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10 Best Lightweight Rain Jackets for Travel 2017

Having a rain jacket when you need it is essential when you’re traveling. The problem is that you don’t want to lug around a hefty rain jacket just in case it starts to rain. The solution? A super lightweight packable rain jacket.

A super lightweight rain jacket along with a lightweight down jacket are two things that I will almost always have with me on a longer trip. Combined they can pretty much keep your warm and dry in any situation, and take of very little room and won’t weigh you down.

Here’s a look at some of the best super lightweight packable rain jackets.

The Basics: What To Look For

Weight. When it comes to packing light, everything counts. All of these ultra-lightweight rain jackets weigh 13 oz or less, with some weighing the same as a t-shirt! The benefit of lightweight rain jackets is that they weigh half as much as many standard rain jackets and are just as functional.

Waterproofness. Waterproofness of a jacket is rated by it’s fabrics ability to keep water out using a column test (want to know more? read here). Basically the higher the number the more waterproof the fabric. However, construction of the jacket (e.i. 2x layer fabric, taped seams) also plays a huge role is keeping water out.

Breathability. You don’t want to get wet from the inside out. If you are exercising you will sweat and the more breathable the jacket the less moisture stays inside your jacket.

Packability. The more packable, the better. Ultimately the smaller a jacket packs down the less room it takes in your bag. Some even pack into themselves, with a stuff sack in one of the pockets.

Drawcords. Having a drawcord around the hem of the jacket can help block and out wind and keep the jacket fitting tighter.

Hood. Not everyone likes using hoods. Sometimes they get in the way, but when it’s RAINING a hood can be super useful for staying dry.

Fit. An athletic fit will insure the jacket does not flap in the wind and provides maximum range of motion during movement and exercising.

Seams. Fully taped seams are the only way to go. This means that every seam is taped shut and won’t allow any water to leak through the stitching. Fully taped seams create an air tight seal between you and the outside. Your gear will also be stronger and last longer.

Pockets. Pockets mean you have extra storage space. They also mean added weight and more places for seams and zippers to fail. If you don’t plan on carrying many gadgets look for a jacket with smaller and fewer pockets. At minimum some lightweight jackets have only a chest pocket.

Pros and Cons of Super Lightweight Rain Jackets

With almost every piece of gear, lightweight usually means less durable. Although these jackets are incredibly strong and resistant, the fabric used can be almost paper thin and can be damaged by sharp objects (think tree branch while hiking).

That said, the ultra-lightweight aspect of these jackets is also the main draw. They are super packable and rarely weigh more than your iPhone. This means you can stuff them in your daypack or pocket and you won’t even know they are there.

10 Best Lightweight Rain Jackets for Travel

Marmot Essence Jacket

Marmot Essence Jacket

My personal go-to travel rain jacket. Super waterproof and super light. I have put this jacket to the test over the last two years of travel and absolutely love it.

The Marmot Essence Jacket is what a lightweight rain jacket should be—simple, lightweight, and keeps you dry. Marmot’s NanoPro MemBrain is waterproof and incredibly breathable which makes it great for activities in the rain. The athletic fit with Marmot’s Angel-Wing Movement allows for a full range of motion and makes it a great choice for activities from running to climbing. Plus the integrated underarm vents help keep you dry during intense exercise.

With no bells-and-whistles it weighs the same as a t-shirt and is super compressible, and although paper thin it’s also surprisingly durable. I’ve worn my Marmot Essence Jacket on countless mountain adventures and roughed up again trees and granite rocks without ever having damaged the jacket.

Weight: 6.3 oz

Waterproof Rating: 10,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 47,000 g/m²

Pockets: 1 chest

Venting: underarm integrated cooling vents

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Marmot Essence Jacket

See the Women’s Marmot Essence Jacket here.

Marmot Mica Jacket

marmot mica jacket

At just under an ounce heaver than the Marmot’s Essence jacket the Marmot Mica Jacket is a more waterproof and less breathable option. In either case these two jackets are among the best lightweight rain gear options out there and prove that Marmot’s done it right.

Constructed out of Marmot’s waterproof and breathable MemBrain Strata the Mica Jacket insures you’ll stay dry in rainstorms and let’s moisture escapes so you don’t get wet from the inside out from sweat. The lightweight jacket keeps things simple, but has an adjustable hem, hood, and cuffs to keep the weather out.

Weight: 7.0 oz

Waterproof Rating: 20,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 20,000 g/m²

Pockets: 2 hand

Venting: zippered underarm

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Marmot Mica Jacket

Marmot Super Mica Jacket

Marmot Super Mica Jacket

The Marmot Super Mica Jacket is slightly less waterproof but more breathable jack than the Marmot Mica Jacket. It still comes in under 10 oz and has reinforced shoulders and hips, underarm zips, and harness-and pack-compatible pockets. The bottom line is that this is another great rain jacket option with just enough features and still super light weight.

Weight: 10.0 oz

Waterproof Rating: 10,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 47,000 g/m²

Pockets: 2 hand

Venting: zippered underarm

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Marmot Super Mica Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

The Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket is one of the most well reviewed lightweight rain jackets on the market. Constructed from durable and weatherproof Ultralight Pertex Shield fabric it’s both incredibly breathable and keeps water out. Pair that with fully-taped seams and water-resistant zips and you won’t get wet when the water comes down.

The jacket features a single-pull hood drawcord that makes adjustments easy on the fly and the zippered chest pocket and elastic cuffs keep things functional and simple.

Weight: 6.4 oz

Waterproof Rating: n/a

Breathability Rating: n/a

Pockets: 1 chest, 1 internal

Venting: no

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Montane Minimus Jacket

Montane Minimus Jacket

The Montane Minimus Jacket will keep you dry and you’ll still be able to move with it’s athletic cut and drop tail. Made out of  ultralight Pertex Shield 2.5-layer fabric it offers superior breathability and waterproof protection.

The jacket features include a roll-away hood, reflective detailing to keep you seen in low light, and a stow sack to easily store you jacket or hang it off your pack. The bottom line is that it’s a super-light jacket that weighs little more than two of your energy bars and comes fully with every feature you need, and nothing you don’t.

Weight: 7.5 oz

Waterproof Rating: 20,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 25,000 g/m²

Pockets: 1 chest

Venting: no

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Montane Minimus Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Super Light Plasmic Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Super Light Plasmic Jacket

At only 8.0 oz the Mountain Hardwear Super Light Plasmic Jacket will keep up with any activity you throw at it. It’s fully waterproof and yet breathable with it’s two layer construction of a Dry.Q Evap membrane and a durable 15D nylon shell. The material is tough and feels like much more of a mountaineering or traditional rain jacket than some of the other materials out there.

The form fitting design and pack and harness-compatible hand pockets (located higher on the jacket) make the jacket functional in all situations.

Weight: 8.0 oz

Waterproof Rating: n/a

Breathability Rating: n/a

Pockets: 2 hand

Venting: no

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Mountain Hardwear Super Light Plasmic Jacket

Backcountry Stash Shell

Backcountry Stash Shell

When Backcountry.com launched it’s own line of outdoor gear and clothing a few years back I was excited to see what will be offered. The Backcountry Men’s Stash Shell does not disappoint with it’s superior Bombshell Lite featuring mechanical-stretch construction.

This is heaviest jacket of the bunch at just 13 ounces and is considered a four-season shell. With the extra weight you’ll get ultimate protection from the elements when skiing, hiking, climbing, or whatever you do! The jacket is a great option for a super breathable, durable, and waterproof jacket that is ready for anything you throw at it.

It’s also a great deal when the jacket is on sale and you can often grab it for a little of $100!

Note: The jacket may run a bit small in the torso, but it has extra long arms.

Weight: 13.0 oz

Waterproof Rating: 20,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 20,000 g/m²

Pockets: 2 hand, 1 internal chest

Venting: underarm zips

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Backcountry Men’s Stash Shell

Norrøna Bitihorn Dri1 Jacket

Norrøna Bitihorn Dri1 Jacket

Norrøna is a Norwegian brand producing incredibly high quality and stylish outdoor clothing and sports gear. If you haven’t heard of them until now, don’t worry, but the gear they make is certainly worth taking a look at. I love there bright colors and design components that set their clothing and gear apart from others.

The Norrøna Bitihorn Dri1 Jacket only weighs 7.5 oz and provided great waterproof protection (20,000 mm) and breathability (20,000 g/m²). This jacket is one of the most weatherproof and lightest jackets on the market. The jacket features underarm vents to help extra moister and heat escape during exercise and the athletic cut won’t slow you down during any activity.

Weight: 7.5 oz

Waterproof Rating: 20,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 20,000 g/m²

Pockets: 2 chest

Venting: underarm

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Norrøna Bitihorn Dri1 Jacket

Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket

patagonia storm racer jacket

Designed for alpine running the Patagonia Storm Racer was built with mobility and speed in mind. The jacket is built from stretchy 30-denier nylon ripstop with DWR finish and will both resist tearing and won’t let water in.

The jacket features fully taped seams, a single-pull adjustable drawcord at the hood and hem, zippered arm vents, and elastic bound wrists to save weight.

Weight: 9.6 oz

Waterproof Rating: n/a

Breathability Rating: n/a

Pockets: 1 internal chest

Venting: zippered arm

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Patagonia Storm Racer

Rab Spark Jacket

rab spark jacket

Rab is a high quality outdoor and mountain adventure gear company based our of the UK. Their Men’s Spark Jacket is a superb choice for a lightweight waterproof jacket. Constructed out of a 2.5 layer Pertex Shield+ it will keep you both dry and allow a high level of breathability.

the jacket is more geared towards mountain adventures and is ready to take on anything you can throw at it. It comes with fully tapes seams, zippered underarm vents to cool off, hook-and-loop cuffs, a helmet-compatible hood, and a hem drawcord. The jacket is also super packable and can be stuffed into one of its A-line chest pockets for easy and convenient storage when you’re on the move.

Weight: 11.1 oz

Waterproof Rating: 20,000 mm

Breathability Rating: 20,000 g/m²

Pockets: 2 chest

Venting: zippered underarm

Seams: fully taped

Get It Here: Men’s Rab Spark Jacket

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