The Best Rain Jackets (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Stay dry and comfortable with these top rain jackets.
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON March 26, 2021
When it rains, it’s important to outfit yourself with a high-quality rain jacket. The best rain jackets are comfortable and keep your skin dry without letting your body overheat. A good raincoat is important for both urban living and camping. It prevents you from needing to dry out your clothes and keeps you comfortable and on the move during bad weather. Ideally, these jackets are breathable, waterproof, and made with quality materials and effective stitching.
Most come with zippered designs and include adjustable hoods to provide full protection from the elements. Necessary for every household, rain jackets are available in a large range of styles and features. To help you identify the best rain jacket for your purposes, we’ve scoured the internet for the most popular and useful choices on the market. Take a look at the leading options in our guide below.
This sturdy nylon jacket is available in several different colors. It provides complete rain protection for boys and features elastic cuffs to prevent water from penetrating.
- The hood keeps a child’s head completely dry, and the jacket is machine washable
- It has reflective elements for visibility at night, and it's a good choice if a kid gets caught in a downpour
- Sizing may be a little off, and there is no lining, so it's quite thin and won't keep a child very warm
This adult-sized jacket is made of polyethylene, which is breathable, water-resistant, and windproof. The cuffs keep water from penetrating, and the zipper is covered by a flap for extra protection.
- The hood is adjustable, so you can customize it to fit your head properly
- Very lightweight and easy to fold and pack for a trip, plus it's reasonably priced
- While it keeps you dry, it is very thin
- If you accidentally catch it on something it easily tears
- Not particularly durable
Available in several colors and sizes, this rain jacket has a half zipper, so you pull it on over your head. It has a drawstring hood and cuffs at the wrist to keep water out.
- This rain jacket is ventilated, lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable to wear
- Folds into the front pocket, so it's easy to pack
- Users complain that it's not true to size and runs a little large
- Stains easily
- Doesn't feel as high quality as some rival brands
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Benefits of Rain Jackets
- They provide rain protection. The main reason to purchase a rain jacket is to stay dry during inclement weather. The best rain jackets cover your torso, arms, and head so you don't get soaked.
- They're a good umbrella alternative. While umbrellas do a good job of keeping you dry on a typical rainy day, they are practically useless if it's windy. A rain jacket, however, can keep you largely dry even in windy conditions.
- They're fashionable. Raincoats come in a variety of colors, styles, and designs, so you can show off your personality even when it's wet outside. Many manufacturers produce rain jackets, so you're sure to find one that suits your fashion sense.
Types of Rain Jackets
Water-resistant jackets provide the least amount of rain protection. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not a good choice. They are ideal if it's raining lightly or drizzling outside. These jackets are affordable and breathable, which is important if you don't want to sweat very much. Windbreakers and softshell jackets are often water-resistant.
There are PVC vinyl rain jackets that are 100-percent waterproof, keeping you dry in heavy rain. However, they're not particularly breathable, and that can be a problem if you plan on participating in any activities when you're wearing one. You can always opt for a waterproof poncho, which covers a large portion of your body but is open underneath, providing ventilation.
Waterproof and Breathable Jackets
Some companies make waterproof jackets that will keep you dry yet are breathable, so you won't get soaked by your sweat. Many brands meet minimum waterproof requirements yet are breathable, so you stay dry on the inside. This is particularly important if you plan on being active while you're wearing a rain jacket.
Columbia Sportswear Company
Columbia Sportswear Company, based in Cedar Mill, Ore., was founded in 1938 and manufactures a wide range of outerwear as well as camping gear, including tents and backpacks. It's known for its breathable and waterproof jackets with interchangeable shells and liners. We recommend the Columbia Glennaker Rain Jacket if you are looking for a jacket for your child.
Based in Arab, Ala., Frogg Toggs has been in business for over two decades, specializing in rainwear, footwear, and accessories for those who work and play outside. One of its popular products is the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite 2 Rain Jacket.
Charles River Apparel
This family-owned business was founded in 1983 and was named after Boston's famous river. It makes clothing for men, women, and children, and features high-quality products, such as the Charles River Apparel Pack-N-Go Pullover Jacket.
Outdoor recreation giant the North Face is based in Denver, Colo. The company designs a wide variety of outdoor clothing and equipment, including rain jackets, such as the North Face Men's Resolve Waterproof Jacket.
Rain Jacket Pricing
- Under $20: Jackets for children and waterproof rain ponchos can be very affordable. However, it can be a little challenging to find a good-quality option in this price range.
- $20 to $50: You can find a wide variety of rain jackets at this price point, and they are suitable for men, women, and children. They provide decent protection but can vary when it comes to durability.
- $50 and up: If you are an outdoor enthusiast who spends a lot of time in changing weather conditions, you may want to spend a little more money for a premium-quality, waterproof and breathable jacket that will last for a long period.
Type of Shell
Hardshell garments are waterproof and breathable. They are not insulated but feature fabric that is a little stiffer than a softshell option, which often has an insulated layer and water-resistant outer layer. Softshell options are more breathable yet don't provide as much rain protection. There is also a hybrid shell option, which combines hard and soft shell characteristics, and insulated shell jackets that include some type of filling for warmth.
Number of Layers
Rain jackets have two-layer, 2.5-layer, or three-layer designs that provide varying levels of protection. Two-layer rain jackets have a membrane affixed to the fabric with a loose hanging layer for protection. The 2.5-layer option is similar to the two-layer option except it also includes a laminated grid for abrasion resistance, making them waterproof, breathable, and lightweight. Three-layer jackets are lightweight and durable and feature an inner liner.
The more ventilation a jacket has the more breathable it will be. Vents will help expel heat if you are physically active while wearing the jacket. This is particularly important in warmer climates where you have a propensity to sweat. Look for jackets with vents or pit zips in the underarm area as well as vents in the back and torso pockets.
If you want a completely waterproof jacket, all of its seams should be fully taped. The good news is that all waterproof jackets feature this type of construction. However, some water-resistant jackets also have seam tape on the hood and shoulders, so don't be fooled and look at the seam tape alone to determine whether a jacket is waterproof or not.
- Adjustability: First, look at the hood to see if you can adjust the sides and back of it to make it fit around your head properly. Some hoods are removable or can be stored in the collar area when not in use. Also, check to see if the jacket has a drawstring on the bottom hem or the waist and if it has wrist closures. These items will prevent rain and wind from penetrating, and you can adjust them based on the type of ventilation you require.
- Number of Pockets: The best rain jackets have several pockets with waterproof zippers, so you can keep a variety of items clean and dry. In addition to pockets for your hands, you may find a jacket with a cord port, so you can keep your electronic device dry while you listen to music. Other jackets have hidden pockets to protect belongings from potential pickpockets.
- Weight and Portability: If you plan on traveling and taking your rain jacket with you on a trip, you want one that's lightweight and doesn't take up a lot of space in your luggage. Look for brands that are not very bulky and easy to pack. Some even come with built-in pockets or stuff sacks for storage purposes.
Best Rain Jacket Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- To prevent rain from getting in your eyes, wear a cap underneath the hood on your rain jacket. It provides a barrier that also keeps water from dripping down your face and your neck.
- Unless it's raining heavily, keep your pit zips unzipped. The ventilation is worth it in light to medium rain because minimal water will be able to penetrate this area in those conditions.
- Remove one layer if you're putting on a rain jacket. This will prevent you from sweating, particularly if it's warm outside.
Q: What is the best jacket for rain?
There are a lot of great brands that will keep you dry during the rain, including several we list in this buying guide. Choose one that is waterproof and breathable for the best and most comfortable protection.
Q: Are rain jackets waterproof?
Many rain jackets are waterproof, while others are water-resistant. Check the item’s specs before purchasing to ensure you get what you need.
Q: Does a rain jacket keep you warm?
A rain jacket that’s insulated will keep you warm, but not all products are designed with this added material. Some jackets are very thin and designed simply to keep you dry, not warm.
Our pick for the best rain jacket is the Columbia Glennaker Rain Jacket, which is designed for children. It's designed by a company that's an expert in outerwear, and it's durable and high quality. The jacket will keep a child dry in a downpour and is machine washable, which makes it easy to clean. If you want a budget-friendly jacket for an adult, consider the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite 2 Rain Jacket.