The 5 Greatest Rain Jackets for Climbing and Backpacking



By Michael Lanza

Store for a rain jacket for dayhiking, backpacking, or climbing within the backcountry and also you’ll see shells for adults starting from beneath $100 to over $500, and from lower than half a pound to over a pound—with simply as big and complicated a variety of opinions on them from reviewers and customers. I’m going to make the selection simple for you.

I’ve examined dozens of rain shells whereas mountain climbing via soaking rains all around the world over the previous 20 years, writing opinions for this weblog and beforehand for Backpacker journal; I’ve discovered tips on how to distinguish the mediocre from the superb. Listed below are my picks for the 5 finest rain jackets for backcountry adventures that you may purchase at the moment. These top-performing shells vary in value from $140 to $549, with nice offers out there proper now on a few of them (see the hyperlinks beneath).

I feel you’ll discover one among them is good on your dayhikes, backpacking journeys, and climbing and different out of doors adventures.

How do I select a rain jacket for the backcountry? I observe 4 easy standards:

•    Don’t spend greater than essential for what you’re doing—i.e., your exercise degree (how a lot you sweat) and the place you go (how a lot rain you’ll see). Take into consideration how typically you’ll really put on that jacket.
•    There’s no motive a three-season shell for the backcountry ought to weigh greater than a pound, interval. And 4 of the 5 jackets reviewed right here—none weighing greater than a pound—can deal with winter circumstances.
•    At a naked minimal, any waterproof-breathable shell, regardless of the value, ought to suit you, shed regular rain, have a hood that retains precipitation off your face, and breathe no less than nicely sufficient that you simply’re not simply as moist from perspiring in it as you’d be not sporting it. In any other case, you’re losing your cash.
•    For those who’re spending upwards of $300 or extra, don’t accept something lower than a jacket with nice match and precisely the efficiency and options you need.

See my “5 Professional Suggestions For Shopping for the Proper Rain Jacket for the Backcountry.”

With these standards in thoughts, I’ve put collectively this checklist of the 5 finest jackets I’ve examined and reviewed at this weblog, organized by value. I feel one among these 5 would be the proper rain jacket on your dayhikes, backpacking or climbing journeys, and different out of doors adventures. Please share with me your ideas on and experiences with any of those, or one other jacket you want, within the feedback part on the backside.

The 5 Greatest Rain Jackets For the Backcountry

The Flylow Rainbreaker
The Flylow Rainbreaker

Flylow Rainbreaker
$140, 4.5 oz.

Presumably the lightest waterproof-breathable shell in the marketplace at the moment, the hooded Rainbreaker protected me via three hours of rain on a 27-mile, one-day traverse of Maine’s Mahoosuc Vary in August; on a cool, windy morning camped at 5,00zero toes within the Grand Canyon in Might; and on chilly, windy spring days of climbing at Idaho’s Metropolis of Rocks and path runs in Boise. Though some moisture accumulates inside once I’m sweating laborious, it breathes nicely sufficient to by no means get uncomfortably clammy. Whereas it lacks the technical hood and options of the jackets beneath, the reasonably priced Rainbreaker delivers good efficiency for an ultralight shell, however solely is available in males’s sizes.

Look ahead to my upcoming full evaluate of the Flylow Rainbreaker.

BUY IT NOW You may assist my work on this weblog by clicking this hyperlink to buy a Flylow Rainbreaker at

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Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket
Out of doors Analysis Interstellar Jacket

Out of doors Analysis Interstellar Jacket
$299, 11 oz.

From backpacking practically 100 miles throughout Glacier Nationwide Park, typically in robust, chilly wind, to backcountry snowboarding—uphill and down—for hours in falling snow with out ever taking this jacket off, the Interstellar demonstrated a level of breathability that’s presumably unmatched amongst at the moment’s rain shells, in addition to stable climate safety. Credit score OR’s proprietary, three-layer, waterproof-breathable AscentShell cloth for the way nicely it manages moisture. Supple and really packable, it sports activities the options you need in a severe rain shell, together with a totally adjustable hood, good mobility, and three roomy, zippered pockets. Among the many lightest technical rain jackets at 11 ounces, at an affordable value, OR’s Interstellar Jacket provides distinctive worth.

Learn my full evaluate of the Out of doors Analysis Interstellar Jacket.

BUY IT NOW You may assist my work on this weblog by clicking any of those hyperlinks to buy a males’s or girls’s Out of doors Analysis Interstellar Jacket at,, or

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Black Diamond Helio Active Shell.
The Black Diamond Helio Lively Shell.

Black Diamond Helio Lively Shell
$399, 12 oz.

By means of a protracted day of rain, moist snow, and wind gusting over 40 mph in northern Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains, and different days of combined climate, I stayed dry and staved off hypothermia in BD’s versatile Helio Lively Shell. Made with Gore-Tex Lively three-layer membrane, the Helio breathed nicely sufficient to maintain me from overheating even at instances once we had been shielded from wind whereas mountain climbing steeply uphill within the rain with temps within the 40s, whereas carrying a pack weighing 25 to 30 kilos. Moreover its stable weatherproofing, the totally adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, simply accessible pit zips, and zippered pockets make it a shell for excessive circumstances in all seasons.

Learn my full evaluate of the Black Diamond Helio Lively Shell.

BUY IT NOW You may assist my work on this weblog by clicking any of those hyperlinks to buy a males’s Black Diamond Helio Lively Shell at,, or, or a girls’s Black Diamond Helio Lively Shell at, or

By no means get chilly once more (nicely, nearly by no means). See my “5 Suggestions For Staying Heat and Dry Whereas Climbing.”

Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket
Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket

Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket
$425, 12 oz.

When you actually need a high-performance rain shell for final consolation and performance in persistently moist and difficult circumstances, the Zeta LT nails it, because it did for me in very moist climate from Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains to Yoho Nationwide Park within the Canadian Rockies. From its superior climate safety and breathability, to the brand new C-KNIT expertise from Gore-Tex making the jacket extra supple and quieter than conventional laborious shells, this one’s a winner for hard-core hikers, backpackers, climbers, and others.

Learn my full evaluate of the Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket.

BUY IT NOW You may assist my work on this weblog by clicking any of those hyperlinks to buy a males’s Arc’teryx Zeta LT Jacket at, or a girls’s Zeta LT Jacket at, or the boys’s or girls’s at



For prime-speed exercises in windy, damp climate, get a breathable, ultralight shell.
See my evaluate of “The Greatest Ultralight Climbing and Backpacking Jackets.”

Patagonia Pluma Jacket.
Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

Patagonia Pluma Jacket
$549, 14 oz.

Rain fell for 2 straight days as we trekked the Tour du Mont Blanc, whereas the temperature remained caught within the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit. On the grinding ascent of practically 3,00zero toes to the Grand Col de Ferret at 8,323-foot (2537m), we hiked straight right into a wind-driven tempest. Nonetheless, I stayed dry and comfy within the Pluma. A professional, four-season shell made with Gore-Tex Professional cloth, it has all of it: superior climate safety, good breathability and air flow, and a totally adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, whereas nonetheless weighing in beneath a pound.

Learn my full evaluate of the Patagonia Pluma Jacket.

BUY IT NOW You may assist my work on this weblog by clicking any of those hyperlinks to buy a males’s Patagonia Pluma Jacket at or, or the ladies’s Patagonia Pluma Jacket at


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See my “5 Professional Suggestions For Shopping for the Proper Rain Jacket For the Backcountry,” and all of my opinions of rain jackets, my opinions of ultralight wind shells, waterproof, light-weight jackets nicely suited to cardio actions outside, and all of my opinions of out of doors attire, backpacking gear, and mountain climbing gear at The Massive Outdoors.

Want a rain shell for a child to make use of within the backcountry? See my evaluate of the purposeful and well-priced Marmot Boy’s and Lady’s Precip Jacket.

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NOTE: I examined gear for Backpacker Journal for 20 years. At The Massive Outdoors, I evaluate solely what I contemplate one of the best out of doors gear and attire. See categorized menus of all of my gear opinions at The Massive Outdoors.