Best Running Rain Jackets of 2023

After four seasons and a year of testing, here’s our guide to the best running rain jackets on the market today.

By , , and on September 22, 2023 | Comments
Best Running Rain Jacket - Testing rain jackets in aspen trees

Ben Kilbourne runs away from the rain while testing rain jackets in Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

When you want to be able to get out and run when the sky is releasing moisture, finding the best running rain jacket for your conditions can make your run much more pleasant. As far as athletes go, we runners aren’t usually known for our fair-weather tendencies. We still get out there when the raindrops start to fall — and when the going gets tough, we keep going. While splashing through some puddles or weathering a drizzle on a short run may not be a big deal, extended wet weather on a long run can range from simply uncomfortable to downright dangerous in cooler temperatures.

After researching the seemingly endless list of rain jackets on the market, we took the most promising out for testing to narrow our final list to what we found to be the best rain jackets for running. The team at iRunFar tested these running rain jackets in some seriously wet conditions, from desert downpours to drizzle in the Pacific Northwest to summertime storms in Colorado’s San Juan mountains, to determine the best options for rainy adventures. Our team consists of professional and recreational ultra and trail runners who aren’t afraid to get out when others stay inside. We took these jackets through the worst weather conditions to see which kept us dry and left us soaked and sprinting for home, shivering.

We wanted to determine the best rain jackets for running and categorized them into great overall and excellent ultralight ones to help you search for the right jacket for your needs and budget.

See our buying advice, testing methodology, and frequently asked questions below for more background information. If you’re looking for a windbreaker jacket instead, check out our best running windbreaker jackets guide.

Best Running Rain Jackets

Best Overall Running Rain Jacket: The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket

Best Running Rain Jacket – Runner-Up: Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket

Best of the Rest Running Rain Jackets: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket and Montbell Versalite Jacket

Best Ultralight Running Rain Jacket: Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket

Best Running Rain Jacket - running in the desert

Rain jackets can add extra warmth on cold morning runs. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Overall Running Rain Jacket: The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket ($290)

Best Running Rain Jackets - The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket - product photo


  • Excellent breathability
  • Good protection from rain and snow
  • Quiet material for less noise on the trails


  • Heavier than others tested
  • Very expensive

When it comes to a jacket that can handle long, bad-weather days in both rain and snow, The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket is a top choice amongst our testing team. This three-layer jacket’s combination of The North Face’s Futurelight 3L material, fully taped seams, and an external durable water repellent (DWR)-treated nylon layer kept rain and snow out and was one of our top performers in breathability.

An adjustable hood and hem help to dial in fit and keep the weather out. The wrist cuffs, which are cut to go over the back of the hand a bit, add even more protection. We also found this material to be nice and quiet when in motion.

This jacket has an internal mesh pocket for storing small items, and we found it easily accessible while on the go. Interestingly, the inner pocket is on the right side of the chest in the men’s version and at the low left hem on the women’s version. The bottom cinch cord makes it easy to dial in this jacket’s fit and level of protection.

One tradeoff for this jacket’s all-day level of protection is its weight. It is one of the heaviest we tested, though it is lighter than the previous version of this jacket, The North Face Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket.

You can read more about this jacket’s predecessor at our The North Face Lightriser Futurelight Waterproof Jacket review. When it comes to most of the features, it’s almost an identical jacket.

Actual Weight (men’s medium): 226 grams (8.3 ounces) | Material: The North Face Futurelight 3L waterproof membrane | Construction: 3 layers

Shop the The North Face Men's Summit Series Superior Futurelight JacketShop the The North Face Women's Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket

Best Running Rain Jacket – Runner-Up: Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket ($219)

Best Running Rain Jacket - Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket - product photo


  • Quiet fabric
  • Waterproof yet reasonably breathable
  • Fewer seams for potential moisture entry


  • Separate stuff sack could be easy to misplace
  • Not as breathable as some other jackets tested

The Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket is a feature-filled jacket that earned high marks from our testers for its waterproofness and breathability. Montbell built this jacket using a single piece of fabric. This unique K-Mono Cut design reduces both weight and the number of seams for better protection from the elements. Any seams are fully sealed to prevent moisture entry.

The Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper waterproof membrane is paired with a 20-denier nylon outer with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating to create a lightweight yet protective two-layer jacket that our testers found functions well on both rainy days and in winter snowstorms. Multiple adjustment points on the hood, cuffs, and hem allow for a customizable fit to optimize comfort and better protect from wet weather.

Additional features include a water-resistant zipper, hook-and-loop closures to secure the hood when not in use, and a sewing pattern that allows for arm range of motion without pulling on the body of the jacket. We found this fabric to be quiet while moving, a bonus for those who get annoyed by the incessant crinkling and swishing sounds that many rain jackets make during a run.

We found the sizing adequate for layering and wearing a small pack underneath, but you will likely need to size up for bulkier layers or a larger loaded pack. Two waterproof external pockets on the chest can accommodate small items for easy access. The jacket also has a separate stuff sack for storing it on the go.

Actual Weight (men’s medium): 201 grams (7 ounces) | Material: Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper | Construction: 2 layers

Shop the Men's Montbell Rain Trekker JacketShop the Women's Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket

Best of the Rest Running Rain Jacket: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket ($170)

Best Running Rain Jackets - Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket - product photo


  • Lightweight and easily packable
  • Nice features for the price make it a good value
  • The hood is the best we tested


  • It can feel muggy in warmer temperatures due to less breathability
  • Zipper can be fragile
  • Will soak through in heavy and continuous rain

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is a lightweight, waterproof jacket that packs a lot of punch for its price point. While it certainly isn’t inexpensive, the number of features and protection it offers make it well worth the investment. This is a 2.5-layer jacket featuring a Pertex Shield waterproof membrane coupled with a 30-denier nylon outer to provide water protection in a very lightweight package. It has fully taped seams, a water-resistant zipper, and an adjustable hem and hood. The zipper is tiny and needs to be zipped with care to not damage it. This jacket’s hood was our favorite, with plenty of volume to accommodate a winter hat, brimmed hat, or large ponytail. An adjustable bungee kept it in place when the rain and wind hit.

The single zip pocket on this jacket also serves as a stuff sack for storing the jacket when not in use. The somewhat relaxed fit allows for some layering, but it’s not so loose that it flaps around while on the move. We recommend sizing up to accommodate thicker layers or a hydration pack underneath. The jacket is less breathable than others we tested and felt a little muggy on warmer runs. Our long-term testers found that the jacket became less waterproof with extended use and would start letting water through during longer stints in heavy rain. But for its weight and price, it performs exceptionally.

Actual Weight (men’s medium): 178 grams (6.3 ounces) | Material: Pertex Shield | Construction: 2.5 layers

Shop the Men's Outdoor Research Helium Rain JacketShop the Women's Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Best of the Rest Running Rain Jacket: Montbell Versalite Jacket ($249)Best Running Rain Jacket - Montbell Versalite Jacket - product photo


  • Pit zips provide ventilation and heat management
  • Lightweight with excellent waterproofness
  • Reduced number of seams


  • Lighter-weight nylon outer may prove less durable
  • Outer material is louder than others tested

The Montbell Versalite Jacket is another excellent offering from the Japanese company. This jacket shares many features with the overall winner we reviewed above, the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket. These include the fully sealed seams, adjustable hood, hem, and cuffs, articulated arm design, water-resistant zippers, pocket configuration, stuff sack, and the seam-reducing K-Mono Cut design.

While there are many similarities between the two jackets, several features make this one stand out. The jacket uses the same Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper waterproof membrane but with a lighter 10-denier durable water repellent (DWR)-coated nylon outer. This reduces the weight, but we did notice that the outer material was a little louder and crinklier. The 10-denier nylon does raise a question about long-term durability, but our testers have not yet encountered any issues after months of testing.

The large pit zips make this jacket stand out from others that we tested and are a feature that seems to be rare amongst running jackets. They provide exceptional venting and can help with temperature control as conditions change. They also make this jacket an excellent option for runners needing full waterproof coverage in warmer climates or running a bit hot.

Actual Weight (men’s medium): 188 grams (6.6 ounces) | Material: Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper | Construction: 2 layers

Shop the Men's Montbell Versalite JacketShop the Women's Montbell Versalite Jacket

Best Ultralight Running Rain Jacket: Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket ($215)

Best Running Rain Jacket - Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket - product photo


  • Very lightweight and packable
  • Material has some stretch for comfort and ease of movement
  • Stuff sack included for packing


  • Slim fit is more challenging to get on and off and does not accommodate many layers or a pack underneath
  • Material is noisy when moving

The Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket is an anorak-style waterproof jacket that topped our list for its impressively light weight and breathability. The jacket features a 2.5-layer construction with a Pertex Shield waterproof membrane, and the seams are fully taped for maximum protection. To save weight, this ultralight jacket skips bungees on the hood, cuffs, and hem and lacks adjustability. It also doesn’t have any pockets. The water-resistant zipper was smooth and moved well with no catching. The material has some stretch, which makes it comfortable on the move. Its slimmer profile and tighter fit, while useful for keeping the jacket from shifting or flapping, make it more challenging to take on and off quickly while running. You’ll want to size up if you wear heavier layers or a pack underneath it. Additionally, we found the material of this jacket to be much louder than some of its counterparts, which can be distracting out on the trail.

Read our in-depth Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket review.

Actual Weight (men’s medium): 96 grams (3.4 ounces) | Material: Pertex Shield | Construction: 2.5 layers

Shop the Men's Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On JacketShop the Women's Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket

Running Rain Jackets Glossary

The technology that goes into high-quality waterproof outdoor gear, such as running rain jackets, is impressive — and can get confusing! We share some definitions for common waterproof gear terms to help clarify their meanings.

  • Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Coating: A coating applied to fabric that causes water to bead up on the surface and roll off, keeping it from soaking into the material. Due to environmental concerns, DWR coatings are historically fluoropolymer-based, though many companies are working toward using non-perfluorinated chemicals (non-PFC).
  • Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR): A laboratory testing method to measure a material’s breathability by the amount of moisture vapor (our sweat) that can pass through the fabric. It is measured in grams of vapor per square meter of fabric per 24 hours. The higher the number, the more breathable the material. A moderate breathability rating starts at around 10,000 g/m2.
  • Resistance to Evaporative Heat Loss (RET): Another measure of the breathability of material that measures the material’s resistance to water vapor. The lower the resistance, the more vapor can pass through. The lower the RET, the more breathable the material and a rating of less than 13 is considered good breathability during activity.
  • Hydrostatic Head Test: A laboratory test to quantify the waterproofness of a material. Material is stretched over the end of a one-inch diameter tube, and a column of water, measured in millimeters, is added to the tube and observed for 24 hours. The rating measures how many millimeters of water a fabric can hold and is measured in millimeters of water pressure before it soaks through. The water height at which the water seeps through the fabric is called the hydrostatic head. The higher the number, the more waterproof the material, with the lower end of waterproof jackets starting at around 10,000 millimeters.
  • Schmerber Unit: Another name for the hydrostatic head waterproofness measure named for Charles Edouard Schmerber, who created the hydrostatic head test.
  • Waterproof Membrane: A synthetic material membrane that blocks and repels water. It is usually bonded or layered with an outer material layer and/or inner liner to create a waterproof jacket. Common brands include Gore-Tex, eVent, Polartec Neoshell, and Pertex.
  • Denier: Measurement of the thickness of a material’s fiber. A higher denier denotes a thicker and often more durable fiber.
  • Wetting Out: The point at which the amount or pressure of water overwhelms the waterproof capability of a jacket material.
Best Running Rain Jacket - Montbell Versalite Jacket - testing in Utah

The Montbell Versalite Jacket is an excellent running rain jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Running Rain Jacket


Just like any other piece of clothing, fit is the most important aspect of a jacket and is subjective from person to person. Do you want something that fits a bit tighter or a jacket that you can wear with layers underneath? The fit and coverage for rain jackets should prevent moisture from getting in due to movements such as bending over or moving your head around.

Accommodating a pack is another consideration when choosing your jacket. Some runners prefer to wear a jacket under their pack, while others would rather wear it over their pack to keep gear dry and make it quicker and easier to take on and off. Some jackets are specifically sized for a pack underneath, but most will require sizing up to do this.

The best rain jacket for running will cover your wrists well and stay below your waistline when you raise your arms. Some jackets, such as the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket, have elastic cords that allow for some cinching of the hem, cuffs, and hood to keep them securely in place and help provide a more custom fit. A jacket should also have enough room in the shoulders or adequate stretch in the material to allow for full range of arm motion when running, including reaching for things in your pack, scrambling on technical trails, or just bending over to tie your shoe.

An important thing to remember when considering fit for a rain jacket is that some waterproof options, like the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket, don’t have much stretch or give to the materials, so this is an item of clothing you may want to size up on to allow for freedom of movement and layering.

Best Running Rain Jacket - Montbell Versalite Jacket - pit-zips close up

We love the pit zips on the Montbell Versalite Jacket, which is an excellent running rain jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant

The waterproof protection offered by running jackets varies from repelling a few sprinkles to keeping out a monsoon. A water-resistant jacket will protect from a brief shower with the help of a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. While water-resistant jackets are lightweight and packable, they will not keep you dry in extended wet weather, as the underlying materials are not waterproof themselves, and persistent rain will overwhelm the DWR. You can check out our running windbreaker jacket guide for some great examples of lightweight, water-resistant running jackets.

Waterproof jackets can repel water from their surface and prevent water from seeping into and soaking through the fabric. These will keep you dry during prolonged wet conditions, such as a long, soaking rain or wet snowfall.

Waterproof jackets are often composed of multiple layers of materials that repel and shed moisture and often include a DWR coating. Additional protection is also built into vulnerable areas, such as openings around the neck, hood, wrists, and zippers and seams. For true protection from the elements, a waterproof jacket is the piece of gear you will need. All of the features of The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket, including its waterproof qualities, led us to name it the best running rain jacket.


The primary purpose of a rain jacket is to keep you dry. However, the tradeoff for this is often breathability. The best running rain jackets have come a long way from plastic bag-like ponchos, and many offer excellent moisture protection and breathability. The conditions in which you will be using your jacket can inform the balance of these two features you choose. For brief showers in warm climates, you can sacrifice a little waterproof capability for more breathability, whereas you may want to prioritize waterproofness in an all-day soaker with temperatures hovering just above freezing. The Montbell Versalite Jacket has pit zips to increase its breathability without sacrificing the waterproofness of the jacket material and is an excellent option for running in changing or warmer but wet conditions.

Best Running Rain Jacket - Testing rain jackets in Colorado 2

Hallie Taylor, Ben Kilbourne, and Easy the Dog test rain jackets on a stormy spring day in Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Waterproof jackets improve their breathability by using fabric with permeable membranes that have microscopic holes big enough to let water vapor from your body escape but small enough to block water droplets from the outside. This technology comes at a premium, though. Generally, the more lightweight and breathable a waterproof jacket is, the higher the price tag. A pricey jacket with all the bells and whistles may not make sense for everyone, but if you are spending hours running in a cold and soaking rain, the combination of good breathability and waterproof capability can quite literally be a lifesaver.

Some laboratory values quantify a jacket’s breathability — see our answer to the frequently asked question of “How is breathability measured?” below. These measures give a reference point for the objective breathability of a material, but as with many types of technology that are analyzed in a lab, real-world performance doesn’t always agree. Real-world breathability can depend on several external factors, like temperature, humidity, or a person’s sweat rate.


Staying dry when the wet weather rolls in is why you are looking for the best running rain jacket. As we mentioned above, how a rain jacket provides waterproof protection will vary from brand to brand, but generally is a waterproof membrane — such as Gore-Tex, eVent, or Pertex — that is layered with other fabrics.

A rain jacket is often described as having either two, 2.5, or three layers. In a two-layer jacket, such as the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket and Montbell Versalite Jacket, an outer layer of durable water repellent (DWR)-coated nylon is layered or bonded to a waterproof membrane, such as Gore-Tex or similar.

A 2.5-layer jacket, such as our ultralight winner, the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, adds a coating on the innermost layer of the jacket to protect it from body oils, sweat, and other substances that can degrade the material. This coating is often called a half layer because it’s not a full material layer.

A three-layer jacket features the outer layer bonded to the waterproof membrane, with an additional full inner layer of material. A three-layer jacket will, in theory, give you the most protection from the elements but at an increased weight and with reduced breathability.

When choosing a running jacket, more is not always more when it comes to layers. Most of our top choices for this guide are two- or 2.5-layer jackets, and that’s because we have found them to have the balance of waterproofness and breathability that runners want.

In addition to the materials and layer structure of the jacket, additional features such as taped seams and water-resistant zippers add an extra layer of protection to keep you dry.

Best Running Rain Jacket - Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket - testing in Utah

The Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is one of the best running rain jackets we tested. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


There are several features to look for that enhance the fit and function of a quality waterproof jacket. While there are a whole host of bells and whistles that companies may tout to set their jackets apart from the rest, there are a few key features that we think are the most important to consider when shopping for an excellent running rain jacket.

  • Hood: First, a well-fitting hood is a must-have feature to keep rain and snow out. At the very least, the hood should include some elastic edging, like our top ultralight jacket, the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, to allow it to stretch around your head and face and stay in place while moving. A more full-featured jacket, such as the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket, will have additional adjustment points, usually in the form of elastic draw cords, on the front and back of a hood that will help to cinch it in place, adjust the brim, and allow the hood to follow your head movements. A built-in brim on a hood, like the one on the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket, will help to shed water and protect your face from the rain.
  • Taped Seams: Seams are an unavoidable weakness in any jacket’s waterproofness that can allow moisture to get in. Fully waterproof jackets remedy this problem with a layer of material, usually thermoplastic tape, that is bonded and heat-sealed over the seams on the jacket’s interior.
  • Zipper: Another potential moisture entry point on a jacket is the zipper. All the jackets featured in this buyer’s guide use water-resistant zippers that help seal out the elements. The technology in these zippers can cause some of them to move slower than a traditional fabric zipper, and some of the smaller zippers need to be handled with care.
  • Adjustment Points: In addition to the elastic adjustments on the hood discussed above, many jackets will also include an elastic cord on the hem or waist to allow the wearer to cinch the bottom of the jacket and dial in a secure fit. Cuffs are another adjustment point, with some jackets including an elastic cinch, thumb loop, or Velcro strap to tighten or secure the cuffs to avoid slipping or riding up with arm motion.
  • Pockets: Several of our top pick jackets have at least one pocket that can stash smaller items for easy access on the move. Your use of the jacket — wearing for extended periods versus a just-in-case packable layer for short rains — will help guide your desire for an outer pocket. Bear in mind that pockets add zippers, create more seams, and add extra weight. You’ll want to forego pockets if you are looking for a lightweight jacket. When pockets are included, they often serve as a built-in stuff sack for packing the jacket away.
Best Running Rain Jacket - Arcteryx rain jacket testing in Utah

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks tests an Arc’teryx rain jacket as a fall storm bears down on the desert around Moab, Utah. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


As material technology advances, so does the ability to have ultralight clothing. Men’s jackets, just by the nature of sizing and body mechanics, will be slightly heavier than women’s, but we can now measure that difference in grams rather than ounces. The more durable the material and the more bells and whistles, like pockets, zippers, and hoods, the heavier the jacket will be.

Our heaviest pick was the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket, weighing around 200 grams. For a real-life reference, this is about the weight of a cup of sugar. The ultralight Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket came in at around half that, but that lightweight package means you are giving up some convenience factors like adjustable bungees on the hood and hem.


We trail runners aren’t always known for traveling light. We always have something we need to stash, be it our keys, snacks, or headlamp, and we like our pockets! But as we’ve said, there’s a tradeoff: more storage results in a heavier jacket. If you’re on an adventure where you want a jacket with many pockets, you’re likely wearing something else with pockets, too, like a running pack, running shorts, or running belt.

Your rain jacket may be the one item where sacrificing storage and pockets is a wise choice. Storing items in a jacket will also up the bounce factor considerably and can create some issues with the fit, potentially creating gaps for water seepage. The Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket skips having pockets completely to alleviate the extra weight and potential problems caused by adding them.

Best Running Rain Jacket - filtering water

iRunFar Meghan Hicks wears a rain jacket for warmth while filtering water. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


Often, during a long event, a rain jacket is more of a just-in-case layer or is put on during a shower and taken off once the rain recedes. It is also part of the mandatory kit for several events. Your rain jacket will frequently just be taking a ride in your pack or waistbelt during a run, so it needs to be — you guessed it — packable.

Packability goes hand in hand with weight — usually, the lighter the jacket, the smaller it will pack down. Many of our top jacket picks have an internal pocket that the body of the jacket can roll into, producing a package no bigger than your fist that can easily be stuffed into a hydration pack. Others are a bit bulkier but provide increased insulation, waterproofing, and storage capacity. Those looking to shave as much weight and volume possible with a jacket will gravitate towards a lighter jacket, like the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, the lightest jacket we tested. But, if you’re headed out in conditions you know will be wet, you might want to take the weight penalty and take a more robust jacket, such as our top pick, The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket.

Best Running Rain Jacket - Dog rain jacket

Even Easy the Dog needs a good rain jacket. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi


You’ll likely have to layer your jacket over lighter layers, a hydration pack, or another jacket. In many situations, it often makes sense to size up to give you room to fit your jacket over cool weather layers. A little more breathing room also means putting your jacket on right over your pack, keeping your other gear dry, and making donning and doffing your outer layer quicker and easier. Slimmer-fitting jackets, like the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, must be sized up to add heavier layers underneath.

Why You Should Trust Us

Many members of the iRunFar team are based in the mountains, such as the San Juans of Colorado, or play in the high peaks of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, where some of the most unpredictable weather can occur. We’re used to sunny days turning to rain or a soft snowfall suddenly turning to a screaming sleet storm. We understand the importance of having a waterproof rain jacket that we can trust to perform when the weather worsens. We are committed to testing the best products out there in a variety of conditions so that you don’t have to suffer through the same trial and error out in the elements.

We started our testing process with market research: who is making the best product? We then polled our readers and iRunFar team members to choose the 20 or so rain jackets to test. What you see in this guide is the result of over one year of testing for all those jackets, where we ran them through winter snowstorms, cold dousers in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and high-altitude mountain west, humid rainstorms, desert soakers where wet sand coats all surfaces, and everything in between to find the best running rain jacket for any type of weather condition.

Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the running world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often keep using our top picks in our daily running … they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes, that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this — product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures — in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. When we update any buyer’s guide, most products will likely remain the same. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.

Best Running Rain Jacket - wearing a jacket on a chilly morning run

iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks tests jackets on a cold desert run. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Frequently Asked Questions About Running Rain Jackets

Do I need a fully waterproof rain jacket for running, or will water resistance be good enough?

This will largely depend on the climate in which you typically run. A warm-weather runner who might encounter an occasional shower can certainly get by with a lightweight, water-resistant jacket for those just-in-case moments.

For trail runners heading into the mountains or out for hours in constant rain and chilly temperatures, a fully waterproof jacket like the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket is needed for comfort and safety. The combination of cold air temperatures and wet skin creates a high-risk scenario for hypothermia, which can quickly become life-threatening. Having the proper layers to protect against these elements means you will comfortably enjoy your adventure — and make it home to talk about it.

In addition, many races, particularly those in mountainous terrain or in cold, wet climates, have mandatory kit lists that require a waterproof jacket to be carried on your person for the duration of the event.

How are waterproof ratings measured on rain jackets?

While its performance in real-life conditions best determines the waterproofness of a jacket, laboratory testing helps establish a baseline rating for the materials used in the construction of waterproof clothing.

The most used measurement is the hydrostatic head, which measures the amount of water a material can withstand before it starts to saturate and leak through. In this test, the fabric is secured over a one-inch diameter tube underneath a column of water of a certain height, and the material is observed for 24 hours.

The height of the water column at which the water starts to saturate through the fabric and leak is the hydrostatic head and is measured in millimeters. It is generally accepted that a hydrostatic head measurement of 10,000 millimeters is considered the baseline for waterproof jackets.

It should be noted that while many manufacturers will list hydrostatic head numbers in the specifications for their jackets, not all materials use this rating. Gore-Tex, which is used on the Montbell Versalite Jacket and the Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket, uses its own rain room to test its garments using specially designed rain nozzles and wind simulators to better approximate actual weather conditions.

Best Running Rain Jacket - Testing rain jackets in Colorado 3

The iRunFar team tests rain jackets during a spring fastpacking trip in Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

How is breathability measured in a rain jacket?

Breathability is quantified through two types of laboratory-bestowed ratings. The first and most seen is Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR). MVTR measures the rate that moisture (your sweat) permeates through the fabric. The higher the MVTR rating, the better, with good values starting around 10,000.

The second is Resistance to Evaporative Heat Loss (RET), which measures the material’s resistance to water vapor. The lower the RET, the better the breathability.

In theory, these numbers correlate to the breathability of the jacket. In practice, many other factors impact a jacket’s comfort and breathability, and we prefer comparing performance in real-life conditions to making a purchase based on a lab value. The high breathability of The North Face Summit Series Superior Futurelight Jacket was one of the factors that led us to name it our best rain jacket for running.

How long will a rain jacket’s waterproofing last?

Sadly, nothing lasts forever, but with proper care and maintenance, you should enjoy many dry and comfortable years with your waterproof jacket. Several factors will impact your waterproof jacket’s lifespan. Repeated exposure to rain and sweat or body oils will start to wear away at the material’s waterproof coating and membrane over time. Jackets with 2.5-layer construction, like the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket, have an inner layer to protect the rest of the jacket from sweat and body oils.

All jackets will come with specific care recommendations, most often avoiding standard detergents and high heat exposure, such as a clothes dryer, to prevent material degradation. That doesn’t mean you should never wash your jacket. Occasional washing with a laundry soap specifically formulated for waterproof materials will remove dirt and body oils that wear out waterproof fabrics and extend the life of your jacket.

An easy way to extend the life of a waterproof jacket is by refreshing the durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. Apply a few drops of water to the exterior of your DWR-coated jacket — if the water soaks in instead of beading up and rolling off, your jacket has lost its water-resistant outer coating.

DWR coating can be reapplied using a spray-on or wash-in product, such as Nikwax, that will bond to the outer material and refresh the jacket’s water-shedding capabilities. Always check your jacket’s care instructions and the instructions on the DWR-replenishment product before applying to be sure it is safe to use on those materials.

Best Running Rain Jacket - running in the mountains

Rain jackets can provide extra warmth on chilly morning runs. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Is there a big difference between men’s and women’s rain jackets for running?

Along with other clothing items, jackets are usually made for men’s and women’s specific body shapes. Wide versus narrow shoulders, a straight cut versus a waist taper, and wider and narrower hips are only a few differences between jackets made for different body types. Of course, if you find a jacket traditionally made for a different body type that feels the best for you, go with that one! The Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket is slimmer than many other jackets we tested, while the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket has a much looser overall fit.

Most brands make equivalent models in both men’s and women’s jackets.

Do I need to size up when buying a rain jacket?

While the overall sizing of different rain jackets is fairly standard, they all have various cuts and fit an array of body types differently. If you generally only toss a rain jacket on over a single layer, or maybe a thin insulating layer, you can probably get away with the same sized rain jacket as the rest of your running wardrobe. But it’s probably worth sizing up if you’re running in environments where you have to layer up underneath a rain jacket. If you want to be able to wear a small pack under your rain jacket, sizing up is a good idea, too. While the material in many rain jackets has some stretch to it, a jacket like the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket doesn’t have a lot of give to it and can inhibit range of motion if it’s too small. Choosing the larger size is often worth it if you’re in between sizes.

Should I prioritize weight or protection in a rain jacket?

This comes down to personal preference and how much you can spend. Generally, the highest-priced items will offer both minimal weight and maximal protection. But if your budget is minimal, you’ll likely have to sacrifice a bit of one or the other. If weight is your biggest concern, the Rab Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket is a great option. In the end, the best running rain jacket is one you’re willing to carry, even if it’s not the most protective one available, so you’ll want to get one you’re not averse to putting in your pack for any run.

Is it worth paying more for an expensive rain jacket?

While technically, you can run in a trash bag or an inexpensive $3 poncho and stay relatively dry, there’s a lot to be said for investing in a high-quality rain jacket. A good rain jacket can protect you from the rain while allowing moisture from sweat to escape from the inside. A breathable and waterproof jacket isn’t inexpensive, but it can make running in the rain much more comfortable and safer. Well-constructed rain jackets can also last a long time and be considered a significant investment in your running gear. Proper care of a 2.5-layer jacket like the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket can keep it waterproof for a long time, as can adding a new DWR coating when it loses its waterproofness.

Call for Comments

  • What is your favorite running rain jacket, and why?
  • What features have you found to be the most practical and useful in your waterproof running jacket?
  • What conditions or terrain do you most often find yourself reaching for a waterproof layer?
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Carly Eisley
Carly Eisley is a trail runner, hiker, mountain biker, and traveler. Her home base is in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs. When not writing or adventuring, she works as an emergency department nurse practitioner. Follow her on Instagram.
Carly Eisley

Meghan Hicks is the Editor in Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor in Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.

Carly Eisley

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.

Carly Eisley

Eszter Horanyi identifies as a Runner Under Duress, in that she’ll run if it gets her deep into the mountains or canyons faster than walking would, but she’ll most likely complain about it. A retired long-distance bike racer, she gave ultra foot racing a go and finished the Ouray 100 in 2017, but ultimately decided that she prefers a slower pace of life of taking photos during long days in the mountains and smelling the flowers while being outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Eszter will take any opportunity to go adventuring in the mountains or desert by foot, bike, or boat, and has lived the digital nomad lifestyle throughout the west for the past seven years.