If there is one sure thing about the great outdoors, it’s that the weather is unpredictable. You can start your hike in bright sunlight only for a sudden downpour to pop up. Because of this, it’s always wise to always bring along the best rain pants.

A good pair of rain pants should be waterproof yet breathable, flexible, lightweight, and durable. Based on these criteria, we’ve presented the best waterproof pants below. As you make your pick, be sure to look for the features outlined in this buying guide so you can end up with the best rain pants to keep you dry and comfortable on the trails.

How To Choose A Pair Of Rain Pants For Hiking – Buying Guide



How you intend to use your new pair of pants plays an important role in the type of pants you should go for. For summer hikes, you may find ultralight pants more comfortable. If you love the challenge of more extreme hikes though, your pants have to be waterproof and rugged while still remaining light and comfortable.


Rain pants and rain jackets usually feature multi-layer fabrics. Ripstop quality nylon or polyester face fabric, and a waterproof breathable laminate/membrane. This blend keeps you dry without retaining sweat on the inside.

Since flexibility is essential for hiking, it’s a good idea to get pants constructed with a stretchy component such as lycra elastane. Fleece-lined snow pants are perfect for cold-weather hikes.   


Hiking rain pants should be lightweight so as to not weigh you down. Accordingly, most hiking points are between 10 and 20 ounces in weight. There are even ultralight pants that weigh less than 10 ounces.

Of course, the weight depends on the materials used and the included features. If you are hiking in the rain and good weather, lightweight pants are ideal. Winter hiking rain pants, on the other hand, will be on the heavier side. 


The whole point of wearing rain pants is to stay dry. This means that rain pants should be waterproof or have a level of water resistance that will suit the elements you’re likely to encounter.

For protection from heavy rainstorms, look for the best waterproof pant constructed with waterproof breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex and featuring fully taped seams and zippers covered with storm flaps. Face fabrics with durable water repellent (DWR) coatings also do a great job of shedding moisture. 

Fabric Construction

Rain pants aren’t composed of only one material. Some rain pants are made of nylon/polyester blends while other feature nylon/polyester and elastane blends. Most rain pants are also constructed with multiple layers. 

For example, the face fabric and a waterproof breathable membrane. This fabric construction determines the kind of protection the pants will offer. Rain pants designed for wintry conditions also feature an insulating fleece lining.  


The seams are weak points where water can seep through. To ensure the pair of rain pants you get will be waterproof, make sure the seams are taped or heat sealed. This means that the glue used to hold the waterproof fabrics together is applied using heat in order to create a watertight seal. 


Rain pants are versatile articles of clothing. This is why it’s a good idea to choose a pair you can wear when fishing, hunting, cycling, or jogging in the morning. A stylish pair of pants for rain can even be worn as casual pants during the rainy season. Beyond this, some convertible hiking in rain pants can go from pants into shorts and vise versa.


Hiking and backpacking rain pants are bound to come into contact with abrasive materials such as brush, thorns, rocks, and dicey terrain. For long-lasting performance, you need a pair of pants that can hold up well to anything you encounter on the trails. Be on the lookout for tough face fabrics such as heavy denier, ripstop quality nylon, and polyester. The zippers should also be strong enough to withstand frequent use without fail. 


Taking your waist, hips, and inseam measurements and comparing them to the provided size chart will help you determine the right size to order. Beyond this, it’s a good idea to go through the pair’s rain pants reviews left by users. This will give you an idea as to whether the pants fit true to size or run large or small.  


Last but certainly not least, make sure the rain pants will provide the flexibility you need when hiking. To ensure the pants won’t restrict your movements, look for a relaxed or active fit, stretchy fabrics, articulated knees, and gusseted inner legs.



Q: What Are The Benefits Of Rain Pants?


Rain pants keep you dry and warm when it rains. The best waterproof pants do this while still allowing your feet to breathe and perspiration to escape. Getting rained on and soaked though when hiking is one of the worst hiking experiences. Rain pants prevent this from happening.

Q: What Are Waterproof Pants Made From?


Synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester are the most commonly used face fabrics as they are lightweight, tough, and water resistant. Some premium quality rain pants are constructed with waterproof breathable fabrics such as Gore-Tex. To add flexibility, most rain pants also have a spandex/elastane content.

Q: How To Wash Waterproof Pants?


It's okay to machine wash waterproof pants as long as you wash them separately and use a cleaner made for waterproof garments. Once you’re done, it's best to hang the pants to dry as the waterproof/breathable membranes and durable water repellent treatments can be ruined by the heat in a drier.

Q: Do You Need Rain Pants For Hiking?


Yes. Rain pants are necessary for hiking. Even when hiking in sunny conditions, a sudden downpour can occur. Since there are no building to shelter in, you will need a rain pant and jacket to keep you warm. The best thing about rain pants is that they are packable and easy to bring along without much hassle.

Globo Surf Overview

You can never be sure what the day has in store for you when embarking on a hike. This is why it’s wise to pack a pair of waterproof rain pant. The best hiking rain pants are windproof and waterproof yet breathable, lightweight, packable, flexible, and durable. Hopefully the top rated rain pants for hiking reviews coupled with the buying guide has made it easier to find the best rain pants for hiking.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:

More Pants Reviews

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!