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Our experts have bought and tested over 40 of the best women's rain jackets in the last 11 years, with 13 excellent options in our current lineup. We tested these jackets in every condition, from spring snowboarding to hikes in steamy tropical storms, to get a well-rounded picture of how each garment performs in the wild. We also ran each product through a set of controlled tests, including wearing them in the shower, to see how they stack up. We compiled the data to craft a thorough review to help you choose the rain jacket that best fits your personal needs.
Weight: 10.5 oz | Material: Gore-Tex with Paclite 2 and polyester 50D plain weave
REASONS TO BUY
Great water resistance
REASONS TO AVOID
A little heavy
Does not pack into a pocket
The Outdoor Research Aspire II is an all-around great jacket, performing well in every aspect of our tests. The design is well thought out and shows attention to detail. It has one of the most customizable fits to keep moisture from penetrating openings and includes high-end components such as waterproof zippers. The Gore-Tex Paclite 2L fabric offers some of the best water resistance while remaining light and flexible without feeling stiff or restricting the wearer's range of motion. We love the Aspire's TorsoFlo venting, which runs from the armpit to the bottom hem, quickly dumping heat when fully open.
With all the bells and whistles this jacket includes, the one design feature we found lacking was a double zipper on any of the pockets. So while the jacket actually fits into the chest pocket, it's not designed for stowing it away there. This is a small gripe, though, and the Aspire offers up an impressive combination of water resistance, breathability, and comfort. For a performance-driven rain jacket, this is a great option at a more-than-fair price.
Weight: 12.3 oz | Material: 3L Gore-Tex 100% nylon
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent water protection
Excellent range of motion
REASONS TO AVOID
Doesn't pack into its pocket
The Arc'teryx Beta LT offers the best rain protection when inclement weather gets wet and wild, allowing you to stay out longer and go further. The 3L Gore-tex held up to every lab test we threw at it, as well as hiking in some seriously unpleasant weather, from tropical storms in Hawaii to chilly fall rain in the Sierra Nevada. The sealed zippers down the front and on the pockets worked exceptionally well to keep valuables in the pockets dry. The clever design, including gusseted underarms, a slightly tailored fit with a drop hem, and a helmet-compatible hood, provide a good range of motion even though the fabric is thicker and a little stiffer than many other options.
At 12.3 ounces, the Beta LT is one of the heaviest jackets we tested and one of the few that does not pack down into one of its own pockets. The price tag is also, by far, the highest of the jackets tested. Still, if you're not going ultralight, this is the jacket we recommend for those seeking ultimate extended wet weather protection when a serious squall rolls through.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L offers the best water resistance for its price bracket out of all the jackets tested, and while it may not have all the bells and whistles of a few of the higher-end jackets, it is exceptionally water resistant. We would highly recommend this quality jacket to those looking for a good layer to keep them dry no matter how bad the weather is outside without breaking the bank.
The 3-layer fabric is what provides excellent water resistance, but it is on the stiffer, more crinkly side. The zippers are not sealed but have a fabric placket covering the zipper to keep moisture out. We found these worked pretty well in most situations, but if water got under the placket, the zipper was a weak spot. Still, this is an excellent jacket for the price and one we have no reservations in recommending.
The Marmot PreCip Eco sits firmly in the intersection of value and functionality, with a price tag that won't break the bank while not skimping on the essentials. It's one of the lightest garments in our review and easily packs into its hand pocket, making it a great option for travel. The recycled nylon ripstop fabric is lightweight and comfortable, moving well while keeping the wearer dry.
With the lower price tag, the PreCip Eco is missing a few of the extra features of the higher-end jackets, like key clips, additional zipper pulls, or dual zippers. But it does include all the essentials, like pit zips, hand pockets, and an adjustable hood. This is a great option for a functional, packable, and affordable rain jacket to get you outdoors, no matter your budget or the weather.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic was a top performer for breathability and mobility and was our testers' top choice for active endeavors. The stretch fabric, soft hand feel, and relaxed fit combine to give this garment outstanding movement, allowing the body its full range of motion while keeping the wearer dry. The lightweight 2.5L fabric combined with the pit zips sent the breathability over the top.
The breathability and flexibility of the fabric do have a few trade-offs. The Ozonic was not as waterproof as some of the more robust fabrics we tested, taking up water sooner. The hood tightens around the top of the head from the back, which worked effectively to keep it in place but was less comfortable than some other options. Still, this is the best option for those prioritizing mobility and breathability for more intensely active adventures in less-than-ideal weather. For a versatile jacket that can move in any direction, vent heat efficiently, and is ideal for a wide range of activities and conditions, it is hard to beat the Ozonic.
The Outdoor Research Helium is by far the best jacket for ultralight travel, with the smallest pack-down size and a scant weight of only 5.6 ounces — less than half the weight of many jackets tested. It packs into its only pocket, and the tiny package can fit in just about any space or clip onto a bag or harness.
With the focus on a minimalist, ultralight design, this jacket lacks a few key features, such as hand pockets, adjustable wrist cuffs, and a visor on the hood. The fabric is one of the most breathable, but without vents, it was not quite enough to quickly vent heat when temperatures rose and activity increased. Those things aside, this was the jacket we found ourselves reaching for when trying to keep backpacks or suitcases light while traveling and backpacking, and it's our top choice for a lightweight, packable option
Before testing began, we researched the wide range of rain jacket options available on the market. After narrowing the field down, we purchased the jackets reviewed here at full retail price. We then tested our selection for months in the field and in our home labs. Our testing included over 100 total assessments. Water resistance was our top priority, and along with real-world tests in every type of rainstorm mother nature threw at us, we also designed three lab tests to do a side-by-side comparison in a controlled environment. To test breathability, we walked the same one-mile uphill route at an air temperature between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Comfort and mobility were tested through hours of use in the field, as well as a set of stretches. Every jacket was weighed and packed into dedicated pockets and measured. We repetitively tested zippers, velcro, and drawcords, meticulously inspecting each product to assess durability.
Our rain jacket testing is divided into five performance metrics:
Water Resistance (30% of total score weighting)
Breathability (25% weighting)
Comfort and Mobility (20% weighting)
Weight and Packability (15% weighting)
Durability (10% weighting)
This rain jacket review is brought to you by Jessica Albery. Jessica has worked outdoor jobs in New Zealand, Australia, and Oregon and is currently based out of Truckee, California. She loves backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, and running, and never lets inclement weather get in the way of a good adventure. She believes that having the right gear for a situation means you can stay out longer and go further. Jessica has a degree in journalism and values scientific, unbiased research when reviewing outdoor gear in order to present accurate information. She recruited a few friends to help test jackets on their adventures to get additional input and provide a well-rounded picture of how these jackets work for a range of people in different climates and situations.
Analysis and Test Results
Following our testing period, we scored each jacket based on its performance in every field, crunched the numbers, evaluated each jacket based on our testing criteria, and discussed the variations in performance to help you find the ideal jacket to fit your lifestyle. Whether you are looking for a 3-layer Gore-Tex jacket that can withstand a torrential downpour or a featherlight jacket for shoving in a pack, just in case, we have an option for you.
When shopping for outdoor gear, many hope to find the best performance-to-cost ratio. Some less expensive raincoats may be friendly to the wallet but may also be overly easy on weather protection. But there are options that manage to keep the cost low while still offering excellent performance.
The Marmot PreCip Eco comes with a mega bargain price, but this jacket punches above its weight regarding storm protection. It held its own in all tests and is comfortable, reliable, and easy to use. It also doesn't cut corners regarding functionality and is a practical wet-weather staple.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is another garment that offers great value. It comes with a higher price tag than the PreCip Eco, but of the jackets tested in the midrange price field, it offers the best water resistance and would be an excellent choice for those looking for maximum weather protection without breaking the bank. The Rab Downpour is also worth considering for its value. It performed decently well in all tests, with comfort, mobility, and breathability being its top features. Its moderate price tag makes it a good investment, especially for those looking for something for more active endeavors.
This is the most important aspect of a rain jacket, and we were meticulous and thorough in our testing. We tested the water resistance of each jacket outdoors in storms to get real-world first-hand experience, as well as through multiple tests inside the lab to get a good side-by-side comparison of how each one performed under the exact same conditions. We spent upwards of 10 hours in the shower testing water resistance in a controlled environment, wearing garments made from a wide variety of fabrics. Besides testing the fabric technology, we also considered the details, including taped seams, hood size and adjustability, and the ability to tighten the cuffs. Additionally, we assessed the water resistance of the zippers, whether this was achieved with a water-resistant Polyurethane coating or a zipper flap.
The Arc'teryx Beta LT performed outstandingly well in every water resistance lab test. It also kept testers dry in the gnarliest weather, even over a multi-day camping trip in a tropical storm. The 3L Gore-Tex excelled at preventing water from penetrating the fabric, and the large helmet-compatible hood is fully adjustable and offers some of the best coverage in our test fleet. This one also stayed the driest for the longest in our lab tests, and the sealed zippers proved they would not let water in, keeping underlayers and valuables like phones and keys dry in pockets. We did not find a weak spot whatsoever — the Beta LT is the best for those looking to get out in the worst squalls in continually wet climates.
The Outdoor Research Aspire II is another top contender in this category, with its 2L Gore-Tex Paclite shedding water like a duck in the rain. While this jacket took up water a little sooner than the Beta LT, it was still able to hold its own in all water resistance tests. The Aspire also has water-resistant coated zippers that kept the pockets dry for longer than many others. The large brim on the hood excelled at keeping water off of the face, and the hood cinched down tight to keep rain sealed out.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L and Marmot Minimalist jackets demonstrated commendable water resistance in our tests but fell slightly short in comparison to the Aspire and the Beta. While these two jackets remained dry during the shower test for a considerable amount of time, their zippers did not fare as well. Unlike the Aspire and Beta, which have coated zippers, both the Torrentshell and Minimalist have zipper flaps on their pocket and chest zippers. In our pooled water test, the coated zippers of the Aspire and Beta proved to be significantly more effective. Of the four jackets, the paper towels in the zippered hand pockets of the Minimalist became damp the fastest.
It is also worth mentioning the Patagonia Granite Crest, which has decent water resistance but started to show moisture inside sooner than the top performers discussed above, and its hood, while large, lacks the structure and coverage of the Beta and Apsire.
While keeping outside moisture from penetrating a rain jacket is of utmost importance, ensuring internal moisture can escape is also crucial. To evaluate the breathability of our tested jackets, we conducted a range of tests to gauge how well the fabric, lining, and pit zips could dissipate heat and moisture. In addition to trying out the jackets for biking, hiking, walking, and splitboarding under varying conditions, we also walked the same steep one-mile path in each jacket when the temperature ranged from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the first part of this trek, we kept the pit zips closed to evaluate the breathability of the fabric itself. For jackets with vents, we opened the vents at the halfway mark to evaluate their effectiveness. Our least favorite experiment in this review was wearing the jackets on a hot day to assess their sweat-handling capabilities.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic takes the cake in the breathability department, with its combination of highly breathable fabric as well as pit zips. This was by far our testers' favorite for active endeavors.
The Rab Downpour was a close second in breathability for active endeavors, and the long vents quickly dump heat. Despite thicker fabrics, the Beta LT and Torrentshell 3L also performed admirably in this metric. The OR Helium doesn't have vents but relies on an ultralight 2.5-layer fabric to vent heat and internal moisture.
The OR Aspire features a dual zip pit vent that runs from the inside of the arm all the way down to the bottom hem of the jacket. While the fabric is not quite as breathable as the Downpour and Ozonic, it is the quickest to vent heat when the vents are opened, thanks to their extended length.
Comfort and Mobility
We considered a few different aspects when assessing comfort, including fabric feel, range of motion, fit, adjustability, and ease of use. Much of this was evaluated in the field over repetitive use in different situations. For fabric feel, we tested each jacket with a short sleeve shirt underneath to see how the inner fabric felt against the skin and evaluated the neckline, cuffs, and pockets. Besides wearing the jackets for various activities, we did the same stretches in each one to assess range of motion. We evaluated the cut, as well as how well it fit over layers. We also tested every feature that let us customize the fit. And finally, for ease of use, we tested all the little details while out in the field. We considered how smoothly zippers slide, how easy pit zips were to use, if drawcords were accessible, how well the hood adjusted to our head, and if phones, snacks, and keys fit in the pockets.
The Stretch Ozonic was a tester favorite that we kept reaching for because of its high comfort level. The fabric is lightweight, has a slight stretch, and moves effortlessly with the body. It is on the slightly roomier, longer side of the group, which helped with coverage, comfort, and layering.
The REI Co-op XeroDry GTX offers great comfort and mobility thanks to soft, quiet fabric that moves easily and clever design elements. The hood is easy to adjust with a double cinch and provides a secure fit, and the jacket fits well through the shoulders. We appreciate the articulated elbows, allowing for full mobility, and the shaped cuffs at the wrist offer more coverage over the backs of the hands while still allowing the palm and fingers to move. However, the sleeves are slightly shorter, which could be an issue for taller folks, as they may not receive full coverage when extending their arms. The chest pocket can hold a cell phone comfortably, and the chin guard is soft.
The Outdoor Research Aspire also scored high for comfort, with its lightweight, flexible fabric, a fit that offers a full range of motion, and great features that provide good adjustability. Its thoughtful design made it one of the most easy-to-wear jackets.
The Arc'teryx Beta LT is made of a 3-layer Gore-Tex — the pinnacle of waterproofness — but this fabric is one of the stiffer options out there. That being said, the cut and design are fantastic, including underarm gussets to allow for a better range of motion through the arms and shoulders. The fit is flattering while still leaving plenty of room to move freely. The Beta has the biggest hood in our lineup, which can fit over a helmet but is still fully adjustable and can be cinched down around the face when bare-headed. Arc'teryx has done an excellent job of ensuring this jacket is highly waterproof and quite comfortable, and it has one of the most well-thought-out designs loaded with features and adjustability.
The Rab Downpour is another outstanding option for comfort, with a soft, flexible fabric that feels good against the skin and moves with the body. It is packed with details to make it adjustable and easy to use.
Weight and Packability
When deciding whether to bring a rain jacket along on an outing or trip when the weather can be unpredictable, weight and packability can be crucial factors, especially if space or weight is limited. Although many manufacturers provide weight specifications, we personally weighed each model using our own scale to obtain accurate measurements. It is worth mentioning that all the jackets in this review were in size small, and the weight may differ depending on the size of the jacket you purchase.
Furthermore, we packed each jacket into its pocket if this was an option or rolled it up tightly into its hood and then measured the dimensions to get an idea of how small they pack down. We packed and unpacked jackets repeatedly, tossing them in daypacks, overnight packs, and suitcases to decern which were simple to travel with and which ones we were excited to take along.
The Outdoor Research Helium jacket is by far the lightest, most compact jacket we tested. It weighs a minuscule 5.6 ounces, several ounces lighter than the next lightest option, and half the weight (or less) of many others tested. The fabric is featherlight, but the jacket also takes a minimalist approach, ditching certain features to save on weight, including hand pockets, pit zips, and adjustable cuffs. This allows it to pack into its tiny chest pocket, creating a compact package that will tuck into any pack. We found that we were more likely to bring it as an emergency layer when the weather was unpredictable or if there was a low chance of rain in the forecast.
For those looking for a good balance of functionality in a compact, lighter package, the Marmot PreCip Eco is an excellent option. It's quite light at 9.2 ounces and easily packs down into a hand pocket, thanks to the slight stretch of the fabric. It includes more comfort features, including adjustable wrists, hand pockets, and pit zips. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is another great option. It weighs 9.7 ounces, is easy to pack into its small chest pocket, holds up well in the rain, and includes all the bells and whistles, from three pockets to pit zips.
Throughout the course of our evaluation, we extensively wore these jackets and put them through rigorous real-world scenarios, including backpacking trips, daily bike commutes, hiking, splitboarding, running errands, and doing chores. We hiked wearing backpacks to determine durability from rubbing. We conducted rapid repetitive zipper tests to test their performance. We twisted and pulled at the seams. Additionally, we conducted thorough research on the materials used and carefully examined the construction for any potential weak spots that could lead to failure down the road.
The Arc'teryx Beta LT was the cream of the crop in this metric. The 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric is a little heavier, and we found it durable and rugged enough to stand up to frequent use. The components and construction are top quality, and the garment has a well-thought-out design.
We were impressed with the quality construction and components in the Patagonia Granite Crest jacket as well. The 3-layer 30-denier ripstop fabric was abrasion resistant through the testing process, and it is made of 100% post-consumer recycled nylon from fishing nets.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is made with 50-denier ECONYL recycled nylon ripstop fabric that is sturdy and held up well through the testing process. The newest version of this jacket was upgraded with a more environmentally friendly PFC-free DWR coating.
The Outdoor Research Aspire II also features top-quality components and a 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite outer fabric that performed well in all tests.
Finding the right rain jacket that meets your requirements can be a daunting task due to the vast array of options available. Ideally, you want to invest in a piece of gear that is tailored to your lifestyle and will keep you dry during unfavorable weather conditions for several years. Depending on where you're heading, a robust umbrella won't hurt either. If you're planning to use a waterproof jacket as part of a comprehensive layering system, it may be wise to consider a technical hardshell or a top-notch ski jacket. If you think you'll be facing more wind than water, a lightweight windbreaker could be the best fit. Whatever we decide, we hope the information in this review has helped you start to make a plan for the best gear, whether you're embarking on an epic backcountry adventure or merely braving a drizzle to step outside.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.