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Our winner was the Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket
Whether you're a fan of the rain or not, having a good rain jacket in your wardrobe will make things a little more enjoyable. But, like finding the ideal pair of jeans, finding the right women's rain jacket can take some trial and error. After all, you'll have to consider how often the jacket will be put to use (which may affect how much you're willing to spend), when you plan on wearing it (for outdoor hikes in the rain or just everyday drizzles?), as well as its comfort and breathability.
After testing 23 women's rain jackets, we eventually narrowed it down to the best. All of these jackets passed the durability test and won high marks on design, breathability, and water resistance.
After testing, the following women’s rain jackets got our PEOPLE Tested stamp of approval.
Best Overall: Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket
There's a wide size range, including plus sizes.
It folds into its own hand pocket, which makes it easy to travel with.
The length, cut, and style make it a great everyday rain jacket.
If you add multiple layers underneath, it could appear bulky, but that is true with most women's rain jackets.
The Columbia Women's Switchback III Jacket passed each of our tests with flying colors, winning Best Overall for how it repels water as well as its breathability, sturdy construction, and comfort. It’s also just the right length, cut, and style to make it a great everyday rain jacket, though if you have multiple layers underneath it, could appear bulky. The jacket comes in 20 shades and several sizes (including plus sizes) and has several unique features, like adjustable cuffs and the ability to fold and pack into itself for easy traveling.
The jacket is made of a nylon shell that did not make us feel overly warm or humid during testing. Once the jacket was exposed to water, the droplets beaded immediately and slid right off without compromising the fabric's shape or coloring. We were also impressed with the jacket's fit — it didn't constrict movements during the jumping jack test, which is a notable feature, particularly for those with larger chests.
Price at time of publish: $50 (orig. $60)
Sizes: XS-3X | Colors: 20 | Material: Polyester, nylon
Best Budget: Little Donkey Andy Women’s Waterproof Rain Jacket
The hood has a structured bill to keep water off your face.
There are drawstrings on the hood and waist for a more custom fit.
This is quite short compared to other rain jackets, which means you'd have to wear waterproof pants if you plan on spending a long time outdoors.
Women’s rain jackets can be pricey, but the Little Donkey Andy Women’s Waterproof Rain Jacket proves you don't have to put a dent in your wallet to stay dry and protected. The jacket displayed impressive durable water repellency, with the water beading up immediately and remaining that way for the full five minutes of the water test. The water from the spray bottle also stayed in precise tiny beads until we touched them, which caused them to form larger beads instead of absorbing into the fabric. No water reached the interior of the jacket and nothing changed after shaking it; we remained completely dry under the jacket throughout the rain test.
The jacket comes in a whopping 41 colors, the most out of any others on our list, and has several features that make it stand out from the rest. A slanted chest pocket makes it easy to store and reach your personal belongings, while the drawstrings on the hood and waist, as well as the adjustable cuffs, offer a more personalized fit. While the jacket lacks coverage past the hips, it's a great option for quick errands around town.
Price at time of publish: $65.99 (orig. $79)
Sizes: XS-3X | Colors: 41 | Material: Polyester
Best Rain Jacket With Hood: Kari Traa Women's Voss Jacket
This jacket features a longer cut to cover more of the body.
The soft stretch makes it great for layering.
It has armpit vents to allow proper airflow — so it’s great for activities like hiking or running.
There are limited size and color options.
It's expensive, so if you aren't going to use it often, its likely not worth the investment.
The Voss Jacket from Kari Traa features a longer cut, making it a great option for those who live in climates that rain often and therefore need more coverage. It comes in two colors (green and pink) and five size options. Most impressive, during testing we noted that despite being lightweight, it still kept us warm. During the water test, the water formed drops and held their shape as they rolled right off the fabric. We also noted how well the hood covered our forehead as well as how useful the armpit zippers were for air circulation. Adding to its thoughtful design are the roomy front pockets, which we discovered were large enough to fit a water bottle. And, attached to the pocket of the jacket is a bag that you can use to wrap the jacket in for easy storage and travel.
The jacket had a smooth-as-butter feel, and we were able to move freely without feeling restricted — even with layers underneath. We could have easily been wearing a thick hoodie underneath the jacket and still had plenty of room and range of motion to do activities.
Price at time of publish: $300
Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 2 | Material: Polyester
Best for Travel: 33,000ft Women's Packable Rain Jacket
This has three adjustable drawstrings on the hood for maximum protection.
The inner lining has ample ventilation.
It allows for a full range of motion.
This jacket must be hand-washed.
Traveling with a rain jacket may sound daunting, but the 33,000 ft. Packable Rain Jacket makes things easy. It comes with a drawstring packing bag that it easily folds into — great for not adding to the bulk in your carry-on suitcase. This jacket was designed to tackle all types of downpours, from light drizzles to rain storms, and is fully sealed to prevent air from getting in. If you do need some more breathability, though, the jacket has two mesh-lined air vents underneath the arms and an excellent range of motion.
During our evaluations, we were impressed with how waterproof the jacket was. We felt completely dry during each test and noticed that the water beads rolled right off the jacket once shaken. Overall, the jacket is lightweight and structurally flexible, with several pockets and adjustability factors. In fact, while most women’s rain jackets feature an adjustable drawstring at the front of the hood, this one features two, plus an additional drawstring on the back of the hood to provide even better coverage. When it comes time to clean the jacket, you’ll need to wash it by hand and lay it flat or hang to dry to prevent wrinkling, which is really the only downside to this one.
Price at time of publish: $50 (orig. $63)
Sizes: XS-XXL | Colors: 14 | Material: Polyester
Best Active: Kühl Women's Stretch Voyager Jacket
The trim on the jacket is reflective to add more visibility.
It has a substantial hood with a brim to cover your head and face.
There is a drawstring in the interior for a better fit.
This jacket doesn't add much warmth.
The Kühl Stretch Voyager Jacket offers a fitted look but has the stretch for performance wear, making it great for active wearers. It has a reflective trim (helpful during times of compromised visibility) along with a watertight two-way zipper for full enclosure. It also features a substantial hood and brim for head and face protection. The jacket passed our water test completely — the water beaded up immediately and rolled off easily.
It also has a comfortable fit, with a drawstring that allows you to cinch it in. It isn’t the warmest rain jacket we tested, but it has ample space to layer on colder days. In any case, we found that it has just the right amount of stretch and doesn't have that sticky, stuck feeling that a lot of rain jackets give you on your bare skin. Overall, this jacket proves that you can have it all: the characteristics you need for something like a rainy hike, but a sleek and stylish fit as well.
Price at time of publish: $88.83 (orig. $179)
Sizes: XS-1X | Colors: 7 | Material: Polyester
Best Style: Helly Hansen Women’s Long Belfast Jacket
This jacket itself does a good job of maintaining warmth, but it also has room for layering if needed.
It comes in six color options including white, green, and terracotta.
The oversized logo on the hood may not appeal to everyone.
If you're looking for a jacket that'll keep you dry while looking fashionable, the Helly Hansen Women’s Long Belfast Jacket is a solid option. It comes in six different colors and a wide range of size options, including plus sizes, and has a structured silhouette that frames the body so well it looks custom-made. You won't find any fancy bells and whistles with this jacket, but its simple design is what makes it so appealing for strolling in the city.
In terms of performance, the jacket ranked high. We loved how well the rain jacket repelled the water when we were standing in the middle of the makeshift kiddie pool. The water didn't absorb into the exterior fabric — it looked like it was sitting on top of the jacket. The hood was also noteworthy: It did a good job at covering our face and is adjustable with two fasteners located on either side. While the jacket doesn't feature any interior pockets, there are two side pockets by the hands and one more pocket on one side of the chest.
Price at time of publish: $122 (orig. $160)
Sizes: XS-5XL | Colors: 6 | Material: Polyester
Best Plus Size: Lands’ End Women's Plus Size Waterproof Hooded Packable Raincoat
The jacket has adequate insulation to keep you warm on cold days.
The adjustable drawstring cord on the waist makes it easy to layer underneath.
There is a mesh lining inside of the jacket that adds a small layer of breathability.
While the hood has adjustable drawstrings, it doesn't extend past the hairline and therefore doesn't provide much protection from the rain.
Those living in a rainy climate will appreciate the insulation this jacket has and the warmth it provides. During the water test, we noted that the water from the dropper beaded up incredibly well and the inside remained dry. And, because the jacket has a longer length, it was able to keep us completely dry. The jacket has a dual closure with a zipper and buttons, all of which are covered and unexposed for a more streamlined look. However, while the hood has adjustable drawstrings, it doesn’t extend past the hairline so the protection it offers is limited.
Along the interior of the jacket at the waist is a drawstring cord, making it possible to add multiple layers underneath or cinch it tighter if the day calls for a more fitted look. It also has a mesh lining that adds an element of breathability. Overall, the jacket is the ideal balance of being lightweight and easy to move around in yet thick enough to provide warmth when it's raining.
Price at time of publish: $116 (orig. $129.95)
Sizes: 1X-3X | Colors: 6 | Material: Polyester
Best Waterproof: Outdoor Research Women's Aspire II GORE-TEX Jacket
The hood and collar are very protective.
The jacket has a lightweight, second-skin-like feel.
This has side zippers for ample ventilation.
It's expensive, so if you don't plan on wearing it often, it might not be worth it.
Whether sprayed, dropped, or showered on, water slid right off of this rain jacket as if it were solid matter during our tests. Every inch of this raincoat is waterproof and there was minimal collection of water droplets along the zipper. What's more, not a drop of water reached the inside of the jacket at any point throughout the test, making it ideal for drizzly hikes and torrential downpours alike.
The jacket displayed a strong and well-shaped design but with a comfortable, soft-to-skin texture. It has a protective hood and collar as well as side zippers for breathability. We love that it is fitting for all seasons, yet doesn’t feel constricting. It was also lightweight and easy to fold, making it great for spring or fall time. In fact, we’ll probably wear this coat regularly because of how comfortable it is. It is on the pricy side, but for a multi-season jacket, it’s a good value.
Price at time of publish: $225
Sizes: XS-4X | Colors: 13 | Material: 2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE textile
Best Lightweight: Marmot PreCip Women's Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
Unlike some of the other rain jackets, this one can be machine-washed.
The hood can be stored inside the collar when not needed.
This can be folded and packed into itself, which makes it convenient for traveling.
The zippers can be finicky.
When the Marmot Women's Precip Waterproof Rain Jacket is involved, there's no chance rain will seep in. The water beaded up instantly upon touching the jacket, and even after the durable water-repellant test was complete, the beads on the jacket maintained their shape and not a single one was absorbed. There are several protective features in place, such as an extended collar that guards the chin, taped seams along the jacket closure, and an adjustable hood that easily rolls up and can be tucked into the hood when not in use (then rolled back out once the rain starts up again). The jacket itself can also be folded and packed into itself so it’s easy to pack in a smaller bag.
The side venting offers a more personalized fit, and the jacket overall has a lightweight, comfortable, and flexible construction. While the jacket itself wasn't super warm, there was plenty of space to add additional layers underneath. It’s also machine washable so you can easily keep it fresh and clean. One thing to note, the zippers can become finicky and stick at times.
Price at time of publish: $95.40
Sizes: XS-XXL | Colors: 15 | Material: 100% nylon
Best Investment: Outdoor Research Women's Aspire Super Stretch Jacket
It has long side vents for maximum ventilation.
The jacket's pocket has a hidden clip for your keys.
It has several features that make it great for athletic use, like stretch panels, adjustable cuffs, and a full-coverage hood.
The color selection is limited.
The Outdoor Research Women's Aspire Super Stretch Jacket is a piece worth investing in if you're a hiker, climber, or otherwise outdoor enthusiast. For one, it proved its waterproofing capability during the water test. We were impressed to see the water beads essentially remain unchanged as they hit the jacket — the water beads fell along the jacket, looking as though none of the water was absorbed. The jacket also features stretch panels that allow you to move, walk, and climb without feeling constricted, as well as long side vents that run from the top of the underarm to the jacket's hem for times you need to let in some air. Plus, the cuffs are adjustable, meaning they can be made bigger to accommodate gloves.
While limited in color selection, the jacket feels extremely lightweight and is made of high-quality material. We found that when you put the jacket on you immediately feel as though it will provide water protection as well as breathability for any athletic use.
Price at time of publish: $300
Sizes: XS-XXL | Colors: 4 | Material: GORE-TEX with stretch technology 2L, 37% nylon, 44% polyester, 19% elastane panels
Other Women's Rain Jackets We Tried
Cole Haan Women's Packable Hooded Rain Jacket with Bow: If you're looking for a lightweight, everyday raincoat with a fitted style, this one is a great choice. The longer length offers more coverage while the hood has an adjustable drawstring on each side to provide ample protection for your head and hair. Though this didn't pass the water test and wouldn't be suitable for considerable rain, it can handle light drizzles. Plus, it comes with a pouch that it easily folds into.
LOMON Raincoat Women Waterproof Long Hooded Trench Coat: This $45 rain jacket felt slightly damp after the water test, but what it lacks in waterproofing it makes up for in design. It comes in several different colors, from blue to yellow, and sits at the thigh to add more warmth. It also has an interior cincher to give it a tighter fit — great for lightly breezy days when you don't plan on layering.
Rains Long Jacket: This $125 jacket did a decent job at keeping water out, save for some flecks of water sitting at the bottom of the coat after shaking. It's considerably lightweight for how heavy-duty it is, plus it features two venting holes on the inner lining of the back of the jacket. Keep in mind, that there are no zippers on the jacket — instead, there are metal buttons, which caused some water to fall in between the gaps during our tests.
Stio Lupine Hooded Jacket: With varying scores during the water test, this $199 rain jacket traps warmth with a long drop hem and closed cuffs. The jacket is quite bulky and isn't the most packable, but it offers enough space to add additional layers underneath.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Women's Rain Jacket
One thing you should consider when buying a women's rain jacket is what its intended use will be. "There are rain jackets that are meant to withstand hours of rain, which are, on average, more expensive, heavier, and less packable," says Charlie Berg, Senior Product Manager of Outdoor Research. "If you're going to buy a rain jacket for traveling, it might be more important for the jacket to be lightweight, packable, and provide enough protection for the amount of time that you plan on being in the rain."
We love the 33,000 ft. Packable Rain Jacket for travel: It’s lightweight, waterproof, and comes with its own drawstring bag. The same goes for outdoor activities like hiking. "If you're hiking in a location that is incredibly wet and you're going to get rained on a lot, then you may prioritize that extreme level of protection as opposed to weight or packability," said Berg. "On the other hand, if you're hiking in a place where you're probably not going to encounter long periods of drenching rain, you might choose a jacket that is lighter, easier to carry around, and less expensive." Our pick for the best active rain jacket, the Kühl Stretch Voyager Jacket, has a good amount of stretch, reflective trim, and a watertight two-way zipper.
Women’s rain jackets are offered in three different basic material types, which are described as the number of layers that make up the shell. All-rain fabrics, or true waterproof fabrics, have at least two layers of fabric: an outer shell fabric, which is usually a woven polyester or nylon face that sheds water, and a second layer of a waterproof film or coating, which will always be invisible from the outside, says Berg.
There are also two-layer rain jackets, which Berg says tend to be a bit more bulky, affordable, and quite comfortable for everyday, basic use when you're not too concerned with packability and weight. Within this category of jackets are two-and-a-half-layer rain jackets, which tend to be lightweight, adequately protective, and a good option for hiking or as a travel rain jacket. "You'll be able to see the interior membrane or coating, but there will be a print on top of it that keeps the waterproof membrane off your skin for a more comfortable wear," says Berg.
Finally, on the more premium side of things is the three-layer rain jacket, which has an additional backer fabric on the inside covering and a waterproof membrane. Most three-layer style jackets are bulky, but they provide maximum coverage and water repellency.
Generally speaking, women’s rain jackets with the highest levels of protection are going to be more expensive. According to Patrick Kenger, a personal stylist and image consultant, budget options typically won't have the same level of waterproofing and will be less comfortable than a more expensive rain jacket. "These types of jackets may work short-term if you don't often go out in heavy weather, but otherwise, you'll want to look at a more premium option, as they'll include better materials and sealing, and can be a piece you'll be able to keep around long-term," he says. When purchasing, it helps to think about the frequency of use and use that to gauge price.
How We Tested
Our PEOPLE Tested team put 23 women's rain jackets through extensive testing. For each of them, we looked at durability, comfort, design, and warmth, eventually narrowing it down to 10 that stood out from the rest.
Design: To start, we had our testers wear a dark gray T-shirt and clothes that they were okay with getting wet. Testers then put the rain jacket on and zipped it closed, examining the jacket’s level of comfort as well as its design features such as zippers, pockets, venting, hood, and any adjustable components.
Breathability: While wearing the rain jacket with the zipper closed, our testers performed 10 jumping jacks to test its breathability, evaluating whether it would be best for high-intensity activities like running or hiking — or only for fashion wear.
Waterproofing: To check the jacket's DWR (Durable Water Repellent), our testers took off the rain jacket and laid it completely flat on a table. They sprayed the jacket with a spray bottle three times and used a dropper to pour two milliliters of water onto the jacket. The testers looked for whether or not the water formed beads on the jacket. They let the water beads sit for five minutes, taking note of their shape and whether or not they absorbed into the fabric at any point.
Performance: Our testers then put the jacket back on and placed two paper towels under the shoulders of the jacket. They stepped into a kiddie pool and stood under a watering can or portable shower for 30 seconds to test if water reached the inside of the jacket and if the hood sufficiently covered and protected their head and face from the water.
Extended Performance: Finally, our testers were instructed to keep the jacket on for five minutes after the "shower," evaluating whether or not water absorbed into the exterior and interior fabrics at any point. After five minutes, they unzipped and opened the rain jacket and looked at the paper towel and T-shirt underneath to note if there were any water spots on either.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which raincoat is best for heavy rain?
Hardshell jackets are a good option for heavy rain, as they're made with a waterproof membrane bonded to the fabric and typically come with features like taped seams and storm flaps, making them able to withstand extreme weather conditions. Kenger says to also look for special features that'll help keep you dry, like a removable hood to protect your head, elastic cuffs, and a longer length to protect your pants from splashes of water.
What is the best waterproof rating for a jacket?
"The waterproof rating you choose is largely subjective to your needs and frequency of use," says Kenger. Waterproof ratings are measured in millimeters (mm) and indicate how much water pressure the fabric can withstand before it starts to leak.
For everyday rain showers, a jacket with a rating of 5,000mm to 10,000mm should suffice. However, if you expect heavy rain or plan to engage in outdoor activities in prolonged downpours, consider a jacket with a rating of 15,000mm or higher. Keep in mind that higher ratings often come with a higher price tag, so it's essential to balance your needs with your budget.
Is GORE-TEX a good rain jacket fabric?
According to Berg, GORE-TEX is a well-known brand in waterproof fabrics and does an excellent job of offering full protection. Specifically, GORE-TEX PACLITE fabric is similar to a two-and-a-half layer material in that it's a lightweight but still quite protective fabric, says Berg.
Our pick for the best waterproof jacket — the Outdoor Research Women's Aspire II GORE-TEX® Jacket — is made with GORE-TEX PACLITE. While not an inexpensive option, it's less expensive than three-layer GORE-TEX fabric and some other non-branded three-layer fabrics, making it a good hoice for hiking and travel as well as situations where people want both a high level of protection and a non-bulky garment, says Berg.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
This article was written by Michelle Rostamian, a freelance writer for PEOPLE. Michelle consulted lab testing insights where our team put the women’s rain jackets through a series of challenges to see how they held up.
Meet Our Experts
Charlie Berg, Senior Product Manager of Outdoor Research, an outdoor gear retailer
Patrick Kenger, personal stylist and image consultant, specializing in bringing style to those looking to gain confidence and save money
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.