Best Women’s Rain Jackets for Hiking in 2019   Recently updated !


Rab Downpour

Rab Downpour

In an ideal world all outdoor activities would take place in sunny dry weather. However, even if you plan your hiking trips meticulously after the weather forecast, there is always a chance that you will run into some unforeseen rain – especially at higher altitudes where the weather can change abruptly. A quality rain jacket is therefore an essential to carry in your backpack; it will not add too much weight to your load and comes in very handy whenever you will cross paths with rain showers or chilling winds. You can wear a rain jacket directly over your base layer in warm weather or over mid layers such as a fleece sweater in colder weather.

Rain jackets can generally be divided into three groups; 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer rain jackets (also called hard shells). 2-layer (fabric with coating) rain jackets are usually quite heavy for the protection they offer and thus more suitable for everyday life, but there are exceptions such as GoreTex’s PacLite fabric. Otherwise, your choice is between a 2.5-layer (face fabric with coating/laminate + non-fabric material inside) and a 3-layer (face fabric + membrane + liner) rain jacket. 3-layer rain jackets are especially suitable for those who are into ice climbing, mountaineering and long hiking trips where durability is a priority. They are, however, also more expensive (prices are usually well above 300 dollars) than 2- and 2.5-layer jackets. Therefore we primarily focused on 2.5-layer rain jacket in the selection below

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying a Rain Jacket – What is important?

Water-resistance and breathability

It is not expensive or difficult to produce waterproof materials as such (think of black trash bags) – rather the art lies in making waterproof and breathable materials when it comes to rain jackets. The purpose of wearing a rain jacket is of course to stay dry rather than being soaked by rain, but it does not make much sense if you will instead be soaked in your own sweat due to a non-breathable fabric trapping your perspiration rather than wicking it away. In both cases your body temperature will decrease significantly due to the conductive heat loss. It is thus crucial that the fabric of your rain jacket can wick the inner moisture away as well as keep the rain out. Different manufacturers take different approaches to solve this problem; some apply a waterproof/breathable membrane to the face fabric while others paint a coating of polyurethane to the inside of a fabric to give it water-resistant properties. Water-resistance is usually improved additionally by treating the outside of the fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellant) to make sure that the fabric repels water rather than absorbing it.

You can read more about the properties of DWR-treatments, membranes and coatings respectively in the section on hard shells in our Comparison of Shell Materials. One thing to note, however, is that not all shell materials are equally breathable. The best performing in this aspect are currently eVent, Polartec Neoshell and Mountain Hardwear’s DryQ Elite, but also Gore-Tex Pro (not to be mistaken for the older and inferior Gore-Tex Pro Shell) is a good contender. Unlike other materials, they do not require the presence of high body heat to initiate so-called dynamic breathability, but are indeed breathable on their own. These fabrics are unfortunately also more expensive than less breathable materials whereas water-resistance is quite comparable across various price classes. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a completely waterproof and breathable fabric; all breathable rain jackets will eventually get soaked if you expose them to hours and hours of torrential rain.

Weight and compressibility

A rain jacket is only meant to be worn when you need protection against rain or wind; otherwise it should be stored in your backpack. Therefore it is a good idea to get a rain jacket which is light and compressible enough for you to carry wherever you go rather than a heavy and bulky garment which you will be reluctant to bring along unless absolutely certain that you will need it.

Design

A rain jacket should have a hood (potentially one that can be packed and stored into the collar), taped seams and a storm flap to cover the front zipper in order to keep out rain from all angles. Waterproof zippers such as PU (polyurethane) or YKK AquaGuard zippers can, however, diminish the need for the latter. Other useful features could be pit zips (for increased ventilation when needed) and conveniently placed pockets for storing essentials – which is especially crucial if you are planning to use your (3-layer) rain jacket for climbing activities where you will wear a climbing harness most of the time.

Sizing

Consider what you will be wearing underneath your rain jacket before choosing a size. If you are planning to wear it over bulky items such as a down jacket or thick fleece sweater, you might want to size up.

Expert Selections
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2. The Best Women’s Rain Jackets for Hiking Review

Best Women's Hiking Rain Jackets

Best Women’s Hiking Rain Jackets

The Best Women’s Rain Jackets – List

  1. Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II
  2. Arcteryx Beta SL
  3. Outdoor Research Helium II
  4. Rab Downpour
  5. Marmot Precip

Comparison

Feature/Product Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II Arcteryx Beta SLOutdoor Research Helium II Rab Downpour
Marmot Precip
Average Weight9.6 oz. 13 oz. 6 oz. 10 oz. 9.6 oz.
Average Weight (Metric)272 g 280 g156 g281 g272g
Fabric Layers2.5-layer2-layer2.5-layer2.5-layer2.5-layer
MaterialsDry.Q Elite 30D 2.5L Ripstop (100% Nylon)N40r GORE-TEX fabric with PacLite30D Ripstop Nylon 100% Nylon Pertex Shield+ 2.5L fabric with Dry TouchRipstop Nylon
Waterproof/
Breathable Technology
Dry.Q Elite (Laminate)Gore-Tex PacLite Pertex Shield+ (Laminate) Pertex Shield with Dry TouchNanoPro (Coating)
Center Back Length27 in. (69 cm)Hip-lenght26 in. (66 cm)72 cm (size L)27 in. (68.6 cm)
Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II

1. Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking

 

The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II rain jacket is the second version of the popular Quasar Lite shell and is lighter than its predecessor while maintaining the same superior level of weather protection and breathability. The decrease in weight is mainly due to the lighter face fabric (now 30D instead of 40D) used in the Quasar Lite II. Like its predecessor, this Mountain Hardwear rain jacket utilizes the brand’s Dry.Q Elite technology which features an oleophobic ePTFE membrane like eVent, but a different face fabric and laminating technology. Ventilation is not only ensured by the breathable fabric, but also by the large venting hand pockets and the tricep venting which together enable a cross-flow of fresh air. The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II rain jacket is available in three colors: dark grey, fiery red and fluorescent yellow (at the time of updating). If you are looking for a 3-layer jacket, you should check out the Mountain Hardwear Exposure shell.

 

Pros:

  • Mountain Hardwear DryQ. Elite technology is as breathable as eVent
  • Light and durable 30 denier face fabric
  • Possibility for cross-flow ventilation

Cons:

  • /

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Arcteryx Beta SL

Arcteryx Beta SL

2. Arcteryx Beta SL

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Alpine Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

The Arcteryx Beta SL rain jacket differs from the other rain jackets on this list by being a 2-layer jacket. This does, however, not mean that this Arcteryx jacket is inferior in quality as it is made of GoreTex PacLite fabric which is light-weight, breathable and water-proof. It is made with a mini ripstop construction to provide increased tear strength without impacting weight. Another benefit of this material – as the name implies – is that it packs very well by being highly compressible. The Arcteryx Beta SL rain jacket features a multitude of smart design details such as a trim-fitting StormHood, no-lift gusseted underarms, a tall collar and a micro seam-allowance to reduce bulk and weight.The only downside of the Arcteryx rain jacket is that its WaterTight zippers are highly water-resistant, but not water-proof – so be careful with storing electronics etc. there in heavy rain.

 

Pros:

  • GoreTex PacLite fabric
  • Smart design details

Cons:

  • WaterTight zippers not completely water-proof

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Where to buy?

Also available at:

REI | Campsaver

Video

Outdoor Research Helium

Outdoor Research Helium

3. Outdoor Research Helium II

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking

 

The Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket is an updated version of the original Helium jacket, now lighter than ever (merely 156 grams!) and even more breathable. The Helium II jacket features the Pertex Shield+ fabric which is characterized by its hydrophilic PU membrane that provides so-called dynamic breathability. This means that whenever your body temperature rises and the membrane comes in contact with perspiration from your body, it will transport the moisture to the outside via solid state diffusion. The Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket can be packed into its internal pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack, and will thus not take up much more space than an apple – and weigh even less. Due to its weight and rain protection, the Helium II is not just highly appreciated among hikers, but was also deemed the best waterproof running jacket by Runner’s World in 2015 and considered the best rain jacket for cold weather canoeing by the Canoe & Kayak magazine (February 2016). The Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket comes in a range of funky colors.

 

Pros:

  • Super light weight
  • Internal pocket doubles as stuff sack

Cons:

  • 30D nylon medium durability

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Video

Rab Downpour

Rab Downpour

4. Rab Downpour

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Alpine Climbing
  • Backpacking

 

British Rab is behind numerous high-quality shells layers and the Rab Downpour rain jacket is no exception. It is made of 2.5-layer Pertex Shield with DryTouch to ensure breathability, durability and packability besides weather protection. With regards to packability, the left zippered hand pocket doubles as an integrated stuff sack. The Rab Downpour otherwise features adjustable cuffs, external and internal stormflaps (also for hand pockets and pit zips) and a fully adjustable hood with a flexible polymer peak and roll down closure. The pit zips allow you to get rid of superfluous body heat fast. The Rab Downpour is available in black and a handful of playful colors.

 

Pros:

  • Pertex Shield+ fabric
  • Waterproof zippers

Cons:

  • /

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Marmot Precip

Marmot Precip

5. Marmot Precip

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Backpacking

 

We already mentioned the Marmot Precip rain jacket in our list of gifts for female hikers and it is indeed a great jacket for a relatively low price. The Precip rain jacket has been a part of Marmot’s product line since 2001, but has been updated several times since then in order to increase breathability and cut down on excessive weight. The Marmot Precip uses the NanoPro technology for breathability where densely packed microscopic pores in the water-proof coating allow dynamic air exchange. This means that whenever the coated surface comes in contact with perspiration from your body, it will transport the moisture to the outside via solid state diffusion. The Marmot Precip comes in a multitude of colors and with very useful features such as a double storm flap (to protect the non-waterproof zipper), pit zips, roll-up hood with integral collar as well as the Angel-Wing movement design which ensures full freedom of movement without the jacket riding up.

 

Pros:

  • Pros
  • Price
  • Double storm flap
  • Available in all colors of the rainbow

Cons:

  • Less breathable material than other rain jackets listed here
  • Zipper is not waterproof

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Post Author

Post Author

Laura P.

I loved to climb trees when I was a child – as an adult I use these skills for climbing and scrambling up mountain sides! I always wear a Merino baselayer, sunscreen and my hair tousled.

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