Women’s Rain Jacket Roundup — 2021

Kristin Sinnott in the Arc'teryx Venda Anorak, Linden in the Reima Raincoat. (photo by Patrick Sinnott)

Intro

Whether you live in the desert or in the rainforest, a good rain jacket is always a nice thing to have around — especially when you least expect to need it. And nowadays, a quality rain jacket doesn’t only keep you dry — many are also breathable, comfortable, and look good.

If this past year has taught us anything, it’s to value our time together and to get outside as often as possible. While life is starting to look a bit more normal, or at least a whole lot more normal than this time last year, here at Blister most of our activities are still centered around the outdoors. Of course, heading outside usually means dealing with unpredictable weather, so we’ve rounded up 5 women’s rain jackets / waterproof shells that we’ve been using (plus one for kids), all of which provide peace of mind when the storm clouds roll in. And with the proper care, a good rain jacket like the ones below can keep you dry for decades.

Arc’teryx Venda Anorak

Size Tested: Small

Blister’s Measured Weight (size Small): 256 g

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: 12 in / 30.5 cm

Fabric: N30s GORE-TEX fabric with GORE C-KNIT™ backer technology

Stated Features:

  • Articulated patterning for unrestricted mobility
  • Gusseted underarms provide a stationary hem that does not lift with overhead motion
  • Adjustable StormHood™
  • Long right side zipper allows for easy on/off
  • Deep front zipper for easy on and off, rapid ventilation
  • Adjustable hem drawcord

Pockets:

  • Large kangaroo pocket with two zippers for entry and closure

MSRP: $399

Arc'teryx Venda Anorak

Kristin Sinnott (5’8”, 125lbs / 172 cm, 56.7kg): If you’re an avid (or even just occasional) Blister reader you’ll know we have some reviewers who love anoraks and some who definitely do not. I fall somewhere in the middle, as I appreciate a well-designed jacket regardless of the zipper length. The Venda is just that — a technical rain jacket with an urban design that doesn’t look out of place in the city or in the mountains. The long (16.5 in / 41.5 cm) zipper on the right side and extended front zipper make it easy to get the Venda on / off, so anorak haters (just skeptics) might want to reconsider their stance when it comes to the Venda. 

Arc’teryx designed the look of the Venda for the “urban landscape” but they incorporate many of the same quality materials and design as their technical outdoor pieces so you can count on it protecting you from the elements no matter where you intend to wear it. The N30s Gore-Tex fabric has a soft hand feel that doesn’t (literally) scream raincoat and the supple C-Knit backer is the same material that’s used on some of the Arc’teryx Zeta jackets, which are technical shells designed for treking. 

I wore the Venda during a number of downpours and even after standing under steady streams of water for extended periods of time (my son likes to play in downspouts; see above), nothing penetrated the outer layer. The standard Gore-Tex waterproof membrane is pretty breathable, making the Venda ideal for hiking or other activities (it certainly isn’t limited to urban excursions). The 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric is also a reliable performer, so while it certainly isn’t cheap, it should last for years to come, based on our experiences with similar pieces from Ar’cteryx. And if you find yourself caught in a warm-weather rainstorm or just need a little extra airflow while out on a hike, the Venda’s double zipper on the right side works as a vent. 

From hiking to city exploring, the Venda doesn’t look out of place and the classic, sleek design won’t be going out of style anytime soon. A great investment piece that will keep you dry for many many years. 

Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket W

Size Tested: Small

Blister’s Measured Weight (size Small): 463 g

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: ~72 cm / 28.5 in

Fabric: Eco-Shell waterproof laminate w/ recycled polyester face fabric and PFC-free DWR

Stated Features:

  • 2-way zippers at sides for ventilation
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • 2-way waterproof main zipper
  • Drawcord adjustable hem
  • Velcro at cuffs

Pockets:

  • 2 exterior chest pockets w/ internal mesh sleeves (zippered)
  • 1 interior chest pocket (zippered)
  • 1 exterior upper-arm pocket (zippered)

MSRP: $500

Kristin Sinnott reviews the Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket W for Blister
Fjallraven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket W

Kristin Sinnott (5’8”, 125lbs / 172 cm, 56.7kg): I did a full review of this jacket a few years ago and if you read it you’ll know I was extremely impressed by its performance for a range of activities. From kayaking to hiking to spring skiing, the jacket was great. The clean-cut design, soft hand feel, matte finish, and durable fabric make this rain jacket a great investment. I’ve worn the jacket for over 1.5 years now and it still looks as good as new. 

The Eco-Shell fabric is made from a mix of new and recycled polyester which, in turn, is 100% recyclable and is treated with a fluorocarbon-free durable water repellent finish. Fjällräven also offsets all emissions from production to transport for their Eco Shell products, which is very cool to see.

At 5’8” and 125 lbs, the size Small fits perfectly. The sleeves extend just beyond my first knuckles and the torso hits about halfway down my rear. The athletic fit is roomy enough to accommodate some layers, including a thick midlayer, but it isn’t so loose that it looks baggy or excessively large.

There are three chest pockets (two exterior and one interior) and one upper-arm pocket. I was surprised by the lack of pockets in the bottom half of the jacket; there are no handwarmer pockets or internal stuff pockets. While surprising, I found that I never missed having them since the Keb Eco-Shell Jacket W’s other pockets provided ample space for all my necessities. Both exterior chest pockets have mesh electronics sleeves and ports that keep phones or other smaller items secure without making the jacket sag.

When I first wore the jacket I thought there were large handwarmer pockets, but as it turned out, the zippers on the side were actually large vents. The side vents are 10.5” (~27 cm) long and extend from a few inches above the hem to just below the armpit (not extending under the armpit to the sleeve). Having used the vents many times while wearing a ski pack, soft-structured child carrier, and child backpack, I can attest to their accessibility. I used the vents on multiple occasions, ranging from a soggy Floridian kayak adventure to spring ski tours, and found that they provided enough ventilation to keep me cool in most cases.

The main zipper also has two zipper pulls, and while I never unzipped the jacket from the bottom, it would be a nice feature when belaying. Of the jackets in this roundup, the Keb Eco-Shell Jacket and the Arc’teryx Venda are the most breathable and both offer excellent water resistance. They are also the most expensive on the list. But if you want something that functions well and will continue to perform for many years while also not going out of style, the Keb Eco-Shell Jacket is a great choice.

Reima Waterproof Raincoat with Detachable Hood & Reflective Details – Vesi

Size Tested: 86 cm / 18-24 months

Blister’s Measured Weight (size 86 cm): 258 g

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: 15.5 in / 39.2 cm

Fabric: 

  • Material: 100% polyester, polyurethane coating
  • Coating: 100% PU coating
  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class I

Stated Features:

  • 100% Waterproof with welded seams
  • PVC free
  • Flexible material
  • Safe, detachable hood
  • Zipper at front
  • Reflecting details
  • Water and dirt repellent surface
  • Elastic cuffs

MSRP: $49.95

Reima Waterproof Raincoat

Kristin & Linden (2’8”, 23lbs / 81cm, 10.4kg): Raincoats and toddlers — it’s hard to get much cuter and still be practical. For toddlers to big kids (18-24 mos to 10 y), the this coat from Remia is a great option if you’re looking for a waterproof jacket.

Reima state that they make clothes one size larger than traditional US sizing so kids can grow into them. I’ve tested a handful of their products and I agree with that statement, so keep that in mind when ordering. The 18-24-month size is quite large for my petite 23-month-old son but I’m able to roll up the sleeves and he happily wears it. It may be long enough to cover his knees but his mobility isn’t limited in any way. It’s nice to have a size large enough to get us through a few years not just a season or two, though I have found that water can drip in through the collar when the jacket is large since the opening around the neck is too big and leaves too much room between the jacket and his neck.

The detachable hood is a nice feature, though we tend to keep it attached. The hood is large on my son (as can be expected since the jacket itself is too), and with no way to adjust the sizing (it lacks velcro or cinching mechanisms), it falls down over his face when he’s not wearing a ball cap. I do wish they had designed the hood with a way to cinch it back but I’m sure as my son grows into the jacket he will also grow into the hood. Until then, we’ll just make sure to pack a ball cap for rainy days. 

I don’t often mention details of a company’s website in my reviews, but I love how Reima offers simple explanations for breathability and waterproof levels. The Vesi has a breathability rating of at least 3,000 g/m2/24h which they further describe as suitable for everyday outings and light rain. This is the least breathable rating for Reima apparel. For waterproof levels, the Vesi has a water column rating over 8,000 mm which they further describe as suitable for both heavy rain but also sitting on wet. As a side note, usually 10k is the minimum for adult apparel to be labeled ‘waterproof’ but in my experience, the Vesi kept my son dry for extended periods of time in the rain. The Reima waterproof rating has 4 levels and the Vesi is the second-highest in regards to waterproofing. So basically, it’s a great jacket for a child who likes playing in the rain, but it’s not the best for hot weather or lots of activity since it’s not designed to be highly breathable. I’ve found that many kids’ outerwear products lack details or at least detailed descriptions. This results in ordering items and not always knowing what I’m going to get. The descriptions offered by Reima are especially helpful if your child is too young to articulate what they like / dislike about a jacket — like the lack of breathability. 

The Vesi (and most Reima products in general) comes in an assortment of fun colors which is why I initially gravitated towards it. For a classic rain jacket with good coverage that is sure to keep your little one dry, the Vesi is worth a look. 

Mammut Kento Light HS

Size tested: small

Blister’s Measured Weight (size Small):

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: 27.5in / 69.85cm 

Fabric:  Face Material: 100%polyamide

    Membrane Material:100% Polyurethane 

Features: Water column: 20,000 mm

  • Vapor permeability: 20,000 g/m²/24h
  • Hood with reinforced visor, can be adjusted vertically and horizontally with a single pull.
  • Water-repellent front zipper
  • Concealed chest pocket with water-repellent zipper
  • Elastic hem and cuffs for improved fit
  • Super-lightweight and low-volume
  • Additional stow bag for low packing volume

MSRP: $219.00

Mammut Kento Light HS

Maddie Hart (5’9, 115lbs /  174.5cm, 52kg): I have always found rain jackets to either be far too lightweight, or too bulky. When running in rainstorms, particularly in the summer, the coats that are too thick are really my least favorite since they get so hot. With the Kento Light HS, I was initially thinking it would be on the “too lightweight” side of the spectrum. The fabric is especially light — you can easily see through it. So when I first wore it in a very heavy rain on a long run near Buena Vista, I was impressed to find how dry it kept me. I finished the run, pulled the jacket off, and was completely dry. The jacket also did a great job of not being too hot — with just a short-sleeved shirt underneath, I did not get too hot during the run. If the temps would have been a bit cooler, I think this raincoat would do a great job of keeping you warm with a long-sleeve shirt underneath. Another perk I like is that the fabric doesn’t have the crinkly / loud texture that many raincoats have, although it is a bit hard to hear out of when you have the hood on. 

The hood has a structured brim that I can adjust to keep water out of my face. The adjustable tab in the back allows you to tighten the hood to your head, keeping the hood from falling off, even while running full speed downhill. The chest pocket in the front of the jacket is large enough for your phone and car keys, with a bit of spare room for a snack. I put my phone in the front pocket and it did stay dry (phew). The pocket also has a small stuff sack that you can put the jacket into. This packability makes the jacket ideal for long adventures where room in your pack is limited. I have carried it along with me on most of my high-mountain runs this summer and never felt like I was compromising space in my pack. 

The Kento jacket fits my long arms well and the elastic on the wrist keeps it from moving too much. The coat is well suited for running, but would also be a great raincoat for hiking, mountaineering, or cycling, as well as everyday use. It is cute to throw on during a rainstorm to wear around town as well, and it stands out in this roundup as a particularly good option for those who want something very light and packable.

Picture Organic Abstral+ 2.5L JKT W

Size Tested: Large

Blister’s Measured Weight (size): 326 g  

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: 65 cm

Fabric: 

  • Material: 54% Polyester and 46% Recycled Polyester 
  • Coating: Teflon ECOELITE™ PFC Free DWR Treatment 

Stated Features:

  • Dryplan Membrane
  • 2.5 layers stretch
  • 10k mm Waterproof/ 10 K G Breathability
  • Fully Taped Seams
  • Packable with Self Stowing Pocket 
  • Brim Hood
  • Elasticated Ergonomic Hood
  • Zippered Side Pockets 
  • YKK Waterproof Zippers
  • Adjustable Hem and Cuffs
  • Velcro Cuffs
  • Reflective Details 

MSRP: $182.88

Picture Organic Abstral+ 2.5L JKT W

Kara Williard: (5’9”, 153 lbs / 175 cm, 69.4 kg): Thankfully, a little extra rain this spring in the Gunnison Valley provided the perfect window for me to try out the Picture Abstral+ rain jacket. I tend to be quite picky about a rain jacket that I will actually bring along on a bike ride, since most cause me to overheat as soon as I begin climbing, or they are too bulky to ski-strap under the saddle. However, I have found the Abstral+ to be a pretty versatile, comfortable, and reliable jacket for these spring monsoons. The Abstral+ provides a reported 10,000 mm rating for water resistance, which has proven to be more than enough for these storms, but I still found it to be pretty breathable and comfy when the clouds parted (as long as it wasn’t really hot).

The Abstral+ kept me dry even in sustained storms, and I was pleased to find that the hood fit over my bike helmet in a comfortable way. The brimmed hood also helped shunt water away from my face when the rain was really coming down. As soon as the rain stopped, I could open the front zipper a bit to let a breeze in and I’d say I was generally content with the overall breathability for cool-weather, wet rides. I would have appreciated some additional ventilation and there are definitely more breathable alternatives out there, but for the price point and packability of this jacket, I am impressed by the overall performance and feature set.

Kara Williard in the Picture Organic Abstral+ 2.5L Jacket, Gunnison, CO.

I was a little torn on sizing, as I have been back and forth with Picture depending on the cut, and end up opting for a Large. It was a roomy fit around the torso, with the right length in sleeves and torso. While I could have worn a Medium, I found the Large to be extra comfy when venturing out during the colder evenings with a couple layers underneath. I would also consider using it as a spring ski jacket or a mountaineering jacket for this reason, since it gives me lots of options in terms of layering. I do have layers with higher water-resistance ratings that I would turn to for trips where I knew was going to encounter a lot of moisture over many days, but the Abstral is a nice, less-expensive layer for just-in-case usage thanks to how light and packable it is. I can stash it in its self-stowing pocket and it is about the size of both of my fists, and it stores well under my saddle. The two zippered side pockets are roomy and provided room for my phones, snacks, and keys. 

Overall, I’ve been happy with the versatility of the Abstral+, as well as its style, materials, and pattern. While the dusty rose / tan / white colorway I have may get a bit dirty over time, it looks good, feels soft, and is smooth even against bare skin. I look forward to taking it on many more adventures throughout the year, even as we transition into some colder weather. 

OR Motive AscentShell Jacket

Size Tested: XS

Blister’s Measured Weight (size):  241 grams

Blister’s Measured Front Zipper Length: 61.5 cm

Fabric: AscentShell™ 3L, 100% polyester 50D mechanical stretch plainweave with 100% polyester 30D knit backer

Stated Features:

  • Adjustable Hood
  • YKK® AquaGuard® Zippers
  • Internal Front Storm Flap
  • Zip Hand Pockets and Internal Chest Pocket
  • Color Matched Reflective Visibility at Chest Logo andMiddle Back
  • Left Hand Pocket Doubles as Stuff Sack
  • Carabiner Loop
  • Key Clip
  • Elastic Drawcord Hem
  • Low Profile Wrist Cuffs

MSRP: $199/ On sale for $149.25 on OR website

Outdoor Research Motive AscentShell Jacket

Sascha Anastas (5’1”, 100 Ibs / 155 cm,  45.35 kg): The Outdoor Research Women’s Motive AscentShell is a sleek, breathable, and very reliable rain jacket. It’s been the perfect rain jacket to have on hand during the late winter / early Spring in Colorado. I spent the majority of my time wearing this jacket while riding my bike on the wet and often muddy trails around Buena Vista during the shoulder seasons. It offered impressive protection from the rain and wind but was notably more breathable than most of my other rain jackets — I rarely overheated in it, even on strenuous rides, which is rare when wearing any other rain jacket. 

The Motive jacket features an adjustable hood with an elastic band that fits snugly around my head, sleek internal storm flaps, an elastic cinch at the waist, and water-resistant zippers on the side pockets that are protected by a thin storm flap. There is no breast pocket, which I was somewhat disappointed about initially since I usually keep my mobile device in this pocket. Granted, not having the pocket (or any of the bulk in it) ultimately added to the jacket’s simple style and sleek cut. Particularly in the more subdued color I have, I’ll happily wear it out in town or for more casual occasions when I wanted some protection from rain or wind. 

Overall, I found the Extra Small fit true to size. The shoulders were not too, boxy which is often the case on my narrow shoulders, and there were two form-fitting seams to contour the fit through the chest area. Adding to the comfort, the 3L material is soft and stretchy and allowed me to freely move around while on the bike or out hiking. The sleeve length initially felt a little long, but once I had my arms extended to reach my MTB handlebars, I found the sleeves fit perfectly. Initially, I was concerned that the cuffs would ride up but I found that the thin elastic cinch around the sleeve kept the cuffs in just the right spot.

As for weather resistance, I remained entirely dry in the Motive while riding in spring storms, though the sporadic rain we tend to get in Colorado is milder than the persistent downpours I experienced when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. I would be curious to see how well this jacket would handle heavy, extended rain, but for what it’s worth, we’ve had good experiences with other Outdoor Research AscentShell pieces in very wet weather. And given the above-average overall breathability of this jacket, I think it’s one of the more versatile options here — especially for the price.

Leave a Comment