Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Rain Jackets

By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor
Friday September 17, 2021
We hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your...
We hope you enjoyed the review and that it helped you make your selection, until next time...
Photo: Graham Zimmerman

Where We Test


Testing rain jackets requires a healthy dose of rain, snow, and drizzle, and the Pacific Northwest gave us plenty for the past 10 years. We took these models up glaciated peaks, on rainforest hikes, on ski tours and fall hikes, and backpacking trips in the sleet and rain. We also wore them around town, biking and walking through November Farmers Markets. We've been testing these jackets for many years and our objective approach to testing is what sets us apart from any other review you'll find online.

Testing Metrics


Nine of the top rain jackets, ready for our testing. There are three...
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.
Photo: Brandon Lampley

Water Resistance


Each jacket has seen its fair share of water, as our testing primarily takes place in the rainy Pacific Northwest. For each jacket, we note features that add water resistance, like a stand-out hood or protected zippers. If we can't find a good rainstorm, we spray each jacket down with water — with us inside!

Garden hose to the face and wrists? Check. The Foray can handle it...
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.
Photo: Amanda Fenn

Breathability & Venting


To see how well each breathes and vents, we hike, ski, and backpack in cool conditions in each. We also note features that allow off-loading of heat such as pit zips.

Comfort & Mobility


Which feels soft and pliable? Which moves with the body? To test this, we take each jacket on adventures that require full-body use, like climbing, hiking, skiing, and more. Those with thoughtful features and softer, more flexible fabrics typically do better here.

Weight


A great shell should feel light and airy. For this metric, we simply measured each on a scale.

Durability


After our period of use (ranging from three months to years), we note and continually update our findings on the relative durability of the fabrics. We search for wear and tear, fly aways, and other issues that might present and become an issue down the road.

Packed Size


We stuff, pull, and push to see how small these jackets can get. We also note if any model comes with a stowable stuff sack. Those that stuff better, score higher in this metric.

Tester Ian Nicholson out for a fall hiking in the Pacific Northwest
Tester Ian Nicholson out for a fall hiking in the Pacific Northwest
Photo: Ian Nicholson