The Best Raincoats for Women That Shield You From Storms

Our favorite rain shells for all outdoor pursuits

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The best rain jackets, much like the best friends, are the ones you can depend on through thick and thin. They may not be flashy or fancy—or match with everything you own—but you know you can turn to them when you’re most in need. You can trust them to be there. And sure, you might find a few more rain jackets in your life that you also really like, but nothing beats that one that got you through some unexpected downpours.

Seriously though: If you spend a lot of time outdoors, a quality rain jacket is a must-have. While there are tons to pick from out there, it’s important to make sure the features match how you’ll be using the jacket. Below, we found the best rain jackets for all your needs, so you, too, can find your own best friend… we mean, rain jacket.

Best Overall: Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

Backcountry

What We Like
  • Fully seam sealed

  • Waterproof zipper

  • Back vent

  • Packable

  • Climbing helmet-compatible hood

What We Don't Like
  • Could have more stretch, but now we're nitpicking

Black Diamond’s Treeline Rain Shell simply does it all. With a 10K/10K waterproofing and breathability rating, it is equal parts strong against rain and at allowing moisture to leave. Where many rain shells can feel like wearing a damp trash bag, the Treeline lets sweat seep out. We love smart additions like the back vent, and the ability to pack it into its own pocket.

In California, where testing for this jacket happened, warmer rain is common. We took this jacket on bike rides, hikes, and backpacking in the rain. And we can say, this jacket held up for breathability and blocking rain in most—if not all—conditions.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 8.96 ounces | Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR

Tested by TripSavvy

I've used a Black Diamond rain shell of some sort for more than a decade. And I can confidently say, the men's version of this jacket is my favorite yet. The equal parts waterproofing and breathability are solid for hikes or backpacking in the rain. I love newish features like the back vent and jumping on the trend of stuffing the jacket into its own pocket.

While I haven't been able to test this one for years like I have other rain jackets I currently own, I'm confident this one will hold up like the other Black Diamond rain shells in my quiver. Re-applying of water repellant does need to happen eventually, but I've been able to get years on other BD jackets before that reapplication and expect the same—if not better—out of this one. — Nathan Allen, Outdoor Gear Editor

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Stio Ender PACLITE Hooded Jacket

Stio Ender PACLITE Hooded Jacket

Stio

What We Like
  • Hemline below the hips

  • Fully seam sealed

  • Side vents

  • Packs small

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Stio’s rain jacket is fully waterproof, including waterproof zippers on the pockets and main body, a high collar to protect the bottom of your face, and a brimmed hood to keep rain from dripping onto your face. The side vents are convenient for releasing some heat without having to remove your jacket. Another cool feature: A protective coating on the inside of the jacket keeps you from feeling the phantom wetness that can set in when the outside is wet and the inside is still technically dry.

We love this jacket for any type of outdoor adventure, because it can be worn in a wide range of temperatures, does its job well, and fits comfortably. It’s just an all-around great option no matter what you plan to wear it for.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 14 ounces | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex performance DWR

Best Budget: Bass Outdoor Firebird Trail Rain Jacket

Bass Outdoor Firebird Trail Rain Jacket

Macy's

What We Like
  • Hemline below the hips

  • Great color options

  • Zip-off hood

  • Bungee cord adjustments in hood and bottom of the jacket

What We Don't Like
  • Not lightweight

  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

Rain jackets tend to get pricey, with even some of the more affordable ones starting at around $100. If you’re looking for a great budget option, check out this rain jacket from the newly launched brand Bass Outdoor. It’s a pretty standard-looking rain jacket, with an adjustable hood and cuffs, three zippered pockets, and a relatively relaxed fit. It comes in a classic rain jacket yellow color, and then some nice muted options if bright colors aren’t your style.

The jacket is advertised as water-resistant, not waterproof, which means it might not keep you totally dry in a torrential downpour. But we can confirm it does its job without a hitch on your average rainy day. (If you find it needs more of a waterproof finish to fit your needs, you can apply the waterproofing spray we mentioned above. We personally like Nikwax's wash-in direct.)

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Not Listed | Waterproofing: Water-resistant

Best for Cycling: Pearl iZUMi Rove Barrier Jacket

Pearl iZUMi Rove Barrier Jacket

Pearl iZUMi

What We Like
  • Tapered, stretchy fit

  • Detachable hood

  • Two-way zipper

  • Bright droptail for visibility

What We Don't Like
  • Very few color options

Pearl iZUMi has a reputation for making great cycling clothes, and this sporty rain jacket is no exception. It has a tapered fit and is partially made with recycled polyester that’s meant to stretch (especially in the shoulders) so you’re comfortable in all positions on the bike. It also has a proprietary water-shedding technology to keep you dry in most conditions, and a hood that zips on and off with ease.

One added feature that makes it great for biking, in particular: A brightly colored droptail for visibility when you’re on the bike, that can be tucked away when you’re off it. Such a simple detail can make a huge difference in safety that any road cyclist will appreciate. Note: Like the Bass Outdoor pick above, this rain jacket is water-shedding and while it'll hold up in most conditions, you'll likely get wet wearing it for long, heavy rainfalls.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Not Listed | Waterproofing: PI Dry treatment

Best for City: Lole Piper Packable Into A Backpack Rain Jacket

Lole Piper Packable Into A Backpack Rain Jacket

Lole Piper

What We Like
  • Fully seam sealed

  • Long sleeves

  • Adjustable drawcords on sleeves and around the waist

  • Packs into an attached backpack

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively heavy

This trench-style jacket offers fully waterproof protection while looking good with whatever outfit you’ve got on underneath. Plus, the fit is really flattering, thanks to a drawstring right at the waist that lets you wear it loose or give it a cinched look. The style, combined with the roomy hood and extra-long length, makes it a great jacket for staying dry when you’re strolling around a city and need total coverage that also looks good. Seriously, prepare for the compliments to pour in whenever you wear it.

Though it makes the jacket pretty heavy, the double-layered fabric also makes this really comfortable and warmer than some more bare-bones shell jackets. And, as an added bonus, the coat packs down into an attached backpack—true city-slicker right there.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 28 ounces | Waterproofing: Not listed

Best Plus-Size: Columbia Plus-Size Switchback III Jacket

Columbia Plus-Size Switchback III Jacket

Columbia

What We Like
  • Adjustable cuffs, hem, and hood

  • Variety of color options

  • Packs into pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Zipper is not waterproof


Columbia tends to make some pretty solid rain jackets, and this shell is no exception. Available in sizes up to 3X, this jacket will fit a wide variety of body sizes and shapes. Adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem make it even easier to get the best fit for you. Made of waterproof nylon, this jacket is lightweight and also functions as a windbreaker, making it a great go-to emergency jacket for unexpected and light storms.

It also packs into its own pocket and is available in lots of colors—both neutrals and some more bold and fun options that fit every style and mood. Reviewers were a little surprised that the jacket wasn’t thicker, so we’re here to say that this is a basic rain shell meant for water and wind protection, not warmth. That means you can wear it on a warm day, or in cooler climates layered on top of warmer clothes.

Sizes: XS-3X | Weight: Not Listed | Waterproofing: Columbia Omni-Shield

Best for Hiking: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research

What We Like
  • Extremely lightweight

  • Fully seam sealed

  • Tear-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • No side pockets

  • Cuffs are not adjustable

Waterproofness, weight, and breathability are obviously important features for a hiking rain jacket. But something you might not think about until it’s too late? Durability. The fabric of this rain jacket was constructed to be extremely tear-resistant—so you can wear it on your most rugged backcountry trips without worrying.

Let's go back to weight for a sec. This is the lightest rain jacket on our list, which is why we’re big fans of taking it with us on a hiking or backpacking trip. You really don’t have to think twice about weight since it’s so minimal, and it even stuffs into its own little pouch, complete with a carabiner to attach to the outside of your pack. Plus, it’s fully waterproof, including the zipper.

Sizes: XS-XXXL | Weight: 5.6 ounces | Waterproofing: Pertex Shield

Best Eco-Friendly: Jack Wolfskin Go Hike Jacket

Jack Wolfskin Go Hike Jacket

Jack Wolfskin

What We Like
  • Made with 100 percent recycled fabrics

  • Ample pockets

  • Adjustable hood, hem, and cuffs

  • Water-resistant zippers

  • N/A

Yes, it’s possible to make a great technical rain jacket that performs well and is also eco-friendly. This jacket from Jack Wolfskin is proof. The company has committed to making its outdoor apparel as sustainably as possible, winning awards for its sustainable technologies and product launches.

This rain jacket, in particular, is made completely of recycled fabric and contains no PFCs, without compromising on quality. This slightly-more-than-a-shell jacket has a layer of mesh lining and is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It has ample pocket space: three on the outside and one on the inside. Hem, hood, and cuffs are all adjustable. And the exposed zippers on the front are all water-resistant, so moisture won’t sneak in.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 13 ounces | Waterproofing: Texapore Ecosphere Stretch 2L

Best Trench: Royal Robbins Switchform Waterproof Trench

Royal Robbins Switchform Waterproof Trench

Royal Robbins

What We Like
  • High collar

  • Odor control fabric

  • Packs into a sling bag with strap

  • Venting in the back

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

If you’re looking for a rain jacket that performs well and also looks a little more stylistically elevated than your average shell, this trench fits the bill. It’s fully waterproof and windproof and has a high collar to tuck you in when things get rough. The scalloped cuffs and hemline give it some flair, as does the heathered fabric design. Adjustable features—hood, cuffs, waist—use snaps instead of bungee cords. An adjustable hood visor can extend or snap back when you don’t need it.

Ventilation in the back and odor control technology built into the liner keeps you feeling comfortable all day long. The jacket also converts into a sling pack, with a strap and all, for easy portability.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 27 ounces | Waterproofing: Waterproof C0-DWR

Best Packable: Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Jacket

Montane Pac Plus Waterproof Jacket

Montane

What We Like
  • Adjustable hood, hem, and cuffs

  • Extra-high collar to cover face

  • Water-repellent zippers on front and pockets

What We Don't Like
  • N/A

A lot of the rain jackets on this list pack into themselves, but we love this one in particular because at only 9 ounces, it’s a jacket you can easily pack for any occasion. On top of that, the jacket has all the usual adjustable features—hood, hem, cuffs—and water-resistant zippers on both the front and the pockets, so you can be sure your items stay dry inside.

For the windiest days, there’s an extra-high color that you can almost use like a buff to protect the bottom half of your face from the elements. The three bungee cords around the hood make it easy to tighten and adjust for proper secure coverage, and the shape of the rim ensures you can still see despite being bundled.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: 9 ounces | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof fabric

Best for Running: Nathan Women's Stealth Jacket

Nathan Women's Stealth Jacket

Nathan

When you’re out for a run, it’s arguably just as important that your rain jacket is light, moisture-wicking, and breathable, as it is water-resistant. The Stealth Jacket is all of those things, and more. Made of 100 percent nylon with a DWR finish, this jacket won’t weigh you down or collect excess sweat on your run.

The thumb holes and ponytail port in the hood are nice added features that let you finesse your setup, and flatlock seams reduce any unwanted rubbing or chafing—which are just straight-up run-ruiners. The material is also mysteriously quiet: It doesn’t let out a peep, which is a welcome change from rain jackets that make a “swish” noise when your arms swing, ultimately grating on your nerves when it becomes your soundtrack over many miles.

Sizes: XS-XL | Weight: Less than 16 ounces | Waterproofing: DWR finish

Best Trail to Bar: Merrell Women's Whisper Rain Jacket

Merrell Women's Whisper Rain Jacket

Merrell

What We Like
  • Long hemline

  • Packs into pocket

  • Stretchy

  • Muted neutral colors

What We Don't Like
  • No venting

A lot of performance-minded rain shells come in either plain black or really bright, vivid colors. We love that this Merrell rain jacket performs well and also comes in some muted colorways that you’ll want to wear beyond the trails.

Besides the color options, this jacket has a longer hemline, so it doesn’t ride up above your hips when you reach overhead. The material also has four-way stretch, so it never feels stiff or constricting. Like all good rain jackets, the hood, hem, and cuffs are all adjustable, and a PFC-free DWR finish tops it all off. Oh, and it packs into its left pocket, so you can stash it away at the end of the day when you’re done wearing it.

P.S. The Whisper Rain Jacket also comes in an insulated version that has all the same features plus a combo of down and synthetic insulation. Considering how well this jacket fits and works, we’d assume the insulated option delivers on its promises, too.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: Not Listed | Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR

Best All-Around Performance: Arc’teryx Women’s Beta LT Jacket

Arc’teryx Women’s Beta LT Jacket

Arc’teryx

What We Like
  • Helmet-compatible hood

  • Underarm zipper vents

  • Water-resistant zipper on front and pockets

  • Adjustable hem, hood, and cuffs

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The Beta LT jacket is a multisport jacket that performs well on just about any outdoor adventure—including those that require a helmet, thanks to the compatible hood. The three-layer Gore-Tex fabric is completely waterproof and windproof without being suffocating, making it a great shell to wear on its own or layer over other items if you’re exploring in colder weather.

It has all the features you’d want out of a performance-minded rain jacket, like a fully adjustable hood, cuffs, and bottom, plus special extras like water-resistant zippers on the front and pockets, and underarm vents for when you’re moving fast and need a little air. At 12.3 ounces, it’s not the lightest rain jacket on this list, but still relatively lightweight, and gets the job done whether you’re hiking, biking, climbing, or just out for a stroll and get caught in the rain.

Sizes: XS-XXL | Weight: 12.3 ounces | Waterproofing: 3L Gore-Tex

Final Verdict

The Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell (view at Backcountry) has all the features you’d expect from a top-performing rain jacket, and it’s lightweight enough to take on all adventures. If weight isn’t a concern, the Stio Women's Ender Paclite Hooded Jacket (view at Stio) is also an all-around crowd pleaser and will keep you completely dry no matter how wet it is outside. 

What to Look for in a Rain Jacket

Waterproof and water-repellency

Most fully waterproof jackets will be more expensive—and less breathable. But, if you live in a very rainy climate (think Pacific Northwest), paying more for a waterproof jacket is worth it. Or, if you do a lot of activities outside in the rain, it's probably also worth it. However, if you live in a climate where prolonged rain or storms are infrequent, you are probably fine getting by with a water-repellant jacket. When looking at rain jackets online or in a store, read the fine print of waterproofing to know exactly what you're getting. Most waterproof jackets will give the exact waterproofing, and potentially rating, like Gore-Tex, or a proprietary waterproofing like Patagonia's H2NO or Black Diamond's BD.Dry. Water-repellant jackets, will usually just be a material, like nylon, with a DWR finish.

Breathability

Again, this has to do with how and where you'll be using the jacket. Do you live in a warmer climate and will you be using the jacket for strenuous activity? Go with a more breathable jacket. But if the bulk of your use will be in a colder climate and with less strenuous activities, a less breathable jacket is fine. Some brands—like Black Diamond—will give waterproofing and breathability ratings where higher numbers mean more waterproof and lower numbers mean less waterproof.

Fit

Fit will also come down to how you intend to use the jacket (catching the theme here?). If your intentions are to use the jacket as a shell while you hike, run, or bike, a streamlined, slim, or athletic fit is probably what you're looking for. However, if aerodynamics and bulk are less important, a regular fit jacket might be better. Also, consider layering. If you plan on layering up underneath the jacket, consider a size up to allow for base- and mid-layers.

Price

Like most outdoor gear, rain jackets can also get expensive. A lot of what goes into the price has to do with materials and waterproofing technology. Not surprisingly, generally speaking, the more expensive, the more technical and bomber the jacket will be. If you plan on using a rain jacket on your daily bike or walking commutes in, say, Seattle, it's probably worth investing in a jacket that will shed water for a long time. If you live in a drier climate, say, Los Angeles, you can probably get by with a less-expensive emergency shell.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is DWR and what is PFC-free DWR?

    DWR stands for “durable water repellent.” It’s a coating that’s often applied to clothing to make it water-repellant. Imagine that very satisfying visual of water droplets simply beading up and rolling off the surface of your rain jacket. DWR works really well, but it’s traditionally made of chemicals known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that produce environmentally toxic byproducts, Patagonia explains.

    Many outdoor brands have developed—or are working on developing—new types of DWR that are not made with PFCs or with a different type of PFC that contains fewer carbon chains (six instead of eight), called C0 DWR. It’s difficult to create something that works as well as the PFC-based DWR but is environmentally friendly. Brands are upfront that there is a delicate balance between product performance and impact, which they’re trying to finesse. 

    Many brands use C0 DWR now, but other brands use proprietary PFC-free DWRs, meaning they do not share the actual chemical makeup they’re using. However, most do note their PFC-free DWR finishes are biodegradable and therefore won’t build up and harm the environment the way PFCs do.

  • How do I care for and wash my rain jacket?

    Specific care instructions will depend on the exact rain jacket and the material from which it's made. Always wash your rain jacket according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Check the tag inside the jacket, read the product details on the website, or reach out to the brand to find out what they recommend.

    If your rain jacket is machine-washable, you can go ahead and throw it in—many rain jackets call for washing on a gentle cycle and hanging to dry. Some brands recommend using mild laundry detergent while other brands say it’s best to use a detergent made specifically for waterproof clothing. (Yes, that’s a thing!) Nikwax Tech Wash is the most popular brand. Do not use fabric softeners, as they will leave a film on the material that can interfere with the DWR finish.

    If you notice your rain jacket is no longer as water-repellant as it used to be, or that the outside seems to be absorbing water—known as “wetting out”—treat it post-wash with a DWR spray. Nikwax also sells waterproofing sprays for both soft and hard shell clothing. The brand that makes your rain jacket might also sell waterproofing spray meant for its fabrics, in particular

  • What's the best way to store my rain jacket?

    Storing your rain jacket doesn’t need to be complicated. After washing or spot-cleaning your rain jacket, hang it on a hanger. This will prevent it from getting wrinkled and also allow it to air out and stay fresh until you need it next. It’s also a good idea to empty out your pockets—no need to let an errant piece of gum or protein bar wrapper fester in there until you discover it months later.

Why Trust TripSavvy

On top of testing and writing about outdoor gear for national publications, Amy Marturana Winderl also spends a lot of her spare time exploring the outdoors. Recently, she spent a year living in an RV, traveling the US, and hiking in many of the country’s national and state parks. She’s experienced her fair share of wet outdoor climates and knows firsthand how valuable the perfect raincoat is when you get stuck in an unexpected downpour out on a trail. She now rarely (if ever) goes on a hike without a rain jacket stashed away in her bag just in case.

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