When you live in Seattle or the surrounding area, rain is just a way of life. There’s no use hiding inside until the summer, so locals know you just have to find the best rain gear for the Pacific Northwest. This will make any outdoor activity you do much more pleasant – trust me!
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my life and was against buying expensive gear for way too long until I finally got sick of getting soaked. Water-repellent gear may be cheaper (and I get into the difference in the next section), but you’ll get soaked on the days it pours.
That’s why after many questions from my readers, I’ve finally compiled this list of the best rain gear in Seattle or the general Pacific Northwest that you need to have. I am obsessed with hiking, and I hope this article helps explain what types of clothing you’ll need and convince you to get outdoors more, whether you go out on an easy hike near Seattle or explore all the fun things to do in the Pacific Northwest.
What to Know Before Buying Rain Gear for the Pacific Northwest
Ultimately, you want to get the gear that suits you best while keeping you dry. So here are some handy tips to remember about equipment before purchasing and planning your epic Pacific Northwest road trip.
The Difference: Waterproof, Water Resistant, and Water Repellent
Water resistance is the lowest level of protection, but it does help prevent water penetration. Water repellent is a product treated with a surface coating that makes water bead up and roll off.
So to stay dry in the rainy weather, it’s best to get a product that has a water-repellent coating and is water resistant. This way, you’ll have fully waterproof gear.
Is it Breathable?
For a waterproof product to be excellent, you want it to be breathable. This is especially important for clothing and bags as they’ll get wet on the inside from precipitation.
If you want breathable gear that keeps you dry, use the loose-fitting and mesh-lined waterproof gear. I have waterproof pants and jackets on my list of essential winter hiking clothes because you don’t want to get wet in that weather.
Should You Go for Zippers?
You get waterproof zippers, but these tend to break after being used for a long time. With items like jackets and shoes, you’ll most likely have zippers. However, many bags are now using a foldback technique which works really well.
How Handy are the Pockets?
Pockets are always a key part of any great rain gear. Firstly, you want the pockets themselves to be waterproof.
In many cases, especially with bags, the main compartment is waterproof, but the external pockets are not. Jackets and clothes also often have pockets with zips to help keep them watertight.
Is the Cut Right?
From jackets to bags, there are unique cuts to each product. When purchasing gear, ensure it’s right for your body type. This is also why you will often see male and female backpacks, as they cater to different weights and back structures.
Buy your Northwest Forest Pass in advance so you don’t have to buy it at the trailhead.
How Packable is the Item?
You’ll want the gear to pack tightly when traveling long distances that require you to have a fully packed car on a Pacific Northwest family vacation. Clothing and bags are becoming more compact and now come with self-storing pockets.
What are the Adjustment Features?
Always check for any adjustment features you may need from the product. Many jackets come with underarm zippers to help with ventilation, storm hoods, and drawcords.
Backpacks often have handy pockets and strap adjustments that mean you can adjust the gear to your needs.
Best Rain Gear for the Pacific Northwest
Now that you’ve got all the handy information under your belt, I’ll take you through all the best rain gear for the Pacific Northwest.
Best Rain Jackets for the Pacific Northwest
All of the rain jackets for the Pacific Northwest that I recommend have a strong waterproofing fabric. The fabric has a lot to do with the durability and overall comfortability of the product.
The built-in hoods on all the jackets are especially helpful as you don’t have to worry about trying to attach them. They’re an essential item on your list of best rain gear for Seattle.
Storing jackets can often be a hassle, but I found three options below that provide convenient pouches that the jacket folds into. I found these rain jackets practical yet stylish so that you can wear them on hikes or for rainy day activities in Seattle.
I love using AllTrails to download maps and stay on the trail during all my hikes.
Columbia Arcadia II Jacket
The Arcadia II jacket is a very comfortable and stylish option, and the storm hood, waist hem, and cuffs are all adjustable. This means I can keep dry in the harshest of rains, and the zippered pockets allow my phone to stay dry.
That’s essential when looking for the best rain gear for Pacific Northwest, or going on a waterfall hike near Seattle since the hood will protect you from the mist.
The Avoogue raincoat has two sizes fewer than the other options, but it’s a fantastic lightweight windbreaker. The elastic cuffs help keep my sleeves dry, and the waterproof zipper and drawstring meant the jacket fitted nicely.
Unfortunately, the pockets are not zippable, so rain can get into them, but that’s only if it’s pouring out. It’s ideal for a Vancouver Island drive, where there’s a mix of forest and open areas when you hike.
REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket
The Co-op XeroDry GTX jacket is lightweight and at hip length, so it kept the top half of my body dry. The Gore-Tex shell is impressive, and the meshed pockets served as core vents to keep my body temperature just right.
All the pockets are zippable, and the chest pocket is convenient for storing my belongings. This is an ideal choice for the best rain jacket for Seattle that’s affordable.
Best Rain Pants for the Pacific Northwest
The lower half of your body is just as important as the upper, so a good pair of rain pants are essential. These pants aren’t necessarily for fashion but more for taking on the outdoors, like exploring the best hikes in Washington.
They all have abrasive sections around the knee and shin area to help protect the pant’s fabric. I found these in a vast range of sizes. They also extend from my waist to my feet for complete rain protection and are very wind resistant, so you’ll want to put them on your list of best rain gear for the Pacific Northwest.
Postropaky Waterproof Pants
The Postropaky waterproof pants are great for all seasons. The elastic waist meant it stretched to the perfect size, and I could carry equipment in the large zippable pockets. The ankle zipper is fantastic for ventilation, and the fleecy interior kept me warm during the bitterly cold days of exploring.
BenBoy Waterproof Slim Cargo Pants
The BenBoy slim cargo pants are fantastic for all terrains. It is missing those handy ankle zippers, but it does have a fleecy interior for warmth. The elastic waist is great for fitting different body types. The scratch-resistant knee section also means you can explore the Pacific Northwest’s more rugged regions.
REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Pants
The Co-op XeroDry GTX pants are another affordable alternative that doesn’t have the super hot interior fleecing. Although not as warm, the elastic waist and drawcord mean it’s easier to fit into.
It’s lighter than other pairs, so it’s also less noisy, and the ankle zippers help keep you cool in warmer weather. These would be ideal during hiking in the North Cascades.
Best Hiking Boots for the Pacific Northwest
Nobody wants cold, wet feet, so it’s vital you get a good pair of waterproof boots. I made this mistake before when going on a Mount Rainier day trip, and I was miserable in the end.
All of these boots have a fantastic non-slip sole, so I could use them on pretty much any terrain. They aren’t just excellent for hiking and the outdoors and also amazing everyday shoes.
The waterproof technology varies from boot to boot, but you are guaranteed no wet feet. Although you can’t stop water from getting in from the top of the boot, a pair of long waterproof pants can easily solve that issue.
Hsyooes Waterproof Boots
The Hsyooes waterproof boots use a zipper for getting on and off. This has pros and cons, as they’re easy to get on, but you can’t adjust the tightness.
They also have a faux fur lining which keeps my feet warm during winter. They kept the ankles as nice and snug as their ankle-high boots do and can be worn pretty much anywhere. You’ll enjoy bringing these on San Juan Island hikes.
Columbia Newton Ridge Boots
The Columbia Newton Ridge boots have a reliable leather and suede exterior. There’s a dip at the back of the ankle, which helped prevent cutting into my leg. The Techlite soles are also noticeable during long hikes, and the metal D-rings and laces meant the boots tightened well.
Merrell Ontario 2 Boots
The Merrell Ontario 2 boots also use full-grain leather to keep your feet dry. The laces are a bit long, but the metal hooks and D-rings meant I could tighten the shoes properly.
The ankle dip at the back helps prevent cutting, and the rubber outsoles allow me to wear them in the city and in nature. These are great boots for fall hikes in Washington and one of the best rain gear for the Pacific Northwest.
Best Waterproof Hiking Backpacks for the Pacific Northwest
They all have adjustable straps, which I found really handy when other people need to carry the bag. Their compact design means they don’t look bulky on your back but still provide enough space to carry the essentials.
FengDong 40L Backpack
The Fengdong 40L backpack is the largest of the bags and is the best for a long day hike. The breathable mesh padding helps keep my back cool. The different compartments mean you can keep your camera safe from your water bottle, and there is a zipper pocket for the phone.
Zomake 30L Daypack
The Zomake 30L daypack is a lightweight and foldable bag I could pack in my larger travel bag. The chest strap helps keep it secure, and the mesh vents meant my back didn’t sweat. There’s no reinforcement, but I found it the perfect everyday bag for all activities.
SealLine Skylake Dry Pack
The Skylake dry pack is perfect for hiking in heavy rain. It uses a clever new roll-top closure method to ensure all your valuables stay dry. The bag conveniently wraps up and fits snuggly in a suitcase. It’s not ideal for everyday use but it is an excellent option for outdoor activities.
Best Umbrellas for the Pacific Northwest Weather
The ultimate rainproof gear you can get is an umbrella. It’s a classic, but there have been some new takes on this handy tool. Newer umbrellas are all windproof, thanks to a design change in the reinforced fiberglass ribs.
The canopy sizes range from 42 to 49 inches, so you can easily protect yourself and a hiking buddy from the rain. The products each have a unique material, so each one acts differently when in contact with water.
The Repel umbrella lives up to its name, as it can withstand heavy rains and strong winds. The automatic operation is extremely handy, as you can close and open the umbrella effortlessly. The Teflon coating makes it great for sunny days, and it’s a compact umbrella that easily packs into any of my bags for rainy days during spring in Washington.
The waterproof Lanbrella is a fantastic reverse-folding umbrella with a similar automatic operation to the Repel. Its inverted design means water doesn’t drip down onto you when closing the umbrella, so that’s a real positive.
The MTRLLOA umbrella doesn’t have an automatic operation, but its inverted folding means you can stay dry without relying on pushing a button. The ribs hide under two layers of fabric on the top and bottom. It’s not ideal for windy weather, but the C-shaped handle meant I could have it around my wrist and use both my hands.
Weather in the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a part of the world that is notoriously wet and rainy. I enjoy the cool and moody weather at times, but I know some of you may not be as big a fan as I am.
So with this breakdown, you’ll know what gear to take with you for every season in the Pacific Northwest.
Tip: You can keep track of the weather on the time and date website.
March to May (Spring)
Spring is one of the wettest seasons in the Pacific Northwest, as you can expect an average rainfall of 5.4 inches per month. It’s not that warm yet, with daily averages ranging from 42ºF to 64ºF.
You’ll definitely need a raincoat during spring hikes near Seattle. That said, as nature prepares for the summer heat, you tend to see all the blossoms flowering around this time.
June to August (Summer)
Summer is the hot and dry period in the Pacific Northwest, and temperatures soar between 57ºF and 86ºF. June is still slightly wet with 2.1 inches of rainfall, but July and August are extremely dry with little to no rain.
September to November (Fall)
Fall is an interesting time of the year in the Pacific Northwest. There’s hardly any rain in September, but October averages 6.3 inches, and November sees the highest rainfall of the year, reaching as high as 8.5 inches.
Temperatures also start to plummet drastically, with September highs of 78ºF falling to as low as 50ºF in November.
December to February (Winter)
You can expect steady rainfall throughout the winter, with an average of 6.1 inches per month. It’s also bitterly cold during this period, with highs of 42ºF and lows of 30ºF. You’ll definitely want a waterproof coat, whether going on a winter hike by Seattle or a Vancouver winter hike.
Hopefully, this post makes you more prepared when you set out to buy the best rain gear for the Pacific Northwest!