10 Best Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2022

10 Best Backpacking Rain Jackets

What should you look for in a rain jacket for hiking and backpacking? While having a waterproof/breathable jacket can be a plus, it’s pretty easy to overwhelm their ability to vent moisture in the rain when you’re perspiring with a backpack strapped to your back. You’re really better off buying a more affordable jacket that has features that hikers need like a fully adjustable hood, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, and hem adjusters. Tracking down jackets that fit that description takes a little leg work, but we’ve done it for you below.

Make / ModelAdj HoodPit ZipsWP/BRAvg Weight
Patagonia Torrentshell 3LYesYesYes12.1 oz
Black Diamond Stormline StretchYesYesYes11.3 oz
REI Rainier Rain JacketYesYesYes13 oz
Outdoor Research Foray IIYesYesYes11.3 oz
Montbell Versalite JacketYesYesYes6.4 oz
The North Face Venture 2YesYesYes11.5 oz
Marmot Precip EcoYesYesYes13.1 oz
Lightheart Gear Rain JacketYesYesNo6.3 oz
Frogg Toggs Xtreme LiteYesNoNo7.6 oz
Columbia Watertight IIYesNoYes13.0 oz
Note: WP/BR stands for waterproof-breathable.

We’ve also included waterproof/breathable rain jackets as well as ones made with non-breathable fabrics because you’re going to perspire when you’re wearing them in the rain, no matter how much they cost or what they’re made of. If staying perspiration-free in the rain is important to you while you’re hiking down a trail carrying a loaded backpack…maybe you should pick another sport. You’re going to sweat. Think of a rain jacket as part of your larger layering system instead. Its best use is to keep you warm when it’s raining or the wind is blowing hard, often in combination with a mid or base layer. Perspiring is inevitable. Your goal should be to stay warm and avoid hypothermia.

Here are the 10 top (reasonably priced) rain jackets that we recommend for hikers and backpackers.

1. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

Patagonia Torrentshell
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket is a fully-featured rain jacket terms with an adjustable hood, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, hem pull cord, and side pockets. While the Torrentshell has been available for years, Patagonia recently updated it and made it a full three-layer waterproof/breathable jacket with improved breathability and comfort. This in combination with its impressive feature set makes it a very attractive jacket at a relatively low price point.  It is available in men’s and women’s sizes.

Check the latest price at:
REI | Patagonia

2. Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch
The Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell is a lightweight, 2.5 layer BD.Dry waterproof/breathable rain shell with a volume adjustable, helmet-compatible hood and front brim, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, zippered handwarmer pockets, an elastic hem adjuster, and a YKK polyurethane zipper for extra water protection. It’s made with a very comfortable and quiet stretch fabric that is fully seam-taped for maximum weather protection. It is available in men’s and women’s sizes. Read our Stormline Stretch Review. 

Check the latest price at:
REI | Black Diamond | Backcountry

3. REI Rainier Rain Jacket

REI Rainier Rain Jacket
The REI Rainier Rain Jacket is very similar to the Marmot Precip Eco listed below. It has a 3-way adjustable hood that can be folded away when not in use, velcro wrist cuffs, pit zips, handwarmer pockets, internal drop pockets, and a drawcord hem. It’s made with REI 2.5 waterproof/breathable Peak membrane and has an external DWR which will need to be refreshed periodically when rain stops beading on the jacket’s exterior. Available in men’s and women’s sizes. Read the SectionHiker Rainier Rain Jacket review.

Check the latest price at:
REI

4. Outdoor Research Foray II

Outdoor Research Foray II Jacket

The Outdoor Research Foray II is an updated version of OR’s most popular waterproof/breathable Gore-tex rain jacket. It is loaded with features including a three-way adjustable hood with a front brim, velcro wrist cuffs, chest and handwarmer pockets, YKK Aquaguard zippers, and elastic hem adjustment. But what sets this jacket apart from all others are its full-length torso-flow side-zips which can be opened like pit-zips but extend all the way down the sides of the jacket so you can fully ventilate the jacket like a poncho and even wear it over your hip belt to keep it dry in the rain. The women’s model is called the Outdoor Research Aspire II.

Check the latest price at:
Outdoor Research 

5. Montbell Versalite Jacket

Montbell Versalite Jacket
The Montbell Versalite Jacket is a fully-featured ultralight rain jacket that has pit zips, a four-way adjustable hood, hook and loop wrist cuffs, hip-belt compatible chest pockets, an internally controlled hem adjustment, waterproof zippers, and taped seams. While it is by far the most breathable Gore-tex jacket on this list, it’s made with 10-denier nylon ripstop that is easy to damage and thin enough that it’s best used in more moderate weather when less warmth is required. The Versatile jacket is available in men’s and women’s sizes. Read the SectionHiker Versalite Jacket review.

Check the latest price at:
Montbell

6. The North Face Venture 2

The North Face Venture 2
The North Face Venture 2 is a fully-featured rain jacket that is comparable to the Marmot Precip Eco (below), although it is made with heavier weight, more durable fabrics. It has a fully adjustable hood, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, zippered side pockets, and a drawcord hem adjustment. The Venture 2 is made with The North Face’s DryVent proprietary waterproof/breathable fabric. This jacket is still a good value for the price and is fairly lightweight. It’s also available in men’s and women’s sizes. Read the SectionHiker Review. 

Check the latest price at:
REI | The North Face | Amazon

7. Marmot Precip Eco

Marmot Precip Jacket
The Marmot Precip Eco is a very popular backpacking rain jacket because it’s inexpensive, but fully featured with pit zip vents, a fully adjustable hood, velcro-wrist cuffs, and a hem adjustment.  The jacket also has two mesh-lined front pockets which are great to store gloves or a hat and provide additional ventilation. The Precip Eco is made with Marmot’s proprietary waterproof/breathable fabric which gets the job done but will need to be reproofed when the DWR coating wears off. While the Precip Eco is priced at $100, you can usually find it for far less. The Precip Eco is available in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes. Read the SectionHiker review.

Check the latest price at:
REI | Marmot | Amazon

8. Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket

Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket

The Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket is a fully-featured rain jacket with an adjustable hood, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, interior, and exterior pockets, and a drawcord hem. It’s made with siliconized polyester (silpoly) which is a permanently waterproof fabric, so you’ll never need to restore a DWR layer because it doesn’t have one. Lightheart Gear is a cottage manufacturer that sews all of its jackets. It’s also available in a nice variety of colors. The sizing is unisex. Read the SectionHiker review.

Check the latest price at:
Lightheart Gear

9. Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite

Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite
The Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite is a lightweight waterproof rain jacket with a fully adjustable hood, zippered side pockets, velcro wrist closures, and a cord-adjustable waist. It’s also permanently waterproof and far more durable and better fitting than other Frogg Toggs rain gear including the classic Frog Toggs UL2 Rain Suit favored by generations of AT thru-hikers. Available in men’s and women’s models. Read the SectionHiker review.

Check the latest price at:
Walmart | Amazon

10. Columbia Sportswear Watertight II

REI Groundbreaker Jacket
The Columbia Sportswear Watertight II Rain Jacket is a low-price, basic waterproof/breathable jacket that’s fully seam-taped, has an attached adjustable hood, velcro wrist cuffs, zippered side pockets, a drawcord hem, and mesh lining. It’s quite durable but still relatively lightweight. It lacks pit-zips like the Marmot Precip Eco and Patagonia Torrentshell Jackets, but it also costs much less. The Watertight II Rain Jacket is made with Columbia’s proprietary waterproof/breathable fabric which gets the job done but will need to be reproofed when the DWR coating wears off. This jacket is still an excellent value for the price. The Watertight II is only available in men’s sizes. The corresponding women’s jacket is called the Columbia Sportswear Arcadia II Rain Jacket.

Check the latest price at:
REI | Columbia Sportswear

Backpacking Rain Jacket Selection Criteria

What are the most important features to look for on a hiking and backpacking rain jacket?

Adjustable Hoods

Unfortunately, many rain jackets have oversized hoods that are intended for skiers and climbers who wear protective helmets. What you should look for is a fully adjustable hood with a rear volume adjustment so you can shrink the hood size to fit your head, side pulls so you can adjust the size of the face opening, a wire or shapeable brim to shield your eyes from wind and snow, and a high collar that covers your neck and mouth. All of these features will help protect your face from the cold and wind and help you stay warmer.

Zippered Pockets

You can’t have too many rain jacket pockets. They’re great for carrying spare gloves, hats, and keeping navigation tools in easy reach. They’re also good for keeping snacks close at hand so you can eat while you hike. I view rain jacket pockets as an extension of my backpack because the extra storage cuts down on the number of times I have to stop to get clothes or food out of my pack.

Venting Capabilities

When you have to hike in cool wet weather, you want to limit the amount you perspire by actively managing your warmth level. The key to doing this involves venting excess warmth by removing or venting layers. A good rain jacket should provide several ways for you to dump excess heat without having to take it off completely. Here are some of the most important features to look for when comparing different jackets.

  • Adjustable Hook and Loop (Velcro) Wrist Closures: This helps regulate the body heat at your wrists where the blood flows close to the surface of your skin. They can be worn under gloves or over them depending on your preference and the glove type.
  • Two-way front zipper: If you pull the bottom half up, you can dump a lot of excess torso heat, poncho-style.
  • Hem drawcord: Cinch it closed to keep the wind from blowing up between your legs and robbing your torso of heat.

Breathability Ratings

What should you look for in terms of breathability ratings when looking at hiking rain jackets? For inexpensive rain jackets, the best you can hope for is 10,000 (g/m^2/d) MVTR (movable water vapor transmission rate), which is pretty lackluster. Most of the manufacturers listed above don’t publish the MVTRs for their jackets, because they’re not that competitive with more expensive garments.

But to be honest, I don’t trust the breathability ratings published by manufacturers because they’re measured in ideal laboratory conditions that have little to do with actual use. Pit zips and active venting trump breathability claims any day. If you get too hot, venting your rain jacket is going to cool and dry you off far more quickly than waiting for water vapor to move across a breathable membrane while your zipper is closed.

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38 comments

  1. In the chart it says “WP/BR”. What does this mean? Why doesn’t it say what this means in your site?

  2. Enlightened Equipment Visp and Zpacks Vertice would be my top two choices. And I use the Visp when it really matters. Like cold sera d miserable.

  3. What do you think of the REI Co-Op Rainer?

      • Thank you ?. I read the link and like to ask your advice. My husband and I are going to hike the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim in mid September. We plan to start off with layers and shed them as the temp can go from 30 s high 80s that time of year. We are trying to prepare and train now and want to buy a rain jacket. I’ve been looking at several and reading your review and another one. It can be a bit overwhelming on which way to go. Suggestions?

        • The Patagonia Torrentshell is a good not-to-expensive, but fully-featured choice that you’ll be able to use after your trip. Its kind of hard for me to choose something for you without knowing a bit more about your experience and intentions, but that would be a safe bet.

  4. Glad to see the light heart gear silpoly rain jacket here as it is the best one I’ve used. No more “breathable” fabrics for me as these just don’t work. The pit zips on this are just fine.

    Also glad to NOT see the Outdoor Research Helium jacket. That rain jacket performs poorly in the rain.

  5. ++ for the OR Foray. The side zips make it, not sure if anyone else has these. I sweat heavy and it’s the only raincoat I can stay inside-dry enough here in the PNW.

  6. I’m trying the AntiGravityGear rain jacket now that my LHG is starting to peel (need to reapply silicone I’m guessing). Appealing factors are the two-way zippers; downside looks like no pockets. I’ll report back when it arrives and I put it through its paces.

  7. No Arcteryx hard-shells on the list? They make a wide variety of Gore-Tex jackets some of which are excellent for hiking. Did you think they are all too expensive?

  8. I guess Columbia outdry products never took off? they seemed like the answer to the problem at least partially since they were supposed to be breathable without needing to reapply dwr. I couldn’t find one in my size anyway, so I’ll just sweat in my Lightheart gear outfit. About lightheart gear I’m thinking a bit of silicone seam sealer wouldn’t hurt in the neck and shoulder area!

    • the LHG jacket isn’t facory seam sealed, so yeah, some seam sealer does help.
      Columbia has quietly killed off Outdry. There are very models available anymore. I suspect people just found it too heavy. That was my experience.

      • Just got back from a hike in the rain with my LHG jacket on and have found that any BIG issue is that the front zipper despite velcro’d flap is not waterproof and leaks terrible, I was really soaked after about an hour although with the pit zips open no sweat this time. fww. So i really don’t recommend this jacket as a viable option, especially if you’re in those rain turn cold scenarios.

  9. Thanks Phil, these parkas are among the best choices.
    GET ‘EM NOW, before oil prices rise even higher B/C all of these are made from petroleum by-products. Prices are still “reasonable” considering these inflationary times.

    I still have a worn ’90 REI 3 layer GTX parka that STILL doesn’t leak, an early 2000s Cabela’s PacLite GTX parka and my best one, an REI eVent parka.

    The ancient PacLite goes with me to Maui next month as it is about the most “expendable” if lost with my luggage.

    The eVent is use year around from skiing to backpacking to city wear.

    The old REI GTX jacket stays in my daily training hike pack.

  10. After section hiking 1800 miles of the AT I’ve given up the notion of staying dry with rain gear. Whether the rain eventually soaks through or you sweat to death, your going to get wet. So if I feel that it’s going to be a all day soaking rain I’ll pack my hiking shirt and shorts in my dry bag and hike with my rain gear. I guess that I don’t care if I’m wet, as long as I’m warm and wet. I when I get to where I’m going, I change out of the soaked rain gear into my dry shirt and pants.
    I do have one more trick. I have a cheap urethane poncho that I have cut off most of the poncho below the shoulder. So I put this on over my rain jacket to protect my head and the top of my shoulders where I find the jacket tend to get soaked through first. I look at my rain jacket more so as a wind layer than as something to keep me “dry”

  11. CAPT Gary Andres USN ret

    Wow. I am not sure, Philip, but this has to be the first rain jacket list that I have seen that didn’t include at least one version of an Outdoor Research Helium! Or an Arcteryx Beta. While I am a fan of my 3+ year old Helium (I think it was the Helium HD, with pit zips), it speaks volumes about the integrity of your lists. It shows that care was taken to consider any and all brands. The Lightheart Gear version, for example, isn’t often considered (I don’t think) as a top contender. We used to say in the Navy that that would be a “Deep Selected” item. Again, sir, I walkways consider the information on your site as true “value added”.

    • The helium just sucks and the Arcteryx betas cost $400-$600, for what? Now the LHG jacket is used by legions, legions of hikers, on the AT especially, and for good reason. The shoulders stay waterproof if you wear backpack straps on them.

    • Philip didn’t emphasize his, so I’ll shout it out here. This is a list of the best rain jackets fir hikers and backpackers, not skiers, climbers, or soccer moms. This is why I value Philips 10 best lists so much. They’re narrowly focused on hikers gear requirements which are very different from other activities.

  12. LHG did the job for me on my thru last year; I even hike thru the day that Irma came to PA. Great, light peice of gear.

  13. Do any of these come in tall or run long?

    Tall hiker hear at 6’8″.

    Thanks!

  14. still love my antigravitygear jacket… 70D silnylon, 6.5 oz, 17″ pit zips, waterproof…

    Not to go too far down a rat-hole, or be preachy… but, should hikers or anyone who loves the outdoors use a product, like Frogg Toggs, that will end up in a landfill much faster than higher quality products?

    This is my go-to for gear site reviews because it provides ALL options without an agenda, and I hope that doesn’t change, just planting seeds… Thanks!

  15. will these lightweight rain jackets wet out in the cold driving non-stop rains of Scotland or those type of environments? Montbell or lightheart best choices? or a heavier weight? stio? helly hansen? thank you

    • A lot of people throw out the term wet out and don’t know what it means. So for the benefit of others, let’s start there. Any jacket that has an external DWR coating will wet out when that DWR coating is worn off/rubbed off. You can accelerate this process by wearing a backpack.Wet out isn’t a property of the jacket per se, but the DWR polymer that is applied on the outside of it. When it is rubbed off, you can reapply it and restore it.

      Now when it comes to Scotland, I have some opinions about the best jacket to wear, but they differ by season. For example, in winter, I’d want a 3L (because it will be warmer, but heavier) Goretex Jacket with pit zips, hip compatible pockets, and a fully adjustable hood…in other words a jacket that’s basically for mountaineering. For the other seasons, I’d still want pit zips and a fully adjustable hood, but I could see using a much lighter weight 2.5 layer jacket instead since the weather will be milder.

      On past trips to Scotland (I mainly go in May), I have worn an Rab 3L (no longer made), OR Foray, a Montbell Versalite, and a LHG Silnylon jacket. The next time I go, I’ll probably take the Versalite, but I could also see bulking up with something a little heavier. It kind of depends on my route. If I go high, I’d want more jacket. Low, less jacket.

  16. Still think an oversized cagoule that covers your rucksac is the best bet, this gives a degree of venting as well. Waterproofing – I use a cheap silicon spray, works time and time again on over trousers as well, shoulders and knees are where the waterproofing needs to be reused.

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