The Best Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2021

Your rain jacket may not be the most thrilling piece of your backpacking kit, but it’s pretty darn important. Sure, it might stay stuffed in your pack during the dry parts of the trail, but once the rainy section hits, you’ll be glad to deploy this critical piece of gear. The best backpacking rain jackets will protect you from the wind and help keep your core warm when the temperature drops. Your ideal rain gear will fit comfortably and have a good balance of features, breathability, and weight.

The Best Backpacking Rain Jackets: Quick Navigation

Why should you trust us?

Because we’re so incredibly intelligent, of course! Attractive, too. (Not to mention extremely humble).

But if that isn’t enough to impress you, there’s also the fact that everyone who contributed to this article is an experienced thru-hiker with thousands of on-trail miles under their belt. We’re gear nerds who love putting our equipment to the test on trails long and short, and we’ve tested dozens of rain jackets in pursuit of drier backcountry days.

Moreover, we do our best to stay plugged into the trail community’s gear preferences (we are definitely those obnoxious people on-trail who always want to know what everyone else is packing). That means our picks for the best backpacking rain jackets aren’t just our opinions: they’re based on years of feedback from the thru-hiking community.

Competence and backpacking proficiency personified.

What to Look for in the Best Backpacking Rain Jackets


Your rain jacket shouldn’t weigh more than 12-14 ounces. Eight-10 ounces is ideal.


Your backpacking rain jacket should be a medium fit. You want to comfortably layer underneath it without sacrificing mobility, but it shouldn’t feel so big that it bunches up. Because this can be used as another layer to protect against cold, you don’t want to have to work harder to keep that microclimate warm. Look for a longer model with a drop waist to help rain runoff in the back, and also in case you want to sit down. At the very least, the jacket should be long enough that it doesn’t ride up under a hip belt.


The two main types of waterproofing are a PU laminate and an ePTFE membrane. Rain jackets built with a PU laminate are less expensive, but won’t be as breathable. Gore-Tex was the original user of the ePTFE membrane, which is waterproof and breathable. If you have the budget, look for mentions of GTX, eVent, or proprietary branding that utilizes ePTFE.

If possible, look for a jacket that uses a PFC-free DWR treatment. Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are industry-standard in durable water repellent (DWR) finishes, but they’re also toxic and persist for tens to hundreds of years in the environment.


Pit zips: Good for dumping heat while wearing it on the move, but not totally necessary.
Drawcord waist: Protect from splashing and keep your other layers (sort of) dry.
Adjustable cuffs: Same as the drawcord waist. Nothing’s worse than reaching up and having water pour down your sleeves. Look for elastic or Velcro closures.
Hood fit: This one can be tricky. You want the hood to be fitted and deep enough (with a brim) so the rain doesn’t sneak in, but you also don’t want to lose your peripheral vision. Make sure you can tighten the hood enough to turn your head and have the hood turn with you, not turn your head and be staring at the inside of the hood.
Sealed pockets: We don’t recommend keeping anything of value in your rain jacket pockets, but make sure the model has waterproof zippers… at the very least highly water-resistant.

Maggie Slepian

The Best Backpacking Rain Jackets: FAQs

Do I need rain pants for backpacking?

Not necessarily. Rain pants are deathly uncomfortable and inconvenient to put on / take off.  As a result, many thru-hikers find that their rain pants sit untouched in the bottom of their packs until they finally get sick of the dead weight and mail them home. For light rain protection, a rain kilt is a more breathable alternative to pants.

You do want to carry rain pants if you anticipate potential cold weather, such as on winter backpacking trips, exposed high elevation trips where the weather can change on a dime, and early-season thru-hikes. In these scenarios, you’ll value the extra warmth and protection rain pants provide, because cold + wet = hypothermia, and you definitely don’t want that.

Can a hiking umbrella replace my rain jacket?

Hiking umbrellas pull double duty by shielding you from both rain and sun, and they’re well-ventilated and comfortable compared to stuffy, sweat-inducing rain jackets. On the flip side, they don’t perform well in high winds or on overgrown trails and won’t provide much protection against cold weather or swirling mist. On warm-weather hikes where you don’t anticipate a lot of rain, using an umbrella as standalone rain gear is a great way to save weight and stay comfortable. In more humid and/or colder environments, most hikers stick with traditional rain gear and, at most, carry an umbrella as a supplement to their rain jackets.

Top hiking umbrellas: Gossamer Gear Liteflex, Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow Carbon, Snow Peak Ultralight

Should I use a poncho or a rain jacket for backpacking?

Compared to rain jackets, ponchos get a decent amount of airflow through the giant hole at the bottom and can be worn over top of your backpack. This maximizes your protection and potentially saves you the weight of a separate pack cover (or the weight of a rain-sodden pack if you opt for an internal pack liner). That said, it’s not all roses. At the end of the day, ponchos are heavier than rain jackets, they don’t perform well in windy conditions, and all that bulky material (and no zipper) makes them unwieldy. Rain jackets are definitely the more popular choice, and we tend to agree in the name of sheer comfort and convenience.

Can’t pick between the two? The Packa is a poncho-jacket hybrid with a front zipper and pit zips that’s specifically designed to fit over your backpack. It’s also marvelously sexy. Trust us.

How do waterproof-breathable rain jackets work?

Waterproof-breathable jackets typically feature a microporous waterproof membrane protected from abrasion by an external face fabric with a durable water repellant (DWR) coating and from damaging dirt and body oils by an interior liner. The membrane’s micropores are large enough to allow water vapor to escape from inside the jacket but small enough to prevent liquid water droplets from penetrating.

These layers can be laminated together to form one unit (three-layer jackets), the face fabric and membrane can be laminated together as one unit while the interior liner remains separate (two-layer), or the face fabric and membrane can be laminated together with a protective coating painted on the inside of the jacket in lieu of a liner (2.5-layer).  2.5-layer jackets are typically the lightest, while three-layer jackets are the most breathable and durable. Two-layer jackets are usually the heaviest and the least suited to backpacking, but they’re also inexpensive.

Why does my rain jacket get wet inside?

When your rain jacket “wets out,” it’s not because the jacket’s waterproofness has failed and rain is getting through from the outside. Usually, it’s from condensation and sweat that form inside the jacket. Normally, a breathable jacket’s microporous waterproof membrane allows this internal water vapor to escape, but if the DWR coating on the outside of the fabric fails, the external face fabric becomes saturated and prevents the jacket from breathing properly. Condensation and sweat build up inside, leaving you wet and clammy. Fortunately, DWR treatment can be reapplied to breathe new life (heh) into your rain gear.

How can I avoid sweating in my rain jacket?

Wear less underneath to stay cool and look for a breathable rain jacket with ventilation features like pit zips. Don’t wear the jacket in warm, rainy conditions while you’re actively hiking: save it for cold weather or rest periods when staying warm is more of a challenge. Take off your hiking shirt before donning your rain jacket so that the shirt will remain dry and sweat-free when the storm passes.  Re-up the DWR treatment on your jacket periodically so that it can breathe effectively. And, at the end of the day, accept that virtually all rain jackets will make you sweat if you try to hike in them.  Contrary to popular belief, the primary function of rain gear isn’t to keep you dry: it’s to keep you warm, because, again, cold + wet = hypothermia.

The Best Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2021

Outdoor Research Helium | Most Durable Ultralight Rain Jacket
MSRP: $159
Weight*: 6.3 ounces

*All weights in this list are based on a men’s medium unless otherwise specified.


Best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: OR Helium.

This jacket was perfect for the PCT. It packs down tiny and is incredibly light (I wear an XS and it weighs 5.25 ounces), but at no compromise to the protection it offers. It kept me dry through some gnarly high Sierra thunderstorms and also got the job done through some perpetually wet days in Oregon and Washington. I’m not a big fan/proponent of hiking in rain gear because it gets so hot, but the Helium is very effectively breathable. I won’t be swapping it out for something else on the Colorado Trail this summer. Bonus points for so many color options. –Anne Baker

Materials and Features

The OR Helium is made of 2.5-layer Pertex Shield 30D ripstop nylon. It has waterproof zippers, reflective details, elastic cuffs, and a drawcord hem. There are no side handwarmer pockets, but there is one chest pocket to store small items. The fit is roomy enough to layer underneath without being bulky.
Pros: Good weight to durability ratio; decent breathability; no-frills; lots of color options; 30D nylon among the toughest on this list.
Cons: No hand pockets; no pit zips.

Read our review of the Helium rain jacket and pants.

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Montbell Versalite | Best Fully Featured Lightweight Rain Jacket
MSRP: $199
Weight: 6.4 ounces

Best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Montbell Versalite.

Sufficiently waterproof at just 6.4 ounces. Cutting weight at the expense of function is a bad idea, especially if you’re heading into cold and rainy environments, which is why hand pockets are non-negotiable for me. The Versalite is one of the lighter rain jackets that offer this feature, and for this reason has been my go-to rain jacket for the past year, from the Appalachian Trail to the Wind River High Route, the CDT, and more. –Zach Davis

Materials and Features

This jacket is constructed of two-layer Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper with a 10d Ballistic Airlight abrasion-resistant ripstop nylon face fabric. There is a protective coating on the inside to protect the membrane from dirt and body oils. Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper is considered water-resistant, not waterproof, but the addition of DWR on the face fabric and fully taped seams make this jacket more than adequate for all but the rainiest conditions.
The Versalite has two side pockets, generous 16.5-inch-long pit zips, a water-resistant zipper, reflective details, and an adjustable hood, cuffs, and hemline. The arms are slightly articulated to improve ease of movement. The Versalite is cut from a single, continuous piece of fabric to minimize seams, improving the jacket’s waterproofness and durability.
Pros: Long pit zips; side pockets; minimal seams; lightweight; breathable.
Cons: Zipper not fully waterproof; not as waterproof as some on this list (best for light or moderately rainy conditions).

Enlightened Equipment Visp | Best Customizable Backpacking Rain Jacket
MSRP: $190
Weight: 4.9 ounces

Weight and price based on a men’s medium with no pit zips.

Best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Enlightened Equipment Visp.

Enlightened Equipment continues to up the cottage-industry apparel game with this sub-5 ounce rain jacket. Reasonably priced, featherlight, and with EE’s option to customize the color, this rain jacket is a thru-hiker’s dream. The Visp is built with three layers, including a soft lining to avoid the clammy rain jacket feel, lightweight 7D ripstop nylon, and an ePTFE membrane for the coveted combo of being waterproof while still breathable. This is one of the lowest denier face fabrics, and while it’s still durable, we recommend keeping an eye on potentially abrasive off-trail areas. The jacket has a longer hem to allow water to drip, a deep hood, and yes… it’s made in the US. Maggie Slepian

Materials and Features

The Visp is a remarkably lightweight three-layer jacket featuring ultralight 7D ripstop nylon face fabric and a luxuriously soft tricot lining. We love the Visp’s deep, adjustable hood, the waterproof zippers, and the fact that you can choose whether or not you want pit zips (which add weight and expense to the jacket but are objectively wonderful). Velcro cuffs and an adjustable shock cord hem add further temperature/ventilation control.
Pros: Optional pit zips; one of the lightest jackets on this list; deep hood; waterproof zipper.
Cons: 7D nylon isn’t the most durable; long lead time for custom jackets (plan in advance or buy a stock model); no pockets; no cinch-able waistline.

Read our review of the Visp.

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Arc’Teryx Zeta SL | Most Stormworthy Backpacking Rain Jacket
MSRP: $299
Weight: 10.9 ounces

best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Arc’teryx Zeta SL.

The Arc’Teryx Zeta SL (superlight) is built with an ultra-tough 40D face fabric and GoreTex Paclite Plus membrane and is a killer combo of durable, packable, and breathable. It is one of the more expensive on the list, and while you’re getting a high-quality piece of gear, you’re also paying in part for the name brand. The jacket does not come with pit zips, so extra sweaty hikers might want to look for another model, but the next-to-skin feel is softer than other comparable jackets. This isn’t the lightest jacket on the list, but for hikers anticipating rough trails and rough weather, the Zeta SL’s rugged durability, resilient waterproofness, and excellent build quality deliver. –Editors

Materials and Features

Two-layer Gore-tex Paclite Plus has an extremely tough 40D, DWR-coated ripstop face fabric on the outside and an abrasion-resistant treatment on the inside that renders a separate liner fabric unnecessary. This saves a lot of weight, but rather than going hardcore ultralight/minimalist, Arc’teryx chose to reinvest some of that weight savings in thoughtful features like adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem, and soft fleece lining details at the chin and back of the neck. The Zeta SL also has two hand pockets and waterproof zippers—not a bad features list for a jacket that still only weighs a modest 11 ounces.
Pros: 40D ripstop face fabric is among the burliest on this list; long-lasting DWR; gusseted underarms improve mobility.
Cons: Expensive; relatively heavy; no pit zips; slim fit not conducive to layering.

Read our review of the ZetaFL rain jacket and SL pants.

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Patagonia Torrentshell 3L | Most Durable Backpacking Rain Jacket
MSRP: $149
Weight: 13.9 ounces

Best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L.

Very reasonably priced and a classic option for thru-hikers, the Torrentshell uses Patagonia’s proprietary H2No Performance membrane, which isn’t quite as breathable as some of the other options out there, but the venting pit zips take some pressure off the membrane. This jacket has a medium fit that’s ideal for layering and an adjustable hood that allows adequate visibility. Be aware that the construction of the hand pockets can allow water to seep in during heavy rain, so if you’re heading to a particularly wet trail, this might not be the best option.

The latest version of this classic rain jacket, the Torrentshell 3L, has been updated with three-layer construction. This makes the new jacket more breathable, more durable, but also heavier and more expensive, than previous 2.5-layer incarnations. At 14 ounces for a men’s medium, the Torrentshell is pushing the envelope in terms of how much weight a typical thru-hiker is willing to heft. But this jacket is famously comfortable, reasonably priced, and you shouldn’t need to baby it the way you would a paper-thin UL rain jacket. –Editors

Materials and Features

This three-layer jacket is highly durable thanks to the bombproof 50D ripstop face fabric, the burliest on this list. The face fabric, which is made with recycled nylon, and a soft tricot interior liner sandwich Patagonia’s proprietary H2No waterproof-breathable membrane. The Torrentshell has standard (non-waterproof) zippers protected by storm flaps, but makes up for this with nice features like an adjustable brimmed hood (keeps drips off your face and, if you wear them, glasses) and a comfy fleece-lined neck. The jacket can pack down into its own hand pockets, of which it has two.
Pros: 50D face fabric is most durable on this list; comfortable; pit zips; brimmed hood; adjustable cuffs and hem.
Cons: Heaviest on this list; hand pockets can leak; standard non-waterproof zippers.

Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoodie | Best Ultralight Rain Jacket
MSRP: $325
Weight: 4.2 oz

Best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody.

Arc’teryx’s Norvan Jacket is quietly one of the best thru-hiking rain jackets out there, and its draw can be summed up in just a few words: GORE-TEX. UNDER. FIVE. OUNCES. You read that correctly. This thing is as light as any rain jacket on the market (4.2 oz) but is still made with Gore-Tex. One of the biggest critiques I read about the jacket was trail runners complaining they didn’t think the jacket would hold up for very long, but I’m here to attest to the Norvan’s impressive durability. After using this much more often than I’d anticipated on the PCT in 2019, it hardly shows any sign of wear. The Gore-tex is still holding up, and I think it looks great too. The older version that I used also featured vented pits, but the updated Norvan SL Hoody sewed the pits shut and added a drawstring adjustable hood. If you can stomach the hefty price tag, I think this jacket will seriously impress you. –Carl Stanfield

Materials and Features

Gore-tex SHAKEDRY is a different sort of two-layer jacket. It eliminates the protective face fabric sported by almost every rain jacket and exposes the waterproof membrane on the outside, reducing weight, maximizing breathability, and eliminating the need for a finicky DWR treatment that can wear off or be overwhelmed.  The Norvan also features waterproof zippers and an adjustable hood.
Pros: Extremely lightweight; breathable; sleek look; no DWR = no wet out, no need to periodically reapply.
Cons: No pit zips; no pockets; some users say zipper can leak; expensive (!!!); slim fit not conducive to layering.

Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite² | Best Budget Rain Jacket

MSRP: $25
Weight: 5.8 oz (men’s small)

best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite².

They’re far from the fanciest rain jackets on the trail, but in a fashion environment dominated by ragged soccer shorts and thrift store shirts, insanely budget-friendly Frogg Toggs fit right in. They don’t have pit zips, waterproof zippers, or even pockets, but they’re waterproof enough to do the job, and the price is right. They aren’t very durable and can snag easily on sharp rocks and branches, but they’re perhaps not as delicate as popular opinion would have you believe: with a little extra care and a willingness to resort to occasional duct tape repair jobs, we’ve had a single set of ‘Toggs last some 1300 miles. (It’s worth noting that the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite², despite being made of the same material as the jacket, somehow seem even more delicate and are very prone to ripping). —Kelly Floro

Materials and Features

Unlike most rain jackets, Frogg Toggs don’t rely on DWR as the first layer of defense against precipitation, which means you won’t experience the wet-out problems common with DWR jackets, and you won’t have to worry about periodically reapplying. Frogg Toggs can last over a thousand miles if you baby them, but they are fairly delicate and can easily snag or develop holes where your pack rubs the material, so you’ll have to baby them. Frogg Toggs have standard zippers, an adjustable (but floppy) hood, elastic cuffs, and no pockets. They do run large and the fit is fairly bulky.

Two-layer construction, 100% polyethylene. Adjustable hood and elastic cuffs. Standard zippers.
Pros: Very inexpensive; can last an entire thru-hike or longer if you baby them; easily replaceable online or at Wal-Mart; no DWR.
Cons: Tear fairly easily; no pockets; no pit zips; hood is a bit awkward and frequently droops into your eyes; hideously ugly; next-to-skin feel isn’t amazing; not that breathable.

Here’s why $20 Frogg Toggs are the ideal rain gear for a thru-hike.

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Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket | Best Permanently Waterproof Jacket

MSRP: $109
Weight: 6 oz

best backpacking rain jackets

Best backpacking rain jackets: Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket. Image via Lightheart Gear.

Breathable rain jackets are great, but let’s face it: despite their best efforts, you’ll still end up drenched in sweat after a few hours. Breathable rain jackets also rely on a DWR finish on the face fabric to keep from wetting out, and that finish will eventually wear out and have to be reapplied. It’s hard not to feel, at times, like expensive “breathable” waterproof gear ends up being not really breathable and not really waterproof. So why bother with all that?

Lightheart Gear’s single-layer silpoly rain jacket is specifically non-breathable, but it’s fully and permanently waterproof, and it has pit zips to help with ventilation. The brand used to make their distinctive rain jackets from silnylon, but they’re currently phasing that material out in favor of more waterproof silpoly. The price-to-weight ratio of this jacket (a scant six ounces for only $110) is superb, thanks to this jacket’s straightforward, minimalist construction. If you’re intrigued by the single-layer rain jacket concept, Antigravity Gear makes a similar garment out of rugged 70D silnylon that’s also worth a look. -Editors

Materials and Features

A single layer of 20D silicone-coated polyester—no liner, no face fabric, no DWR—gives this jacket its waterproofness. Silpoly is hydrophobic and won’t absorb water or stretch or sag when wet the way silnylon can. The jacket is constructed with bound seams (not sealed or taped) and standard zippers. It has a brimmed hood and generous pit zips, which help to improve the ventilation of this non-breathable layer.
Pros: Brimmed hood; two hand pockets and two waterproof internal pockets; silpoly more waterproof than silnylon; large size range (XS – XXXL); no DWR to fuss about reapplying; amazing price-to-weight ratio.
Cons: Many users say the sleeves are too short, and you have to pay extra to lengthen them; jacket doesn’t come seam sealed (bound seams are mostly waterproof, but you’ll want to seam seal yourself for maximum protection); zippers aren’t waterproof; zero breathability.

Marmot PreCip Eco | Best Rain Jacket for Beginner Backpackers

MSRP: $100
Weight:  10.1 oz

Best backpacking rain jackets: Marmot PreCip Eco.

The iconic Marmot PreCip is a thru-hiker favorite for a reason. It packs a lot of functionality into an affordable, 10-ounce package. And while it doesn’t win out in any one category—it’s neither the cheapest, nor the lightest, nor the best-performing—it performs at least moderately well in all categories and provides a nice balance of weight, price, and features. It’s ideal for newbie backpackers who would like to learn the ropes with a thoughtfully designed rainjacket that won’t break the bank.  -Editors

Materials and Features

The Marmot PreCip Eco is a 2.5-layer jacket featuring Marmot’s proprietary NanoPro waterproof material, a laminate comprised of recycled nylon face fabric with a PFC-free DWR coating, a microporous membrane, and a protective coating on the interior. Standard zippers protected by storm flaps adorn the front of the jacket as well as the handwarmer pockets and pit zips. The jacket has a high collar and the adjustable brimmed hood, when not in use, can be rolled down and stowed unobtrusively. The entire jacket also packs down into one of its pockets for easy storage in your pack.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive; pit zips; hand pockets; adjustable hood, cuffs, and hem; stowable brimmed hood; lined chin guard.
Cons: Wets out relatively easily; not the most breathable; no waterproof zipper.

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Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).

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Comments 16

  • TicTac : Feb 25th

    What? No mention of the rain jacket most often seen on thru-hikers, the Marmot PreCip??? And while selectively permeable jackets (permeable coating or PTFE-either two or three layer GoreTex) are flashy, the reality is that they depend on a positive pressure differential (greater level of humidity inside the jacket than outside, something that rarely happens when it is raining) to promote transfer of molecules of water vapor. Under rainy/humid circumstances, these do not breathe at all

    Another viable approach is to wear a impermeable rain jacket that does not even offer the pretense of breathability, but protects totally from rain when it is cool enough to require staying dry from cold rain. A perfect example of this type of jacket is the Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket ( that weighs only 6.5 ounces and is made of silnyon.

    And an even simpler option is to wear a rain skirt and carry an umbrella, but this obviates the possibility of wearing your rain jacket as a wind barrier

    • Timothy B McNeil : Feb 28th

      I was gonna mention the LightHeart Gear raingear myself, but you beat me to it. Super lightweight, packs down tiny, completely waterproof, huge pitzips for ventilation, it’s the perfect rain jacket.

    • Coolio : Dec 1st

      I used the Precip on the majority of the AT and part of the JMT (until I lost it in Lone Pine), it performed very well and never let me down (got mighty smelly a couple times), purchased the Helium II as a replacement and it did fine on the remainder of the JMT but while hiking the southern section of the AT this year with many days in teh rain it performed terribly and wet out very easily. I would not recommend the Helium II for the AT! Did the editors recommending this ever use this on a thru or long distance hike? I am not the only one with these issues and I can’t believe it is a top recommendation.

  • LGonTREK : Feb 25th

    02 Rainwear really needs to be rediscovered. While a lot of their gear is meant for cycling, their rain jackets are light and bombproof. Have had mine for a decade and just now thinking about replacing it.

  • Gediminas : Feb 26th

    Where is the Frogg Toggs?????

    • Joshua Visi : Mar 6th

      I agre, light, cheap, easily replaced

      • Mike Smith : May 12th

        Frogg Toggs are nice but REALLY BULKY. The poncho (and the raincoat and pants) take up so much space in my pack that I only carry them on day hikes, and I really want that space back regardless. I ordered the LightHeart Gear SilPoly jacket, so we’ll see how it performs down the road.

  • Brian Kirk : Feb 27th

    The Montbell recommended here is not waterproof, its water resistant. Gore’Tex’s Infinium product has water resistant coating, but is not seam-sealed. It is good for light rain for a period of time, but not heavy or consistent rain. Just want readers to be aware as saying the product is “sufficiently waterproof” is misleading. Information received from my insiders at the Gore labs.

    • Jeff McWilliams : Feb 28th

      MontBell state on their website that they seam sell their Versalite jacket.

    • Dan Schoenekase : Apr 2nd

      Five days ago, I spent 4 straight hours in a heavy downpour with my Montbell Versalite and it performed perfectly. Key technical specs that the reviewers should include for their rankings rather than anecdotes derived from marketing materials are the tested water resistance and breathability. The Versalite is rated: Water resistance: 30,000mm, Breathability: 43,000g/m2/24hrs (JIS L-1099 B-1 method). That puts it in the rainproof level and well ahead of the Precip and Helium as well as others.

  • Jeff McWilliams : Feb 28th

    Brian Kirk – MontBell states on their website that they seam seal their Versalite.

  • Joey1849 : Mar 1st

    I am done with rain gear that relies on a DWR finish to function properly. For next year’s review, I hope you look at waterproof options like Light Heart Gear and Anti Gravity Gear.

  • Frank P : Apr 2nd

    I qualify for Geezer status so I’ve been around for awhile and have spent much of that time and an absurd amount of money trying to find the truly breathable rain jacket that also kept out the rain. I’ve bought many of the cool brands and spent the ultralight obligatory starting point of $200 and up. Simple fact is if you’re hiking with any effort in any of them your going to get wet either from the inside or when it wets out. I’ve come back around to the Precip. It’s durable, vented reasonably priced. Here in the PNW there were just too many snags etc in the forests for my frog toggs tryout to work.

  • Jason : Apr 2nd

    How does Zpacks compare?

  • Shannon : Apr 7th

    Great article! I absolutely LOVE my Arc’Teryx Zeta SL, it was well worth the money. I also got lucky and got it discounted (almost half off!) at REI. If you have your heart set on a certain piece of gear I can’t recommend enough just diligently checking REI and other outfitters websites regularly because eventually they do seem to discount certain colors/sizes but I do realize a lot of times its luck. I used to have the Marmot PreCip which was notably cheaper and did the job but the Zeta SL is on another level and performs extremely well in all of the elements!


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