There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a rain storm when you are hiking. When you are miles from home and stuck in the elements, there are some basic things you need to know about how to tell what is the best rain gear for hiking.
You need to know the difference between when something is wind or water Proof vs. Resistant and all the different types of jackets and features that those jackets come with.
Rain jackets are breathable and water proof and can easily cost hundreds of dollars. You want to look for 3-layer waterproof coating, full seam taping, rubberized coating on zippers, vents, and lots of pockets!
The Top 3 Best Rain Gear for Hiking
Let’s take a look at some of our top choices:
Outdoor Research Realm $XXX.XX
This waterproof hard shell jacket features a 3 layer AscentShell system ensuring that even in the most extreme weather conditions, you are protected from getting wet. This jacket performs well and is best suited for winter activities like skiing and ice climbing but it is super lightweight and can be used for backpacking and hiking in raining weather conditions as well. This jacket is a bright lemon grass yellow which makes it naturally reflective and features a long torso and sleeves making it great for biking as well. The jacket offers great range of motion because unlike most hard shells, the fabric is stretchy and doesn’t rise up on your torso when you raise or rotate your arms.
- Comfortable, stretchy fabric
- Waterproof 3-layer coating
- Fully seam taped
- Lightweight, less than 1 pound
- Helmet compatible hood
- Water resistant zippers
- Interior cell phone pocket
This jacket is priced less than some of the most expensive yet has all the same features. The long cut makes the jacket perfect for all outdoor activities. The jacket is also super lightweight and has mesh pockets that can be unzipped for extra breathability. Although being a hard shell, the jacket is still very stretchy and could accommodate another layer underneath for extra warmth if needed.
The lemongrass color is very hard to get clean if you happen to tunnel through a lot of mud. Even through repeated washes, mud stains will tint the color of the jacket however this doesn’t affect overall performance of the gear.
Arc’Teryx Zeta LT Jacket Mens $XXX.XX
Serious hikers and backpackers know the Arc’Teryx brand well. This jacket is top of the line for adventurers who trek through hike everywhere from coastal rainforests to snowy tundra’s of Alaska. This jacket was designed specifically for rugged and wet landscapes. This jacket is perfect for packing since it is less than 1 pound and compresses. The jacket features fully taped seams making it completely waterproof against all nature’s elements, and is finished with an exclusive water repellant. Arc’Teryx Zeta LT also has a low-profile hood that is perfecting for keeping rain away from your face on your treks with multiple adjustment points and a laminated brim. The jacket also wears below the hip belt of a hiking backpack for optimal comfort. There are two zippered pockets that sit high enough that they will be above the hip belt of a hiking backpack. There is also one interior zippered pocket. All of the zippers are weather resistant.
- Water proof with N40p-X 3-Layer GORE-Tex Shell
- Fully Taped seams
- Water repellant
- Gore C-knit backer
- Storm hood
- Weather resistant zippers
- 4 color options
This jacket is top of the line when it comes to the best rain gear for hiking. The outer shell is lightweight but tough and durable, the storm hood has the best adjustability, and the weight is in line with jackets that are much thinner. The Gore-Tex fabric is moisture wicking so this jacket is also breathable and versatile for many climates.
The price point on these jackets is going to be steep for the average or casual hiker. Some reviewers have said that the sleeves are too long.
Patagonia M10 $XXX.XX
The Patagonia M10 is the lightest hard shell rain jacket available on the market with 3-layer waterproofing. The jacket is also windproof, breathable, and features ripstop nylon shells to protect you against harsh elements in alpine conditions. It’s hard to believe this jacket offers all this protection while only weighing 8 ounces! The low profile and slim silhouette make this jacket the perfect one for climbing and hiking. The seams are welded making it the optimal jacket for those unfortunate times you get caught in a storm. The storm hood can accommodate a climbing helmet with single pull adjustment and can be removed as well.
- Weather resistant zipper
- Storm hood helmet compatible
- 3 pockets 2 with handwarmers
- 100% nylon rip stop
This jacket is lightweight but heavy on performance. Fit is regular so it is easy to fit layers’ underneath so you can wear it in alpine environments. The jacket is also great for hiking in warmer and more humid climates as well as it is very breathable.
Although this jacket is top of the line, there are other jackets that offer similar features for much less of a price tag.
Hiking rain gear reviews all show that no matter what the price tag is on a rain jacket, what most people are looking for is rain gear that will be durable and provide them protection against the elements. The best rain gear for hiking should be water proof with 3-layer protection, although every company may have their own 3-layer technology that they use. Zippers should have rubber coating and be weather resistant as well.
Avid hikers and mountaineers will be carrying hiking backpacks so, pockets on hiking rain jackets should be placed high above where the hip belt would be resting on the jacket. A storm hood is also important on your rain gear to protect your face from wind and water. When you are hiking, or climbing protecting yourself against the elements doesn’t always have to cost hundreds of dollars. Many of the best rain jackets are very affordable, while others, for the more experienced and avid outdoorsman, can run a pretty penny—it’s just important to know what you are looking for.