Rain gear is one of the most critical parts of any hunting clothing system. It’s the piece of gear that hunters don’t really consider u
Rain gear is one of the most critical parts of any hunting clothing system. It’s the piece of gear that hunters don’t really consider until you are sitting in a merciless down pour reevaluating your life decisions. Nothing can be more humbling than sitting in the onslaught of mother nature’s deluge as you realize that you probably shouldn’t have skimped on your rain gear. Almost every hunter has probably had their own unique defining moment of suffering when they reach the point of investing in good rain gear. For me, that moment occurred on my first trip to Alaska. I went for two weeks as an assistant guide to see if I wanted to guide full time, and the only way to get all the unanswerable questions about guiding thoroughly answered. I got answers alright. All of them.
After two weeks of 100-percent outside living, in what at that time was considered the wettest Alaska season in history, I found that I needed to invest in quality rain gear. I wasn’t just damp, I was bone-soaked from day one of the job. From that point on, I critiqued every piece of rain gear I came across as to whether it would be “Alaska proof.” Now, quite a few years later, I still use the “Alaska Proof” system of measurement, but there are so many other applications for many other environments. So, I had to modify the system. What I consider to be “Alaska Proof” may be an infinite amount of overkill for a hunter that only deals with precipitation two or three days per hunting season. If you fall into that category, may God bless you and your sunburn. These days there are multiple manufacturers that produce quality rain gear for hunting. In fact, some would argue that there are too many options. It can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully, I’ve helped narrow down this list below to what I believe to be the best hunting rain gear for almost every application.
Things to Consider when Buying Hunting Rain Gear
When you’re choosing rain gear, consider where you’ll use it as well as how many days a year you expect to wear it. Just knowing those two things will narrow down your options considerably. For example, the rain gear I choose to wear in Alaska will see more use than the rain gear I wear in Mexico. Likewise, rain gear you wear in the Rockies might be overkill for the Southeast. Figure out what conditions you’ll hunt most, and go from there. The
As you start to expand your hunting ranges/regions, you’ll need to expand your rain gear too.
- 3 Layer Gore Tex
- Articulated elbows and knees
- 100% polyester
- YKK pit zips
Why It made the cut
Sitka Dew Point rain gear checks every box needed for extended backcountry hunting trips, especially when weight and space come at a premium.
- Light weight
- Easily packable
- Incredibly Breathable
- Two way side zips open all the way to the waist
- Not durable enough for extended daily wear
At just under 1.5 pounds the packability of the Dew Point rain system is astonishing and doesn’t take up much room in your backpack. The pocket/zipper placement in regards to wearing a backpack means that the waist belt and shoulder straps on your backpack won’t affect the use of the pockets or pit zips. And the leg side zips come all the way to the waist from the ankle cuffs for easy on/off. The Dew Point system is great for multiple day backcountry hunts if you only need something for those surprise rain storms. But it’s probably not the best option if you plan to hunt consistently wet conditions. I put this gear on just before a downpour in turkey season.
During turkey season, I used the Dew Point rain gear on a hunt in Georgia, and it couldn’t have worked better. It kept me plenty dry during a surprise rain storm, when the bottom fell out for a solid minute. But when the sun came back out, the Dew Point provided plenty of breathability, and I didn’t sweat my way out of it like other rain gear I’ve tried in the past. Even though this rain gear is light, it doesn’t sacrifice durability. On this same hunt, I had to maneuver through a briar thicket, and I just knew by the time I made it to the other side that the Dew Point would be ripped to shreds. Luckily, it made it through without any major wounds, and it still keeps me dry.
- HydraShield SS Fabric Tech
- Fleece backing on soft shell
- Mechanical stretch
- Dual chest pockets
Why It made The Cut
The insulated and windproof Stone Glacier M7 jacket and pants provide breathable, waterproofing capabilities for those cold, wet late season hunts.
- Intuitive pocket designs
- Excellent durability
- Articulated elbows and knees
- Keeps you plenty dry
- Legs do not zip all the way to the ankle cuffs
- A tad noisy
Late season hunting can be grueling, downright cold, and unpredictable. The Stone Glacier M7 series is a testament of intuitively designed gear that’s built to endure late season hunting conditions. The fleece backing on the HyperShield Soft Shell adds insulation without adding any significant bulk. I wore a thick base layer (top and bottom) along with a puffy vest during testing. I had full range of motion to shoot my bow sitting, kneeling, and even standing. Plus, it’s plenty warm. And you can add or subtract insulation garments as the conditions change and still have full range of motion.
Both the pants and jacket have ventilation zippers which allow added flow during strenuous activity if needed. However, the zippers on the pants legs don’t open all the way to the ankle cuffs. They stop just below my calf, which makes it impossible to put these pants on without removing your hunting boots. However, these pants are designed to be worn as a main outer layer in lieu of your regular hunting pants. Another feature that I find critically important is the ability to access all the pockets/features of the garment while wearing a backpack. All the vent zippers, chest pockets and hand warmer pockets are easily accessible.
Like everything associated with late season, Stone Glacier built the M7 tough. Really tough. I didn’t have a shale cliff face to climb close by, so I wore my test gear walking through a briar patch for about 100 yards. Immediately following, I had my fiancé spray me with a water hose, much to her chagrin. And there were no water leaks after 15 minutes of continuous spray. This level of toughness usually comes with a tradeoff. Tough fabric usually means noisy fabric. But the M7 outer fabric is pretty damn quiet to be as durable as it is.
- Torain Waterproof System
- Streamlined fit
- 4-way stretch Primeflex Nylon
- Jacket weight: 14 ounces
- Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs
Why It Made The Cut
The Kuiu Chugach TR excels as a lightweight, rugged, weatherproof rain system that can handle most any hunting conditions and scenarios.
- Extremely packable
- Super comfortable shoulders in the jacket
- Scuff guards on the instep of the pants
- Legs do not unzip all the way to the waist of the pants
The KUIU Chugach TR could be the “one size fits most” for hunters that want one series of rain gear to cover most of their needs. It’s an extremely versatile system that’s lightweight enough to use in the backcountry and quiet enough to use on a spot and stalk hunts. This jacket breathes well, and the pockets and zippers are placed so that you can access everything while wearing a hunting backpack. It is not as durable as some of the other gear I tested, but it isn’t designed to be. However, the Chugach TR did pass the 25 yard briar patch test followed by the water hose during turkey season. It also gave me zero issues climbing a tree and sitting in a treestand.
One of the more pleasant things I noticed about the Chugach TR is that the shoulders were very comfortable. Nothing felt binded in any of the usual spots. As a guy that wears a backpack close to 100 days a year, those comfortable shoulders make a difference. I wore this rain gear for half a day, with a backpack, while I scouted turkeys one day. It’s comfortable, and I barely noticed it when I layered it over my regular hunting clothes. And if you appreciate sweet camo patterns, you can get the Chugach TR in three different camo options or one solid color.
- 3 layer Gore Tex
- Brushed poly knit face
- Weight: 25.5 ounces
Why It Made The Cut
Spot and Stalk hunting requires stealth, versatility and improvisation. The SITKA Thunderhead has silent, breathable fabric that allows you to slip into range without getting soaked in the elements or sweat.
- Dead quiet
- Articulated elbows and knees
- Gusseted wrist cuffs
- Wear as a single outer layer
- Alaska Proof
The SITKA Thunderhead’s design excels at spot and stalk hunting with a few added bonuses. First and foremost, this system is quiet. Dead quiet. And it’s tough as nails. Typically you don’t get durability and silence in one set of gear. Not to mention, every single feature of the jacket and pants are easily accessed while you wear a backpack.
This jacket is streamlined enough to wear during archery season and provides just enough warmth that you can wear it with some of the best base layers, yet it’s big enough to get a puffy vest underneath. And the pants are cut so that I easily wore them over my regular hunting pants in an emergency. However, if I knew that my hunting day was going to be constantly wet, I could wear them with only a base layer underneath without sacrificing any of the features of my regular hunting pants. I’m thinking Alaska Moose or Pacific NorthWest Roosevelt Elk. It rains torrentially in both places. My experience usually goes: if the season is 10 days it will rain every day of my hunt. But the Thunderhead rain gear is rugged enough for anyone to wear for 10 days as their primary clothing, and you can be confident that it’ll keep you dry and silent.
Best for Treestand Hunting: Kryptek Koldo
- 3 layer DWR Waterproof fabric
- Helmet compatible hood
- Bonded laminate elbows and knees
- Jacket weight: 1.65 pounds
Why It Made The Cut
The Kryptek Koldo rain gear provides the subtle nuance features that will keep you warm and dry during those cold, all-day treestand sits.
- Extremely durable
- Articulated reinforced elbows and knees
- Backpack friendly pockets
- Belt buckle on the pants comes unsnapped when wearing a backpack belt
During a particular hunting trip in Missouri, it rained a lot. My hunting buddies and I had to use ATV’s to access our stands, and the first day wasn’t too muddy, but the second became much worse. By the third, the trails turned into an outright mud bog. I can’t remember what rain gear I had at the time. But I do remember that it didn’t work for any of it. The outer material ripped on tree limbs along the trail, and it didn’t have much waterproofing, if any. Long story short, it doesn’t matter how waterproof your rain gear is, if it can’t hold up to a few pricks and scratches from brush or limbs, it won’t keep you dry.
However, upon opening the Kryptek Koldo rain gear for this test, I immediately noticed the rugged build. In fact everything about the Koldo rain gear is tough. The welded Bemis Seam Taped Waterproof zippers and reinforced articulated elbows and knees won’t tear under pressure. And you can even cinch up the hood over your ATV helmet to prevent yourself from collecting water in your hood.
However, the hood runs really big when you aren’t wearing a helmet, but as long as you cinch it down tight, it’s more than comfortable. The super tough fabric is a bit noisy when dry but after sitting in the rain, the fabric softens and makes it plenty quiet for treestand hunts. So, whether you’re driving or trudging through limbs and brush on your way to the stand, the Kyrptek Koldo will get you there without tearing to shreds.
- BONE-DRY 100% tech
- 4-way stretch fabric
- Included small stuff sack
- 100% Polyester
Why It Made The Cut
The RedHead Silent Flex rain gear brings comfort and performance at a price that every hunter can afford.
- Packs down pretty small
- Budget Friendly
- Legs only zip to the knee
Maybe you’re new to hunting and not ready to make the financial commitment to purchase technical hunting rain gear. I get it. But if you’re just starting out or hunt in areas that don’t receive much rain, the RedHead Silent Flex rain gear will work just fine. This rain system was actually a pleasant surprise to test and review. It’s not super fancy, doesn’t have high tech bells and whistles, but it did pass the most critical aspect of the test. It kept me dry in the rain for over an hour. I didn’t abuse it like I did some of the other rain gear. No briar patch tests, no water hose. But it did keep me dry during a rainstorm.
The RedHead Silent Flex rain gear runs just under $120 for the set, which is significantly less than other options in this test, and it kept me dry. This set is also very comfortable to wear. It fits baggy to accommodate multiple sizing and layering scenarios, and the pants have a drawstring waist instead of a belt. The Legs only unzip to the knee but were remarkably easy to put on and take off over my boots despite this fact. Plus, each garment comes with its own stuff sack.
This system should also work brilliantly for younger hunters (12-14 yrs old and growing like a weed in a fertilizer farm) without parents having to mortgage the house for a set that won’t fit by the end of hunting season. Keep it simple. It only has to keep you dry for now.
Q: How much do I need to spend on a set of rain gear?
My philosophy is to spend as much as I can afford without involving a divorce attorney. I take the amount of money I am willing to spend, then look at what is available in that price range. After doing my due diligence, I may decide that I need to spend more or less because it makes sense for my specific needs. But generally, you should expect to spend anywhere from $100-$600 depending on your needs and budget.
Q: What is the best brand of rain gear?
The best brand of rain gear is the one that works for you and your application no matter how much it costs. End of discussion. Find gear that works for you, no matter what brand it is, and use it.
Q: How long does Gore-Tex last?
I can honestly say that I have several Gore-Tex garments that vary in age. The oldest is probably pushing 20 years old. That piece is still waterproof without a doubt. Newer technology definitely breathes better but just like most things, as technology advances so does life expectancy.
For this review, I included the best hunting rain gear that I’ve personally used in the field or tested myself. For the rain gear that I didn’t use while hunting, I made sure to test the durability by intentionally walking through thick briars. For the waterproofing capabilities, I then had my fiancé spray me continuously with a water hose for at least 15 minutes. Rain conditions obviously vary, but if these products can withstand a max blast from a water hose, then I considered them more than sufficient for surprise rain conditions.
I can honestly say that every set of rain gear I tested for this review did not leak, even the ones that did not make the cut. Clearly the manufacturers are not only listening but actually putting their gear to the test in order to give hunters the options we want and need. While those factors may differ depending on the hunter, the best hunting rain gear should keep you dry.