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The 15 Best Rain Jackets to Keep You Dry

A lot has changed since heavy, unbreathable plastic rain slickers were standard all-weather apparel; today’s rain jackets are lighter, softer, more breathable, stretchy and more waterproof than ever.

three rain jackets

We live in a Golden Age of water-repellency; before nylon shells and Gore-Tex membranes, humans devised hydrophobic clothing using vinyl, oiled canvas and, before that, cured seal and whale intestines. Now, (thankfully) waterproofing happens at a molecular level with advanced membranes that keep water droplets out but let body vapor (think sweat) through.

The advancements have allowed rain jackets to become lighter, more breathable, packable and no less rain-proof. Rain jacket technology keeps getting better too — today, companies are experimenting with new fabrics to make rain shells softer and more comfortable and adding stretch for increased mobility (and less of that trademark crinkly jacket sound). Style hasn’t fallen by the wayside either. The new class of rain jacket is light enough, durable enough, breathable enough and waterproof enough to handle multi-day treks through misting rain as well as the inevitable deluge during commuting hours.

Rain Jacket Materials, Explained

The outer textile of most three-layer shells is made of a rugged nylon or polyester that’s coated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR). The inner membrane is a microporous fabric, typically made of ePTFE or Polyurethane that acts as the shell’s primary waterproof and breathable layer. It’s the secret sauce. The backer textile is a thin layer, usually gauze, that’s laminated to the back of the membrane, which eliminates the need for a liner.

While the waterproof and breathable technologies are all generally related in the way they function, several brands have proprietary technologies, among them Gore-Tex, Polartec NeoShell, eVent, Schoeller and Dermizax NX. Discerning one technology from another can be difficult, in part because the technology is kept under lock and key, but also because the technology requires an understanding of terms like “phase change” and how things work on a molecular level. To repair a ripped rain jacket, read our guide.

DWR Explained

When you’re buying a rain jacket or any outerwear for that matter, you’ll often come across the initials DWR, which stands for durable water repellent. DWR is a coating applied to fabrics that let them shed fluids, and it’s commonly used in conjunction with waterproof membranes. DWR works by making the surface of the exterior fabric spiky at a microscopic level, which forces water and other liquids into rounder, beaded forms. That helps them roll off the garment instead of saturating it. DWR isn’t permanent, but it can easily be revived. To re-waterproof your rain jacket, read our guide.

Keep reading beyond our picks for information on rain jacket materials.

New and Upcoming Releases

Aether W Storm All Weather Jacket: Released on March 28, 2023, Aether's new stylish and streamlined rain jacket is built for whatever the elements throw its way. Featuring a high-density three layer fabric to repel wind and water and taped seams for extra protection, the Storm All Weather Jacket is still feather-light and functionally rich. Aether's new jacket comes in eye-catching Bone and Total Eclipse colorways. Check back here for our upcoming full review.

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How We Tested
collage of rain jackets
Gear Patrol Staff

Testing a rain jacket is inherently weather-dependent: as the name suggests, you've got to have a little rain for true testing to take place. Lucky for you, our testers are strategically located across the greater U.S. and tested these rain-defenders in a variety of conditions, from the streets of New York City to the hiking trails of coastal California and everywhere in between.

We tested these jackets during springtime showers, torrential fall downpours and the occasional unexpected sprinkle. We concentrated on materials, weight and fit as our parameters and come up with this list of capable, style-forward options that leave your dad's raincoat in the dust. Here are our top picks.

Best Overall
Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket
man standing by a fence wearing a patagonia rain jacket
Will Porter

Keep showers at bay with Patagonia's take on the rain jacket.

The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Jacket
man standing by a fence wearing a north face rain coat
Will Porter

Our upgrade pick is as technical as it is discrete.

Best Budget Pick
REI Rainier Rain Jacket
Best Adjustable Rain Jacket
Cotopaxi Cielo Rain Trench
cotopaxi cielo rain jacket
Scott Seiver

Brighten up dark days with a bright (and comfortable) raincoat.

Best Rain Jacket for Running
Smartwool Merino Sport Ultralite Anorak
Best Environmentally-Friendly Rain Jacket
Tentree Nimbus Short Rain Jacket
Best Ultralight Rain Jacket
Snow Peak Light Packable Rain Jacket
snow peak light packable rain jacket
Will Porter

The Light Packable Rain Jacket's fabric is ultra thin and unique — it wrinkles easily, but that almost adds to the aesthetic.

Best Rain Jacket for Monsoons
Norrona Gore-Tex Pro Jacket
Best Rain Jacket for Cities
Arc'teryx Beta Jacket
arc'teryx beta
Will Porter

Now that's water beading!

Best Stretch Rain Jacket
Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell Jacket
Best Rain Jacket for Hiking
Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2™ Gore-Tex Paclite Plus
Best Rain Jacket for Cycling
Rapha Commuter Jacket
Now 40% off
Most Innovative Rain Jacket
Columbia OutDry Ex Reign Jacket
Best Softshell Rain Jacket
Rab Kinetic 2.0
Now 25% off
Best Rain Jacket for Hunting
Sitka Dew Point Jacket
The Best Jackets for the Outdoors
Chase Pellerin

Explore one of the following guides to find more of our top jacket recommendations.

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