Although you probably don’t need rain pants during lighter showers or warmer weather, a good pair of rain pants can help you stay dry and comfortable when you’re hiking in heavy rain or colder climates. To find the best pair, we spent 45 hours conducting research, speaking to experts, conducting a killer wash test, and chasing rain through Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. Based on our latest testing, we chose Marmot’s PreCip Eco Pants, which come in men’s and women’s sizes, as the best rain pants for most people. Water resistant yet breathable, these rain pants come in multiple inseam lengths, have a tailored cut, and offer features such as ankle zippers and side pockets. They’re also more affordable than many of the other pants we tested.
Marmot Men’s PreCip Eco Pants
These lightweight, comfortable pants will keep you dry through rainy hikes. They are available in regular, short, and long versions to accommodate multiple heights.
Compared with the other rain pants we tested, Marmot’s 2.5-layer PreCip Eco Pants (available in both men’s and women’s versions) will keep you dry for a lower price. In our tests the water-repellent coating on the PreCip pants held up well during Oregon rainstorms, even after five hours of continuous washing. And the fabric felt breathable during a steamy hike in the Hoh Rain Forest at Washington’s Olympic National Park. Although the PreCip pants are still roomy enough to move around in and to pull over base layers, they have a narrower cut than any other rain pants we tested and a better range of inseam lengths to fit people of different heights. (They don’t come in plus or petite sizes, however. For those options, check the Other good rain pants section.) With ankle zippers at the cuffs, these pants are easy to get on and off while you’re wearing boots. They’re also a few ounces lighter than most of the other rain pants we considered.
Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L Pants (available in men’s and women’s versions) are similar to our top pick, but they are an ounce heavier, and they’re more expensive at this writing. The 3-layer ripstop-nylon fabric of these pants looks and feels identical to the fabric of our top pick, and the Torrentshell pairs were just as water resistant and breathable when we wore them while walking in the rain, too. They have longer ankle zippers that cool your legs when opened partially, which we loved. However, Patagonia doesn’t offer various inseam options for the Torrentshell pants (they come in a 32- to 32½-inch inseam), so they may be too long or short for many people—and if they don’t fit you well in that regard, you may end up tripping over your pants or showing some damp, chilly ankle.
Arc’Teryx Beta AR Pant Men’s
At more than triple the cost of our top pick, these pants are a splurge. But they perform in rain, snow, and mountaineering conditions, plus they’re the most durable option we tested.
Arc’Teryx Beta Pant Women’s
The women’s sizes are also a splurge. But they perform in rain, snow, and mountaineering conditions, plus they promise to be the most durable option.
The Arc’Teryx Beta pants (available in men’s and women’s versions) are the most insulating and durable rain pants we tested. If you’re just looking for a pair of rain pants to help you wait out a rainstorm, these are likely to feel too heavy and robust, but they’ll do especially well for mountaineering adventures and winter storms. The key is that they’re made with Gore-Tex Paclite material, which is totally windproof and waterproof, as well as exceptionally lightweight. The result is a 3-layer construction that breathes well but still keeps you dry. We also liked the reinforced instep patches along the calves; because of the thicker fabric, you’re less likely to rip your pants with crampons or snowshoes. And these pants are likely to stand the test of time longer than our other picks because of the fabric. Despite their wider range of sizes (up to XXL), however, Arc’Teryx clothing tends to run narrow, so you’ll probably want to try them on before you buy. If you have mountain or winter hikes coming up, they’re worth the splurge.