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April showers may bring May flowers, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from the rain. When you’re caught in an unexpected downpour, it’s important to stay prepared, which is why we like to always have a dependable raincoat on hand.
What You Need to Know About Buying a Raincoat
Raincoat vs. Rain Poncho: Unlike raincoats, which have full sleeves and often have buttons or a zipper closure, rain ponchos are worn more like a cape or shawl, with an opening for your head and a loose, baggy fit. Raincoats are sized like regular jackets (think XS to XL) but ponchos often come as a one-size-fits-all deal. They’re designed to hang loosely over what you’re wearing and, because of their shape, can often cover your backpack or purse (if you’re wearing one) too.
Weatherproofing: The best raincoats will offer protection from the elements, helping to shield you from the rain, but also from wind, sleet and snow. Look for jackets that are waterproof, not just water-resistant, to ensure that you stay completely dry.
Materials: The best waterproof raincoats are made from a nylon or nylon-blend material, which keeps out moisture while still being lightweight and breathable. Nylon is also easy to care for — many of our picks are machine-washable — and holds up better over time, as a durable, rip-resistant material. Keep in mind that most raincoats are simply an outer shell, and don’t provide insulation from the cold. When it comes to a raincoat vs. a winter jacket, a raincoat won’t offer the same padding or warmth as a snow jacket. You’ll have to layer up under a raincoat to really stay cozy.
Sizing: When it’s raining outside, you want as much coverage as possible to keep you dry. That’s why we’ve found raincoats that hit below the hip, and some that extend all the way down below the knees. Most of our picks fit a little more snug to the body, and have velcro or elastic cuffs, and drawstring hoods to seal out any moisture or wind. We’ve also included a raincoat/poncho hybrid that can cover you all the way to your ankles (depending on your height); this one has a slightly looser fit, so it can be thrown over a backpack or bag as well.
Whether you’re heading to a football game, festival, going camping, backpacking or just running errands, pick up one of these raincoats to ensure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. They’re all lightweight enough to carry around in your bag, and some fold down into a pouch for easy storage in your car or emergency kit as well. We’ve found great rain jacket options for men and women, to help you stay warm, dry and protected against the elements.
1. Columbia Rain Jacket
Columbia is one of the best-known names in outdoor and adventure apparel, and their expertise is on full display with this men’s rain jacket.
Made from a lightweight and durable nylon material, the jacket is fully waterproof, with fully-sealed “watertight” seams. The attached hood is large enough to cover your entire head and the sides of your face when pulled up; a drawstring helps it stay put. Two side pockets, meantime, help keep your hands warm, or can be zipped up to store your keys, wallet, phone and other essentials.
The jacket is lined with a soft layer of mesh, for breathability. Velcro cuffs let you tighten the sleeves to keep out wind and rain; a drawstring hem keeps the jacket fit cozy and snug.
Great for hiking, backpacking and travel, the entire jacket folds up into one of the side pockets to become a portable pouch. Tuck the pouch into your bag or keep it in your car so you always have a raincoat on-hand when the weather changes.
Columbia offers this jacket in expanded sizing, from size small to 4XL. Tall sizes available as well.
PROS: Packable, portable rain jacket with premium finishing and details.
CONS: Some say the hood could be stiffer, to stay up even in windy conditions.
2. Columbia Women’s Arcadia Jacket
This Columbia Arcadia II jacket is specially designed for women, with a slightly longer length that hits below the hips, and a slim, tailored fit.
Made from a waterproof nylon material (with a polyester lining), the jacket zips closed to block out wind and rain. An extra-large storm hood keeps you hair dry, while velcro cuffs and a drawcord hem let you “cinch” the jacket for a closer fit.
Columbia says the jacket features its signature “air-permeable” construction, which shields you from the rain without the stuffy “sauna” effect you can get when material is too hot or suffocating.
This jacket is available in sizes XS to 3X.
PROS: More than 30 colors available. Deep pockets are large enough to hold a phone or small water bottle.
CONS: Snug fit isn’t for everyone. If you plan on layering, we recommend sizing up.
3. JINIDU Waterproof Rain Jacket
Good looks meets all-weather protection with this raincoat from JINIDU.
Made from a polyester/nylon blend, the jacket is smart enough to wear to work or on a date, with its European-inspired styling. It’s easier to wear than a trench coat, and more practical, but retains that same classic, dapper look.
The waterproof and wind-proof material offers protection from the elements while maintaining breathability and flexibility of movement (you’re bundled in without feeling constricted). The higher collar and drawstring hood keep your head and face dry. Elastic cuffs seal out moisture too.
What we like: the longer length of this jacket means you’re covered down to your knees. More than 20 colors available.
PROS: Stylish, minimalist design. Button-front closure and snap button pockets keep things snug.
CONS: Best for everyday wear; if you’re going camping or hiking, you’ll want to consider a more rugged option.
4. HLK.Sports Rain Coats (2-Pack)
Keep one of these ponchos in your closet, car, office or backpack to make sure you’re always covered — literally — when it rains.
Made from a tear-resistant, waterproof material, the poncho fits easily over most body sizes, thanks to its front buttons and relaxed fit (dimensions-wise, it measures 59 x 27.5 inches with hood). Long sleeves, elastic cuffs and a drawstring hood keep you snug and dry.
Unlike cheaper ponchos, which are often made for one-time-use, this poncho is made from a thick, durable EVA, which protects against the elements while still being breathable. EVA is also non-toxic, with none of that annoying plastic smell.
This raincoat is available in six different colors. One-size-fits-all design is meant to be longer, giving you coverage to your knees (and ankles, if you’re on the shorter side).
PROS: Poncho is large enough to fit over a backpack or purse if you are wearing one.
CONS: Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Not machine-washable.