best in class

The 15 Best Raincoats for Women

For drizzle or downpours.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

Alongside a windproof umbrella and your favorite pair of rain boots, a great raincoat will help you brave the elements and look good doing it. It’s an essential item to own, whether you’re encountering the occasional drizzly day or jumping over puddles for half of the year. Our favorite raincoats include nostalgic vintage-inspired anoraks, hardshell hiking jackets, and everything in between. Below, find the best women’s raincoats for every occasion and budget, from stylish minimalist coats to utilitarian ponchos.

Best overall | Best A-line | Best less-expensive | Best less-expensive A-line | Best sustainable | Best soft shell | Best hard shell | Best poncho | Best less-expensive poncho | Best anorak | Best smock | Best luxury coat | Best luxury anorak

What we’re looking for

Water resistance: In order to be 100 percent waterproof, a raincoat must be constructed from an impenetrable material like vinyl, plastic, or rubber. This style of raincoat is perfectly appropriate for city commutes, but not so much hiking or other athletic activities. For those, we looked for lightweight and packable jackets treated with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coating. Some of our favorites are also made from technical fabrics like Gore-Tex. A water-resistant jacket should keep you dry in all but the most extreme cases, and it will also pack down and breathe much better than a traditional rubber coat. For extra protection against the elements, we also favored raincoats featuring reinforced seams, elasticized or velcro wrist cuffs, and covered zippers.

Comfort: Because your raincoat should keep you comfortable as well as dry, we looked for options with lots of (preferably zippered) pockets, underarm ventilation, and adjustable hoods.

Weight and length: We sought out a range of coats, jackets, anoraks and ponchos in varying lengths and weights, from classy trench coats to three-layer Gore Tex hard shells with stormproof hoods. The raincoat you choose will depend on its intended use: A mid-length, mid-weight jacket is ideal for dashing between subway stations, but when hiking, you probably just want something lightweight that protects your core.

Best overall raincoat

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, drawstring hood | Mid-length, mid-weight 

The Stutterheim Stockholm is a worthy investment piece for anyone regularly commuting in a rainy climate. It’s constructed from cotton that has been coated in a layer of synthetic rubber; when buttoned up, it’ll keep your clothes completely dry. This pleasingly minimalist coat becomes part of your outfit, yet due to its sleek lines and muted colorways, never distracts from the rest of it. “The Scandinavian design will make you feel stylish, even in an unglamorous downpour,” travel blogger and photographer Renee Hahnel assures us. The rubber coating is easy to wipe down, and writer and performer Jess Latowicki says that even the dangerously bone-white colorway will retain its sheen after multiple seasons. Go a couple sizes down for a closer fit — the relative stiffness of the rubber doesn’t make for a flattering baggy look.

Best A-line raincoat

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, drawstring hood | Mid-length, mid-weight 

Speaking of baggier looks, we also love Stutterheim’s Moseback raincoat, which is similarly waterproof and durable to the Stockholm above, but with a less streamlined silhouette. Fittingly, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso purchased hers on a trip to Sweden, where the brand is based. A store attendant charmingly described it as flattering for “women of shape.” Pariso would tend to agree: “The slight A-line flare leaves some much-appreciated wiggle room around my hips and lets me comfortably button the coat all the way down.”

Best less-expensive raincoat

$125

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, drawstring hood | Short length, mid-weight 

Cheaper than Stutterheim, Danish brand Rains has also become ubiquitous on water-slicked city streets in recent years, and for good reason. Some subtle design differences to the Stockholm include a shorter length, hidden snap buttons, and colored drawstrings. Rains makes its jacket from completely synthetic materials, whereas Stutterheims are constructed from waterproofed cotton. This makes the Rains coat a little lighter and drapier, though less durable.

Best less-expensive A-line raincoat

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, drawstring hood | Mid-length, mid-weight

Pleating on the back adds slight flare to Rains’ take on an A-line raincoat, which otherwise repeats the same waterproofing features as its original jacket above. We find the light-pink colorway particularly appealing — it stands out on a gray day without being too garish.

Best soft-shell jacket

From $80

Water-resistant shell, zippers, and seams; elastic cuffs | One pocket, adjustable hood | Short length, lightweight, packable 

A soft-shell jacket offers rain protection while remaining fairly lightweight, making it ideal for hiking and other athletic outdoor activities. This very stashable one from Outdoor Research has elastic cuffs, water-resistant zippers, and an adjustable hood. Hahnel always travels with hers, saying that it “packs down to the size of a tennis ball, and keeps you dry for hours.”

Best sustainable raincoat

Waterproof recycled plastic shell | Drawstring, two side pockets | Mid-length, mid-weight

Based out of Nova Scotia, Fairechild designs matching raincoats and rain pants for both kids and adults, utilizing a unique waterproof fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. Yet the style of these raincoats is so classic and nostalgic that you’d never expect their very modern environmental credentials. We heard about the brand’s boxy chore-style raincoat from Midcoast Maine-based photographer Bea Helman, who says its recycled fabric is “incredibly lightweight while also being so waterproof — and it looks very classic.” She notes that it’s rare to find a vintage-style raincoat “that’s also outdoorsy,” but that this one looks cute and holds its own against the coastal elements. “My husband is an oyster farmer and everything gets covered in mud and salt. So for him, if he can’t have it last for years and years, there’s just no point. It’s useless to us.”

Best less-expensive soft-shell jacket

Water resistant shell, taped seams, velcro cuffs | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, adjustable hood | Short length, lightweight, packable

At a lower price point is the Marmot PreCip, a classic of the raincoat genre for more than 20 years and a favorite amongst Strategist staffers. Pacific Northwest–based outdoor expert Holly Johnson, no stranger to rainy climes, says this “lightweight, packable, and affordable rain jacket” is perfect for “hiking, backpacking, travel, and everyday use.” She notes that it runs a little small and recommends sizing up.

Best hard-shell jacket

Triple water-resistant shell, reinforced zippers, velcro cuffs | Two pockets, underarm ventilation, adjustable hood | Short length, mid-weight, packable

Hard-shell jackets are usually constructed from three layers of waterproofing fabric, where soft shells feature just one or two. They’re great if you know you’ll be out hiking in near-constant wind and rain, although the extra insulation can also make them heavier and less breathable. If you want to splurge on something that’s warm and waterproof yet also lightweight, Hahnel recommends the Beta LT, with its impenetrable Gore-Tex construction, full-coverage hood, and underarm-ventilation zippers. Though pricey, she says the raincoat is “one of the best lightweight hard shells on the market” at just 11 ounces. The style holds up over time, too, making its price tag worth every penny: “It will keep you dry all day long, and last for years.”

Best (less-expensive) hard-shell jacket

Double water resistant shell, reinforced zippers, velcro cuffs | Two pockets, hem ventilation, adjustable hood | Short length, midweight, packable

Here’s a considerably cheaper hard shell that’s also highly packable. Outdoor Research’s Aspire raincoat, also constructed from Gore-Tex, is ideal for those who “want to stay extra warm while they keep dry,” according to Jen Martin, who organizes adventure cruises to such far-flung locations as Antarctica and the Galápagos as the director of expedition development at Lindblad Expeditions. It features a two-layer construction as opposed to the Arc’teryx’s three, but still offers plenty of wind and rain protection.

Best poncho

$119

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Drawstring hood, button collar | Body-length, mid-weight

Being free of zippers or other points of entry where water might penetrate, ponchos are ideal for throwing over your outfit in the event of a torrential downpour. This Rains one, which is cut in an A-line shape to increase mobility, is a favorite of stylists Neelo Noory, Courtney Madison, Leah Adicoff, and style writer Jessica Schiffer. Sure, it’s a little fancier than your standard disposable poncho — but “not everyone wants to look like they just got off the Maid of the Mist,” Madison points out.

Best (less-expensive) poncho

Waterproof shell, reinforced seams | Heat-reflecting | Mid-length, lightweight

If you’re happy to lean into the Maid of the Mist look, though, this affordable and reusable poncho is a “lifesaver” according to Matt Young, the head of marketing and e-commerce at Brooklyn-based outdoors store Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. Weighing just 2.7 ounces, the waterproof, wind-resistant, and heat-reflective poncho can be packed up compactly enough to fit in your pocket, he says. “It’s ideal for unexpected downpours, rainy hikes, outdoor events — and serves as a warm and dry shelter in emergencies.” Plus, unlike plastic or polyester, the material is tear-resistant and quiet, so the poncho won’t rip or rustle while you walk.

Best rain anorak

Water-resistant shell, elastic hem and cuffs | Two pockets, drawstring hood | Short length, lightweight

PrAna’s hiking clothes merge the flattering colorways that have made brands like Outdoor Voices famous with the functionality of more tried-and-true backpacking gear. I was sent this ’90s-style pullover windbreaker to try a few months ago and ended up taking it on a trip to Patagonia, which is famous for its unpredictable four-seasons-in-one-day weather. The DWR-treated nylon kept my clothes dry during windy rain showers, yet was light and breathable enough to keep wearing when the sun inevitably showed up ten minutes later. It’s super packable; the elasticized cuffs and hem do a great job of keeping water out; and the zipper pockets are perfect for snacks.

Best rain smock

Waterproof shell, welded seams | Two pockets, adjustable hood, waist and hem | Mid-length, mid-weight

For fashion-forward full-body coverage, try this “smock coat” from the brand behind our favorite pair of rain boots. Like a classic clear umbrella, this coat just looks cool. “The toggle cords give it a more modern take on your traditional raincoat,” says Caroline Maguire, the fashion director of Shopbop, who adds that she loves how you can still see your outfit underneath. She also suggests cinching the bottom of the jacket to give it more shape.

Best luxury raincoat

Water-resistant shell | Two pockets, belt, back ventilation | Mid-length, heavyweight

As freelance writer and brand consultant Ray Friedman puts it, Burberry “isn’t the premier heritage rainwear brand for nothing,” and we’d be remiss not to include its classic trench on this list. Made from thick cotton, this coat doesn’t have the extreme-weather capabilities of a Gore Tex hard shell, but it will certainly keep you dry during light showers. It’ll also complement any given outfit, especially skirts and dresses, according to Leilani Pelayo, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of wellness brand natureofthings. It’s her “classic, tried-and-true wardrobe staple for the rainy season,” and is breathable enough for balmy weather, too. Pop the collar and flash the brand’s signature check if you feel like it; for the full look, Burberry also makes a sleek pair of rain boots.

Best luxury anorak

Water-resistant nylon shell | Drawstring, two front pockets | Mid-length, mid-weight

Inspired by vintage hiking gear, Bode’s rain anorak is expensive but undeniably cool. “It’s the perfect updated nostalgic windbreaker,” says Helman, who recently splurged on one. “It’s well made and durable, and it just makes me feel like I’m at summer camp in New England on the cape. It’s the perfect feeling.” Certainly more waterproof than a Burberry trench, the anorak is made from nylon-coated cotton and is still best for light showers rather than windy and torrential downpours.

Some more women's rain gear we've written about

Our experts

•Leah Adicoff, stylist
• Bea Helman, photographer
•Renee Hahnel, travel blogger and photographer
•Holly Johnson, Pacific Northwest–based outdoor expert
•Jess Latowicki, writer and performer
•Courtney Madison, stylist
•Caroline Maguire, fashion director, Shopbop
•Jen Martin, director of product development, expeditions at Seabourn Cruise Line
•Neelo Noory, stylist
•Dominique Pariso, writer, the Strategist
•Leilani Pelayo, co-founder and chief strategy officer, natureofthings
•Jessica Schiffer, style writer
•Matt Young, head of marketing and e-commerce, Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co.

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The 15 Best Raincoats for Women