If you've ever been on a backpacking trip where it started raining midway through and you spent three days soaked to the bone, you know how important it is to bring a good rain coat. That said, you'll need a different style of jacket for backpacking than you would for regular hiking. While day-trekking coats can be thick and heavy with plenty of extra features, the best rain jackets for backpacking need to be less cumbersome. There are two distinguishing factors that set them apart:
First, they need to be lightweight. This may seem obvious, but it's hard to overstate how important it is that your jacket not weigh too much. Every ounce counts when you're backpacking — especially on longer, more technical trips that require a lot of gear. You want a jacket that forgoes some of bells and whistles in favor of a more minimalist design.
Secondly, they need to be compact. Unless you're trekking through the Amazon rainforest, you're probably not going to wear your jacket the whole time. That means that it will spend part of the trip in your backpack, so it needs to be able to pack down tightly and not take up too much space. It's also helpful if it comes with a carrying pouch or stuff sack.
With those factors in mind, check out this list of the best backpacking rain jackets. I've tried several of them out myself and researched the others in depth, so they are all vouched for.