The Best Rain Jacket for Hiking in 2019

Rain Jackets Australia

Rain jackets are an essential piece of gear. Whether it’s windy or wet, a solid rain jacket can protect you from the elements and keep you moving on your adventure. That being said, rain jackets come in all sorts of different designs with a variety of technologies that each profess to change the way you hike.

It can be difficult to determine which rain jacket is best for you these days. That’s where we come in. We’ve created this buying guide so you can learn more about what to look for before you make your next purchase and to ensure you choose the best rain jacket for your needs.


iMAGE
PRODUCT
OUR #1 RATED
Rain jacket review
OUR #1 RATED

ARC'TERYX BETA SL

  • 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex
  • Lightweight (350g)
  • Climbing helmet compatible
  • Durable fabric in high wear areas
  • Fully seam taped
  • Incredibly packable


Zeta jacket review

ARC'TERYX ZETA AR

  • 3-layer Gore-Tex
  • Moderate weight (425g)
  • Highly water-resistant
  • “WaterTight” zippers on pockets
  • Fully seam taped
  • Designed to fit well under a backpack


marmot jacket review

MARMOT KNIFE EDGE

  • 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex
  • Fully seam taped
  • Pit zips for ventilation
  • Water-resistant zippers


Marmot Precip review

MARMOT PRECIP

  • Affordable
  • Light and packable
  • Pit zips for ventilation


North Face jacket review

THE NORTH FACE RESOLVE 2

  • Affordable
  • Ripstop nylon shell
  • 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Seam-sealed

How to Find the Best Waterproof Jacket

We know that choosing a rain jacket can be difficult work. So, what do you look for when deciding on a rain jacket? Consider these features:

Waterproof fabric

Modern rain jackets come with one of a variety of different waterproof fabrics which are designed to keep you dry. These fabrics are generally made from an ePTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane, which is stretched to create pores which only allow water vapour to pass through. This means that the jacket will breathe when you sweat but won’t allow rainwater to infiltrate your inner layers.

The most popular and famous of these waterproof/breathable fabrics are made by Gore-Tex. EVent is another popular ePTFE based material that is used by a number of different gear companies. The main difference between eVent and Gore-Tex involves the coatings and layers that are added to the ePTFE membrane.

Essentially, eVent is generally more breathable but it requires more frequent washing to maintain this breathability. Thus, if you’re looking for a rain jacket for a long and wet expedition where you don’t have access to a washing machine, you’re best off with Gore-Tex, which maintains its breathability for longer.

Some gear companies use their own proprietary waterproof membranes in their products like H2No, BDry, and OutDry. While many of these are quite good, the most time-tested and reliable membranes are those made by Gore-Tex or eVent. However, these proprietary membranes tend to be cheaper than Gore-Tex or eVent.

Rain Jacket Layers

Rain jackets are constructed using either 2, 2.5, or 3 layers. While this may seem trivial, the layering of your jacket has a huge effect on its breathability and durability.

3-layer fabrics are constructed using a face fabric (with a durable water repellent treatment), a waterproof membrane, and an inner lining. You can’t actually see these layers (they’re smooshed together) but the inner lining is where the differences lie.

In a 3-layer fabric, the inner layer protects the membrane from being clogged up with sweat and oil, which reduces breathability. 3-layer jackets are the most durable over time but do cost and weight more.

2.5-layer fabrics have a very thin inner liner, which has many of the benefits of the full inner liner while also being more lightweight and breathable. But, these jackets must be washed more frequently to maintain this breathability.

A 2-layer fabric doesn't have that inner liner. Instead, they have inner mesh liners, which, while they breathe well, are too heavy and bulky for active outdoor adventure. They are cheaper, but it's best to resist the temptation and get a slightly more expensive jacket.


Rain Jacket Reviews

#1 Arc'teryx Beta SL Jacket Review

TOP PICK

Rain jacket review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The Beta SL is Arc’teryx’s premier lightweight hiking rain jacket. Made with fully seam sealed 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex and a more durable fabric in high use areas, the Beta SL is the perfect companion on your hiking adventures.

This rain jacket is super packable and ready to go on any hiking trip. It’s even got a climbing helmet compatible storm hood so you can take it with you on any outing. The only downside: it’s quite expensive. We think it’s worth it, though.

Pros
  • 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex
  • Lightweight (350g)
  • Climbing helmet compatible storm hood
  • More durable fabric in high wear areas
  • Fully seam taped
  • Incredibly packable
cons
  • Expensive                                                   

#2 ​​​Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket Review

Zeta jacket review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​Yet another great option from Arc’teryx, the Zeta AR is an even more durable trekking-focused version of the Beta SL. With a highly durable 3-layer Gore-Tex construction and highly water-resistant zippers, the Zeta AR is ready to stand up to whatever you throw at it.

The Zeta AR is even designed to fit well under a backpack so you don’t have to worry about having it ride up under your hip belt. If you were a bit sticker shocked by the Beta SL’s price, though, you might want to grab a seat before shopping for the Zeta AR. This rain jacket certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every last penny.

Pros
  • 3-layer Gore-Tex with C-KNIT technology
  • Moderate weight (425g)
  • Highly water-resistant “WaterTight” zippers on pockets
  • Fully seam taped
  • Designed to fit well under a backpack
cons
  • Very expensive                                                   

#3 Marmot Knife Edge Jacket Review

marmot jacket review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The Knife Edge is a solid hiking rain jacket from American gear manufacturer Marmot. Built using 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex and water-resistant zippers, it's great for sun showers and deluges alike. It's even got pit zips for extra ventilation on warm days when you're working hard.

Some hikers might not enjoy that this jacket doesn’t have any hand pockets - rather it just has two large chest pockets. It’s also a bit on the expensive end of the rain jacket spectrum, too.

Pros
  • 2-layer Paclite Gore-Tex
  • Fully seam taped
  • Pit zips for ventilation
  • Water-resistant zippers                             
cons
  • No hand pockets - chest only
  • Expensive                                                  

#4 Marmot PreCip Review

best value

Marmot Precip review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The PreCip is Marmot’s classic affordable rain jacket. It’s a do-it-all jacket that performs well in most situations, especially hiking. It’s easy on the wallet, light, and packable, so it’s great for a new hiker who doesn’t want to commit to an expensive shell just yet.

This rain jacket has pit zips for extra ventilation in its already highly breathable design. The main downside to this jacket is that it uses Marmot’s proprietary membrane, NanoPro, instead of Gore-Tex and eVent. While this reduces the jacket’s price, NanoPro isn’t nearly as waterproof in a deluge as some of its more technologically advanced counterparts.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Light and packable
  • Pit zips for ventilation                             
cons
  • Uses Marmot’s proprietary membrane - NanoPro

#5 ​​​​​​The North Face Resolve 2 Review

North Face jacket review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The North Face Resolve 2 is a decent rain jacket for casual hikers. Made from seam-sealed ripstop nylon, the Resolve 2 is affordable for many adventurers. It's got two zippered hand pockets for stowing essentials.

Our biggest criticisms of the Resolve 2 are focused on the use of HyVent as a waterproof fabric and the inclusion of a mesh liner. HyVent is generally considered to be of lower quality than Gore-Tex or eVent, though it is often much cheaper. Plus, the mesh liner, while great for breathability, adds both weight and bulk to the jacket.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Ripstop nylon shell
  • 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Seam-sealed                                             
cons
  • Uses HyVent as a waterproof fabric
  • Has mesh liner which adds weight and bulk

verdict

If we had to choose just one of these jackets, we’d go with the Arc’teryx Beta SL. Designed specifically for hiking and made with the best materials on the market, the Beta SL is no joke. It might be quite expensive, but it’s worth every penny when it helps keep you warm and dry on your next adventure.

About THE AUTHOR:

Gaby Pilson


A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.


As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.


She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.

Categories Hiking