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.