It’s the one piece of gear that you absolutely must have no matter the length of your trip, the weather forecast, or weight of your pack. When a sudden summer squall hits, having a rain jacket can make or break your time in the wilderness.
But a lot of them are pretty dang expensive.
Read on for our top picks for rain jackets that are not only functional, but aren’t prohibitively spendy as well.
A classic in every sense of the word. The Marmot Precip Rain Jacket has been the go-to entry-level rain jacket for many people ever since its first production run.
Featuring Marmot’s proprietary NanoPro membrane, the Precip offers more than adequate breathability for strenuous summer hikes, with large pit zips allowing you to dump heat when you start to climb. It also has one of the most comfortable hoods on this list, perfect for keeping rain out without feeling constricting.
- Weight: 11 oz
- Waterproof Membrane: Marmot NanoPro 2.5 Layer
- Special Features: Angel Wing™ movement, stowable hood, pit-zips, Velcro wrist cuffs, 2 handwarmer pockets, stuffs into its own pocket
2. Rab Downpour Jacket
Rab’s Downpour Rain Jacket is a highly value-oriented piece, one that lends itself well to summer backpacking and climbing trips in places where the weather may be unpredictable.
Weighing a relatively scant 11 ¼ oz, the Downpour utilizes Pertex Shield+, a 2.5 layer membrane that offers 100% waterproofness along with dynamic breathability—as you get sweatier during high energy output, the membrane responds by increasing the rate at which water vapor passes through it, keeping you from wetting out from the inside.
- Weight: 11.25 oz
- Waterproof Membrane: Pertex Shield+ 2.5 Layer
- Special Features: Fully adjustable hood with polymer brim, Velcro wrist cuffs, stuffs into its own pocket
A durable everyday performer, the Mountain Hardwear Finder Rain Jacket is one of the few jackets still available today that utilizes a 2 layer waterproofing system. That means the waterproof layer is protected by a hanging mesh layer, which, though heavier than the other jackets on this list, provides a level of next-to-skin comfort that’s hard to beat. A polyurethane-laminated center zipper keeps blowing rain out handily.
- Weight: 14 oz
- Waterproof Membrane: DryQ Core™ 2 Layer
- Special Features: 2 zippered handwarmer pockets, 2-way adjustable hood, Velcro wrist cuffs, exposed PU laminated front zipper
4. Columbia EvaPOURation Jacket
Columbia’s EvaPOURation Rain Jacket is another 2.5 Layer job, featuring not only Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Tech™ waterproof/breathable layer, but also their Omni-Wick EVAP tech, which is basically a slightly raised pattern on the membrane that helps to diffuse your sweat across a greater surface area for ultra-fast vapor transfer.
Coupled with large underarm vents, the EvaPOURation Rain Jacket is a moisture venting machine.
- Weight: 11 oz
- Waterproof Membrane: Omni-Tech 2.5 Layer with Omni-Wick technology
- Special Features: Adjustable storm hood, underarm venting, packs into its own pocket, Velcro wrist cuffs
Though it may be the priciest “cheap” waterproof jacket on this list, the OR Horizon Rain Jacket is so replete with features that you’ll pay the extra $30 happily.
Featuring both interior and exterior stormflaps and a fully adjustable hood to totally seal you from the elements, the Horizon also takes breathability to the next level with its hem-to-pit TorsoFlo venting—basically, pit-zips on steroids. Smart pocket placement also means that you can comfortably wear this jacket wearing a climbing harness.
- Weight: 12.5 oz
- Waterproof membrane: Ventia 2.5 Layer
- Special Features: Fully adjustable wire-brimmed hood, TorsoFlo hem-to-pit venting, zippered hand pockets placed above harnesses, double-separating front zipper, stuffs into its own pocket