Hiking when you’re soaking wet is miserable. The right jacket can certainly make the bad weather more tolerable by keeping you dry and warm, enough so that it’s really an essential when heading out to wet climates or into changeable weather.
It should also protect you against wind and be durable enough to stand up to the outdoor environment you’re in.
But if you’re hiking you don’t want to be carrying something heavy and the ability to fold or pack down into a small space is important when you’ve got to carry everything.
Choosing the best hiking rain jacket means not only having something you can wear but something that will last.
The best hiking jackets use a three layer fabric that is durable, breathable, and waterproof even when the rain is severe.
The Top 3 Hiking Rain Jacket Reviews
Here are some of the best hiking rain jackets that you can find in the market today.
Arcteryx Alpha SV – $XXX.xx
The price of this might seem a little prohibitive but there’s a reason.
This construction is superior in it’s waterproofing and you will not get wet.
It’s made of durable N80 Gore-Tex which is not only waterproof but abrasion proof.
There’s a storm hood that’s also helmet friendly and it has two chest pockets which are designed to be accessible around a pack harness.
The internal pockets are laminated for extra waterproofing and keeping your items dry.
It’s a three layer jacket to keep you warm and it also has underarm zips for ventilation.
- Harmess Friendly
With tapes seams and a guaranteed waterproof construction this is idea when you’re heading into bad weather. The SV is rated for severe weather and is light enough to pack down to under 1lb of weight.
The high collar helps to keep out the elements and while it’s built slim it’s not tight enough that it’s uncomfortable. The outer material is 40 denier nylon and the inner lining is fairly breathable. There’s also a HemLock design that is intended on keeping the jacket from riding up while wearing a pack. It also has a lifetime warranty.
The hood is rather voluminous, it’s meant to cover a cycle helmet which is unnecessary if you’re just hiking. It’s amazingly expensive and the company doesn’t warranty the Gore-Tex from peeling as it eventually will. It’s also really noisy to wear and rustles worse than a paper bag.
Outdoor Research Helium HD – $XXX.xx
Ideal for fitting into a chest pocket it has an adjustable hoot and elasticated cuffs.
It has a single chest pocket of its own which is great if you’re wearing a pack with a hip belt at the same time.
There’s also hand pockets and pit zips for ventilation.
It’s reasonably priced, waterproof, and has a halo hood feature.
This is only a two layer jacket which means its not good if you’re out in cold environments but it’s a compromise because it’s so incredibly lightweight.
- Wire Brimmed Hood
So light that you’ll forget you’re carrying it, the pit zips make this really breathable despite the waterproof construction. The Helium 2 doesn’t have this feature but it’s over 3oz lighter as a compromise.
The seams are fully taped and the hand pockets are zippered so you can use them for safe storage too. When packed there’s a small loop to hook it onto the outside of a pack if you don’t want to store it in your chest pocket. The jacket has a water resistant membrane inside rather than being treated externally.
This is a really dull color and if you’re planning on being around traffic you’ll need something reflective or bright unless you want to blend in with the rain.
It’s tight in the chest and armpit area if that’s your widest feature and the waterproofing is also less than perfect. The fact that it’s only 2 layer also means you’re not as protected against the elements as with some others.
Montane Alpine Pro – $XXX.xx
Similarly priced to the Arcteryx the Montane is also made of the 3 layer Gore-Tex construction.
In fact there’s not a lot of difference between the two since it’s got the same 40 denier nylon construction, a helmet hood that can be stowed and chest pockets that work well in a harness.
The helmet portion has a drawstring to cinch it tight if you’re going climbing too and the gusseted wrist gaiters are designed to fit around gloves to create a seal at the wrists and keep you dry.
The fit is slim but it has a dropped back hem to prevent your skin being exposed with movement.
- Helmet Compatible
- Extra Pockets
While it hasn’t got quite the same ratings as the Arcteryx it’s darn close. This has more pockets however, especially useful are the traditional waist pockets which are so noticeably missing in the Arcteryx. It’s similarly lightweight and has underarm vents to keep you cool.
The seams are taped rather than sealed to prevent moisture getting in but the zip doesn’t have the protective shield behind that the Arcteryx has and this can be a weak area.
This is designed more as a mountaineering jacket than a simple rain jacket and there’s a lot of rather unnecessary features like the wrist seals. The dropped hem also doesn’t help prevent the jacket from riding up with a pack which means it can bunch up even though your skin isn’t getting exposed thanks to the longer hem.
there’s not a lot between the Montane and the Arcteryx, in fact they’re almost identical in every way. The Arcteryx has a better rating for wind and rain but you’re limited in your pockets and you don’t have the gusseted cuffs of the Montane to keep the weather from seeping in.
It’s pretty impossible to call between the two but the Helium is the best hiking rain jacket choice for something lightweight and cheaper if you don’t want to shell out for the others.