Written By
Published Sep. 27, 2021

The best rain pants must accomplish two things: Keep legs dry, and keep legs moving. Rain paints can be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, but not all rain pants are created equal, and subtle differences in the construction offer unique benefits for certain tasks. Do you need rain pants for camping, running, rock climbing, mountain biking, city biking, or just taking the dog for a walk? Not all rain pants are created equal. 

While waterproofing is a key factor in choosing the best rain pants, don’t overlook breathability. Today’s rain pants come in styles and materials that are a huge step up from wrapping your legs in a hot, humid plastic garbage bag. Made of durable yet comfortable materials, these rain pants won’t weigh you down or make you feel as if you’re wearing a spacesuit. If you’re looking for entry-level rain gear or you’re an experienced weather warrior in need of high-performance protection, find the best rain pants to suit-up and venture out into the elements.

How We Picked the Best Rain Pants

Methodology

Having reviewed men’s fashion and outdoor gear for over a decade, I am always on the lookout for high-quality materials when examining new products. Anything that seems shoddy or poorly made will not be worth the money, no matter how attractive the price tag. This is especially true of activewear and camping products in which poor stitching or inferior materials can lead to real catastrophe. 

When rounding up the best rain pants, articulation is just as important as water resistance. Without accounting for leg mobility, wrapping your legs in duct tape would count as “best rain pants.” Knee articulation is key, as this is the foundation of any cycling or running pants. And waterproofing has to be top-notch as well. If the material becomes saturated too quickly, what’s the point?

Ten of the most popular rain pants were examined, looking at materials, construction, mobility, breathability, and price. Online reviews and customer questions were also used to weed out the best from the worst. And if the price was too good to be true, we knew it wasn’t worth mentioning in this list.

The Best Rain Pants: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Berghaus Men’s Paclite Gore-Tex Waterproof Pants

Quality Construction

The best rain pants for any day, any season, and any environment. Berghaus

Check Price

Why They Made The Cut

A lightweight yet rugged pair of rain pants, the Berghaus Paclite pants let you move freely and keep you dry. For all-around rain gear, they can’t be beat. 

Specs:  

  • Materials: 100 percent nylon
  • Medium inseam: 31 inches
  • Medium elastic waist: 31 inches–33 inches

Pros:

  • Strong outer layer 
  • Good fit with excellent articulation
  • Easy to roll up and pack in a mesh sac

Cons:

  • Not cheap
  • Those in more rugged terrains may need more robust protection

British company Berghaus makes some of the best rain gear because it hails  from one of the wettest areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Its Paclite Waterproof Pants are designed for lightweight, easy packing, but they are also extremely durable. The comfortable waist and legs give you freedom of movement for biking and trekking through the forest. The three-quarter length zipper vents on the legs help air circulate and make it easier to slip the pants on and off over boots. The outer layer of Gore-Tex material offers great water protection for most outdoor adventures, but these are not waders, so don’t use them if you expect to be underwater. Even the best waterproof pants have their limits. However, for typical camping, running, and biking, these are the best of the best in terms of comfort. That makes them well worth the slightly higher price point. 

Best for Extreme Weather: Grundéns Weather Watch Fishing Pants

Rugged Material

If you work off shore or on the coast, these durable rain pants keep you dry and comfortable in harsh weather. Grundéns

Check Price

Why They Made The Cut: For working on boats or out in the brutal rainy weather, these Grundéns cargo-style rain pants make tough jobs slightly more manageable by keeping you nice and dry. 

Specs: 

  • Materials: 100 percent nylon
  • 8,000mm Waterproof ; 3000 MVP breathability
  • Belt closure

Pros: 

  • Good price for durable rain pants
  • Belt is secure
  • Rugged and waterproof without getting in the way of your job
  • Handy cargo pocket

Cons:

  • Sizes run long in the inseam
  • Relaxed fit is not good for running or biking

Tough work requires tough gear, and the Grundéns Weather Watch Fishing Pants are up to the job. These waterproof rain pants laugh in the face of strong downpours and high winds. They feel good and feature a solid, secure belt closure. The cargo pocket can come in handy for workers out in the field. While great for fishing on a boat or working in rough climates, the somewhat bulky, relaxed fit isn’t good for biking and running. But for hard work under hard conditions, these Grundéns cargo-style pants keep you dry without restricting your movements. And at less than $100, these are some of the most affordable heavy-duty rain pants you can find. 

Best Rain Pants for Camping: Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Rain Pants

Comfortable Material

Good water protection coupled with great comfort makes these the best rain pants for casual camping and hiking. Columbia

Check Price

Why They Made The Cut: If you need great rain pants for camping and exploring the woods, Columbia rain pants offer top-level comfort with just enough rain resistance to keep your lower half dry.

Specs: 

  • Materials: 100 percent nylon
  • Zipper closure
  • True-to-size fit 

Pros:

  • Very comfortable, especially when hiking 
  • Affordable price point
  • Lots of size options for perfect fit 
  • Not too loud when walking

Cons:

  • Won’t hold up under extreme weather
  • Lack of zippers at the bottom of the legs makes them tough to get on quickly

Columbia rain gear is a solid choice for the weekend warrior. Their Rebel Roamer rain pants are perfect for camping trips with family and friends. And they are surprisingly comfortable when marching through the woods on a rainy day. The pants are available in just about every size imaginable, and the sizes are accurate. The elastic waist is backed up with a sturdy drawstring. The material stretches enough for easy hiking and climbing. If you need heavy-duty rain gear for extreme weather and surviving for weeks in the Alaskan wilderness, these rain pants are not for you. But for most people vacationing at a national park for a few days, the Columbia Rebel Roamer rain pants are a highly affordable and highly comfortable solution for your weather-related concerns.  

Best Rain Pants for Cyclists: Marmot Men’s PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pants

Sleek and Lightweight

For cyclists and runners, these rain pants are quick to put on and keep you dry throughout the workout. MARMOT

Check Price

Why They Made The Cut: The Marmot rain pants are ideal for bike trips, motorcycle rides, and every other mode of open-air transportation. They are light and comfortable without being baggy and saggy. 

Specs:  

  • Materials: 100 percent nylon
  • Medium inseam: 32 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces

Pro: 

  • Great rain protection for bike rides
  • Good for cold temperatures
  • Perfect fit for outdoor sports 
  • Full side zipper

Cons:

  • Expensive 
  • Not intended for severe weather

Cyclists and runners need as much articulation as possible, and that can be tough to find in rain pants. But Marmot PreCip’s rain pants do a great job at keeping your legs free and moving. They’re perfect for keeping you dry without constricting your knees. They are extremely light and slip over your pants easily. Good for all kinds of bikes, even motorcycles, the Marmot rain pants make traveling on city streets through rough weather less of a torture trip. We only wish they were slightly less expensive. It’s still worth it for a great pair of running and biking rain pants that won’t sag. These are sleek and fast, and you won’t feel as if you’re wearing a rusty suit of armor. 

Best Value: Result Core Waterproof Rain Trousers

Inexpensive and Light

If you need an emergency pair of rain pants, these will keep you dry and don’t cost a fortune. Result Core

Check Price

Why They Made The Cut: If all you need is a cheap pair of rain pants, these will keep you dry long enough to get out of the wet weather. They won’t hold up in a hurricane but will get you through a typical rain storm. 

Specs: 

  • Materials: 100 percent polyester with PVC coating
  • Medium inseam: 30 inches
  • Medium waist: 32 inches–34 inches

Pros: 

  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable waist
  • Hold up well in average rain storms

Cons:

  • They won’t last long
  • Material doesn’t breathe well 
  • Plastic feel

If all you need is something to take the dog for a walk during a drizzle, don’t waste money on expensive rain pants. These budget-priced rain pants from Result Core are good enough to get you through some wet weather. They can hold up okay on a camping trip, but don’t expect them to last on a Mt. Everest expedition. The material repels water but feels like plastic (because it is plastic). The lack of comfort makes them tough to recommend for runners and bikers. These are better suited for casual walks and relaxing fishing trips. Cheap rain pants are flimsy, but they can still come in handy when you need a quick, affordable way to keep your legs dry. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Rain Pants

How do you pick a pair of rain pants? The first step is to understand the many different types of pants on the market. The best rain pants for biking won’t be the best pants for camping.

Materials

Rain pants are typically made of nylon. Proprietary materials and water-repellent coatings can be used to increase the water resistance, but just about everything will begin with a foundation of nylon. The outer layer works to repel water. Any rain that hits the material will bead and flow off without saturating the fabric. The inner layer will be breathable to allow for air circulation and prevent overheating. The technology of rain pants is only getting better, and today’s best rain pants can feel almost as comfortable as a pair of cotton pants. Almost. 

Rain pants can be used for just about anything. Cyclists and runners love them because they make any day into a workout day regardless of the weather. Hikers and campers love them because we all know Mother Nature has a sense of humor and loves to dump gallons of water on us at the worst possible time. And anyone who works outdoors knows that a pair of high-quality rain pants is a must-have for long days on the job. Simply put, everyone can benefit from a good pair of rain pants.

Rain Pants vs. Joggers

Looking at the activewear section of the store can seem confusing. Nylon workout pants and joggers may seem waterproof, but they will easily get saturated in the rain. They are also too thin to provide anything close to waterproof shielding. Rain pants are different because they provide optimal protection against water. 

Quick-dry pants can feel more comfortable than rain pants, but you’re giving up a lot of water resistance. If it’s raining all day/every day on a camping trip, there won’t be time to dry even the quickest of quick-dry pants. This is when rain pants come to the rescue. They may feel a bit stiffer than joggers, hiking pants, and other activewear pants, but the rain repellent power cannot be beat.

Measurements

It can be tricky to get the right fit. Most rain pants are designed to be worn over your regular pants or shorts. This means they will be bigger and looser than traditional slacks. You also want room for air to circulate, so don’t expect form-fitting rain pants.

Look carefully at the company’s size chart to determine what size rain pants you need. And read customer reviews to see what fitting issues other shoppers may have experienced. Some rain pants may run wide in the legs or longer than you’d expect. Find as much sizing info as possible, and always opt for a retailer with a good return policy in case the pants don’t fit.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is a complicated science. A fabric’s ability to resist water is measured in millimeters. This isn’t referring to the material’s thickness, but the amount of water that can be piled up on a 1-inch by 1-inch piece of the material. If the rating is 10,000 mm, that means 10,000 mm of water can hit the material before the water starts to seep through. A fabric with a waterproof rating between 6,000 mm and 10,000 mm will be good enough at holding off rain.

Special Features

Some of the best rain pants are equipped with extra features you may not even notice at first. It’s common for rain pants to have no pockets, but they do have hidden slits that allow you to reach through them to access your regular pants pockets underneath. This works well, but only if the slits line up with your pants pockets. It doesn’t always work seamlessly (pun intended). 

Zippers and vents on the leg are designed to boost air circulation and keep you cool on muggy, hot hikes. These zippens can end at the top of the calf or go all the way up to the waist. Zippers and Velcro straps at the bottom of the legs can also be used to widen the leg to get the pants on and off quickly. Trying to put on rain gear in a hurry can be frustrating, so these helpful openings are much appreciated. 

For camping and hiking, you’ll want a pair of rain pants that is lightweight and easy to fold or roll. Some pairs come with travel bags, while others are designed to fold into themselves to create a little sack for easy storage. 

FAQs

Q: What kind of pants are good for rain?

Waterproof nylon pants are the best for rain. These rain pants are designed specifically for wet weather. They will have two or more layers of material— the top, outer layer will be waterproof, and the layer beneath will let your skin breathe. It’s a one-two combo that makes modern rain pants some of the most essential and comfortable camping gear. Quick-dry pants do an OK job at keeping legs dry, but the material can saturate fast, and unless the weather lets up or you have a place to dry out, the pants won’t help much in a rainstorm. Running pants and athletic wear are fine for a few drops of rain, but the thin material will quickly stick to your legs and drown your skin in a rainstorm. Rain pants, as the name implies, are made for rain.

Q: What are rain pants made of?

Most of today’s rain pants are made of nylon. The material is great at keeping water off your skin. For greater protection, some rain pants are coated with a waterproofing agent that helps liquid bead up and glide away from the surface. The waterproofing spray can be reapplied if needed, and you can buy it at most camping stores. While you may see some rain pants brag about high-tech fabrics with trademarked names, most rain pants all begin with nylon.

Q: Are rain pants worth it?

Absolutely. While some rain pants cost more than $100, you’re paying for quality materials and constriction that will hold up. But you don’t need to spend that much. Cheaper rain pants may not last as long, but they will also provide good rain protection. And if you’re caught in a downpour, the best rain pants will seem priceless. Even if you use them only for neighborhood strolls or backyard camping, rain pants can come in handy. If you’ve never used rain pants before, try a pair of Columbia Rebel Roamer Rain Pants. You’ll quickly see the benefit of good rain gear. And from there, you can upgrade to more rugged pants.

Final Thoughts

Ready to face the elements and kick rain clouds to the ground? The best rain pants must repel the water and still allow your skin to breathe and move. If you don’t mind spending a little more, the Berghaus Men’s Paclite Gore-Tex Waterproof Pants are the best for camping and hiking. And if you need something for biking and running, the Marmot Men’s PreCip Lightweight Waterproof Full-Zip Pants do a  good job of keeping you dry and moving forward. Check the online size charts before you buy and look for the style and fit that will keep you comfortable. Rain pants have come a long way since the days of the yellow fisherman’s overalls. Stay dry, stay active, and stay outside with the best rain pants.

MORE TO READ