These lightweight, breathable rain jackets will keep you dry in any weather
Nopphon_1987 / Shutterstock
There’s a time and place for a classic yellow raincoat, but in most cases, that place is in the past. Long gone are the days of bulky, sweaty rain jackets with their sheen of rubbery exterior. Today, waterproofing technology and clever design have made the best lightweight rain jackets comfortable, breathable, and easy to pack away.
When people talk about lightweight rain jackets, they're typically referring to a thin waterproof shell without any sort of heavy lining or insulation. Lightweight raincoats are usually made from waterproof, breathable fabrics that keep precipitation out without trapping sweat inside. This includes options like Gore-Tex, or similar proprietary textiles from outdoor apparel brands (such as Columbia's Omni-Tech), as well as fabrics treated with a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) coating, which causes water to bead and slide off the surface of your jacket. But waterproof fabric alone isn't always enough — that's why some of the best jackets out there also have sealed seams to keep moisture from seeping in where the jacket is weakest.
While waterproof, breathable fabric allows for decent airflow, you'll also want additional ventilation features if you're planning to wear your rain jacket for hiking or other outdoor activities where you might break a sweat. These features include airy mesh liners or the especially important zippered underarm vents, which allow you to release heat and moisture from your pit area when needed.
Finally, if you want a jacket you can shove in your pack while traveling or trekking, you'll be happy to know that many lightweight rain shells are designed to fold up compactly into a pocket or pouch.
But whatever your needs, your search for the best lightweight rain jacket ends here. Whether you need a jacket to wear around town, out on the trails, or during neighborhood runs, you'll find something below that fits your needs. (And while this list is broken up into men's and women's jackets, the only real difference between the two is the fit, so go with whatever feels comfortable).
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.