Stay Protected With The Best Rain Pants Of 2017
Being out with nature can be an amazing experience but Mother Nature knows no bounds. You can be enjoying your trip and then out of nowhere end up drenched in rain, stuck in the middle of a storm.
But every good hiker knows about Mother Nature’s unpredictability and knows how to come prepared – so should you. Having the best rain pants will give you a little bit of protection and keep you dry during an unexpected downpour.
I’m here to help you look for the best pair of rain pants you can get because I know first hand how difficult it can be to get caught up in the rain unprepared.
There is a lot of terminology and technicalities when it comes to materials of waterproof or water resistant gear but we’ll go over the very basics to give you an idea of what is important when making your selection.
Construction Of Layers
When searching for rain gear, you may come across terms like “2L”, “2.5L”, or “3L”. This doesn’t actually mean “liters” like it normally would – for rain protective clothing the “L” stands for layers.
In general, waterproof fabrics can have 2, 2.5, or 3 layers in their design. This doesn’t mean that when something is labeled 3L, you’ll actually feel three layers when you grab it.
The layers refer to the way the materials are constructed and bonded together tightly to function into what feels like a single layer.
All waterproof rain pants fabrics have an outer shell that is treated or coated with a water-repellent base and a breathable membrane in the middle.
The difference is that 3L fabrics will most likely use a durable polyurethane film while 2.5L fabrics use a thin, polyurethane laminate that is usually “painted” or “printed” on. That “painted” or “printed” layer is what is considered the half layer.
3L fabrics tend to be more durable and better at waterproofing, but they are often less breathable and heavier than 2L or 2.5L fabrics. While 2.5L pants may not be as durable as 3L, they are lighter, feel subtle, and are easier to pack.
As a quick summary: 2L fabrics are the quietest, 2.5L are the lightest, and 3L are the most robust. Below is also a table from REI.com as an additional guide to better understand the construction of fabric layers.
Ultralight to lightweight
Other Things To Consider
There are a few more factors to consider when choosing your rain pants such as the way it fits, the material, and the leg zip.
Another good way to select what type of rain pants to get is to select based on what activity you’ll be doing.
- If you are hiking, prioritize looking for pants that are lightweight and easily compressible. This is because generally, hikers will put a lot of forethought into what days they choose to go hiking so most likely the weather will be fine.
- Having a lightweight and small pair of rain pants in your backpack as a backup in case the weather turns on you is what you really need.
- In the same way as hiking, weight and compressibility are important since a backpacker will most likely be carrying rain pants as backup rather than having to wear it all the time.
- Although, since backpacking trips are generally longer than hikes, comfort is an important factor, as well as security around the hips to prevent the pants from constantly falling down as your backpacking hike progresses.
Climbers and Mountaineering
- Climbers and mountaineers will most likely wear their rain pants more often or longer than hikers or backpackers. More protection is needed if you’ll be doing these activities.
- Other features are important as well such as three-fourth length or full-length side zippers for better maneuverability. Rain pants for climbing and mountaineering also need to be more durable due to the nature of this activity.
Top Five Picks
There are a lot of rain pants available in the market – and I mean A LOT. But these are my top five picks of the best rain pants, all of which either I or my husband has tried before.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Amazon Rating: 4.7
Our first pair of rain pants comes from outdoor gears giant, North Face. The North Face Resolve is a 2L pants made from 70D HyVent Nylon material.
The lining is made of mesh to give you breathable protection. The waist is elastic to fit snug around your waist with drawstrings to further tighten it into place.
There is an ankle zipper and additional Velcro straps in the ankles to lock your boots or shoes in place. The seams are also sealed for extra waterproofing and there are two pockets for you to keep your belongings.
It comes in black and in sizes medium through XL and can be easily worn over your regular pants.
- Budget friendly
- Ankle zippers may not be long enough to go around hiking boots
- The length may be a bit long especially for those with shorter legs
Amazon Rating: 4.8
Our next pair of rain pants comes from Patagonia. The Torrentshell rain pants are made from H2No Performance Standard fabric and a waterproof breathable ripstop nylon.
The waistband is also elastic with an internal drawcord to cinch your pants tighter in place. There are two pockets which are zippered. The side zips are about ¾ length and are water repellent.
The bottom of the pants also has Velcro to tightly wrap around your boots and is great for trekking.
The Torrentshell pants are available for both Men and Women:
- Made with good quality
- Simplistic in design
- The inner lining might wear out easily
Amazon Rating: 5.0
The Montane Minimus is very minimal and simplistic in its design – hence the name. The material is made with a Pertex Shield and DWR (durable water repellent) coating for extra protection against the rain.
These pants also have side ankle zippers and Velcro calf tabs. Like most rain pants, the waist has an elastic seam with a draw chord.
The trims of the pants are reflective to keep you visible and it comes with a Montane stuff sack to pack it in when not in use.
- Very lightweight and soft
- Easy to pack
- Comes with a stuff sack
- No pockets
- A bit short for those with long legs
Amazon Rating: 5.0
The next pants that made it on the list is the Foray from Outdoor Research. It is the only pants on the list that comes in a different color other than black – coyote.
It is made from 100% Polyester woven GORE-TEX fabric making it waterproof but still breathable and lightweight. The zippers are made from YKK Aqua Guard Zippers and all the seams in the pants are taped for extra protection.
It has ankle zippers and a clip-on button to lock boots in place.
The Foray provides good mobility for hiking, backpacking, and even climbing but it is lightweight enough to pack as your “just-in-case” rain pants for long trips.
- Easy to move around
- Great water resistance
- Seams are all taped
- There’s only one pocket
- Button on the bottom of pants is more difficult to use than Velcro
Amazon Rating: 4.5
The final entry is the Stretch Ozonic from Mountain Hardwear. It is made from Dry Q Active material, which is waterproof and breathable and helps remove moisture.
It is also made with a 40D face fabric, which is lightweight and durable and has a four-way stretch to accommodate your natural range of motion easily without any struggle.
This by far is the most stretchable fabric and is great for when you need to do a lot of free-range motion such as climbing.
There is elastic at the waist for added support and comfort and one thigh pocket.
- Very stretchable
- Easy to move around and is breathable
- Built in belt
- Velcro flaps come off easily
- Mediocre weather-proofing
The winner of best rain pants would have to be the Montane Minimus. Buying these rain pants means you won’t have to break your bank account but they do their job well.
It is very lightweight and easy to pack so it is perfect for both hiking and backpacking trips. The best part for me is that it comes with a stuff sack so it stays organized inside your bag.
The fact that there are no pockets doesn’t bother me so much since I usually have a fanny pack with me when I hike. I like the simplicity of the design of these pants and they are the favorite of my husband as well.
With so many rain pants to choose from, it’s really hard to go wrong. Just remember to think about what you need most – more lightweight or more waterproof?
I hope this guide has helped you make a decision, and as usual, have a happy adventure!