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Waterproof garments can be constructed of a variety of different materials, each with very different characteristics. Some are natural, although most are synthetic. Some are coated, while others are laminated. For the purpose of this test, we selected nine different top-and-bottom combos made of “waterproof/breathable” (WP/BR) fabrics. These are the most popular fabrics used in waterproof hunting apparel, and for good reason. When you’re on the go in snotty weather, a garment’s ability to allow perspiration vapor to escape is nearly as important as its ability to repel precipitation.

But not all WP/BR fabrics are created equal (to see what we mean, check out “Degrees of Effectiveness“). And when you buy rainwear, you must also consider what else you want this gear to do. Should it be packable? Quiet? How much of a concern is the fit? Should it have loads of pockets? We kept all of these questions in mind during our evaluation to help you make an informed decision the next time you need to invest in hunting raingear.

Rating Key
★ ★ ★ ★ – Excellent
★ ★ ★ – Very Good
★ ★ – Good
★ – Fair

All sets are from the same apparel line except the First Lite. For that we scored the jacket and bibs separately in all categories except for Price/Value, which was based on the total price of the set. The Overall score is an average of the jacket’s and bib’s independant overall scores.

1. Editor’s Choice: Kuiu Chugach*

Editor's Choice: Kuiu Chugach
Editor’s Choice: Kuiu Chugach Nick Ferrari

In just a couple of years, Kuiu has earned a strong reputation among backcountry hunters. And like everything the company makes, the Chugach line is virtually bombproof. Great attention to detail is apparent throughout both pieces, from the fabric awnings that cover the upper side zippers on the pant legs to the smart under-wrist design of the Velcro cuff closures. The material gives new meaning to the word “hydrophobic”—water rolls off it as if it were an inclined glass surface. No expense was spared, as is evident from the price. But if you have the means to afford this suit, you’ll own the finest rainwear on the market.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: A+
Breathability: A+
Durability: A
Packability: A-
Fit: A+
Price/Value: A
Price (Jacket/Pants): $300 / $250;
Quietness (dBA): 69.05
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 20,000 / 20,000
Waterproof Zippers: Yes
Weight (lb.): 2.02

Final Word: The best raingear money can buy. Made for serious back-country adventures.

*_As we went to press, Kuiu introduced a new raingear line called Chugach NX, which incorporates an additional membrane into the fabric that is supposed to improve breathability from 20,000 MVT to 40,000 MVT._

2. Cabela’s Rain Suede

Cabela’s Rain Suede gear
Cabela’s Rain Suede Nick Ferrari

Available in Cabela’s new Zonz camo patterns (the Western pattern is pictured here—there’s also a Woodland pattern), the Rain Suede’s material was the quietest in the field. While the zippers aren’t waterproof (which helps keep the cost down, by the way), they do feature storm flaps to shield against the wet stuff. Both pieces fit neatly into integrated stuff pockets. The no-fly pants have an elastic waist with belt loops, ankle-to-knee zippers for easy on-off over boots, and three-way snap adjustment at the cuffs. Both the pants and the jacket feature ample pockets.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: B+
Breathability: A-
Durability: B+
Packability: A
Fit: B+
Price/Value: A
Price (Jacket/Pants): $140 / $125;
Quietness (dBA): 66.7
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): “Meets or exceeds 10,000 / 10,000”
Waterproof Zippers: No
Weight (lb.): 3.5

Final Word: A heavier option, but church-mouse quiet and a heck of a deal in the long run.

3. Under Armour Ridge Reaper

Under Armour Ridge Reaper rain gear
Under Armour Ridge Reaper Nick Ferrari

This well-appointed set will appeal to a variety of hunters. The excellent hood cinches down in all the right spots, moves with the head, and allows for great peripheral vision. The sleeve cuffs boast a three-way closure system, with elastic, a snap, and a waterproof zipper contributing to a snug fit. The jacket is longer than most and covers the rear whether you’re standing or seated. The cut of the bibs allows for ample room in the crotch, which is often sorely lacking in this style of pants. Numerous pockets on both pieces are spacious and easily accessed.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: A+
Breathability: A-
Durability: A
Packability: B+
Fit: A
Price/Value: B+
Price (Jacket/Pants): $250 / $250;
Quietness (dBA): 68.65
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 10,000 / 10,000
Waterproof Zippers: Yes
Weight (lb.): 3.34

Final Word: An excellent fit and top-shelf water-proofness will make this a favorite.

4. Kryptek Koldo

Kryptek Koldo gear
Kryptek Koldo Nick Ferrari

This three-layer suit is made of the most rugged, abrasion-resistant material in the field. As if that weren’t enough, the knees and elbows feature a bonded laminate for added durability. The jacket has five exterior pockets, though the pants curiously have just one, on the right thigh. However, a clever three-zipper system on both legs allows for easy access to cargo pockets on pants worn underneath. The fit of the pants may be problematic for some, though: The size large we tested was the tightest in the waist and yet still quite long.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: A+
Breathability: A-
Durability: A+
Packability: B+
Fit: B+
Price/Value: B+
Price (Jacket/Pants): $250 / $200;
Quietness (dBA): 70.425
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 10,000 / 10,000 (jacket); 20,000 / 15,000
Waterproof Zippers: Yes
Weight (lb.): 3.04

Final Word: A touch loud, but tough construction means this suit will last for years.

5. Badlands EXO

Badlands EXO rain gear
Badlands EXO Nick Ferrari

The EXO’s material is lightweight, quiet, and incredibly stretchy and puncture resistant. Both pieces stuff into built-in pouches. The hood is easy to cinch via two external pull cords smartly positioned just under the chin and an easy-to-grab crown cord in the rear of the hood. The cuffs’ cinch-cord mechanism could use some work, though, and there’s no way to tighten the extra-wide leg openings. The pit and outer leg vents are great, with mesh backing, but the only external pocket on either piece is on the left side of the jacket’s chest.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: A-
Breathability: A
Durability: B+
Fit: A-
Price/Value: B
Price (Jacket/Pants): $200 / $200;
Quietness (dBA): 67.4
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 10,650 / 11,000
Waterproof Zippers: Yes
Weight (lb.): 1.56

Final Word: This super-stretchy material is surprisingly durable and very light-weight.

6. L.L. Bean Pack-Away

L.L. Bean Pack-Away
L.L. Bean Pack-Away Nick Ferrari

As the name suggests, both pieces can be stowed in their own pockets, making this a great lightweight outfit to toss in your pack and forget about until needed. The pants feature an elastic waistband with a draw cord that is difficult to keep tightened; the jacket fits much better, however, and has plenty of adjustments. The 100 percent polyester shell is perfectly serviceable for staying dry, but there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles here—and if I’m spending more than $200 on a set of raingear, I’d expect a few nice touches to be included.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ½
Waterproofness: B
Breathability: A-
Durability: B
Packability: A+
Fit: B+
Price/Value: B
Price (Jacket/Pants): $129 / $99;
Quietness (dBA): 68.825
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): Not Published
Waterproof Zippers: No
Weight (lb.): 1.57

Final Word: With these, what you see is what you get. Does the job at a decent price.

7. First Lite Boundary & North Branch

First Lite Boundary & North Branch
First Lite Boundary & North Branch Nick Ferrari

Both the Boundary Stormtight jacket and North Branch Softshell Pants (the latter is water resistant) utilize wonderfully innovative materials from Cocona. A lot of smart features adorn these pieces, including the jacket zipper, which zips up to the left and away from the mouth; an integrated gaiter system in the pants; and what I call the “crap flap.” A waterproof zipper goes from one ankle, up around the seat, and down to the other ankle, allowing the back side of the pants to open completely.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ½
Waterproofness: A+/C+
Breathability: A+/C+
Durability: A-/A
Packability: A+/C+
Fit: A-/A
Price/Value: B-
Price (Jacket/Pants): $300 / $300;
Quietness (dBA): 69/66.8
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 20,000 / 30,000 (jacket); NA / 30,000
Waterproof Zippers: Yes
Weight (lb.): 3.42

Final Word: Incredibly innovative fabrics and well-thoughtout design… and priced as such.

8. Redhead Stretch Rainwear

Redhead Stretch Rainwear
Redhead Stretch Rainwear Nick Ferrari

This no-frills set fits the bill as a quick throw-on to weather a passing squall, but performance gear it is not. The jacket fits like a tent, which is fine if you need to wear it over several heavy layers. The pants don’t have a fly, but the elastic waist and wide leg openings allow for easy on-off over boots and pants. The material is adequately stretchy (as you might imagine from the name), though not as much as the Badlands. Each piece comes with its own 5-by-8-inch storage pouch, great for tossing in a pack.

Overall: ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: B
Breathability: A-
Durability: C+
Packability: A+
Fit: C+
Price/Value: B+
Price (Jacket/Pants): $80 / $70;
Quietness (dBA): 66.275
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 8,000 / 5,000
Waterproof Zippers: No
Weight (lb.): 1.48

Final Word: For those who didn’t want to spend beaucoup bucks. Won’t withstand hard wear.

9. Browning Hell’s Canyon Nitro

Browning Hell's Canyon Nitro
Browning Hell’s Canyon Nitro Nick Ferrari

By far the most heavyweight set we tested, with 100 grams of insulation in the jacket’s torso area and a fleecy lining in the pants, the Nitro could stand alone as a primary outer layer in most conditions. However, this construction precludes it from being very breathable. Adjustable rubber cuffs keep water from running down the arm, but the jacket’s hem is backed by a non-waterproof material, which allowed moisture to wick up the inside during our shower test.

Overall: ★ ★ ★
Waterproofness: B-
Breathability: B-
Durability: A-
Packability: C
Fit: A
Price/Value: B+
Price (Jacket/Pants): $305 / $265;
Quietness (dBA): 67.95
Advertised WP/BR Ratings (mm/vbt): 10,000 / 10,000
Waterproof Zippers: Pockets Only
Weight (lb.): 3.7

Final Word: Great for cold and wet conditions and very quiet, but not totally impermeable.

Degrees of Effectiveness

Waterproof/breathable garments carry a couple of different ratings. Water resistance is determined by the amount of water pressure in millimeters (MM) the fabric can withstand before water pushes through. Breathability, or moisture vapor transmission (MVT), is measured in grams of water vapor that pass through a square meter of the fabric in a 24-hour period. In both cases, the higher the rating, the better the performance. However, it should be noted that manufacturers reach these ratings through different testing methodology, so comparing them isn’t always apples-to-apples.

The bottom line is any product labeled “waterproof” will keep you dry, but some will do a better job of it for a longer time.

How We Test : OL’s Protocol Explained

rain gear test on shower
Each suit was worn for 10 minutes in my bathroom shower to replicate downpour conditions. (Note to my boss: I’ll be expensing my water bill this month.) I then walked outside in each suit in the late-summer heat to determine my subjective breathability scores. I measured quietness with a Vernier Sound Level Meter by walking in place for several seconds while wearing each suit. Durability was determined by stretch-testing seams and repeatedly raking the fabric of each garment with a variety of branches and thorns. I also evaluated the general comfort and fit of each set, looked at how well they packed down, and weighed each on a postal scale. Lastly, Price/Value scores were given based on perceived bang for the buck. John Taranto