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10 Best Rain Jackets & Ultralight Options of 2023

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Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.
Best Rain Jackets

Outdoor Research HeliumPhoto Credit: Dave Collins (

Author: Heather Eldridge | Editor: Dave Collins
Last Updated: September 21, 2023

If you’re looking for the best rain jacket to fit your needs, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of seasoned backpackers and dedicated gear buffs has been analyzing rain jackets for years. But we don’t just compare specs – we physically wear and test dozens of jackets to see how they perform for ourselves.

It can be difficult to find the perfect rain jacket in such a saturated market. So we put our decades of knowledge and experience to good use to narrow down this list of the very best rain jackets. Our top goal is to quickly direct you to exactly what you need so you can make an educated purchase and get outside.

A backpacker wearing the Rab Kinetic 2.0 Rain Jacket

Rab Kinetic 2.0– Photo Credit: Heather Eldridge (

Quick Recommendations

Check out this quick list of our favorite rain jackets, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

A day hiker wearing the Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell 3LPhoto Credit: Casey Handley (

What’s Most Important to You in a Rain Jacket?

PRICE – If you spend a lot of time outdoors in wet conditions, paying a bit more for a rain jacket with an awesome fit and high-quality materials can be well worth the cost. That said, there are plenty of budget jackets that will also keep you dry and comfortable. We recommend jackets at a variety of price points to suit every budget.

Marmot BantamweightPhoto Credit: Dave Collins (

COMFORT – You don’t have to settle for an uncomfortable restricting or plasticky-feeling rain jacket. There are plenty of great options that are designed with fit, movement, and next-to-skin comfort in mind.

Black Diamond Stormline StretchPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

WEIGHT & PACKABILITY – It’s a good idea to carry a rain jacket even if the weather looks clear, especially when venturing into remote areas. In more fair-weather conditions, an ultralight jacket that hardly takes up any room in your pack is all you need to provide emergency protection. If the forecast calls for sustained rain and you’ll likely be wearing your jacket for the majority of a trip, a light-mid weight jacket can be worth the added weight for a bit more assurance.

REI RainierPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

DURABILITY – Ultralight rain jackets are awesome when you want to keep weight to a minimum, just keep in mind that lightweight fabrics tend to wear out quicker. Durability, comfort, and bomb-proof weather protection may be more important than weight savings for everyday wear or if you plan to get into particularly rugged terrain.

The Arc’teryx Zeta SL is an excellent lightweight option for backpacking in the Pacific Northwest

Photo Credit: Dave Collins (

BREATHABILITY – Many rain jackets advertise that they’ve got the latest most “breathable” vapor barrier on the market, but the truth is, you’ll get hot and sweaty if you do vigorous exercise in any of them. We look for rain jackets with vents and pit zips when we want a surefire way to stay cool when on the go.

Unzipping pit-zips helps regulate your temperate in a rain jacket - the Montbell Versalite

Montbell VersalitePhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

Best Rain Jackets of 2023

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L


MSRP: $179

WEIGHT: 14.1 oz.

PROS: Affordable, durable, high-quality construction, pockets, pit-zips

CONS: A bit heavy/bulky for backcountry trips

BOTTOM LINE: The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L (men’s / women’s) is one of our all-time favorite rain jackets because it’s affordable, durable, and has a great fit. While it’s not as lightweight and compressible as some, we’ve used it extensively on backpacking trips when we expected stormy conditions. Its laminated triple-layer construction is highly protective in sustained rain and the jacket still feels lightweight on your body. Because it’s so versatile and such an awesome value, the Torrentshell is the number one rain jacket we recommend for all-around use.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic


MSRP: $230

WEIGHT: 10.5 oz.

PROS: Comfortable (stretchy), quiet, pockets, pit-zips

CONS: Hood isn’t as adjustable as some

BOTTOM LINE: If comfort is a top priority, you’ll love the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket (men’s / women’s). The stretch fabric is soft to the touch and gives the jacket a relaxed, unrestricted feel that’s easy to move in. We also love how quiet the material is – you can actually hear with the hood up! The Ozonic has all the key elements we look for in a rain jacket – hand pockets, pit-zips, and low weight – so it’s great for just about any activity. More than anything, we reach for the Ozonic because of its outstanding comfort.

Montbell Versalite Jacket


MSRP: $249

WEIGHT: 6.4 oz.

PROS: Ultralight, highly packable, pit-zips, hip belt-compatible pockets

CONS: Ultralight materials tend to be less durable, slim fit isn’t for everyone

BOTTOM LINE: The Montbell Versalite (men’s /women’s) quickly became our favorite rain jacket for ultralight adventures because it’s incredibly lightweight, but doesn’t compromise on essentials like hand pockets and pit zips. Like most ultralight gear, the Versalite is made with thin materials, so you’ll have to be a bit more careful with it than you would a burlier jacket. That said, we’ve been using it for years without issue, and the weight savings makes it one of the best choices out there for activities like hiking and backpacking. The Versalite has a very competitive price for a premium ultralight jacket and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for ways to cut pack weight.

Black Diamond StormLine Stretch


MSRP: $170

WEIGHT: 11.3 oz.

PROS: Affordable, lightweight, highly packable, high-quality construction, pockets, pit-zips, lots of colors to choose from

CONS: High collar & helmet compatible hood isn’t for everyone

BOTTOM LINE: The Black Diamond Stormline Stretch jacket (men’s / women’s) hits the nail on the head with a great balance of everything – affordable price, high quality construction, and useful features. We love that it’s sturdy enough for everyday wear, but still lightweight enough to use for backcountry trips. This jacket also has plenty of adjustments to customize the fit, and just enough stretch to make it unnoticeable when reaching or moving. Overall, it’s a highly functional and attractive jacket. Because of the thoughtful design and the affordable price point, we find the Stormline to be one of the most well-rounded rain jackets on the market.

REI Rainier

REI Rainier Rain Jacket


MSRP: $100

WEIGHT: 13 oz.

PROS: Affordable, lightweight, pockets, pit-zips

CONS: Less durable than others, flap instead of waterproof zipper

BOTTOM LINE: The REI Rainier rain jacket (men’s /women’s) has long been a favorite in the industry because it’s affordable, well-designed, and it has a great balance of weight and weather protection. We’ve used the Rainier for thousands of miles on the trail and it’s performed very well, especially for the price.

The Marmot PreCip (men’s /women’s) is almost identical to the Rainier. Both are great budget jackets, but we slightly prefer the Rainier for its wide availability and a huge array of color choices.



MSRP: $179

WEIGHT: 12.7 oz.

PROS: Affordable, durable, comfortable, easy to layer

CONS: No pit zips, boxier fit

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a jacket with a great balance of affordability and quality, the REI XeroDry GTX (men’s / women’s) is a solid option. It costs a bit more than some of our more basic picks, but the materials feel more durable and comfortable against the skin. The XeroDry is also less fitted than some jackets, so it’s more comfortable and flattering for those who prefer a relaxed fit or want a little extra room to accommodate insulation layers. If you don’t mind the lack of pit zips and you want a great value for everyday wear, the XeroDry is tough to beat.

Outdoor Research Helium Jacket


MSRP: $170

WEIGHT: 6.3 oz.

PROS: Affordable, ultralight, highly packable

CONS: Less durable than others, no pit zips, no hand pockets (men’s), runs a bit small – size up to accommodate layers

BOTTOM LINE: The Outdoor Research Helium (men’s / women’s) is one of the most affordable ultralight rain jackets on the market. Improvements to the design have given the jacket a more streamlined fit, better waterproofing, and greater durability. The one downside is that the men’s version doesn’t have hand pockets, but this is easily remedied by bringing waterproof gloves on cold, wet trips. Ultralight gear can be expensive, and when you have a lot to buy, it’s important to make every dollar count. The Helium does just that – it’s simple but high-quality, and an excellent value. Check out our full review of the Helium Jacket and Pants.

Arc’teryx Beta AR


MSRP: $600

WEIGHT: 16 oz.

PROS: Durable, best-quality materials, exceptional fit, pockets, pit-zips, top-notch hood design

CONS: Very expensive, heavier/bulkier than some, slim fit isn’t for everyone

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a technical jacket that can stand up to the rigors of everyday wear and blasting storms, the Arc’teryx Beta AR (men’s / women’s) is the jacket you want. It has an ultra dialed-in fit and material that feels impenetrable but also moves with you. The Beta isn’t the lightest option, but it’s the jacket we trust most in severe rain and snow conditions. A few of our favorite features are the high collar, precise hood adjustments, and wide visor that keep even the most sideways rain at bay. There’s no doubt that this jacket is spendy, but the Beta is worth the investment for those who need a rain jacket that will last for years of hard use.

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket


MSRP: $299

WEIGHT: 5.9 oz.

PROS: Ultralight, breathable, highly packable, fit accommodates layers well, excellent coverage

CONS: Expensive, less durable than some, hood works best with a hat

BOTTOM LINE: The Zpacks Vertice (men’s / women’s) is one of the lightest rain jackets available. This featherweight shell provides excellent coverage, is incredibly breathable, and is surprisingly durable for how light it is. The Vertice is long enough to cover your bum, which is convenient when taking breaks on wet rocks or logs. It also means the seat of your shorts or pants isn’t bearing the brunt of the runoff from your jacket, so you’ll stay a little warmer when it’s wet out. It’s also one of the most breathable jackets on our list, so it won’t cause you to overheat immediately when backpacking. The Vertice is on the spendy side, but if you want the best balance of low weight and excellent coverage – this jacket is hard to beat. Check out our full review of the Zpacks Vertice here.

Rab Kinetic 2.0.jpg


MSRP: $250

WEIGHT: 11.8 oz.

PROS: Comfortable (stretchy), quiet, breathable, lightweight, flattering fit

CONS: A bit expensive, no pit zips, few adjustments, slim fit isn’t for everyone, runs a bit small – size up to accommodate bulky layers

BOTTOM LINE: The Rab Kinetic 2.0 (men’s / women’s) is one of the most comfortable and quiet rain jackets we’ve ever worn. It feels more like a softshell jacket than a traditional rain shell due to the stretch fabric, so you might find yourself wearing it even when it isn’t raining. The Kinetic Plus isn’t the most technical jacket on our list since it lacks hood and hem adjustments, but we like the simplicity of the design and it has a snug, flattering fit. The Kinetic Plus is great for times when you need a little warmth and wind protection while you’re active in mildly rainy conditions.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Rain Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Stretch OzonicPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

Honorable Mentions

The following rain jackets didn’t make our final list, but they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these jackets might be perfect for you:

A backpacker wearing the Montbell Versalite Jacket in the Three Sisters Wilderness

Montbell VersalitePhoto Credit: Casey Handley (

Critical Rain Jacket Considerations

NUMBER OF LAYERS – The number of layers in a jacket determines how waterproof and breathable it will be.

  • 2-layer jackets are the most common and affordable and they’re typically constructed with a Durable Water Repellent-coated (DWR) outer shell and a breathable liner (usually mesh)
  • 2.5-layer jackets are typically the lightest and are made with the same DWR-coated outer. The inner layer of a 2.5-layer jacket is a thin polyurethane laminate or coating meant to keep sweat and dirt from clogging the breathable pores of the jacket from the inside
  • 3-layer jackets are the most effective and they incorporate all of the above – they have a DWR-coated outer shell, a breathable and waterproof mid-layer, and then a polyurethane lining for the innermost layer.
The REI XeroDry GTX (view women’s here) is a high-quality and affordable rain jacket.

REI XeroDry GTXPhoto Credit: Dave Collins (

PIT ZIPS – It’s always nice to have the option for more airflow. Zippered openings at the armpits, aka pit zips, are great for letting excess heat escape if you get too warm while hiking uphill or being active.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Stretch OzonicPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

CONDENSATION – If you’re wearing a rain jacket on a cold, rainy day, condensation will likely form on the inside fabric. This leads many people to think that their rain gear is failing even though it’s still waterproof and doing its job.

If you feel wetness forming inside your jacket, don’t worry too much about it and keep truckin’. It’ll likely evaporate with body heat as long as you’re wearing appropriate wicking layers underneath. As long as you’re moving, you’ll still be relatively dry and comfortable.

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is an affordable ultralight option for backpacking

Outdoor Research HeliumPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

 HOW TO STAY COOL & DRY IN A RAIN JACKET – Getting hot and sweating when you’re working hard in a rain jacket is inevitable.

  • Start cold –  only wearing a lightweight wool or synthetict-shirt orbase layer top under your rain jacket if you expect to hike fast or uphill right away
  • Ventilate – dump heat through the pit zips, bottom hem, wrist cuffs, and front zipper
  • Slow down – moderating your pace will slow your heart rate
  • Drink water – staying hydrated and drinking cold water will cool you from the inside-out
  • Shed layers – take off your hat and gloves
  • Consider using ahiking umbrella in addition to an ultralight rain jacket
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

Patagonia Torrentshell 3LPhoto Credit: Heather Eldridge (

You May Also Like…

To learn more tips for hiking and backpacking in the rain, check out the following links:

The Arc’teryx Beta AR is both lightweight and durable for everyday wear or severe conditions

Arc’teryx Beta ARPhoto Credit: Dave Collins (

Need More Gear Advice?

If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:

USING A rain jacket TO STAY WARM on A summer backpacking trip IN pATAGONIA

Photo Credit: Dave Collins (

Why Trust Us?

We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:

  • Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
  • We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and we test outdoor gear for a living.
  • We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
  • We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
  • We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
  • We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
  • We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
Comparing all of the best rain jackets on the market

We own & use all of the rain jackets we recommend – Photo Credit: Heather Eldridge (

All of the rain jackets we tested are reasonably lightweight and packable, but some really excell

Photo Credit: Heather Eldridge (

More Information

We hope this guide helps you find the perfect rain jacket for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.

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Thanks for reading and happy trails!

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.