While rain ponchos are incredibly popular among city sightseeing travelers, if you’re ever caught in a downpour while cycling, hiking or walking out in the country you probably would have realized how useless they are when the rain is very heavy or comes in at a slant or when in moderate to heavy vegetation. That’s because you need a more fitted women’s rain jacket with hood so that there’s no way for any water to get in and there’s no loose material that snags on branches. The best rain jacket for women will also be waterproof via the material used, the seams and the zippers. It’s also a good idea to pair a hooded rain jacket with a pair of waterproof trousers to keep your legs dry too.
A women’s lightweight rain jacket with hood is easy to pack as long as you don’t expect it to also provide warmth. If that’s what you’re after then we’ll do a separate list later. For this article we concentrate on purely keeping water out. If you want something that you wear for short periods in light rain and that can go over your backpack or tote, then we have some rain poncho recommendations instead.
How to Choose the Best Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
To ensure that your rain jacket is the right one for you, make sure you’ve got the following points covered:
Best Women’s Rain Jackets
Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell Jacket
Patagonia’s Women’s Torrentshell Jacket is our pick for the best all-round waterproof rain jacket for women and can be used around the town for sightseeing, hiking, mountaineering and backpacking. However, this just may be the best backpacking rain jacket for women on the market. It is good value for money too. It is lightweight at 10.6 ounces, but made of durable materials and can be packed into its own hand warmer zipped pockets and clipped to your backpack via the built in carabiner clip.
Is is called a 2.5 layer jacket because the waterproofing and windproofing comes from a printed pattern called H2No over the inner breathable layer instead of having a full separate middle layer. This helps to keep the jacket breathable in moderate weather and prevents your pores from clogging up with dirt and sweat. There are armpit vent zips as well for those extra warm days. The outer layer is 100% recycled nylon and coated with a water repellant.
The hood is very deep and the stiff peak is designed in such a way to make water drip far off your face and hair. If you want to keep the jacket on when it’s not raining, you can stow away the hood. The long sleeves are not elastic-cuffed, so you can pull your hands completely inside while letting the water roll off instead of some of it sneaking inside. If you prefer to have them tightly cuffed around your wrists, they come with hook-and-loop cuff closures. Similarly, there is an adjustable drawcord hem to prevent water splashing upwards from the ground.
Where many other jacks only have mesh pockets for your phone, etc., this one has fully lined pockets so that nothing you carry in them gets wet. The double storm flaps over the zippers are designed so that the zippers stay dry and stay put without needing Velcro at the top and the chin guard with microfleece lining at the neck ensures you don’t accidentally scratch yourself and nothing will snag while zipping and unzipping either.
Pros:This jacket is available in quite a few pleasing colors. It keeps the wearer completely dry and is made of durable materials.
Cons:The fit on the top can be too snug for very curvy women. For all others, if it is a cold day outside, the cut is generous enough to allow you to layer a sweater or fleece jacket underneath if you want. It’s probably not the right one for you if you’re travelling in sweltering heat.
Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket
At 14 ounces, the Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket is not one of the lightest and it is pretty pricey, but it makes up for these in other departments, like durability, style, comfort and technical features. We rate it as the best rain jacket for hiking. It doesn’t matter where you go because you can wear it on very stormy days in the mountains or in the lightest of drizzles in the city. It’s sleek style and comfortable durable fabric means increases its value exponentially.
This is also a 2.5 layer rain jacket made of Gore-Tex inner lining with Paclite and a polyester weave. The outer layer is coated with water repellent DWR and it is fully seam-taped. It is also engineered with TorsoFlo™ zipper venting technology and an internal front storm flap to balance high water resistance with breathability. That’s why you’ll feel comfortable wearing it even in hot and humid tropical locations.
There’s a fully adjustable hood with draw cords, hook and loop cuff closures and elastic drawcord hem, and the zippered hand pockets are placed high so as not to interfere with a backpack’s harness. There is also a zip arm pocket that you can use for any small items. The left hand pocket is also where you pack the jacket in. It doesn’t give you the smallest packable rain jacket but a heavy duty one like this shouldn’t have to. A carabiner loop lets you attach the packed jacket to your backpack.
An interesting feature that’s not present in most jackets is the ability to wear it as a poncho if you want to also protect a small backpack. This feature is brought to you by the two way TorsoFlo™ zipper on the front. So you can zip up from the bottom like a regular jacket or zip from top to down like a poncho. This makes it one of the most stylish rain jackets available.
Pros:This queen of rain jackets delivers on features, durability, comfort, style, and high water resistance.
Cons:It is expensive and a bit heavy and bulky when packed.
The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket
If the Torrentshell and Aspire above are overkill for you and you don’t expect to be out in continuous rain for long hours, then The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket will suit most women.
It isn’t as comprehensive in the technical details but this jacket also has a fully ripstop, waterproof and windproof seam sealed 2.5 layer shell called DryVent. The adjustable hood is not stiff brimmed or peaked but it does provide full coverage to keep your hair and face dry in most conditions.
The double storm flaps are secured by Velcro and so are the wrist cuffs. The bottom features a drawstring hem. The pit zip venting is useful for allowing you to stay cool and dry underneath. There are two hand warmer zipped pockets which also serve as the in-built pockets to stow the jacket into when not needed.
If you plan to layer a warmer jacket underneath, buy a size larger and you’ll be good to go. Even without layering, the cut is appealing.
Pros:There are quite a few neutral as well as eye catching colors to choose from. It is completely waterproof.
Cons:The sleeves run a bit long so you may have to cinch them up with the Velcro tabs if you want to keep your hands uncovered. Even though the material feels comfortable to wear, it does make a slight swishy/crinkly sound as it rubs against itself.
Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket
If you are looking for an affordable and lightweight rain jacket that comes in a multitude of colors, the Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket is made of 100% polyurethane and is perfect for outings in inclement weather. The full zip-front opening, zip-close side pockets, hook-and-loop-closure adjustable sleeve cuffs and the bungee-cord hood all help to keep the rain and wind from getting your hair, top or sweater wet. The hood toggles give you a customized fit that will keep the rain and wind from messing up your hair without obstructing your view.
As one of the most breathable jackets, the New Englander features a mesh lining, airflow front chest flap and vented underarms for maximum air circulation. Completely windproof and waterproof, the New Englander jacket is safe for hand washing. The A-Line design is universally flattering on women of all body types and sizes. Depending on your height, this Charles River jacket will hit just below the hip area. The two-way zipper gives you additional styling and ease of movement options, and the reflective front and back trim will keep you highly visible if you are walking at night or caught out in a rainstorm.
Pros:This is a very affordable rain jacket and doesn’t skimp on style. It is suitable for hot and humid weather.
Cons:Although this jacket packs down into a small bundle, it does not have its own storage bag or in-built storage pocket. Due to the polyurethane and woven material, it is not advisable to wash this jacket in the washing machine. If you usually size up on your jackets because you like to layer bulky sweaters underneath, you may want to refrain from purchasing this jacket; going up a size or two tends to have a negative impact on the overall A-Line style and silhouette of this jacket.
Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket
Another affordable option is the Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Jacket. It works hard to keep you dry on blustery windy and moderately rainy days. It is available in a wide range of colors and sizes, and it features the famous Omni-Tech nylon fabric construction in two layers with sealed seams and a soft mesh lining that makes it both waterproof and comfortable. The adjustable pancake hood features drawstring closures that offer a completely customized fit to keep the wind and rain off of your hair. This jacket is not the lightest of the bunch but can be packed into even the smallest of totes and backpacks. It is breathable enough to keep you cool on hot days or on light to moderate hikes; it also keeps you warm on cooler days as well.
The Arcadia II features a full zip front with a covered placket with velcro tabs for extra protection from inclement weather; it also has zip pockets that the jacket can fold into when not in use. The lightweight nylon shell offers easy-wipe spot cleaning, or you can toss the jacket in the washing machine for a deeper clean. The soft mesh lining keeps you comfortable and dry in most weather climates. If you like layering thick hoodies or sweaters under your rain jackets, you can order a size up in the Arcadia II without compromising style or silhouette. The draw cord hem can be adjusted to fit you perfectly and the cuffs can be tightened via the velcro tabs.
Pros:This rain jacket is great value for money and good for moderate to hard rain but you can also use it as a windbreaker.
Cons:Some customers say that the fit around the hips is a bit snug. There are no armpit vents for quick ventilation.
Best Lightweight Rain Jackets
Outdoor Research Women’s Helium II Jacket
The best packable rain jacket of all is the Outdoor Research Women’s Helium 2 Jacket. At just 5.5 ounces in weight and 4.5″ x 4.5″ square, it is so light and compact that you shouldn’t think twice about it if traveling light is your goal.
This jacket features a 2.5 layer shell with a Pertex® Shield for waterproofing and breathability. It is soft and pliable enough to feel comfortable as an outer layer even in dry weather. However, the waterproof membrane layer won’t keep you dry if you’re out for too long in the rain or even a short but heavy downpour. This is a good option for light rain or as a “just in case” city sightseeing rain jacket where you have cover in a cafe or museum to wait out longer wet spells. The hood on this jacket is not adjustable but it has a crown cincher that tightens via cords on the back to keep it in place even in high wind. It also has a very good stiff brim to keep water off your face.
While this option does not feature pit zips or mesh lining for extra breathability, it does not really need those features as the shell is light enough on its own for that. On the flip side, don’t expect to use this jacket as a proper wind breaker or keep you warm in cold climes. You’ll need extra layers underneath for that but it works well for just that extra layer to keep you warm.
There are no side hand pockets but there is one side zippered pocket chest high. It packs into its own in-built stuff sack and can be clipped to your backpack or belt using the attached carabiner clip.
Pros:It is the lightest full-featured rain jacket out there. Works well for most short rain spells and as an extra layer of clothing.
Cons:The ripstop fabric does protect against large tears but the thinness of the fabric makes it suitable only for less tough outdoor activities. You won’t stay dry in heavy downpours.
Marmot PreCip Women’s Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
If an ultralight rain jacket is important to you, then also consider the Marmot PreCip Women’s Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket. This 2.5 layer jacket weighs just 9.6 oz but does a good job at keeping you dry too. When you’re done using it, just stuff it into its own interior pocket and throw the compact package in your backpack or tote.
This women’s packable rain jacket is cost effective and comes with simple features so it’s good enough for the average traveler who is not going to hike for long periods in the rain. The NanoPro coating prevents water droplets from getting in but allows water vapor formed underneath to get out. The seams are fully taped and there are PitZips to allow for venting if you get hot. When the jacket is fully zipped up the chin guard prevents scratching. There are draw cords for a custom fit, the hood is stiff enough to let water roll off, and it rolls up nicely into the collar when not in use. A drawstring hem and adjustable Velcro cuffs are the other features provided for a proper waterproof fit.
Pros:It is affordable, lightweight and packable, making it a great buy for women who like to travel light. It features a regular comfort fit and is breathable even for hot and humid climates.
Cons:It is not meant for very heavy downpours and it is a bit noisy when you’re on the move.