Greatest rain jackets of 2021

(CNN) —  

Whether or not you’re tenting, commuting or simply operating errands round city, a trusty rain jacket can maintain you protected against even the worst downpours. We examined 14 top-rated jackets from well-liked manufacturers like The North Face, Patagonia and Arc’teryx for his or her waterproofness, breathability, sturdiness and a lot extra to seek out the best choice on the market. And after greater than three months of testing, there was one rain jacket that stood out above the remainder.

The Patagonia Torrentshell outperformed all the opposite jackets we examined in key areas. It’s ridiculously waterproof and can maintain you bone-dry within the worst rain, to not point out it’s extraordinarily breathable, sturdy and comes with Patagonia’s lifetime Ironclad Assure.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whether or not you’re an avid hiker or simply want safety from the rain throughout your commute, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is the one rain jacket you can purchase.

Since we couldn’t depend on frequent heavy rainstorms to check the waterproofness of our jackets, we hopped within the bathe for 10 minutes with every jacket to see if we’d keep dry. It seems showers, which on common dump 2.1 gallons per minute, are surprisingly good at simulating some fairly excessive rainfall.

Throughout our indoor monsoon, the Patagonia saved us fully dry, with solely a tiny little bit of water trickling in from the hole on the neck once we’d lookup, and from the cuffs once we’d increase our arms (which was typical of all of the jackets we examined, though some have been worse and let tons of water in via the neck — extra on that under). The Torrentshell’s three-layer H2No Efficiency Normal shell is what we now have to thank for maintaining us dry, and it held up simply in addition to GORE-TEX, in all probability essentially the most well-known and trusted waterproof materials within the out of doors business.

The Patagonia’s sturdy water repellent (DWR) coating labored completely, inflicting any water that hit the shell to bead and run proper off, stopping water from soaking into the jacket and pooling (which occurred with a number of of the opposite jackets we examined). Plus, because the water runs proper off, we have been in a position to simply shake the Torrentshell dry after our check, that means you’ll by no means must stroll into work with a drenched jacket once more.

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All the Torrentshell’s zippers are protected by a flap that didn’t permit a drop of water via, even once we pointed the bathe’s stream straight onto them. So in contrast to many of the jackets we examined — which didn’t have absolutely waterproofed zippers, permitting water to slowly (and generally not so slowly) leak via each the primary zipper and the pockets — the Torrentshell protects your cellphone and different objects from getting waterlogged.

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The one side of the waterproofness check the place the Patagonia fell a bit quick was its hood. Whereas lots of the different jackets had super-sturdy storm hoods, the Torrentshell’s wasn’t as giant or stiff. The heavy stream from the bathe prompted the hood to bend a bit bit, so the water would generally run down our face. To check, the Arc’teryx Beta LT had our favourite hood, which maintained its form within the bathe and saved the water removed from our face.

The Patagonia Torrentshell is tremendous packable (although not as packable because the teeny tiny Out of doors Analysis Helium — extra on that under) and stuffs into its personal pocket. It was additionally one of many extra breathable jackets we examined. So whether or not you’re mountaineering via the backcountry or operating late for work, you received’t really feel as sizzling and muggy as with different jackets. Plus, its pit vents imply there’s a simple technique to dump warmth in case you’re beginning to construct up a sweat.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whereas a few of the different jackets we examined felt sticky, clammy and even itchy in opposition to our naked pores and skin, the Torrentshell had some of the snug inside supplies, behind solely The North Face’s Dryzzle and the Arc’teryx Beta LT. It additionally proved fairly sturdy, and solely obtained a pair mild marks once we rubbed it in opposition to our brick constructing. Nonetheless, in case you do some tough adventuring and your jacket does get broken, it’s backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Assure, which suggests you’ll be able to ship it in and get it repaired (typically without cost) at any time.

Out of doors gear isn’t all the time essentially the most eye-pleasing, which is why we love the Torrentshell’s many shade choices. There are 11 accessible at Backcountry and 13 at Patagonia in males’s, and 9 colours at Backcountry and 12 at Patagonia accessible in ladies’s. Plus, it is available in six sizes from XS to XXL in males’s and 7 sizes from XXS to XXL in ladies’s.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Rain jackets are a surprisingly sophisticated topic, so it’s good to know a bit bit about what you’re entering into when shopping for one. The very first thing to know is what these jackets are made out of. For years manufacturers have been innovating waterproof supplies which are additionally breathable and gentle so that they’re snug to put on. If all you need is safety from the rain, you’ll be able to simply use a plastic poncho, however if you wish to transfer round and never instantly begin sweating, you’ll wish to go for a breathable rain jacket.

Probably the most well-known of those supplies is GORE-TEX, which you’ve in all probability seen utilized in tons of manufacturers and merchandise, together with coats, footwear and even gloves. However different manufacturers, equivalent to Patagonia and The North Face, have created their very own variations of waterproof materials that work in the identical fundamental approach. These materials are waterproof and breathable on the identical time as a result of they’ve tiny little pores which are so small that water droplets can’t get via, however sufficiently big so the air and vapor out of your physique can escape.

This porous membrane is vital to this waterproofness, and likewise a part of the layering system that you simply’ll see within the names and descriptions of rain jackets. There are two-layer, 2.5-layer and three-layer jackets, which inform you concerning the construct of the jacket. A two-layer jacket principally simply has the outer materials with the waterproof membrane on the within, a 2.5 has the identical building however with a sprayed or printed materials on the within to guard the membrane. Lastly, a three-layer jacket has its outer materials, the waterproof membrane and an entire different layer on the within. There are variations when it comes to the load and really feel between all three, however in case you’re taking a look at waterproofness and sturdiness, nothing beats a three-layer jacket as a result of that further materials fully protects the interior membrane so grime and oils out of your pores and skin can’t clog the pores and make it much less breathable. All jackets we examined have been both 2.5 or three layers.

The opposite key to waterproofness is a jacket’s sturdy water repellent, or DWR. It is a coating that’s utilized to the skin of a rain jacket so the water will bead up and run proper off. DWR coatings cease working after some time, which can result in the outer layer of your jacket absorbing water. The inner membrane will nonetheless maintain you dry, however since that outer layer is full of water it will likely be tougher in your sweat vapor to flee, making your jacket much less breathable. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to simply reapply your DWR coating with merchandise equivalent to Nikwax.

You’ll usually see scores for waterproofness with the measurement of millimeters, which could be a little complicated. Waterproofness is denoted this fashion as a result of it’s rated utilizing the static-column check, which places the fabric on the backside of a 1-inch-diameter tube, which is then full of water till the fabric leaks. The millimeter measurement is how tall this water column can get earlier than the supplies fail and water will get via; the upper the quantity, the extra waterproof it’s.

Aside from waterproofness and breathability, you’ll wish to search for completely different options relying on what you intend on doing. Plenty of pockets assist with a commute, a storm hood is nice in case you get caught in a storm on a hike, weight and packability are important for backpackers and in case you’re a climber or biker, you’ll need a helmet-compatible hood.

To seek out the most effective rain jacket, we examined every thing from waterproofness and breathability to suit, really feel and packability. We broke up our checks into three classes: efficiency, sturdiness and flexibility so we might evaluate the completely different options of every jacket in opposition to the others straight. Right here’s a full breakdown of all of the checks we ran.


  • Waterproofness: We wore every jacket within the bathe for 10 minutes, with all zippers closed and the hood up. We spun round and centered the bathe stream on completely different components of the jackets, such because the zippers, shoulders and hood. After 10 minutes we took off the jacket and took word of how moist our shirt beneath obtained and the place. We additionally put tissues in all of the pockets of the jacket and noticed in the event that they obtained moist in any respect through the bathe.
  • Breathability: We wore every jacket and rode a Peloton bike for 10 minutes, maintaining a constant, mild output. We judged how sizzling or sweaty we obtained and the way quickly into our experience we felt muggy.
  • Match, really feel and stretch: We tried on every jacket a number of occasions and stretched to see if there have been any restrictive areas. We wore the jacket and judged its size in addition to how roomy it was in each the torso and arms. We additionally wore every jacket on our naked arms and judged how snug every felt in opposition to our pores and skin.
  • Weight: We weighed every jacket on a kitchen scale.


  • Rub check: We rubbed the shoulder and arm of every jacket in opposition to a brick constructing 5 occasions. We took word of any scuffs, scratches or put on and tear to the fabric.
  • Zip check: We zipped the primary zipper up and down 50 occasions and took word of what number of occasions it snagged or if it broke. We additionally paid consideration to any deterioration all through our testing course of.
  • Washability: We adopted the wash directions for every jacket and judged if it shrank or deteriorated in any approach.
  • Guarantee: We researched the guarantee for every jacket.


  • Pockets and further attributes: We counted any further options, equivalent to pit vents, helmet compatibility, pockets and extra.
  • Packability: We packed every jacket (into its personal pocket if attainable) and in comparison with see which of them obtained the smallest.
  • Sizing and colours: We counted what number of sizes and colours have been accessible for every jacket in each males’s and girls’s variations.

Arc’teryx Beta LT ($399;

This jacket was implausible, nevertheless it fell only a bit quick in a number of checks. The truth that it didn’t blow the opposite jackets out of the water paired with the best price ticket in our testing pool, this jacket is a tricky buy to justify. Like we stated earlier, it had our favourite hood we examined, plus its waterproofness and breathability efficiency was stellar. Its zippers, nevertheless, are solely waterproof, not waterproof, and each our shirt and the tissues in our pockets obtained a bit moist. It can save you some huge cash and get a barely higher jacket with the Patagonia Torrentshell.

Out of doors Analysis Helium Rain Jacket ($159;

This jacket was one other certainly one of our favorites, and whereas it didn’t rating extraordinarily excessive, it was solidly waterproof and breathable. The inside of the jacket is a bit sticky and felt clammy in opposition to our pores and skin, however in case you’re an avid hiker or backpacker, the Helium’s excessive packability simply is likely to be sufficient to promote you. It was the lightest jacket we weighed, coming in at solely 6.26 ounces. For reference, the subsequent lightest was about 7.5 ounces and the subsequent after that was practically 10 ounces. On high of that, the Helium stuffs down into its sole chest pocket right into a tiny package deal that’s concerning the measurement of our hand. So in case you’re trying to find the lightest jacket you can throw in your backpack for a thru-hike and don’t care as a lot about consolation or sturdiness, the Helium is a good alternative.

The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Jacket ($230;

The North Face’s Dryzzle jacket options the model’s newest waterproof know-how, Futurelight. This membrane is rather like GORE-TEX and Patagonia’s H2No, promising excessive waterproofing whereas sustaining breathability. We have been fairly impressed with The North Face’s jacket, particularly the texture of the jacket each inside and outside. Nonetheless, it didn’t fairly separate itself from different nice jackets we examined. Our greatest gripe with the Dryzzle was the standard of the DWR coating on the jacket. When water hit this jacket it didn’t instantly bead up and shed like many different jackets we examined. In some locations we might see seen spots the place the water was soaking into the outer layer. It was certainly one of our highest-scoring jackets, however with a lackluster DWR coating and the next price ticket than our winner we simply can’t suggest it.

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket ($89.95;

This jacket is without doubt one of the least expensive we examined however shocked us with its strong scores all through our testing course of. It was solidly waterproof, decently breathable and an total implausible jacket. It didn’t rating fairly as excessive because the Torrentshell, principally because of its sticky inside, however in case you’re in search of an inexpensive jacket, the Rainier is a implausible choice.

Arc’teryx Zeta SL ($299;

The Zeta SL from Arc’teryx was one other high-scoring jacket, coming in proper across the high. It’s tremendous waterproof and breathable, and its inside feels comparatively snug. Nonetheless, like the opposite Arc’teryx jacket we examined, its zippers aren’t absolutely waterproof, solely waterproof. It additionally doesn’t have as many further options because the Torrentshell, which was a bit disappointing for a $300 jacket.

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX ($173.93, initially $249;

This jacket from REI Co-op was one other excessive scorer however simply didn’t do effectively sufficient to edge out the competitors. It’s additionally a discontinued merchandise, so it’s solely accessible in a single shade and inventory will finally run out. Even at a massively discounted worth it’s dearer than our winner, so whereas it’s a strong jacket, there are higher choices on the market.

Black Diamond Stormline ($149;

The Stormline was the stretchiest jacket we examined and had fairly a excessive rating. It’s good and light-weight, and felt good each on the inside and outside. It was principally waterproof, with only a tiny little bit of water entering into the pockets. In the event you want an especially stretchy and malleable jacket, the Stormline could be a fantastic choose for you, however total it couldn’t beat out the opposite coats we examined.

Marmot Minimalist ($189;

This jacket was one of many extra breathable jackets we examined, however its pockets — like many others — weren’t waterproof. A little bit of water obtained into the 2 facet pockets, and the tissue contained in the chest pocket obtained fully soaked. It didn’t stand out for any explicit cause, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a strong rain jacket. Simply don’t put your cellphone in its pockets.

Out of doors Analysis Microgravity (beginning at $149.40;

The Microgravity from Out of doors Analysis fell out of competition after a poor waterproofness check. Once more, the pockets have been its downfall, and within the Microgravity’s case, a lot water got here via all of its pockets that our shirt obtained moist beneath. The inside materials additionally felt fairly itchy, so we simply can’t justify spending $250 on this jacket.

L.L.Bean H2Off ($189;

The L.L.Bean was the heaviest jacket we examined, nevertheless it does have tons of pockets to hold every thing you want once you exit. Nonetheless, these pockets are nowhere near being waterproof. Each tissue we put in its pockets got here out drenched.

Columbia OutDry Ex Nanolite Shell ($300;

This jacket didn’t rating very effectively, primarily because of a poor waterproofness check. Its hood channeled the water down our face and proper into the jacket itself. We needed to look straight on the floor to maintain the water out, and couldn’t transfer our head like we might with different jackets. On the finish of our check our shirt was fully soaked. It’s extremely mild, however in case you’re in search of a packable jacket, go for the $159 Out of doors Analysis Helium as an alternative.

Columbia OutDry Ex Reign ($150;

This jacket had the identical hood concern as the opposite Columbia coat, and water ran proper down into the neck of the jacket. It’s heavy, not moveable, doesn’t really feel snug on the within and isn’t very breathable both.

Helly-Hansen Moss Hooded Raincoat (beginning at $65;

This jacket didn’t impress us a lot, because it wasn’t very breathable, didn’t maintain up effectively in our rub check and is the one jacket we examined you can’t throw within the dryer. It was decently waterproof, however its hood is a bit flimsy and its pockets don’t zip shut, though the tissues we put in there didn’t get as moist as another jackets.

Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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