April Showers Be Damned: The Best Rain Jackets for Spring

Stay dry through every sun shower and torrential downpour

Updated March 25, 2024 10:16 am
a collage of the best rain jackets for men on a blue background
Nevermind sun showers — the best rain jackets for men are weatherproof prtection against the worst storms.
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Winter may be in the past, but if the funky, unpredictable 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.

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? Are Barbour jackets out? 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 2024. Find the one that meets your needs and stay dry no matter how hard it comes down out there.

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 AR jacket. A remodeled improvement over last year’s lightweight Beta LT, the Beta AR (all-round) introduces a new air of protection to the top-tier breathability with a 3-layer GORE-TEX waterproof membrane and armpit zippers. WaterTight tech and a precise fit keep 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. British menswear label Percival designed the Waterproof Auxiliary Sherlock to meet these demands, with a waterproof bonded water-resistant fabric that’s designed in London and crafted in Portugal. It’s not a technical jacket by any means, but it’s enough to get you from the subway to your cubicle without looking like a total herb or getting totally soaked in the process.

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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 Drilight (the spiritual successor to our previous Beyond pick, the Arx 2.0) with a proprietary two-layer, USA-made GORE-TEX laminate shell that’s both waterproof and durable before adding waterproof zippers and a helmet-compatible hood to boost its capabilities outdoors. Its anti-friction properties make it ideal for layering or crating a hefty pack with zero chafing.

As we noted in our running-specific ranking, Janji’s Rainrunner Jacket straddles the middle of the packable-breathable-weatherproof Venn diagram with serious aplomb. Featuring an updated 2.5L design with fully taped seams (the seams are sealed to prevent water leaking through) and a PFC-free DWR finish for robust water resistance without harmful chemicals, it’s a serious seal against weather, with the added benefit of a carry strap tom make it easy to tote while running.

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Can’t get behind the new-fangled treatments and technologies of today’s rain jackets? Sounds like you probably prefer a classic waxed situation. Although they’re not quite fully rainproof (and need seasonal care, should you wish to stay dry) a classic Barbour still has enough protective juice to keep you dry where it counts, and with new styles bolstering an already-iconic line, there’s enough variety to choose a silo that properly fits your lifestyle.

There’s just something about the Ozonic Jacket, man. Having readily tested over a dozen rain styles, we can’t claim that Mountain Hardwear’s waterproof silo isn’t the lightest, nor does it provide the most coverage. It’s 2.5-layer Dry.Q 50-denier stretch ripstop membrane, while technically proficient, isn’t any better than other GORE-TEX offers on the list. But something about the combination of movement and protection keeps us coming back, Or maybe it’s just the exceptional armpit vent design.

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