Spring Showers Be Damned: The Best Rain Jackets for 2023
Stay dry through every sun shower and torrential downpour
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Winter may be on its way out, but if funky, excessively temperate weather is any indication, we’re in for a wet spring. Especially in areas like the Pacific Northwest, every cloud, no matter the type, is wont to suddenly and unexpectedly give way to rain in the form of a light sprinkle or torrential downpour from now until…well, September. All of which to say, you really, really need to stop pretending you don’t mind getting drenched and buy one of the best rain jackets on the market already.
- Best Overall: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
- Best Performance: Acr’teryx Zeta SL
- Best Budget: REI Co-op Rainier
- Best Commuter: lululemon Storm Field Trench Coat
- Best Lightweight: Outdoor Research Helium
- Best Quiet: Merrell Whisper
- Best Tactical: Beyond L6
- Best Running: On Weather Jacket
We hear you — despite living in the golden age of wearable waterproof protection, picking the right jacket can seem like a daunting task. Depending on the climate and your preferred outdoor activities, sorting through the many styles, features and technologies of today’s best rain jackets can be confusing. Do you need a Gore-Tex shell? What is DWR? Is the Patagonia model better than The North Face, or vice versa?
How Does a Rain Jacket Actually Work?
Crucial to any rain jacket construction is DWR (Durable Water Repellent), the industry-standard tech for waterproofing layers. Basically, the coating acts as a layer of protection for the jacket’s exterior, complimenting whatever membrane situation is protecting the interior of your jacket. Design varies, but most premium shells operate using a three-layer construction: a coated outer shell of nylon or proprietary waterproof material, a breathable inner membrane and a liner-esque finish. Inspecting these layers for your priorities — breathability vs. protection vs. insulation, and so on — is the best way to ensure you’re choosing the best rain jacket for your needs.
Things to Consider When Buying a Rain Jacket:
Materials: As we’ve mentioned, a nylon shell and DWR are preferred in any rain jacket — keep your eyes peeled for specialized or proprietary technology (see: Gore-Tex) that’s specifically calculated to keep you dry and protected.
Fit: Unlike other jackets, the fit of a rain jacket should be snug, as to provide maximum protection from adverse conditions. We recommend purchasing a style true-to-size unless you plan on consistently layering. Look for styles with adjustable cuffs and waist synchs if you desire an air-tight fit.
Price: Prices vary greatly across the berth of rain jackets, but the average joe, a standard, get-the-job-done style should run you $100-$200. If you’re in need of a Gore-Tex-laden performance style, or a winter-ready layer, be prepared to spend considerably more.
Over the past year, we’ve taken the liberty of testing rain jackets from brands both established and new. We’ve hiked in the rain, biked to work in downpours, walked the dog in drizzle and occasionally stood in the shower to determine just how waterproof a jacket could be. The result of such efforts culminates with this guide featuring the best rain jackets in 2023. Find the one that meets your needs and stay dry no matter how hard it comes down out there.
The Best Rain Jackets For Men in 2023:
Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L adds half a layer of fabric that its predecessor didn’t have, making it a more durable and waterproof raincoat for inclement weather. Its construction features a DWR (durable water-repellent) finish to boost protection, and the microfleece-lined neck enhances comfort. The latest version is also a little thicker inside, making it less prone to feeling clammy. A wide variety of colorways deliver style points and the jacket self-stuffs into the hand pocket for convenient storage. Patagonia assembles the Torrentshell with a combination of recycled materials, so you can wear it without contributing to the planet’s demise.
Arc’teryx has established itself as a premium outerwear brand over the years which makes it easy to recommend the new Beta LT jacket. An improvement over the last year’s lightweight Zeta SL, Beta LT introduces an new air of breathability with it’s 3-layer GORE-TEX waterproof membrane and armpit zippers. That’s not to say it isn’t protective: WaterTight tech and a precise fit keeps moisture out, even in the worst conditions. Like other Arc’teryx goods, it’s also a little slimmer and better-looking than traditional oversized raincoats, making it a suitable choice from the peaks to the pavement.
If you don’t live in one of the country’s rainy regions, chances are you don’t need the Cadillac of coats to get you through the occasional shower. That’s where the Co-op’s Rainier jacket is happy to keep you dry without burning a hole in your pocket. It features an in-house Peak 2.5-layer recycled ripstop nylon shell that defends against rain and gusts up to 60mph as well as pit zips that dump body heat during the occasional muggy storm. While the budget rain jacket title was once held by Marmot’s PreCip Eco, we found the Rainier to be both thicker and more comfortable. Sizing leans on the larger side, so consider testing it in-person or prepare to wear layers underneath.
Daily commuters require a jacket that seamlessly blends style and tech; it should look professional and serve a purpose. To meet these demands, lululemon designed the Storm Field Trench Coat with its waterproof Glyde fabric and a stylized interior. The polyurethane fabric delivers reliable protection from the elements when walking or biking to work, large pockets offer plenty of room to haul essentials and a thigh-length fit ensures no puddle splashage will ruin your day. Keeping in line with lululemon’s tech-forward fits, the zippered vets add an air of breathability and movement, and to this already polished jacket.
As the name implies, the Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket is light. We’re talking fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand, light-as-a-feather kind of light (it weighs only six ounces). Perfect for those looking to save weight or reduce volume, the Helium packs into its own chest pocket and stores easily in a bag or commuter pack. The tradeoff in weight does come at the expense of hand pockets and zippered vents, but these weren’t dealbreakers for us. For those that run in-between sizes, we recommend sizing up to accommodate the Helium’s slimmer fit.
The only gripe we have with every single modern rain jacket is the endless noise. It’s the crinkly, crackly sound of synthetic material as it folds, creases and crunches that drives us mad, but that’s where the Whisper rain jacket comes to the rescue. The waterproof, four-way stretch fabric is softened via a revolutionary knitting technique that reduces noise and improves comfort while remaining just as capable in the midst of rain. Merrell completes the Whisper with an adjustable hood, hand pockets and a lightweight design that stuffs into its own pocket for easy transport.
Truthfully, we were skeptical of a brand that doesn’t appear in annual rain jacket roundups, but Beyond is better known in the tactical world where it got its start outfitting the military’s special forces in 1996. The Seattle-based label built the L6 with a proprietary three-layer nylon shell that’s both waterproof and durable before adding waterproof zippers and a helmet-compatible hood to boost its capabilities outdoors. Though it weighs a little more than other rain jackets on this list at 20 ounces, the strong combination of durability, breathability, comfort and pedigree is hard to beat.
For those of us who run no matter how hard it pours, the On Weather jacket offers impressive defense against the elements. Its blend of Japanese fabrics delivers 360° of ventilation in an ultralight package that’s also tear-proof and fast drying. Featuring water-resistant pockets to protect valuables and a cap-like hood that stays in place when wet, On gives us more reasons than ever to pick this jacket over the other athletic options in our quiver. And when the sun comes out to play, the jacket can be packed quickly into its own pocket for on-the-go storage.
More Rain Jackets That We Love:
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