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Rain Jackets

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Rain Jackets

If you want to be out and about in rainy weather, you'll need a jacket that's up to the task. Options range from low-end ponchos on up to jackets that cost several hundred dollars. Spending more gets you better performing technology and additional technical features.

Levels of Rain Protection

More affordable jackets are "water resistant," meaning they handle drizzle for short periods of time. An inexpensive rainslicker fends off even hard rain (it's "waterproof") but won't breathe at all, which can make for a sweaty experience. For the most comfort, especially if you're exerting yourself during a storm, you need a jacket with "waterproof/breathable" technology like GORE-TEX fabric, though dozens of other technologies perform a similar function.


Waterproof/breathable jackets feature multilayered materials that are engineered to keep raindrops out while also letting sweat vapor escape. They might use laminates or coatings in a 2-layer, 2.5-layer or 3-layer configuration

Very generally: 2-layer jackets are often urban styles and are quieter (less of a "swishing" sound as you move); 3-layer jackets are the most durable and, ironically, the lightest option; 2.5-layer jackets are also lightweight, but don't tend to be as durable as 3-layer jackets. How Rainwear Works has more details about those three types of construction.)

Rainwear Features

Design details add to both weight and cost, so look at features carefully. Hoods might be basic, ultra-adjustable, stowable or removable-or a jacket might forgo the hood entirely. Pockets can have specialized details like water-resistant zips or mesh that lets the pockets double as vents. Pit zips are important for more active use. Stretch fabric can also be a plus.

Most rain jackets also come with an added durable water repellent (DWR) finish that acts as a first line of defense against rain and helps the underlying waterproof/breathable technology perform at its best. It's important to maintain your jacket's DWR finish over the years.

More to Consider

It takes more than a rain jacket to keep you dry and warm. Don't forget long underwear, rain pants and a hat. To extend rain protection to your pack, get a raincover. To keep your rain jacket performing at its peak, wash and renew the DWR treatment on a regular basis.

More Reasons to Shop at REI

REI carries top brands like Arc'teryx, Columbia, REI Co-op, Patagonia, Outdoor Research, Marmot and The North Face. We also have a library of clothing articles to help you find the right clothing for any weather and any outdoor activity.