The best rain jacket of 2021 | CNN Underscored


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

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 should 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 might 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 stored us utterly 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 elevate our arms (which was typical of all of the jackets we examined, though some had been worse and let tons of water in by way of the neck — extra on that beneath). The Torrentshell’s three-layer H2No Efficiency Customary shell is what we’ve got to thank for preserving us dry, and it held up simply in addition to GORE-TEX, most likely probably 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, for the reason that water runs proper off, we had been capable of simply shake the Torrentshell dry after our check, which means you’ll by no means should stroll into work with a drenched jacket once more.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

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

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

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

The Patagonia Torrentshell is tremendous packable (although not as packable because the teeny tiny Outside Analysis Helium — extra on that beneath) and stuffs into its personal pocket. It was additionally one of many extra breathable jackets we examined. So whether or not you’re mountaineering by way of the backcountry or operating late for work, you gained’t really feel as scorching and muggy as with different jackets. Plus, its pit vents imply there’s a straightforward method to dump warmth if you happen to’re beginning to construct up a sweat.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Whereas among the different jackets we examined felt sticky, clammy and even itchy towards our naked pores and skin, the Torrentshell had one 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 gentle marks once we rubbed it towards our brick constructing. Nonetheless, if you happen to do some tough adventuring and your jacket does get broken, it’s backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Assure, which implies you’ll be able to ship it in and get it repaired (normally free of charge) at any time.

Outside gear isn’t all the time probably the most eye-pleasing, which is why we love the Torrentshell’s many colour 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 girls’s. Plus, it is available in six sizes from XS to XXL in males’s and 7 sizes from XXS to XXL in girls’s.

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Rain jackets are a surprisingly difficult topic, so it’s good to know a little bit bit about what you’re stepping 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 might be 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 most likely seen utilized in tons of manufacturers and merchandise, together with coats, footwear and even gloves. However different manufacturers, resembling Patagonia and The North Face, have created their very own variations of waterproof materials that work in the identical fundamental method. These materials are waterproof and breathable on the identical time as a result of they’ve tiny little pores which might be so small that water droplets can’t get by way of, however large enough 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 mainly 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 a complete different layer on the within. There are variations by way of the burden and really feel between all three, however if you happen to’re taking a look at waterproofness and sturdiness, nothing beats a three-layer jacket as a result of that additional materials utterly protects the inner membrane so dust and oils out of your pores and skin can’t clog the pores and make it much less breathable. All jackets we examined had been both 2.5 or three layers.

The opposite key to waterproofness is a jacket’s sturdy water repellent, or DWR. This can be 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 is able to result in the outer layer of your jacket absorbing water. The interior membrane will nonetheless maintain you dry, however since that outer layer is stuffed with water it is going to be tougher on your sweat vapor to flee, making your jacket much less breathable. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to simply reapply your DWR coating with merchandise resembling Nikwax.

You’ll typically see rankings for waterproofness with the measurement of millimeters, which is usually a little complicated. Waterproofness is denoted this manner 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 stuffed with 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 by way of; the upper the quantity, the extra waterproof it’s.

Apart from waterproofness and breathability, you’ll wish to search for totally different options relying on what you propose on doing. A number of pockets assist with a commute, a storm hood is nice if you happen to get caught in a storm on a hike, weight and packability are important for backpackers and if you happen to’re a climber or biker, you’ll desire a helmet-compatible hood.

To seek out the most effective rain jacket, we examined the whole lot from waterproofness and breathability to suit, really feel and packability. We broke up our assessments into three classes: efficiency, sturdiness and flexibility so we might evaluate the totally different options of every jacket towards the others immediately. Right here’s a full breakdown of all of the assessments 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 targeted the bathe stream on totally 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 throughout the bathe.
  • Breathability: We wore every jacket and rode a Peloton bike for 10 minutes, preserving a constant, gentle output. We judged how scorching or sweaty we obtained and the way quickly into our trip 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 towards our pores and skin.
  • Weight: We weighed every jacket on a kitchen scale.


  • Rub check: We rubbed the shoulder and arm of every jacket towards 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 principle 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 method.
  • Guarantee: We researched the guarantee for every jacket.


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

Arc’teryx Beta LT ($399;

This jacket was implausible, however it fell only a bit quick in a number of assessments. 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, nonetheless, are solely water resistant, 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.

Outside Analysis Helium Rain Jacket ($159;

This jacket was one other considered 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 towards our pores and skin, however if you happen to’re an avid hiker or backpacker, the Helium’s excessive packability simply may be sufficient to promote you. It was the lightest jacket we weighed, coming in at solely 6.26 ounces. For reference, the following lightest was about 7.5 ounces and the following after that was almost 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 dimension of our hand. So if you happen to’re looking for the lightest jacket that you may throw in your backpack for a thru-hike and don’t care as a lot about consolation or sturdiness, the Helium is a superb 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 had 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 considered one of our highest-scoring jackets, however with a lackluster DWR coating and a better price ticket than our winner we simply can’t advocate it.

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket ($89.95;

This jacket is likely one of the most cost-effective we examined however stunned us with its stable 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, largely resulting from its sticky inside, however if you happen to’re on the lookout for an affordable jacket, the Rainier is a implausible possibility.

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 totally waterproof, solely water resistant. It additionally doesn’t have as many additional options because the Torrentshell, which was a little 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 nicely sufficient to edge out the competitors. It’s additionally a discontinued merchandise, so it’s solely accessible in a single colour and inventory will ultimately run out. Even at a massively discounted worth it’s costlier than our winner, so whereas it’s a stable 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 lightweight, and felt good each on the inside and outside. It was largely waterproof, with only a tiny little bit of water stepping into the pockets. If you happen to want an especially stretchy and malleable jacket, the Stormline can be an ideal decide 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 utterly soaked. It didn’t stand out for any specific cause, however it’s nonetheless a stable rain jacket. Simply don’t put your telephone in its pockets.

Outside Analysis Microgravity (beginning at $149.40;

The Microgravity from Outside Analysis fell out of competition after a poor waterproofness check. Once more, the pockets had been its downfall, and within the Microgravity’s case, a lot water got here by way of 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, however it does have tons of pockets to hold the whole lot 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 nicely, primarily resulting from a poor waterproofness check. Its hood channeled the water down our face and proper into the jacket itself. We needed to look immediately 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 utterly soaked. It’s extremely gentle, however if you happen to’re on the lookout for a packable jacket, go for the $159 Outside Analysis Helium as a substitute.

Columbia OutDry Ex Reign ($150;

This jacket had the identical hood problem as the opposite Columbia coat, and water ran proper down into the neck of the jacket. It’s heavy, not transportable, 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 nicely in our rub check and is the one jacket we examined that you may’t throw within the dryer. It was decently waterproof, however its hood is a little bit flimsy and its pockets don’t zip shut, though the tissues we put in there didn’t get as moist as another jackets.

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