Gear

Brave the Elements: Best Lightweight Rain Jackets

by Carissa Stanz

lightweight rainjackets
Photo: Kace Rodriguez

When Mother Nature’s wrath tries to stop you from venturing outside, it’s time to pull the plug and invest in a reliable rain jacket.

Whether you’re facing torrential downpours or a light mist, there are a variety of rain jackets on the market to tackle your rainy adventures. With the right one on your shoulders, rainy days will just be another reason to get out and play.

We relied on two decisive factors while searching for the best of the best lightweight rain jackets: weight and performance. While we were tempted by ultralight jackets, they didn’t consistently stand up to our expectations when it came to keeping dry. After all, what’s the point of a rain jacket that leaves you cold and damp half the time?

Bearing that in mind, here are the seven lightweight rain jackets we recommend for romping around outdoors in the rain.

Arc’teryx Zeta FL Rain Jacket

Arc'teryx Zeta FL Rain Jacket

Stormy weather is Arc’teryx’s middle name. When you’re expecting harsh conditions and only the best will suffice, consider the Arc’teryx Zeta FL Rain Jacket.

The Zeta prioritizes weight over amenities, coming in at 7.2 ounces for the men’s jacket and 6.3 ounces for the women’s jacket. That’s not to say it’s lacking, though. Quite the contrary — this emergency shell features Gore-Tex, one of the best waterproofing technologies around.

It doesn’t stop there. The Zeta also uses Gore-Tex Paclite® Plus product technology, designed to keep the material light and breathable while increasing performance in bad weather.

The Zeta offers a fluid range of motion with articulated patterning and gusseted underarms. It also features WaterTight™ zippers, a StormHood™ with a halo adjuster, an elasticized hem, and laminated die-cut Velcro® cuffs. The WaterTight™ zippers aren’t 100% waterproof, though, so don’t go stashing your phone for quick access.

Designed for technical treks with questionable weather, this rain jacket has the breathability, durability, packability, and comfort any experienced outdoors person could desire. It’s the Zeta’s outstanding performance and exceptional weight that puts it top of our list as Editor’s Choice.

Check The Price – Men’s Check The Price – Women’s

Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket

Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket

After founding the Marmot Club on a glacier in Alaska, founders Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley began making outdoor gear in their UC Santa Cruz dorm room. Named after (you guessed it) those chubby mountainous squirrels, Reynolds and Huntley eventually opened up shop, and in 1974 Marmot was born.

Marmot’s PreCip Rain Jacket is above the rest in its price range. One of the more budget-friendly options, this rain jacket offers a surprising amount of breathability.

The PreCip features Marmot’s trademarked NanoPro technology, a specialized 2.5-layer microporous coating with a dry touch finish that maximizes breathability while maintaining waterproof construction.

The PreCip offers full protection from the elements and a fluid range of motion with its Angel-Wing movement. It has pit-zips, elastic hem drawcord, pack pockets, and is 100% seam taped.

The adjustable hood can roll back into itself when not in use. When it starts to rain, you can unroll the hood and use the elastic cord to adjust it to your face. Marmot even went a step further and installed a DriClime® lined chin guard for additional comfort.

Comfortable and breathable, the men’s jacket weighs 13 ounces while the women’s weighs 11.4 ounces.

Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

If you like the Marmot PreCip and you have a little extra dough to invest, take a look at the streamlined Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket. In our opinion, it’s worth the upgrade for increased performance.

When Patagonia designs rain gear, they put it through a rigorous test to ensure it’s up to snuff. Anything that passes the bar gets the H2No® Performance Standard stamp of approval, and the Torrentshell Jacket proudly wears that badge of honor.

A notch up in durability and versatility, this rain jacket offers better protection when it really starts coming down. It features a 2.5-layer H2No® Performance Standard shell made with 100% recycled ripstop nylon coated with DWR. The DWR zippered hand-warmer pockets ditch the mesh for a fully waterproof seal, meaning you can keep items safely stowed away without worrying about water sneaking in.

The hood offers exceptional coverage. It has two elastic cords for easy adjustments, as well as a stiff laminated visor that rolls down and stays in place with a cord-and-hook design.

From hood to hem, this rain jacket will keep you comfortable and mobile while hiking around the backcountry. While it may not be the Zeta, it’s a solid second considering the price.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Misty days are best matched by a waterproof jacket that packs down tight and occupies minimal space. This is right up the alley for the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket.

Prized for being lightweight and compact, this is the rain jacket you shove at the bottom of your pack and don’t think twice about until you notice a slight drizzle.

Constructed with Pertex® Shield 30D ripstop nylon, the Helium II is 100% waterproof. It’s also super breathable, making it a prime choice for a summer rain shell.

The Helium II fits well over light layers, and the adjustable hood cinches down to help the stiff visor keep the rain off your face. The minimalist jacket leaves out the frills you’ll find on premium rain jackets, but it delivers all the bare necessities you need to keep dry in a light rain shower.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell

Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell

Recognized worldwide, Black Diamond has been a favorite among the climbing and skiing community since 1957. They back their commitment to quality with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you know you’re making a solid long-term investment.

When the weather takes a turn for the worst, you’ll stay nice and dry with the Black Diamond StormLine Stretch Rain Shell. The nylon rain jacket is coated with a proprietary BD.dry™ 2.5L DWR Finish, a superior waterproof/windproof technology that you can rely on it when you need it most.

While many rain jackets can be stiff and cumbersome, that’s not the case with the StormLine. It has the comfort of a soft-shell with just the right amount of stretch to move with your active body.

At 8.7 ounces for women and 9.9 ounces for men, the StormLine Stretch Rain Shell is still one of the lighter jackets on the market. It comes with pit-zips for extra ventilation, and packs down small enough to fit inside its own waist pocket with a handy carabiner for easy carrying when not in use.

If you had to choose one jacket to tackle all your outdoor excursions, this highly versatile rain jacket would be a solid choice.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

The North Face Allproof Stretch Rain Jacket

The North Face Allproof Stretch Rain Jacket

Another stellar buy in the soft and stretchy rain jacket category is The North Face Allproof Stretch Rain Jacket. It’s a little heavier at 10.05 ounces for men and 9.35 ounces for women, but still a contender in the lightweight category.

Battling water and wind, the jacket’s seam-sealed DryVent 2.5-layer stretch shell is designed to be 100% windproof and waterproof. At the same time, it’s surprisingly breathable. Made for active outdoor enthusiasts, this type of construction is best suited for hiking in the rain.

One of the features we particularly appreciate about the Allproof Stretch that you don’t get with the Black Diamond StormLine is the fully adjustable hood. When the wind picks up, it’s an added bonus to be able to cinch down on the drawstrings for extra protection.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket

One of the new Gore-Tex® beauties turning heads REI is their Drypoint GTX Jacket. Although the jacket may look minimalist, it’s anything but.

This rain jacket is equipped with a three-layer Gore-Tex® active fabric that’s waterproof and breathable. That means while it’s blocking rain on the outside, it’s also working hard to evaporate sweat on the inside.

The Drypoint GTX Jacket has mesh-lined hand pockets that act as core vents for additional air circulation. Considering things can get funky pretty fast when trekking around the backcountry, this is a much-appreciated feature.

The rain jacket has an adjustable hem drawcord, adjustable cuff tabs, and a three-point adjustable stiff visored hood so you can cinch down when rain strikes. The whole thing is bluesign® approved, which is like the REI stamp for sustainably produced products.

The men’s version is a little heavier at 10.5 ounces, while the women’s is 8.6 ounces. Still, it’s less bulky than some of the other heavyweight Gore-Tex® options out there, making this another solid buy for hikers.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

Mountain Hardwear Finder Rain Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Finder Rain Jacket

If you’re searching for a solid entry-level rain jacket, look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Finder.

A steal for the price, this rain shell features Mountain Hardwear’s Dry.Q™ Core technology, which they engineer layer by layer to best-suit the activity for its intended use. Both waterproof and breathable, this tough jacket is made from abrasion-resistant ripstop nylon. It doubles as a decent wind protection layer, too.

While the features are minimal, many hikers will find it’s all they need with a two-way adjustable hood, zippered hand warmer pockets, and an elastic cinch cord at the hemline. The clean design is attractive at that, and comes in a variety of colors (we particularly like Smith Rock).

Although the Finder is the heaviest one on the list at 13.4 ounces for men and 12.3 ounces for women, it’s a bargain for the price. If all you need is some protection for short jaunts or a protective layer for running around town, this could be a good fit for you.
Check the price – men’s Check the price – women’s

Once you’ve found the perfect lightweight rain jacket to get you back on the trail in wet weather, complete the look with our favorite hiking hats, the best hiking pants for men, and the best budget hiking boots under $100.

Get your weekly adventure fix

Join thousands of readers getting epic hiking, camping and travel ideas every week.

Related posts

topo designs daypack review

Topo Designs Daypack Review

Topo Designs' Daypack is built and bred as a stylish, functional classic. Its simple but eye-catching look is love at first sight. Everyday usability makes it a perfect lifelong companion.

Gear