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The Best Rain Pants for Men and Women to Stay Active in Any Weather

Best Rain Pants for Men and Women
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Updated January 10, 2024

A quality pair of rain pants helps you stay dry and comfortable during showers and other inclement weather. Like cold weather jackets and waterproof headphones, they’re essential gear for hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor activities. Unlike ski pants, they are not necessarily warm, so if you wear them in colder temperatures be sure to layer appropriately (though most will block wind, in addition to moisture).

Rain pants come with a variety of features through womens and mens clothing brands. Some are more appropriate for everyday hikers and people who like to do their daily walks in any weather, while others feature enhanced durability for more extreme activities like mountaineering and ice climbing.

What to consider when choosing rain pants

Made from either polyester or nylon, all rain pants feature a durable water repellent (DWR) coating of some kind. In general, nylon is stronger and stretchier, while polyester tends to be more waterproof. Many outdoor clothing companies have developed their own DWR technologies that they use for their raingear like H2No, NanoPro, or Helox—all of which work well.

Ventilation

Rain pants, being waterproof and windproof, can be unexpectedly warm. Some feature ventilation zippers at the thighs, so you can better regulate your body temperature. If you plan to hike in warmer climates or tend to run hot, look for a pair with ventilation capabilities.

Pockets

I always appreciate a garment with pockets, especially zippered ones. That being said, zippers provide added ingress opportunities for water so I wouldn’t recommend storing anything important of the paper variety in the pocket of a pair of rain pants.

Ease of taking on and off

Rain pants come with varying zipper length openings on the legs to help make them easier to take on and off. Shorter, quarter zip lengths may not provide enough room to successfully wrangle your pants over a pair of hiking boots, while full length zippers will obviously make pulling them on and off a fairly quick and simple maneuver. However, the longer the zipper is, the more the pants will weigh and the higher the possibility of moisture seeping in.

Packability

If you’re a hiker, backpacker, or bike packer, you’ll likely want a pair of rain pants that packs down small and doesn’t add a lot of weight to your pack. Look for ones that pack easily into their own pocket.

Our top picks for the best rain pants

Best lightweight rain pants: Marmot GORE-TEX® Minimalist Rain Pant

Women’s | Men’s

Living up to their minimalist name, these rain pants from Marmot (who also made our list of the best women’s ski pants) offer excellent rain protection and breathability, minus the frills. Ankle length zips mean you can pull them on over hiking boots but, if you’re wearing substantial mountain boots, you may struggle. The shorter zipper also means minimal water ingress points, while the GORE-TEX® fabric provides excellent, durable waterproofness making them well worth the price tag.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 9 to 10 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL (W); S - XXL (M)
  • Material: GORE-TEX® Paclite, polyester
  • Colors: Black
  • Price on publish: $185

What we like:

  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • GORE-TEX® fabric
  • Articulated knees

What we don’t like:

  • No waist adjustability
  • No short or tall options

The bottom line:

A good basic, durable rain pant that provides substantial protection, though they lack the adjustability and venting options of some other pants.

Best lightweight rain pants for Women
Marmot GORE-TEX® Minimalist Rain Pant

Marmot GORE-TEX® Minimalist Rain Pant

Best lightweight rain pants for Men
Marmot GORE-TEX® Minimalist Rain Pant

Marmot GORE-TEX® Minimalist Rain Pant

Best ultralight rain pants: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Women’s | Men’s

Made with ultra lightweight and durable Pertex® Shield Diamond Fuse fabric, the Helium rain pant offers exceptional packability (they fold down into their own pocket) and storm protection for backpacking, hiking, and bike packing. They weigh in at a mere 5.3 ounces and the material itself is quite thin, but still impressively tear resistant. Mine have held up well even while navigating narrow, dense trails where avoiding branches is impossible.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XXXL, Short, Regular (W); S - XXXL, Short, Regular, Tall (M)
  • Material: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5L, 100% nylon, 30D ripstop
  • Colors: Black, Pewter, Light Pewter (W); Black, Pewter, Coyote (M)
  • Price on publish: $130

What we like:

  • Great size range
  • Available in a color other than black
  • Tear resistant
  • Lifetime product guarantee
  • Key clip
  • Bluesign®-approved fabrics

What we don’t like:

  • Short zippers

The bottom line:

Ultralight weight, yet durable and exceptionally packable rain pants, ideal for situations where every ounce of what you’re carrying matters.

Best ultralight rain pants for Women
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Best ultralight rain pants for Men
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Best value rain pants: Marmot Precip® Eco Pants

Women’s | Men’s

I have a pair of these that I use for bike commuting in the rain, sleet, and snow. The snap strap tab at the ankle allows for proper cinching around whatever footwear I have on, keeping water from making its way into my shoes and the pants from getting caught in my chain ring. They fit well over layers, while also having a tailored fit so that they don’t billow out when riding. The ample leg zippers reach to the knees, meaning they’re easy to slip on (even while balancing on one leg against the side of a concrete wall under a bridge).

Specifications:

  • Weight: 7 to 8.3 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL, Regular (W); S - XXL, Short, Medium, Long (M)
  • Material: NanoPro™ recycled nylon ripstop, polyester mesh
  • Colors: Black
  • Price on publish: $80

What we like:

  • Snap strap at ankle
  • Quiet fabric
  • Zippered pockets
  • Adjustable waist

What we don’t like:

  • No plus sizes
  • No short or tall options for women

The bottom line:

Quality rain pants with zippered pockets and half side zips at an excellent price.

Best value rain pants for Women
Marmot Precip® Eco Pants

Marmot Precip® Eco Pants

Best value rain pants for Men
Marmot Precip® Eco Pants

Marmot Precip® Eco Pants

Best budget rain pants: Helly Hansen Moss Rain Pants

Women’s | Men’s

Drawing inspiration from the company’s 1950s fisherman rain gear, the Moss line from Helly Hanson features classic, durable garments with a 100% waterproof guarantee. I own a pair of these and have worn them while working outside for twelve hours in the rain, during which they managed to keep me dry and comfortable. What these pants lack in packability, they make up for in durability and consistent water repellency. Plus, they come with a handy repair kit. Shopping tip: Helly Hansen ranks highly as a brand for other outdoor gear, including the best winter jackets for extreme cold, best winter coats for kids, and the best fleece jackets for men and for women.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 13.2 to 15.8 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL (W); S - XXL (M)
  • Material: 100% polyurethane with Helox+ technology
  • Colors: Black (On Amazon, women’s also comes in Sling White Print, Naito Flower, Essential Yellow, Midnight Green Esra Print, Catalina Blue.)
  • Price on publish: $50

What we like:

  • Durable
  • Exceptionally waterproof
  • Great price
  • Repair kit included
  • Adjustable waist

What we don’t like:

  • No pockets
  • No short or tall options

The bottom line:

Classic rain pants modeled after fishermen’s gear that keep you dry during long periods of heavy rain at an affordable price.

Best budget rain pants for Women
Helly Hansen Moss Rain Pants

Helly Hansen Moss Rain Pants

Best budget rain pants for Men
Helly Hansen Moss Rain Pants

Helly Hansen Moss Rain Pants

Best high-end rain pants: Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants

Women’s | Men’s

For mountain-based adventures accompanied by snow, sleet, ice, and rain, nothing beats these high-end, rugged rain pants from Arc’teryx (the AR in the product name stands for all round). They feature an adjustable webbing belt, front zippered fly with a snap, and water-tight side zippers (at the thigh and ankle) for ventilation and ease when putting them on and taking them off. Plus, they come with removable suspenders that help keep them in place when climbing or skiing. The classic cut provides a trim look and fit while also allowing room for movement when hoisting yourself up the side of a snowy mountain.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 15.9 to 16.6 ounces
  • Sizes: 0 - 16, Regular (W); XS - XXL, Short, Regular, Tall (M)
  • Material: GORE-TEX® PRO
  • Colors: Black, Relic (men’s only)
  • Price on publish: $500

What we like:

  • Versatile
  • Removable suspenders
  • Zippered vents
  • Articulated knees

What we don’t like:

  • Only one pocket

The bottom line:

High-end, durable, storm proof pants suitable for mountaineering, ice-climbing, and skiing.

Best high-end rain pants for Women
Beta AR Pant Women's

Beta AR Pant Women's

Best high-end rain pants for Men
Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants

Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants

Most comfortable rain pants: Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic™

Women’s | Men’s

The best thing about these rain pants from Mountain Hardwear is the super stretchy, breathable (and quiet) fabric they’re made from, making them perfect for both trail hiking and walking to dinner. They pack down into the front zippered pocket, so you can easily stash them in a backpack or daypack and the ¾ leg zippers make pulling them on and off a breeze. All in all, these are an excellent, always comfortable, all-around pant for a variety of outdoor situations.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL, Short, Regular, Tall (W); S - XXL, Short, Regular, Tall (M)
  • Material: Dry.Q 50D stretch ripstop 2.5L polyester
  • Colors: Black
  • Price on publish: $175

What we like:

  • The ¾ side zips
  • Very stretchy
  • Excellent breathability
  • Adjustable waist

What we don’t like:

  • Not as abrasion resistant as others

The bottom line:

Super stretchy, breathable rain pants that provide excellent freedom of movement, suitable for camping and trail adventures.

Most comfortable rain pants for Women
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic™

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic™

Most comfortable rain pants for Men
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic™

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic™

Most durable rain pants: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Pants

Women’s | Men’s

As an all-weather, four-season bike commuter, these are one of the pairs of rain pants I have on regular rotation during rain and snow seasons in New York City. I love the ¾ leg zippers which make them easy to take on and off in lobbies, restaurants, and other places of business. The fabric delivers reliable water-proofness, so whatever I have on underneath stays dry and presentable. (While I don’t necessarily like that this is true, people do take you more seriously when you’re not dripping water all over their office).

Specifications:

What we like:

  • Cuff to thigh side zips
  • Zippered side pockets with storm flaps
  • Classic fit (not too loose or too tight)
  • Made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory

What we don’t like:

  • Only available in two lengths

The bottom line:

Classic, good quality rain pants with ¾ zippers for ease when slippling them on and off after commuting or adventuring in wet weather.

Most durable rain pants for Women
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Pants

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Pants

Most durable rain pants for Men
Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Pants

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Pants

Best full-zip rain pants: Marmot PreCip Eco Full Zip Rain Pants

Women’s | Men’s

If you do a lot of hiking or working outside in muddy conditions, you’ll appreciate the full side zipper on these rain pants. This allows you to take them on or off without transferring what’s on your boots to the inside of your pants. Like the regular PreCip Eco pants, they’re waterproof and windproof, keeping you dry and comfortable while hiking, trekking, biking, or just hanging around the campsite. Plus, they’re lightweight enough to shove into your pack when the sun finally comes out.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 10 to 11 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL (W); S - XXL (M); For women’s and men’s, Short, Regular, and Long are available on Amazon.
  • Material: NanoPro™ recycled nylon
  • Colors: Black
  • Price on publish: $100

What we like:

  • Excellent price
  • Breathable
  • Packable
  • Zippered front pockets

What we don’t like:

  • They run small

The bottom line:

Full zip, packable waterproof rain pants with three zippered pockets suitable for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Best full-zip rain pantsfor Women
Marmot PreCip Eco Full Zip Rain Pants

Marmot PreCip Eco Full Zip Rain Pants

Best full-zip rain pants for Men
Marmot PreCip Eco Full Zip Rain Pants

Marmot PreCip Eco Full Zip Rain Pants

Best versatile rain pants: NorthFace Venture 2 Rain Pants

Women’s | Men’s

Made with Northface’s DryVent™ technology, these rain pants are both waterproof and breathable—ideal for weather protection on the trail or in the city. While I own and wear quite a few different pairs of rain pants, an earlier version of these are the ones that have been in my closet the longest (almost 15 years). I’m a big fan of NorthFace products because of their durability, as well as the reliability they offer. They do what they’re meant to and stand up well to both time and the elements.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 8 to 16 ounces
  • Sizes: XS - XL, Regular, Long (W); L - XL, Regular, Long (M)
  • Material: Nylon, polyester
  • Colors: Black, Vanadis Grey (men’s only)
  • Price on publish: $79 - $139.99

What we like:

  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Packs into own pocket

What we don’t like:

  • Not as waterproof in prolonged conditions as some others

The bottom line:

Exceptionally durable, well-fitting, packable, and breathable rain pants suitable for a variety of uses.

Best versatile rain pants for Women
THE NORTH FACE Women's Venture 2 1/2 Zip Pants TNF Black Medium 34

THE NORTH FACE Women's Venture 2 1/2 Zip Pants TNF Black Medium 34

Best versatile rain pants for Men
THE NORTH FACE Men’s Venture 2 Half-Zip Waterproof Hiking Pant

THE NORTH FACE Men’s Venture 2 Half-Zip Waterproof Hiking Pant

How we chose the best rain pants

I’m an avid cyclist, all-weather bike commuter, hiker, and backpacker who spends a lot of time outdoors, no matter what the weather may be doing. I’ve personally worn all of the rain pants included in this guide, some of them more often than others, all in varying levels of wet and stormy. I also consulted extensive online reviews of the products featured here, as well as pooling the knowledge and recommendations of my outdoor community network. If you’ve ever spent time sitting around a campfire or at a picnic table with a group of hikers or cyclists, you know that, inevitably, the conversation turns to gear, especially that of the rain variety.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Are rain pants worth it?

If you spend a considerable amount of time outside hiking, biking, working, or just walking and don’t like the weather dictating how long you’re able to stay comfortable, a quality pair of rain pants is well worth the price. The best ones are waterproof, while also being breathable to minimize sweat buildup during activities.

What pant material is best for rain?

Both polyester and nylon work well for rain pants. No matter what they’re made from, they’ll feature some kind of DWR (durable water repellent) coating that makes the material waterproof. Many companies/brands have developed their own proprietary coatings, processes, and fabrics (such as Patagonia’s H2No® and Marmot’s NanoPro™) that they use in their rainwear.

How do you wash rain pants?

Wash rain pants on the gentle cycle with a small amount of detergent (but no fabric softener), then hang dry. Never put them in the dryer as the heat can damage the waterproof coating and render them useless for rain protection.

Should you size up in rain pants?

In most cases, you shouldn’t have to size up in rain pants. They should be cut to accommodate layers underneath. You also don’t want them to be too baggy or bulky because the extra fabric could hinder your movements and potentially get caught on things like a bike chain ring or trailside trees and bushes.

Do you wear anything under rain pants?

Rain pants are more comfortable with a layer underneath to prevent them from sticking and/or clinging to your skin. I personally always wear something underneath them. If I’m hiking or trekking in hot weather, I skip rain pants altogether and opt for shorts made from a water-resistant, quick drying fabric.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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