You can prepare for weeks in advance before you head out on a great outdoor adventure. You can check your list over and over, making absolutely sure that you’ve carefully packed every item you’ll need. The thing is, something unexpected is almost certainly going to happen anyway.
Luckily, when it comes to surprises out in the wilderness, a sudden rainstorm is nothing you can’t handle. In fact, if you equip yourself with the best rain gear, you won’t have to bat an eye at when Mother Nature throws a downpour your way.
What to Look for When Choosing Rain Gear
Like anything else, there are a great many features that you should consider when choosing the rain gear that will best suit your needs. Here are a few of the key factors that should help you make your decision.
Types of Gear
Rain gear is a lot more than just a good jacket. If you really want to keep yourself and your things nice and dry during a shower, you should look into hats, pants, boots, and rain covers. Understanding your needs will really help you in stocking up on rain gear.
You don’t have to go overboard, but don’t forego a rain cover if you can help it! Your jacket may keep you dry but if your sleeping bag gets wet, you won’t be comfortable.
Waterproof or Water-Resistant
If something is waterproof that means it has been treated specifically to repel liquid and therefore it should be basically impenetrable by water. If you have very expensive equipment or throw your stuff in a pond for fun (who knows what you do in your free time) you will want to go with waterproof materials.
Water-resistant doesn’t mean your items will immediately get soaked, and usually water-resistant is good enough unless you plan to hike unsheltered through the pouring rain. Water-resistant items won’t easily be penetrated by water but they still can be. They won’t be able to withstand high pressured water nor being submerged without getting wet.
Breathable waterproof materials are great for clothing because they will keep you dry from outside water while letting sweat and perspiration escape from your skin. You typically don’t want to sacrifice ventilation when searching for rain gear because if you get overheated, you’ll feel damp and sweaty. Not fun. For hikers and outdoor adventurers, good breathability is a must.
Waterproof fabrics are known as hard shells because they keep water out. These are not insulated so they’re not made for warmth. You can always layer clothes underneath the hard shell jackets or pants in order to keep yourself protected from cold.
Soft shell items feature a water-resistant outer layer and an insulating inner layer. When the forecast calls for heavy rain, waterproof hard shell is a better choice because it will keep you the dryest. If you don’t expect much rain but you do expect to get a lot of exercise, soft shell is most likely right for you since if offers more breathability.
Price is always a factor when deciding which gear is best for you. A lot of weatherproof clothing is expensive because it is specifically designed to be functional and durable and usually is made up of many layers and materials. If you live in an area that’s often rainy, investing in a good waterproof outfit is a smart move.
A quick scan of an item’s features will give you a pretty good idea of its functionality. Anything that is truly waterproof will be completely seam-taped. Extra breathable items typically have lots of zippers for ventilation. The more insulation and features an item has, the heavier it will be.
You’ll need to consider how much weight you’re willing to sacrifice for certain features. There are many weatherproof items that are made to be ultralight for easy packing and carrying. The more pockets a pair of waterproof pants or a waterproof jacket has, the more you’ll be able to store on your person for easy access.
Size matters no matter what you buy. Of course, when you’re looking for waterproof clothing you want items that will fit you. Depending on included insulation, you may want something that fits snugly or that leaves room for multiple layers.
With tarps and rain covers, you have to take into account the size of what you’ll be covering up. You’ll want an awning that covers your whole hammock and protects it from rain. You’ll want a backpack cover that is able to fit around your entire backpack when it is completely packed full. Size also plays a role in how lightweight and packable your gear is!
Eight Best Rain-Resistant Items for Outdoors
Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Jacket
Specific features: Waterproof, breathable, adjustable hood, fully seam-taped, hem-to-bicep dual zippers, all-season
Best use: Camping and hiking
The Outdoor Research Men’s Foray Jacket is a perfect waterproof jacket for any outdoor adventurer. The lightweight, breathable GORE-TEX shell sandwiches two layers of fabric for ultimate comfort, keeping water from penetrating the jacket. TorsoFlo side zippers provide ventilation letting body heat escape so you won’t feel overheated. There are also multiple hidden compartments for storage.
This jacket is stylish and trendy so you won’t stick out or feel like you’re wearing a poncho. It is perfect for wear on the trails as well as in town running errands on a rainy day. The hood is completely adjustable so you can feel the most comfortable while wearing it. The fabric is soft and doesn’t have the annoying crinkly sound commonly associated with waterproof materials.
This jacket is incredibly durable and can last up to 15 years. Because of its waterproof membrane, it is much more effective at keeping you dry than other jackets that only feature waterproof coating. It’s easily packable and won’t take up a lot of space in a backpack. This jacket is available in sizes small to xx-large in both a neutral coyote color and a pewter color with lemongrass accents.
Marmot Men’s Minimalist Rain Jacket
Specific features: Waterproof, windproof, breathable laminate, adjustable hood, seam-sealed with micro seam allowances, laminated zipper flaps, Angel-Wing Movement construction
Best use: Multisport
The Marmot Men’s Minimalist Rain Jacket is a great choice for hikers and campers who are looking for exceptional protection from rain and wind in a lightweight package. This jacket features a 2.5 layer GORE-TEX PacLite shell which keeps water away from your clothes and skin and eliminates the need for a separate lining. That makes this jacket even lighter and more compact than other similar waterproof outdoor jackets.
It can easily be packed in a backpack without adding unwanted weight or taking up a great deal of space. Laminated zipper flaps keep the multiple zippers on this jacket from rubbing up against your skin and causing irritation. The adjustable draw-hem hood, adjustable velcro cuffs, and Angel-Wing Movement construction give you full-range of motion without hindering your vision or constricting your body during treks and outdoor events.
This jacket is available in sizes small to xx-large. Choose the style you like most between 12 available neutral or bold colors. Keep in mind that older models of this jacket had a manufacturer defect with the waterproof material. The design has since been updated and new, recent versions of this product should not have any leaking issues.
ENO ProFly Rain Tarp
Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 11 inches folded, 10′ 6″ x 6′ 4″ unfolded
Specific features: Water shedding ability, six guy points for streamlined shape, lightweight, portable, includes stuff sack
Best use: Outdoor
The Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to keep their belongings safe from rainfall. It is very versatile and can be spread over a tent, hammock, grill, doghouse, or anything else that will fit underneath it. Because it is so light and includes a stuff sack, carrying this tarp around to any event is easy convenient.
It is also available in featherweight Sil-Nylon for those wishing to snatch up an even lighter water shedding tarp. This tarp is a wonderful way to keep your stuff dry and free of foul weather interference such as rain or sleet. If rain is in the forecast, this tarp will provide shelter and keep you dry, as well as protected from harsh winds.
It will also protect you and your things from direct sunlight if you decide to set it up to give yourself some shade from the summer heat. Setup is quick and easy. The ProFly comes with included ties, but stakes are sold separately. The ENO ProFly Rain Tarp and comes in five different colors.
Hunter Original Women’s Refined Wellington Rain Boots
Dimensions: 15 inches from arch to shaft
Specific features: Rubber soles, soft textile lining, three-millimeter molded footbed, slim leg fit, wrap around strap
Best use: Outdoor
The Hunter Original Women’s Refined Wellington Rain Boots are some of the best and most popular rain boots available. The Hunter brand is stylish and chic while the products remain durable and long lasting. These boots are handcrafted with care. The soft textile lining is very breathable so you won’t have to worry about your feet overheating while wearing these boots.
These boots are comfortable and easy to walk in, making them a perfect choice for general outdoor use in rainy conditions. Hunter is a U.K. brand so keep that in mind when choosing a size. To find your size in in U.K. sizing, take your U.S. size and subtract two. A U.S. size 8 would equate to a U.K. size 6.
These boots are great for trekking outdoors and won’t make you sacrifice looks for functionality. There is no reason to feel like a clown in order to keep your feet dry! They are available in three classy colors and come in sizes U.S. 5 to U.S. 10. These boots can run a bit big, so if you are normally a half size you should purchase the next lowest whole size.
Deuter Kid Comfort Sun Roof/Rain Cover
Material: Nylon ripstop, taffeta
Dimensions: 10.2 x 12.6 x 11.8 inches
Specific features: UV protection, quick mounting, flexible construction
Best use: Outdoor
The Deuter Kid Comfort Sun Roof/Rain Cover attaches to a pack or carrier to provide portable protection from sun rays and rain. The packable rain cover provides extra protection from small rain showers. It is not as effective against major downpours, so having a backup full-size cover would be a good idea if you’re expecting a great deal of rain. The carriers and packs are not included.
The cover attaches easily to a pack using elastic clips. This cover can be tricky to store when not in use, so it is best for people who don’t mind sacrificing a bit of space when packing for an outdoor trip. Depending on how tall you are, this might poke the back of your head rather than sit comfortably above your head. If this is the case, tweaking the way it is attached to your pack can reduce that issue.
The rip-resistant nylon protects this cover from becoming damaged should you run into the inevitable low-hanging branch. This cover will fit with many different piggyback carriers, not just with the Deuter Kid carriers, so you can definitely give it a try even if you have a different brand of carrier.
Outdoor Research Seattle Camouflage Sombrero Hat
Material: Nylon, polyester
Dimensions: 11 x 9 x 2 inches
Specific features: Waterproof shell, brushed tricot lining, fully seam-taped, UPF 50+, adjustable cinch band, removable chin cord
Best use: Outdoor
The Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero Hat is one of the most popular products of its kind. The waterproof shell will keep you protected from rain in even the heaviest of downpours. The brushed tricot lining keeps your skin free of perspiration for maximum comfort. Even in extreme weather conditions, the brim of this hat will keep water directed away from your face.
It seems like magic! Even in sunny weather, this hat will protect your face and neck from unwanted sun exposure and heat. This hat features interior velcro straps for easy adjustments and a perfect fit. This hat is perfect for backpackers or anyone concerned with saving space because it is completely crushable and light for packing into small spaces.
The MultiCam version of this hat offers more protection and durability and will last for years of use. Once you start using the Outdoor Research Seattle MultiCam hat, you’ll probably stick with it for life, never bothering to try any other kind because, well, you won’t need to. This hat is available in sizes small to x-large. It ranges from $53 to $75, depending on what size you decide to purchase.
Arcteryx Men’s Beta SL Pant
Dimensions: 3 x 11 x 16 inches
Specific features: Waterproof GORE-TEX fabric with PacLite technology, tricot reinforcement, water-tight lower leg zippers, elastic waistband with drawcord
Best use: Outdoor wear
The Arcteryx Men’s Beta SL Pant provides extreme protection from rain. The instep, lower legs, and hems are reinforced with N150p-X GORE-TEX 3L and tricot technology, so no water is getting in. The zippers are also seal-taped, so no water will get in through them either. These pants offer fly zipper access for easy accessibility and convenience.
These pants are very lightweight for easy packing, storing, and carrying. The pant legs feature adjustable drawcords and hooks to secure the pants over boots. The surface has Durable Water Repellent or DWR fabric that keeps water away.
Unlike other rainproof pants, these are extremely breathable so your legs won’t get too hot during humid, warm weather rains. They are also quite durable and will last you a long time. They are available in sizes x-small to xx-large including short and long sizes.
Osprey UltraLight Rain Cover
Dimensions: 2.6 x 4.4 x 6.2 inches
Specific features: Fits 50-75 liter backpacks, 40D ripstop nylon, securing cinch attachment, convenient carry bag included, hip belt and harness attachments
Best use: Camping and hiking
The Osprey UltraLight Rain Cover is sure to keep your pack and its contents dry in foul weather. If you find yourself in a damp climate, you won’t have to worry about your sleeping bag, clothes, or electronics getting wet. The carrying bag this rain cover comes with is very small and light so it won’t take up much room or be heavy to transport. It can be packed down to the size of a fist.
This rain cover wraps around backpacks with capacities of 50 to 75 liters and fits like a glove. The sizes available are medium, large, and x-large, so the size you need is dependent on how big your pack is. The larger sizes will offer extra space to cover attachments and extras that you might include in your pack.
The elastic cinch cords can be looped through your pack’s hip belt to keep it even more secured. The bottom of this cover does not feature a durable reinforcement, so setting your backpack down on rough terrain might cause tears in the fabric.
As you can now surely see, the options when it comes to rain gear are vast. You should understand your needs better than anyone, so trust your instinct when it comes to preparing for various weather phenomenon. The right rain gear is a great asset for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors.
Always be prepared for sudden rainfall because it can very likely strike when you’re asleep in your tent. You definitely don’t want to wake up with a damp sleeping bag because those puppies don’t often dry very quickly. Having a perpetually damp sleeping arrangement is truly a bummer and can make you feel miserable when you were supposed to be having a great time.
Don’t let a bout of bad weather spoil your fun! Once you’ve obtained all the rain gear you need, you won’t have to worry about planning around a pesky forecast. Camping in the rain will just become one more thing at which you are awesome.