functional while costing a fraction of the price.


Water Resistance


A rain jacket's most important job is to keep its wearer dry; whether hiking, backpacking, ski-touring, alpine climbing, or just plain out walking the dog, this is obviously this piece of equipment's primary job. As a result in our scoring metrics, this was the most heavily weighted category, at 30 percent.


There are many types of waterproof fabrics and treatments that manufacturers use in the jackets we tested, and heaps of laboratory testing has been done to quantify precisely how waterproof each of these specific coated or laminated materials are. However, the critical bit to understand is that all of the products tested are water-resistant enough to use as a rain shell.

Rain is not going to penetrate any of the fabrics that any of these jackets are constructed with; however  in a downpour  running water can seeks its way in through a pocket zipper  down your wrist when you reach overhead  or where the hood meets your neck and thus the features and design of each model is the most critical part of keeping you dry.
Rain is not going to penetrate any of the fabrics that any of these jackets are constructed with; however, in a downpour, running water can seeks its way in through a pocket zipper, down your wrist when you reach overhead, or where the hood meets your neck and thus the features and design of each model is the most critical part of keeping you dry.

All of the models tested feature a waterproof fabric (more on what makes a material impervious in our buying advice), that is a shell fabric that is seam-taped after sewing, creating a completely sealed envelope. What differentiates each model's performance is the design of the hood, cuffs, pocket and front-zip closures, and pit zips, or other vents, as well as the longevity of DWR and subsequent ability to resist wetting out after extended periods of hours or weeks of use.

Obviously  the waterproof material itself is important  but with nearly all manufacturers offering a material that is more than adequate  those jackets which had features that helped keep the rain out and move moisture scored the best. Ian Nicholson climbing "Pretty Nuts" near Kicking Horse Pass in extremely wet conditions.
Obviously, the waterproof material itself is important, but with nearly all manufacturers offering a material that is more than adequate, those jackets which had features that helped keep the rain out and move moisture scored the best. Ian Nicholson climbing "Pretty Nuts" near Kicking Horse Pass in extremely wet conditions.

All the models we tested sport a technically waterproof fabric but many are constructed with different materials and characteristics. It's these characteristics that make the significant differences when it comes to breathability (which can make you feel wet from the inside from your own sweat) as well as longevity, durability, and ability to resist wetting out after extended use. However what doesn't have much of a functional difference is weatherproofness strictly from a fabric point of view; that is, if one fabric is waterproof to 30 PSI versus one to 60 PSI, it doesn't make a functional difference to any tester.

Garden hose to the face and wrists? Check. The Foray can handle it. All of these jackets do a good job keeping you dry in your average rainstorm. But models with adjustable cuffs and well-designed hood adjustments are superior in howling rainstorms or when working with your hands overhead in the rain.
Garden hose to the face and wrists? Check. The Foray can handle it. All of these jackets do a good job keeping you dry in your average rainstorm. But models with adjustable cuffs and well-designed hood adjustments are superior in howling rainstorms or when working with your hands overhead in the rain.

Rain is not going to penetrate any of these fabrics directly; however, in a downpour, running water can seek its way in through a pocket, down your wrist if you happen to reach overhead, or where the hood meets your neck. Besides the real-world use of all of these models, we also stood in a shower for four minutes in each jacket and got a spray down with the garden hose to help find potentially problematic spots. The Arc'teryx Beta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, and the Marmot Minimalist were the sturdiest of the bunch. The REI Drypoint GTX, Patagonia Cloud Ridge, and The North Face Dryzzle also performed very well, doing an excellent job of sealing out the rain. All contenders have wrist cuffs that can be cinched down on the wrist with Velcro closures, and all hoods sealed well around the face and chin.

Ian Nicholson testing waterproof Jackets in Torres Del Paine  Chile.
Ian Nicholson testing waterproof Jackets in Torres Del Paine, Chile.

All the products we tested should keep you dry in a storm. The primary differences in our water resistance metric come from the design of the hood, cuffs, pocket closures, longevity of a models DWR, and pit zips.

A well designed hood is one of the most important factors influencing how dry a rain jacket is going to keep you.
A well designed hood is one of the most important factors influencing how dry a rain jacket is going to keep you.

Another important component of a jacket's water resistance is its durable water repellent (DWR) treatment. This treatment is factory applied to the fabric's exterior and allows it to bead and shed water. Even though nylon and polyester are hydrophobic, if they aren't treated with a DWR (or after the treatment wears off), they "wet out", or become covered with a continuous film of water. This result is greatly reduced breathability, a feeling of damp or clamminess, and a slight increase in weighing.

While these jackets weren't designed with sea kayaking in mind  that didn't stop our review team from utilizing a trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island to put them to the test. We also felt that trips like this only added to the testing of each model's versatility. In this photo  lead tester paddled over 20 miles in the Broken Islands in non-stop rain.
While these jackets weren't designed with sea kayaking in mind, that didn't stop our review team from utilizing a trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island to put them to the test. We also felt that trips like this only added to the testing of each model's versatility. In this photo, lead tester paddled over 20 miles in the Broken Islands in non-stop rain.

The DWR used on the Marmot PreCip, Marmot Phoenix, Marmot Minimalist, and Arc'teryx Beta SL stands out, as does the The North Face Dryzzle, REI Drypoint GTX, and The North Face Venture 2. Conversely and generally speaking, we found that the stretchier models needed to be re-treated much more frequently than the ones with minimal or no stretch. All that said, it's worth noting that all the jackets we tested beaded water quite well to start, and DWR treatment can be reapplied to your jacket if needed. Check out DWR maintenance in our Care & Cleaning section.

Breathability and ventilation are both significant factors in keeping the wearer dry  minimizing how wet they get from their own sweat. We weighted breathability slightly higher than ventilation because sometimes when it's really raining or snowing hard  opening your vents can make you wetter.
Breathability and ventilation are both significant factors in keeping the wearer dry, minimizing how wet they get from their own sweat. We weighted breathability slightly higher than ventilation because sometimes when it's really raining or snowing hard, opening your vents can make you wetter.


Breathability & Ventilation


Our water resistance metric measured how well each contender keeps its wearer dry from the outside, while our breathability and ventilation metric quantifies how well each one keeps you dry from the inside by allowing sweat to escape.


Breathability Comparisons

We considered two main factors when awarding scores for this metric; the totals are weighted at 25% of our overall ratings as staying dry from the outside doesn't do much if you get soaked from the inside. First and foremost we researched and tested each fabric's breathability to the best of our ability, and this is undoubtedly where waterproof technologies distinguish themselves from each other.

It is possible to sweat-out even a t-shirt if working hard enough. We've overheard far too many people saying that their jacket didn't breathe at all or well enough for their needs  but in many of those cases they were wearing too many layers for the task at hand.
It is possible to sweat-out even a t-shirt if working hard enough. We've overheard far too many people saying that their jacket didn't breathe at all or well enough for their needs, but in many of those cases they were wearing too many layers for the task at hand.

All of these multi-layered fabrics are breathable, meaning they allow water vapor to be wicked through the material to the outside, where it can evaporate. Secondly, we also tested and studied how well the ventilation features performed in general, and more importantly, how open we could have the vents while hiking, trail running, and backpacking in the rain.

We compared each jacket's overall breathability as well as their ability to ventilate  allowing moisture and heat to escape. Here  wet skinning with intermediate sun-breaks and heavy snow flurries up the Southwest Face of Lichtenberg Mountain near Stevens Pass  WA.
We compared each jacket's overall breathability as well as their ability to ventilate, allowing moisture and heat to escape. Here, wet skinning with intermediate sun-breaks and heavy snow flurries up the Southwest Face of Lichtenberg Mountain near Stevens Pass, WA.

A Note on Breathability

Anyone can drench themselves in sweat while wearing too many layers underneath a shell and while working hard or charging uphill. We've overheard too many people saying that their jacket doesn't breathe enough for their needs, but in many of these cases, these folks are simply wearing too many layers. As a result, they are sweating more than necessary and might be needlessly sweating more than the given jacket can handle.

Breathability is an important factor when considering shells. At some point  you can't shed any more layers under your rain shell while hiking with a heavy pack uphill and you're going to sweat no matter the outside temperature. Here  Mark M pushes the breathability to the max on a Marmot PreCip Jacket on a wet approach to Mt. Baker  North Cascades  WA.
Breathability is an important factor when considering shells. At some point, you can't shed any more layers under your rain shell while hiking with a heavy pack uphill and you're going to sweat no matter the outside temperature. Here, Mark M pushes the breathability to the max on a Marmot PreCip Jacket on a wet approach to Mt. Baker, North Cascades, WA.

All of the contenders reviewed here allow moisture to pass through them; however, none of them allow an infinite amount of moisture to pass through them, and all have a limit. Remember that you can even drench a lightweight t-shirt if you're working hard enough. Set yourself up for success and wear the minimum layers you can get away with while using the vents to maximize the air exchange, dump heat, and allow moisture to escape.

Even the most breathable models have a limit on the amount of moisture they are able to pass through. Set yourself up for success by wearing the minimum layers you can get away with. Remember that nearly everyone can drench even a t-shirt if they're working hard enough.
Even the most breathable models have a limit on the amount of moisture they are able to pass through. Set yourself up for success by wearing the minimum layers you can get away with. Remember that nearly everyone can drench even a t-shirt if they're working hard enough.

To the highest degree, a garment's breathability is a direct result of the waterproof fabric itself, as well as the material it has been constructed with or bonded to (all of the jackets in this review are constructed with multiple layers). In our review, the difference in face fabrics (the outer fabric that you can actually see, and no, that isn't the waterproof part) or the interior-most layer of material didn't vary significantly in thickness and thus, didn't affect breathability as much as construction style and the waterproof membrane itself.

Stripping off the warm Rab Xenon X after break time  with the Marmot Essence ready to continue the action. Blue Lake along the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies.
Stripping off the warm Rab Xenon X after break time, with the Marmot Essence ready to continue the action. Blue Lake along the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies.

Air Permeable Fabrics

Air permeable is a new buzzword (and a technical term) that is a feature of many of the new wave of stretchy proprietary waterproof jackets that have recently surged onto the market. We feature a number of the models that are air permeable in our reviews such as the Rab Kinetic Plus, Outdoor Research Interstellar, and Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite.

A number of models in this review  like the Outdoor Research Interstellar  as seen here  are air permeable. This means air can pass through the fabric itself  and on a micro-level  these models aren't technically windproof and don't require as much internal heat build up as more traditional fabrics. With that said  while most of these models breathe quite well.
A number of models in this review, like the Outdoor Research Interstellar, as seen here, are air permeable. This means air can pass through the fabric itself, and on a micro-level, these models aren't technically windproof and don't require as much internal heat build up as more traditional fabrics. With that said, while most of these models breathe quite well.

Air permeable is exactly that; air can pass through the fabric itself. This means that on a micro-level, these models aren't technically windproof. Some people are concerned about this, but for the most part, they feel windproof, and it takes a pretty darn strong breeze to become chilled. However, the common misconception is that because a given model might be air permeable, people assume it must be more breathable than a non-air permeable jakcet (such as Gore-Tex or eVent), but the truth is that this isn't always the case. In fact, several air permeable models aren't able to pass as moisture as high-end non-air permeable fabrics like Gore-Tex or eVent.

Nice features include a microfleece lined zipper and good fitting cuffs. Here tester Ian Nicholson with The North Face Dryzzle's under-the-helmet fitting hood on a very wet day.
Nice features include a microfleece lined zipper and good fitting cuffs. Here tester Ian Nicholson with The North Face Dryzzle's under-the-helmet fitting hood on a very wet day.

The notable advantages of air permeable fabrics are they do tend to be cooler feeling because there is some air always creeping its way in and out. The other, and we feel the most significant difference, between air permeable and more traditional materials, are they don't require a big difference in temperature to breathe well. Most waterproof breathable fabrics require a large temperature difference to work; they need to be warmer on the inside and cooler on the outside, which creates the pressure differential that drives the moisture to move. This isn't a problem most of the time, unless you are sweating and you stop moving for a chunk of time and cool off, or are in a hot, humid climate where there is no temperature differential at all.

A majority of waterproof breathable fabrics require a pressure differential from the inside of the jacket to the outside to start breathing. This is generally accomplished by being warmer on the inside of the jacket than the outside. This isn't often a problem  as the reason you're likely sweating is because you've built up a fair amount heat. However  an air permeable model will continue to dry more effectively after you've cooled off and are standing around. Photo: Testing and comparing the breathability of different layers while making a one-day ascent of Mt. Shuksan  with Phil Wadlow shown on the summit here.
A majority of waterproof breathable fabrics require a pressure differential from the inside of the jacket to the outside to start breathing. This is generally accomplished by being warmer on the inside of the jacket than the outside. This isn't often a problem, as the reason you're likely sweating is because you've built up a fair amount heat. However, an air permeable model will continue to dry more effectively after you've cooled off and are standing around. Photo: Testing and comparing the breathability of different layers while making a one-day ascent of Mt. Shuksan, with Phil Wadlow shown on the summit here.

Overall, the most breathable materials in our review were the Gore-Tex Active and eVent, with a handful of the proprietary air permeable fabrics like the Rab Kinetic Plus's Proflex and Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite's Dry.Q Elite being extremely close feeling. Gore-Tex with PacLite technology as used in the Outdoor Research Foray and Arc'teryx Beta SL was the next most breathable, closely followed by some PU laminates like Marmot's Membrane, Patagonia's H2No used on the Storm Racer and Cloud Ridge, and Black Diamond's BDry.

There are a lot of pretty breathable fabrics out there  but in our side-by-side 10-minute stair master tests (and in real-world use) we found eVent to be the most breathable. Not by lots  but enough to notice. We even found that it was breathable enough that we would get cold faster during breaks.
There are a lot of pretty breathable fabrics out there, but in our side-by-side 10-minute stair master tests (and in real-world use) we found eVent to be the most breathable. Not by lots, but enough to notice. We even found that it was breathable enough that we would get cold faster during breaks.

We didn't find those top tier of fabrics far more breathable, but after side-by-side testing and real-world use, there was enough of a difference that our review team could feel easily recognize the distinction. While those previously listed fabrics weren't radically different from each other, we found a more noticeable difference in breathability than all of the coated membranes featured on the more price-pointed models.

John Yarnall testing and checking the wind resistance of his air permeable Rab Kinetic Plus while camped out at Luna Col in the Northern Picket Range.
John Yarnall testing and checking the wind resistance of his air permeable Rab Kinetic Plus while camped out at Luna Col in the Northern Picket Range.

When considering and comparing different ventilation options, as well as a model's overall breathability, it is important to remember that these two design aspects, while related, are not equal. Between the two, a fabric's breathability is more important than ventilation. The reason is that when it's pissing rain or even post rain on brushy trails, you'll want to batten down the hatches by closing pit-zips and cinching up the hood to keep the water out, even if it means trapping some of your body-made-moisture in. The bottom line is when working or recreating in stormier weather, the more active your endeavors, the more significant the importance of breathability becomes.

As useful as many ventilation features are  a fabric's breathability is more important than ventilation. When it is storming hard and you want to batten down the hatches by closing pit-zips and cinching the hood  a breathable fabric is paramount.
As useful as many ventilation features are, a fabric's breathability is more important than ventilation. When it is storming hard and you want to batten down the hatches by closing pit-zips and cinching the hood, a breathable fabric is paramount.

Ventilation

In lighter drizzle or in the time between cloudbursts when you want to continue wearing your jacket for wind protection or as part of your layering system, ventilation can be a valuable way to move moisture and dump heat. Pit zips, various other zippered ventilation designs and mesh-lined pockets all have their place. The bottom line remains that ventilation, while undoubtedly important, takes a backseat to breathability for practical, real-world use because it is rare that you can open vents all-the-way-up when it's raining hard enough to need to put your rain jacket on.

We love the Foray. If you want a durable rain jacket with class-leading ventilation features  it's a great option.
We love the Foray. If you want a durable rain jacket with class-leading ventilation features, it's a great option.

Side-by-Side Hiking Test

We tested the breathability of these jackets in real-world use while hiking, backpacking, climbing, and ski touring. We researched the actual volume of water each fabric can pass and performed a series of side-by-side stationary bike and 10-minute stair master test (thanks, Vertical World Seattle) to better compare and analyze breathability. We conducted the tests several times, comparing models with lots of ventilation options, keeping vents completely closed, partially open, and completely open.

After extensive testing  we thought the Rhyolite with eVent offered the most breathable fabric  but the Outdoor Research Foray with its huge poncho-style vents was the best at managing moisture and heat. Photo: Slayin' some pow on Tye Peak in an Arc'teryx Beta SL.
After extensive testing, we thought the Rhyolite with eVent offered the most breathable fabric, but the Outdoor Research Foray with its huge poncho-style vents was the best at managing moisture and heat. Photo: Slayin' some pow on Tye Peak in an Arc'teryx Beta SL.

After all of our testing, we determined the REI Drypoint GTX, which is constructed with Gore-Tex Active, breathes incredibly well but offers little in the way of ventilation. The Drypoint is slightly less steamy inside than other high-end performers during high-energy activities and is way more breathable than basic models, as to be expected. We even noticed ourselves becoming colder during breaks when wearing the REI Drypoint GTX. With that said, it's worth noting that the Outdoor Research Interstellar, Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite, and Rab Kinetic Plus were all close during testing of our all-zipped-up breathability comparison. Other stand out performers include the Arc'teryx Beta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, and the Marmot Minimalist, which were just indeed a touch better than the Black Diamond Fineline, Patagonia Storm Racer, and Patagonia Cloud Ridge.

The Patagonia Torrentshell has large pit zips with easy-to-use pull strings on the zippers. Pit zips let the wearer ventilate the jacket for high energy activities. Other models  like the award-winning Marmot Precip  have mesh-lined pockets for additional ventilation. The Torrentshell's hand pockets are lined with waterproof fabric.
The Patagonia Torrentshell has large pit zips with easy-to-use pull strings on the zippers. Pit zips let the wearer ventilate the jacket for high energy activities. Other models, like the award-winning Marmot Precip, have mesh-lined pockets for additional ventilation. The Torrentshell's hand pockets are lined with waterproof fabric.

The Outdoor Research Foray earned an extremely good score in this metric; it has above average breathability but also possesses what is likely the best ventilation options of any model we tested. This TorsoFlo design (as OR calls it) sets the Foray apart from others. TorsoFlo is basically two long zippers (one on each side) that extend from the hem of the jacket to the wearer's triceps (mid-upper arm); this allows the jacket to be opened to a variety of degrees and to share a similar feeling to that of a poncho. Among coated jackets, the Marmot PreCip and The North Face Venture 2 received respectable scores for breathability and offered decent venting options. While their fabrics weren't as breathable as the previously mentioned models, they feature larger than average pit zips and lower hand pockets, which when left over, dumped more heat than you'd think.

Comfort and mobility are extremely important factors that are often under-considered when purchasing a jacket. This is likely because there is less quantifiable metrics to go along with a given jackets mobility. Or some people might simply think "I am just hiking  I'm not climbing." However  whether crawling over a downed tree  setting up a tarp at camp  or climbing the most epic peak of your life  you'll repeatedly utilize the maximum mobility of your jacket. Josh Brewer (in a green Patagonia Torrentshell) and Alex Chew enjoy the fruits of their labor in camp  Jones Island State Park  WA.
Comfort and mobility are extremely important factors that are often under-considered when purchasing a jacket. This is likely because there is less quantifiable metrics to go along with a given jackets mobility. Or some people might simply think "I am just hiking, I'm not climbing." However, whether crawling over a downed tree, setting up a tarp at camp, or climbing the most epic peak of your life, you'll repeatedly utilize the maximum mobility of your jacket. Josh Brewer (in a green Patagonia Torrentshell) and Alex Chew enjoy the fruits of their labor in camp, Jones Island State Park, WA.

Comfort & Mobility


No matter what activities you have planned, you want a jacket that moves comfortably with you and doesn't get in the way of whatever you may be trying to accomplish. In the mobility portion of this metric, our review team compares how well each model moved with its user and how restrictive it may have been both in general and for specific applications. We explicitly compared things such as how well a model's hood maintained peripheral vision and how well it moved with our heads. We also compared each model with our arms facing straight forward, straight up, and straight out to the sides. We also measured how much each jacket pulled back from our wrists and if the hem of the jacket pulled up.

Range of motion is essential whether day hiking  on a moderate scramble  or on a technical route. Looking down on the second crux pitch of the mega-classic Triple Couloirs on Dragontail Peak  Central Cascades  WA. We opted to take the Outdoor Research Foray and Arc'teryx Beta SL for their exceptional freedom of movement for this climb.
Range of motion is essential whether day hiking, on a moderate scramble, or on a technical route. Looking down on the second crux pitch of the mega-classic Triple Couloirs on Dragontail Peak, Central Cascades, WA. We opted to take the Outdoor Research Foray and Arc'teryx Beta SL for their exceptional freedom of movement for this climb.

In the comfort portion of this metric, we took into account the small features that made the jacket more comfortable to wear (and how easy they were to use), as well as a given model's entire feeling. We noted small features, like a microfleece patch at the chin or soft fabric where the hood rests on your brow - both nice touches. We also considered the ease of use of each feature, comparing cinch cords for the hood and how easy to access and adjust they were. Some jackets add larger fabric pull tabs to the zipper rather than small pieces of cord to ease operating with cold fingers or gloves.

We tested the maximum range of motion of each jacket by seeing how well we stayed covered while reaching straight out in front of us  as well as above our heads. This is where stretchy fabrics and specific designs really stood out. Here Graham McDowell tests the range of motion of the Patagonia Torrentshell while climbing the Southwest Rib of South Early Winter Spire near Washington Pass in an early season snowstorm.
We tested the maximum range of motion of each jacket by seeing how well we stayed covered while reaching straight out in front of us, as well as above our heads. This is where stretchy fabrics and specific designs really stood out. Here Graham McDowell tests the range of motion of the Patagonia Torrentshell while climbing the Southwest Rib of South Early Winter Spire near Washington Pass in an early season snowstorm.

The models with the best range of motion were the ultra-stretchy Rab Kinetic Plus and the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite. While there are lots of rain jackets that are part of the new wave of stretchier and stretchier waterproof shells, these two were the stretchiest we have seen. Both offered the best mobility in our review by far, though it is worth mentioning here, they're geared a little differently. The Kinetic has an ultra slim fit aimed towards more technical persists, and the Quasar has room to layer and is a little more of an all-arounder.

Range-of-motion is an advantage a number of the stretchier models posses and for users who intend to use their shell climbing  nordic skiing  or another activity where range-of-motion is crucial then we recommend checking them out. Here Mike Bowman makes an ascent of the Beckey route on Liberty Bell during a light snow storm.
Range-of-motion is an advantage a number of the stretchier models posses and for users who intend to use their shell climbing, nordic skiing, or another activity where range-of-motion is crucial then we recommend checking them out. Here Mike Bowman makes an ascent of the Beckey route on Liberty Bell during a light snow storm.

Next in line and quite close for the best freedom-of-movement and overall mobility were the still-stretchy Black Diamond Fineline, Patagonia Storm Racer, Outdoor Research Interstellar, REI Drypoint GTX, and the not-stretchy but still high performing Arc'teryx Beta SL. All of these models featured mobility-oriented-designs and offered good range-of-motion that was just a small cut below the two models mentioned in the previous paragraph.


The Marmot Minimalist, Outdoor Research Foray, and Outdoor Research Helium II also provided decent mobility and received the next highest rating in this metric. The Marmot Phoenix sported above average movement and The North Face Venture 2, while baggy, didn't limit our mobility much at all.

Hood designs varied considerably between jackets. We appreciate a hood with the ability to keep the water out while still moving with you and allowing you to hang on to a good amount of your peripheral vision. Here  Tester Ian Nicholson tends a backcountry breakfast on a stormy morning.
Hood designs varied considerably between jackets. We appreciate a hood with the ability to keep the water out while still moving with you and allowing you to hang on to a good amount of your peripheral vision. Here, Tester Ian Nicholson tends a backcountry breakfast on a stormy morning.


Hood Design

The effectiveness of each model's hood at keeping our heads dry while not chaffing our chins or cutting off our peripheral vision varied wildly among models. Our favorite hoods were the Arc'teryx Beta SL and the REI Drypoint GPX, while the Outdoor Research Foray, Black Diamond Fineline scored right behind them.

Hood design is one of the most important aspects of a waterproof jacket; it helps seal out the rain and when well-designed lets you forget you are wearing it. However  when poorly designed obstructs your peripheral vision  is uncomfortable and doesn't adjust well to different sized heads and headwear. Photo Graham Zimmerman and Ryan O'Connell rappeling while attempting to climb a new route in the Kitchatna's AK.
Hood design is one of the most important aspects of a waterproof jacket; it helps seal out the rain and when well-designed lets you forget you are wearing it. However, when poorly designed obstructs your peripheral vision, is uncomfortable and doesn't adjust well to different sized heads and headwear. Photo Graham Zimmerman and Ryan O'Connell rappeling while attempting to climb a new route in the Kitchatna's AK.

Also in this group and of note was the Rab Kinetic Plus which featured an internal elastic band that is designed to ride over the wearer's forehead, acting as an internal gasket to the main hood. As crazy as this sounds, and trust us, most of our review team was quite skeptical, it turned out to be super comfortable and effective, doing a top-notch job of maintaining peripheral vision. From beanies to baseball caps, each one of these jackets featured hoods that cinched down over a range of headwear, maximizing the hood's ability to turn with its users head instead of turning into it.

Graham Zimmerman wearing the second lightest and one of the most compressible jackets in our review  the Outdoor Research Helium II.
Graham Zimmerman wearing the second lightest and one of the most compressible jackets in our review, the Outdoor Research Helium II.

Weight


For some users, light is right, and weight is everything. We value lightweight clothing and gear, but not at the expense of the functionality of a given piece of equipment for its required tasks. If you're thru-hiking 2,000 miles, climbing technical terrain, or riding your bicycle from coast to coast, weight may be your primary concern. Around town, weight is less significant and keeping your hands cozy may take priority. For backpacking and mountaineering, weight is important but so is staying comfortable for a week with rain forecasted every day.


Many jacket users have several priorities above weight, including breathability, comfort, and the right combination of features. Let weight be the final deciding factor if you're torn between two products that meet your needs.

A small break in the storm as the sun pops out on day 6 of the Isolation Traverse. Snow Field Peak and the Neve Glacier in the background and an REI Rhyolite jacket in the foreground. On extended trips like this  weight and comprehensibility balanced with durability become greater considerations.
A small break in the storm as the sun pops out on day 6 of the Isolation Traverse. Snow Field Peak and the Neve Glacier in the background and an REI Rhyolite jacket in the foreground. On extended trips like this, weight and comprehensibility balanced with durability become greater considerations.

The Patagonia Storm Racer is the lightest model tested, weighing in at an impressive six ounces. That's half the weight (or even less) of most of the jackets reviewed. If weight is your primary concern, this contender is pretty hard to beat and is one of the lightest waterproof breathable models currently available. While the Storm Racer isn't feature-rich, it has many of the features that the majority of people find valuable, such as above-average mobility, a well-designed hood, and a tiny stuff pocket with a clip-in loop.

A very close contender for this title of the lightest model tested was the Outdoor Research Helium II. At 6.5 ounces, its only half an ounce heavier, has nearly all of the same features, equal storm worthiness and is around $80 less expensive. Its only real drawback is that the Storm Racer offers more breathability, mostly due to its stretchy fabric and marginally better overall mobility.

For many users  weight is possibly the single most important attribute of a rain shell because they will be carrying it more than 90% of the time. Often times  it's a just in case layer  brought along in the event of an afternoon thunderstorm  strong winds  or a drizzle that is not in the forecast. Photo: Phil Wadlow on the Upper Curtis Glacier.
For many users, weight is possibly the single most important attribute of a rain shell because they will be carrying it more than 90% of the time. Often times, it's a just in case layer, brought along in the event of an afternoon thunderstorm, strong winds, or a drizzle that is not in the forecast. Photo: Phil Wadlow on the Upper Curtis Glacier.

The next lightest contenders tested were the Black Diamond Fineline (eight ounces), which for being only 1.5 ounces heavier, was built with a stretchier material and provided better breathability. There are a number of models in the 10-11 ounce range, such as the REI Drypoint GPX (10 ounces), which was the lightest of Gore-Tex pieces, while our Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Beta SL weighed in at 11 ounces, though even that was slightly lighter than average.

Jackets stuffed and ready to travel. The jackets we evaluated that do not stuff into one of their pockets can be rolled into their hood as shown here. L-R top row: Helium and Minimus  Essence  Resolve  Minimalist. Bottom row: Torrentshell  Venture  PreCip  Watertight.
Jackets stuffed and ready to travel. The jackets we evaluated that do not stuff into one of their pockets can be rolled into their hood as shown here. L-R top row: Helium and Minimus, Essence, Resolve, Minimalist. Bottom row: Torrentshell, Venture, PreCip, Watertight.

Packed Size


Weather changes quickly. At some point, we've all been caught in a storm, getting soaked when we left our jacket at the then-sunny trailhead. These just-in-case packing scenarios are when having a super light, and compact rain shell is useful. Grab it from the car, throw it in your pack, and forget it until you need it. Seven of these jackets stuff into one of their own pockets and others can be rolled and stuffed into their hoods. Our rating for packed size considers not only the compressed size, but the ease of using the integrated stuff pocket.


Some of these jackets compress quite small, but it requires wrestling to get them stowed; others fit comfortably into their stuff pocket. A clip-in loop (for use after the jacket has been stuffed) is a nice feature that many climbers or hikers will appreciate and use at some point; check the individual reviews for this detail, as well as a photo of each beside a 1-liter Nalgene bottle. As for weight, the Patagonia Storm Racer and the Outdoor Research Helium II were the most compact jackets, with the Black Diamond Fineline, Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite REI Drypoint and the Patagonia Torrentshell all coming in at very close seconds as the next most compressible. The Outdoor Research Interstellar was decent, but its stuff sack pocket did a poor job of minimizing its volume, though this doesn't matter much if you just squeeze it into your pack. Among the price-pointed models, the Marmot Precip offered the most compact size.

Peter Webb puts his Arc'teryx Beta SL jacket to the test during some wetter than ideal conditions while alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies.
Peter Webb puts his Arc'teryx Beta SL jacket to the test during some wetter than ideal conditions while alpine climbing in the Canadian Rockies.

Features


The products in our review range from bare-bones designs to fully featured models. For some adventures, super light is right, but more often, a few pockets and pit zips contribute enough utility for the extra 2-4 ounces not to matter. If you are wearing your jacket around town, room in the pockets for a pair of gloves and a warm hat, plus phone and keys is always nice. Some folks like to use a rain hat; a hood that rolls away and stows can be appreciated.

The Helium II is super light and very compact  making it an excellent jacket to carry along on multi-pitch rock climbs. The Marmot Essence is a far more breathable ultralight jacket for high energy use  but the Helium blocks the wind much better. Brandon Lampley getting ready for the afternoon showers at Lumpy Ridge near Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Helium II is super light and very compact, making it an excellent jacket to carry along on multi-pitch rock climbs. The Marmot Essence is a far more breathable ultralight jacket for high energy use, but the Helium blocks the wind much better. Brandon Lampley getting ready for the afternoon showers at Lumpy Ridge near Rocky Mountain National Park.

After detailing the jacket's performance in each metric, we provide an additional rundown of the jacket's features, from the hood all the way down to the waist hem, which can be found in the product's individual review. If you want to know exactly where the hem cord locks are, we'll let you know!

Pockets

Having a few pockets on your jacket is useful. Besides the use of storing small items and having a convenient place to keep your hands warm, their location can affect the comfort of the jacket. Having low hand warmer pockets are great for around town but can be a nuisance while wearing a harness or heavy pack.

We love when the pockets are slightly elevated like the ones shown here on the Arc'teryx Beta SL. Not only do they still provide a nice place to put your hands  but we can we access them while wearing a backpacking hip-belt or harness without a zipper digging into our hips.
We love when the pockets are slightly elevated like the ones shown here on the Arc'teryx Beta SL. Not only do they still provide a nice place to put your hands, but we can we access them while wearing a backpacking hip-belt or harness without a zipper digging into our hips.

When out on adventures that require wearing a pack, when a majority of the jacket's pocket is under a weighted hip-belt, whether out for the day or an extended trip, the pocket's zipper can dig into your hips, making your rainy-day outing even more miserable.

All of our testers appreciated these slightly elevated and function-oriented pockets such as the ones seen here on the Rab Kinetic Plus.
All of our testers appreciated these slightly elevated and function-oriented pockets such as the ones seen here on the Rab Kinetic Plus.

We love pockets that are higher and out of the way of a pack's hip-belt or a harness, so we can still access items and, more importantly, so the zipper doesn't cause us pain under heavy loads. For less technical applications, low pockets are slightly more helpful and more comfortable for keeping your hands warm.

These pocket designs are popular with the dog walker and casual crowd  but are often impractical while hiking  as they are nearly inaccessible while wearing a pack or harness. Shown here is the Interstellar  with so-so pockets.
These pocket designs are popular with the dog walker and casual crowd, but are often impractical while hiking, as they are nearly inaccessible while wearing a pack or harness. Shown here is the Interstellar, with so-so pockets.

Durability


A rain jacket needs to stand up to the demands you place on it. We know everyone would like their rain jacket to last an eternity, but in reality, many users might be better off going with a lighter weight model that they will use infrequently and simply carry around a good chunk of the time. The chart below shows each jacket's durability score in our review.

A rain jacket needs to stand up to the demands of your activities - if it becomes ripped or shredded  no amount of features or special designs will keep you dry. Chris Simrell crossing the upper Elwah River in the Olympic Mountains  WA. This Patagonia Torrentshell jacket withstood quite a bit of bushwhacking use and abuse  particularly considering its weight and price.
A rain jacket needs to stand up to the demands of your activities - if it becomes ripped or shredded, no amount of features or special designs will keep you dry. Chris Simrell crossing the upper Elwah River in the Olympic Mountains, WA. This Patagonia Torrentshell jacket withstood quite a bit of bushwhacking use and abuse, particularly considering its weight and price.

The face fabric of most of these jackets is nylon or polyester. For the most part, the lighter the face fabric is, the easier it tears. Most of the jackets tested use between a 30-50 Denier face fabric with the 50D shells being more robust than the 30Ds. All but the Columbia Watertight II feature ripstop material. The ripstop weave doubles up on the thread at intervals, providing a grid of strong fibers to stop tears from growing once a rip has occurred.


Other models use a polyester exterior, which is known to be stretchier and more durable than nylon. If you plan to use your jacket off trail or while bushwhacking, choose a model with ripstop face fabric, and do consider a polyester model. Lastly, jackets with fewer seams in the shoulders hold up better if you plan to carry a pack on a regular basis.

Nothing like starting a trip on a very  very rainy day in Washington's North Cascades to learn a lot about different models and how they compare to one another.
Nothing like starting a trip on a very, very rainy day in Washington's North Cascades to learn a lot about different models and how they compare to one another.

The Marmot Minimalist and the Outdoor Research Foray both pair 50D polyester ripstop face fabrics and with Gore-Tex Paclite, and the Marmot Phoenix, all earned the highest durability scores. The Foray and Minimalist are bomber jackets and will handle anything you could hope a backpacking oriented rain jacket could take. Other jackets, such as the Patagonia Torrentshell pulled in a 7 out of 10 and was one of the more robust models below $150.

Dan Whitmore testing a North Face Venture jacket during an extremely wet trip to Washington's North Cascades National Park. The Venture  with its 50D external face fabric  was on the tougher end of jackets we tested.
Dan Whitmore testing a North Face Venture jacket during an extremely wet trip to Washington's North Cascades National Park. The Venture, with its 50D external face fabric, was on the tougher end of jackets we tested.

We mostly focused on each jacket's face fabric and construction when judging durability longevity and tear-resistance. While some DWR treatments are longer lasting than others, all need maintenance and reapplication to match the lifespan of the jacket. We reflected on each jacket's DWR longevity in their durability and water resistance scores.

We hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your selection  until next time...
We hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your selection, until next time...

Conclusion


At first glance, figuring out which rain jacket is right for you is more complicated than it might seem. While keeping you dry is the goal, features like ventilation can make a big difference in day to day use. We hope that our review and test results have helped you narrow down to one or two jackets that fit your situation. If you are still not sure, and even if you are, consider having a look at our buying advice article.


Ian Nicholson