Finding the best women’s rain jacket is easy if you know how. We’ll help you to decide what features you need, understand how the different brands compare, and then give you a run-down on some of the best jackets out there right now. You can find a jacket that fits, flatters, keeps you dry, and doesn’t break the bank. The following tips will give you the know-how to make an informed decision.
Unique To You
There is really no such thing as the best rain jacket for women – each of us has a unique set of needs when it comes to finding our own perfect fit. In addition to the general features listed below, you will need to consider the way you will use a rain jacket.
If you live in a cooler climate, you will probably be wearing layers most of the time under your waterproofs, so you will need a generous cut. In a warmer area you may be able to get away with a slimmer fit, or a more lightweight fabric.
Your Favorite Activities
Do you need a jacket for extreme conditions and major exertion, or to keep you dry while watching a child’s sports? Will you wear the jacket for one activity only or are you likely to swap between hiking, cycling and traveling?
If you will be exercising heavily while wearing the jacket, the breathability of the jacket and features like pit-zips will matter more to you. For more sedentary use, or everyday wear, you will be able to use a slightly heavier more durable fabric, and less technical features.
Budget Vs Features
Obviously, budget plays a big part when choosing a new jacket. Keeping in mind your priority features will help you find a garment that suits your needs and fits your budget. Make a list of what you need and narrow down the options from there.
If your budget is tight, consider different colorways – often some colors are cheaper than others, while the fabric and features remain the same.
Different manufacturers have slightly different sizing, so read plenty of reviews to give you an idea of how they fit our differing shapes. With the jackets listed below is some information of how different women have found the brands’ fit. From ample busts to longer sleeves and back lengths, there will be a jacket out there that not only keeps you dry, but is comfortable and flattering too.
Rain Jacket Must-Haves
A decent waterproof fabric will be the main requirement of your new jacket, and the best way to compare different levels of waterproofing is to look at the label for the ‘Hydrostatic Head’ or HH. This refers to the amount of water pressure the fabric has been able to withstand in tests, before letting moisture through.
Fabrics are tightly wrapped over the bottom of a long tube and water is poured into the tube. If the fabric can keep out 5000 mm of water over a 24 hour period, it’s HH will be 5000. The following table is a guide to what the HH value means in a real life situation.
|‘HH’ in mm||Level of Waterproofing||Suitable For|
|0 – 1,500 mm||Water-Resistant||Dry conditions|
|1,500 – 5,000 mm||Showerproof||Very light rain showers|
|5,000mm – 15,000 mm||Waterproof||Light to Moderate rain|
|15,000 – 20,000 mm||Highly Waterproof||Heavy rain|
‘Taped seams’ means that the jacket has had a special waterproof tape glued over the seams, preventing water entry. Some jackets have taped seams at ‘critical points’ which is how the manufacturer ensures that the most likely leak points are dealt with, leaving other seams as they are. To be truly waterproof, the seams of a garment will need to be treated in some way.
Every time the sewing needle pierces waterproof fabric, a tiny hole is introduced which could let in water if not sealed. Jackets with ‘heat sealed’ or ‘sealed’ seams will have been treated with a sealing fluid to fill these points.
While waterproof fabric and seams are the most important points to look out for, other factors will influence how well a garment keeps you dry. The main things to watch out for are listed below.
Most rain jackets are intended to be worn as a waterproof layer on top of other clothing. Because of this they are also made to be lightweight so they can be packed away and carried in dry spells. Most won’t be insulated, and usually rain jackets have a mesh lining, to keep the waterproof fabric away from your skin.
If worn over a t-shirt in warm weather, waterproof fabric can become damp and uncomfortable on the inside. The mesh linings are designed to combat this. If a jacket is intended to be very lightweight and highly compressible, there may be no lining at all. If you choose this type, it might be more comfortable to wear a long sleeved t-shirt underneath.
Cut and Shape
As most rain jackets are not insulated, you will likely need to wear layers underneath during colder months. When trying on a jacket, make sure that it is cut generously enough for you to fit layers underneath and that the shape of the jacket (particularly around the hem and cuffs) covers your clothing fully.
Some jackets are cut long, but most are on the shorter side to allow for freedom of movement from the hips. If the hemline dips at the back, you should stay covered even when bending forward or crouching to take things out of a pack, but it is important to check this when you are trying on.
Look for where the seams are if you intend to wear a backpack with your rain jacket. If they are under the shoulder straps of a pack, they may rub and cause discomfort. Also, if you do intend to wear a backpack, will the jacket ride up underneath it? How about the sleeves? Are they shaped to allow the pack straps to sit comfortably? Sleeves shouldn’t bunch around the straps. Try on a pack too, and move around to make sure.
Any holes in a waterproof jacket are places where rain might get in, and pockets are no different. For this reason, many jackets keep pockets to a minimum. Most will only have hand pockets, but some come with slanted chest pockets that are accessible without removing your backpack.
Some pockets will be more waterproof than others. Simple exposed fabric zippers may let in water in very heavy rain, and more expensive jackets will have features to minimize this possibility.
Zippers covered by a storm flap have an extra layer of protection, but the downside is that they can be more difficult to get into. The very slight inconvenience is worth it to keep your valuables, and the inside of your jacket dry.
Some zippers are ‘DWR’ treated. DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent, and is a coating that will force water to bead on the surface and run off before having chance to soak into the fabric.
Most jackets will have a center front zipper. A storm flap over this will help keep rain out in heavy downpours. The presence of a double storm flap and additional fasteners (velcro and/or press studs) can give you the option to customize how you close your jacket, which can help to keep you cool in warm wet weather. Double zippers, which can be opened from the bottom and to can also increase flexibility when sitting or cycling for example.
A hood is no good if it won’t stay on your head. Adjustment is essential to make sure the hood fits comfortably and that you can see where you are going while still remaining dry. Adjustment on the collar will help pull the hood down around your face, and keep it put in the wind.
If you tend to wear your hair tied back, check that the hood can accommodate your hair this way. Adjustment on the hood back can be great for this. When you don’t need the hood (or if you are already wearing a hat) it should stow away in the collar for convenience and comfort. If loose it can catch in packs and get in the way.
Collar and Cuffs
A high collar will keep out the elements, but can cause chafing. Check that the collar is lined with a comfort fabric to stop this. When closed, the area where the zip sits at the top of the collar can become bulky. Have a look at what the designer has done to increase comfort in this area. A soft fabric, and a cover for the zip pull are important features.
Many lightweight rain jackets are described as ‘packable’. This doesn’t just mean that you can stuff them in a bag. Packable jackets usually pack inside the lining of one of their hip pockets, forming a compact bundle, which can be clipped to a belt or put in a pack neatly and easily.
The Top Women’s Rain Jacket in the Market
The North Face Women’s Resolve Jacket
Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 3 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, machine washable, waterproof, breathable.
Best use: Casual rain jacket, over jacket, hiking, backpacking.
The North Face Women’s Resolve Jacket features a flattering cut and a huge range of colors, meaning there is bound to be a jacket that you love. Some women have warned that the jacket runs small, so it may be worth ordering a size up from your usual size, especially if you will need to wear additional layers.
This jacket is a lightweight option, and is mesh-lined, so perfect in warm, wet weather. The high collar and velcro storm flap will keep the rain out, and the hood stows away when not needed. The collar and hood have a brushed fabric lining for comfort.
This is a practical, low cost jacket that is ideal for packing into a bag on changeable days.
Related: The North Face Women’s Resolve 2 Jacket is a good alternative to the Resolve or rather an upgrade. It’s waterproof, windproof and seam-sealed with a nice breathable mesh lining.
Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket
Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 2 inches
Specific features: Packable, machine washable, waterproof, breathable, lightweight.
Best use: Hiking, backpacking, casual rain jacket.
The Columbia Women’s Arcadia II is a roomy jacket, great for wearing additional layers underneath. However, some women have found that the sleeves and bust area can be tight, so if you need more room in these areas, you may need to order a size up. There is a wide range of colors to suit every taste.
This jacket has plenty of features – an adjustable pancake storm hood, drawcord hem, zippered pockets on seams and storm flap over the front zipper. The Arcadia II utilizes an ‘Omnitech’ membrane for waterproofing, but some users have reported that the feel of the fabric could be better. Being a mesh-lined jacket, you will need to wear warm layers underneath in cold weather.
When you don’t need this practical jacket it packs away into its own pocket, making a compact package that can be easily stowed in a backpack.
Related: If you are looking for a good alternative with a little more style, the Columbia Women’s Arcadia Print Jacket is worth considering. Similar to the Arcadia II, this jacket is highly waterproof and breathable.
Marmot Women’s Minimalist Jacket
Dimensions: 20 x 16 x 3 inches
Specific features: Gore-Tex fabric, taped seams, pit-zips.
Best use: Casual rain jacket, backpacking, hiking.
The Marmot Minimalist Jacket is another rain jacket that comes in a wide range of colors. The fit is generous, which is useful when adding warm layers – this jacket is unlined (no mesh, or insulation) so layers will be needed. Most women have found that the Minimalist runs true to size.
With taped seams, zippered hand pockets, and Gore-Tex ‘PACLITE’ laminate fabric, this jacket can be relied on in wet weather. There is a drawcord at the hem and velcro tabs for cuff adjustment. The hood packs away into the comfortably-lined collar when not in use, and the ventilation ‘pit-zips’ will keep you cool and dry on the inside.
The one criticism of this well-built jacket is that the fabric is a little on the stiff and noisy side, but this is unlikely to spoil your enjoyment of this jacket.
Related: Looking for the perfect match to the featured jacket above? The Marmot Women’s Minimalist Pant should be an easy recommendation.
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket – Women’s
Dimensions 12 x 10 x 1 inches
Specific features: H2No Performance Standard Shell, Pit-Zips, 2.5 layer rip-stop nylon.
Best use: Hiking, backpacking, everyday rain jacket.
The Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket is packed with features. It is a jacket that can be relied on to keep you dry and comfortable. The durable rip-stop nylon fabric is both waterproof and breathable and tough enough to last, although some wearers describe it as noisy when worn. The cut is suitable for layering, and fits well.
The high collar is fleece lined for comfort and features two storm flaps on the interior as well as exterior. The pit-zips too have storm flaps and all zippers (including the hand pockets) are DWR
treated. The hood of the Torrentshell is adjustable two ways, and stows into the collar after use. The jacket features the usual drawcord hem and adjustable velcro cuffs, plus a carabiner clip inside one pocket to secure valuables.
If you are a backpacker, or will be using this jacket in changeable weather, you can stash the jacket into its own pocket. This jacket is a well built, practical and versatile solution with plenty of features, and fabric that should stand up to some fairly rough treatment.
Columbia Women’s Splash A Little Rain Jacket
Specific features: Longer length, waterproof, breathable, lightweight.
Best use: Hiking, casual rain jacket, backpacking.
This is the longest cut of our featured jackets. Wearers have said that the long length is a great benefit, adding to the weather-proofing and meaning that on long hikes with rest stops you can sit on the jacket, keeping your pants dry. The sleek cut is also flattering and slimming while still having space for layers in colder weather.
Made from lightweight ‘Omnitech’ polyester fabric, Columbia Splash a Little Jacket has sealed seams and zippered pockets to ensure the rain stays on the outside. The front zipper has a storm flap, but its double zip can be difficult to do up. Adjustable cuffs and a drawcord hem complete the shell, and the hood is also adjustable.
Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket
Dimensions: 19 x 16 x 3 inches
Specific features: 2.5 layer rip-stop PreCip fabric, ‘Angel Wing’ movement, pack zips, pit-zips.
Best use: Urban travelling, casual rain jacket, hiking.
The Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket comes in a huge color range, so choosing your favorite should be easy. Marmot describe the jacket as ‘stylish, value-oriented, full-function rainwear’. There are certainly plenty of features to keep the average wearer happy.
The fabric is a durable rip-stop type, and is breathable as well as waterproof. There is a double storm flap with velcro and press stud fastening over the front zipper, and taped seams for reliable waterproofing. The hem has an elastic drawcord and is shaped lower at the back to allow for movement. The hood is shaped for full visibility and can roll away into the collar.
Thought has gone into keeping you moving when this jacket was designed – the ‘Angel Wing’ sleeves are designed for a full range of movement, while the slanted chest pockets allow easy access when wearing a backpack.
For practicality this jacket packs away into its own pocket, and Marmot offer a lifetime warranty.
The North Face Venture Women’s Rain Jacket
Specific features: Machine washable, HyVent fabric.
Best use: Day hikes, traveling, casual rainwear.
The North Face Venture Jacket is unlined, so will need layering with a warm fleece or similar in cold weather. It is machine washable, and packable, making it a practical everyday option for use when traveling or on occasional hikes.
The Venture is made from a 2.5 layer rip-stop ‘HyVent’ fabric which should prove durable, but some wearers have reported that the inner layers of the jacket may degrade after prolonged use. Storm flaps over the front zipper and hip pockets, and sealed seams should keep the rain out, while pit-zips will keep you cool in warm conditions.
The pack -away hood on the Venture is nicley shaped for protection and visibility, and can be adjusted 2 ways to ensure it stays up in windy weather. The hem features an elastic drawcord and the cuffs have velcro tabs to keep your sleeves dry inside.
The hip length cut and shaped hem allow for movement, and a brushed fabric chin guard will keep you comfortable.
To find the suitable women’s rain jacket for you decide on your budget, and consider the activities you’ll need it for. Choose the features that you can’t live without and the ones that would be good to have, if you can afford them. Next it’s the fun part – checking through our list of the best available jackets and deciding which one fits your needs, budget and shape.
Which jacket did you decide on? What features will make it your new best friend on your outdoor adventures? Sound off in the comment section!