We are putting through a list of bet rain jackets for men and women 2020. These are top rated lightweight packable rain jacket women’s and men.
If we’ve learnt anything from putting 12 rain jackets through their paces over the last few months, it’s this: 1. It rarely rains when you need it to (i.e. when there’s vital wet weather testing to be done). 2: When it does rain – which it eventually did in bucket loads – reliable rain are worth every penny.
You’ve probably noticed it can sometimes get jolly damp in these muddled weather isles of ours. But with a good rain jacket, you can walk on through the showers in relative comfort.
After footwear, investing in a raink (aka a ‘hard shell’) should be next in your walking clobber priorities, especially if you’re heading for the hills.
The good news is, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a jacket to get you out there and relishing the rain. As a general rule, you get what you pay for.
Some are over-hyped, but pricier jackets tend to deliver better fabrics, design and durability. Value for money is one quality we assess in our reviews, measuring price against performance.
We cover every type of jacket out there, from low-priced to lightweight and top-of-the-range, and suggest the best matching different budgets and needs.
Fit, features and fiddly zips… nothing’s left out. We also explain how they work and are best looked after.
We’ve chosen 12 waterproof jackets which should be widely available in USA, UK and Canada. All of these waterproof jackets are available for both men and women.
We rate each jacket on comfort (fit and feel), performance (how it copes with rain and sweat), versatility and value for money. We don’t select an overall winner, and best value for money.
Best Rain Jackets
What is the best lightweight rain jacket 2020? Below is the list.
- Craghoppers Toscana Jacket
- Regatta Highton Stretch Jacket
- Mountain Warehouse Rainforest Rain Jacket
- Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket
- Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Waterproof Jacket
- Keela Cairn Jacket Review
- Sprayway Reaction Jacket
- Montane Pac Plus Jacket
- Salomon OUTline Jacket
- Berghaus Highland Ridge Interactive Jacket
- Rab Kangri GTX Jacket Review
- Paramo Alta III Jacket Review
Best Rain Jackets Under 100 Dollars
#1. Craghoppers Toscana Jacket
At the time of writing, this great value jacket is on sale for £22.50 – an almost alarmingly low price. Its a women’s packable rain jacket and it is a decent, does-the-job waterproof. The material is Craghopper’s own AquaDry: waterproof to 8000mm, meaning it will keep you dry in most wet-weather conditions on low-level walks but may not stand up to relentlessly heavy rain.
It coped well with most conditions on low-level walks and city strolls, though I did get sweaty quite quickly on a particularly gruelling muddy uphill. The mesh lining helps it feel more comfortable next to the skin but can still feel a little plasticky.
Most key features are covered with adjustable cuffs, hem and hood. Here, with my bundle of thick hair, I found the capacity a little low and the peak short, so my face felt exposed in more stormy weather.
There are three zipped pockets and the inner one is large enough for a map, but to accommodate this comfortably, it’s placed around the abdomen so you have to undo the zip almost two-thirds of the way to access it. But these are all quibbles that might not bother you, and overall it’s a brilliant value jacket.
BEST FOR: Low-level and warmer weather walking.
Price, features generally well covered. Best cheap rain jacket.
Inner pocket placement.
#2. Regatta Highton Stretch Jacket
The Highton is an innovative jacket at an attractive price, made for day-to-day walking. But it’s not without downsides.
Let’s start with a positive. As you might have guessed from the name, its party pieces are the stretchy panels promising easy movement around the sleeves and shoulders.
But frustratingly the cut is restrictively tight across the shoulders. The whole jacket rode up every time I lifted my arms.
In this mesh-lined jacket’s favour, its breathable Isotex 10,000 fabric and water repellent coating did the business in day-long drizzle, with an internal storm flap to cover the main zip (though no taping).
It’s not premier league performance, but it’s sufficient. With hem and hood cords drawn tight, you can feel smugly cocooned when foul weather sets it.
But it could do with some Velcro tabs on the elasticated cuffs, men’s packable rain jacket. There are four pockets: an awkwardly placed internal security pocket, two roomy lower pockets and one in the chest (which unintuitively unzips sideways).
BEST FOR: Everyday, low-level walks throughout the year.
Unergonomic fit and pockets.
#3. Mountain Warehouse Rainforest Waterproof Jacket
The Rainforest jacket felt warm and snug the moment I first pulled it on, appropriately in rain-sodden woodland. It uses own-brand IsoDry fabric, which is rated to 10,000mm and has a textured feel, like rough linen. This is one of the lightweight packable rain jacket available in the market.
It felt reassuringly tough and protective, especially zipped right up to the mouth with the soft, brushed cotton lining creating a cosy feeling – though it was also quite tight over the face.
The mesh lining around the core and silky polyester lining in the sleeves add to that next-to-skin comfort. And a cut that completely covers the hips and part of the bum is welcome for warmth, though less suited for agile endeavours.
I quickly became quite sweaty on steep climbs but it was great on wet and gusty low-level tracks.
It also has loads of pockets: two hand-warmers, one outer chest, one inner chest – all zipped – and a phone-sized velcro pocket tucked right inside near a small elasticated earphone loop.
It’s not designed for long days up high in foul weather but is practical, comfortable and just fine for lower level walks.
BEST FOR: Cold, wet weather walks on moderate ground. Best rain jacket for campaign.
Comfortable, warm, multi-pocketed. It a breathable rain jacket.
Can get sweaty.
Best Rain Jackets Under 200 Dollars
#4. Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket
The Helium II is so incredibly light and compact, I was sometimes worried I’d forgotten to pack a jacket at all. It weighs about the same as a can of tuna and stuffs down into a built-in Velcro pouch no bigger than a cooking apple.
Designed with few frills, it’s a waterproof you can throw on in a downpour and swiftly stow away again when the storm’s passed.
For all these reasons and more, it’s a great for summer rain, ideal for long-distance walking. Its and ideal rain jacket for hiking, but won’t cut it as a year-round, everyday jacket.
To keep you dry it combines a thin but surprisingly robust (if also rustly) 2.5 layer Pertex fabric and water repellent zips (though no full length storm flap).
I found this amply breathable. It’s not a long jacket and the tailoring never felt restrictive. A single toggle lets you tighten the hem and another drawcord in the hood pulls it snugly around your noggin.
The cuffs are elasticated, but not as effective as velcro tabs. On the pocket front, there’s the pouch inside and one zipped chest pocket, with room for a smartphone.
BEST FOR: Fast, light and long distance walks in milder seasons.
Compact and wonderfully light. Great fit and breath-ability. A special rain jacket for travel.
Few pockets, not warm enough for year-round use
#5. Jack Wolfskin Eagle Peak Rain Jacket
This is a jacket you can feel confident soldiering up Snowdon in, but won’t feel overdressed for walking the dog in either. It’s a dependable all-rounder and eminently comfortable to wear while running, with touches of luxury.
Everything’s neatly thought out with the Eagle Peak jacket, right down to details like the tab on the soft chin guard behind the zip and the discreet toggles for adjusting the hood snugly.
The two in the collar are sewn in, so they don’t flap around or get entangled. Unlike the other jackets I was testing, I found the fabric relatively soft and it doesn’t rustle excessively in the wind.
On paper, Texapore O2+ matches Gore-Tex levels of waterproof-ness (30,000mm) and breath-ability, and I certainly wasn’t getting wet or sweaty inside when out in rain showers. The ‘Super DWR’ is PFC-free.
This layered set up is lined with a mesh and inside the collar there’s a soft fleecy lining. The cut is loose and casual, and the adjustable hem and arms are average length.
You get three, good-sized zipped pockets: two at the front and one inside – all roomy enough for phones, wallets and gloves. The jacket is very waterproof, windproof and exceptionally breathable.
BEST FOR: Day-to-day walking and occasional trips to wilder places.
Comfy, well-designed and good weatherproofing. A travel rain jacket.
#6. Keela Cairn Jacket Review
If you are looking for a rain jacket that folds into a pouch, stop here then. This fluorescent beauty (available in less flashy hues) is the handiwork of Scottish brand Keela. Keela know a thing or two about staying dry, and it shows in this versatile, first-class jacket.
You get a lot of bang for your buck. The 3-layer Aquaflex fabric is thin and lithe, and it kept me dry whenever the skies opened, ‘breathing’ well on the go as well.
The main, two-way zip is water repellent, as are those for the three roomy outer pockets, complemented by a fourth inside (annoyingly a little too small for chunkier smartphones).
The hood is helmet compatible and so rather large – prone to catch the wind. Happily it’s also fully adjustable, but I had to pull all three shockcords quite tight for a snug fit.
The wired peak helps keep vision clear too. The collar comes up fairly high, which was welcome in wind and driving rain, and the long, articulated sleeves gave my arms excellent freedom of movement.
The Cairn is also very light and packs down small into its hood. My only qualms are the thin tabs on the zips, which proved slightly fiddly to grasp with wet gloves on.
BEST FOR: Everything from upland day walks to a multiday hikes.
Light, compact, great fit, performs well.
Fiddly zip tabs and small internal pocket.
#7. Sprayway Reaction Jacket
Made from Gore-Tex fabric, which is reliably windproof and breathable (with a 28,000mm waterproof rating), the Reaction is well equipped for rough conditions from spring through to late autumn.
It felt reassuringly robust in near gale-force winds on a cold wet hilltop and with the zip pulled up to the nose and the stiffened, wired peak pulled low, I was well protected against buffeting rain.
It’s long enough to cover the hips and falls partway over the rear, so the core stays warm even when reaching up or bending down.
The satiny polyester lining means it feels soft next to the skinoo with patches of mesh lining around the back and armpits to aid breath ability.
This makes it good for warm, wet days when you might want to throw it on over a T-shirt while still being roomy enough to go over a heavier midlayer.
There are three pockets: two zipped OS map-sized hand-warmers set above backpack hipbelt level and one velcro tabbed inner pocket.
The Reaction can get a little sweaty on more arduous climbs but it should suit all but the most determined, winter peak baggers.
BEST FOR: Traditional 3-season hill walking. A High quality packable waterproof jacket.
Robust, roomy, high pockets.
Can feel a little sweaty.
#8. Montane Pac Plus Jacket
The Pac Plus feels and performs like a hardy mountain jacket, but it weighs in and packs down like the windbreakers joggers wore back in the 80s.
It’s light (under 300g), hard-wearing and when you don’t need it, it will squash down to the size of a cabbage, stowing neatly in the right-hand pocket.
A wonderfully versatile rain and waterproof jacket, it can serve as your day-to-day hill walking jacket with other layers or be on standby in your rucksack as you ‘thru-hike’ the Pennine Way.
The amply breathable Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric (the lighest, most ‘packable’ incarnation) kept me dry on the go in blustery deluges lashing the Peak District over winter, with every opening sealed up by water repellent zips.
I liked how I could pull the hood tight to my head and over my chin using the drawcords, but not lose visibility thanks to the stiff, wired peak.
A strip of soft fabric where the collar comes over your lips shows attention to detail. It’s a budget lightweight raincoat for travel.
The tailoring is uninhibiting and the map-sized zipped pockets sit above waist-belt level – alas there are just the two on the outside. All in all it’s a minimalist masterpiece.
BEST FOR: Spring to autumn hillwalking and long-distance trails.
Light, compact and comfy to wear. Great performance.
No inside pockets.
#9. Salomon OUTline Jacket
The OUTline is light to the point of almost feeling flimsy, so pulling it out in a wind so strong I had to lean sideways into it just to walk forwards, I felt quite nervous, convinced rain would lash through.
Salomon though have heritage in climbing and mountain running so much of their kit is adapted to staying agile and dry in severe onditions. As a result, it kept me warm and dry in blasting wind and rain.
These are mostly made from 2.5 layer waterproof fabric with a 20,000mm rating, making it flexible and light, with more durable 3 layer fabric at the upper arms, shoulders and hood – areas which take the most pummeling from weather and abrasion.
It’s unlined so doesn’t feel immediately warm but is considerably lighter than other jackets on test and packs to the size of a grapefruit.
It’s not overloaded with features, prioritising freedom of movement and performance. So the cuffs and hem are elasticated and he hood is not adjustable, though it fitted me well, never obscuring vision.
And there are two waist pockets, neither quite big enough for a map. Simple, yes, but astonishingly protective.
BEST FOR: Fast movers on the hills and off.
Light, high weather resistant fabric.
Very few features.
Best Rain Jackets Under 300 Dollars
#10. Berghaus Highland Ridge Interactive Jacket
Warm and well-featured, the Highland Ridge is perfectly equipped for wet and wild conditions. It’s generously cut: large enough for a thick midlayer underneath and designed to zip into fleeces from the Berghaus Interactive range, with long sleeves to protect the hands and almost entirely covering the rump.
The 2 layer Gore-tex fabric is lined with satiny polyester and mesh down the spine, with brushed cotton around the collar and over the zip, so it feels snug from the off.
There’s an inner waist-cord too, designed to trap in heat but I found it awkward to adjust as the jacket needs to be open to access it and a little uncomfy when tightened.
The chest pocket is great however, located under the stormflap so you needn’t open the jacket to access it, and large enough for an OS map.
There are two hand-warmer pockets too, just about accessible over a rucksack hipbelt, but I’d like them to be an inch or so higher.
Happily, the hood is separate from the collar so you can pull it up and down without undoing the zip. All of this combines to make the Highland Ridge exceptionally equipped to retain body heat.
BEST FOR: Staying warm on cooler, wetter days on all terrains.
Comfortable, robust, well-placed chest pocket.
Waist cord, main pockets can be awkward to access with a backpack.
#11. Rab Kangri GTX Jacket Review
The Kangri is a battle tank among jackets – expensive yes, but built to survive scuffs and drenching on long, hard forays in the hills.
Its main armour is a hard-wearing 3 layer, 70 denier GoreTex fabric. Shedding rain and deflecting hooleys, it’s rainproof, windproof and breathable – just what I needed on the high moors of the Peak District.
The Kangri has a sturdy, two-way Aquaguard zip (water repellent), backed up by a storm flap. It’s also equipped with a drawcord adjustable hem and a large hood you can close tight around your face, shutting out the elements.
You can also make it snugger around your waist. I liked how the toggles for the hood closing are sewn into the high collar where they couldn’t snag or flap in my face.
The cut was amply long enough to cover my rear, while long, ‘articulated’ sleeves meant I could move freely without anything riding up and leaving me chilly.
When things get warm, pit zips can be opened to let in cool air, warm weather rain jacket. There are three pockets: one inside for a smartphone or wallet, and two generous waist pockets set above rucksack harness level.
BEST FOR: Year-round hillwalking, whatever the weather.
Very robust, brilliant waterproofing, clever design.
#12. Paramo Alta III Jacket Review
Paramo takes a different approach to others, using directional Nikwax Analogy fabric rather than a membrane. It actively moves liquid water away from your body, rather than just letting sweat vapour evaporate like membranes do.
The durable water repellent coating sheds most water and the jacket dries out remarkably quickly. It’s also noticeably soft, flexible and warm and doesn’t rustle much, making it very freeing to move about in.
The material is quite heavy and warm and it’s easy to overheat on strenuous uphills in mild conditions although the zipped vents on both arms, opening to a mesh lining, do help combat this.
You can also push the sleeves up and undo the main zip from the bottom as well as the top.
The fit is loose and long, entirely covering the bum and the two zipped handwarmer pockets are backpack compatible but accessible under the belt rather than over it.
The zipped outer, chest pocket easily takes a map. There’s another, smaller, inner zipped pocket which probably accepts most phones but mine, in a bulky water and shockproof case, didn’t quite fit.
BEST FOR: Comfort in consistently cold and damp conditions.
Soft, comfortable, excellent ethics, a best rain jackets for backpacking.
Unflattering, can get quite hot.
What to Look for When Buying?
A good hood should fit snugly around your head and most are adjustable. Many have two shock cord toggles in the collar and another at the back you can pull tight for a head-hugging fit, so that the hood doesn’t impede your visibility when you’re looking around. A stiff or wired peak can also help keep your field of vision clear and will keep some rain off your face.
Most jacket fabrics combine two layers: a robust, rain-shedding outer layer treated with a durable water repellent (often called the face fabric) and a waterproof, breathable waterproof jacket, membrane which is heat-bonded to the underside (see page 82 for the science). Seams are taped to stop rain getting in. Fabric performance varies, with some brands using third party membranes and others using own-brand technology.
Jacket tailoring varies from loose-fitting, ‘casual’ cuts to figure-hugging ‘athletic’ fits, with longer ‘articulated’ arms. Your jacket should have ample slack and length for moving around in without riding up around the hem or cuffs and leaving you exposed to rain and wind.
The potential weak point in a jacket’s rain-shedding armour, the zip is usually protected by at least one storm flap on its underside. Some jackets have a second storm flap covering the outside, held down by snap fasteners or Velcro to keep the rain out. Some pricier jackets (like this one) employ heat-bonded, waterproof tape to make the zip water repellent. Two-way zips (unzipped from top and bottom) give easier access to layers underneath and better movement in longer jackets when needed.
Most jackets sport a few pockets both outside and in for stowing your phone, map, hat and gloves. On some jackets, the front pair of ‘hand warmer’ pockets are set above waist level so that they remain accessible when a rucksack hip belt rests over the jacket.
A longer jacket covers up your thighs and bottom more effectively, but can also impede your stride unless there’s a two-way zip (see Zip). Shorter-cut jackets and those with scoop back hems, allow freer movement and are easier to take longer strides and scramble in.
Velcro adjustable cuffs let you seal out rain and gusts, but some ultra-light weight jackets forego these for elasticated cuffs instead.
How your jacket works and how to look after it.
What makes a Jacket Waterproof
Most waterproof fabrics combine two or three layers to shed rain outside and let perspiration escape from inside. Many garments (but not all) combine a tough, coated face fabric with a ‘breathable’ membrane bonded to the underside. Membranes are perforated by millions of microscopic holes, which are small enough to keep out raindrops, but big enough to let out vapour (the ‘breathing’ bit). This transpiration process is most effective when the outer layer is dry and cool, drawing out the vapour, which is why it’s treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating.
How waterproof is it?
A fabric’s ‘hydrostatic head’ is a way of measuring how waterproof it is. Often quoted by brands, it’s the water pressure at which it begins to leak, measured in millimetres. Replicating the effect of rucksack straps and wind in lab conditions, a pressurised water column is applied to the fabric to determine the hydrostatic head. A 1500mm rating is the minimum to be classed as waterproof, but most fabrics far exceed this, with top-end Gore-Tex topping 30,000mm. DWR and face fabrics also affect performance, and a higher rating can sometimes mean a trade-off with breathability.
KATHMANDU Trailhead Hiking Rain Jacket
A good jacket at a great price, the Trailhead emloys high spec 2.5 layer Pertex Shield fabric. The hood, hem and cuffs are fully adjustable and you can zip in the Trailhead fleece for extra warmth on easy walks.
SHERPA Kunde II Travel Rain Jacket
Created for traveling in comfort, and stows easily into any rucksack, the Kunde is made from a ripstop nylon Sukatec fabric, with a 10,000mm waterproof rating. For every product sold, Sherpa invest in education in Nepal.
Mammut Kento HS Hooded Jacket Review
The Kento is a tough but light hardshell designed for fast-paced adventures. Its fabric has a 20,000mm waterproof rating and all the zips are water repellent – including two under the armpits for extra ventilation on the move.