A key part of your hiking gear is your hiking jacket. Whether you’re hiking in the depths of winter or need to be kept dry from summer downpours you ideally need to have a hiking jacket that will meet your needs all year round. Above, we link out to our top rain jacket recommendations, click on the image or button to view more.
Some Tips Before you Buy
If you’re new to hiking and have never bought a waterproof hiking jacket before, check out the blog post how to buy a waterproof hiking jacket. That will walk you through all the many things you should consider when choosing a suitable jacket.
If however, you want to get straight to it I've added a short summary guide below to get you started.
Choosing A Waterproof Hiking Jacket - The Quick Version!
In short, in my opinion the best type of waterproof hiking jacket for most hikers is the rain shell jacket option which is normally a 2 or 2.5 layer construction. The reasons for this are covered in detail in the post referenced above but in brief, I think the main reasons for going with a rain jacket are:
- Rain shell jackets are perfect for layering
- They are much cheaper than their hard shell counterparts
- They are lightweight
- They give good protection from bad weather
Now, I stress, this is not to say that hard shell jackets aren't great for hiking purposes, not at all. They have a lot of great things to offer too and, in most cases, are better quality and will last longer than rain shells. However, I think the basic rain jacket advantages outweigh the advantages of their more elaborate hard shell relatives, for general hiking purposes anyway. Things like weight, packability and so on all come into play and the price difference can be significant.
I will be adding reviews on hard shells in the future too so you can learn more about them too. For now though, I've focused on some of the best rain shells available on the market today, as listed above.
Now, there are many excellent rain jacket options on the market and they are always changing. The choice can be truly mind bending, but that is only a good thing in my opinion. More competition means rain shell jackets should only get better and better as time moves on. Technology, generally speaking, tends to get better and more efficient and so I think what will be available in terms of water resistance and breathability in the not too distant future, will just get better and better.
These list out some of the best hiking rain shell jacket options available today. You will find a whole host of other excellent rain shell jacket options there, all of which are reputable options with good user ratings. Again, you can follow the links on those pages to learn more about any specific jacket.
OK, so that’s it for now. I hope you found this information useful and it helps you in the process of picking a rain jacket for the trail. The core fundamental piece of advice I give before buying any piece of hiking gear also applies, take your time and educate yourself well in the process of learning about what a decent rain jacket should be able to do in terms of capability and, most importantly, be clear about what you need your jacket for.
Remember, a basic rain shell jacket like the Marmot Minimalist will meet most average hikers needs, so you should be good if you stay in the rain shell category. Not only in terms of functionality, but you also won't break the bank. Moving towards hard shell jackets, expect the price to start to rise.
As mentioned above, things are always changing, so I’ll be updating this page as my preferences change but this is my recommendations for now. Happy hiking!