If there’s one item that’s overlooked in the strive to stay dry on the trail it’s rain pants. We break down what to look for in rain pants and the best rain pants on the market.

Australia is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Hiking, biking, skiing, surfing — you name it, Australia’s got it.

However, being stuck on an outdoor adventure without adequate protective gear isn’t just unpleasant, it can be a safety hazard too. Having a good pair of rain pants on while hiking in the rain is often overlooked, but can be a life saver! 

They can save a lot of trouble and keep you dry and comfortable when out in the wild. This guide will help you find the best rain pants in Australia to protect you from the elements.

Read more: 7 Tips for Hiking in the Rain

Things to Consider When Buying a Pair of Rain Pants

Material

Nylon and polyester are the most popular materials used to make great rain pants. They’re lightweight, quick-drying, and offer good protection from inclement weather. Rain pants made from these materials provide adequate protection when hiking, bikepacking, or camping in moderate weather conditions.

On the other hand, for outdoor activities in extreme weather conditions, investing in a pair of rain pants made from GORE-TEX or similar waterproof/breathable fabric is a must. These materials are significantly more expensive than nylon and polyester, but provide rain gear with better protection against the elements.

GORE-TEX is used in high-end rain pants designed for mountaineering, rock climbing and other extreme activities. It’s made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as expanded PTFE (ePTFE), and offers both waterproofing and flexibility. The material was invented in 1969 and is still the most preferred waterproof/breathable fabric on the market.

Durability and Comfort

Amateur hikers often name waterproofing and wind resistance as the only factors determining the performance of a pair of rain pants. However, experienced hikers know that breathability is essential – it helps you stay comfortable by preventing the build-up of sweat and moisture.

Breathability is the ability of the fabric to allow water vapour to pass through and is determined by the fabric’s construction and the type of material used. The more breathable the fabric, the less likely you are to feel uncomfortable while wearing rain pants. It’s measured in Thermal Evaporative Resistance (RET) coefficient. The lower the RET value, the more breathable the fabric.

A balance between waterproofing, wind resistance, and breathability is what makes a pair of rain pants genuinely great. So, it’s necessary to check the label for information on breathability and water resistance. Some popular breathable materials include GORE-TEX, eVent, and Pertex Shield.

Weight

Highly durable rain pants don’t have to be heavy. In fact, some of the best rain pants on the market today are made from ultralight materials that won’t weigh you down or take up too much space in your backpack.

Even small amounts of extra weight while hiking can be really tiring, as it puts additional strain on your legs and makes it more difficult to move around. That’s why it’s important to choose rain pants that strike the right balance between durability and weight.

The widely-accepted optimal weight for rain pants is 200-250g. Anything heavier than that’s usually uncomfortable, though heavier materials are preferable for more extreme weather conditions or winter hiking. The extra weight can better withstand the cold and provide additional warmth.

Pockets

While not necessary for some, pockets can be a convenient feature on rain pants. They come in handy for storing small items like keys, phones, or energy bars.

The most popular type of pockets are zippered, so to provide extra security, water resistance, and to prevent items from falling out. However, velcro pockets that are easier to open and close can also do the job. 

The location of pockets is also crucial. Side pockets are the most convenient, as they can be easily accessed without having to take your backpack off. However, some people prefer back pockets, as they’re more out of the way and prevent items from falling out when taking a break or sitting down.

It’s also important to consider how deep the pockets are. Shallow pockets might not be very practical, as they can barely fit anything inside.

All that being said, if it’s raining enough for rain pants, you might not want to access pockets anyway. Or you might just store things in the pants you’re wearing underneath your rain pants.

Fit

Ultimately the most important thing is that the rain pants fit well and don’t restrict movement. Regular fit usually works best for this purpose, as it’s not too tight and not too loose.

However, some hiking pants come in a slim or tapered fit. These rain pants are less likely to get caught in branches or other obstacles while hiking. For those who value aesthetics, the slim fit might be the way to go. It’s important to remember that such rain pants might not be as comfortable as the regular fit ones and can be more challenging to move in, but you’ll look great.

1. Kathmandu Trailhead Women’s Rain Pants – $199.98

 

 

Material: Nylon
Weight: 300g
Size: XXS to XXL
Fit: Loose
Purpose: Camping, hiking, mountaineering
Comfort: Articulated knees, lower leg zips
Eco-friendliness: bluesign approved

Reasons to buy:

  • Easy to put on and take off with your hiking boots on
  • Articulated knees
  • Back zip pocket
  • Large selection of sizes

Reasons to avoid:

  • Only available in black
  • No side pockets

Buy Now

 

Kathmandu’s Trailhead Women’s Rain Pants provide both functionality and comfort. Made with durable water repellent nylon, they’re also bluesign approved. This means these rain pants were produced with consideration for both people and the environment. They have a bio-based membrane, making them an eco-friendly choice.

The rain pants are designed for an articulated fit and wearer comfort. They also have zippered lower legs so they can be easily put on and taken off, even when wearing hiking boots. The zippered back pocket is great for holding essentials (read: snacks).

The pants are comfortable to wear and provide good coverage of the entire leg. They’re designed for a relatively loose fit which gives you freedom of movement when you’re striding along the trails.

Although like most of the options on our list, these rain pants are available only in black, there’s a relatively wide variety of sizes available, from 6-18 or XXS-XXL, so you’re bound to find a pair that fit your needs. 

Trailhead Women’s Rain Pants are designed to provide optimum safety and comfort during the rigours of cold and wet outdoor activities.

 2. Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell 3 Layer Pants Regular Length – $159.95

 

 

Material: Econyl, polycarbonate, tricot
Weight: 335g
Size: XXS-XXL
Fit: Regular
Purpose: Hiking or mountain climbing in cold weather
Durability: 3-layer waterproof/breathable H2No Performance
Pockets: Two hand warmer pockets with zippers
Eco-friendliness: Fair Trade Certified sewn, 100% recycled fabric, bluesign approved

Reasons to buy:

  • Cuff-to-thigh side zips for ventilation
  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • Environmentally conscious manufacturing 

Reasons to avoid:

  • On the heavier side
  • Too thick for warmer climates

Buy Now

 

Patagonia Men’s Torrentshell 3-Layer Pants are a good option for those looking for rain pants that can also weather the cold while remaining breathable. The three layers of these rain pants are made of an ECONYL ripstop face, polycarbonate PU membrane, with a tricot backer & DWR finish.

The two hand-warmer pockets are made of mesh, with storm flaps and zippers with a DWR finish. In short, everything needed to endure cold and wet conditions. 

Although breathable, due to three layers of fabric, the Patagonia Torrentshell rain pants are on the heavier side and will he uncomfortable to wear when it’s hot – so maybe not ideal for the tropics!

These rain pants also feature two-way cuff-to-thigh side zips up each pant leg, so they’re easy to take on and off without having to take off your hiking shoes. Plus the extended length of the zips allows for customisable ventilation. 

The bottom of the pants feature partially elasticised cuffs that are adjustable with a snap-tab closure, so you can choose how tightly you cinch them around your ankles. 

At $159.95 a piece, these pants won’t burn too big of a hole in your pocket.

Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3 Layer Pants are a good value-for-money option that provides environmentally-responsible protection from the rain. 

3. Mont Siena Overpants Women – $319.95

 

 

Material: Hydronaute
Weight: 410g
Size: XS-XXL
Fit: Regular
Purpose: Cold weather bushwalking, skiing
Comfort: Gusseted crotch for increased mobility and comfort
Waterproofing: Waterhead rating 30,000mm

Reasons to buy:

  • Improved ventilation
  • AquaGuard leg zips for quick changes
  • Elasticised waist

Reasons to avoid:

  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t have pockets
  • Expensive

Buy Now

 

The Mont Siena Overpants for women are designed for bushwalking and skiing and their Hydronaute waterproof fabric makes them a good choice for protection against rain.

The YKK AquaGuard side zippers extend up to three-quarters of the pants’ length, making changing out of wet gear easy and convenient. These rain pants are also gusseted at the crotch for increased mobility and comfort and feature an elastic waist with an adjustable slide-lock buckle.

You can use the Mont Siena Overpants in warmer weather, with the long leg zippers providing improved ventilation, but they’re not the best choice. On the flip side, the hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs allow you to tighten the pant around your ankle in particularly wild and wet weather.

But with a 30,000mm waterhead rating and breathability of 20,000g/m2/24 hours, the Hydronaute fabric will work hard to keep you dry.

One noticeable downside to the Mont Siena Overpants is that they’re rather heavy, weighing in at 410g. This makes them the heaviest entry on the list so far, and also one of the most expensive.

Another drawback is that they lack pockets, however if you’re using them in the cold that might be ok!

 4. 33,000ft Women’s Rain Pants – $102-$135.45

 

 

Size: XS-XL
Fit: Loose
Pocket: Two zipped pockets
Purpose: Various sports activities
Comfort: Breathability rating 2000 g/m2/24hr
Waterproofing: Waterproof rating 2000 mm

Reasons to buy:

  • Elasticated waistband with drawstring inside
  • Available in colours other than black
  • 2 pockets
  • Free 90-day return
  • Inexpensive

Reason to avoid:

  • A little tight around the butt and thighs

Buy Now

 

Here are the first rain pants on our list that are available in multiple colours and are relatively inexpensive compared to some others.

The 33,000ft Women’s Rain Pants come in a range of colours that include army green, blue, and grey, alongside the ubiquitous black. These rain pants are designed for various sports activities, but we think they’re just as great for sitting on the grass or taking the dog for a walk in the rain. 

The elastic waistband with drawstring inside provides adjustability and comfort, while the two zippered pockets keep valuables safe and dry. With a breathability rating of 2000g /m2/ 24hr, these rain pants do breathe moisture, and the waterproof rating of 2000mm will keep you dry, but it’ll be noticeably less efficient than more expensive options on this list. That’s fine if you’re not planning on doing anything too strenuous, or going out in properly heavy rain.

Unlike some of the previous models, the 33,000ft Women’s Rain Pants come with two pockets that are large enough to carry a phone or snacks and are located comfortably on the sides. 

Unfortunately these pants can be tight in the butt and thigh area. They do come with two inseam options — 74.9cm for heights of 162-170cm and 78.7cm for heights of 170-178cm. Choosing the right inseam size might help you avoid the tightness issue.

If these rain pants still don’t fit you, there’s always the free 90-day return policy.

5. Columbia Men’s Rebel Roamer Pant – $129.99

 

 

Material: Nylon, elastane
Weight: 280g
Size: XS-XXL
Fit: Regular
Comfort: Air-permeable protection
Durability: Omni-Tech technology

Reasons to buy:

  • Fit true to size
  • Relatively affordable

Reasons to avoid:

  • Weak drawstring
  • No pockets

Buy Now

 

With more than eight decades of producing sports clothing, Columbia has earned a good reputation in the industry. Despite coming from such a trusted brand, these rain pants are relatively inexpensive.

The Rebel Roamer men’s pants are made from nylon and elastane, which makes them lightweight and comfortable. The fabric is also air-permeable due to Omni-Tech technology, so they’re breathable even when the temperature rises. Omni-Tech provides full waterproofing but it’s not the most technically advanced material on the market.

The weak point some people have mentioned is that the drawstring can break after some time. Another downside is that they pants lack pockets, so you’ll need to bring a bag of some sort with you. Plus, the look is kind of baggy – that style choice is up to you!

6. Rainbird Stowaway Unisex Overpants Waterproof Pants – $64.64 (RRP $79.99)

 

 

Material: 100% Polyester
Weight: 226g (M)
Size: S-XXXL
Fit: Loose
Purpose: Any activity in the rain, but not high exertion
Pocket: Rear zip pocket
Waterproofing: Waterhead 5000mm

Reasons to buy:

  • Very affordable
  • Available in extra large
  • Unisex style
  • Comes packed in its own bag and can be stowed in back pocket

Reason to avoid:

  • Don’t fit as well as others on the list

Buy Now

 

Rainbird Stowaway Unisex Overpants are the most budget-friendly pair of rain pants on our list. They cost two to three times less than the competition while packing several handy features. These rain pants are waterproof up to 5000mm and have a rear zippered pocket. 

However, unlike other models made from nylon, these rain pants are made from 100% polyester. This material looks less appealing than other models and doesn’t drape as well.  Also, as these pants are unisex, the fit is loose. 

They’re best suited for those who value comfort over style.

These pants also come with a compact storage pouch, which is very convenient and unique among the pants on the list. They’re available in a wide range of sizes from S to XXXL. 

All things considered, the only real downside to these rain pants is their shiny, polyester look and the loose fit which may not be to everyone’s liking.

7. The North Face Venture 2 Half Zip Men’s Waterproof Pants – $129.60 (RRP $160)

 

 

Material: Nylon
Weight: 230g
Size: S-XXL
Fit: Relaxed
Purpose: Multi-day hikes
Pocket: Zip hand-pockets
Waterproofing: 100% windproof Ripstop fabric seam-sealed DryVent™ 2.5L shell

Reasons to buy:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Lightweight
  • Pocket for packing
  • Knee zips
  • Adjustable ankle cuffs
  • Relatively inexpensive

Reasons to avoid:

  • Elastic waistband with drawcord isn’t the most secure

Buy Now

 

These lightweight and easily packable rain pants are made with a 100% windproof fabric and DryVent™ 2.5L waterproofing, making them an ideal choice for multi-day hikes and other outdoor activities with a high risk of changing weather conditions.

The velcro cuffs allow you to cinch the pants tight around your ankles and the knee length zips allow you to pull them on quickly over your hiking boots.

The North Face Venture 2 Half Zip Men’s Waterproof Pants also feature zippered pockets that are convenient for storing small items while on the go.

The pants have a relaxed fit that make them comfortable to wear over various layers, but make sure you get the right fit as the elastic waistband isn’t super secure.

The North Face offers a lifetime warranty for these pants, making them a good value-for-money option.

8. The North Face Venture 2 Women’s Half Zip Waterproof Pants – $144 (RRP $160)

 

 

Weight: 230g
Size: XS-XL
Fit: Relaxed
Purpose: Hiking in wet conditions
Pocket: Secure zip-hand pockets
Waterproofing: 100% windproof Ripstop fabric seam-sealed DryVent™ 2.5L shell

Reasons to buy:

  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Pocket for packing
  • Knee zips
  • Adjustable ankle cuffs
  • Relatively inexpensive

Reason to avoid:

  • Elastic waistband with drawcord isn’t the most secure
  • Not made in very small or very large sizes

Buy Now

 

The Venture 2 Women’s Half Zip Waterproof Pants are the female version of the previous pants with the same price. Although specifically designed for hiking in wet conditions they also have 100% windproof fabric to protect from cold gusts of wind.

The pants come with practical pockets to carry a lot of small essentials.

Overall, these pants seem to have everything going for them except for the sizing. The pants are suitable for people with a regular sizing range of XS-XL. But very small (XXS) and very large (XXL) sizes aren’t available. If you’re looking for one of those sizes then consider some of the other options on our list.

9. Arc’teryx Beta Gore-tex Men’s Hiking Pants – $380 (RRP $400)

 

 

Material: N70p 3L GORE-TEX fabric
Weight: 330g
Size: S-XXL
Fit: Regular
Purpose: Wide range of sport activities
Durability: GORE C-KNIT Backer Technology
Eco-friendliness: Some included materials meet bluesign criteria

Reasons to buy:

  • Extra durability for harsh weather conditions
  • Laminated instep patches
  • Elastic waist
  • Most casual looking pants
  • Suitable for all weather conditions and all terrains

Reasons to avoid:

  • Expensive
  • No pockets
  • Limited sizing

Buy Now

 

Arc’teryx Beta Gore-tex Men’s Hiking Pants are more expensive than other rain pants on our list, but they’re also very durable pants and are crafted with top of the line materials, so they’ll withstand all sorts of outdoor activities and harsh weather conditions.

The highly durable GORE-TEX fabric and the GORE C-KNIT Backer Technology make these pants extra weather-resistant. The three-layer GORE-TEX construction keeps the wearer dry and comfortable through thick and thin. Additionally, laminated in-step patches protect from cuts and abrasion when hiking in rocky conditions.

All these features contribute to the higher Arc’teryx price tag and these pants are one of the most expensive options on our list. Therefore, they’re a good investment if the extra protection is needed but might be an unnecessary expense if you’re not spending much time in extreme conditions.

These pants also don’t have any pockets, which can be a problem for some wearers. Also, they’re not available in XS size. However, they do come with an elasticated waist that might allow for adjusting a S-size pair to a XS.

 

Read more: Arc’teryx Have Evolved Into One of Our Favourite Outdoor Brands

10. Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants – $199.95

 

 

Material: 100% nylon
Weight: 190g
Size: SM-XXL
Fit: Standard
Purpose: Hiking, bikepacking
Pockets: Back pocket doubles as stuff sack

Reasons to buy:

  • Ultralight rain pants
  • Fully taped seams

Reason to avoid:

  •  

Buy Now

 

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants are made with a 100% nylon shell and offer taped seams for complete waterproofing. They’re ultralight at just 190g, making them suitable for adventures where saving weight is a priority. 

The fit of the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants is fairly standard, and there’s a drawcord waist for size adjustability. It’s worth noting the smallest size is only a small-medium, you might have to try them on if you’re quite small.

The fully taped seams make the pants surprisingly waterproof for their light weight. This is partly thanks to Diamond Fuse technology, which is a fabric designed to be both lightweight and durable, even after many washes.

The model has a standard fit, however for hikers who have a more hourglass-shaped body, it’s recommended to go a size up as these waterproof rain pants can feel tight in the hips and thighs.

11. Arc’teryx Beta LT Pant Hadron Mens – $500

 

 

Material: Hadron 3L GORE-TEX fabric
Weight: 220g
Fit: Regular
Purpose: Diverse activities in unpredictable alpine environments
Durability: Ultra-durable Hadron™ LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) grid face fabric.

Reasons to buy:

  • Superior waterproofing
  • Extra durable
  • Eco-friendly production
  • Lightweight
  • Full length zips for easy on-and-off
  • Free express shipping and free return

Reason to avoid:

  • Very expensive
  • No pockets

Buy Now

 

The final pair is for those entering extreme environments who need extra layers of protection beyond the average windproof and waterproof materials.

The main advantage of the Arc’teryx Beta LT Hadron pant is that its GORE-TEX fabric is further bolstered with and Ultra-durable Hadron™ LCP (Liquid Crystal Polymer) grid face fabric. This material rivals far heavier materials for its durability and abrasion resistance and the entire pair weighs in at just 220g, on the lighter side of our list. 

So what’s the catch? Well, the Beta LT are the most expensive rain pants on our list by a long way with a sticker price of $500. It’ll be entirely dependant on your circumstances if these are a worthwhile investment, but you can rest assured that they’ll outperform the other pairs on the waterproof and durability front and will have been crafted to Arc’teryx’s very high standard for outdoor clothing.

These rain pants are made with dope-dye technology, which uses less water and emits less CO2 in the colouring process and some parts of the Beta LT meet bluesign manufacturing criteria. 

The surprising downside is the absence of pockets. So, there’s no way to keep a phone and other items on you without having a small bag or squeezing your hand inside the pants.

Rain Pants FAQs

1. Are ski pants and rain pants the same?

Rain pants are more versatile and lightweight than ski pants.

While both ski pants and rain pants are designed to protect the lower body from the elements, there are some key differences between the two.

Ski pants are typically made from a thicker, more durable material that can withstand heavy wear and tear on the slopes. In contrast, rain pants for hiking are usually made from a light-weight material that can be easily packed away when not in use.

While you can get non-insulated ‘shell’ style ski pants these still tend to be fairly bulky and more expensive than a pair of rain pants. 

2. What are rain pants made of?

Nylon, polyester or Gore-Tex are typical materials for rain pants.

Most rain pants for hiking are made from a lightweight, water-resistant material such as nylon, polyester, or Gore-Tex. This allows them to be easily packed away when not in use and prevents them from adding too much bulk when wearing them.

The materials listed here are also breathable to some degree, and prevent you from feeling too sweaty while wearing them.

3. How should rain pants fit?

Regular fit, or with an adjustable waist.

Rain pants for hiking should fit snugly around the waist and hips, with a regular fit or an adjustable waist. They should also be long enough to reach and cover your ankles and ideally have a wide leg opening to slip them on over your shoes.

The crucial thing to consider is that rain pants should not limit movement. That’s why most rain pants have a relaxed fit that allows moving and bending without feeling restricted — this also allows them to be thrown over the top of hiking shorts or other non-waterproof layers. Tight-fitting pants is a rare exception for extremely active sports, such as mountaineering or running.

4. Do rain pants have pockets?

Not all rain pants have pockets, but try to choose ones that do.

As we learned from our list of the best rain pants, not all pant models include pockets. But if there’s a choice, it’s always good to go for waterproof pants that have at least one pocket.

Usually, single-pocket rain pants for hiking have a zippered pocket on the thigh that’s large enough to fit a phone or keys. Though it’s worth remembering that the pockets might not keep things dry. If it can’t get wet, put it in a waterproof bag to be safe!

Final Thoughts on Rain Pants

Having comfortable and functional rain gear is one of the crucial things to consider before going on any hike, regardless of the weather. Beginners might underestimate its importance, but having good rain gear can make or break a trip.

Rain pants are essential rain gear for any hiker, backpacker or camper, as they help you stay dry and comfortable in wet weather conditions.

However, rain pants aren’t the only clothing items needed to protect from the rain. There are a few more buying guides that might be helpful depending on the intended activity.

 

Feature photo by @mattwisemanmedia