Best Rain Pants: The Complete Guide

With so many technologies available today, sometimes it’s a bit difficult finding the right equipment. Not to mention that there are so many products out there these days that are specifically tailored towards certain activities that you get a headache every time you get online to search for something. And finding the best rain pants is a task like this. There are hundreds of manufacturers, different fabrics, different activities, different features, which makes it hard to choose something.

Before I moved to Ireland, I’ve never considered rain pants to be a must have in my wardrobe. But everything changed once I decided to move to “sunny” Cork and I realized why the weather is such a preferred conversation topic in Ireland or the UK. Probably one of the best jokes I heard about the weather here was something like “I’m really looking forward to summer; the rain gets warmer”. I don’t think there’s any normal person in Ireland that leaves home for more than a couple of hours without at least an umbrella, a rain coat or some rain pants. You just don’t do that if you like being dry.

Anyway, back to our topic. The thing is that rain pants are now an important part of my wardrobe, whether it’s just a cheap pair that I take with me when traveling, just in case, or some “heavy duty” stuff that I use when hiking or backpacking. Not to mention the golf rain pants I use most of the time. It helps that our ninja writing team has different hobbies, so we can cover most of the popular outdoor activities.

Writing about the “best rain pants” is not the easiest thing, because I don’t think there’s such thing as the absolute best rain pant you can have. Yes, while there are some pants that can be used for most of the frequent activities, there are also some other activities that have some specific requirements. For example, you need some quality rain pants if you’re preparing for a few days of hiking and there’s rain in the forecast. Or perhaps you’re interested in something for traveling, which should be lightweight and have a lot of storage spaces. Or want to go for a bike ride without worrying about being caught by rain.

We’ll be covering all these activities and we’re going to make some recommendations about what we think are the best rain pants for each one, starting with what we think are the:

Best Overall Rain Pants: The North Face Resolve

So, what is it that makes a pair of rain pants THE rain pants? First of all, they’d need to cover a wide range of activities and The North Face Resolve rain pants do a great job. Yes, there might be better pants for someone who hikes or cycles a lot, but when you just want a pair of rain pants to have around for most common situations (like a walk, traveling or the occasional hike), this pair is our recommendation.

The pricing is also important and I think $70 (this is the current price eon Amazon), these pants are a good deal. While there are cheaper pants available, a couple listed here also, the ones from The North Face offer better quality for a price that’s not a high as for the more high-end models. But that doesn’t mean they’re not good. On the contrary, they’re made using The North Face’s DryVent two-layer fabric which is fully waterproof, windproof and breathable. And according to reviews everywhere, they do a great job at keeping the water out during activities ranging from walking the dog in the rain or golfing to boat fishing.

Looking at the practical features, the pants have an elastic waist with draw cord which makes them easy to get on and off. It also has two regular pockets (not just slits to reach your jeans’ pockets) which are very ok to use. The bottom of the pants has an ankle-length zipper and Velcro adjustable ankle tabs, which allow you to loosen or tighten it depending on the footwear you’re wearing.

As for how they fit, from our experience and from most of the reviews online you should probably know that the sizing on TNF’s website (or Amazon) is accurate, but the fit is a bit loose. So, if you consider wearing them on top of jeans or with something else under, that’s ok. Otherwise, they might be a bit baggy. Also, most reviews are saying that the pants are good for medium to cold weather, so you might want to think about what kind of activities you’ll be using them for most.

However, they are not insulated, which means breathability is good and you won’t get very hot in them even when running or cycling. Oh, and more thing you probably should know is that for some people the pants were a bit too long, but I guess that depends on your build.

All these features make the Resolve rain pants from The North Face our pick for Best Overall Rain Pants and if we had to choose just one pair to have, these are it. Again, not the cheapest pair, but at around $70 that’s a great deal for a pair of high quality rain pants. To get an accurate price, click here.

Best Rain Pants for Hiking and Backpacking: Columbia Rebel Roamer

One of the most popular model of rain pants, the Columbia Reber Roamer are a great choice if you’re looking for a pair of rain pants that you can throw in the backpack. And when the weather suddenly decides you need a shower, all you have to do is put them over your regular hiking pants and voila, you’re protected.

The pants are made from Columbia’s Omni-Tech, a fabric that the manufacturer describes as “Air-permeable protection that’s waterproof and breathable”. And if there’s one thing that you can say about these pants is that they definitely can handle their rain. We have reports of people mountain biking in these or getting caught in snowstorms during hikes in Iceland and everyone was extremely happy. There’s also a story about a guy wearing them during a trip in Antarctica and who say they kept him totally dry.

A lot of people are also very pleased with the way these pants fit, allowing for easy movement even when wore above jeans or hiking pants. You can get measuring instructions on Columbia’s official website (just scroll down until you see the “Size & Fit” tab).

However, there are some reason where these pants fall a bit short and that’s why they weren’t our pick for best overall rain pants. First of all, there’s the lack of zippers or Velcro ankle tabs to make it easy to put them on over boots. While it does have an adjustable leg opening, putting them on with boots on might prove tricky for some. And the Velcro gatherers it comes with are best used for tightening the bottom of the pants around the boot and not for putting on or taking off. Another thing we would’ve liked to see on these pants are some sort of pocket or openings so you can get to your pants’ pockets.

And while these might seem like big minuses for a serious hiker, we consider the Columbia Rebel Roamer to be a great choice of rain pants for a great price (currently around $50 on Amazon). They might lack the features to tackle the Everest, but they’re definitely great for a few days of hiking.

Best Rain Pants for Travel: Bienzoe Wateproof Pants

Probably one of the most frequent questions everyone asks themselves when they pack for a trip is “what the heck do I wear if it rains?”. Because you don’t want to go for a few days in, I don’t know, Seattle or Dublin or London and stay inside all the time because it’s raining and you don’t anything to wear. And while a waterproof jacket and good boots are a must have if you ask us, so is a good pair or rain pants. Of course, you can always go for the classic jeans, which aren’t bad for a drizzle, but you need something in case things get tougher.

And here’s where the Bienzoe rain pants step into action. And probably their main plus is the versatility. First of all, they’re “convertible”. Which means that if the weather gets too warm, you can zip off the legs and turn them into shorts in no time. Also, they have plenty of pockets which are extremely handy during the long walks most of us make when visiting a new place.

As for the rain, the pants are made from a combination of polyester and cotton that’s water resistant and breathable. Note that it’s not waterproof, but water resistant. Which means that you probably won’t “survive” a full-strength thunderstorm, but you’ll be safe in most situations. Of course, you also want to take into consideration that during traveling you’re usually not stuck in the middle of nowhere without any shelter. But if it does happen and you get wet, the fabric used for the pants is quick dry, so you won’t have to spend the day all wet.

There are some people who reported using these pants for hiking and getting out completely dry from serious storms, but we think you should be a bit cautious before relying on the Bienzoe for serious outdoor activities. On the other hand, their advantage is that they offer sun protection and can be wore without anything under.

Right now, you can find the best deal for the Bienzoe rain pants on Amazon, where they’re priced between $25.99 and $42.99, depending on the size. For a more accurate price, click here.

Best Golf Rain Pants: The Weather Company Golf- Microfiber Rain Pants

Dubbed by some “the perfect golf rain pants”, the The Weather Company Golf- Microfiber Rain Pants are a pair of waterproof and windproof rain pants made from a 100% Microfiber polyester shell with 100% polyester lining. The pants come with leg zips and 2 stud fasteners, which make them extremely easy to put on, when rain decides it’s time for you to wear something over your regular golf pants.

The pants are lightweight and their fit is as expected and on the baggy side. But they also have belt loops that allow you to wear a belt and play golf as normal even when the pants inevitably sag from the rain. Combined with the material used which doesn’t make any noise when you move, the pants are extremely comfortable.

The fabric has a satin finish and the pants have several pockets. Two in the front with waterproof zips and one side ankle pocket with a Velcro fastener.

I still don’t know how they handle four hours of rain, but for one or two hours of driving rain they are more than perfect. And reading about guys that also them outside of the golf course, like when shoveling snow or watching baseball games in pouring rain, I think it says a lot about how good of a product this is.

The Weather Company golf- microfiber rain pants are available at around $59 right now, but for an exact price, head to Amazon and enter your size (click here).

Best Rain Pants Under $30: Mountain Warehouse Pakka

While we probably should’ve named them “best rain pants under $20”, because they’re exactly $19.99 right now, the Mountain Warehouse Pakka are probably the best choice when it comes to an all-around cheap pair of rain pants that you can just have around the house. Something like “who knows when I’ll need it”.

Made from a waterproof fabric called IsoDry, the pants are fully waterproof and breathable, which make them a good choice for whenever it’s ok to have a rain layer handy in your pack. However, many are amazed how well they perform in heavy rain, despite its low price. Also, the taped seams prevent any water from leaking into the stitching.

The Pakka are designed be worn over your regular pants so they come with an ankle opening adjustable with Velcro straps. That makes it easy to put them on or take off. Some find them so comfy that they wear them on a regular basis, at work or for any activity that requires going outside.

Another nice feature is the compact drawstring bag which makes it ideal for walking and traveling. What you’ll need to be careful about them is when choosing a size. Perhaps it would be good to read some reviews first, like the ones on Amazon. And that’s because there have been some complaints about the pants being too large or too tight.

The conclusion is that the Mountain Warehouse Pakka are probably the best choice if you’re looking for a cheap pair of rain pants that will get you through most situations. The price is unbeatable and it’s almost incredible how much value they offer for that money. Click here for today’s best price.

Best Lightweight Rain Pants: Marmot PreCip

While a bit more expensive than the rest of our boys on this, at less than 9 ounces (around 250 grams), the Marmot PreCip are definitely the lightest. When you use rain pants on a day by day basis, weight might not be so important, but when you’re traveling and especially hiking, every ounce you save counts.

The Marmot PreCip pants are made from NanoPro, a fabric developed by Marmot that is both waterproof and breathable. And Marmot is living up to its reputation, because no one has anything but great words to say about it. People have been using these pants to hike Scotland, New Zealand, Chile, Alaska and there are very few complaints about how they handle bad weather.

On the practical side, the pants also perform great. They have two front pockets and one back pocket, all with zippers. And pockets always come in handy. Also, they’re fitted with ankle side zips with snap tabs at cuffs, which means putting them on or taking them off is very easy, without having to remove your boots first.

What you should know is that these pants are only designed to keep the water out, offering no thermal protection. So, if you’re heading somewhere cold, make sure you also pack some serious base layers. Like we said, there are few complaints about the pants, but they are. And these include occasional sweating, the noise they make when moving and the Velcro straps’ tendency to separate when the pants are used for heavy activity.

But overall, we think Marmot’s PreCip pants are a great deal if you’re looking for a pair of rain pants that don’t take up too much space or weight in your backpack. Right now, they’re around $90 on Amazon, but it’s best you check again, because manufacturers change the prices all the time. To check the updated price, click here.

Best Deal: Helly Hansen Voss Rain Pant

So, what if you don’t care about weight and just want a pair of rain pants that are cheap and that you can rely on? Well, then you might want to take a look at the Voss pants from Helly Hansen.

The Norwegian manufacturer is specialized in making great outdoor clothes, and the Voss pants are no exception. Using their Helox+ polyurethane fabric, the pants are both waterproof and windproof, and combined with the Microweld welded seams means they’re rain protection will be excellent.

However, you need to know that one of these pants’ weak point is the breathability. Which doesn’t really exist, considering they’re made entirely from polyurethane which is basically rubber. So, when doing intense activities, such as biking, running or anything that’s cardio, your legs might get more or less sweaty.

To somehow fix this problem, Helly Hansen added a quick dry laminated polyester knit backing which does two things. First it makes sure sweat doesn’t sit directly on skin and that it dries quickly once sweat does show up. Also, the polyester lining is odor resistant and we know people who used these pants for two years and didn’t have any problems of this kind.

So, if you’re buying these pants for light activities like walking, kayaking, staying dry while watching a game or something, then you’ll probably be extremely satisfied. They have wide leg openings so they slide over your boots and jeans very easily. At the same time, the elastic adjustable waist holds them excellent and the snaps on the cuffs close the bottom tight around your boots, so no water gets in.

Bottom line, if what you need is a pair of rain pants that can stand any amounts of rain without problem and you don’t want to use them for intense activities, then I don’t know if there’s any deal better than the Helly Hansen Voss pants. And right now, they’re $35 on the HH store, but we found them cheaper on Amazon, click here to see their latest prices.

Best Rain Pants for Biking: Showers Pass Storm and Transit Pants

When it comes to cycling rain pants, there are countless options for you to choose from, ranging from $20 to more than $150-$200 for a pair of Gore-Tex pants. Iguess it depends a lot on how often you use them, what’s the weather like in your area and, of course, how intense your cycling is. Assuming you’re not a pro cyclist, we have to recommendations for you, that will cover most situations for amateur cyclists.

If you’re only going for an occasional bike ride every once in a while, probably the best deal you can get are the Showers Pass Storm pants. I really like how they describe the pants: “Be prepared…without breaking the bank”. And to be honest, it kinda sums up the pants.

Priced between $50 and $70, depending on the retailer and the occasional sale, these pants’ main strength is their rain protection. Made from a 3-layer waterproof fabric called Artex Hardshell, the pants have no problem in keeping water out, even during heavy rain.

The pants have articulated knees and ankle zips for easily putting them on over shoes and they Velcro straps for tightening them around your shins and ankles to they don’t get caught in the chain. They’re also seam taped which means they’re windproof too and reflective trims keeps you visible in low-light conditions. You also must know that sizes run small, so it’s best to size up you’re considering wearing them over street clothes.

However, they have a drawback and that is the breathability. Which is close to none. In warm weather or during long or intense rides, you get quite sweaty on the inside. And that’s not an isolated case, it was reported by most people using these pants.

Probably the best use for these pants is to have them in your pack for when you see an incoming storm. And the fact that they’re very light (8.6 ounces/less than 250 grams) and come in a mesh stuff sack makes them handy to pack. So, if you decide these are good for you, the best deal we found was on Amazon, where prices vary between $55 and $65, depending on your size. To get an accurate price for the Storm pants, click here.

On the other hand, if you’re more serious about your biking, the Showers Pass Transit pants are probably one of the best options, if not THE best.

The pants are basically identical to the Storm pants in terms of features and fit, but they fix the only reason Storm pants are not our top pick for biking. And that is the breathability. Made from an improved version of the same 3-layer Artex waterproof fabric, the Transit rain pants offer the same great water protection as the Storm pants, but they’re also breathable, which make them ideal for long or intense hike or for wearing them regularly during daily commutes.

Just like the Storm pants, the Transits have articulated knees, Velcro straps to tighten them around your ankles, reflective trims for visibility, they’re compatible with suspenders and come with a mesh stuff sack for easy packing. Their only “downside”? They’re more expensive, of course. Right now, you can get them at around $120 on Amazon (click here). But on the other side, we’ve spoke to a lot of regular bikers and we couldn’t identify any major complain about them. Not wanting to sound like a sales pitch, but I quote guys actually using them: “worth every penny”.

So, in the end it’s down to what you need and how much money you want to spend. If you’re going for the occasional ride or live in an area that doesn’t get too much rain and you just need a pair or cycling rain pants to have in your pack just in case, then the Storm pants (Amazon link) are perfect.

However, if cycling is an active part of your life (either it’s long rides during the weekend or daily commute to work), then you’re probably better paying some extra bucks for the Transit pants (Amazon link), which will get you through any kind of weather without sweating or anything.

Final words

In conclusion, like with every buying decision you make out there, choosing the best rain pants basically comes down to knowing what you need them for. We tried to cover the most popular “activities” or situations that might require the use of rain pants.

As usual, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so if you’ve been using any of the pants we mentioned here, please don’t hesitate and drop us a comment or an email with your experience. Also, if you’ve been using something else and you think it’s spectacular and should be on this list, please get in touch with us.

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Best Rain Pants: The Complete Guide
Best Rain Pants: The Complete Guide

Jenny Foster

I'm Jenny. I moved to rainy Ireland several years ago and I had to learn how to be prepared for the constant spring/fall that is the weather on the Emerald Isle. If you're always cold, always miserable because of the rain, maybe it's not the weather at fault (all the time 😀 ). A wise man once told me that there's no bad weather, just bad clothes. So I acted accordingly 🙂