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The Best Hiking Jackets to Tackle the Trails

Best Hiking Jackets 00 Hero
Photo: Prometheus Design Werx Defiant Hoodie

Enjoying the great outdoors means braving whatever the weather conditions happen to be. Many hikers opt to avoid the trail when the skies open, though when armed with the appropriate gear, contending with a little precipitation isn’t a problem. Fortunately, today’s most reputable outdoor brands not only produce waterproof, rain-ready versions of just about every category of garment and gear, but in recent years have managed to deliver increasingly high-performance items that afford better comfort, range of motion, weatherproofing, and breathability.

Just as important as keeping water out of your hiking boots, is keeping your upper body dry, as your core and arms lose ample amounts of heat under a soaked jacket, not to mention the discomfort and general unpleasantness of the bitter cold. A proper hiking-specific rain jacket can be an utter game-changer when hoofing it amidst showers and there have never been more truly stellar options available than there are now. With the enormous range of available options, it can be difficult to hone in on the few standouts that comprise the cream of the crop in the space, so in addition to counting down our picks for the best rain jackets on the market, we’ll also be delving into what makes today’s jackets markedly superior to previous offerings.

Best Hiking Rain Jackets

Precipitation Protection Perfected

Unpacking Rain Jacket Constructions And Treatments

The high-performance offered by today’s hiking rain jackets is owed to numerous areas, though none more than materials, construction techniques, and supplementary treatments and/or coatings. Below we’ll be exploring these three key areas, and how and why the latest and greatest jackets benefit from them.

Primary Constructions: Traditionally, waterproofing a jacket meant utilizing a material that simply prevented liquid or moisture from passing through it. And while this stopped water from seeping in, it would also trap body heat and vapor inside the jacket, resulting in excessive sweating when out on the trail, and ultimately leaving you wet underneath the coat. The rise in popularity of advanced proprietary membranes like GORE-TEX, Schoeller, eVent Fabric, and Polartec’s NeoShell has ushered in an era of immensely weatherproof jackets that still afford the wearer airflow and breathability. When paired with other materials and layers, this allows for the best of both worlds in terms of unrivaled water protections and stellar ventilation.

Coatings: The better-than-ever waterproofing offered by the latest hiking jackets is also owed to the supplementary coatings and/or treatments given to the outermost layer of the shell. Elements like waxing, polyurethane coatings, and DWR treatments add extra fortification from the rain via the addition of a thin flexible layer that helps water roll off of the garment rather than seep in. DWR — or Durable Water Repellent — coatings are the most common on premium hiking jackets, working on a microscopic level and taking a shape on the jacket’s surface with sharp peaks and valleys that force water to form into beads that even more efficiently roll off the jacket instead of penetrating the material.

Construction Technique: How a jacket is pieced together will ultimately have an impact on its range of mobility, comfort, and weatherproofing, which is why the manufacturers behind today’s best-hiking jackets often employ cutting-edge lasered, taped, or welded seams in lieu of traditional methods. On top of bolstering comfort and waterproofing, the use of advanced construction techniques can also make for vastly more durable jackets that will serve you season after season and year after year.

Secondary Details

Other Factors To Consider When Purchasing A Hiking Rain Jacket

Though admittedly not as crucial as the construction and treatment, there are a handful of additional areas that are well worth factoring into the equation when shopping for a hiking-specific rain jacket. Below we’ll briefly touch on some supplementary aspects to think about before pulling the trigger on your purchase.

Mobility: Today’s most cutting-edge constructions really can do it all. Alongside affording incredible ventilation, comfort, and protection from the elements — all while doing so in incredibly lightweight packages –these materials allow for a completely unrestricted range of motion thanks to being bestowed with four-way stretch properties. This, coupled with athletic cuts, ultimately allows for unrivaled mobility, allowing for natural movements while out on the trail.

Style: Every rain jacket engineered specifically for hiking will serve the same inherent purpose and generally take the same form, though there are numerous noteworthy variations in terms of aesthetics, style, and color options. Hiking rain jackets come in several genres including anoraks, pull-overs, dual and three-layer items, and full-zip jackets, and can be technically focused and modern looking, or borrowing aesthetic elements from vintage offerings. There’s also an enormous range of color options, from muted earth tones to vibrant ‘80s- and ‘90s-inspired neon hues and practically everything in-between.

Intended Climate: Where and when you plan on using your hiking jacket should play an important role, not just in what model you end up opting for, but also in what size to select. If you’re going to be hiking in particularly chilly climates, you may want to consider going a size up in order to fit an insulated base or mid-layer jacket underneath.

Adjustability: Not unlike a motorcycle jacket, in order for a hiking-specific rain jacket to properly do its job, it needs to fit its wearer correctly. And while the regular sizing system (Small, Medium, Large, XL, etc) does afford a general fit, most modern hiking jackets are equipped with a myriad of adjustment points to tweak the fit of the torso, hem, wrists, and hood. This is also one key area that helps to distinguish hiking jackets from regular everyday rain jackets.

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

  • Made with GORE-TEX membrane
  • Lightweight
  • Went up a lot in price

In typical REI Co-op fashion, the sub-brand’s XeroDRY GTX Jacket offers ample performance and quality in an accessibly-priced package. Manufactured in a Fair Trade Certified factory from bluesign-approved polyester and a dual-layer GORE-TEX Paclite fabric membrane, this DWR-treated jacket is 100% wind and waterproof, yet manages to tip the scales at just 12.5oz (or 0.78lbs). Produced in five solid and color-combo options, XeroDRY GTX Jacket also gets core ventilation ports, a multi-way adjustable hood, hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs and hem, and zippered hip-belt compatible hand pockets that are mesh-lined.

Shell Construction: Polyester with GORE-TEX membrane
Waterproof: Yes

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell

  • Budget-friendly
  • One of the most waterproof options
  • Underarm gussets for mobility
  • Stows really well
  • Runs large

Despite coming in at under $150, Black Diamond’s Stormline Stretch Rain Shell is an excellent hiking-specific jacket, backed by Black Diamond’s own in-house-developed proprietary BD.Dry membrane. Produced in ten different color options, the Stormline Stretch Rain Shell is crafted from Black Diamond’s 2.5-layer membrane, which is pieced together using fully-sealed seams and packs a 10,000mm waterproof rating and a 10,000g/m2 breathability rating. The jacket’s adjustable cuffs and hem afford a snug and precise fit while the placement of its underarm gussets allows for unrestricted mobility. The whole thing also conveniently stows away in one of its own pockets when not in use.

Shell Construction: DWR-coated nylon with 2.5-layer BD.Dry membrane
Waterproof: Yes

Patagonia Storm10

  • Very lightweight
  • Hood compatible with helmets
  • Built-in RECCO Reflector with integrated antenna
  • Hood is large and can obstruct vision without a hat or helmet

Patagonia’s Storm10 is the perfect backup shell to keep at the ready when on the trail. Weighing just 8.3oz (or 0.51lbs), the jacket boasts Patagonia’s H2No Performance Standard shell three-layer construction comprised of a 2.2oz 20D recycled ripstop nylon face with a 7D tricot backer, and a breathable, waterproof membrane reinforced via a DWR finish. Compatible with helmets and featuring an easy-adjust hood, this item also sports a full-length zipper with a storm flap and draw-cord-adjustable hem and cuffs — the latter of which also boasts a low-profile, tapered hook-and-loop closure while the former has a dual-adjust draw-cord. The Storm10 is also equipped with a built-in RECCO Reflector with an integrated antenna that can relay signals to a RECCO detector during a search.

Shell Construction: 2.2oz 20D ripstop nylon with 7D tricot backer
Waterproof: Yes

The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT

The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT
  • FUTURELIGHT membrane is said to be more waterproof and breathable than GTX
  • Stows away in one of its pockets
  • Waterproof zipper construction may be a hassle for everyday wear

For nearly 60 years, the Northern California outdoor clothing brand has risen the ranks to become one of the most revered names in the industry. As such, this Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Jacket is incredibly waterproof, including the zippers, and can stow away in its own pocket if you’re needing to save space. The jacket’s body and yoke are crafted from 75D FUTURELIGHT — TNF’s new proprietary construction that it is now using in place of GORE-TEX and is said to be the most waterproof and breathable membrane ever — and fitted with a polyester face that, like the nylon tricot backer, is composed entirely of recycled content. This item is admittedly on the lighter side at 15.27oz, though it offers more robust protection than the vast majority of jackets on this list (and on the market in general).

Shell Construction: 75D FUTURELIGHT 3L with polyester face and nylon tricot backer
Waterproof: Yes

Prometheus Design Werx Defiant Hoodie

  • Four-way stretch
  • Arguably the best-constructed jackets on this list
  • Regulated heat buildup
  • Expensive but worth it

A technically-focused, tactical interruption of a hooded sweatshirt, Prometheus Design Werx’s is an over-engineered item that’s made from a combination of ultra-cutting-edge Schoeller fabrics and materials. This includes Schoeller c_change, Schoeller 3XDRY and Schoeller Cold Black, the first of which is an advanced two-in-one membrane, while the second is a material that reacts in real-time to weather conditions, and the third is a textile that offers UVA- and UVB-protection and hugely mitigates heat buildup. PDW’s Defiant Hoodie also features four-way stretch properties, fully-taped seams, YKK AquaGuard zippers, laser-cut Hypalon) cuff tabs, Cohaesive Hardware, and the Cohaesive Embedded Component Management System containing an enormous slew of zippered body and sleeve pockets.

Shell Construction: Schoeller Textiles AG 40D ripstop nylon
Waterproof: Yes

Arc’teryx Beta LT

  • Helmet-compatible StormHood
  • Great ventilation
  • Versatile usage
  • Could use some zipper pulls
  • Inconsistent fit

One of the latest offerings from one of the most esteemed names in the outdoor gear space, the Arc’teryx Beta LT is a lightweight full-protection rain shell that’s been engineered to be as versatile as possible. The bluesign-approved, breathable, wind and waterproof, triple-layer GORE-TEX shell that the jacket is constructed around affords robust protection from the elements and cold while armpit speed ventilation ports, a helmet-compatible StormHood, and hand pockets with WaterTight zippers allow the jacket to lend itself to a wide range of outdoor activity, from skiing to climbing to cycling to, of course, hiking.

Shell Construction: 3-layer GORE-TEX
Waterproof: Yes

Mountain Hardware Exposure/2 GORE-TEX Pro Lite

  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Really comfy considering its tough construction
  • Lacks armpit ventilation
  • Could use some more pockets

Whether it’s backpacks, alpine-grade sleeping bags, or jackets, Mountain Hardwear produces some of the world’s finest GORE-TEX outdoor gear, as demonstrated by the California-based company’s Exposure/2 GORE-TEX Pro Lite shell. Weighing less than a pound, the jacket uses a 3L GORE-TEX Pro membrane that provides ample protection from the cold and rain without adding much bulk or weight. Equally conducive to skiing or ice-climbing as it is hiking, the Exposure/2 GORE-TEX Pro Lite features membrane and shell fabrics that are both bluesign-approved and the jacket’s trio of color options is achieved through the use of solution-dyed fabrics.

Shell Construction: Nylon with 3-layer GORE-TEX Pro Shell 70D membrane
Waterproof: Yes

Snow Peak Light Mountain Cloth Parka

Snow Peak Light Mountain Cloth Parka
  • Great parka option
  • Stylish and comfortable
  • Not waterproof

If you’ve frequented Snow Peak at all, you’ll the outdoor gear experts knows how to blend rugged, lightweight utility with streetwear sensibilities better than anyone. This recent addition to the Japanese brand’s catalog is produced in a trio of color options (orange, black, and blue), and is outfitted with drop shoulder construction, dual side pockets, a henley zipper, elastic cuffs, and an adjustable hood with a hidden drawcord. Its cotton-nylon blend is also given a C6 water-repellant treatment.

Shell Construction: Cotton-nylon blend
Waterproof: No

The Best Rain Jackets For Any Occassion

Photo: Triple Aught Design Raptor Hoodie SE

Want to check out a wider selection of rain jackets that aren’t just limited to items built for the trails? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best rain jackets for men for a diverse array of premium shells, anoraks, technical jackets, and classic raincoats.