When it comes to outdoor adventuring, rain jackets are like a first aid kid: you hope to never use it, but should always have it just in case.
Whether you’re a regular backcountry backpacker or just consider yourself a weekend warrior like Nicole Eddy, a lightweight, packable rain jacket is important to include in your list of hiking essentials, because you just never know when the skies may open up.
Types of rain jackets
Rain jackets come in different layer styles: 2-layer, 2.5-layer, and 3-layer aka hardshell jackets.
2-layer rain jacket
For this type of packable jacket, only the face fabric and protective layer are bonded together. A loose hanging layer, sometimes fabric or a mesh liner, can be added for protection and breathability. This additional option can add extra weight to the otherwise lightweight jacket.
These rain jackets aren’t as durable as others due to their lightweight materials and are best used for casual outings or around-town use.
2.5-layer rain jacket
If you are scared off by the more durable 3-layer hardshells, but want something that will hold up better than a 2-layer jacket, a 2.5-layer jacket may be your best option. This category of jacket tends to be lighter, more compact, and the most flexible. Take the Marmot Minimalist Jacket for example, this lightweight rain jacket with PACLITE® Product Technology can keep up while you are hiking, climbing or biking, but only weighs in at 14.4 ounces.
3-layer rain jacket
Because of the thicker fabrics, this category of jackets tends to be more durable, but also heavier. This is the jacket you buy if you plan to spend hours in the winter elements and need added protection. Thankfully, GORE-TEX product technology has allowed these 3-layered shells to get a little lighter.
The Marmot Cerro Torre Jacket offers durable, waterproof protection while only weighing in at 11 ounces. Utilizing GORE-TEX Active fabric, this packable rain jacket meets the demands of intense aerobic activities, even in bad weather.
Why you should buy a packable rain jacket
Whether your weekend plans include hiking a 14er or just riding your bike to the local farmers market, having a rain jacket packed at the bottom of your bag is always a good idea. Soaked clothes on a return trip is a sure way to ruin a good adventure.
And beyond a good adventure ruined, getting wet in the wild can leave you in danger. If the snow or rain or even sweat has taken over your inner layers, you can’t reverse it. Adding a windproof, breathable and durable waterproof jacket to your list of essentials protects you from the elements and allows your body's perspiration to escape so you won’t feel clammy or uncomfortable.