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Ranking The Best Rain Pants of 2021

Best Overall Choice
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Best Overall - Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Best Budget Choice
Outdoor Research Helium

Best Budget - Outdoor Research Helium

Best Premium Choice
Marmot Bantamweight

Best Premium - Marmot Bantamweight

Kyle W by Kyle W Updated on June 8, 2021.

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Having the best rain pants should be a goal of every outdoor adventurer’s wardrobe. Not only will rain pants keep you dry when it starts to rain, but they also will hold in valuable body heat and cut the wind to keep you warm and safe.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best rain pants that you can find in 2021, along with a buying guide to help you choose the right rain pants for your needs. Let’s get started!

The Best Waterproof Pants

Now that you know some of the benefits of wearing the best waterproof pants, it’s time to take a look at the best options on the market today.

Best Overall Choice

1. Best Overall - Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic

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If you want a pair of comfortable rain pants, you’ll love this pair. They’re made from soft stretch fabric that makes them feel unrestricted, so you can easily move around in them and feel relaxed, along with making them extremely quiet.

They have full-length zippers that aid in ventilation and make them easier to put on and take off. Some rain pants weigh less than these, but the Ozonics are extremely comfortable and will be the best rain pants for your next adventure.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Full-length zippers
  • Quiet

Cons

  • A little bulkier and heavier than ultralight rain pant options
  • Limited use for pockets because of placement
Best Budget Choice

2. Best Budget - Outdoor Research Helium

Outdoor Research Helium

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These are the most affordable ultralight rain pants that you’re going to find. Their packability and low weight make them great for backpacking and hiking, where you need to keep things light. They’re made with thin materials, but they’re designed to be durable and tear-resistant. For the price that you’re paying for these best rain pants, you’re getting a great deal.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Pack into their own pocket
  • Ultralight
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Limited ventilation
  • Difficult to put on and take off because of short zippers

3. Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

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If you’re looking for the best waterproof pants that are affordable and durable, look no further than the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L rain pants. If you aren’t concerned about extra weight, the thicker fabric of these rain pants provides you with better rain protection than ultralight options.

They also have convenient pockets that you can store your wallet, keys, and phone. Because of all of these qualities, these pants are a great value for front-country use.

Pros

  • Pack into their own pocket
  • Hand pockets
  • Long zippers
  • Durable
  • Made with thick fabric

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Material can be a little stiff

4. REI Rainier Full-Zip

REI Rainier Full-Zip

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If weight isn’t your main concern and you’re on a budget, these rain pants are an excellent option for all-around use. They have been well designed and have everything that you want in a pair of rain pants.

They have hand pockets, an adjustable drawcord at the waist, and full-length zippers. They are bulkier and heavier than some rain pants, so they’re best suited for when weight isn’t a big deal.

Pros

  • Hand pockets
  • Full-length zippers
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not as comfortable as other pairs of rain pants

5. REI XeroDry GTX

REI XeroDry GTX

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If you can afford a modest price, these are the best waterproof pants for you. They’re made with a durable outer fabric that’s soft and quiet. They also have long zippers, but you still might have a hard time getting out of these pants while wearing your shoes. But if you’re looking for a great pair of rain pants that are durable and lightweight, these are the best rain pants for you.

Pros

  • Shoelace hook
  • Hand pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet
  • Durable

Cons

  • Limited ventilation
  • Can be difficult to take off while wearing shoes

6. Montbell Versalite

Montbell Versalite

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These rain pants are extremely lightweight and pack down to nothing, making them great for backpacking and hiking. While the thin material isn’t as durable as other rain pants, it makes these rain pants comfortable and breathable on long hikes.

Pros

  • Pack down extremely small
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not durable
  • Limited ventilation
  • No zipper

7. Zpacks Vertice

Zpacks Vertice

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If you need a pair of the best rain pants that are also extremely lightweight, these are the rain pants for you. The men’s large pants weigh in at less than 3 ounces! These pants have wide legs for extra airflow and to make putting them on easier. However, they aren’t as easy to put on with shoes as other pants because they don’t have a zipper.

It’s clear that the intent of these rain pants was to make them as lightweight as possible, so some sacrifices have to be made – including durability. But these are still some of the best rain pants for anyone who needs something extremely lightweight.

Pros

  • Ultralightweight
  • Extra-wide legs
  • Pack down small
  • Increased airflow

Cons

  • Not very durable
  • No zippers
  • Boxy fit
  • There are no pockets
Best Premium Choice

8. Best Premium - Marmot Bantamweight

Marmot Bantamweight

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These are nicely fitted, compact, and extremely lightweight. You’ll find that they’re easy to move around in and are relatively breathable since they’re made from thin and stretchy material. The waistband is by far the most comfortable to wear under a backpack hip belt. You have to be careful with these pants because they are so lightweight and thin.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Ultralight

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not very durable
  • No zippers

9. Arc’teryx Zeta SL

Arc’teryx Zeta SL

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These rain pants offer a great balance between durability and low weight. The materials used to make these rain pants are more substantial and tougher than most other rain pant materials. They also have a natural-looking and trim fit that is stylish for rain pants. These are a great choice for technical pursuits because they’re reinforced around the cuffs. While the price is a bit steep, they are well worth the investment if you want a pair of the best rain pants that are comfortable and stylish.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Zippers
  • Stylish fit

Cons

  • They can feel a little stiff
  • No pockets
  • Expensive

The Most Important Considerations for the Best Rain Pants

Price

Most people are willing to spend a little more money on high-quality rain pants that they can wear a lot. Well-designed, durable, and comfortable rain pants often trump the cost. We do provide a list of the best rain pants at a variety of price points.

Comfort

You shouldn’t have to settle for uncomfortable waistbands, materials that feel like plastic, or rain pants that restrict movements. Several great options have been designed with hip-belt compatibility, movement, and comfort in mind.

Packability and Weight

Several best rain pants pack small, are lightweight, and are perfect for backpacking and hiking. The majority of the time, minimalist, lightweight rain pants are all you need to give your body some protection against wind and rain.

Durability

Having lightweight rain pants are perfect for when you need to keep the weight of your bag down. But you need to remember that lightweight fabric tends to wear out quickly. If you think that you’re going to be dealing with a lot of severe weather, you may want to go with a thicker pair of the best waterproof pants that will last longer.

Zippers

The zippers on waterproof pants have two functions: they help you thermoregulate and add ventilation, and they make putting on and taking off the pants easier. The best rain pants will have full-length zippers that allow for the most airflow and are the easiest to take off and put on. But with that being said, remember that zippers add weight and bulk.

Ventilation

It’s always a good idea to choose a pair of rain pants that have airflow. Rain pants with zippers along the sides are great for getting rid of excess heat that can make you hot during a hike. Most of the ultralight rain pant options don’t have zippers but are made with breathable material.

Quick Tip!

Getting sweaty and hot when you’re wearing rain gear is going to happen. So, the best way to deal with it is to “start cold.” This means you don’t put on your rain pants until you start to feel cold or chilled when you’re out on the trails.

You can also wear base layer pants, shorts, or lightweight synthetic hiking shorts underneath your rain pants to help wick moisture away from your skin and keep you feeling more comfortable.

Dumping heat as you warm-up is also a great option. You do this by unzipping the side or ankle zippers on your rain pants to release some of the built-up hot air from inside your pants.

Some other things you can do to help cool you down when you start feeling hot are slowing down your pace, exposing your neck, and removing your hat. All of these things can help you feel colder and stop you from overheating during your adventure.

Condensation

If you wear the best rain pants on a rainy and cold day, condensation will build on the inside of the material. When this happens, most people think that their rain gear is failing them. But that isn’t the case. In fact, your rain gear is doing its job by creating condensation.

If you start to feel dampness forming on the inside of your rain gear, don’t think anything of it and keep going. It should start to evaporate as your body warms up, as long as you’re wearing correct wicking layers beneath your rain pants.

As long as you keep moving, you should stay relatively comfortable and dry. To increase your comfort when wearing rain pants, make sure that you take good care of them (i.e., letting them dry out overnight) and that you always have something dry to put on at the end of your hike.

Best Rain Pants

Tips for Wearing the Best Rain Pants

You might think you know the best way to wear your rain pants, but what if we told you that there are a few things that people get wrong. In this next section, we’re going to go over some quick tips that will help you make sure that you’re reaping the most benefits from the best rain pants without having to guess.

When Should You Put on Your Rain Pants?

Rain pants hold in your body heat. So, putting them on too early can mean that you start to sweat, which leads to you feeling wet on the inside of your pants. For the best results, wait to put on your rain pants until you start to feel cold.

If you’re wearing proper synthetic clothing, you should be okay to get a little wet before putting rain pants on over those clothes. If you stay moving, you’ll quickly warm up, and your synthetic clothing underneath the rain pants will start to dry.

You can also choose to put your rain pants on early (i.e., before hitting the trail) if you know that you won’t be going uphill right away.

Ultimately, it’s up to you when you put your rain pants on. You know your body and how it reacts better than anyone else, so do what will make you the most comfortable.

How to Change Quicker

Taking your shoes off to put on rain pants when you’re on the trail is cumbersome and feels nearly impossible. A quick solution to avoid getting your socks and feet wet is to stand on a sit pad. Sit pads will also protect the bottom of your pants when you sit down to make your rain pants last longer.

How to Wash and Store Rain Pants

After extended use of your rain pants, you’ll start to notice that water doesn’t bead up like it used to. You might even start to notice that water starts soaking through the material. This might lead you to think that you need to get new rain gear, but it’s actually time to wash and retreat your rain pants.

Luckily for you, caring for your rain pants is an easy task. Follow to guide below to help you get your rain pants back to being the best.

How Often Should You Wash Your Rain Pants?

The moment that you start to notice that your rain pants are starting to absorb water instead of repelling it, you need to wash and treat it. By washing your rain pants with Tech Wash and reapply DWR, your rain pants will be as good as new.

So, how often should you wash your rain pants? The answer depends on how often you use them. The more you use your rain pants, the more often you’ll have to wash them.

The harsh truth is that most people don’t wash their rain pants enough. Here are a few general rules to live by:

  • If you casually wear your rain pants, wash your pants after 20-30 normal uses or once a month.
  • If you find yourself wearing your rain pants during exerting activities, such as jogging or hiking, wash your gear after 10-15 uses.
  • As soon as you start to notice water being absorbed, it’s time to give your pants a good wash.

How to Wash Rain Pants

Most of the time, when people start to notice that they need to wash their rain gear, you not only need to wash them but also reapply DWR. If your pants are still repelling water, you might only need to wash your rain pants with Tech Wash.

If this is the case, you only need to follow steps one through five and then tumble dry on low heat.

Materials

  • Technical Wash
  • Laundry Machine (without agitator is best)
  • Dryer
  • DWR

Step 1

The first thing you want to do is check the manufacturer’s washing instructions. These can be found on the tag of the pants. The instructions will probably be similar to what’s described below, but make sure you’re following the garment’s instructions first.

Step 2

Clean out any residual laundry detergent from your laundry machine dispenser. Using standard washing detergent can ruin the waterproofing elements of your rain pants.

Step 3

Pour in Tech Wash, using the recommended amount. Again, never use standard washing detergent, fabric softener, or bleach – these can damage your pants’ waterproofing membrane.

Step 4

Zip up your pants and make sure that there’s nothing in the pockets. Then load the pants into the washing machine.

Step 5

Wash on the delicate or gentle cycle. If it looks like the Tech Wash isn’t completely rinsed out after this cycle, you may want to run it once more.

Step 6

Apply DWR to your gear. Pour the recommended amount of Wash-In DWR into your machine’s soap dispenser, set it to the recommended temperature, and run your gear through another gentle cycle. If you’ve decided to use Spray-On DWR, read the instructions that come with it.

Step 7

After the wash cycle is finished, you can choose to tumble dry on low heat, if the care instructions allow this, or air dry,

Step 8

Store your gear. Make sure that before you do this, that your gear has been completely dried. Otherwise, mold and mildew can start to grow in the creases of the gear.

Conclusion

You can see that the best rain pants are great to have when you’re on the trails and the weather takes a turn for the worst. They help keep you warm and dry while being lightweight and packable.

You can see several amazing options on the market for the best rain pants from the list above. They all have great features, such as being ultra lightweight, durable, and packable. Some even have zippers that make it easier for you to put the pants on and take them off without removing your shoes.

Regardless of what rain pants you go with, you need to make sure that you’re taking proper care of them. That means washing them when you start to notice that they start absorbing water instead of repelling it. If you follow the simple guide above, you’ll have your rain pants acting like brand new without having to spend the extra money on a new pair.

The best waterproof pants will keep you warm and safe when you’re on your next adventure, so why not grab a pair?

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