9 Best Waterproof Rain Pants for Hiking

Rain pants are a crucial part of any hiker’s equipment, but often, they are the one piece of gear that many don’t bother with. However, having wet, cold legs will quickly diminish the enjoyment of a walk. One of the reasons hikers don’t buy pants is that the number of options available can seem confusing and contradictory.

Before investing in a pair of pants, it is essential to think about how you will use them and the conditions you usually hike in. If you mainly hit the trail in good weather, then a lightweight pair you can keep in your backpack as a precaution would be the best choice. You need to look for pants that can be pulled on quickly and that give you a good range of movement. On the other hand, if you like to go hiking, whatever the weather, then you may want to get pants you can wear for longer. Features such as high breathability and waterproofing, as well as having accessible pockets and a comfortable adjustable waist, will be important.

showers pass transit waterproof pants

You also need to consider your body type. For example, if you have large feet, pants with ¼ length ankle zippers may not be big enough for you to pull them on without taking your boots off. If you sweat easily, you need pants with good breathability and zips you can open to increase ventilation. Rain pants typically come in a good range of sizes, and the manufacturers supply measurements such as the inside seam length so you can get the right fit. If you are between sizes, it is best to go for the larger option.

When you are trying to choose which waterproof pants to buy, it can be confusing to understand all the jargon. Technological advances have created new kinds of fabrics, and companies have different criteria for their products. To help, we have highlighted what we think are the best rain pants for hiking currently available. We have also explained the key features to look for to make sure you get the best pair of rain pants for you.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our buyers guide to waterproof rain pants. See other articles in this series: 

Looking for other waterproof gear? Check out our buyers guides on waterproof hiking shoes and waterproof rain jackets

The 9 Best Waterproof Rain Pants and Trousers for Hiking

Product
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
Marmot Minimalist Pant
Outdoor Research Helium Pant
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant
Mamot PreCip Eco Pant Full Zip
The North Face Men's Antora Hiking Pants
Rab Downpour Eco Pant
Columbia Rebel Roamer
Showers Pass Transit
Mountain Hardwear Women's Stretch Ozonic Pant, Black, Small
MARMOT Men's Minimalist Pant, Black, Medium
Outdoor Research Women's Helium Rain Pants – Breathable & Weatherproof Pants Black
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Men's | Versatile Gore-Tex Pro Pant for All Round Use | Black, Large
MARMOT Women's PreCip Eco Full Zip Pant | Lightweight, Waterproof Pants for Women, Ideal for Hiking, Jogging, and Camping, 75% Recycled, Black, Medium
THE NORTH FACE Men's Antora Rain Pant, Vanadis Grey, Medium Regular
RAB Men's Downpour Eco Pants Waterproof Breathable Rain Pants for Hiking & Trekking - Black - Medium
Columbia Men's Rebel Roamer Pant, Waterproof & Breathable Black
Showers Pass Men's Transit Waterproof & Breathable Ultralight & Packable Waterproof Rain Pants - Black Color - Size XX-Large
Buying Options
Our Award
Women's Performance
Women's Best Lightweight
Men's Performance
Women's Best Rain Pant for Hiking
Men's Best Value
Men's Best Cycling
Waterproof Fabric
2.5L Dry.Q Stretch Ripstop
2.5L Gore-Tex with PacLite Technology
2.5L Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse
Gore-Tex Pro
Nono Pro Eco
2L DryVent Seam Sealed
Pertex Shield Membrane
Omni-Tech Waterproof/Breathable
Nylon
Face Fabric
100% Recycled Polyester
100% Polyester
30D 100& Nylon Ripstop
N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro
100% Recycled Nylon Ripstop
100% Recycled Nylon Ripstop with DWR Finish
Artex 3-Layer
70D 100% Nylon
Artex 3-Layer
Cost
$110.98
$184.95
$129.95
Price not available
$108.00
$60.37
$105.00
$60.00
Price not available

Best Waterproof Rain Pants for Men

Arc'teryx Beta AR Pants

Best Rain Pants for Men

Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Men's | Versatile Gore-Tex Pro Pant for All Round Use | Black, Large

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Uses innovative material to provide excellent waterproofing, breathability, and comfort
  • Fully featured with a pocket, adjustable belt, side vents, and Cordura PowderCuffs

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • If you have big feet, you may struggle to pull them on over boots.

These are fantastic rain pants. They have been designed to make being outside enjoyable in all weathers. The 3-layer GORE-TEX Pro with Most Rugged Technology the two companies worked together to create provides excellent waterproofing and great breathability while also being comfortable to wear and much more durable. If needed, there are zippered side vents with Arc’teryx’s WaterTight zippers.

The cuffs have practical features like Cordura PowderCuffs, Keprotec instep patches, and a drawcord so they can be cinched snugly against your boots. There is a drop seat, a gusseted crotch, and articulated knees to provide a wide range of movement. Extra features include a zippered pocket, suspender loops, and a hidden RECCO reflector.

The regular fit can easily fit a base layer underneath, but if you have big feet, you may struggle to pull these pants on over your boots. These are not the lightest rain pants, and they don’t come with a bag to pack them into. They are expensive, but if you can invest in these waterproof pants, they will last for years. We think these are the best men’s rain pants on the market today. Read our full review of the Arc’teryx Beta AR Pants here. 

Marmot PreCip Eco Pants Full Zip

Best Men’s Rain Pants for Hiking

MARMOT Women's PreCip Eco Full Zip Pant | Lightweight, Waterproof Pants for Women, Ideal for Hiking, Jogging, and Camping, 75% Recycled, Black, Medium

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Pockets with flaps to shield openings from rain
  • Full-length zip

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • No drawcord to secure the waist
  • No bag or pocket to pack them into

See the Marmot PreCip Eco Pants Full Zip in more detail: 

It is actually quite challenging to find fault with the Marmot PreCip Eco Pants. The ‘Eco’ in the name refers to the steps that Marmot has taken to make these pants as environmentally friendly as possible. They have used PFC-free coatings and recycled materials, but these pants are still very durable, and they will keep you warm and dry in the rain. The breathability is excellent and can be assisted by opening the zips.

The full-length zip makes these pants ideal for hikers, as you don’t have to pull them over your muddy boots. The zip is secured with a press stud at the bottom and a Velcro strip at the top. The waist is elasticated, but it can be adjusted if needed using the Velcro strips. While most hiking pants have no pockets these are a notable exception with three zippered pockets. The zips are protected by storm flaps to make sure no rain can leak in. The zips and pockets mean these are not the lightest pants available, but they pack down easily. They are also excellent value for money. We chose the Marmot PreCip Eco Pants as the best men’s rain pants for hiking. Read our full review of the Marmot PreCip Eco Pants Full Zip here. 

Marmot PreCip eco pant for rainwear

Columbia Rebel Roamer

Best Value Rain Pants for Men

Columbia Men's Rebel Roamer Pant, Waterproof & Breathable Black

Buying options:

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Low price
  • Lightweight

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • No pockets or zips
  • Won’t fit over larger boots

See the Columbia Rebel Roamer in more detail: 

These pants are great value for money and ideal for keeping in your backpack if you get caught in the rain. They are a basic pair of rain pants with few features, but this simplicity means they are very lightweight, and they squash down easily into a compact bundle. The lack of zips and pockets also means there are no openings that could allow rain to leak in. These pants don’t have the highest waterproof and breathability ratings, but they will keep you dry and comfortable in normal weather conditions. The thin, flexible fabric is comfortable and surprisingly durable.

There are no zips to open up the bottom of the legs, but the cuffs are wide with a Velcro strip to tighten them. The cut of the legs is quite baggy, so you can wriggle them on over shoes and small boots. However, most hikers will have to take their boots off to put these pants on, which can be inconvenient. These hiking pants perform much better than most other models at this price point. In our opinion, these are best value rain pants for men available. Read our full review of the Columbia Rebel Roamer here. 

Columbia Rebel Roamer

The North Face Men's Antora Hiking Pants

Best Lightweight Rain Pants for Men

THE NORTH FACE Men's Antora Rain Pant, Vanadis Grey, Medium Regular

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Low price
  • Lightweight with good mobility
  • Two hand pockets

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Not as durable as more expensive rain pants
  • Doesn’t stay dry in heavy rain

SeeThe North Face Men’s Antora Hiking Pants in more detail: 

The most distinctive feature of these rain pants is North Face’s 2-layer DryVent fabric. It doesn’t have a membrane, which is how most waterproof materials stop water from penetrating. Instead, there is a microporous, hydrophobic PU coating on the inside and a DWR (durable water-repellent) coating on the outside. This gives these pants average waterproof and breathability ratings, so they will keep you dry and comfortable in typical weather conditions, but they will not cope well with heavy downpours. However, the lack of a membrane makes these pants very soft, flexible, and light. Along with the articulated knees, the fabric also gives you an excellent range of movement.

Other features are ankle zips so you don’t have to take off your boots to put your pants on, adjustable waist and cuffs, and two zippered hand pockets. These are a great mid-range pair of hiking pants. We think The North Face Men’s Antora hiking pants are the best lightweight rain pants for men. Read our full review of The North Face Men’s Antora hiking pants here. 

the north face mens antorra hiking pants

Showers Pass Transit Trousers

Best Cycling Rain Pants

Showers Pass Men's Transit Waterproof & Breathable Ultralight & Packable Waterproof Rain Pants - Black Color - Size XX-Large

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Cinch straps on lower leg
  • Elasticated waist with cinch cord

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • No Pockets

See the Showers Pass Transit Trousers in more detail: 

The Showers Pass Transit Trousers are designed for cyclists, but their features are also useful for hikers. The key feature is the cinch straps around the calves. There are two Velcro straps on each lower leg that can be used to pull the pants tight around your leg. This is helpful for cyclists as it keeps your pants away from the chain and gears. Hikers also like the cinch straps, as it can be annoying to have excess fabric flapping about your legs and catching on plants while hiking.

These rain pants are intended to go over a base layer and to keep you dry in average weather conditions. They won’t cope with heavy downpours, and the breathability isn’t brilliant. They are, however, lightweight and comfortable to wear, and they don’t restrict your movement at all. They pack down easily, and they come with a stuff sack so they can be tidied away into a neat, compact package. These are the best cycling rain pants and can be used as everyday and hiking pants as well. Read our full review of the Showers Pass Transit Trousers here. 

Showers pass transit trousers

The Best Waterproof Rain Pants for Women

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants

Best Rain Pants for Women

Mountain Hardwear Women's Stretch Ozonic Pant, Black, Small

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Good range of movement
  • Packs away into a pocket

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Not very durable

The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants are great hiking pants. The four-way stretch in the material makes them comfortable to wear and gives you a full range of movement. They are waterproof enough to keep you dry in typical weather conditions but won’t cope with heavy rain for long. You don’t have to worry about breathability as there are ¾ zips that can be unzipped from the top or the bottom to provide ventilation. These zippers, combined with the zippered fly, make it very easy to put these pants on quickly. There is a handy pocket that doubles as a bag when you are not wearing the pants.

These pants are ideal for carrying with you in case it rains, as they are easy to put on and won’t weigh your backpack down. Their stretchability and breathability mean they can be worn for a wide range of activities. The fabric is thin, however, and despite being 50-denier ripstop polyester, it is not very abrasion-resistant. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants are our choice for the best rain pants for women. Read our full review of the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants here. 

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Best Lightweight Rain Pants for Women

Outdoor Research Women's Helium Rain Pants – Breathable & Weatherproof Pants Black

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Very lightweight
  • Packs down into a small pocket

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Not easy to put on if you have big feet
  • No side pockets

These are very lightweight rain pants that are ideal for taking with you on a hike in case it rains. They can be stuffed into the rear pocket that zips up neatly and has a loop so you can clip them onto a harness or rucksack. The Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5-layer fabric is thin and flexible, making these comfortable to wear and not restricting your movement in any way. They will keep the wind and rain out in normal conditions but won’t cope with heavy rain. The fabric is very breathable, but there are no vents or zips to increase ventilation. The cuffs are elasticated and have ¼ length zippers.

Some people, especially those with big feet, can struggle to pull these on over their boots. While they are not the most robust, the ripstop nylon and DWR coating make them more durable than expected. The Outdoor Research Helium pants are, in our opinion, the best lightweight rain pants for women available on the market today. Read our full review of the Outdoor Research Helium Pants here. 

Marmot Minimalist Pants

Best Women’s Rain Pants for Hiking

MARMOT Men's Minimalist Pant, Black, Medium

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Two pockets
  • Cuffs designed to fit over hike boots and cinch tight to them

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Not very light
  • Legs can be too narrow for men

See the Marmot Minimalist Pants in more detail: 

These pants have been designed to appeal to hikers. A ¼ length zip opens to mid-calf to make it easy to pull them on without taking your boots on. The zip is secured with a press stud and protected by a storm flap. A drawcord is located in the cuffs so they can be cinched tight against your boots, giving a secure fit that will keep out the rain and mud.

The main material used for these pants is GORE-TEX, so you can be confident they will keep you dry while also being breathable. The Paclite version used here is lighter and more flexible, so they pack down quickly and are comfortable to wear. The articulated knees provide a good range of movement. However, some men have found the cut of the legs to be too narrow. The Marmot Minimalist Pants are our pick for best women’s rain pants for hiking. Read our full review of the Marmot Minimalist Pants here. 

Marmot Minimalist Pant

Rab Downpour Eco Pants

Best Value Rain Pants for Women

RAB Men's Downpour Eco Pants Waterproof Breathable Rain Pants for Hiking & Trekking - Black - Medium

Buying options:

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent breathability
  • Very waterproof

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • No bag or pocket to pack them into
  • No pockets

See the Rab Downpour Eco Pants in more detail: 

These are brilliant rain pants, especially for the price. When you look at the reviews for these pants, you will see people repeatedly commenting on how surprisingly light, comfortable, waterproof, and breathable they are. Rab has balanced a high level of waterproofing with excellent breathability. Even more impressive, they have done this while also using recycled polyester and fluorocarbon-free DWR coatings. The ½ length ankle zippers open all the way to the knee, which gives plenty of room to pull them on over hiking boots.

The 2.5-layer Pertex Revolve fabric is tough and durable and feels soft, supple, and comfortable. Zips are often the weak point on waterproof pants, but Rab has used top-of-the-range YKK zippers, so that won’t be a problem. These pants pack down quickly and easily, but it’s a shame there isn’t a bag to stow them in. Nevertheless, these are ideal rain pants to keep in your backpack when hiking, as you can be confident they will keep you dry in every type of weather. The Rab Downpour Eco Pants are our pick for the best value rain pants for women. Read our full review of the Rab Downpour Eco Pants here. 

Rab Downpour Eco Pant

Waterproof Rain Pants Buying Guide

When you are looking for a pair of rain pants, you need to think about how you will be using them. If you are mainly going to keep them in your backpack in case you get caught in an unexpected shower on the trail, then you will want pants that are lightweight and can be packed down easily and neatly. However, if you want a pair of waterproof pants that will allow you to keep hiking in all conditions, then you will want a pair with good waterproofing and breathability that you can pull on quickly without taking your boots off. Whatever your requirements, these are the key features to consider before buying rain pants.

Water Resistance

Obviously, one of the essential requirements for a pair of rain pants is to keep you dry. Most waterproof pants will keep you dry initially but some will keep you dry for longer and cope better with heavy weather. One of the ways to judge how waterproof a pair of pants are is to look at the waterproof rating. The higher the number, the more waterproof the material composing the pants is. The table below shows the waterproof ratings for the rain pants we recommend.

There are other factors that influence how effective the pants are at keeping you dry. Crucial things to look for are DWR (durable water repellent) coatings and taped seams. All zips have the potential to leak, so ideally, storm flaps would protect any zippers. Whilst no zipper is entirely waterproof, the YKK zips are very high-quality and let practically no wind or rain in. Pockets are another potential weak spot, so again, you would ideally want a storm flap to protect them, especially when they are open. Another area to look at is the cuffs. You don’t want any gaps between your boots and the pants to make sure no rain, mud, or snow gets inside.

Rain Pants
Waterproof Rating
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pants
28,000 mm
Marmot Minimalist Pants
28,000 mm
Rab Downpour Eco Pants
20,000 mm
Outdoor Research Helium Pants
20,000 mm
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
20,000 mm
The North Face Men's Antora Hiking Pants
15,000 mm
Marmot PreCip Eco Pants Full Zip
10,000 mm
Showers Pass Transit Trousers
10,000 mm
Columbia Rebel Roamer
10,000 mm
Rab waterproof zips

Breathability

When you are exercising and sweating, the moisture can be trapped inside waterproof material, which makes it feel cold, clammy, and wet. GORE-TEX led the way in making fabrics that kept the rain out while also allowing moisture to pass out. There are now many other types of fabrics and membranes that work similarly, with innovations being made on a regular basis.

Breathability is difficult to measure as it is affected by many different factors. How hard you are exercising makes a difference, and each individual will sweat at a different rate. What you wear under your rain pants will also influence how effectively any moisture is wicked away. While fabrics can be given a breathability rating, features such as vents, pockets, and zips can be used to increase ventilation, and therefore, they will make pants more breathable. Manufacturers are, therefore, generally reluctant to supply breathability ratings. The table below shows the most accurate data available at present.

Rain Pants
Breathability Rating
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pants
25,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Marmot Minimalist Pants
20,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Rab Downpour Eco Pants
20,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Outdoor Research Helium Pants
17,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
15,000 g/m2/24 hrs
The North Face Men's Antora Hiking Pants
15,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Marmot PreCip Eco Pants Full Zip
15,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Showers Pass Transit Trousers
10,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Columbia Rebel Roamer
10,000 g/m2/24 hrs
Dryvent material

Comfort and Mobility

Waterproof pants used to have a reputation for being stiff and uncomfortable. However, advances in the technology used to make waterproof fabrics have changed that. When hiking, you want pants that do not restrict your movements, no matter how steep the trail. Features such as articulated knees and gusseted crotches are good indications that thought has been put into making the pants comfortable to walk in. Some materials are stretchier than others, and 2.5-layer fabric tends to be more flexible than 3-layer fabric.

Rain pants are designed to be worn over a base layer, so they don’t tend to have narrow legs, but some have baggier cuts than others. If you want to use your pants for cycling as well as hiking, then look for a pair that has some method of tightening the cuffs. If you will be wearing your pants with a harness or a rucksack’s waist strap, you should look for low-profile or elastic waistbands to ensure you will be comfortable.

Materials

There are lots of different brands and types of waterproof fabrics nowadays. The most waterproof and durable are the 3-layer fabrics. These have a face fabric bonded to a membrane with an inner lining. The majority of rain pants are made of 2.5-layer material, which has a pattern printed on the inside of the membrane to protect it instead of a lining. The 3-layer fabrics are usually more waterproof, but they are thicker, heavier, and less flexible. While 2.5-layer fabrics are not as durable, they are lighter, easier to pack down, and usually more comfortable to wear.

Marmot Minimalist Trousers

Durability

When you buy a pair of pants, you want them to last as long as possible to get value for your investment. As with most things, the more you pay, the better the product you will get. Generally speaking, the lighter the pants and the thinner the material used, the less durable they will be. Things to look for are well-sewn and taped seams and ripstop fabric. Rain pants are designed as a protective layer to keep you dry when you encounter rain or snow. If you will be partaking in activities that have the potential to have your pants rubbing against rough surfaces, such as bushwhacking or rock climbing, then you will have to invest in a top-of-the-range pair of pants.

Weight and Packability

Ideally, you will not need to wear your rain pants the majority of the time when you are hiking. It is helpful, therefore, if the pants can be compressed into a compact bundle. The thinner and more flexible the material of the pants is, the easier it is to fold them up. It is even easier if the pants are designed to be stuffed into a pocket or bag so they are neatly packed away. Surprisingly, a lot of pants do not come with this feature. Some pants come with a loop, so you can use a carabiner to attach them to a harness, belt loop, or rucksack.

The lighter the pants are, the easier it will be to carry them. If you are going on a long hike or a backpacking trip, every ounce can make a difference at the end of a long day, so the lighter your pants are, the better. Manufacturers usually give the weight of a medium pair of pants. The chart below shows the relative weights of the rain pants we recommend.

Rain Pants
Weight of Men's
Weight of Women's
The North Face Antora Hiking Pants
4 oz / 113g
6 oz / 170g
Outdoor Research Helium Pants
5.3 oz / 150 g
5.4 oz / 153 g
Rab Downpour Eco Pants
7.9 oz / 225g
7.2 oz / 205g
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Pants
10.9 oz / 310 g
10.6 oz / 300 g
Marmot Minimalist Pant
10 oz / 288.5 g
9 oz / 262 g
Showers Pass Transit
11 oz / 311 g
-
Marmot PreCip Eco Pant Full Zip
11 oz / 310 g
10 oz / 290 g
Columbia Rebel Roamer
12.5 oz / 354g
-
Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant
16 oz / 470g
15.9 oz / 450g

What Is the Difference Between Soft Shell Rain Pants and Hard Shell Rain Pants?

Soft shell rain pants and hard shell rain pants both offer protection from wet weather, but they have distinct differences in terms of design and performance.

Soft shell rain pants are made from flexible, breathable, and water-resistant materials. They are typically made from 2 or 2.5-layer material. They prioritize comfort and freedom of movement, making them ideal for activities like hiking, backpacking, or cycling, where you need to stay active in wet conditions. While they provide decent protection from light rain and wind, they may not be fully waterproof in heavy downpours. Soft shell rain pants often feature stretchy fabrics, adjustable waistbands, and articulated knees for enhanced mobility. They tend to be lighter and are designed to be packed down into a neat bundle. Soft shell pants are usually carried most of the time and pulled on quickly when needed. They are worn as a top layer over your usual hiking trousers or shorts.

In contrast, hard shell rain pants are usually constructed from 3-layer waterproof and windproof materials. They are designed to offer maximum protection in the harshest weather conditions, including heavy rain and strong winds. They tend to be thicker, stiffer, heavier, and often less breathable. Hard shell rain pants are fully seam-sealed, ensuring no water can penetrate, and they often come with features like reinforced knees, adjustable cuffs, and zippered vents for temperature control. These pants are best suited for activities where staying dry is a top priority, such as mountaineering, skiing, or prolonged exposure to severe weather. Hard shell hiking pants often have insulation and can be worn by themselves or over a base layer.

In summary, the primary difference between soft shell and hard shell rain pants lies in their level of waterproofness and intended use. Soft shell rain pants prioritize comfort and mobility with water-resistant properties, while hard shell rain pants provide superior waterproof protection for extreme weather conditions. Your choice should depend on your specific outdoor activities and the weather conditions you expect to encounter.

Conclusion

Hiking in wet conditions can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, and having the right rain pants can make all the difference in staying comfortable and dry throughout your journey. With so many options to choose from, it’s not easy to decide what to buy. We hope the recommendations and advice in this article help you to find the best pants for you. At the end of the day, the best rain pants are the ones that keep you dry, comfortable, and protected from the elements so you can focus on enjoying your hike rather than worrying about getting wet.

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