We always get raincoat questions this time of year, and after several years of paying verrrrry close attention to raincoats: doing roundups, reviews, articles, as well as, ya know, wearing them myself, I realized that all of my most-worn raincoats fit into one of three categories.
So whether you’re looking for a raincoat for active endeavors (one that’s also windproof), a raincoat for drizzling, freezing cold (those gray skies of late winter/early spring), or a chic raincoat that will keep you dry on your more urban adventures, I have ideas.
The one thing I refuse to compromise on, however, is waterproofing. In order to be considered a true rain jacket, the jacket has got to be actually waterproof — none of this light “water-resistant” stuff. Which, sadly, rules out most trench coats. But when I’m walking my kids to school in a downpour…I’m pretty darn happy I’m not wearing that trench.
The Best Rain Jackets: 3 Waterproof or Water-Repellent Styles I Swear By
In the video below, I describe each of the three categories of rain jackets I swear by, what situations they’re good for, and my favorite jackets in each category.
1. For Hiking & Active Endeavors: A Short, Lightweight, Waterproof Shell
A lightweight, waterproof shell gets scrunched up in my backpacks, thrown in my suitcase, and (for versatility) provides zero warmth. It’s just a shell (albeit a shell that’s completely waterproof and windproof). But this way it can be layered over a sweater or fleece when it’s cold, yet still works as a windproof layer for summer nights at the beach, while on a boat or hiking.
Shop Lightweight, Waterproof Shells
Both of mine are either low in stock or long gone in that exact color, but I rounded up several windproof jackets that caught my eye. All are waterproof, and many of these I’ve either tried on myself, or know someone who has and loves it.
2. For City Dwellers: A Mid-Length Rain Parka
The rain jacket I grab most of the time, the one that’s my ‘everyday’ rain jacket, is a completely waterproof, mid-length parka. It’s long enough to keep my jeans (mostly) dry, it has a hood big enough so I don’t always need an umbrella (I find umbrellas annoying), and I like mine a little roomy so I can layer sweaters underneath. This is my walking-to-school-in-a-downpour jacket.
Shop Barbour Parka-Style Rain Jackets
My exact Barbour rain jacket is no longer in stock, but they do keep remaking a version of it each year. It’s pricey, but I’ve found that it’s worth the cost. Others must agree, because the darn thing keeps selling out.
Shop The North Face City Breeze Parkas
The widest range of colors can be found on The North Face’s site, but here’s what I found at my usual haunts:
Shop More Cute Rain Parkas
In addition to Barbour and The North Face, there are a ton of really cute (and chic!!) rain parkas out there, from brands that have long been on our love list (lululemon, Rains, Columbia, Sweaty Betty, etc.,).
3. For Northern Mamas: A Lightweight, Water-Repellent Puffer
For those of us who live wayyyy up north, sometimes a raincoat (even when layered with a thick, wooly sweater) doesn’t always cut it. There are some spring days when the damp cold and freezing drizzle sinks into your bones. On these days, I’ve been happily turning to a lightweight puffer.
Frankly, a lightweight puffer is probably my most-worn jacket (rain or no rain), so over the years I’ve amassed a little collection. My favorites are Patagonia’s Silent Down Puffer (covered in the video), The North Face Retro Nuptse 1996 Jacket, and this bright little number from Lole (sadly, the yellow is long gone).
Shop Lightweight Down Puffers
Oh hey Pinners, this one’s for you…