The Best 3-Layer Hiking Rain Jackets


Rab Muztag

Rab Muztag

Hiking in wet conditions is no fun unless you have the right equipment. A high-quality rain jacket must be considered essential as it keeps you dry and thus warmer by significantly reducing the convective heat loss. Furthermore, it protects you against the wind and thus mitigates the wind-chill effect. In this review we selected the best 3-layer rain jackets currently available in order to make your buying decision easier. Rain jackets that use 3-layer fabrics are known for their superb breathability, durability and waterproof performance in even the heaviest downpour. They are therefore most suitable for alpine climbing, mountaineering and long hiking trips where you need the best weather protection possible. For those who just need some basic weather protection for trekking, day hikes etc. we would recommend 2- and 2.5-layer rain jackets instead as they are less expensive.

If you are looking for a 2.5-layer rain jacket, please check out our review of the Best 2.5-layer Rain Jackets.  If you also need a pair of waterproof pants, check out our review of The Best Waterproof Pants.

If you are looking for women’s rain jackets, please check out our Best Rain Jackets for Women review which includes 3-layer rain jackets as well as 2.5-layer rain jackets.

This selection was updated on the 18th of January 2017.

1. Buying a 3-Layer Hiking Rain Jacket – What is important?

Weight and Size:

Outdoor sports like hiking, mountaineering and climbing require lightweight equipment, as this not only allows you to move faster, but also delays exhaustion. Rain jackets are not among the heaviest pieces of hiking equipment, but you can still eliminate some weight off your shoulders by wearing/carrying a lightweight one. As rain jacket is often carried in a backpack, it should be fairly small when packed so that it does not take too much space. In this review we only selected rain jackets that are known for being light and well-packable.

Fabric Layers:

In this selection we only included 3-layer rain jackets. However, when it comes to rain jackets there are three different types available; 3-layer, 2.5-layer and 2-layer.

2-layer (face fabric, coating or membrane) rain jackets are the least expensive but they also offer inferior breathability and waterproof performance in comparison to 3-layer rain jackets. They are also heavier than the other two types of rain jackets.

2.5-layer (face fabric, coating or a membrane, non-fabric inner layer) rain jackets are usually the lightest and offer good breathability and water-resistance. On the other hand, they have inferior durability in comparison to the other two types of jackets.

3-layer (face fabric, membrane, inner fabric) rain jackets are the most rugged and offer superior performance in comparison to the other two types. They are, however, heavier than the jackets made of 2.5-layer fabrics.

Material:

High-quality rain jackets should be made of materials that do not only offer protection against rain and wind but are also breathable. Some manufacturers use well-known materials such as Gore-Tex, eVent and Pertex while others develop their own materials like for example Marmot (MemBrain) or Patagonia (H2NO). These materials use either laminates or coatings in order to offer waterproof/breathable properties.

Laminates offer better breathability than coatings but on the other hand they are also significantly more expensive. They use an extremely thin (0.01 millimeters) membrane that is sandwiched between two other layers for protection. Membranes are usually made of polytetrafluoroethylene or polyurethane.

Coatings are usually made of polyurethane which is spread onto the fabric like butter on bread. This also means that the polyurethane coating can’t be as thin as the membrane. Thus it significantly limits the breathability of the garment.

3-layer rain jackets use laminates while 2.5- and 2-layer rain jackets use either coatings or laminates.

In this review we only listed 3-layer rain jackets and thus all jackets listed here feature laminate technology.

The external face fabrics of the rain jackets are also DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treated so that they repel water and thus prevent the material from getting soaked. However, DWR treatments cannot last forever as they eventually get washed away. It is therefore essential to reapply DWR from time to time.

For more detailed information about rain jacket materials, please check out the Hard Shell section in our article Comparison of Shell Materials.

Seams:

When fabrics are sewn together small needle holes are created – which of course would be a big problem for rain jackets, if not attended to. Therefore, manufacturers use special waterproof seam tapes to prevent the garment from leaking through the seams. In some cases manufacturers weld the fabric panels instead sewing them. This technique decreases the weight of the garment as well as offers superior waterproof performance. Garments that are made by welding fabric panels are usually relatively expensive.

Pockets:

As rain jackets are worn as an outer layer they should be equipped with at least one easy-accessible pocket for storing essentials.

2. The Best 3-Layer Hiking Rain Jackets

The Best Hiking Rain Jackets

The Best Hiking Rain Jackets

  1. The Arcteryx Alpha FL
  2. Outdoor Research Axiom
  3. Rab Flashpoint
  4. Montane Alpine Pro
  5. Rab Muztag

Comparison:

Feature/Product Arcteryx Alpha FLOutdoor Research AxiomRab Flashpoint Montane Alpine Pro Rab Muztag
Weight325 g411 g185 g420 g340 g
MaterialGore-Tex ProGore-Tex ActivePertex Shield +Gore-Tex ProeVent DVStorm
Fabric Layers3-layer3-layer3-layer3-layer3-layer
Waterproof TechnologyLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneLaminate/MembraneLaminate/Membrane
Pockets1 external3 external1 external 3 external2 external
Taped SeamsYesYesYesYesYes
Helmet-compatible HoodYesYesYesYesYes
Arcteryx Alpha FL

Arcteryx Alpha FL

1. Arcteryx Alpha FL

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Via Ferrata
  • Backpacking
  • Alpine Climbing

The Arcteryx Alpha FL rain jacket is made of a 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro material which in addition to being very durable and abrasion-resistant offers great breathability and waterproof performance. The Gore-Tex Pro material uses a ePTFE membrane which is bonded to both the outer material and a robust inner lining. The Arcteryx Alpha FL rain jacket uses 40-denier plain weave nylon as an outer material. This material is known for having a very good durability-to-weight ratio. It is also DWR treated in order to repel the water. The inner lining is very breathable, lightweight and efficiently protects against internal abrasion. The jacket’s seams are protected with narrow Gore seam tape, which significantly increases the waterproof performance and breathability while not making the jacket bulky. In addition to the well-performing material, the jacket has a helmet-compatible hood, harness HemLock system, articulated elbows, hem drawcord and a single zippered chest pocket. The hood is fully adjustable and features a tall collar for full coverage while the HemLock system prevents the jacket from riding up when wearing a climbing harness. All in all, the Arcteryx Alpha FL rain jacket offers great performance and is best for those who want a quite rugged jacket for their tough adventures.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Functionality
  • Weather Protection

Cons:

  • /

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Outdoor Research Axiom

Outdoor Research Axiom

2. Outdoor Research Axiom

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Via Ferrata
  • Backpacking

The Outdoor Research Axiom rain jacket offers great functionality and is thus highly appreciated among hikers and mountaineers. The jacket is made of 3-layer Gore-Tex Active material which is less durable than the Gore-Tex Pro material, used for the Arcteryx jacket above. On the other hand, the Gore-Tex Active material offers better breathability than the Gore-Tex Pro material as it is designed mainly for aerobic activities. The outer layer of the jacket is made of 20-denier nylon while the inner layer uses a polyester fabric. The jacket also has taped seams and YKK AquaGuard zippers for increased weather protection. In addition to that, the jacket features fully adjustable helmet-compatible hood, two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket. The hand pockets are well-placed and allow easy access even when wearing a climbing harness or a backpack. The Outdoor Research Axiom is a great rain jacket which is best for those who need highly breathable rainwear for their aerobic activities.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Functionality

Cons:

  • Durability (only when it comes to ice climbing and similar activities)

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Rab Flashpoint

Rab Flashpoint

3. Rab Flashpoint

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Via Ferrata
  • Backpacking

The Rab Flashpoint rain jacket is extremely light (it weighs merely 185 grams) and thus perfect for those who prefer lightweight hiking and mountaineering. The jacket is made of 3-layer Pertex Shield+ material which is known for being very breathable, light, packable and soft to the touch. The material has a hydrostatic head of 20.000 mm and a Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) of 20.000 g/m2/24h. The hydrostatic head tells us how tall the water column in the standard tube has to be in order that the fabric leaks (20 meters in this case) while the MVTR tells us how many grams of water vapor can permeate through the fabric from the inner layer to the outer layer. Pertex Shield + indeed offers incredible performance; for example Montane Atomic rain pants and jacket which are made of 2.5 layer Pertex Shield material (coating technology) offer hydrostatic head of 10.000 mm and MVTR of 7000 g/m2/24h and yet they are known for their good performance. In addition to the superb material, the jacket has a fully helmet-compatible hood, integrated stuff sack and a single chest pocket that is equipped with a YKK AquaGuard zipper. The jacket features a slim fit for reduced weight and bulk. The Rab Flashpoint rain jacket is, due to its low weight and great functionality, highly appreciated among those who need a top-tier product for their challenging adventures.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Well-packable

Cons:

  • Thin – durability

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Montane Alpine Pro

Montane Alpine Pro

4. Montane Alpine Pro

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Via Ferrata
  • Backpacking
  • Alpine Climbing

The Montane Alpine Pro jacket is one of the most advanced rain jackets ever made by Montane. The jacket is like the Arcteryx Alpha FL jacket made of the Gore-Tex Pro material which offers great durability, breathability and waterproof performance. In addition to the top-tier material, the jacket also features extraordinary functionality. It has articulated elbows for great freedom of movement, a dropped back hem for increased weather protection and technical tailoring around the arms so that the hem doesn’t rise when reaching high with your arms. The hem is adjustable with a drawcord and the cuffs are compatible with winter gloves (hook and loop adjustment). The hood is helmet-compatible and fully adjustable. The jacket also features pit zips for better ventilation; all zippers are high-quality YKK AquaGuard zippers for increased weather protection. For storing essentials, it is equipped with two big zippered hand pockets. The Montane Alpine Pro is best for alpine climbers who need an extremely durable rainwear for their challenging trips.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Functionality
  • Weather Protection

Cons:

  • Price (if you are only buying it for hiking, trekking etc.)

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Rab Muztag

Rab Muztag

5. Rab Muztag

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Via Ferrata
  • Backpacking
  • Alpine Climbing

The Rab Muztag jacket is another high-quality rain jacket that is perfect for demanding outdoor activities in bad weather. The jacket is made of eVent DVStorm fabric which is known for its superb breathability. As eVent states the DVStorm fabric has a Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR) of 40000 g/m2/24h which is twice as much as the Pertex Shield+ material has that is used by the Rab Flashpoint jacket listed above. However, in comparison to the Rab Flashpoint jacket above, the Rab Muztag jacket is almost twice as heavy (but still lightweight for a 3-layer rain jacket). The jacket is also equipped with a helmet-compatible hood, YKK AquaGuard zippers, drawcord hem and one zippered chest pocket. The Rab Muztag jacket is best for those who want a highly breathable and durable rain jacket for their adventures in the mountains.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Functionality

Cons:

  • /

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