The 8 Best Waterproof Pants for 2023 - Rain Pants for Running

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article. Why Trust Us?

These waterproof and breathable bottoms will keep you dry when everything else is wet. Premium Fleece Jacket

The 8 Best Waterproof Pants for 2023 - Rain Pants for Running

Like the engine in your car, your legs have an ideal operating temperature—you don’t need to track a precise number of degrees Fahrenheit, but common sense dictates you shouldn't rev your engine to redline immediately after a cold start. The same logic applies to running through a cold rainstorm: You’re at a higher risk of pulling something if you can't find a way to keep your legs warm and dry.

For the runners who aren’t deterred by a rainy forecast, we recommend wearing a light and breathable pair of waterproof pants when there are dark clouds overhead. We’ve tested and selected the best options available right now, so you’ll be ready for any amount of precipitation you might encounter on the road or trail.

More Gear For Rainy Day Runners: Best Treadmills ● How to Dress for Rainy Runs ● Best Running Rain Jackets

Not all “waterproof” pants are equally waterproof. Within the “waterproof” category, there are varying degrees of protection, measured by how much water pressure a garment can withstand, measured in millimeters of water column, and how much vapor can pass through the fabric, as measured in grams of water per square meter. The rating is usually offered as a dual score: For example, the most waterproof pants on this list score 20K/20K, which means they can resist a 20,000mm stream of water and release 20,000 grams of water vapor.

Waterproof pants will keep your legs dry in a rainstorm for several hours—although even the most waterproof running gear will saturate if you’re out in the rain all day long—while still wicking sweat away from your skin. They achieve this by using a multi-layer construction that combines waterproof-treated fabrics with breathable membrane layers, with more layers costing more money and offering more protection.

There are also plenty of training pants that are simply water-resistant. They can keep you dry through a gentle shower, but will slowly get soaked by anything more. They typically rely on a durable water repellent (or DWR) coating, which will begin to wear off after 10 or more uses. (That said, you can buy a DIY DWR repellent treatment to refresh your pants’ water resistance.)

Water-resistant pants tend to be light, and designed for wind protection as much as waterproofing. They also usually cost less than truly waterproof pants. While water-resistant pants don’t provide as much protection as multi-layer waterproof pants, they should satisfy many runners’ needs.

Weather-resistance and breathability are so often at odds—if your pants or jacket can fully block out rain, they’re often equally ready to hold in all your sweat. Either way, you’re getting soaked after the first mile or two. The best waterproof pants utilize breathable materials and strategic vents in the fabric to help release your sweat vapor, rather than trapping it in. That way you don’t end up escaping the rain only to continue brewing in your own body-heat sauna.

To achieve complete waterproofing, your pants will need taped seams, which block moisture from crawling into the cracks between connections in the fabric. Clothing makers prevent this by heating and fusing tape over a jacket’s stitches, often along the edge of a hood or zipper pockets. Not all weather-resistant pants have fully taped seams, but those that do will be more effective in a true downpour.

The best waterproof pants are lightweight and easy to pack. Ideally you want pants that you can store in a backpack so you can bust them out when the sky opens up mid-hike or long run. Some waterproof pants even fold down into their own little pocket for easy carrying.

Zippers can reduce the overall effectiveness of waterproofing—but they’re also great for securing key pockets, allowing for more ventilation, and making it much easier to get waterproof pants on and off. Many of our favorite waterproof pants have copious zipper pockets for small storage and full- or half-length zipper seams, so that you can pull the pants on over your shoes or base layers.

To pick our favorite waterproof pants, we canvassed the market for options designed for running from trusted brands, factoring out heavier fabrics and baggy fits that most runners tend to avoid. From there, we pulled from our testing experience. We’ve run in some of these pants ourselves. For options we haven’t tested personally, we relied on customer reviews from REI, Amazon, and Backcountry customers, looking for large numbers of consistently effusive recommendations. Using those sources, we evaluated each of our finalists based on performance, features, fit, comfort and quality.

Hoka designed its waterproof pants for Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc, one of the most grueling trail races in the world that sees athletes traverse a mountainous loop of more than 100 miles between France, Switzerland and Italy. These pants are lightweight, waterproof, and packable, making them ideal for the world’s best trail runners and anyone braving a rain shower around their local loop.

Fully taped seams and elastic cuffs help keep the water out while articulated knees ensure these bottoms won’t slow you down. The pants’ 2.5-layer Pertex fabric construction is also designed to run quiet, reducing the “swish-swish” you hear from other pants as you run.

For heading out into a light rain shower, few running pants offer as much value as REI's Swiftland pants. It aims for comfort with four-way stretch fabric and a knit waistband. There’s cargo storage, too, with two drop-in side pockets and a phone sleeve to keep your device secure.

Runners on lauded the Swiftland for its comfort, breathability, stretchiness and performance in light-to-moderate rain and snow, though they said the pants were no match for a heavy downpour.

Shop Men’s Shop Women’s

Columbia’s Hazy Trail Rain Pants are ideal for runners and hikers looking to sacrifice some breathability and ease of movement for near-perfect rain protection. The breathable waterproof fabric is fully sealed along the seams to keep water out and features reflective decals to make you visible at night.

Bottom leg zips allow you to put on and remove the pants without taking your shoes off—helpful for a surprise cloudburst on the trail—while zippered hand pockets keep your stuff secure. If you’re a trail runner who doesn’t need the absolute lightest gear, or maybe your trail runs sometimes look more like hikes, then you’ll find value in these feature packed, reliable rain pants.

Shop Men’s Shop Women’s

Janji’s Transit Tech Pant is a rare piece of all-weather gear you’ll want to wear around the house. That’s what I do in mine, anyway, but they’re great for running too.

The Tech Pant features three zippered pockets–two for your hands and a zippered rear waistband pocket for stashing keys or your phone. Made from DWR-coated polyester and spandex, these pants are soft and stretchy, with a slim, tapered cut, similar to tights. The fit gives you exceptional freedom of movement without any pulling or swishing.

Their lightweight design and DWR-based waterproofing isn’t made for stormy weather, but they dry quickly enough to be a great all-day option for times when there's the threat of a passing shower or two.

Shop Men’s Shop Women’s

On Running’s Ultra Pants are designed for trail running in any weather, prioritizing performance at the expense of zippered pockets and vents. A slim fit and lightweight fabric give you ultimate freedom of movement, while an elastic waistband and cuffs keep you dry in driving rain. When the skies clear, the pants pack into a pouch at the waistband, which doubles as a pocket while you’re wearing them.

We love these pants because they help keep your options open when the forecast is unpredictable, even when you need to pack light. Weighing just a few ounces and packing down to the size of an avocado, they’re like a Swiss Army knife that you can forget about until you need them.

Shop Men’s Shop Women’s

If you like a little fashion with your functionality, The North Face’s Trailwear OKT joggers are ideal for runs involving rain and sweat. The DWR-coated polyester blend repels rainwater while keeping things light. They’re also very breathable, with plenty of ventilation from some adjustable leg openings and mesh behind the knees.

They’re great for everyday wear or carrying stuff on the run, with two hand pockets, two clamshell back pockets, and a zippered back pocket. There is also a set of loops at the rear of the waistband for stashing a shirt.

If you’re tired of all-black or highlighter-colored running gear, these joggers can hold their own with the rest of your closet—no one has to know you’re already geared up to sneak out for a lunch run.

Weighing less than 5 ounces, the Arc’teryx Norvan pants are the lightest and most packable bottoms on our list. These ultralight water-resistant joggers are made from an exceptionally breathable nylon that’s designed to dry fast, so you won’t stay soggy once the rain stops.

They feature tapered legs for maximum mobility and a zippered back pocket at the waistband for stashing keys or cards. You can wear these in mild weather without getting all sweaty, which makes them ideal for shoulder seasons or all-day adventures where layering is crucial.

Salomon’s Bonatti waterproof pants are among the most rugged and feature-packed pants in this guide. The tough polyamide fabric won’t tear easily during snags and abrasions, making them plenty capable on rugged trails.

Elastic cuffs at the ankles, combined with ankle zippers, help you layer them over shorts or tights as needed. They even feature reflective details to help drivers see you at night.

Despite the strong waterproofing, these unisex pants only weigh 7 ounces, so they won’t weigh you down when stowed away in your pack. For a strong and protective waterproof pant that will keep up with your least-advisable routes, it’s hard to go wrong with the Bonatti.

What are the most practical features to look for in a pair of waterproof pants?

Beyond waterproofing, the features you need will depend on where and how you run. Look for bottom leg zips if you’re likely to put on or take off your pants mid-run as conditions change. Zippered vents or mesh fabric on the back of the pants are also essential if you’re for warm climates and high-intensity, cold-weather running.

How should weatherproof pants fit?

It depends on whether you plan to wear them alone or as a top layer. Worn alone, waterproof pants should fit like standard joggers. That said, many of them are designed to be worn as a top layer over tights or over pants, in which case you should expect a slightly looser fit.

They should never be baggy or crinkle when you walk, though. It pays to check the manufacturer’s sizing guide and comments about how a pair of pants fits to get the full story beyond a simple S-XL.

Should I still put my waterproof pants on if I’m already wet?

It depends on the weather. In cold and windy conditions, you should probably put the pants on to shelter your legs from the elements. In mild conditions, you’re likely better off staying in shorts and letting your skin dry when the rain stops. You’re going to get wet from rain or sweat either way, so you may as well let yourself dry off naturally.

A former Division 1 runner, Dan grew up riding fixies and mountain bikes and now reviews everything from performance running shoes to road and cross bikes, to the latest tech for runners and cyclists at Bicycling and Runner’s World.

The Best Reflective Running Shoes for Visibility

Relay: Selling Running Shoes for Less

Altra Launches Its First Non-Zero-Drop Shoe

The Best Men’s Running Pants for Cold-Weather Runs

The Best Windbreakers for Runners

Stay Visible With These Reflective Running Jackets

Stay Dry on Runs With This Discounted Rain Jacket

The Best Recovery Shoes for Post-Run Relief

The Best Lights for Running in the Dark

The Best Sprinting Shoes for Faster Times

The Best Garmin GPS Running Watches

How to Waterproof Your Running Shoes

A Part of Hearst Digital Media

We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back.

The 8 Best Waterproof Pants for 2023 - Rain Pants for Running

Safety Gloves ©2023 Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.