Breathe Easy: 10 Best Rain Jackets For Hiking

Apr 9, 2018

Category: Gear

Staying dry on the trail isn’t as straight forward as simply throwing on a rain shell. Pick the wrong rain jacket and you’ll end up just as soaked as if you’d left it at the bottom of your pack. Why? Well, because most rain jackets out there are waterproof, but not breathable. Essentially, these rain jackets are just glorified plastic bags with zippers and arm holes. They trap all the heat you generate while huffing up and down the trail – soaking you with sweat.

This, of course, doesn’t have to be the fate of every wet-weather hiker out there. There are plenty of rain jackets designed for hiking on the market. Some use breathable materials to help ventilate, others boast zippers located at key points to help cool you down, and a choice few even have both. Whether you’re looking for something dynamic enough to wear in a hot subway platform as well as a rainy city street, or just a jacket for wear while striking out into the wilderness, we’re sure you’ll find something you like in our rundown of the best rain jackets for hiking.

Columbia EvaPOURation Jacket

You don’t have to spend tons of money to get a fully capable hiking rain jacket. Case in point, this pick from outdoor gear brand Columbia. Their EvaPOURation shell is made from a 100% nylon shell that is given with their Omni-Tech waterproof and breathable treatment, and fitted with special Omni-Wick EVAP evaporation panels. Additionally, the jacket has underarm venting zips for letting out heat. All of this is to say that in addition to keeping you dry, it’ll keep you cool and well ventilated on the trail, too.

Purchase: $60

The North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket

Pit-zip venting, a DryVent 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate, and 70D ripstop nylon all make this jacket from The North Face ideal for striking out into wet weather. But that’s not all this rain jacket for hiking features. It has velcro cuffs for keeping a tight fit around your wrists, an adjustable cinch-cord hood, as well as storm flaps along the zippers located by the waist pockets and center closure.

Purchase: $100

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

Made from a recycled ripstop nylon and equipped with Patagonia’s 2.5-layer H2No, this jacket manages to be not just waterproof, but windproof and highly breathable. The hood features a visor, a two-way adjustable cord, and a microfleece-lined neck for reduced chafing while trudging through muddy trails. For additional ventilation, the rain jacket for hiking has two zippers at the underarms and zippered hand warmer pockets. And, to top it all off, the jacket is designed to be totally packable.

Purchase: $130

Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket

Another solid pit zipping, GORE-TEX-equipped rain jacket for hiking the trails. What sets this one apart from all others? It boasts micro-seams for even more breathability and weight reduction. That means you’ll be able to let out even more heat and moisture than you would with others on the market. Of course, the jacket also has a bevy of other, more common features like wrist an adjustable hood, a storm flap over the zipper, and velcro cuffs.

Purchase: $190

The North Face Apex Flex GTX

Back in 2017, The North Face released something totally unique – a soft shell rain jacket. Rather than having that tough, plastic feel on the exterior, it instead features a soft and flexible polyester and elastane fabric. This dynamic material combined with Gore-Tex’s 3-layer waterproof breathable membrane makes the jacket ideal for wearing while on the trail, around the campsite, or trudging up a mountain. For dumping extra heat, the jacket has underarm pit zips. And for when it’s as cold as it can be? The jacket can cinch tight around the cuffs, hem, and hood to keep you totally toasty.

Purchase: $230

Outdoor Research Foray Jacket

Out of all the great jackets for men on this list, this one may very well have the best ventilating features, period. Rather than just pit-zips, the jacket’s sides can be fully opened up – allowing the waist-belt of your hiking pack to sit under the protective fabric rather than over it. If that’s not quite enough, the jacket also has the ability to zip up from the hem for even more breathability.

Purchase: $230

Black Diamond Liquid Point Shell Jacket

For those who are looking for a light, packable jacket that’ll stand up to tough, regular use on the trail – you could do a lot worse than this pick from Black Diamond. Weighing in at just 14.5-ounces, it is lightweight enough to bring along on multi-day trips while still being tough enough (thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane) to hold up in serious downpours. Afraid of taking on too much heat? The jacket has pit-zips that cool you down super quickly.

Purchase: $250

REI CO-Op Drypoint GTX Jacket

REI has once again teamed up with Gore-Tex to make their rain gear, and we couldn’t be happier. This particular jacket boasts a 3-layer GORE-Tex Active laminate – the most breathable material created by the brand – as well as core vents for dumping heat. And to top it all off? The jacket is so light (10.5-ounces) it barely moves the needle on the scale. A great, packable jacket for traveling.

Purchase: $250

Hyperlite Mountain Gear The Shell

Yes, this jacket is waterproof and breathable, but that’s not the most remarkable thing about it. Instead, what really makes this zip-up hiking rain jacket stand out is its incredible light weight. A size medium of this jacket clocks in on the scale at just 5.80 ounces. And while you’d think that means it just won’t be as tough as others, it actually stands out as being among the most rough and tumble on the market.

Purchase: $450

Arc’teryx Zeta AR Jacket

When it comes to high-end rain jackets for hiking, few are better than Arc’teryx. The Canadian brand manages to combine world-class utility with a high-end design that is alluring even off the trail. This particular example features a DWR-coated 40D nylon shell, a 3L Gore-Tex membrane, fully taped seams, and pit zips for increased ventilation. All things said it is everything yo’d expect from a tough rain jacket for hiking and more.

Purchase: $475

10 Best Waterproof Running Shoes For Men

Not deterred by a little bit of rain? With rain jackets like the ones we outlined above and waterproof running shoes like we highlight here, you definitely shouldn’t be.

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