Updated April 2017
As the weather warms and snow flurries turn to rain showers, we've updated this review to better assist your search for the perfect piece to keep you protected. We've noted product updates, like color changes in the PreCip and the recent release of the Venture 2 from The North Face, and looked at the market to ensure that our award winners still have what it takes to earn our top spots.
Best Overall Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Aspire - Women's
Durability & comfort
Excellent for both urban and backcountry use
After reviewing the currently available options, the Women's Outdoor Research Aspire
still has all of the features required to win our Editors' Choice award. Unfortunately for our pocketbooks, this performance comes with a price, as is often the case with rain shells. With that said, the Aspire is the full package, and under dark skies, it earned the highest level of trust from our testers. A versatile, thoughtful combination of features keep it relatively lightweight and packable and contribute to a versatility rating that beats the Outdoor Research Helium II (a jacket that's too specific as a lightweight rain shell to ve our overall winner). Outdoor Research has updated the Aspire's color palette, so you can further tailor it to your style.
Read full review: Outdoor Research Aspire - Women's
Best Bang for the Buck
Marmot PreCip - Women's
Less durable and stylish than some others in our review
The Marmot PreCip - Women's
has been well-respected for years as a top-notch performer at a reasonable price. It is comfortable, long-lasting, versatile, and will serve in just about any wet weather. Angle-Wing construction gives it mobility, and it is light and packable for almost any backcountry adventure. NanoPro material is as breathable as fabled, though this does affect wind protection. Overall, this is the most bang for your buck, and this season, Outdoor Research has updated the color palette so you can further tailor it to your style.
Read full review: Marmot PreCip - Women's
Top Pick for Ultralight Missions
Outdoor Research Helium II - Women's
Lightest jacket tested
Minimal extra features
Our Top Pick Award for ultralight hiking, running, or backpacking goes to the Outdoor Research Helium II - Women's
. Updated in 2016 to include a wider color selection and color contrasted front zippers, our reviewers found this jacket's lightweight and packable design to be one of the most practical and useful. The jacket provides lightweight protection from wind and rain while maintaining comfort and breathability. It is so light it functions like a wind shell but provides the added protection of a waterproof shell. At only 5.5 ounces, it is an inconsequential addition to your pack and offers outstanding weather protection. It ran away with a high score in our rating system, but our reviewers felt it was a little too specific to be the overall winner. It is one of the thinnest jackets tested, so it will not be as durable or long-lasting as our Editors' Choice, the Outdoor Research Aspire. The Marmot Crystalline was the closest threat, but OR nailed it with the details: they focused on making this jacket a streamlined, simple, ultralight layer — keeping it true to purpose.
Read full review: Outdoor Research Helium II - Women's