Seeking to stay dry without spending too much money? We researched dozens of top-selling coats and chose the nine best women's rain jackets to put to the test. We've put the most impressive contenders in the field to the test over the past five years, this time challenging affordably priced competitors to measure up in all the same tests. We pushed them under a full hose spray and holding puddles of water to see where their limits are. From hiking or biking to running or running errands, we've found the best high-value jackets with low price tags to keep you dry and comfortable.Looking for higher-performing models? See our Best Women's Rain Jackets review. We've also gone puddle splashing in the best women's rain boots to find the top-performing pairs.
Our Top Picks
For affordable rain gear, you can expect to make a few sacrifices in protection to save extra cash. For the fewest sacrifices and a very well-worth-it price, we love the Marmot PreCip Eco. This coat kept us pleasantly dry, from regular summer rainstorms to standing under a high-pressure hose and letting water sit pooled for extended periods. It's thin, fairly flexible, and comfortable to wear against your skin, even in warmer climates. Rolling the hood into the collar and taking advantage of dual venting through mesh-lined pockets and zippered armpits help you release built-up heat when needed. A slim, athletic fit keeps it looking classy while ready for action. Rain cloud passed? Stuff this coat into its pocket and clip it outside your pack as you continue your adventure.
The slim fit of the PreCip can make it more challenging to comfortably fit on the wide variety of shapes of womankind, so if a slim fit sounds small to you, consider sizing up. It can also make layering more challenging, especially over bulky warm layers. It's also not the lightest jacket we tested, though it's within a couple of ounces, which we find acceptable. And, like all jackets in this review, it lacks certain amenities like waterproof zippers and extra-durable fabric that can get you through the harshest conditions. We adore this rain jacket's look, feel, and performance and highly recommend it as our top choice.
Read more: Marmot PreCip Eco reviewVents: Armpit zips and mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro and bottom snap
Packability: Packs into the left-hand pocket
Hood Type: Stows into the collar, adjustable bungees on sides, velcro on back, stiffened brim
If you came here thinking, "sometimes it rains, but mostly I want a light jacket for crisp days, that can handle the odd spatter from the sky," then you're in the right place. The Columbia Switchback III is an affordable, extremely comfortable, lightweight jacket that comes in an array of colors we love. This jacket has a soft, flexible exterior that blocks out wind and offers above-average water protection and a hood that easily stows into the collar. Gussets on the back help this coat move with you rather than restrict your shoulders like many others. It's one of the lightest rain jackets we tested and easily packs into its own pocket for a quick stash or as an emergency back-up option that lives in your bag.
When it comes to heavy or prolonged rain, this model isn't our top choice. The non-waterproof zipper has no storm flap to protect it from the outside. An interior storm flap helps slow the spread of rain onto the front of your shirt but isn't a long-term solution. The Switchback III is also rather thin and not made of ripstop material, lowering our confidence in its ability to withstand hardcore adventuring. Yet, when it comes to a super comfortable, lightweight jacket that's easy to pack with and offers reasonable protection against a quick shower, all for a reasonable price tag, we love this little number from Columbia.Vents: Mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Standard, inner storm flap
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket
Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim
If you're reading this in search of a lightweight jacket for warmer days with some precipitation protection and a low price, the SoTeer Lightweight Hooded may be your dream come true. This polyester layer is super thin and the lightest coat we tested. Despite not being able to find information on any waterproof coating, we're impressed by how long this modest windbreaker-like jacket held out before becoming saturated. Though we wouldn't head out on a rainy winter day in Seattle wearing it, it'll keep you dry enough to run errands for a short time. It's also exceedingly breathable, making it one of the better options for warmer weather and high-output activities like bike commuting or running.
However, the SoTeer isn't without its drawbacks. Namely that in a category of raincoats, it's not up to the task of heavy precipitation or all-day deluges. It has some of the shortest sleeves of any model we tested, and easily exposes not just wrists, but a good chunk of the forearm while moving around. The pockets hang open, quickly collecting stray droplets, making them useless for anything other than soggy hands. And this inexpensive jacket has some corner-cutting construction, from thin, flimsy fabric to giant overhangs of excess fabric flopping around inside, lined with loopy, sloppy hems. But if you need to save serious cash and only need a little bit of water protection, this lightweight windbreaker-like option may be right up your alley.Vents: None
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, no storm flaps
Hood Type: Nylon ties, no brim
Are you always cold whenever you go out in the rain? Then The North Face Resolve 2 is the ideal rain jacket for you. It's a simple, athletically oriented coat with a drop hem to cover the top of your pants and a warm fleece-lined neck that feels like a cozy hug. It's solidly waterproof in moderate precipitation, with a velcro storm flap to cover the non-waterproof zipper. With an extra layer of mesh inside, this jacket is warmer than most, making it ideal for running errands in a cold fall downpour. When it's not raining, the Resolve is still a good choice, as the hood can pack away into the collar (making it thicker and even more cozy) and wide elastic cuffs can be comfortably pushed up your forearms to free your hands. It also comes in many colors that we are big fans of.
Yet all this warmth comes at the cost of breathability. The TNF Resolve 2 has no vents and is so insulating compared to the rest of these rain jackets that it's our last choice for a running garment or cross-country skiing layer. The forward-facing flaps over the pockets are also a bit awkward to use, though not a dealbreaker. While we like the comfortable width of the elastic cuffs, they do prevent the sleeves from falling down over your hands — which may be exactly what you want them to do for extra protection on a particularly cold day. And when it comes to packability, this thick coat is bulky and doesn't stuff into its own pocket. It's better suited to hanging in your closet than being bundled on a backpacking trip. Still, for protection against cold and rain, the Resolve 2 is a solid option at a reasonable price.
Read more: The North Face Resolve 2 reviewVents: None
Zipper: Standard, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro
Packability: None (can roll into hood)
Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim
Obsessed with the look of a classic trench-style rain coat but looking for a fashionable upgrade? Check out this sweet slicker from Arthas. With a long cut and high-waisted tie-cinch waist, this jacket offers a more stylish approach to staying dry. Not enough? The interior is lined with thin contrasting stripes, for extra appeal — you can even roll up the sleeves on a warm day for an extra pop of color. While the internet seems to be filled with similar trench coats, this one actually has a DWR coating that does a decent job providing moderate rain protection — and can be easily reapplied in your washing machine when it starts to get too leaky. It also has a large hood to keep your hair dry or can be zipped off for sunshine.
Trench coats aren't made for seriously sweaty activities (like running) and this double-layered model is extra thick and heavy with a total lack of vents. It's one of the bulkiest, heaviest jackets we tested, making it not a great option for a packed emergency layer. Though it withstood our hose testing handily, letting water pool on it for an extended period of time did lead to a soaked interior. We're not big fans of the closure drawstrings in the hood, either, as they're positioned awkwardly to leave a giant gap for your hair to poke out or rain to get in around your chin and neck. And while we like the look of the stripes inside, the yellow model we tested easily shows those stripes through the outer fabric. But out of the numerous trench-style rain jackets we tested, this one is our favorite to wear, keeps us the driest, and gives us the highest level of confidence in its durability.Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, outer storm flap with snaps
Hood Type: Zips off, nylon ties, no brim
The North Face Venture 2 is a solid choice for adventuring women who need a light waterproof layer. A stowable hood and moderate-sized zippered armpit vents help let off steam as you continue to hike or bike. It's one of only two rain jackets we tested that successfully repelled all water throughout our extended period water pooling test, despite not having a waterproof zipper (dual storm flaps keep you covered instead). A DWR finish assures that you can perform adequate maintenance right from home, helping this jacket keep you dry for longer. A trim, athletic fit isn't so thin you can't layer underneath on chilly days and the sleeves are long enough to keep even your hands covered if you so choose. It's also packable into its own pocket when you're not actively wearing it.
What this jacket lacks is in the details. The pockets aren't lined with mesh, missing another venting opportunity that the Marmot PreCip provides. It's also rather challenging to get this jacket to fit into its own pocket for stowing. It's quite loud and crinkly, both making it less comfortable and potentially more annoying to wear. This added noise is due to stiffer fabric that's less breathable and slightly less pleasant against the skin than many others. This coat also marginally heavier than similar jackets, though only by fractions of an ounce. Despite these relatively minor complaints, the Venture 2 is still a pretty decent choice for an adventure rain coat.
Read more: The North Face Venture 2 reviewVents: Armpit zips
Zipper: Moderately water-resistant, dual storm flaps (interior is narrower) with velcro and bottom snap
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket
Hood Type: Stows into collar, adjustable bungees on sides and back, stiffened brim
The Columbia Arcadia II is somewhere between a light rain jacket and a thicker coat for colder precipitation. It lacks the added warmth and cozy features of the TNF Resolve 2 but is thicker and warmer than almost every other rain jacket we tested other than the Resolve. A looser fit easily allows you to layer warm garments underneath it though. It has one of our favorite hoods to cinch down tight around our faces to keep the rain out without blocking our vision. The non-waterproof zipper is covered on the inside and outside by dual storm flaps, to keep all but the most torrential of storms away from its wide teeth. And despite its slightly above-average bulk, the Arcadia still packs into its own pocket for easy storage when you want to toss it in your bag and go.
Though it's an athletic fit, this isn't our favorite jacket to exercise in, as it lacks conventional vents. Mesh-lined pockets and the barrier created by the full mesh lining inside the jacket help some, but sweat still readily collects inside the waterproof exterior. The interior storm flap is the same width as the exterior flap, and easily gets caught when trying to zip up the front. This careless, slightly simplistic design extends to the use of non-ripstop main material and inclusion of pretty basic elastic cuffs, making this above-average-price jacket a bit lacking in the details that could make it a high-value commodity. Yet it's also frequently available on super-sale, which then might make it a decent choice for a casual-use rain jacket.Vents: Mesh-lined pockets
Zipper: Standard, dual storm flaps with velcro
Packability: Packs into left-hand pocket
Hood Type: Adjustable bungees on sides, stiffened brim
With high hopes, we purchased the Hount Lightweight Packable, hoping for a handy little emergency layer on our outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment. When it comes to protecting us from the rain, the Hount lasted just a few short minutes before becoming completely saturated to the point where we had to peel it off inside out. The zipper almost immediately soaked through and the cotton drawstring ties instantly became heavy, sopping messes. But if all you need is a few minutes of rain protection on a windbreaker, this jacket may yet be your cup of tea. It's one of the lightest models we tested and packs easily into a small pouch (which you can leave at home to shed half an ounce). Its thin polyester fabric makes it one of the most breathable options of the bunch too, putting it at the top of the list of enjoyability for high-output activities like summiting mountains.
Yet, beyond the Hount's lackluster water protection, we're not in love with its awkward design. While it's short enough to allow adequate movement, the arms are also far too short while the torso is exceptionally wide, creating a very boxy shape. Sure, you could layer under this jacket, but since its main draw is breathability, we're not sure why you'd want to. The zipper is also inconveniently located several inches above the bottom of the jacket, while the hem has drawstrings that can be used to tie up the base around your waist like a 90's windbreaker. The cuffs end in a very narrow band of elastic, making these too-short sleeves uncomfortable to push up your forearms for long stretches of time. Perhaps this inexpensive, packable jacket, with its throwback style and super thin fabric is the windbreaker you've been searching for. But if you want protection you can count on, we don't recommend the Hount.Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, no storm flaps
Packability: Included pouch
Hood Type: Cotton ties, no brim
The LOMON Trenchcoat appears to be a fashionable trench-style rain jacket. While it certainly looks the part, its waterproofness completely let us down, performing at the bottom of the pack, despite its thicker material and double layers. The hood can be zipped off for wearing in un-rainy weather (which, based on its lack of water protection, is when you'd want to wear it) and the sleeves have loops and snaps to allow them to be rolled up away from your hands. If you're a bit on the cold side, the mesh lining may be just what you're seeking to add that extra little bit to keep you warm. It also comes with a series of small stick-on repair patches in case of tiny rips.
However, don't expect the LOMON to keep you dry. The polyester fabric immediately starts soaking up even light rain, becoming drenched all the way through after just a few minutes of consistent precipitation. The sleeves are shockingly narrow, making them difficult to layer and challenging to roll up. If you do manage to get them rolled and snapped, the exposed interior is an unsightly layer of mesh over fabric — easy to catch on objects and difficult to look at and enjoy. The shoulders are also exceptionally narrow and allow for very little movement, readily exposing wrists and forearms while feeling on the verge of bursting open at the seams. And as one of the heaviest models we tested, it's not a great minimalist travel companion or squirreled away emergency layer. For its performance and price point, there are several other trench-style jackets that we think are more stylish, more protective, and a better value than the LOMON.Vents: None
Zipper: Standard, no storm flaps
Hood Type: Zips off, hemmed fabric ties, no brim
Why You Should Trust Us
Before our testing process began, we spent hours researching the best rain coats to find the most promising contenders that won't break the bank. We then purchased 10 of them to test side by side. We tested their waterproofness under and uniform sprinkle and spray of a hose and pooled water on zippers to see how wet the inside got. We played outside in them, testing their ability to twist and move with us as well as keep us from sweating too much during aerobic activities. We scrutinized construction methods and materials and weighed and packed up every option. Our unbiased testing methods provide the most honest and accurate picture of these jackets available today.
This review is lead by long-time outdoor adventurer and Senior Review Editor, Maggie Brandenburg. Maggie never lets the weather stop her from heading out for a run or having an adventure with her canine companion of over a decade. Living in the mountains and exploring the Pacific Northwest, she loves kayaking, biking, and hiking when the bulk of the crowds go home. Maggie has guided backcountry expeditions in jungles and mountains for over 15 years and also leads our team of women's high-end rain jacket testers. She's been using her background in scientific research to test and write for GearLab since 2017.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested each coat across five different mutually exclusive, weighted metrics to provide a complete picture of the performance, versatility, and appeal of every model. In this section, we'll run through how we tested and which jackets perform the best in specific areas, helping you to find the perfect fit for your life.
Related: Best Rain Jackets of 2022
The most important aspect of a good rain jacket is that it keep you dry. However, the actual ability of each coat to adequately do that varies widely from model to model. We tested each coat in laboratory conditions to ensure consistency across the board. We used a hose to simulate varying intensities of rain and left water pooled on fabric and zippers for extended periods of time. We evaluated all parts of each jacket, from the fabric and zippers to the coverage provided by the hood and protection offered by the pockets. As much as we'd love to be able to report that all the rain jackets we tested will protect you from rain, unfortunately, this is not the case.
DWR, or Durable Water Repellent, is a fabric treatment applied to a garment to help it repel water. It's applied to a huge variety of outdoor gear, from coats to shoes to tents. However, this is just a treatment to your garment, which will wear off after time - especially with frequent wear or laundering. Fortunately, you can easily reapply it right at home with a product like Nikwax Tech Wash. Be sure to research how your rain jacket is waterproofed so that you can extend its use for as long as possible.
The best performing products in this metric have solid materials with DWR coating, long, protective sleeves, storm flaps to cover zippers, and great fitting hoods. Leading the pack is the Marmot PreCip Eco. Dual storm flaps keep the water-resistant zipper away from the rain, long sleeves and a drop hem keep you covered in all the right places, and a fitted adjustable hood with a brim keeps your face shielded. The North Face Venture 2 is also impressively waterproof with very similar features to the PreCip, but with a slightly less impressive fit. These two jackets are the only two that successfully prevented any water from getting inside the jacket through all of our testing.
The Columbia Arcadia II and The North Face Resolve 2 also proved to be solidly waterproof. However, they both let us down slightly on their main zippers — once water got under the storm flap, it soaked right through. Each of these jackets is also a bit lacking in certain details (like adjustable cuffs or serious pocket protection) that would have earned them higher scores.
Though we generally don't like to highlight the worst products (we are a glass-half-full sort of team), when it comes to rain jackets, we feel compelled to mention a few that utterly failed. The LOMON Trenchcoat offered a shockingly poor performance, instantly soaking up water and easily transferring it through all the coat's layers and onto our clothes. The Hount held out for slightly longer, but after just a few short minutes, it too became saturated, like wearing a soggy sweatshirt. If you need serious rain protection, we do not recommend these products.
Any garment you wear must be at least moderately comfortable. As we all have differing ideas and needs when it comes to exactly what makes something comfortable to wear, we tested some of the most obvious factors that we can all agree on. We wore them over our skin and over layers, to see what they feel like and how happily we can put them on over warm clothes or tank tops. We moved in them to see how they twist, if they rise up and leave torsos or wrists exposed and if you can still see with the hood up. We considered their overall style — are they slim and trim or boxy and loose? And we considered how easy they are to use — do the zippers catch on storm flaps? Are the pockets useful?
The best way to figure out what type of rain jacket you need is to think about where and how you want to wear it. If you're looking for something to don under your pack before heading out for a weekend backpacking trip, you'll want something durable enough to withstand straps, light enough to pack down small while it's sunny, and waterproof enough to handle hours of rain. If you just need something to wear around town and protect you from short bursts of drizzle as you walk from the coffee shop to the library, something longer to cover the top of your pants and perhaps more fashionable to go with your carefully crafted Saturday morning outfit. Whether you want to pack it away and only use your jacket a couple of times a year or need it to keep you dry during a long PNW winter, there's a jacket that's right for you.
The Marmot PreCip Eco is one of our favorites to wear. Despite being impressively waterproof, it's more flexible and less crinkly and plastic-feeling than many others. It has long enough sleeves to keep us covered and moves as we move. It is a bit on the slim side though, so if that sounds small or harder to layer, consider sizing up. The North Face Venture 2 and Resolve 2 are also quite comfortable to move and be active in, though they're both much closer to that "classic" stiff crunch of a rain coat.
The Columbia Switchback III is very soft and flexible, feeling more like a windbreaker than a rain jacket, though (aside from the zipper) it still functions pretty well under pressure from precipitation. The Columbia Arcadia II is also pretty pleasant to wear for casual activities, with a mesh inner lining that acts like a separate layer to keep you warm. The feel of the super-light SoTeer is excellent for a windbreaker, but it has exceptionally short sleeves. If you're someone who is always pushing up your sleeves anyway, you may not mind, and may actually appreciate the wide cuffs on this warm-weather jacket.
The ability of your jacket to breathe while still protecting you from the wind and rain is essential. After all, if you didn't care about breathability, you'd be happily wearing your plastic poncho right now rather than reading this article. But breathability is more than just zippers and vents (though the right vents can make a massive difference). We wore these jackets in light to moderate exercise to see which ones let off steam and which collect sweat. We also tested them from the opposite direction, examining how windproof they are in front of our laboratory fan.
The number of "layers" listed in a rain jacket is a confusing term. No matter if the coat is made of 2, 2.5 (yes, really), or 3 layers, all of them combine an external waterproof layer with some sort of breathable inner layer, that are typically fused together to appear as a single layer — you can't tell how many layers are in your rain jacket just by looking at it.
- 2 layer jackets are made in two different ways. In the lower budget version, a waterproof layer is added to a separate mesh lining to increase breathability. More technical jackets fuse these layers together (think of GORE-TEX), increasing the price and required upkeep but cutting down on weight and bulk.
- 2.5 layer jackets are one of the most common budget options and achieve that "half-layer" by spraying on a protective coating over the inner membrane. This strategy used more affordable materials like polyurethane, offering a middle ground between protection, breathability, and cost.
- 3 layer jackets are robust and durable, combining a waterproof outer layer, breathable middle layer, and protective inner layer (protecting the jacket from the oils of your skin). They require slightly less upkeep than 2 layer jackets and offer some of the best and most consistent protection in harsh weather.
For a more thorough look at all the different layering technology that goes into making modern rain jackets, check out our guide to choosing your perfect rain jacket.
Only two jackets we tested have zippered armpit vents - the Marmot PreCip Eco and The North Face Venture 2. These perfectly placed pit zips make a massive difference when it comes to exercising in the rain, and these two ended up being our favorite choices for precipitous hikes and drizzly bike commutes. They also both have hoods that can be packed away to get them off your back when you're sweaty (and it's not raining). The PreCip also features mesh-lined pockets, effectively making the hand pockets an additional set of vents for your torso.
Using a different strategy, the Columbia Switchback III employs thin, flexible fabric with a higher level of permeability that keeps you cooler even as your activities start to heat up. It also has a hood that packs away and mesh-lined pockets that double as vents. The SoTeer uses a similar thin-fabric strategy to help your torso breathe, but doesn't have the extra features to go the distance, like vents or the ability to stow the hood. You can push the sleeves up, but that's true of many elastic-cuffed jackets.
Even when you're saving money on your new gear, you still want to know that it's going to last a while. We didn't have years to test each coat, but we spent significant time scrutinizing and comparing building materials, design flaws, and the minute details of every jacket. We looked for weak spots and made note of places that seem likely to fail through longterm use. And to broaden our pool of input, we also scoured the internet for frequently reoccurring complaints from other users to see if we found the same issues in our jackets.
No matter what rain jacket you ultimately choose, none of them will be waterproof forever (unless you buy a plastic poncho ane never tear a hole in it). Every coat has different treatments to actually be waterproof and requires different upkeep to extend the life of that treatment. Some require reapplication of a DWR treatment, tossing it in the drier to reactivate a layer or periodic upkeep on your seams. Your rain jacket is one garment you should keep the tags on to be able to adequately provide the care it needs and keep you dry for as long as possible. For more tips and tricks on caring for DWR-treated fabric, the most common type of waterproof treatment, check out this article from REI.
Once again, the Marmot PreCip Eco and The North Face Venture 2 are at the top of the pack when it comes to durability. They may not be as sturdy as some super-thick (and super expensive) options out there, but they're solidly built. Simple construction with good designs and quality materials make both these recycled-nylon coats ready to go the distance.
The Columbia Arcadia II and The North Face Resolve 2 are thicker jackets, with multiple, warmer layers, that also display above-average materials and construction. Both The North Face jackets and the Marmot PreCip are all made with ripstop material as well, adding to our confidence in their ability to hold up to adventuring.
Weight and Packability
If your rain jacket lives in your closet rather than in your backpack or suitcase, this metric may be of little importance to you. However, the jackets we tested represent a wide range of weights and packed sizes that can be easily felt just by wearing them. We weighed every coat we tested (all size small), packed them up into pockets or hoods, and compared their overall sizes and the ease at which we could bring them along with us.
Several jackets in our line-up can be packed up into their own pockets and easily tossed in or clipped to a bag. The Marmot PreCip Eco, Columbia Switchback III and Arcadia II, and The North Face Venture 2 all squeeze into their left pockets and can be zipped closed to become a small package. The Hount comes with a small drawstring pouch that it can be packed into. The lightest rain jackets are the SoTeer (6.6 ounces) and the Columbia Switchback III (7.3 ounces). Though the Hount, PreCip Eco, and Venture 2 are all within a couple of ounces of the lightest two, making them also good choices for when weight matters.
We spent a lot of time attempting to stay dry to tease apart the differences between this line-up of promising women's rain jackets. No one wants to get caught in a storm unprepared and we hope that our rigorous, intensive testing, to bring you honest, unbiased results to help you choose the best rain coat for your outdoor adventures.
— Maggie Nichols
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