10 Best Rain Pants Fully Reviewed

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Rain pants are worth considering for anyone spending a lot of time outdoors. Most outdoor enthusiasts don’t mind getting a little wet but continuing activity in saturated clothing can be very uncomfortable and may even force you to pack it in early. Having a way to stay dry can help you get outside and stay outside on days when the weather is not in your favor. Additionally, you may not necessarily catch a cold from being outside in the rain, but being wet can lower your body temperature. Lower body temperature can lower your immune system, putting you at increased risk for getting sick, and even increase your risk for hypothermia, particularly when you are far from home.

When many people consider rain clothing, they think about wearing a stiff rubber coat or swishy garbage bag. However, activewear companies have made great strides in the comfort of this clothing. With semi-permeable fabrics such as Gore-Tex on the market, there are many options that have great breathability and mobility.

Sorting through rain pants can be difficult as there are many options of varying quality, comfort and efficacy out there. We put together a list of the top 10 rain pants. 

Columbia Storm Surge
  • Columbia Storm Surge
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Marmot PreCip
  • Marmot PreCip
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Moisture wicking
  • Price: See Here
Outdoor Research Foray
  • Outdoor Research Foray
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ankle snaps
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Rain Pants

 

1. Columbia Storm Surge

Lightweight rain coverage that keeps rain out and wicks away sweat from within. These go-to rain pants are ideal for activities that make you sweat like running or hiking.
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Efficacy:
The Omni-tech design effectively blocks moisture from coming in while allowing warm air to escape when your temperature begins to rise.

Convenience:
A velcro dart at the bottom allows you to cinch and widen the ankle openings. This makes these pants fit well with a variety of shoes and are easy to take on and off. Unfortunately, there are no pockets.

Weight:
These pants are very lightweight. The elastic waist band with adjustable drawstring fits well when wearing them on your own but can also accommodate a few extra layers.

Breathability:
The Omni-Tech fabric is designed to keep water out while allowing warm air and perspiration through. This shield, combined with a built-in moisture wicking liner will keep you cool and dry from both directions. These are a great option for warmer weather days but can also be layered to keep you warm, even in the snow.

Flexibility:
These pants offer good mobility for a variety of activities.

Durability:
These pants can take a beating. They will not snag on trees and branches.

Value:
Price ranges based on size and style but the breathable fabric makes the slightly higher cost worth it if you will be spending some time in these pants.
Pros
  • Effective for rain and wind
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to layer
  • Adjustable ankle openings
Cons
  • No pockets
  • Legs are a bit baggy

2. Marmot PreCip

Lightweight and packable rain pants that are easy to pull on and off over thicker base layers. The microporous fabric works to wick away sweat from the inside and effectively block rain and wind from the outside.
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Efficacy:
These pants are 100% seam taped and will keep you dry in the rain and snow.

Convenience:
Ankle zips make these pants easy to pull on and off over shoes with an additional snap at the bottom of the ankle to seal out the elements even more effectively. Unlike many rain paints, the Marmot PreCip pants have convenient zippered front pockets and flap back pockets.

Weight:
These pants are very lightweight and can be packed down to fit inside a standard wide mouth water bottle.

Breathability:
The microporous urethane fabric is treated with silicon dioxide particles to create a barrier with small pores. These small openings will prevent large liquid molecules from entering while allowing small perspiration vapor to work its way out. This unique design means these pants are very breathable and you will not overheat.

Flexibility:
These pants are lightweight and allow for good range of motion. The only downside is that they do make some noise as they swish together which can be annoying for activity.

Durability:
These pants are built for hiking, biking and walking and will hold up well to these activities.

Value:
You can certainly find cheaper rain pants out there but the breathable protection, zippered pockets and secure ankle snaps make them worth the extra money. Particularly if you are planning to wear your rain pants regularly.
Pros
  • Zippered front pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Wicks away perspiration from the inside
  • Convenient Ankle Zips
  • Packable
Cons
  • Noisy swishing
  • Price

3. Outdoor Research Foray

These lightweight rain pants are bit more expensive but come with all the bells and whistles. Two way zippers down each leg provide great ventilation and come on and off easily over boots. Additionally the convenient zippered back pocket doubles as a stuff sack for easy storage.
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Efficacy:
100% polyester Gore-Tex material effectively keeps out rain.

Convenience:
With zippered sides, these pants are very easy to take on and off quickly. The zippered back pocket is great for storing small items and doubles as a stuff sack to conveniently tuck in your bag. The drawcord elastic waist and internal loops for instep laces hold these pants in place through any activity.

Weight:
These pants are very lightweight and great for traveling.

Breathability:
The zippers run from the ankles to mid thigh and have a two way zip. Unzip from the bottom to easily remove pants over boots or unzip from the top to provide some ventilation.

Flexibility:
These pants are not super flexible but they are a bit more fitted through the leg so there is not much extra bagginess to get in your way. There is also a pleat below the knee to allow for a natural bend when riding a bike.

Durability:
The pants feel thin but it takes quite a bit to actually rip or cause holes.

Value:
These pants are more expensive but come with convenient two way zippers and can pack down into their own back pocket.
Pros
  • Two-way side zippers for ventilation
  • Packs into its zippered pocket
  • Ankle snaps
  • Breathable and effective Gore-Tex material
Cons
  • Not very flexible
  • Price

4. Columbia Rebel Roamer

Slightly heavy but very breathable nylon pants that effectively keep you dry. These wide leg pants are easy to get on and off and have plenty of room for layering. The drawstring elastic waistband has a nice adjustable fit.
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Efficacy:
Fully seam-sealed, these waterproof pants will keep you dry and protect against wind.

Convenience:
These pants have an extra large leg opening that makes putting these pants on and taking them off over boots very easy. Unfortunately, some users feel the legs are too wide and the velcro at the bottom intended to bring in the ankle openings is awkwardly placed and does not help to narrow the pant. An elastic waistband with adjustable waistband gives these pants an adjustable fit that is easy to layer thicker pants underneath.

Weight:
These are slightly heavier than some other options.

Breathability:
Despite the heavier weight, these pants are very breathable. The wide leg openings allows air to circulate and the nylon lining wicks away sweat.

Flexibility:
The 100% Nylon shell and lining gives these pants a nice stretch. These are good options for activities that require a bit more range of motion such as biking or rowing.

Durability:
The heavier build of these pants gives them a bit more durability.

Value:
Price may range but these are fairly standard for an effective rain pant.
Pros
  • Easy to take on and off
  • Run large for easy layering
  • Perfect for layering
  • Breathable
  • Flexible
Cons
  • Ankle openings may be too large
  • No pockets
  • Heavier

5. Helly Hansen Voss (Women's)

A bit heavier than your thin and packable rain pants, these rubbery polyurethane pants offer more water protection and durability. They fall just short of heavy duty work pants for a fraction of the price.
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Efficacy:
These rubbery polyurethane pants will effectively keep you dry and warm even when outside for hours in the rain. Welded seams prevent water from seeping in and additional snaps at the ankles will keep water out at your feet.

Convenience:
The legs of these pants seem to run a bit long while the waist runs a bit small. They are lined to keep you warm on their own but leggings can be easily layered underneath. These pants pull on and have an elastic drawstring closure that some women find unflattering.

Weight:
The polyurethane material is pretty heavy compared to the lightweight rain pants intended for jogging. However, they are much lighter than heavy duty work pants.

Breathability:
Being a bit heavier, these pants do not breathe very well and they will make you warm in warm temperatures. They do have a moisture wicking liner to help with perspiration but they are not intended to keep you very cool.

Flexibility:
These pants have space to move around in but the plasticy fabric does make some swishing noise when you walk around. They are not the most comfortable for all day wear.

Durability:
That heavy material is pretty durable. These pants will not snag or rip with intensive gardening or walking through brush.

Value:
If you are looking for something just short of a heavy duty rain pant, these are great option for a fraction of the price.
Pros
  • Keeps you warm
  • Best for yard work and cold weather hiking
  • Protects against wind, rain and snow
Cons
  • Not ideal for warm days
  • Heavy and rubbery
  • Not breathable

6. White Sierra Trabagon

These lightweight and packable pants are the perfect option if you are looking for quick and easy rain protection. They are great for travel when you may want something on hand but the low risk of rain is not worth dedicating too much space and weight in your pack.
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Efficacy:
Teflon material and taped seams help these pants will keep you dry. Snaps at the ankles give extra protection

Convenience:
These pants are packable and have pockets in the thigh and back for convenience. They do run a bit smaller through the legs than many rain pants. This means they will not balloon at the legs as much as some others but some women find them a bit too constricting around the waist and rear.

Weight:
Super lightweight, these pants pack down into their own thigh pocket.

Breathability:
These pants do a great job keeping rain out but they also tend to hold sweat in. Most people still love the affordable price and are comfortable wearing moisture wicking leggings underneath in cold weather.

Flexibility:
The thin material feels a bit like a poncho or trash bag. These pants provide effective protection but are not the most comfortable for days filled with activity.

Durability:
These are not the pants for mountaineering but they will hold up well to regular use.

Value:
These pants are fairly inexpensive and do their job well. A really great option for travel.
Pros
  • Pack into a front pocket
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Very thin material

7. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

These 4-way stretch pants fit and move more like a waterproof hiking pant than a shell. They are lightweight and comfortable for hiking or running but still will keep you dry.
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Efficacy:
Dry Q waterproof technology provides an effective barrier against moisture while still being breathable to keep you dry from the inside as well.

Convenience:
Unlike most rain pants, these pants are designed to be worn more as a waterproof hiking pant than an overlayer. They do have zippers up the leg to make them easy to pull on. Unfortunately, they only have one small thigh pocket.

Weight:
Lightweight stretch material will not weigh you down.

Breathability:
Material is breathable to allow warm air to escape, reducing sweat. Additionally, zippers up the leg can add some ventilation.

Flexibility:
These pants are great for movement. With 4-way stretch material, they will move just like your favorite athletic pants. Articulated knees also bend with you for more natural movement.

Durability:
40D face material is abrasion resistant and durable.

Value:
These pants are significantly more expensive than some of the outerwear alternatives but the price can be justified when you consider them as a quality, waterproof hiking pant.
Pros
  • 4-way stretch for easy movement
  • Comfortable for all day wear
  • Waterproof but breathable
Cons
  • Price
  • One small pocket

8. Mountain Warehouse Pakka

These simple rain pants will keep you dry in a pinch. Thin material is lightweight and packable while still keeping you dry. At a very affordable price these are a great option to have on hand. They are intended to be worn over other pants and have convenient side slits for access to pockets.
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Efficacy:
Isodry fabric and taped seams will keep you dry even in a downpour.

Convenience:
There are slits in the side to access pockets in the pants you are wearing underneath. These pants also have velcro ankle adjustments to taper the leg and keep more water out.

Weight:
These pants are very lightweight and are compressible to pack down to a very small size.

Breathability:
These low-tech pants are effective against rain but do not breathe very well. However, the thin material won’t add too much warmth.

Flexibility:
The thin material has a baggy fit that will accommodate a thicker pair of pants underneath without limiting mobility.

Durability:
These pants offer great durability for regular activity despite what you make think about the thin fabric.

Value:
These pants are very affordable. The perfect packable protection to stash away for the occasional rainy day.
Pros
  • Slits for access to pockets
  • Compressible
  • Velcro ankle closure
Cons
  • Thin material
  • Baggy fit

9. Helly Hansen Voss (Men's)

These rubberized pants are fairly inexpensive and ideal for keeping you dry on the occasional rainy day. These do not breathe very well and are best suited for leisure sports like golfing or fishing.
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Efficacy:
The rubbery material of these pants does its job in keeping you dry through rain, snow and wind.

Convenience:
These pants run large and are intended to be worn over another layer as they do not have a liner. The pants are easy to put on and take off. The elastic waistband and snaps at the ankles make them easy to adjust.

Weight:
The 76% polyester and 24% PU material gives these pants a heavier feel. They are not as thick as the more durable work pants but they do run a bit heavier than pants designed with athletic activity in mind.

Breathability:
The thicker material does not breathe much at all. There are also no liners in these pants, so they are not ideal for wearing on their own.

Flexibility:
These are a bit softer and more flexible than you may expect for a rubberized material.

Durability:
These pants have great durability for regular outdoor activities. However, they can be ripped and may not stand up to daily use at a worksite.

Value:
These pants are fairly inexpensive when compared to the rest of the market.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Rubberized material is very effective at keeping you dry
  • Easy to layer
  • Great for occasional outdoor work or activity
Cons
  • Not breathable
  • Heavier weight
  • No pockets

10. Red Ledge Thunderlight

These lightweight rain trousers are affordable and conveniently pack down into their own back pocket. With zippers up the legs, they are easy to pull on over shoes and the velcro ankles keep them out of your way. Coated nylon fabric and articulated knees allow excellent mobility.
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Efficacy:
Lightweight rip-stop nylon fabric is coated with Red Ledge’s patented T-Core coating and finished with DWR (durable water repellent) to keep these pants waterproof.

Convenience:
With zippers that run up the side of each leg, these pants are easy to pull over boots as soon as the rain hits. They do run a bit long but generous velcro straps make the length customizable.

Weight:
This lightweight pant can also pack down into a stuff sack or its own back pocket.

Breathability:
The T-core treatment on these nylon pants is designed to breathe. However, some users note the material can be clingy at times.

Flexibility:
These pants work great for movement. The nylon fabric offers some more stretch than your typical rain pant and articulated knees help maintain natural movement.

Durability:
This rip-stop fabric helps these pants hold up well to low impact activities fairly well. However, it will collect some tears if you are climbing over rocks.

Value:
These pants are fairly inexpensive.
Pros
  • Full length side zippers
  • Packs down into zippered back pocket for easy storage
  • Inexpensive
  • Good movement
Cons
  • Clingy material

 

The Metrics We Used to Determine the Best Rain Pants

There are a range of fabrics and treatments that companies use to make their clothing waterproof. So, on top of having a well-fitting pant that will keep you dry, we considered the pros and cons of each fabric and design choice. Each option has something to offer in terms of effective protection, durability, weight, breathability and cost effectiveness. We looked for pants that have a good combination by evaluating them on the following metrics:

Efficacy

An obvious consideration when choosing a rain pant is how well they block out the elements. In addition to keeping you dry in the rain, a quality rain pant can protect against wind and snow as well. To effectively keep you dry we looked for features such as waterproof materials and seams that are sealed tight. Additional features, such as ankle snaps or velcro closures help keep you dry from the feet up.

Convenience

We looked for pants that will make it easier for you to stay outside when the weather turns. For some people that is having a lightweight and packable pant that can be easily carried and accessed when the need arises. For this type of pant, it is also helpful if it can be put on and taken off easily over shoes, so you can change easily on the side of the trail. If you are planning to wear your pants for more prolonged protection, it may be more convenient to have other features for convenience such as pockets or ventilation.

Weight

Rain pants range in weight based on the material they are made of. For the most part, it is ideal to find a lightweight pant that will still offer adequate protection from the rain. There are some situations, such as yard  work or cold weather gear, that you may actually prefer a heavier style.

Breathability

Regardless of the temperature, you will want rain pants that allows sweat to move away from your body. For a summer pant, ventilation that allows air to get in is key. For winter pants you will still want a moisture wicking liner or base layer to keep you dry and warm.

Flexibility

Low quality rain gear can feel plasticy and creates a swishing noise and friction as you walk. We looked for pants that will not distract from the activity at hand and keep you dry without limiting your range of motion.

Durability

The durability will range with material and price. To provide continuous protection, any good rain pant should be able to withstand a walk through the brush without developing rips or tears.

Value

Price on rain pants can range widely. Consider what kind of activity you will be doing and how often you will be relying on your rain pants to determine what is worth investing in. There’s no use spending a ton of money if you just need something to stow away for the occasional rain. However, if you are relying on these pants for long days and rigorous activity, comfort, durability and extra features may be worth the extra money.

Other Things to Consider

Type of Activity

One of the most important considerations when purchasing rain pants is what you are planning to do in them. Rain pants can range from a thin, garbage bag consistency to thick, rubbery work pants. If you are looking for something to keep in your bag or pocket in case of rain, the less expensive and lighter weight options will be ideal. Whereas people who spend their days outside and encounter rain or wind on a regular basis may consider a more heavy duty option. If you are planning to do activities that will make you sweat, like trail running or hiking, you probably want to pay a bit extra to make sure you have some breathability and moisture wicking properties.

Temperature

The climate you are in will also affect which pants are best for you. When do you encounter the most perspiration and when do you care about staying dry? If you are in a humid climate, prioritize a breathable pant that will wick away moisture from the inside. Otherwise you will be more uncomfortable and wet than if you had left the pants at home. Consider a lightweight and compressible pant, if you are outdoors in the cold often. You may not end up needing them, but if you are caught unprepared and far from home, being wet can put you in danger for hypothermia. If you are planning on snow, you may consider a thicker pant or a good shell that you can add layers too. For pants that can be worn all year round, consider options that have good ventilation and can also accommodate multiple layers underneath.

Other Gear

Consider what you already have or may need to layer under your new rain pants. If you are planning to wear jeans or hiking pants, you may want to opt for rain pants with more leg room. Or, maybe you are not planning to layer anything under, in that case you want to look for pants with a moisture-wicking liner.

FAQs

Q: How do I care for my rain pants?

A: To improve the longevity of your rain pants, avoid washing them too regularly. When possible, hand wash with cold water and air dry. If you do use your washing machine, use a detergent designed for tech gear. Try to avoid regular liquid detergents as these contain chemicals that attract water and will reduce the efficacy of your rain gear.

Q: Why did my rain pants stop keeping me dry?

A: Most rain gear is treated with a durable water repellent coating that helps water collect in larger droplets and roll right off your clothing. Over time and washing, this coating wears off. However, you may not need to score the web for new clothes just yet. Try treating your rain gear with a DWR treatment to give it a second life.

Q: What else do I need to know for running or hiking in the rain?

A: The best tips for staying safe in the rain are to wear smart layers and be prepared. Having moisture wicking layers as your base for any activity is ideal as it will keep you cool and dry by moving sweat away from your body. Being prepared with extra protection such as rain gear, gloves and a hat is also a smart move when you are far from home. Additionally having reflective gear or a light is a good idea for when visibility is low.

Sources

  1. Vulcan, Nicole, Can Running in the Rain Make You Sick?, Web Page, Sep 11, 2017
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