12 Best Lightweight Rain Jackets in 2018

Did you know that the best lightweight rain jacket is made of nylon?

That is because nylon is lightweight and water-resistant, two of the main reasons why umbrella manufacturers use it on the canopy of umbrellas!

Up until this point, you probably didn’t put much thought into choosing a rain jacket. In fact, we are going to guess that price determined whether or not you would buy it!

We are here to show you that there is so much more to it than just price and would like to help you understand all of the small details that can make (or break) this type of jacket.

First, check out the top 12 lightweight rain jackets in our table (we feature six for women and six for men), then head down to learn more about the features you should pay attention to as you shop. You will find detailed reviews of the top five jackets at the end!

Top 12 Lightweight Rain Jackets Comparison Table

DesignNameGenderShell MaterialRating (1-5)
  1. Paradox Men’s Elite Waterproof Rain Jacket Men Nylon 4.5
  2. Columbia Men’s Watertight II Front-Zip Hooded Rain Jacket Men Nylon 4.5
  3. Carhartt Men’s Rockford Rain Defender Jacket Men Nylon 4.5
  4. Charles River Apparel Men’s Classic Solid Windbreaker Pullover Men Nylon 4.5
  5. Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket Women Ripstop Nylon 4.4
6. Charles River Apparel Women’s Pack-N-Go Pullover Women Polyester 4.4
7. Columbia Men’s Glennaker Lake Front-Zip Rain Jacket Men Nylon 4.4
8. Columbia Women’s Switchback II Jacket Women Nylon 4.3
  9. Columbia Women’s Splash A Little Rain Jacket Women Polyester 4.3
  10. The North Face Women’s Venture Jacket Women Nylon 4.3
  11. Portwest Men’s Classic Rain Jacket Men Nylon 4.3
  12. Helly Hansen Women’s Seven J Rain Jacket Women Helly Tech* 4.3

Note – Helly Tech® is a trademarked fabric of the Helly Hansen brand, and it comes in three different performance levels: Professional, Performance, and Protection. This particular jacket uses their Helly Tech® Protection fabric, known for being waterproof, windproof and breathable.

Buying Information – How to Find a Great Rain Jacket

Some rain jackets stand out above the rest and below, we will show you what makes a rain jacket worth your money.


One of the first things you should look at when choosing a rain jacket is what the outer shell is made of, and as we mentioned earlier, the best lightweight rain jacket has a Nylon shell.

  • Nylon – Nylon is great for many reasons: it is strong, lightweight, it doesn’t wrinkle, and – most importantly for you – it is water-resistant.

All of these features make it appealing to backpack manufacturers, umbrella manufacturers and in our case, those who make apparel.

  • Ripstop Nylon – Ripstop is the name of the weave rather than the actual fabric itself.

In this case, Nylon fibers were woven together using a special technique that will help reinforce the entire structure of the finished piece of fabric. This reinforcement will prevent it from ripping and tearing further in case it is punctured.

It still features the same great permeability as regular Nylon, but will probably last longer even if you do puncture it since the puncture won’t spread as easily.

You will notice that number 9 in our table – the Colombia Splash a Little Rain Jacket – has a polyester shell rather than nylon, but upon further investigation, we saw that it is still a great jacket since the material has been coated with Columbia’s Omni-Tech waterproof (see the video about it below). There is nylon in this jacket; they just moved it from the shell to the lining to offer you superb water protection!

Jacket Features and Structure

  • Length – Another thing you should be sure to take into consideration as you’re shopping for a rain jacket is the length.

Does it fall above the waist, at the waist or below the waist, and which do you prefer?

Make sure that the arms are long enough, too. When you’re wearing the jacket, stretch your arms out in front of you to see how far up your arm the cuffs rise. If they go up too far, then this is a sign that they aren’t long enough for you.

  • Sealed Seams – The seams, or where the two pieces of fabric were sewn together, are the perfect place for water to seep into the inner layers of your jacket. Yikes!

A great rain jacket manufacturer knows this, and to help prevent leaks; they seal (or tape) the seams to ensure a solid closure at this location.

Some of the jackets below do feature taped seams, so if you are looking for superb water protection for running, biking or hiking outdoors; make sure you opt for one of them.

Top 5 Best Lightweight Rain Jacket Reviews

1. Paradox Elite Waterproof Rain Jacket

The Elite is probably one of the Paradox brand’s most popular jackets.

The Helly Hansen brand in our table (number 12) uses their own unique trademark fabric, and Paradox also uses a similar product called the Paradox® 5-layer system.

Overall, they use 80% Nylon and 20% Polyester in their jacket. The 2.5 layer system is consists of an outer layer of fabric that is durable and breathable. This fabric is then coated with a layer of waterproof material that does an excellent job of keeping the rain from soaking through and between the outer shell and the lining; they have also used a thin insulation that keeps the jacket windproof.

The small details make a difference, too: you have a media pocket on the chest, a hood, YKK zippers (YKK is a Japanese manufacturer of zippers, and they are well known for their quality) and the construction of the jacket is superb.

It is perfect for everyday use and overseas trips to rainy destinations!

2. Colombia Watertight II Hooded Rain Jacket

There are many reasons to love the Watertight II Jacket from Columbia, and we will be going over all of them with you here!

Frist, you can’t go wrong with sealed seams; they prevent the rain from seeping in at all of the seams, which means you stay dry.

The Nylon they used on this jacket is both waterproof and breathable thanks to Columbia’s Omni-Tech technology.

Here is a brief overview of it in their video:

We love that it has an adjustable storm hood, zippered hand pockets, a chin guard that helps prevent your manly whiskers or beard from rubbing the fabric raw along the top of the jacket and it very easy to pack. They have sewn in a handy pocket that allows you to stuff the entire jacket inside itself.

Most importantly, will it keep you dry if it starts pouring? You bet it will, and it comes in plenty of different colors, too.

This jacket ideal for hikers or if you’re looking for something to keep in the car’s emergency bag!

3. Carhartt Men’s Rockford Rain Defender Jacket

If you want something that is really lightweight, then you might prefer a jacket like this one from Carhartt.

The Rockford is made with a 4.25-ounce Oxford Nylon (Oxford is referring to the weave of the threads in this case), which just happens to be both water-resistant and puncture-resistant. Inside the jacket is a polyester mesh lining with taffeta in the sleeves, which is very comfortable even if you’re wearing a t-shirt underneath.

The shell of the jacket will cause rain to bead up and roll right of the jacket, but keep in mind that it is not designed to save you in the event of a downpour. All water-resistant and water-repellent materials have their limit, so if you want something that will keep you dry in constantly rainy conditions, this isn’t the right choice.

It is a great choice if you are looking for something tough and durable that will keep you dry in the event of a sprinkle (or a mad dash to your car in a downpour).

It’s affordable and lightweight; two very good reasons to purchase it!

4. Charles River Apparel Classic Pullover

While this isn’t technically a jacket (it is a pullover), it is certainly lightweight, and it will keep you dry in the rain, so let’s have a look at it, shall we?

It’s not thick and bulky, but thanks to the 100% cotton flannel lining, it will keep you warm in the crisp spring and fall temperatures. The outer shell is made of Nylon that is both wind-resistant and water-resistant, and just like the Columbia Watertight II Jacket we looked at earlier; this can also fold down into a built-in pocket on the front when you would like to store it for travel.

As a pullover, you only have a zipper that comes half way down the chest, so it is important to choose the right size based on your measurements, especially around the belly.

This jacket is best for very light water exposure: we can’t say that it will keep you dry in the event of a sudden rainstorm, but if you’re running errands and you want to keep your regular clothes dry from store entrance to the car door, this will do the trick. The wind protection is superb!

5. Marmot PreCip Jacket

Marmot has the best lightweight rain jacket for women on our list, and while it is a bit on the expensive side for a jacket in this category, we still feel it is worth the purchase due to the high-quality materials and construction.

We love that Marmot has used Ripstop Nylon rather than just regular old Nylon since, as the name suggests, the material is designed “stop the rips.”

Nylon – while lightweight and water-resistant – can, unfortunately, tear easily, but with Ripstop, the problem stops at the puncture.

It has a combination of some of the features we loved from the men’s jackets above, including taped seams, a stuff pocket that you can fold it down into, and it is both waterproof and breathable. The hood can even fold up and be stored in the collar, so you don’t have to worry about removing it and then forgetting it somewhere in a closet.

If you want to go jogging in light rain, you bike to work and need something that will keep your work clothes dry, or if you’re traveling and need something that will keep you dry, this is the type of rain jacket you need.