A comprehensive guide to finding the right rain jacket, with pro tips on features, fit, price, and, of course, waterproofness
As a baseline, we want our outerwear to keep us warm and dry so that weather isn’t a distraction from any planned fun. Sometimes planning a hike, bike ride, or camping trip around the weather is possible, but when it’s not, a rain jacket that's windproof and keeps precip off your body can make downpours quite tolerable—there's a reason that old saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing," is overused.
Every outdoor brand we love and trust offers at least one dependable rain jacket for men and women, but because of that, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Waterproofing materials, garment construction, intended use, and, of course, style make for a lot to consider when picking out rain jackets for men in 2022.
Below we break down the ins and outs of what makes a good rain jacket. To cut to the chase and see our top picks for the best men's rain jacket, scroll down. And don't be alarmed by all the bright colors—most of our picks come in black, too. Women's versions of each are also linked below.
Every (good) rain jacket will keep precipitation off your body, but how much of it and for how long is the real question. So before we dive into our top picks, let’s take a good look at the different features and tech specs to keep an eye on.
One of the numeric ratings to look for is a layer count, typically written out as 2L, 2.5L, or 3L. A three-layer rain jacket consists of an outer or face fabric, a middle waterproof membrane, and a lining layer. A durable water repellent (DWR) treatment typically coats the outer layer, making it water-resistant by causing rain droplets to bead up and roll off. A DWR coating will lose effectiveness with time, but they’re easy to revive with one of many at-home repellant treatments.
The middle membrane layer is the key to it all–it's a magical material with pores big enough to allow moisture caused by body heat to escape yet too small for droplets of rain to pass through should any get past the DWR and outer layer. Wearing a membrane layer directly against the skin creates an opportunity for dirt and oils to clog those crucial pores, and preventing this is where the lining layer comes in.
A lining on a three-layer rain jacket isn’t going to be a soft and fuzzy fabric like cotton, but instead a protective barrier to protect those high-tech pores we mentioned. On a 2.5L jacket, the liner isn’t a fabric layer but a treatment applied to the backside of the membrane.
Some jackets will include a number that rates the fabric’s waterproof capabilities. Testing involves positioning a column of water on top of a fabric swatch and taking a final measurement of the water’s height when water starts dripping through the fabric. (Science!) You’ll find ratings landing somewhere between 5,000mm and 20,000mm, but many brands omit these ratings from technical product descriptions (they're more common on winter outerwear and parkas than lighter rain shell jackets).
At this point, Gore-Tex has become the name brand outdoor folks are asking for in their rain shells and outerwear. The company's proprietary fabrics are expertly developed and heavily tested, but Gore is certainly not the only name out there. Textile companies like Pertex, Polartec, and eVent have developed materials worthy of equal praise, and they're found on outerwear from all the most well-known outdoor recreation apparel brands. Plenty of these gear brands have even taken it upon themselves to develop their own trademark technologies, such as Patagonia’s H2No and The North Face’s DryVent.
When the needle of a sewing machine pierces waterproof fabrics during construction, it creates a line of holes that follows the seams of a rain jacket. Look for a rain jacket that covers the seams with tape, just like the rain fly on your tent. On some options, you’ll find seams are even “welded” together using heat instead of this more-common combination of thread and seam tape.
Seemingly small features can make or break the effectiveness and functionality of a waterproof rain jacket, depending on your needs. For example, armpit zippers are wildly helpful for venting excess built-up heat, so much so that some would never consider a rain jacket without them. And hand pockets might seem like a no-brainer, but some ultralight rain jackets might forgo them entirely to save weight. Hood shapes are pretty much personal preference, but some are considerably more adjustable than others.
If you haven’t quite cracked the product naming conventions of Arc’teryx, fear not, we got you. The LT here stands for lightweight, and though the Beta line ranks below the alpine-rated Alpha series, it’s well-suited for just about any casual or backcountry use you have in mind. As with most of Arc'teryx's hard shells, the Beta LT stars a three-layer Gore-Tex fabric with taped seams to keep the wet from leaking in. A helmet-compatible hood may be a bit baggy during casual wear, but it’s easily adjustable thanks to three easily accessible drawcords. With layering in mind, sizing is on the generous end, but baggy is the look these days, anyhow.
Women's Option: YES Price: $399 SHOP NOW
The Torrentshell is a three-layer rain jacket that comes at a very reasonable price. Patagonia’s own H2No technology manages moisture and waterproofness, but the brand's more expensive jackets feature Gore-Tex. Several of our feature boxes get ticked off here for versatile functionality: a three-way adjustable hood, pit zips, and the ability to stow the jacket into one of its hand pockets for easy packability. The cut of the Torrentshell has three-season rainwear in mind, but sizing up should allow for additional layers underneath if you want to wear it in snowy environments too.
Women's Option: YES Price: $149 SHOP NOW
Rain jackets aren’t always the hottest source of sustainability, but this 2.5-layer rain jacket draws 100% of its body fabric from recycled materials. The suitably named Stretch Ozonic also references the made-for-movement nature of the material that’s soft and quiet to the touch once you get moving (no one wants to be that swishy rain jacket person). You’ll also find an array of pockets, one of which the jacket packs down into, and a welcome set of pit zips that will likely come into play on a jacket weighted for warmer months.
Women's Option: YES Price: $200 SHOP NOW
OR may not be a specialty ultralight brand, but they’ve been around long enough to know how to make a 179-gram (6.30-ounce) rain jacket so good that it’s been a bestseller for 12 years and counting. But with such a slim weight also come minimal features—a single chest pocket that serves as a stuff sack. Unlike most ultralight gear, the fully-taped 2.5-layer Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse fabric is robust thanks to the inclusion of ripstop.
Women's Option: YES Price: $159 SHOP NOW
This punny rain jacket features the seam-sealed construction of The North Face's all-caps FUTURELIGHT fabric, a versatile three-layer textile with a soft-to-the-touch, recycled liner layer made with stretch, motion, and high breathability for the wearer. The absence of pit zips might be a red flag for some, but in our experience this casual everyday jacket doesn't really need them (and its high-volume hand pockets do help make up for it).
Women's Option: YES Price: $230 SHOP NOW
This ultralight and minimalist rain jacket skips some features found on other options to make its impressive 153 gram (5.4 oz) weight. Ask yourself, do you really need pockets on a rain jacket when you’ve got an entire backpack on your back? The custom three-layer fabric makes for a stormproof and breathable jacket, but it's also seam-taped for good measure. A set of pit zips helps out as you scramble over the next mountain pitch and the raglan sleeve design allows for extra freedom of movement when swinging around trekking poles.
Women's Option: YES Price: $210 SHOP NOW
You’ve probably come across this Bay Area brand’s bags for urban commuters, but this rain jacket has been one of its star products since the beginning. The Orion’s three-layer fabric comes by way of Japan—it's called Toray Entrant fabric and it's waterproof, breathable, and stretchy. Fully taped seams and custom YKK zippers all around make this option a robust, watertight contender. Unlike many rain jackets, The Orion's hood is removable via press-stud fasteners positioned along its stand-up collar.
Women's Option: No Price: $455 SHOP NOW
The Swedish outfitters have designed this waterproof jacket not just for rainy days but to withstand extreme weather conditions in alpine expeditions where keeping dry is of utmost importance. The seams of the three-layer Cutan fabric are taped all around, and a proprietary brand design adds stretch to its waterproof and breathability characteristics. The hefty jacket (620 grams/21.8 ounces) isn’t the lightest option around, but with this weight comes an impressive 20,000-millimeter waterproof rating that doubles figures on other pieces we’ve found.
Women's Option: YES Price: $600 SHOP NOW
If you guessed that Pertex’s Shield Air makes up this lightweight, fashion-forward rain jacket from Japan, then you’ve earned yourself a gold star. This baggy-fit piece follows streetwear patterns but has all the performance features of activewear, too. The Shieldair Jacket opts for a set of chest pockets instead of hand pockets; they're lined with mesh to double as vents, and their position maintains accessibility when wearing a harness or backpack. This airy 267-gram (9.4-ounce) Shieldair isn’t a packable jacket to the degree of some others on this list—it doesn't pack into itself—but it comes with a branded stuff sack that gets it down to the size of a hefty burrito.
Women's Option: No Price: $400 SHOP NOW
The British expedition apparel brand focuses on weight and stretch in its active raincoat made from the Proflex fabric that Rab has developed itself. By sandwiching a waterproof membrane between two high gauge knit layers, Rab essentially created a breathable softshell with rain jacket levels of waterproof performance. The 336-gram (11.8-ounce) jacket includes all of the features we’d come to expect from a technical piece, including adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem, but skips out on pit zips due to the highly breathable nature of the fabric.
Women's Option: YES Price: $230 SHOP NOW
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