Whether it’s summer or winter, you would need to bring your best rain jacket with you if you are going camping, trekking or hiking outdoors.
We listed the 8 BEST rain jackets you can buy in 2018 (so far)
We took a look at their layers, waterproofing level, breathability, and packability.
Here you can learn:
Let’s take a quick look at what we recommend before we go into details:
Price for 1 minute
Mike's Top Choice
(The one we like the best)
Has underarm vents
(Check current price down below)
Packs up small
Has vent holes
Easy fit for comfortable range of motions
These are the 8 Best Rain Jackets we looked at:
- Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander
- Frogg Toggs Pilot Frogg Guide Jacket
- Gioberti Men’s Waterproof Lightweight Rain Jacket
- Columbia Women’s Switchback II Jacket
- Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket
- Columbia Men’s Glennaker Lake Front-Zip Rain Jacket
- The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket
- Arc’Teryx Men’s Beta SL Jacket
Here are the full reviews:
6 BEST Rain Jackets
Mike’s Gear Reviews has come up with six of the best rain jackets that you can purchase online. The specifications of each item, as well as the prices, are lifted from Amazon unless otherwise stated.
Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket
From the family-owned outdoor and athletics wear company Charles River Apparel, this women’s waterproof rain jacket is lightweight and packable. Its wrist straps and hood are adjustable, as well as the body itself so it can be a perfect fit for you.
It also has hand pockets that are secured with zippers, so you don’t have to worry about the content of your pockets spilling out or getting wet. The reflective striping makes it an ideal and safe jacket to use at night as well. Plus, it has 13 colors to choose from.
Here are the pros and cons of the Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket:
|Packable||Sizes run small|
|Has air circulation vents|
|Comes in 13 color options|
The following are the specs:
- 100% Polyurethane
- Hand Wash
- Zip-front rain jacket featuring breathable mesh lining, reflective striping, and bungee-cord hood
- Hand pockets with covered zippers
- Adjustable hook-and-look wrist straps, front yoke and underarm vents to allow for air-flow circulation
- Windproof and waterproof
- Hood with adjustable shockcord drawstring
All the basic traits that you need from a rain jacket is here: lightweight, packable and waterproof. It has safety reflective strips, double zipper, and adjustable cords. This New Englander jacket could be the best women’s rain jacket that you are looking for. But it’s not perfect.
Despite the claim that it is breathable, several users claim that it is not. This could be a problem if you want to use it in places where it’s hot and humid or during the summer.
Nevertheless, this Charles River Apparel waterproof jacket is great buy. It keeps wind and rain off, and it comes in different vibrant colors. It is simply a very effective waterproof outerwear. And at $56 (according to the brand’s official website), it is a steal.
Frogg Toggs Pilot Frogg Guide Jacket
Frogg Toggs is a US company that prides itself to be the undisputed leader in lightweight, breathable and affordable rainwear.
Its Pilot Frogg Guide Jacket is not an exception. It is a good quality 3-layer jacket that is designed to endure worst outdoor conditions.
Some reviewers are even claiming that this is the best men’s rain jacket, but are they right? Here are the pros and cons of the Frogg Toggs rainwear:
|Lots of pockets||No underarm vents|
- 3-Layer submersible wader material
- 100% seam-sealed and waterproof
- Water-resistant zippers
- Full cover, adjustable and concealable hood
- Zippered chest storage
It looks a little bulky and heavy in the pictures, but the Frogg Togg Pilot Frogg Guide Jacket is actually lightweight and easy to pack in a backpack. As many of its users can attest, it holds very well during rainstorms.
And while it looks a lot more expensive than other waterproof jackets out there, it is actually moderately priced. On the Frogg Togg official website, it is even more expensive at $170. It’s probably because it includes lifetime warranty there. Compare the official website to the Amazon price before buying and decide if the warranty is worth it.
You may find that this jacket’s sizes run large, but it’s only because, according to users, it is ideal for layers. You can wear this on top of other pieces of clothing and still feel it comfortably fits you.
Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t have underarm ventilation. So if you are planning on wearing this during the warmer months, you may find this a bit warm to wear.
Gioberti Men’s Waterproof Lightweight Rain Jacket
The brand Gioberti doesn’t exclusively cater to outdoor wear. It offers men’s and boys’ wear but also now includes lifestyle products. And this is why you probably don’t think of the brand as your go-to when thinking of buying clothing for your outdoor adventure.
Nevertheless, its Men’s Waterproof Lightweight Rain Jacket is something to seriously consider. This 100% polyester rain jacket will keep you dry as promised.
Its pros and cons:
|Lightweight||No vent holes|
- 100% Polyester Rain Jacket developed with the latest waterproof technology that wicks away moisture on contact to ensure that you are left dry in wet weather / rainy days
- Fully sealed seams to lock out the rain from entering the jacket along with a fully meshed lining on the inside to provide breathability and comfort that allows excess heat and vaper to escape during your daily activities
- Velcro Seal flap overlapping the front zipper to secure dryness from any angle the rain hits you
- 2 zippered pockets with flap overlap and a drawstring at the hemline
- Protective cap hood with adjustable pull string lock and Velcro sealing cuffs
In the not breathable part above, it is a bit of an argument. It claims to be breathable, and there are users who agreed. However, some don’t think that it is, or at least not enough. So keep this in mind if you want to wear this while doing strenuous activities. Also, there are no ventilation holes, and so take it into consideration.
But for under $30, this could be the best men’s rain jacket that you can find in the inexpensive price range. The best thing about this is not the price, though, but its ability to do its job properly. It is waterproof and will keep you dry from downpour. It is lightweight and easy to pack, making it the perfect rainwear during light trekking or backpacking.
It also fits true to size. The drawstring is a handy device that allows the fit to be adjusted comfortably.
Columbia Women’s Switchback II Jacket
When you hear the brand Columbia, you know you are getting true quality. And the Women’s Switchback II Jacket does have exceptional quality.
This nylon jacket is the true definition of lightweight. It is the outer clothing layer that you need during light weather days.
Here are its pros and cons, as well as its specs:
|Packs up small||Wrinkles easily|
|Has vent holes|
- Hydroplus: 100% Nylon; Fine Mesh: 100% Polyester
- Zipper closure
- Machine wash
- Fit Type: Modern Classic fit universal, easy fit for comfortable range of motion
- Waterproof fabric, Omni-Shield Water and Stain Repellant
- Uses: Trail, travel
If you want a no-fuss outerwear that you can use during light to moderate rainy days, this is it.
This is so lightweight and folds down so small that you can fit it inside a pocket. Even if you don’t think you would need one, it wouldn’t hurt to pack one in case of emergency. And for under $50, this won’t hurt your wallet as well.
If you are looking for ventilation, the hole is at the back of the jacket, not at the underarm areas. It is breathable but only as much as you would expect a waterproof jacket would be. You might find this rain jacket’s fabric to be a bit noisy, though. It also wrinkles easily but nothing that would make it look unpresentable.
For all its attributes, this could be the best women’s rain jacket for light weather days.
Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket
Another one from Columbia, this reasonably priced Men’s Watertight II Jacket is the one you need for warmer but wetter weather days. It has drawstrings on all its openings so you can watertight it as the name implies.
Here are the pros and cons of the Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket:
|Has hidden packing pocket||More water-resistant than waterproof|
|Breathable||Sizes run large|
|Adjustable||No vent holes|
Here are the specs (the price is lifted from the Columbia website):
- Shell: 100% Nylon; Lining: 100% Polyester
- RM 2433-464 closure
- Machine wash
- 4” high
- 13” wide
- Front-zip waterproof rain jacket with zippered side-entry pockets at hips
- Drawstring hood and hemline
- Material: 100% Nylon 2L Full Dull plain weave
The most common comment by users for this jacket is to order one size down from your normal size because these rain jackets run in larger sizes. While it could be a bad thing for some, it is actually ideal if you want to layer up underneath during colder weather. It also does not have vent holes, and, according to some users, it’s more water-resistant than truly waterproof.
But if you are looking for a real watertight jacket that is still breathable, this would be perfect. It does really keep the water out once you’ve adjusted all the openings.
And if you are looking for a packable rainwear, the Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket could be the best packable rain jacket that you can find.
It has this neat little secret in the pocket that packs the whole jacket in. Look for the word packable inside one of the side pockets. Turn that inside out and then stuff the whole jacket in. Close it with the zipper, and the jacket turns into a small round package that can fit into your backpack.
Columbia Men’s Glennaker Lake Front-Zip Rain Jacket With Hideaway Hood
The third and final entry from Columbia in our list, the Glennaker Lake Front-Zip Rain Jacket is almost the exact copy of the Watertight II but with just a few differences. It depends on you which features of a rain jacket do you prefer or need.
The Glennaker uses waterproof fabric, unlike the Watertight II. But unlike the latter, the Glennaker doesn’t use Omni-Tech Waterproof Breathable technology, which explains why it isn’t the most breathable rain jacket Columbia has. As for the hood, the Glennaker has a stowaway type which folds up and can be zipped into the collar of the jacket. The Watertight II’s hood doesn’t do that. The Watertight II has adjustable hem through its drawcord, which the Glennaker doesn’t have.
Both have this hidden packing pocket, though, which, as described above, packs the entire jacket into a compact package by turning the pocket inside out.
Here are the pros and cons of the Glennaker:
|Has hidden packing pocket||Not breathable|
|Lightweight||No vent holes|
|Has convenient stowaway hood||Sizes run large|
These are the specs (the price is from the Columbia website):
- 100% Nylon
- Machine Wash
- Water-repellent rain jacket with front-zip closure featuring contrast yoke and internal drawcord hem
- Hideaway hood
- Zippered side-entry pockets at hips
- Adjustable cuffs
The Glennaker also has some of the disadvantages of the Watertight II, namely its sizes also run large and it has no vent holes. The Watertight II has a more breathable construction than the Glennaker, though.
Nevertheless, the top positive review on Amazon for this boldly states that the Glennaker was the “best lightweight rain jacket” the user has ever worn. This Columbia rainwear is indeed lightweight and does the job done well. It will keep you dry with its water-repellant fabricduring light rain. Keep in mind that it is described as water-repellant, not waterproof, and it is such the case.
The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket
From the renowned outdoor product giant, The North Face, the Men’s Venture 2 Jacket is a sturdy and lightweight rainwear that does what it claims to be. It is described as weatherproof and suitable for year-round use.
It also helps that it’s from The North Face, which is one of the first brands people think of when it comes to outdoor gears.
But is the best rain jacket on this list? Here are its pros and cons and the specs:
|Lightweight||Sizes run large|
|Has underarm vents|
- 100% DryVent™ nylon ripstop
- Unlined, packable, weatherproof rain jacket for year-round use. Tall, relaxed fit
- Waterproof, breathable, seam-sealed DryVent™ 2.5L shell
- 100% windproof fabric
- Velcro® stormflap covers front zipper. Pit-zip venting for added breathability, adjustable hood
- Covered, secure-zip hand pockets, hem cinch-cord, packs into its own pocket
- Original North Face, lifetime warranty
- Machine wash
The Men’s Venture 2 rain jacket is a lightweight and easy to pack rainwear that you need inside your backpack. Even if you don’t think it would be raining during your day trek, it would still make sense to pack one just in case you would need it.
It’s got what you need for a handy rain jacket: it’s lightweight, windproof and waterproof, breathable, packable and has underarm vents to keep you cool. The quality of this rain gear is as superb as can be expected from the brand.
But just like some of the items here, its sizes also run large. If you want a good fit, you probably would be better off going for one size smaller than your usual size. However, if you are going to use this unlined jacket in colder climate areas, you probably would want a size that is looser to your usual fit. This is so you can wear layers to keep you warm underneath.
Arc’Teryx Men’s Beta SL Jacket
The Canadian brand Arc’Teryx is no stranger to athletics and outdoor wear. It offers premium products that cost premium price as well. Its Men’s Beta SL Jacket is one of such products that boast of being high quality.
The aim for the Beta SL Jacket is to stay unnoticed and inconspicuous until you need to bring it out and use it. That is why it weighs just 315 grams and can be folded into a small pack that takes up very little space.
Here are the pros and cons of this product:
|Lightweight||No vent holes|
- N40r GORE-TEX fabric with PacLite product technology
- BETA SL JACKET – Designed to stay unnoticed until it’s needed, the superlightweight, compressible waterproof/breathable BETA SL weighs a scant 315 grams (11.1 oz). Made from N40r GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite product technology, it delivers proven complete weather protection with a high level of breathability.
- MOST PACKABLE – As weight and space are critical factors in the BETA SL’s performance, the lightest and most packable GORE-TEX fabric, N40r GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite product technology, is used.
- WATERPROOF AND HIGHLY BREATHABLE – The fabric protects from the weather and offers a higher level of comfort during activity. As the Beta SL is intended for periodic emergency use, a less abrasion-resistant textile is used to eliminate weight and bulk. However, the fabric has a mini ripstop construction that provides added tear strength without impacting weight.
- SIMPLICITY IN ACTION – The goal was to pare the Beta SL to its essence and achieve specific functional requirements for the lowest possible weight. Careful, efficient construction techniques allow Arc’teryx to use micro seam allowances and tiny (13 mm) GORE seam tape. The Trim fit reduces fabric requirements and improves breathability.
- SUPERLIGHT – Carefully articulated patterning and gusseted underarms provide freedom of movement without adding bulk. The low profile Stormhood offers complete coverage with a streamlined design. This is a true minimalist’s hardshell, designed to be light, small and efficient.
It is about in the same price range as an average Patagonia rain jacket, and that’s not exactly a bad thing. Arc’Teryx cannot be called affordable, but it does deliver the promised quality in its products. The Men’s Beta SL Jacket is no exception to it.
Overall, the Arc’Teryx Men’s Beta SL Jacket is a smart investment for outdoor lovers. It may be a lot more expensive than anything on this list, but it comes with the efficiency and quality that you need to look for in a rain jacket.
Mike’s Top Choice
Out of all the eight rain jackets listed above, Mike’s Gear Reviews thinks that The North Face men’s Venture 2 Jacket is the best rain jacket that you can get your hands on. It is averagely priced and has all the basic and extra features that you need in a rain gear. You can not go wrong with this.
However, if you are particularly looking for a women’s jacket, we think that the Columbia Women’s Switchback II is the best women’s rain jacket on the list. It is affordably priced and yet it does its job very well.
What to look for in a Rain Jacket
There are quite a few criteria to check when buying rain jackets. You naturally want to get the best rain jacket that you can get your hands on, and so this short guide will tell you what to look for.
These are the layer, the waterproofing level, its breathability, packability, vents, and where it’s made.
Layers aren’t immediately noticeable when you buy rain jackets. You might even think they only have one layer. It’s because the layers are tightly compressed together that they look like a single layer. When buying for the best rain jacket, you might be given choices of 2, 2.5 and 3 layers.
For 2-layer jackets, it means that it has a protective inner coating bonded to a face fabric such as nylon or polyester. There is also an inner layer that is usually made of sewn-in lining like mesh. A 2-layer rain jacket is the cheapest option. It is also the most flexible and comfortable one.
A 2.5-layer has the same outer layer fabric as a 2-layer jacket. The second layer is a polyurethane laminate or coating inside the first layer. The “half” part is the printed or sprayed-on partially protective layer laid down over the second layer. A 2.5-layer is probably the lightest type of the three. The best packable rain jacket usually has 2.5 layers.
A 3-layer jacket has a protective membrane laminated in the middle of the inner and outer layer. It is usually the sturdiest and most breathable type, although it is also stiffer than the other two. A 3-layer rain jacket is best for use in harsh environments as it offers high protection and is usually very long-lasting.
It is also generally the most expensive.
You might also encounter to words durable water repellent, or DWR. This is simply the chemical coating applied to the outer layer to enable water to bead on the surface and roll off. This is crucial so the external layer does not become saturated with water.
Not all waterproof jackets are created equal. Some are made for use during light drizzle, while some are for heavy downpour. Some of the best rain jackets indicate their waterproof component, but not all do this. Look for user reviews so you can have an idea.
Waterproof and breathability used to be exclusive words from each other. But thanks to today’s technology, these two qualities can exist together. The material of jacket should not allow large molecules like water to seep through but allow smaller ones like vapor to get out.
Unless you are going to use your jacket all the time, you would need to take it off some time. And if you are backpacking or trekking, you would want the things that you need to bring to be compact and light.
Waterproof jackets could be bulky, which would not be ideal to carry during an outdoor adventure. You would want the best packable rain jacket that can protect you from the elements but would not be a burden once you temporarily take it off. Look for the best lightweight rain jacket that you can easily pack in your bag or at least comes its own sack.
Even if your rainwear uses breathable materials, it could still make you sweat profusely during intense activities. This is where the vents come in. The best rain jackets have underarm ventilation so it wouldn’t feel like sauna inside your jacket.
Where It’s Made
Many products sold by American companies are actually imported from other countries. This could be a factor to consider if the country of manufacturing is important to you.
Choosing the right rain jacket
Rain jackets are, to explain it simply, jackets that keep you dry from rain. They are different from other kinds of jackets in that they have waterproof, or at least water-resistant, fabric. Other jackets can keep you warm and perhaps protect you from few sprinkles of water, but they can get soaked if you use them under continuous downpour.
A rain jacket is also different from a windbreaker.
Windbreakers are typically lightweight jackets made from breathable materials. They are thin and have single layer construction that allow air and vapor transfer. Some can be water-resistant but not usually waterproof.
Rain jackets, on the other hand, have additional layers to repel water. And because they have additional layers, they are bulkier than windbreakers.
They are still packable, though.
Although waterproof and breathable don’t always come together, the best rain jackets today are both.
You wear one if you are outdoors during a bad weather so you can do your thing without a hitch.
Why do you need a Rain jacket?
Whether it’s summer or winter, you would need to bring your best rain jacket with you if you are going camping, trekking or hiking outdoors. If you don’t have one in your bag, you will be slowed down in your journey if there’s rain. Sure, an umbrella can protect you to an extent, but it will not protect you from wind or even completely from rain. Not to mention, you would need one hand to hold it up all the time. A rain jacket, on the other hand, can protect you more effectively and it doesn’t need to be held all along.
That’s why it is a necessary thing to pack. The best rain jackets are essential emergency stash inside your bag.