The right rain jacket can turn a drizzly long run into a puddle-splashing, stream-hopping adventure and keep you comfortable longer in the nastiest downpour. For most, how long you’re willing to train in the rain—and how motivated you are to dart out into a shower—comes down to how well your jacket performs against the elements. Rain jackets for runners come in a range of options, from lightweight shells to heavy-duty outerwear, and with a variety of features, such as hoods that cinch, pockets to pack into, and reflective trimming.
All these jackets have taped or sealed seams to give you watertight protection without letting moisture seep in through the cracks. Of course, the best waterproof jackets also manage to combine that protection with more than a passing nod to breathability, so you’re not dodging rainfall only to end up soaked from your own sweat. No one has yet perfected this elusive balance, but features like high-tech membranes, performance fabrics, and zippered slits can go a long way in keeping you cooler and more ventilated once you warm up.
The Expert: I started running in the Pacific Northwest, where waiting for a dry day would mean missing at least eight annual months of amazing running. Throughout that period, I also worked as a full-time, year-round bike messenger in downtown Portland, Oregon, so I have high standards for technical gear that can keep you dry in weather most people don’t venture out in. In the years since, I’ve added nearly a decade of experience reviewing and writing about gear and apparel for Runner’s World, Bicycling, and numerous other media outlets, which has provided lots of insight into what makes a good weatherproof product, and what runners are looking for in their gear.
8 Best Rain Jackets for Running
- Roomiest Fit: Nathan Sports Stealth Jacket
- Most Breathable: Brooks Canopy Jacket
- Smartest Design: Janji Zephyr Runner Jacket
- Best Classic Style: Tracksmith Off Roads Packable Jacket
- Most Durable Waterproofing: Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket
- Highly Breathable and Waterproof: Showers Pass Cloudburst Jacket
- Easiest to Stow: Marmot Bantamweight Jacket
- Best Cozy Windblocker: Craft Adv Essence Wind Jacket
What to Consider When Shopping for a Rain Jacket
Level of Water Protection
Not all rain jackets are built with the same level of water protection. So, what’s the difference between water-resistant, water-repellent, and waterproof?
Water-Resistant: A water-resistant shell provides a thin, water-resistant layer between you and the elements, but also allows water to sometimes soak through during extended exposure to the rain.
Water-Repellent: When a garment’s material is treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, water beads up on the surface and can’t easily penetrate. But a jacket’s DWR finish won’t hold up forever—how long it lasts depends on frequency of usage and exposure to water (typically 20 “washes”). Check to see if water droplets roll off the surface; if they stick and absorb into the fabric, the coating likely isn’t working anymore. But that doesn’t mean your jacket has to be relegated to dry days only. Twenty minutes in the dryer on low heat or the application of a spray-on waterproofing treatment can restore your jacket’s DWR finish.
Waterproof: A fully waterproof jacket uses material and construction that make it much more resistant to moisture, even during long runs and heavy downpours. Sometimes you’ll see a jacket’s waterproofness represented in units: 10k/10k, 15k/15k, or 20k/20k. Using 10k/10k as an example, the first number means that, in testing, the jacket withstood up to 10,000mm of water pressing on one square inch of the fabric before it started to leak. The second 10k indicates the 10,000 grams of water vapor per square meter that the jacket can release from the inside. A 10k/10k jacket is best for mild rain, whereas a 20k/20k rating means the garment will protect you from Niagara Falls-like downpours (sort of).
A waterproof jacket is great for staying dry, but it can be a hotbed for swampy heat mid-run. The best jackets allow for some fabric permeability, so they release sweat vapors mid-run and leave you less damp overall. Jackets with perforated zones and interior mesh can also help with breathability—if you prefer increased airflow, consider one with vents in peak sweat areas (i.e., underarms, sides, mid-back).
All the jackets here are designed to be lightweight and easily stowed, so you can change your mind about your layering strategy as often as the forecast. Some of the jackets we’ve selected can be folded and stowed in their own pocket—and one even packs down into a mini-backpack with adjustable shoulder straps, allowing you to run hands-, belt-, or “coat cape-” free.
Well-Designed Bonus Features
We love to discover smart design features that make running in a rain jacket more convenient and comfortable. Some jackets have zipper pockets with taped seams for keeping small necessities dry. Others have hidden snaps beneath the zipper that let you unzip when the temperature rises to vent heat without the loose flaps whipping uncontrollably in the wind. Some have cinches at the hem and hood to ensure they stay on in a headwind, as well as reflective details in key areas, like the shoulders, lower back, cuffs, and along the zipper.
How We Evaluated These Rain Jackets
To make this list of best waterproof jackets, I took several on rainy-day test runs and took notes about the experience. Runner’s World test editor Amanda Furrer also vetted many of the jackets and seeded many more to the magazine’s group of 50 local wear-testers to evaluate their wind- and rain-resistance, comfort, and fit. In the interest of thoroughness, we also conducted permeability testing by cutting patches from some of the jackets and weighed the amount of water vapor that passed through each to draw conclusions about breathability. Finally, I scoured online reviews for any potential pros and cons we might have missed in our testing. I’ve included some of my thoughts about the jackets, as well as comments from our wear-testers.
Nathan Sports Stealth Jacket
Material: Nylon | Weatherproofing: Water-resistant, windproof | Sizes: XS to XL
The Stealth had the lowest permeability out of all the jackets we tested, but contrary to our lab measurements, wear-testers described the jacket as lightweight, comfortable, and breathable—even on muggy, warm days. The noise-free nylon material, which is windproof and has a DWR finish, was a highlight for our testers. “I have worn other jackets that make a loud swooshing noise with every movement,” said one. “This jacket is quiet, allowing you to enjoy a conversation with a fellow runner or listen to the sounds of nature.” One minor critique was the baggy fit and long sleeve length. “I understand the additional length to accommodate the thumbholes, which I loved,” said a tester, “but the sleeves extended past the tips of my fingers.”
Brooks Canopy Jacket
Material: DriLayer Seal 100% ripstop polyester | Weatherproofing: Windproof and waterproof against light rain | Sizes: XS to XXL
According to our permeability test and tester feedback, this jacket is extremely breathable. It also has some bonus features our testers loved, like front snaps that allow you to completely unzip while you’re running without having to wear the jacket like a cape, and a built-in bag with drawcords that double as straps so you can wear it on your back when the temperature jumps.
The Canopy also has a stowable hood so it won’t flop behind your head as you run, and front pockets with a snug compartment to slide your phone into. The Canopy’s light weight and packability make it ideal for unpredictable weather when you may have to stash it or zip up.
Janji Zephyr Runner Jacket
Material: Ripstop nylon | Weatherproofing: Water-repellent | Sizes: S to XL
Like the Brooks Canopy, the Zephyr Runner has a chest snap, which allows you to unzip the jacket while running, with minimal flappage. In fact, every detail was added with running in mind: Vents in the back allow even more airflow, the entire shell can be stuffed into the front zipper chest pocket, and reflective logos on the back and front provide some visibility in low light. The water-repellent finish is also PFC-free, making it eco-friendly (PFCs are man-made chemicals that break down very slowly once released into the environment).
Tracksmith Off Roads Packable Jacket
Material: 93% nylon, 7% elastane | Weatherproofing: Water-repellent | Sizes: XS to XL
The Off Roads Packable is woven with Swiss fabric that’s treated with a Nanosphere DWR finish, which gives it a thin water- and dirt-repellent layer. Our testers were impressed with the workmanship that went into this incredibly featherlight shell. “The pockets are actually really amazing,” said one tester. “I ran one day with a carabiner on my keys, and it was like it was barely there. I like that the pockets run deep to the zipper with a slight downward angle into the pocket.” The upper back has a mesh vent for airflow, a zipper garage prevents neck chafing, and the cuffs have smooth, elastic stitching. The jacket packs down into a zippered pocket, and you can carry it easily in your hand with help from an elastic band.
―MOST DURABLE WATERPROOFING―
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket
Material: Elastane and nylon | Weatherproofing: Windproof and waterproof | Sizes: XS to XXL
The Stretch Ozonic is made of soft fabric that’s waterproof and abrasion-resistant. Testers say it kept them dry, but they found themselves becoming sweaty later in their run due to little ventilation. Zippered underarm vents provide some airflow, however unzipping them results in “a lot of exposure to rain,” said a tester. Other perks include Velcro tabs for securing the cuffs around your wrists or upper arm. The jacket packs down into a zippered pocket for portability (though likely for packing into a suitcase or duffel, since it’s too bulky to carry on your run).
―HIGHLY BREATHABLE AND WATERPROOF―
Showers Pass Cloudburst Jacket
Material: Polyester | Weatherproofing: Fully waterproof | Sizes: XS to XL
Showers Pass makes the Cloudburst with EliteAir, a three-layer polyester fabric that has a whopping 43K/10.2K breathability-waterproof rating. Reflective trim on the zipper, pockets, shoulders, and cuffs enhances visibility against the ivory or orange colorway. The jacket has a tailored fit yet is roomy enough for layering, making it a great option in the rain and snow. Our testers were impressed by its “mix of quality, usefulness, look, and feel.” Said one: “What I liked most about the jacket was the material, specifically the waterproofing. The stretchy material is very thin and comfortable to run in. It is quiet and breathable but kept me warm and blocked out a lot of the wind. This is one of the more impressive running jackets I’ve run in.”
―How to Recycle Your Run Gear―
Marmot Bantamweight Jacket
Material: Ripstop nylon | Weatherproofing: Waterproof and windproof | Sizes: XS to XL
Marmot’s lightweight, loose-fitting Bantamweight jacket is so thin you can see through the ripstop nylon fabric—yet it’s protective enough to provide a fully waterproof shield against the elements. The jacket has an integrated waterproof Pertex membrane and taped seams that repel heavy rain, and a close-fitting hood with cinch cords that help prevent your head from getting soaked. Strategic little perforations in the fabric help the jacket vent air. I wore the jacket with a thin base layer on a sunny 25-degree run and a drizzly, windy, 45-degree one, and it was versatile enough to keep me comfortable for both. For a jacket that weighs less than five ounces—and stuffs down into its own internal pocket—the Bantamweight provides serious water- and windproof protection.
―BEST COZY WIND BLOCKER―
Craft Adv Essence Wind Jacket
Material: 60% recycled polyester, 40% polyester | Weatherproofing: Windproof and water-repellent | Sizes: XS to XL
On a 30-degree run, this fitted jacket from Craft is the perfect barrier between a base layer and the biting wind—it’s just lightweight and breathable enough to keep you from overheating, and protective enough to make you forget about the weather. That breathability comes thanks to tiny perforations throughout the fabric along the arms and shoulders, which vent heat but don’t allow any significant precipitation to enter. The jacket is water-repellent, so it won’t keep you dry in the worst rain, but it also doesn’t feel like overkill in a light drizzle. On an unexpectedly chilly morning, I found the soft six-inch sleeve cuffs with thumbholes made for a cozy substitute for gloves. I also appreciated the two small zipper pockets and cinch cords at the waist and hem to prevent any wind billowing.
How to Test a Rain Jacket’s Breathability, the Best Way to Maintain Its Waterproofness, and When Its Okay to Just Get Wet
Q: How do you test a jacket’s breathability?
A: For the sake of this review, we relied on tester feedback, as well as a fabric-permeability test to measure how much water vapor passes through the material. With the help of test editor Brad Ford from Popular Mechanics, we cut patches from several jackets, banded them over Styrofoam cups filled with 50 grams of desiccant beads (porous beads made of silica gel), and weighed them. Then we put the cups on a perforated tray and sealed them over a bain-marie (a type of heated bath). After two hours, we went back to the cups, removed them from the bain-marie, and weighed them again, recording the difference in weight pre-sauna. This test was to assess each jacket’s breathability, the warm vapors from the bain-marie representing the sweat and heat our body generates during a run.
Q: How do you wash a waterproof jacket?
A: You can follow the washing instructions inside the jacket, but it’s generally suggested to machine-wash them on a gentle cycle in cold water, with all zippers closed. Don’t use a regular detergent. Instead, try a tech-gear detergent like Nikwax Tech Wash that’s been specifically designed for waterproof fabric if you want the weatherproof treatment in the fabric to last longer. Hang your jacket up to dry or tumble-dry on low.
Q: What do you do when it’s too warm to wear a rain jacket, but you don’t want to get wet?
A: Warm, swampy running conditions are tough to dress for. If it’s too warm out to wear even the lightest rain jacket while running, I tend to just accept that I’m going to get soaking wet and wear as little light, quick-drying fabrics—like polyester/elastane blends that I know won’t get weighted down by the rain—as possible. I also use an anti-chafe balm like Megababe Thigh Rescue or Body Glide in places that tend to build friction when wet, like the inside of my upper arms. As soon as the run is over, I change into dry clothing as quickly as I can. Rainy runs can be fun when you’re not at any risk of hypothermia!