When you have the right gear, hiking in the rain can be a lot of fun. But if your jacket isn’t fully waterproof, you’ll be miserable before you hit the first switchback. The problem is, waterproof jackets are often thick and bulky which can make them uncomfortable to hike in — not to mention too hot when you start working up a sweat. The best lightweight rain jackets for hiking should feel breezy and super comfy.
In order to achieve this, the first thing to look for is breathability. Hiking is hard work, and you don't want all your sweat to get trapped in your base layer. That said, the more waterproof a fabric is, the less breathable it becomes, so this can be a challenge. The key is to look for fabric blends, special weaves, and added coatings that help keep you dry.
The other main consideration is warmth. The ideal level of warmth will depend on what type of hiking you’ll be doing and in what climate. If you’re going to be trekking straight uphill for 8 miles, you won’t want thick fleece or warm liners. In those scenarios, you’ll want something extremely lightweight that's no more than a thin shell to block water. If you’re taking a casual stroll through the woods, on the other hand, you might want more insulation. Think about the type of hiking you’ll be doing before making a decision.
Other considerations include packability (can you stuff it into a pocket or backpack?), hood style (do you prefer a hood that tucks away into the collar or one that detaches completely?), length, pockets, zippers, and the specific style or cut. Whatever your needs may be, the best lightweight rain jackets for hiking will help get you ready for your next wet-weather adventure.