There are many places in the world where it seems like it never stops raining. If find yourself having to hike in the rain a lot, then what you need is a hiking rain jacket. Staying dry and warm, after all, is important, and getting soaked by the rain can be frustrating when it’s warm out, and dangerous when the temperature is down low. It should go without saying, of course, that any hiking rain jacket you get should be waterproof, in one way or another.
Hiking Rain JacketWhat you should be looking at when shopping for hiking rain jackets.
- Material – There are many jacket materials that get touted as being waterproof, but will start leaking water through after an hour or two. Materials like 3-ply Gore-Tex have a well deserved reputation of being reliably waterproof, and others, like eVent, are an excellent choice, though not as well known.
- Ventilation – Whenever you’re working hard you’re generating your own moisture, in the form of sweat. And keeping outside moisture out is great, but a jacket needs to allow for moisture you generate to escape as well. Pit zips, which are ventilation zippers under the arm pits, are a great way to let that moisture and heat escape.
Best Hiking Rain JacketA few of the better hiking rain jackets on the market.
- Marmot Super Mica - If you're going to be carrying a backpack for any significant amount of time then it's a good idea to get a rain jacket that's reinforced in the shoulders and the waist, where backpack straps will rub, and eventually damage a rain jacket. The Super Mica has that. It also uses Marmot's proprietary waterproof, breathable membrain fabric. Pit zips help with ventilation, but other than that there's not much to this jacket, which is kind of the point. It's small, lightweight and perfect for stuffing in to a backpack.
- Arc'teryx Alpha SV Jacket - At the other end of the spectrum is something like the Alpha SV. It uses the high quality Gore Tex 3L Pro, which will definitely keep you dry without suffocating you. But what stands out about this jacket are the little things. Arc'teryx puts a lot of thought in to their jackets, and things like a helmet compatible hood, articulated elbows and laminated, rather than sewn hem and waist drawcord, along with as few seams as possible, are what make this such an excellent hiking rain jacket. There's also a women's version.
- Marmot Minimalist - If you want something in between lightweight and feature rich, the Minimalist is a good compromise. It uses Gore Tex for the outer shell, but the lightweight, breathable Paclite Gore Tex. It also has a few thoughtful features, like high hand pockets that are accessible even when you're wearing a backpack hip belt. But it doesn't have much beyond the basics. A good, all around hiking rain jacket. There's also a women's version.