Recommendations: Best Lightweight Rain Jacket for Hiking
The lightweight rain jacket for hiking will be your perfect companion on all of your adventures. Picking the right one is paramount!
When you are out hiking on the trail, you always want to be prepared and protected against the elements. This is a lot easier to do in modern times, considering the fact that a lot of the weather agencies and reports are now generally accurate. Nevertheless, when going for a hike, or even when going out in general, it’s best to have rain protection or even just wind protection handy. The last thing you want, after all, is to get soaked by the rain when it starts. It’s exactly for this reason that having the best lightweight rain jacket for hiking is crucial in ensuring that you absolutely enjoy your hike.
Quite honestly, there are so many jackets available on the market today. Many of them are similar, and let’s be real – most of them perform the same purpose. However, not all of them are created equal. Some of these rain jackets are far better than the others, or perform much better than others might. After all, jackets all have different ratings in terms of durability, waterproofness, and breathability.
In today’s article, we’ve made sure to look at everything you need to know to help you select the right jacket. We have put together a buying guide to help you in this regard, giving you plenty of info to help you make the best decision. And of course, to start you off, we’ve included five of our best recommendations. See them below!
1. Minimalist by Marmot
If you’re looking for a rain jacket that is very versatile and that you can wear whenever and wherever you need, look no further than the Minimalist by Marmot. They have an option for men, but also one for women too. When you take a look at the Minimalist, it becomes extremely apparent that this jacket is much better quality than other entry-level jackets out on the market. The shell’s lining is much less plasticky. As a result, it does not feel quite as clammy when worn during physical activity such as hiking.
- Lightweight men's rain jacket is perfect for hiking, backpacking, cycling, and other activities where light travel and harsh weather are your top concerns
- Gore-Tex with Paclite technology provides optimal waterproofing, breathability, and packability; taped seams ensure true weatherproofing
- Marmot Size Chart
- This Marmot® Minimalist Jacket is a lightweight design with heavyweight features!
The hood on this jacket is pretty thick and nice. It has a bill which makes it capable of withstanding heavier winds and rains. Taking a look at all of the other features and components, you can see for yourself just how premium the construction of this jacket feels. You’ll see that the components inspire trust and confidence – from the zippers and cinch cords all the way to the toggles it’s got at the hood and the hems. It also makes use of a Gore-Tex Paclite material for its waterproof laminate, which is proven effective and loved by many. This waterproof laminate was recently updated, and it now includes a face fabric that is 100% recycled.
Although Marmot’s offering is great – and certainly one of the best – it is true that it still is not perfect all around. The fabric is thicker, which makes moving a bit more difficult. It’s also lacking the stuff pocket, so when rainstorms aren’t guaranteed, this jacket then becomes a bit less desirable.
- Simple Design
- Premium look and feel
- On the heavy size
- No stuffing pocket
2. Foray by Outdoor Research
If you are going to a place where you know there are going to be a lot of rain showers, and if you know that the temperature will be hot (at least in terms of the air), then you might want to look for a jacket that provides plenty of ventilation. In humid areas, or at least in hotter areas, it’s important that your jacket breathes along with you. Otherwise, you could find yourself struggling in the heat later on down the line.
- ULTIMATE WATERPROOF HARD SHELL: For those who won't let the rain stop them, this waterproof and windproof coat keeps you dry in the worst weather with fully seam-taped GORE-TEX construction. Breathability is not an issue with TorsoFlo venting.
- DURABLE VERSATILITY: From summit to city streets, and everywhere in-between, this jacket is the perfect companion. Whether you need a windbreaker or just need to stay dry, this shell is perfect for hiking, camping, climbing, and exploring new places.
Your body will be sweating as you hike, so you can certainly expect your jacket to start feeling clammy after a while. However, you can thankfully avoid this being too bad if you pick a well-ventilated piece of outerwear – like the Foray.
This jacket has plenty of ways in which you can ventilate – apart from the armpit zippers, it’s also equipped with Gore-Tex. TorsoFlo zippers are also available on the sides, along your ribs. These will allow you to unzip them and let the excess heat escape should you need to. On top of that, the Foray also allows you to convert it into a poncho, for the ultimate in breathability.
The Foray is incredibly versatile, offering you a lot of ways to contract or expand your jacket whenever and however you might need. However, because of all of this, the jacket does tend to be on the heavier side. Still, not a lot of people really care about the weight considering how much it offers you in return.
- Incredibly versatile and well ventilated
- Can be converted into a poncho
- Plenty of adjustments available
- A bit on the heavier end of the spectrum
3. Venture 2 by The North Face
If the overall value of the jacket is what you are looking for, then this piece of outerwear by The North Face is a good choice. The North Face is a brand that is truly well known the world over. They’re renowned for the stellar quality of all of their outdoor gear, from jackets all the way to backpacks. And, of course, they’re also well known for their products providing great value for your money no matter what type of item it is. And so, if one of your biggest considerations is budget, the Venture 2 is an ideal choice for you.
- Fit: Relaxed
- Warmth: 0 of 10
This jacket is somewhat on the lighter end of the spectrum, weighing in at only about 10.9oz. It’s a hybrid-shell jacket that is lightweight yet incredibly effective in waterproofing. This jacket will give you the best possible ventilation too, since of course you would want your jacket to be able to breathe. Aside from that, ample storage is also provided – what more could you ask for?
There are pit zips on this rain jacket that are a bit larger than the average. And so, if you really feel clammy, you can unzip and dump all of the excess heat while you’re hiking on the trail. You’ll also find plenty of adjustment mechanisms on this jacket, which ensures your body has a tight and protective seal at your waist, your wrists, and also your hood. With such a tight cinch, it’ll be far less likely that you’ll get some water droplets seeping in somehow.
As we’ve mentioned, the Venture 2 holds a price tag that would probably surprise you. It’s certainly not the best or fanciest on the market, but we’re sure that it’ll probably give you the best value for your money.
- Best value for money
- Adjustment allows you to cinch tight
- Well reputed company
- Zipper isn’t the best, may fail after some time
4. Stormline Stretch by Black Diamond
Truly, we can say that the Stormline Stretch by Diamond is probably one of the biggest contenders for the best lightweight rain jacket. This jacket offers you a surprisingly low price tag, whilst simultaneously offering you amazing performance – something that not many other companies can truly offer. Indeed, this jacket packs a huge punch – it’s incredibly well- rounded, despite the price coming at practically a steal.
- Stretch shell fabric increases durability and comfort
- DWR pit zips for ventilation
This jacket makes use of “BD.dry” laminate, which is patented. It offers protection from the elements at an unprecedented level, whilst still remaining flexible and breathable. The pit zips included also give you the capability to dump any excess heat. The zipper, which is coated YKK, makes sure you have a tight and waterproof seal.
Stormline Stretch is basically a hardshell jacket. It’s breathable, it’s durable, and naturally (since it is a rain jacket after all), it’s waterproof! However, unlike many of the other hardshell jackets, this one remains malleable and comfortable, due to the elastane used in its construction. And so, if you are looking for amazing quality and uncompromising comfort all in one package, Black Diamond’s offering might just be the right one for you.
- Amazing value for money
- Pit zips
- Hardshell, but still comfortable
- Some complaints about the fit not being ideal
5. Precip Lightweight Waterproof Jacket by Marmot
Quite honestly, if the only criteria for the best lightweight jacket is its weight, then the Precip by Marmot is likely an easy winner. This jacket is in no means unique – it performs exactly the same purpose as all the other rain jackets out on the market today. Nevertheless, you’d still be surprised to find that the Precip by Marmot is incredibly popular amongst people who love lightweight rain protection. After all, this jacket is waterproof (thanks to NanoPro laminate, a patented technology) – despite the fact that it weighs in at only 11 ounces. Surprisingly light, no?
- Excellent weather protection: Waterproof/breathable 2.5-layer performance Nanopro fabric for moderate rain, snow, and wind with a membrane-protecting print that increases wicking
- Full-length side zippers with bonded storm flap for easy layering and complete rain protection
To further improve the waterproofing of this jacket, Marmot has made sure to use a seam design that is fully-taped. This prevents moisture getting into the inside of your jacket through the seams. And if breathability is what you are looking for, you’d also be happy to know that Marmot made sure to include pit zippers so that you can let out any excess heat when necessary. There are plenty of mechanisms for adjustment to allow you to cinch and loosen at will, so you can create as tight or as loose a seal as you want at the hem, wrists, and hood.
When not being used, the Precip’s hood can be rolled up effortlessly into the jacket’s collar. This way, you can keep it out of your way, whilst also providing you even more ventilation.
If you’re worried about price, don’t. This jacket comes at a reasonable price tag, so you don’t need to fret about it being out of your budget. Not a bad offering from Marmot! This jacket is a fantastic alternative to the Minimalist, which has more features but does weigh quite a bit more.
- Pit zips allow breathability
- Hood stores away
- Can get clammy in conditions that are warmer and more humid
- Minor complaints about the longevity of the product
Your Buying Guide: Choosing the Right Rain Jacket
When you’re looking for a lightweight rain jacket, there are a bunch of things for you to consider. There are quite a few factors that can make or break a jacket. These factors essentially decide whether the jacket will be a great companion for you through everything that you do. If you aren’t sure what you need to look for in a rain jacket for hiking, we’re here to help. In this buying guide, we’ve basically made sure to include all the things you need to look for in a good jacket. With this guide, you should be able to more easily shop for a jacket that perfectly suits your needs, no matter what they may be.
If you’re ready to start shopping for your outerwear, let’s get started!
Rain Jackets Need Waterproofing
Naturally, since we are talking about rain jackets here, you will want one that is waterproof. There are a lot of different levels of waterproofing out there, and some jackets will be able to repel H2O more than others may. In order to properly understand how waterproof a jacket is, market standards have been established. Each jacket is then rated, and it is through this rating that you can distinguish which jacket is more waterproof.
Ratings go from 0mm all the way to 20000mm – and sometimes, even higher. This number basically represents the water’s height added to a vertical tube (1 inch long) before the jacket material/fabric begins to leak. The higher this number, the higher the waterproof ability of the jacket is.
If you are going to be using this jacket a lot outside/outdoors, then you’ll want a jacket that is 10000 mm in rating at least. A 10,000mm rated jacket will protect you in light rains and showers. However, if you want to be protected in heavier rains, you’ll need to look for a jacket at least 20,000 mm in rating. It might be possible to find material that is rated higher, but for all intents and purposes, 20,000mm is quite honestly pretty much all that you will need.
Know that the waterproof ability of a jacket doesn’t rely solely on the material. You also need to look at other things, such as the zippers on the jacket. If they are fully exposed, water will get through, and you will get wet. If you want a protection from the water, make sure that the zippers are coated, or that they are covered with a fabric flap in order to prevent water getting right through. Another thing for you to consider is whether the seams are protected as well. If seams are not protected, then water can seep right through. And so, the seams should be completely sealed – that way the water won’t get anywhere through stitching.
Note that most rain jackets are usually windproof because the material is both rainproof and windproof. However, there are some jackets that add even more windproofing protection – though these jackets experience reduced breathability.
How Breathable is it?
Waterproof ratings are not the only numbers you’ll see on rain jackets. You’ll likely also find other ratings, this time for breathability. The measure of breathability is basically the amount of water vapor (in grams) that is able to pass through a 1 sq. meter of material or fabric in a period of 24 hours. Most of these jackets have a rating in between 10000g and 20000g. The higher the number, the higher the breathability.
You might be thinking that breathability isn’t all that important, but the truth is that this number truly is. The fact is, if you’re going to be using a jacket on a hike, surely you will want your outerwear to be breathable. The reason being, you want to be able to let your sweat out. You also want to be able to dump excess body heat since as you exert yourself, your body will get hot. You don’t want your jacket to trap your sweat and moisture inside because this will lead to you feeling clammy as you swim in your own sweat.
Unfortunately, if the jacket is waterproof or windproof, then chances are breathability won’t be perfectly ideal. However, as long as you have a reasonable expectation of the eventual build-up, you’ll be ok. Opt for a jacket that has additional ways of venting, such as zippers on the armpits or sides.
Naturally, because you’ll be wearing this jacket often in outdoor weather conditions, so you will absolutely want it to be durable. The durability of the jacket will make a pretty big difference – and its durability is advertised by a “denier” number. The higher this number is, the thicker the fabric is, and the more resistant it is to tears. Lower denier jackets do tend to be softer and somewhat comfier, but they are less durable in comparison.
If you know you’ll be using your jacket in winter activities as well as for hiking in rocky areas or thick brush, then it’s probably best to go for a higher denier. On the other hand, if you want something really lightweight and much easier to pack, go on ahead and get a lighter denier option instead.
Weight and Other Features
When you’re going to be hiking, you want most if not all of your belongings and gear to be ultralight. Reason being, of course, that you do not want to be lugging around a lot of extra weight as you are already physically exerting yourself to begin with. You want to cut every ounce you can, especially if you’re doing a hike over a longer distance.
There are a lot of options when it comes to lightweight jackets for use in the rain. However, many of them are not as durable because they are made of jackets with lower denier – and they also have little to no extra features. We’ve discovered that the jackets that have the best balance between features and weight are the ones that weigh about six or seven ounces. Anything that is less than 6/7 oz we would honestly classify as more of an “emergency” jacket, rather than an everyday use one.
There are a lot of other features that you should also be looking for in your jacket. Although not all of them are necessary, in fact, most of them aren’t, it’s always good to have them regardless. Some of the features that you can look for are:
- Zippers for the armpits (extra ventilation)
- Adjustment points on the hood, waist, and even the wrists
Out of all the things that you need to look for, one of the most important things to consider is the quality of the jacket. It’s important to find a balance in between price and quality. That’s not to say that more expensive instantly means better quality – sometimes even lower-priced jackets come better quality than more expensive options. With the above mentioned factors in the buying guide, along with reading reviews of other people who have already purchased the items, hopefully, you’ll be able to find yourself a high quality jacket with all of the features you could possibly need.
The lightweight rain jacket for hiking is one that will keep you shielded from all the elements. But, at the same time, you do want it to be generally lightweight so that you won’t suffer from the excess weight. On longer hikes, you will definitely want a more breathable jacket too.
Hopefully, with all of the information we have provided above, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about your purchase. Good luck with finding the right jacket to keep you dry and comfortable during your hikes!