Reviews You Can Rely On

The 3 Best Rain Pants of 2024

We tested rain pants from Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Columbia, and more to find the best pairs for weathering the storm
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Best Rain Pants Review
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell
Wednesday April 24, 2024

Our rainy day experts have been testing pants for the last 8 years with over 25 different models exposed to rain and sleet. This review covers 9 top pairs, which we've put head to head in a series of tests. We take the time to test each product in the field while hiking, biking, and exploring through all sorts of rain. Light, heavy, big drops, small drops — our expert testers rate ventilation, comfort, value, and several other key metrics. After exploring all the rainy places from Patagonia to the USA and stops in between, we offer our award winners and recommendations, unbiased and designed to help you in your quest for the best rain pant.

Our women's testing team performed in-depth testing on top-rated women's rain pants. While most models come in men's and women's versions, we find they sometimes perform differently, so we do the tests to find out. Check out our picks for the best rain jackets and the best umbrellas, too.

Editor's Note: Our rain pants review was updated on April 24, 2024, to include more details on our testing process.

Related: Best Rain Pants for Women

Top 9 Rain Pants - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 9
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Awards   Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $500 List
$350.00 at Amazon
$87.50 at Backcountry$80.98 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$115.50 at Amazon$97.46 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score
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81
Star Rating
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Pros Rugged, very weather-ready, excellent featuresMega stretchy fabric, best breathability in the reviewLightweight, stormworthy, quiet fabric, good breathability, 3/4 length side zips, effective elastic cuffsDurable, very stormworthy, less clammy feeling than other models, good breathability, Gore-TexUltralight, super compact, good mobility, extremely comfortable elastic waistband, stows nicely in a reversible pocket
Cons Heavy, expensive, large and bulky cuffsNot quite as abrasion resistant as other models, so-so weather-resistanceNo zip fly, one marginally useful pocketAnkle length zips, no venting options, no waist tightening/cinching options, no belt loopsLower durability, feels clammy, hard to pull on over most boots
Bottom Line For certain users, the rugged construction and bullet-proof weather protection might be just what you needA fantastic all-around pant with rad stretchy fabric that offers exceptional freedom of movement and the best breathabilityHighly protective pants that are light and compact for tucking away in your backpackA basic, few-frills Gore-Tex pant that offers fantastic storm protection and breathabilityHard to beat for any trip where weight and packed space are at a premium
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Mountain Hardwear S... Outdoor Research Fo... Marmot Minimalist Pant Outdoor Research He...
Water Resistance (30%)
10.0
7.5
9.0
9.0
7.0
Breathability (25%) Sort Icon
9.0
8.5
8.0
8.0
7.5
Comfort and Mobility (20%)
6.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.5
Weight (15%)
3.0
8.5
7.6
7.1
10.0
Durability (10%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Mountain Hardwear S... Outdoor Research Fo... Marmot Minimalist Pant Outdoor Research He...
Measured Weight 18.3 oz 8.68oz 10.40oz 11 oz 5.86oz
Waterproof Fabric Material Gore-Tex Pro 2.5L Dry.Q Stretch Ripstop 2L Gore-Tex with PacLite Technology 2.5L Gore-Tex with PacLite Technology 2.5L Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse
Face Fabric and Layer Construction N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro 100% recycled polyester 100% polyester 50D 100% polyester 30D 100% nylon ripstop
Pockets 1 1 1 2 0
Side Zips Length Upper thigh vents and 1/4 ankle zips 3/4 length 3/4 length 1/4 length ankle zips 1/4 length ankle zips
Put On Over Hiking or Mountaineering Boots Yes Yes Yes Hiking Boots, but not all Mtn Boots No
Stows Into Pocket No Yes Yes No Yes
Waistband Closure Zip fly with integrated belt Nylon Belt + Elastic Band Elastic + shock cord 1/2 Elastic Elastic with drawcord
Spec #9
Spec #10


The Best Rain Pants for 2024


Best Overall Rain Pant


Outdoor Research Foray Pants


86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 9.0
  • Breathability 8.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 10.0
  • Weight 7.6
  • Durability 8.0
Weight: 10.2 oz | Pockets: 1
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent water resistance
Exceptionally comfortable
Good breathability
Quiet fabric
3/4 length side zips
Effective elastic cuffs
REASONS TO AVOID
No zip fly
Only one marginally useful pocket
Heavier than other options

The Outdoor Research Foray Pants are a compact, light protection layer made with excellent materials and careful attention to detail. The fabric is soft and stretchy, and the cut is close and athletic; the pants weigh just 10.2 ounces and have a packed size similar to a one-liter water bottle. In even the wettest and coldest of Adirondacks hikes, they kept us dry and comfortable. This is a rare combination. Packable and fully functional don't usually go together in rain pants, and other full-protection and readily breathable products are typically much heavier. Light products in this category are usually inexpensive and compromise performance by using lower-quality materials.

Keep in mind, the OR Foray aren't the lightest pants we tested. Depending on your needs, rain pants serve as that “just-in-case” tool you leave at the bottom of your pack and forget about. Other models we reviewed, such as the OR Helium, are almost half the weight and half the packed size of this pair — but they offer nearly half the amount of protection. Considering everything, the OR Foray is an excellent option for those who want rain pants that strike a rare balance between high-performance water resistance and packed weight/size.

Read more: Outdoor Research Foray Pants review

rain pants - the or foray&#039;s cut offers excellent movement but isn&#039;t so baggy that...
The OR Foray's cut offers excellent movement but isn't so baggy that it'll catch on boots, shoes, trekking poles, or crampons.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

Best Bang for the Buck


Columbia Rebel Roamer


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 8.0
  • Breathability 6.0
  • Comfort and Mobility 8.0
  • Weight 6.3
  • Durability 8.0
Weight: 12.5 oz | Pockets: 0
REASONS TO BUY
Low price
Great durability
Excellent weather-resistance
Comfortable
Versatile
REASONS TO AVOID
Not very breathable
No pockets
Lacks features
Must remove hiking boots to put them on

The Columbia Rebel Roamers are the best, most protective rain pants you can buy for the price. These are durable pants with great weather resistance that we found comparable to some of the higher-end options. They're comfortable and also versatile — we used them for skiing, too. If you're on a budget or just don't want to spend a ton of money on rain pants that you might not use very often, then these versatile bad boys blow the low-priced competition out of the water. You can certainly buy nicer rain pants, but with all things considered regarding weight, compressed size, and weather resistance, these pants are a fantastic value.

Unfortunately, the Rebel Roamer is not super breathable. These pants lack ventilation options and do not have a zipper at the bottom to let you easily slip them on over your footwear. Therefore, you'll probably have to take your shoes off to put these on unless you're wearing low-profile trail runners or tennis shoes. Also, these rain pants lack additional features like pockets (nope, not a single one). Despite these minimal shortcomings, the Rebel Roamer is a great budget-friendly option and one we heartily recommend. If you're searching for premium performance and don't mind paying for it, check out the OR Foray.

Read more: Columbia Rebel Roamer review

rain pants - we love the rebel roamer for its great value and find it to be a...
We love the Rebel Roamer for its great value and find it to be a great affordable option for everything from backpacking to snowshoeing and even downhill skiing.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Best Lightweight Rain Pant


Outdoor Research Helium Pant


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Water Resistance 7.0
  • Breathability 7.5
  • Comfort and Mobility 9.5
  • Weight 10.0
  • Durability 7.0
Weight: 5.86 oz | Pockets: 1
REASONS TO BUY
Lightest, the most compact in the review (5.86 oz)
Great mobility
Elastic waistband is comfortable and functional
REASONS TO AVOID
Less durable than most
Hard to pull on over boots

The Outdoor Research Heliums are the best option for folks who put a premium on every extra ounce and cubic inch of space in their pack. This award is also for folks who end up carrying a just-in-case pair on day hikes, bike trips, cross-country ski days, and just about any outdoor activity in which the weather can take a blustery or wet turn. We were very impressed with this pair's water resistance relative to its packed size and weight and recommend the Helium as an excellent option for many climates across the Globe.

The Helium pants offer reduced durability and fewer features compared to other contenders in our lineup. The side zips are only 1/4 length, and the durability testing we performed worked through the first layer of the Pertex 2.5-layer fabric. We recommend the Helium for those seeking the lightest/smallest rain pants available and plan on carrying them more than wearing them. If you're shopping on a tight budget and durability is a key factor in decision-making, we recommend the Columbia Rebel Roamer.

Read more: Outdoor Research Helium Pants review

rain pants - the or helium wasn&#039;t the most water resistant option but its weight...
The OR Helium wasn't the most water resistant option but its weight and packability blew the testing crew away.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
86
Outdoor Research Foray Pants
Best Overall Rain Pant
$180
Editors' Choice Award
85
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
$175
85
Marmot Minimalist Pant
$185
81
Outdoor Research Helium Pant
Best Lightweight Rain Pant
$130
Top Pick Award
79
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant
$500
74
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pant
$129
72
Columbia Rebel Roamer
Best Bang for the Buck
$60
Best Buy Award
70
Marmot PreCip Eco Pant
$80
69
Marmot PreCip Eco Full-Zip
$100

rain pants - drying out after several days of testing and side-by-side...
Drying out after several days of testing and side-by-side comparisons in the field. A large fall storm rolled through and we “took advantage” of the conditions on an extended backpacking trip.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

How We Test Rain Pants


After spending several hours researching different products and making a selection for this review, we purchased each product (at retail) to test each product in hand. Our experts have spent hundreds of hours testing the best models on the market in the rainy Pacific Northwest. We've hiked, skied, backpacked, and climbed in remote terrain with wind and rain pouring down on us. These experiences help us amass a wealth of data on each pair of rain pants to objectively compare each product. For instance, we determined how well each one kept us dry, climbed over logs to assess mobility, and paid attention to breathability. In addition, we keep tabs on the market, making sure we have the low down on the best products and the latest technology, testing them as they become available.

We base our rain pants testing on five performance metrics:
  • Water Resistance (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Breathability (25% weighting)
  • Comfort and Mobility (20% weighting)
  • Weight (15% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Our expert panel consists of gear testers Jediah Porter, Ian Nicholson, and Zach Joseph Lovell; all three of them are international certified IFMGA/American Mountain Guides. Jed is based in the Eastern Sierra and leads adventures that range from rock climbing to ski mountaineering. Ian is based in the Pacific Northwest, where wet weather is a regular occurrence. Zach lives, works, and plays in a variety of climates, from Colorado to Alaska to Europe, and spends plenty of time in the rain and snow. When they aren't guiding, Jed, Ian, and Zach spend most of their time pursuing their own outdoor objectives. This team knows the value of having the right gear and is no stranger to unpredictable and inclement weather.

rain pants - in the name of testing, our team stresses products in many mountain...
In the name of testing, our team stresses products in many mountain ranges across the Globe from the North Cascades (pictured here) to Europe and beyond.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

Analysis and Test Results


Great rain pants will keep you dry and comfortable when the weather gets wet and soggy. The best rain pants offer ventilation to keep you from overheating while you're on the move. You also want a pant that'll pack away when not in use.

This review focuses on a broad range of designs and features. The ones we select offer some level of packability, breathability, and water resistance. After testing each pair while backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering, we evaluate each comparatively using key metrics. This is where our award winners and recommendations spawn from. Read on to learn about the technical comparisons of each product out there.


Value


For a lot of outdoorsy people, value is everything. For those who are looking for top-tier performance but don't mind spending a few extra bucks, the OR Foray pants are the way to go. If you're the type of person who counts every ounce, the OR Helium is worth every penny. If you're looking for a pair of rain pants for those “just-in-case” situations but don't want to make a huge investment, the Columbia Rebel Roamer is totally sufficient but costs a fraction of what the top-scoring models do.

Water Resistance


A rain pant's primary purpose is to keep its user dry in the rain, whether hiking, backpacking, watching a sporting event, or out walking the dog. As a result, this was the most heavily weighted category at 25 percent. Manufacturers use many different waterproof fabrics and construction methods with different design characteristics and, thus, different performance levels depending on the application. While each manufacturer conducts a significant amount of testing to quantify exactly how waterproof each fabric is, it's important to understand that all of the pants in this review use waterproof fabric. How well they keep us dry is more a matter of design.


The stormy environments included in our testing spanned from exceptionally wet spring ski mountaineering on Washington's Ptarmigan Traverse as well as the volcanos above Chile's temperate rain forests. Testing also included snowshoeing around Lake Tahoe and backpacking in Olympic National Park, with a handful of classic mountaineering adventures across the Western US thrown in for good measure.

rain pants - the helium held up reasonably well to our water resistance tests...
The Helium held up reasonably well to our water resistance tests given its incredible packability and weight.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

All the pants we tested have the seams taped after sewing, offering as watertight of a package as possible. What differentiates the performance when a light sprinkle turns to a downpour mostly comes down to each model's overall design, including pocket closures, how well various vents stayed closed, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the longevity of the outer materials DWR.

rain pants - the foray&#039;s gore-tex paclite fabric offered some of the best water...
The Foray's Gore-Tex Paclite fabric offered some of the best water resistance we tested.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

The differences between the various materials are more noticeable when it comes to breathability and overall longevity. However, from a strictly water-resistant standpoint, the fact that one fabric is waterproof to 30 PSI and another to 50 PSI doesn't make a functional difference to the wearer despite some manufacturers' hype.

rain pants - after each test we immediately measured the surface area of the wet...
After each test we immediately measured the surface area of the wet spots on the softshell pants we wore underneath the rain pants. This allowed us to objectively measure each option's water resistance.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

Rain, sleet, or snow will not penetrate the fabrics that make up these pants. However, in a downpour, running water could potentially seep in through a pocket, leak in via a side pocket that is not completely closed, or work its way down to where the waistband meets your body. To test water resistance, we performed two 20-minute garden hose tests. The first test was a high-pressure water spray aimed directly at the pants. The second test was a lower-pressure water spray angled to come over the top of our testers to simulate a slow and steady rainfall. For each test, we used the same rain jacket and ensured both the jacket and the pants were dry before testing.

rain pants - zippers are commonly the area where water gets in the easiest, but...
Zippers are commonly the area where water gets in the easiest, but not for the OR Foray.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

We also tested how each contender kept us dry in the field, using them for several months, enduring many wet fall overnight backpacking trips, day hikes, and mountaineering excursions in the Pacific Northwest. After extensive testing, we found that the Marmot Minimalists, OR Forays, and Arc'teryx Beta AR Pants kept us the driest in both real-world and side-by-side testing.

Another vital factor to consider is the longevity of the pant's water resistance and its durable water repellent (DWR) treatment. This treatment is factory-applied to the fabric's exterior and makes water bead and shed rain and snow. Even though nylon and polyester are both quite water-repellant to begin with, if they aren't treated with a DWR (or once their DWR has worn off), they will absorb moisture. The result is the exterior of the pants becomes covered with a thin but continuous film of water, which results in a heavier pant and reduced breathability. The DWR used on the Marmot PreCip Eco Full-Zips and Marmot Minimalist Pants stood out above the rest. All the models we tested beaded water well when we first bought them; however, similar to any piece of rain gear, they should be retreated to renew DWR when needed.

Comfort and Mobility


Whether hiking, climbing, Nordic skiing, riding your bike, or just crawling over a downed log, comfort and mobility were defined by how much the pant's design and fabric might limit the user's range of motion and ability to engage in particular activities. The super-stretchy Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants have the best overall mobility and are a cut above the rest. We mean it when we say this fabric is stretchy, to a level we haven't seen before.


The Marmot Minimalists and Outdoor Research Forays offer a solid design with good articulation, and we could easily clamber over downed logs blocking the trail when testing. Among the more price-pointed options, the Columbia Rebel Roamers and Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Pants offered good mobility and comfort.

rain pants - we measured our splits length as well as forward lunge in comfy...
We measured our splits length as well as forward lunge in comfy joggers to establish a baseline for movement. We then performed the same stretches in each rain pant and compared measurements to baseline.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

Breathability


Our water resistance category compared how well each pair kept their user dry from the outside, while the breathability and ventilation metric quantifies how well each competitor keeps their user dry from the inside. We considered two main factors when awarding scores for this metric.


First, we considered the ability of each pair's fabric to breathe; this is where the different waterproof technologies distinguished themselves, as the differences between models were quite dramatic in some cases. These multi-layered fabrics allowed water vapor to pass through the material, from the inside to the outside, where it could subsequently evaporate. We also studied how well every model's features allowed for ventilation and moving moisture directly.

rain pants - 3/4 length zippers that are on pants such as the or foray allow...
3/4 length zippers that are on pants such as the OR Foray allow users to easily vent pants as well as slip them on without taking off boots.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

While breathability and ventilation are essential in keeping their wearer dry, these two factors do not play an equal role. For example, if it's raining hard or you're simply walking up a wet, brushy, or overgrown trail, having your side zippers open isn't an option. In fact, opening your side zips in anything more than a light drizzle is a quick way to soak your legs (and likely your boots, too). Brrrr. Due to this unavoidable problem, we weighted breathability significantly higher than a pant's ability to ventilate.

rain pants - there was a pretty big difference in breathability among models we...
There was a pretty big difference in breathability among models we tested. We found that Gore-Tex models often scored the highest in our breathability tests.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Side-By-Side Hiking Test


We tested the breathability of all of these pants on wet hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering trips, as well as in a handful of more systematic tests, such as during a 10-minute stair master test at the Seattle Vertical World.

Ventilation


As far as keeping the user dry, ventilation makes less of a difference in real-world applications when compared to breathability. Why? It can be challenging to utilize ventilation if it's raining. Ventilation can be worthwhile after it has stopped raining before you remove your rain gear. Most shell pant manufacturers design pants with full and 3/4 length side zippers to make them easier to put on and take off without removing your shoes.

In the end, the most breathable pair in our review is the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonics; the Ozonic are constructed with Dry.Q Elite fabric. Unlike Gore-Tex, Dry.Q Elite is air permeable and doesn't require the wearer to build up heat in exchange for breathability. This means they keep breathing even if once you have stopped working hard, something that products using Gore-Tex and other ePTFE fabrics can't do nearly as well.

rain pants - the mountain hardware stretch ozonic almost felt like a softshell...
The Mountain Hardware Stretch Ozonic almost felt like a softshell pant rather than a pair of rain pants in terms of feel and breathability.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

The next most breathable models are Outdoor Research Forays and the Marmot Minimalists. These pants offer similar designs while using Gore-Tex PacLite. If we are exerting effort and the outside air temperature is cold, these fabrics could breathe equally as well as the Stretch Ozonics. However, if we weren't working as hard or it's warmer out, the Stretch Ozonic offers superior breathability.

The last model worth noting on the more price-pointed end of the spectrum is the Marmot PreCip models (1/4 zip and full-zip iterations). While the Marmot PreCip pants are not quite as breathable as the previously mentioned models, their breathability is impressive at the price point they hit.

A Note on Breathability
Remember that you can get hot and sweaty while hiking uphill when you're only wearing a base layer. We've overheard far too many people complaining that their shell pants didn't breathe at all or not enough for their needs. Every competitor in this review allows moisture to pass through them. However, they might not always be capable of letting as much moisture pass through as you'd like at any given moment, primarily if you're working hard while potentially wearing too many layers or while operating at a high exertion rate in warmer temperatures. Consider that if there is a point when your lightweight t-shirt can't pass moisture quickly enough to stay completely dry, know the same is likely true for the pants you're wearing. Wear the minimum you can get away with for the conditions.

Weight


Most people carry their rain pants in their packs more often than they end up wearing them, and thus, we weighted weight higher in our scoring metric than other pieces of technical outerwear we've tested. Even among the selected models, which are all designed to be lighter, there was a significant difference in weight.

rain pants - the or helium pants were, by far, the lightest option tested and...
The OR Helium pants were, by far, the lightest option tested and yes- we subtracted the .06 Oz for the strap we used to keep the pants on the scale.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

We measured the mass of all models on our scale. The Outdoor Research Heliums came in under six ounces, which was nearly half the weight of many of the pants on our list. While the Helium lacks durability and features, it makes for an excellent “just in case” rain pant. If weight is your primary consideration, the Heliums are hard to pass up.


The Marmot PreCip Ecos weigh an impressive 8.5 oz. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonics and Outdoor Research Forays were other notably lightweight options, around 10 oz.

Durability


Many people appreciate having the ability to purchase a high-quality product that will be as light as possible.


Every time you kneel or sit while traveling in the backcountry, there is a chance of tearing or puncturing your pants. There is also more overall wear. Your rain pants will walk down overgrown trails, play near crampons, and crawl over logs. While most people don't end up wearing their rain pants as frequently as their rain jacket, they are exposed to more threats.

rain pants - we tested each product&#039;s durability with a weighted drag test for 20...
We tested each product's durability with a weighted drag test for 20 feet on concrete. We also took notes on each pant's durability while using them on hikes, climbs and backpacking trips.
Credit: Zach Joseph Lovell

The most robust pants we tested were the Marmot Minimalists, Arc'teryx Beta ARs, and Patagonia Torrentshell 3Ls. These competitors exceeded our expectations for durability. Each competitor withstood at least one week-long mountaineering traverse, which involved a fair amount of bushwhacking. The least durable include the Outdoor Research Heliums and the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonics, which, not surprisingly, also happen to be some of the lightest and most packable options. It is worth noting that the Helium and the Ozonic Pants are durable enough for most hiking and backpacking trips — as long as there is only minimal bushwhacking and you take care crawling over downed trees and the like.

rain pants - hopefully you&#039;ve found this review helpful in choosing the best...
Hopefully you've found this review helpful in choosing the best option so you can enjoy yourself on your next rainy (or windy, or snowy) adventure.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


Using rain pants can help you make the most out of even the stormiest of days. We hope our review delivers the advice you need to help you make the best selection for your next trip, outing, or ambitious goals down the line. We know that making a good choice means that the times you end up using rain pants on an adventure will be more comfortable and hopefully near every bit as enjoyable as when it's bright and sunny!

Zach Lovell, Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson