This is a gear review of the Best Rain Pants for Hiking and Backpacking in 2024.
I’m a big fan of carrying and using rain pants when out on the trail. During the thousands of miles of hiking I’ve done in my life they always find a way into my backpack. When combined with an Ultralight Rain Jacket or even a Backpacking Umbrella you will be safe and dry in the backcountry.
Below I’ve reviewed the best waterproof pants of 2024, they are all either unisex or available in women’s rain pants sizing and men’s rain pants sizing.
How We Tested
All the Rain Pants in this review have been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has many years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. Some of the Rain Pants were purchased and some were supplied by the manufacturer. They have been rigorously tested by the author in all kinds of weather. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to come up with the best rain pants for hiking and backpacking 2024. Read the Review Policy for further details.
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Best Lightweight Rain Pants for Backpacking 2024
Here is a list of all the best lightweight rain pants for backpacking in 2024:
- Best Rain Pants – Overall: Outdoor Research Helium Pants
- Best Ultralight Rain Pants: Zpacks Vertice
- Best Backpacking Rain Pants: Arc’teryx Beta AR
- Best Eco-Friendly Rain Pants: Marmot Precip Eco
- Best Stretch Rain Pants: Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
- Best Lightweight Rain Pants: Montbell Versalite
- Most Durable Rain Pants: Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
More Rain Pants to Consider:
Rain Pants Comparison Table
|Waterproof Level (mm)
|Outdoor Research Helium Pants
|Arc’teryx Beta AR
|Marmot Precip Eco
|Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
|Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
|Outdoor Research Foray
Best Rain Pants – Overall
Weight: 6.7oz / 190g
> Packs into it’s own back pocket
> Reasonable Price
> Zippers are not long enough – making it hard to get into and out of
> Limited ventilation
> Get them now as they are getting hard to find!
The low weight and packability of the Outdoor Research Helium rain pants make them ideal for activities like hiking and backpacking where keeping bulk to a minimum is so important.
I have been using and testing the Outdoor Research Helium ultralight rain pants for thru-hiking many long trails over the last couple of years. They have served me well and I love their lightweight and compact size for affordable ultralight rain pants.
The thin material of the Outdoor Research Helium pants doesn’t make it any less tough but I would not like to take these waterproof pants bushwacking through areas with sharp sticks and branches.
The small ankle zippers make the pants ultralight but make them harder to put on without removing your shoes.
Overall, the Outdoor Research Helium pants are one of the best rain pants for backpacking and thru-hiking.
If you’re looking for pants that are as light as possible then the Zpacks Vertice pants are a great option.
When I tested these rain pants I was impressed by how incredibly light they were. They also had extra-wide legs which means you have increased airflow as you walk. While they do not have zippers it is easy enough to get into and out of these pants without needing to take your shoes or boots off. There are a couple of snap lock buttons that keep the bottom of the leg closed while using these waterproof pants.
As mentioned above the Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants are very thin, which sacrifices a bit of durability. So best that you use them on trails rather than bashing your way through unmarked trails. The weight of the pants ranges from 2.5oz to 3.3oz depending on what size you are. And they pack up very small. They are so small you can pack them inside the pocket of the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket or any other rain jacket when not in use.
Overall, If you want to keep your backpacking gear as lightweight as possible, you can’t go wrong with Zpacks Vertice pants. These are my favorite rain pants for marked trails and the best waterproof rain pants for backpacking and hiking. If you are thru-hiking then get a pair of these.
Best Waterproof Pants For Backpacking
Weight: 1 lb / 460 grams
> Very waterproof.
> Very durable material.
> Can be used as ski pants, mountaineering pants, or snowshoeing pants.
> Great 3/4 length zip.
> Very Expensive.
> Very heavy.
The Arc’teryx Beta AR waterproof pants are a serious pair of pants best suited to someone spending a lot of time in the backcountry or who wants their rain pants to double as a pair of non-insulated ski pants.
The Arc’teryx Beta AR is made with Gore-Tex are very waterproof. And features a long 3/4 length waterproof zip which is not only functional but can be used for venting heat when needed.
These waterproof pants might be the most functional and most waterproof pants in this review but they are also the heaviest and most expensive.
Overall, the Arc’teryx Beta AR is a serious pair of rain pants. They are the highest quality and best for people who spend a lot of time off marked trails in the backcountry and take their time in nature very seriously. If you only spend your time on marked trails then these would be overkill for you.
Most Eco Friendly Rain Pants
Weight: 8.3oz / 235g
> 2 Good Hand Pockets and a Back Pocket
> Full-Length Zips – Good for venting heat
> Good baggy fit with room for layers
> Doesn’t pack into itself
Made with 100% recycled material, the Marmot Precip Eco Pants are secure and durable, thanks to the dual slider zip on both legs secured by velcro straps at the waist and metal snaps at the ankles. For extra protection, they can be locked down for ultimate rain protection or opened wide on hot days for some relief from the heat.
Marmot Precip Eco Pants uses NanoPro waterproofing in many of its clothing items, and while it may not be as effective as Gore-Tex, Pertex, or eVent it still performs well. The ‘Eco’ in the name of course refers to its environmentally friendly construction, so when you buy these pants you know you’re helping the planet!
The elastic waistband will stretch to fit well, while the velcro at your hips secures the zipper and makes sure the pants fit around your waist. The waterproof pants have a casual baggy fit, which gives you plenty of room for layers.
The full two-way zippers allow you to open the pants from hip to foot, making them even more breathable when you need to vent some of the heat build-up. The pants have two zippered hand pockets and a zippered back pocket that is easy to access.
Overall, the Marmot Precip Eco Pants are slightly heavier than some of the other waterproof pants in this gear review but their environmentally friendly heritage makes them a great choice.
Best Stretch Rain Pants
Weight: 10oz / 283g
> Built-in Belt (men)
> Full-Length Zip
> Compact – Packs into own pocket
> A bit Heavy
> Average Pockets
Comfort is of course so important with breathable rain pants, and you can’t go wrong with the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic. The soft, stretchy fabric is not only easy to move in but also quiet to move around in.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic pants also have full-length zippers for ventilation which also makes them easy to put on or take off. The soft, stretchy fabric allows for relaxed, unrestricted movement.
Despite its compact design and good ventilation, it is a bit heavier and bulkier than ultralight pants. They do pack up quite small into their own pocket for storage but I would have liked to see better pockets and only the men’s pants have a built-in belt.
Overall, I like the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic. The quiet stretch material is great and I think we will start to see many more gear companies making quality rain pants from material like this in the future.
Best Lightweight Rain Pants
Weight: 3.2oz / 91g
> Small Pack Size
> No Side Zips – Difficult to put on and take off without removing your shoes
> No Pockets
> Limited Ventilation
A good minimalist option, Montbell Versalite pants are incredibly lightweight and pack down incredibly small, making them perfect for thru-hiking and backpacking.
While the material isn’t as durable as some others, they are still breathable despite having no zippers for ventilation.
The small zippers make the waterproof pants ultralight but make them harder to put on without removing your shoes.
Overall, these are one of the best ultralight rain pants for thru-hiking but they lack the durability to be used off marked trails.
Most Durable Rain Pants
Weight: 11.8oz / 335g
> Long Zips make them easy to get on and off
> Good Pockets and packs into its own pocket
> Large pack size
Affordable, durable, and solidly made, the thicker fabric used in Patagonia Torrentshell 3L makes it more protective against brush and heavy rain than other ultralight pants.
They also feature convenient pockets where you can store your keys or wallet. These are particularly suited for front-country use. Their thick fabric protects against heavy rain.
If you want lightweight rain pants for the backcountry where the trails end and the bushwacking begins, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is worth considering. These offer good protection and are easy to take on and off.
The pockets are good and work better than most in this gear review.
Overall, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L are great lightweight rain pants but unlike other rain pants they are bulkier and the material is a bit stiff. Buy these if you want solid rain pants that are durable and waterproof.
More Rain Pants to Consider
Weight: 3.5 oz / 100 grams
> Very waterproof Gore-Tex material.
> Good 3/4 length Zip.
> Like most other lightweight rain pants they are not so durable for backcountry use.
The Outdoor Research Foray rain pants are like the big brother of the Helium Pants except they aren’t much stronger.
The pants use high-quality and lightweight 2-layer Gore-Tex Packlite fabric. The fabric is not only very waterproof but allows the pants to pack down to a small size into the back packet.
The Outdoor Research Foray has a good waterproof 3/4 zip which not only works well to allow you to put on and take off the pants without needing to remove your boots, but they also work well at venting heat when needed. Not all pant zips are able to do this.
Overall, the Outdoor Research Foray pants are good quality lightweight Gore-Tex Rain Pants.
Weight: 10.5 oz / 298 grams
> Good hand pockets.
> Very waterproof Gore-Tex Packlite fabric.
> Not much availability at the moment.
The Marmot Minimalist rain pants are an interesting pair of pants. They almost bridge the gap between rain pants and hiking pants.
The Marmot Minimalist has features usually only found in hiking pants such as side hand pockets, a zipped fly, and articulated knees for increased range of movement. These handy features work in favor of the user.
The Gore-Tex Paclite is a lightweight 2-layer fabric that does a very good job and keeping you dry and offering an above-average level of breathability. The ankle zip is good enough that you don’t need to take off your boots when using these pants.
Overall, the Marmot Minimalist is a good pair of functional rain pants for someone wanting pants that have features similar to normal hiking pants.
Other Waterproof Pants to Consider
Here are some other pants that are not on the list but worthy of consideration:
- REI Co-Op Essential rain pants: The REI Co-Op Essential rain pants are a budget lightweight option.
- REI Co-Op Rainier Full Zip pants: The REI Co-Op Rainier Full Zip pants are a full feature full-length zip option that still comes at a good price.
Table of Contents
You can never have too much airflow, or at least, the option of having more airflow. Zippers along the sides of rain gear mean you can let excess heat out if you get too warm. But they come at the cost of weight and durability. Zips are a weak point on the best rain pants just as they are on a rain jacket.
However, some ultralight rain pants zippers (especially those with a roomier fit) breathe almost as well with pants featuring zips because they’re normally made of thinner materials.
When wearing a pair of rain pants on a cold, rainy day, condensation may form on the inside fabric. When people see this, they may assume the rain pant is faulty, but in fact your rain pants are doing their job.
If you feel wetness forming inside your pants, don’t panic. As long as you’re wearing appropriate wicking layers underneath it’ll likely evaporate with body heat, and as long as you keep moving you should stay dry and comfortable.
But to be as comfortable as possible when backpacking, make sure you look after your rain gear, such as airing it out at night. You should also avoid bushwhacking, which is a guaranteed way of ripping holes in the pants and also your rain jacket.
However, it must be noted that no hiking gear will ever be truly 100% waterproof. If you spend all day in torrential rain, then the gear will become wet at some point.
It’s good to know this to avoid disappointment if your rain pants do get wet on a particularly wet, miserable day.
The most important thing is that your rain pants keep you dry for as long as possible, but always keep in mind that there is a limit to just how dry they’ll keep you.
Try to keep the water beading on the outside of the rain pants by retreating them with a quality DWR. While all the rain pants in this review have them applied in the factory, they will wear off over time and need to be retreated.
The number of layers a pair of rain pants has will determine how waterproof and breathable they are. It’s more common to find 2-layers and they are usually the most affordable.
They’re typically designed with a Durable Water Repellent-coated (DWR) outer shell and a breathable liner that is usually made with mesh.
Meanwhile, 2.5-layer pants are typically the lightest and made with the same DWR outer shell. The inside layer is made of a thin polyurethane laminate or coating that is designed to prevent sweat and dirt from clogging up the breathable pores of the pants from the inside.
A 3-layer rain pant is the most effective. They have everything 2-layers and 2.5-layer pants have, such as a DWR-coated outer shell, a breathable and waterproof midlayer, and then a polyurethane lining of the innermost layer. But they are also heavier.
Weight and Packability
Good packability and a light carrying weight is so important when it comes to rain pants. Layering can be tricky to get a hang of when you first start hiking, and you definitely learn from experience.
After a while, you’ll have it down pat, but you may be unsure what to take with you at first, or when you need to add or remove a layer. Your rain gear is your outer layer, a shield protecting you from the elements.
Rain gear will usually be in your pack a lot of the time, only busted out when you need it.
Therefore, your rain pants can’t be heavy or bulky and must be easy to carry around when you’re not wearing them. They should be easy to wrap up and tuck away into your pack.
Most rain pants fit this bill and are packable and lightweight by default. However, some will be better and lighter than others. Lightweight, minimalist pants are often all the protection you need from light rain and wind.
Hiking gear has evolved to the point where you no longer have to settle for plasticky materials, pants that restrict your movements, or uncomfortable waistbands that dig into you.
There are plenty of great rain pants that are designed with movement, comfort, and hip-belt compatibility in mind. All of the items in the gear review are compatible to be worn over the top of hiking pants.
While ultralight rain pants are great when you want to reduce the amount of weight you’re carrying around, the fabrics do wear out quicker. If you’re venturing out into severe weather or tough terrain, you may want to invest in a thicker pair of heavy-duty rain pants.
Zippers or Snap Lock Buttons
While I touched on zippers when talking about ventilation, let’s talk about their other function: removal of the pants.
Rain pants that have full-length zippers offer the most airflow and are the easiest to put on and take off while keeping your shoes. But zippers do add bulk and weight. Over the last few years, every set of rain pants that have more than 100 days of use has broken the zips. So be aware that the zips are in a very high wear area and regularly covered in mud and sweat that will prematurely wear them out.
Another option on the lightweight rain pants is a snap lock button or cinch cord which opens the bottom of the legs to make it easier to put on without having to remove your shoes. I’ve used snap lock buttons and yet to have any issues but like all things that are exposed to a high degree of wear they too will also fail in time.
A good pair of waterproof pants are quite reasonably priced compared to many other items of outdoor clothing. Many of the backpacking waterproof pants on this list are priced between $100 to $200 with the best of the best rain pants coming in at almost $500. You would only spend that amount of money if you lived in a wet area and went to the backcountry A LOT.
Here is a list of all the best backpacking rain pants in 2024:
- Outdoor Research Helium Pants
- Zpacks Vertice
- Arc’teryx Beta AR
- Marmot Precip Eco
- Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
- Montbell Versalite
- Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
- Outdoor Research Foray
- Marmot Minimalist
- Arc’teryx Zeta SL
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Put My Rain Pants On?
Because rain pants retain body heat, you’ll probably sweat and get them wet from the inside if you put them on too soon. As long as you’re wearing synthetic clothing, it’s alright if you get a little wet before you get into your rain pants.
If you keep moving you will warm up quickly and the layers underneath will start to try.
But when you’re hiking in dewy mornings when the vegetation is wet, it may be a good idea to put your rain pants on straight away. The ability to dress for hiking comes with experience.
While taking off your shoes to get into rain pants can be a pain, there are sit pads you can stand on to avoid getting your feet wet. It also protects the backside of your pants when you sit down to remove your shoes.
Are There Alternatives To Rain Pants?
Yes, if you don’t want to wear rain pants, rain skirts and rain kilts are becoming popular alternative to wearing rain pants. They’re easier to take on and off than rain pants, have great airflow, and are often lighter. However, they don’t trap body heat as well as rain pants, don’t block the wind as well, or protect your lower legs. They can also get caught on brush easily when hiking on overgrown trails.
How Should Rain Pants Fit?
Just like any other pants, you should always review your size before buying rain pants so you’re getting the correct fit.
While you want the waist to fit well, the pants themselves should be a bit loose to allow for air circulation. It’s also important to bear in mind you will be wearing hiking boots with your rain pants.
These boots are usually bulky, so you need to make sure your rain pants will fit over them.
While they should be a bit lose, they need to fit comfortably over your normal gear. As elasticated waists are now common on rain pants, they should sit snug but not too tightly on your waist.
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BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.