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Like any part of a good hunting apparel system, the right rain jacket for hunting can mean the difference between staying in the field or retreating back to your truck when the weather turns. A hunting rain jacket provides anything from lightweight, on-the-go rain protection to the warmest rain layer incorporating insulation for cold and sleet. These rain jackets have to be rugged enough to withstand bushwhacking, crawling around on the ground, and everything that comes with an entire season outdoors. This layer also has to be built for a full range of motion so you don't get bound up or blow your cover, which means intentional design for individual pursuits. Ideally these jackets have quiet zippers and brushed face fabrics, along with conveniently placed one-handed pockets for quick-grab gear.
Since hunting systems are so specific to species, weather, and environment, I chose a variety of rain jackets to cover most conditions. From early-season wind protection to a versatile softshell to late-season's heavy-hitters, there's a jacket to suit your needs here. Mix up the patterns to best suit the pursuit and environment and you're covered throughout the season.
1. Best Softshell Rain Jacket
This has been my go-to jacket in both solids and concealment patterns since 2016. While it's not technically entirely waterproof, I've never succeeded in soaking it through. It comes in men's and women's, and is an athletic-cut model that fits a base layer and vest underneath without feeling too tight. The Jetstream has a microgrid fleece lining for warmth without bulk, and is highly water resistant thanks to the DWR coating and Gore Windstopper membrane. This jacket has a zippered chest pocket, hand-warmer pockets, and a drawstring hood. It works best during early-to-mid season outings, and comes in multiple solids and every concealment pattern made by Sitka, including both big game patterns, both waterfowl patterns, and whitetail.
2. Best Lightweight Rain Jacket
For rainy hunts where you're hot on the trail but still need protection, an athletic-oriented rain jacket is a must-have layer. The Chugach from Kuiu isn't the lightest jacket out there, but for a hunting-specific piece that has more durability needs than other outdoor endeavors, the 14-ounce weight isn't bad. This jacket underwent a recent redesign, using TR Waterproof Technologies that helped drop weight and increase tear resistance and abrasion resistance. It's built for doing miles in the mountains, with increased comfort under a pack, vents to dump heat during steep ascents, and sleeves made with less bulk for full-draw clearance during archery.
3. Best Late-Season Insulated Rain Jacket
The coldest place is a late-season whitetail stand, which is exactly what Sitka made this jacket for. This is a Gore-Tex insulated jacket that combines warmth and waterproofing for the ultimate protection layer. Since this is a whitetail-specific layer, the face fabric is brushed to avoid rasping noises within close range of animals, and the pattern is made to be concealed when viewed from below. The jacket is packed with PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, a synthetic fill that doesn't lose warmth when it gets wet, but mimics the insulation of down. Despite the warmth and technology in this jacket, it doesn't feel bulky, and won't hamper your range of motion.
4. Best For Brutal Wet and Cold
You need something burlier than a lightweight rain jacket for the most frigid, wet days in the field. The Refuge Parka from First Lite can stand up to the worst of the howling winds and driving rains that make waterfowl hunting so... iconic. This is an oversized jacket made for layering over insulation, base layers, midlayers, and waders, and has 300 grams of insulation throughout the body of the jacket, and 200 grams in the arms so you retain heat without losing your range of motion. This is a thoughtfully designed jacket for waterfowl pursuits, including clever details like high-contrast striping under the arms for visual directions with your bird dog, one-handed deep pockets for shotgun shells, and two-way zippers for comfort in multiple positions. Naturally, this jacket is also incredibly durable, with a 4.5-layer waterproof polyester face fabric that can stand up to seasons of wear and abrasion.
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