In our review of this year's top rain shells, we gathered some of The North Face Apex Flex. In addition to fabric technology, the waterproofness of a jacket is also supported by the details, such as zipper flaps, seam seals, hood size, and tightening straps, Velcro, and elastic, to keep out multi-directional pummeling rain and flurries.
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Other jackets, such as the North Face Venture 2 use a mesh lining, so the outer fabric doesn't stick to you and to help improve airflow inside the shell, keeping you cooler longer, even while exerting yourself or in humid conditions.
There is a wide range of fabric comfort among these jackets with the REI Rhyolite falling at the bottom of this list, with its stiff, crinkly fabric. With only one pocket, which on the plus side doubles as a stuff sack, and little wind and almost no water protection, this jacket would serve better as a light shell rather than a raincoat suitable for a downpour.
However, many users do not want to sacrifice function in order to cut down on ounces, so finding a good balance between weight and functionality is key.
There are few things worse than tromping through the woods while cold and sopping wet. Our recommendation for travelers who want to keep their weight down is the Marmot Precip , which ranked second in the weight category, weighing in at 9. This jacket will not weigh you down too much and will provide all of the protection you should expect from a high-end raincoat to keep you moving and dry.
Whether you are planning on taking a two-week backpacking trip or just heading out for the day, fitting your jacket easily into a full-frame backpack or hydration pack makes your life easier and gives you extra room in your pack for other essentials, such as extra water or backcountry luxuries.
Plus, since serious hikers, kayakers, and backpackers often take a jacket as a just-in-case measure, you want to make sure that this piece of equipment, which you may not even use, does not add too much bulk to your trip.
Some of the jackets we tested, such as the Patagonia Torrentshell include their own stuff packs of varying sizes, some with hoops, so you can attach them to the outside of your pack with a carabiner, which provides an added layer of carrying convenience. And, as with the weight category, the Outdoor Research Helium II again ranked highest in the packed size class, coming in at only The Arct'teryx Beta SL and Mammut Wenaha ranked lowest in this category with their relatively stiff fabrics, as they prioritized water resistance over packability.
If you want a great balance between functionality and compactness, the Outdoor Research Aspire ranked second in packed size and at the top in water resistance, allowing you to carry this jacket in any size bag while resting assured that you will remain dry and comfortable should you need it. While difficult to determine in just a few months, we did our best to test the durability of these jackets by taking them out on the trails, the water, and wearing them around town.
We also tested the seams with torsion and pressure, and the REI Rhyolite came out on top with its seemingly indestructible, hard fabric, but what you gain in durability, you lose in comfort, as it feels like you are wearing armor. A better balance is the Outdoor Research Aspire II or the Mammut Wenaha with their reinforced, sealed seams and thick, but soft fabric, which will provide water resistance for many adventures.
If you do experience a failure, Patagonia and Outdoor Research offer a lifetime guarantee, where you can trade in any item, no matter how worn, for the lifetime of the product, allowing you to rest easy when shelling out a lot of money for those products. Some other companies, like The North Face, offer limited warranties in case of manufacturing faults. Choosing the right rain jacket, particularly if you are making a significant investment, can seem daunting.
If you make the right selection for you, you'll have a trusty piece of equipment that will last you for years and accompany you on a variety of adventures. Water resistance is key when selecting a rain jacket, but you must also consider comfort, fit, durability, and a number of other factors to avoid buyer's remorse later on down the road.
Hopefully, our reviews have helped you select from among the top-rated jackets on the market today, so you can pick the best jacket for your needs, whether you are hiking the backcountry, going for a stroll through the woods, scaling up the side of a mountain, kayaking down a raging river, or just window shopping in town. To find out more about picking out the best rain shell for your needs, check out our Buying Advice Article. The Best Rain Jacket for Women. Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated May The rain protection industry continues to expand, with a wide variety to choose from.
We've also added charts, including a price to value comparison graph, so you'll be able to compare each model.
See all prices 4 found. See all prices 3 found. We selected ten of the top women's rain jackets and tested them out to determine which ranked the best in a variety of categories. Each rain jacket utilized its own combination of waterproofing technology to help keep you dry and on the move. When the weather is variable, you want to rest assured that your rain jacket will both keep you dry and keep you cool while out on the trail. The more bells and whistles a jacket offers, the more you can adjust the shell to fit to your comfort.
We weighed each of the rain jackets to help you determine the right shell for your adventures, from day trips to ultralight backpacking.
Katie Fish August 10, Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission. Scroll on to see our favorite packable rain jackets — for men and women — this season. Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket Columbia has created a light and breathable rain jacket that packs into its own hand pocket — talk about the ultimate travel jacket.
Columbia Plus-size 'Rain to Fame' Hooded Rain Jacket This plus-sized rain jacket is unlined, providing a breathable and waterproof layer for when the weather takes an unforeseen turn. Calvin Klein Women's Topper Raincoat Clean and simplistic in design, this Calvin Klein rain jacket is the perfect topper for any rainy day — on the road or at home. Sign Up for our Newsletter Receive exclusive travel deals, insider tips, inspiration, breaking news updates, and more.
What sets it apart is the use of Dyneema fabric, which is the same material used on premium ultralight backpacking shelters and packs. We took The Shell to Patagonia and were very impressed with how it held up in strong wind and pelting rain and sleet.
What are the downsides of The Shell? Despite the negatives, The Shell has major appeal for thru-hikers or remote backcountry trips where you need serious weather protection at minimal weight. See the Hyperlite The Shell. Great fit and proven Gore-Tex performance. Black Diamond has come on strong lately with an impressive lineup of outdoor apparel. The Liquid Point is their leading performance rain jacket, and what we love about this Gore-Tex Paclite shell is its athletic fit: Among the three rain jackets on this list made with Gore-Tex Paclite the Marmot Minimalist and Outdoor Research Foray above , the Liquid Point falls to the bottom because of its climbing focus and steep price.
The very large hood that fits nicely over a climbing helmet can be cumbersome for everyday use and hiking, and the overall design is a little more streamlined than the Foray or Minimalist with only two hand pockets the other jackets come with a total of three pockets.
The upside is that the Liquid Point undercuts the Foray and Minimalist by about 1 ounce in weight. The premier rain jacket for trail running. Limited durability—the fabric is too thin for any kind of abuse. Arc'teryx's Norvan SL is billed as the lightest and most breathable waterproof shell available. This minimalist piece weighs around 4 ounces depending on the size, packs down to almost nothing, and is designed with trail running squarely in mind.
Upon testing it in the wet conditions of British Columbia, we were surprised at just how waterproof this tiny jacket is we literally stood under a waterfall and can confirm that the jacket truly is waterproof. In addition, it does not absorb water and therefore will not get heavier when wet, a rarity in the rain jacket world.
The shortcomings of the Norvan are its price and fragility. We were even concerned about wearing a hydra-pack for lengthy runs for fear of it rubbing off the Permanent Beading Surface, but that may be the price to pay for such a phenomenal ultralight piece.
Great value, lots of color options. This adds bulk, and while the mesh has a softer touch, some do not like the feel against their skin. The fit comes in pretty average, with a nice and long back length, but the jacket does have more of a trim cut, so those that consistently throw on a thicker mid layer may need to size up.
Large hand pockets are mesh lined, and because the jacket lacks pit zips, unzipping the pockets is the only form of ventilation. The warmer feeling interior thus does not make the Watertight II a great option for high output activities, such as a quick peak summit.
Overall, the look is very clean, and Columbia offers the jacket in a number of color options. The primary compromise is pocket placement as some hand pockets sit high to accommodate a climbing harness or backpack hipbelt. Their performance is often similar to or a little below the weekend hiker category above. The designs do require a few sacrifices, most notably the thinner fabrics being more prone to tearing and sagging and pressing against your skin under heavy rain.
You also miss out on a number of features like hand pockets and as many adjustment options for the waist, hood, and wrists. All those sacrifices are well worth it for the ultralight backpacker or climber who needs an emergency shell.
The rest may be better suited to look elsewhere. Trail Running Thanks to advances in fabric and membrane technologies, there is a growing market of trail-running jackets that push weights even lower than the ultralight category above.
For the trail runner that heads out in any and all conditions, however, the performance for the weight is simply unmatched. Waterproof jackets have a built-in laminate layer like Gore-Tex or a coating that essentially blocks outside moisture from entering under most conditions.
Additionally, they have waterproof taping along the seams on the interior of the jacket. You may notice a waterproof rating listed on some outdoor gear websites, represented by a number from 0 to 20,mm or more. This is the amount of water in a 1-inch-diameter vertical tube that the material can withstand without leaking. The test is a strange one: To create a waterproof rain jacket that resists moisture from entering yet also lets sweat and hot air vent out requires a combination of fabric layers.
We break down the pros and cons of each below: The benefit of this interior finish is that the mesh found in 2-layer jackets is no longer necessary. Breathability as well as compressibility increases and weight decreases with the design, making this the most popular option for hikers, backpackers, and climbers.
One downside is that the interior fabric isn't as soft to the touch as a true 3-layer some consider it slippery or plasticky , but we've seen improvements with recent models. This adds a bit of bulk than a comparable 2. Jumping to a 3-layer jacket also involves a significant increase in price, and most often these are big name designs, like Gore-Tex or eVent.
It's worth noting that all premium performance jackets to make our list have a 3-layer construction. Hiking, backpacking, climbing, and other backcountry pursuits require a jacket that is lightweight but also can handle a sustained downpour. The differences in weight are significant: Those extra ounces in a pack can really add up, making an ulralight shell a compelling option. Weights are continuing to drop as fabric and membrane technologies advance, and at the extreme end are sub-5 ounce trail-running jackets like the Arc'teryx Norvan SL.
One of the most sought after features in a waterproof rain jacket is breathability: Generally speaking, the more you spend the more breathable the jacket will be. First, there are the jackets that can stuff into their own pockets. Just turn the pocket inside out, smoosh the jacket in, and zip it shut. The other way of looking at packable rain shells is how compressible they truly are. You can just roll it up into its own hood to protect the thinner fabric in your pack.
Look to weight as a great indicator of how packable a jacket truly is. Many ultralight and trail-running jackets forego pockets to cut down on weight, while other models sport them in abundance. Almost all rain jackets have hoods included, but some are cut big enough to fit over a helmet and the style of the cinch varies significantly. Keep a close eye on features and try to match them to your intended use and budget. Most ultralight shells go without hand pockets, instead opting for a chest pocket for storage.
You often get two hand pockets and a chest pocket either on the inside or outside of the shell , all the better for the little things you need to carry around on a daily basis like a phone or wallet. Pocket placement is another consideration. What you gain in convenience with the hipbelt or climbing harness , you then lose in daily usability. Hood Hood size can be a big consideration when rain jacket shopping.
If you plan to climb in your rain jacket, look for one with a helmet compatible hood. These can reach over the top of most climbing helmets for added weather protection. Adjustability of the hood also is key. When the wind is blowing, you want a hood that conforms to your head, while retaining enough structure around the sides and the bill that you can still see out. Some manufacturers succeed better than others at this concept. Of the more budget-friendly options, we like the hood design of the Patagonia Torrentshell , which has toggles at the back and front for quick and easy adjustments.
Eddie Bauer Women's 'Rainfoil' Packable Jacket
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