The best rainwear for any activity

With the right rainwear, a bit of rain can add to your outdoor experience. But choosing the best rainwear is a competitive sport all on its own.

What material is the best? What other factors do I need to look out for? How do I ensure I don’t create my own personal sauna inside my jacket? We break it down here.

Rainwear for running

A quick run in warm summer rain is one of life’s little pleasures. But when you’re about to pound the pavement on a grim winter’s morning — or take on a marathon in stormy conditions — it’s time to consider proper protection.

Rain will make you cold, add extra weight to your clothing on race day, and up the ante on the chafe factor: all of which can slow you down. The best jacket for runners is one that manages the sweat on the inside while protecting you from the rain on the outside.

Key factors: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathability, Lightweight

Materials to look for: GORE-TEX, NGX, Pertex

Other features to consider:

  • A hood with good vision. Many running jackets feature a roll-away feature to keep it out the way when you don’t need it.
  • Pocket with a zip (to keep your key handy).
  • Reflective detailing to help keep you safe on the road.
The Volans Active JacketThe Volans Active Jacket
The Volans Active Jacket

Rainwear for hiking

A good downpour can be a beautiful thing but can also present a couple of challenges depending on the weather conditions.

In cold conditions, you need to stay as dry as possible to avoid hypothermia. Similarly, if you’re multiday hiking in unpredictable weather, it’s important to have a reliable rain jacket at the ready.

Even in clear conditions, it's good practice to bring a good quality, waterproof shell in case of emergencies. For instance, weather in New Zealand can change in a blink of the eye — you should always carry a rain jacket when you go out into the backcountry.

Like a running jacket, you want your hiking jacket to offer breathability. You’re likely to build up a sweat when scrambling up a rocky incline. But unlike a running jacket, you want something hard-wearing and durable. Something you can really flog on the trail.

Key factors: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathability, lightweight, durability

Materials to look for: GORE-TEX, NGX, Pertex

Other features to consider:

  • An adjustable hood and a stiff rain-shedding brim.
  • Note: a lightweight jacket may not be as durable as a heavier jacket, so you will need to decide if durability is more important than lightweight for your needs.

Rainwear for mountain sports

Let’s face it, when you’re up close and personal with snow, you’re probably already wearing a waterproof shell. Like hiking, it’s essential to stay as warm and dry as possible.

But if you’ve ever sat in a chairlift with a windchill factor of -15 without proper protection ... you’ll know just how miserable the cold can make you feel.

So if you’re planning on some backcountry skiing in the near future (or other alpine adventures) you’ll need a jacket that moves with you and offers superior waterproof and windproof protection.

Key factors: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathability, Durability
Materials to look for: GORE-TEX

Other features to consider:

  • Visibility. Grab something in a bright colour so you stand out in the snow.
  • Underarm ventilation to help keep cool during strenuous activity
Image of Adventurer Tim Jarvis climbing a snowy peak in the XT Series Alopex jacket.Image of Adventurer Tim Jarvis climbing a snowy peak in the XT Series Alopex jacket.
Kathmandu Global Ambassador Tim Jarvis wearing the XT Alopex Jacket.

Rainwear for travel and commute

A high-quality, everyday rain jacket is an excellent investment. It can offer you years of protection on your commute, on your travels, or just when you’re taking the pooch for a stroll.

Besides keeping you dry, it keeps your hands free: ideal for when you’re quickly jumping on and off public transport or navigating a crowded street. On your travels, a lightweight rain jacket can make a welcome addition to your backpack — especially in you’re travelling in wet/monsoon season.

These days rain jackets have as much form as they do function, so you can wear these to the office or with your normal clothes without standing out. Travellers and commuters want something on the lighter side so it doesn’t weigh you down.

Key factors: Waterproof, Windproof, Breathability, Lightweight, Packability, Style

Materials to look for: GORE-TEX, NGX , Pertex

Other features to consider:

  • Internal pockets to easily reach passports, transport cards or cash.
  • Cord port. Handy for keeping your headphones dry and out of the way.
  • Adjustable hood.
Image of a woman standing in the rain zipping up the Stockton rain jacketImage of a woman standing in the rain zipping up the Stockton rain jacket
The Stockton Rain Jacket comes with equal amounts style and substance.