One of the biggest challenges with rain gear is finding something that's breathable but also fully waterproof. These two qualities are often at odds because it's difficult to create apparel that keeps water out while letting air in. That said, there are indeed jackets that do both — you just need to pay extra close attention to the details. The best breathable rain jackets usually have three main things in common:
- Breathable fabric: Typically, breathable fabrics are made with a blend of materials that block rain while simultaneously allowing moisture (aka your sweat) to escape. Unlike the rubbery rain gear you wore as a kid, modern raincoats let air fully permeate the fabric. A high-quality mix of materials like nylon, polyester, and spandex will be your best bet.
- Ventilation: With rain jackets, ventilation is often as important as the fabric itself. The most breathable jackets usually have features like panels or special zippers that let in air at the armpits, sides, or other key areas.
- Mesh liners: The insides of breathable rainwear often showcase mesh liners that create natural air pockets between the jacket and your skin. This allows air to circulate and helps keep you cool.
On top of these breathability features, you'll want to make sure your coat has standard waterproofing features, such as fully taped seams, a special DWR coating, adjustable drawcords, VELCRO storm flaps, and a rain hood.
With all of this in mind, here are the best breathable rain jackets in a variety of styles.
1. The Best Overall
What's great about it: If you're looking for the perfect combination of lightweight and breathable, this women's rain jacket a fantastic choice for many reasons. It features a special material called DryVent that blocks wind and water while still staying well-ventilated. On top of that, it's built with zippers in the armpits for added cooling, plus a velcro storm flap that runs the length of the front zipper to prevent moisture from leaking in. With hundreds of five-star reviews, fans say it keeps them dry without making them hot and sweaty.
What fans say: "Stand outside for 10 hours in the rain, take a shower, go swimming. With this on, water doesnt stand a chance! Neither does sweat with all of the ventilation for breathability! Breathing??? WATER!?!? These two things dont mix right?!?! WRONG!!! They do with this jacket!!!!"
- Available sizes: X-Small to XXX-Large
2. The Most Lightweight
What's great about it: Whether you're planning an ultra-lightweight backpacking trip or you simply don't like lugging around extra weight when you walk around town, this breezy women's raincoat is designed to be lightweight and bulk-free. Consisting of a simple nylon shell, it weighs only 5.5 ounces and is free of cumbersome pockets, pouches, and liners. There's a chest zipper that allows you to carry a key or some cash, but it doesn't have any hand pockets — a design that keeps the jacket light and compact. It's made with a high-performance fabric called Pertex Shield that's 100 percent waterproof and extra breathable. On top of that, it has fully taped seams and an adjustable hood.
What fans say: "Light weight. Portable. This is the best rain jacket I've ever owned."
- Available sizes: X-Small to X-Large
3. The Most Waterproof
What's great about it: This popular women's rain coat isn't the number one most breathable jacket — however, if you're heading to an extra wet climate, it may be worth the sacrifice, as it blocks moisture better than many options while still offering decent ventilation. With nearly 3,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.3-star rating, it has a virtual cult following on Amazon. Made with a tough, nylon exterior, fans say it keeps them from getting soaked in heavy rainstorms and that it's super compact (with a clever design that allows it to tuck away into one of the pockets). It has a special panel in the back to make it extra breathable, and it comes in a wide selection of colors, too.
What fans say: "Exactly what I was looking for. I needed a plus size jacket that would protect me from the rain. I was going on a 96 mile hike through the Scottish Highlands and, let me tell you, it rains a lot there. This jacket succeeded in keeping me perfectly dry throughout the highlands and the Isle of Skye (where it rained.... ALOT)."
- Available sizes: X-Small to XXX-Large
4. The Best Around-Town Jacket
What's great about it: Perfect for running errands during the day or going out with friends at night, this versatile women's rain jacket can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. It features a mesh liner on the inside that allows it to breathe and a polyester-spandex blend on the outside that makes it waterproof and slightly stretchy, too. It's soft and comfortable with all of the weather protection you need, plus some extra style to boot.
What fans say: "It's warm and the exterior isn't plasticky at all. It has a softer feel and is thick. The design makes it very breathable. The band around the waist provides a nice hour glass shape and the length is great for someone who is shorter ... The hood is large and covers so when it rains I can pull it forward on my head so that my hair and face stays dry. This is a well thought out design."
- Available sizes: Small to XX-Large
5. The Best For Hiking
What's great about it: If you're going to be hiking in the woods or partaking in other outdoor adventures like camping or backpacking, the Marmot PreCip jacket is a great choice to keep you dry. Constructed with sturdy polyester, the jacket boasts Marmot's advanced "NanoPro" waterproofing technology, meaning it has the ability to keep blocking water as your movement increases. Not only that, but it has VELCRO cuffs, sealed seams, and a smooth draw-cord hood, too. I have this jacket myself, and one of the things that I love is that it's thicker than other coats but not in a way that's heavy or bulky. It just feels durable and solid, like something that will protect you if you lean against a rough tree or hike through thorny branches. On top of all that, it's available in 16 color choices.
What fans say: "I love this jacket. Waterproof, breathable, and comfortable. Held up to an entire week of rain on a spring vacation in the northeast. Folds up into itself. Used it while hiking the full loop at Mt. Lafayette in NH. I was impressed with [its] comfort. A lot of these types of jackets make your skin feel clammy when you wear them during endurance activities. This one did not."
- Available sizes: X-Small to XX-Large
6. The Best For Cardio
What's great about it: This lightweight women's rain coat is made for cyclists, so it's exceptionally breathable and perfect for high-intensity athletics, such as running or aerobics. It has a silky mesh lining that's great for increasing airflow and maintaining a ventilated channel between your skin and the outer-layer of the jacket. The exterior material isn't noted, but it's touted as being superbly waterproof, and it's highly reflective, too, so you can stay safe if you ride at night. Additionally, the jacket has strategic air vents in crucial areas (i.e. on the chest, shoulders, and armpits), which provide stellar temperature regulation. Just note this brand tends to run small, so you may want to order a size or two up.
What fans say: "Good for cool weather. Thicker fabric than you can put in a bikers back pouch"
- Available sizes: 2 to 12
7. The Best Budget Option
What's great about it: At $20, this isn't going to be the most long-lasting jacket or the most waterproof. Still, for the exceptionally low price, this Zeagoo packable windbreaker is a great budget choice that reviewers adore, saying that it performs surprisingly well given the low cost. It's made with a poly-spandex blend that's flexible and water-resistant, and it also features a sleek hood and packable design. It is lightweight, compact, and quick-drying. Plus, it comes in a large selection of colors.
What fans say: "I bought this jacket for a marathon I am running in DC in March and it is the perfect jacket for just that. It is lightweight and breathable but also warm enough to keep me warm during a ~40 degree race. The jacket is inexpensive enough that I will not feel guilty shedding it during the race but its quality and material make me hope that I do not need to [lose] it during the day of."
- Available sizes: X-Small to XX-Large
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