Best Rain Jackets of 2022: Staff Picks

Stay dry with our seven favorite waterproof shells.

Ebony Roberts | Updated May 5, 2022

37 reviews with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars
Hiking in the Arc'teryx Beta LT.

Don’t let crummy weather spoil your outdoor fun. A quality rain jacket is key to staying dry and comfortable whether you’re hiking in the rain, commuting to work by bike, running errands in a drizzle or waiting out a storm in the mountains.

Once you’ve explored our in-depth advice on how to choose rainwear, read on for our staff’s favorite rain jackets. These seven shells will cover you for a range of active pursuits and budgets, no matter how much precip you encounter. They’re all waterproof, windproof and reasonably breathable.

Staff Picks

Find our quick recommendations here, or keep reading to discover our staff and members’ favorite rain jackets.

 

The do-it-all REI Co-op XeroDry GTX combines everything you want in a rain shell but at an affordable price. It uses a 2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE® material, which makes for a lightweight, breathable and versatile jacket that performs nicely as a moderately technical shell for hiking, hopping around town, sitting on the sidelines at your kid’s soccer game or coastal camping in the fall. “This quality jacket introduces people to GORE-TEX technology without breaking the bank,” says Paige Frederick-Pape, a retail sales specialist at an Austin, Texas, store. “There’s nothing else like it out there at that price.”

The XeroDry GTX also has a chest pocket for quick access, adjustable hook-and-loop wrist straps and a higher neckline to block your face from the rain. It stuffs down relatively small to fit in your backpack. Nice touch: The front zippered pockets are hipbelt-compatible and mesh-lined, so they can double as vents on warm days. (There are no armpit zips, however.) “I love the XeroDry,” says Jillian Langston, a visual merchandising sales lead at REI’s Raleigh, North Carolina, store. “It’s soft, quiet and the jacket I grab if there’s a chance of rain.” It can take a beating, too: The hybrid design reinforces high-abrasion areas like the elbows and shoulders with tough nylon while utilizing a more comfortable polyester throughout the rest of the jacket. Buy here.

VersionsWomen’swomen’s 1X-3Xmen’smen’s tall

The Patagonia Torrentshell may appear minimalist, but this feature-packed rain jacket can weather even the heaviest downpours. It’s suitable for most everyday outdoor pursuits, but we think the newly upgraded construction from 2.5-layer to 3-layer adds durability, making it a top pick for hiking in pouring rain. The exterior fabric is created from post- and pre-consumer recycled materials (think: plastic bottles and fishing nets), and the jacket and zippers are treated with a DWR coating that helps moisture bead up and roll off. Plus, all the zippers have storm flaps, and the hook-and-loop cuff closures and drawcord hem adjust to seal out precipitation and wind. 

One Seattle REI Co-op member wore the Torrentshell on a four-day backpacking trip through the Enchantments in Washington state and said, “We got rained on daily—sometimes torrentially—and this jacket kept me completely dry!”

Other attributes that make it a good choice for hiking: It’s roomy enough to layer a puffy jacket underneath and breathable enough that you won’t overheat putting in long miles, with pit zips that allow for extra ventilation while hiking up a sweat. Although not helmet-compatible, the roomy hood can be adjusted with drawcords at the back and around the face for a snug fit. The stiffened visor shields out rain when pushing through wet brush, and a cord-and-hook design tucks the hood away on the back of your neck (but doesn’t completely stow it) when not in use. There’s no chest pocket on the Torrentshell, but the two handwarmer pockets are large enough to store a phone, map or other small essentials. As a nice added touch, the jacket packs into its own pocket; clip a carabiner into the loop to strap on the outside of your pack for easy access. Buy here

VersionsWomen’smen’s

In addition to keeping you dry, visibility is a critical function of a cycling-specific rain jacket, and the REI Co-op Junction Cycling Jacket’s “new high-vis yellow color and reflective hits on the arm, back and zipper are made to be seen in traffic or on the road,” says Jennifer Dallas, the co-op’s cycling apparel buyer.

Cyclists will also appreciate the longer tailoring in the back, which provides added splatter coverage, and the two-way zipper allows you to adjust for comfort while pedaling. One member wore the jacket on a cycling tour of trails between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., and pronounced it “the perfect jacket,” adding, “it kept me warm and dry in moderate rain and 50-degree temps.”

Other callouts worth mentioning on this lightweight windproof jacket include the waterproof zippers (with rain flaps) found throughout, pit zips to help dump heat and tailored cuffs that fit over gloves to keep wind and water out while gripping the handlebar. Co-op designers updated the Junction with a helmet-compatible hood that tucks into the collar when not needed. “The hood is big, but you can tighten it from the back,” says one co-op reviewer from Seattle. “I like having the extra room to pull the brim forward (more rain protection on the face) or to leave room for a bulky ponytail or bun; I also sometimes wear a cap underneath.” Buy here.

VersionsWomen’smen’s 

For more on cycling-specific jackets, read our Staff Picks: The Best Cycling Jackets of 2022.

The Janji Rainrunner is a lightweight and ventilated jacket that allows for unrestricted movement when running in the rain, and it’s three times more waterproof and breathable than the previous design. One customer reviewer from Philadelphia called it the “Holy Grail jacket,” because it kept her dry and comfortable during one pouring run in 60-degree weather. Another trail runner from Colorado called it remarkable, adding that it “breathes extremely well and the venting system is well thought-out.”

The Rainrunner’s 2.5-layer shell is waterproof and windproof, and the streamlined cut has enough stretch so as not to impede your natural stride, with a dropped back hem for added spatter protection. Water-repellent zippers and semielasticized cuffs prevent moisture from finding a way in, and open mesh paneling around the core lets heat escape so you won’t feel clammy when you’re putting in the long miles. You can also comfortably fit a light mid layer underneath or wear a hydration vest over top.

Zippered hand pockets and an internal pocket provide ample storage for your keys and cards, and the Rainrunner packs down for easy stowing when the sun comes out. The elasticized hood with mini visor offers enough mobility to turn your head and check your blind spots, but it can’t be cinched tight, which is something to consider if you run in gusty winds. Small reflective hits on the front and back hem add a touch of visibility for running in low light. Buy here

Versions: Women'smen's

For more REI expert advice on running gear, read What to Wear Running.

The Arc’teryx Beta LT is a versatile and lightweight rain jacket that can withstand heavy rain and gusty wind, making it suitable for a wide range of activities. While the Beta LT is the priciest jacket among our picks, it’s an investment worth making, says Katie Smyth, a Seattle-based assistant category merchant for women’s outerwear at the co-op who has had her Arc’teryx jacket for at least a decade. She can’t even justify replacing her current one yet because it won’t wear out; Smyth credits its longevity to the abrasion-resistant face fabric, high stitch count and flat-laying taped seams. 

The Beta LT underwent a redesign in early 2021, and the latest version trades in 3-layer GORE-TEX Pro for standard 3-layer GORE-TEX, making it less robust but more breathable, lightweight, quiet and comfortable than its predecessor. Another noticeable difference: pit zips to improve ventilation during spring ski touring or late summer backpacking. 

Arc'teryx excels at hood design and it's arguably the most dialed-in feature on the Beta LT. The adjustable hood is helmet-compatible and allows for a customized fit that provides full coverage without impeding vision. “When you cinch the hood down, if you need to look left or right, the hood looks with you, instead of you looking into the hood,” says Langston, the co-op’s Raleigh retail specialist. Although it doesn’t pack down into its own zippered pocket like some other rain jackets, it can be rolled into its hood and secured with the drawcord for easy stowing. Buy here.

VersionsWomen’smen’s

It’s no wonder that the Rainier is the co-op’s best-selling rain jacket—ever. It’s waterproof, relatively breathable and loaded with features, all for less than $90. “I keep looking for a reason to buy a second rain jacket but can’t find one,” says a copywriter at the co-op who bought the Rainier when she first moved to the Pacific Northwest—and she hasn’t broken up with it yet.

“The Rainier has the benefit of the pit zips,” says Dawn Fahlstrom, a co-op retail sales specialist in Dallas, “which are handy if you need more ventilation when being active.” Sealed seams, hook-and-loop cuffs, a drawcord hem and front storm flap keep wind and water out, and the bright color options help keep you visible to city traffic. But this isn’t a super technical piece: It doesn’t pack up all that small, making it a better option for everyday use. It has ample room for a phone, snacks and sundries with two exterior hand pockets and two interior drop pockets. We love that the hood adjusts and rolls away into the collar. Buy here.

For those who don’t want to wear rain pants or just like the look of a longer silhouette, the REI Co-op Rainier Long Line Rain Jacket (women's and women's 1X-3X) retains all the features members love about the classic Rainier, but in a thigh-length version that will keep your backside dry. This versatile jacket is roomy enough to wear a mid layer underneath and stylish enough to wear running errands in the city. The snap vent at the hem allows for ease of movement, as does the two-way zipper in the front (a key feature in a longer-length jacket). Elastic drawcords allow the waist to cinch in for a flattering fit. One notable feature missing from the Rainier Long Line: pit zips. Buy here.

VersionsWomen’swomen’s 1X-3Xmen’smen's tall

Wet weather shouldn’t hinder outdoor fun, and the REI Co-op Rainwall Jacket keeps little ones dry and toasty while playing in the rain and puddle-jumping. “We were out for hours in a full downpour and my child stayed 100% dry and very happy,” says one customer reviewer. The 2.5-layer shell is waterproof, windproof and blocks out the elements with sealed seams, elastic cuffs and a front storm flap. Reflective trim on the front and back help keep kids visible in low light.

Another member praised this jacket for being able to last through two toddlers’ tough and repeated use at the playground, exploring nature trails and on neighborhood walks. The tricot-lined collar is soft on the neck, and the fit is generous enough to fit another layer underneath. The hood has a rain brim and elastic on the sides of the opening for a snug fit that needs no fiddling. Zippered hand pockets on the kids’ version secure essentials, while the toddlers’ version utilizes hook-and-loop hand pockets, making it easier for little hands to stash treasures. Added touches include a loop to hang it in a school locker and a write-on ID label. Buy here

For colder wet climates, an insulated kids’ version comes with the same features, but with recycled polyester insulation that adds warmth without the bulk. Pair the jacket with the matching REI Co-op Rainwall Rain Pants for full protection (kids’toddlers’). 

Versions: Kids’toddlers’

 

Shop All Rain Jackets

 

Buying Advice

To find the best rain jacket for you, consider how you’ll use it. 

Construction

Waterproof jackets all have at least one extra layer that seals out water completely (unlike a water-resistant jacket, which can only handle light rain for a short period of time). There are 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer rain shells.

2-layer Construction: These rain jackets typically have a face fabric (the first layer) that has a waterproof/breathable laminate bonded to the inside (the second layer). Most casual rain jackets use this construction because it’s often more affordable.

Note: The REI Co-op XeroDry GTX uses a 2-layer version of GORE-TEX PACLITE®, but it isn’t a traditional 2-layer like described above. Instead, it has an outer shell that’s bonded to the PACLITE membrane (more like a 3-layer shell, below) and covered with a protective coating that makes a liner unnecessary. The payoff is that you lose a little weight but retain all the weather protection from the GORE-TEX laminate.

2.5-layer Construction: As with jackets featuring 2-layer construction, these shells have a face fabric and a thin waterproof/breathable laminate or coating that’s generally applied to the inside of the face fabric. But 2.5-layer jackets also have a porous material underneath (the half layer) that gives the jacket better durability than a 2-layer construction. Most of the shells in this lineup are 2.5-layer.

3-layer Construction: Jackets featuring 3-layer construction like the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L and Arc’teryx Beta LT are the toughest of the bunch. They have a face fabric (the first layer) bonded to a porous waterproof/breathable membrane (the second layer). A lining (the third layer) then covers the membrane like a shield. This construction tends to give the garment a longer lifespan than other designs.

Think of waterproof/breathable membranes in 3-layer jackets as wallpaper applied to a wall and waterproof/breathable laminates in 2.5-layer jackets as spray paint applied to a wall.

Read more about how rainwear works..

Features

In general, features like pockets and adjustment tabs make a jacket heavier and less packable. If you’re using your rain jacket for casual use, then go all out shopping for the features that matter to you. If, however, you plan to take your shell on the trail, really scrutinize what matters. Things like pit zips, stretchy fabric and drop-tail hems can be worth their weight for outdoorsy pursuits when chosen wisely.

The most technical shells on this list are the Patagonia Torrentshell 3LArc’teryx Beta LT and REI Co-op XeroDry GTX. They’re great options for hiking and multi-sport activities where breathability is essential. The REI Co-op Rainier and Rainier Long Line are better choices for more casual wear, while the Janji Rainrunnerand REI Co-op Junction stand alone as running- and cycling-specific jackets.

Methodology

We polled staffers and member-testers across the co-op for their favorite rain jackets. We asked for suggestions of technical pieces, casual pieces and everything in between, then narrowed down the options to come up with this list of the best seven.

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Article by Ebony Roberts, with additional reporting by Phuong Le.