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Updated Mar 14, 2023 4:32 PM
The best rain gear for fishing needs to keep you dry. Period. Snow, rain, or sleet—the fish wait for nobody. This means dedicated anglers are out there in the worst of conditions. If you don’t have the proper equipment, you won’t last long, and you might even put yourself in a dangerous situation. You need your rain jacket, bibs, and even shoes to be watertight. The equation is simple—the longer you stay dry and comfortable, the longer you will fish.
The gear editors at Field & Stream came together to share our experiences of fishing in foul weather and some of the products we use to brave the elements. We’ve fished in rainstorms, Nor’easters, and everything in between. The common theme throughout all of our outings was reliable rain gear. We look for quality construction, fit, comfortability, and of course, a watertight seal. The best rain gear for fishing will check off all of these boxes and keep you on the water longer so you can come tight with a giant.
Things to Consider Before Buying Fishing Rain Gear
Though choosing rain gear seems pretty simple, there is more to it than meets the eye. Fabric, construction, fit, and comfortability all play a role in the overall performance of rain gear. Here are some other considerations to think about to make sure you stay dry on the water:
Materials and Construction
Quality rain gear starts with quality materials. Unfortunately, the best materials aren’t cheap, and you’re going to pay for them. Most quality construction has strong coated nylons on the outside. These nylons are often coated in DWR (Durable Water Repellent), which sheds water and helps prevent the fabric from absorbing moisture. Make sure to look for DWR initials when shopping for rain gear.
We also prefer our gear to be Gore-Tex. This waterproof technology is lightweight, breathable, and as watertight as possible. Other waterproof technologies like Polartec NeoShell and eVent are similar to Gore-Tex by providing strong, breathable waterproof gear.
Rain gear needs to keep you dry. It doesn’t seem like a difficult concept, but there are plenty of rain jackets that can’t withstand a drizzle let alone a downpour. You want your rain gear to withstand the harshest conditions. This means a strong DWR construction, watertight seals, and features that keep you safe and comfortable. You should be able to fish for hours in the rain without having any water or moisture get through to your clothing.
Anglers beat the hell out of their gear. It just comes with the territory, and your rain gear will take the brunt of it. Quality equipment will last you season after season, and you won’t even have to think about it. This might mean spending a little more upfront, but you’ll save money (and be more comfortable) in the long run with a quality setup.
Pay attention to materials and construction when determining durability. Rugged nylon and polyester are some of the best choices, especially when paired with Gore-Tex, Polartec NeoShell, and eVent technologies.
It goes without saying that your rain gear needs to fit you, but don’t overlook this feature. The fit of your rain gear is most likely going to be different from your everyday clothes. You have to remember that rain jackets and bibs go over everything else you wear. If you’re bundled up on a cold November day, your rain jacket has to fit comfortably over your layers of clothes. You don’t want to be restricted from moving or casting. Make sure to look at the manufacturer’s sizing guide on their website. Size and fit vary from company to company.
Why it Made the Cut: A durable and waterproof Gore-Tex jacket that can withstand the harshest elements while still being comfortable.
- Materials: 80d 100% Nylon Face with Gore-Tex C-Knit Backer
- Accessories: Stow-away hood, submersible shingled cuffs
- Colors: Red Orange, Charcoal
- Extremely waterproof, comfortable, and mobile
- Gore-Tex stretch panels
- Reflective safety overlays
When I first tried on the Gambler jacket at ICAST last summer, I was amazed by its fit and ease of mobility. I had a feeling this was going to be a winner once I got it out on the water—and it didn’t disappoint.
The 100% nylon face with Gore-Tex knit backer is durable enough for any foul weather fishing you may encounter. I had my Gambler on this fall when making a 30-minute run out into the ocean searching for big redfish. While sitting in the bow of the boat, I took the brunt of the ocean spray. The stow-away hood combined with a watertight seal made sure I was completely dry when we reached the fishing grounds.
Besides the flawless waterproof design, the Gore-Tex stretch panels are my favorite feature. Anglers can make cast after cast without any restrictions, which is critical for tournament bass anglers throwing baits all day long or saltwater fishermen chucking plugs along a jetty.
One feature that surprised me was the Gambler’s ability to block wind. This came in handy during early morning runs across the lake, bay, and ocean. Zip up the Gambler and throw on the hood to keep you comfortable during those chilly morning runs.
Finally, the submersible cuffs were a godsend during the fall. Every serious angler knows the “joy” of reaching into freezing water to grab a fish out of the net. The submersible cuffs make sure your arms and torso stay dry. The Gambler is a top-of-the-line fishing rain jacket, and you will pay for these features. But if you’re serious about your angling adventures, you will be pressed to find a better fishing rain jacket. —Ryan Chelius
Best Breathable Rain Gear: Simms Pro Dry Fishing Jacket and Bibs
Why It Made the Cut: Simms Pro Dry outerwear uses high performance fabrics to ensure waterproof performance that keeps you comfortable no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. Innovative features keep necessities close at hand without getting in the way so you can concentrate on what counts: the next hook set.
- Materials: Three-layer Gore-tex fabric treated with a durable water repellant
- Accessories: Three-point adjustable stowable hood, dual chest pockets, adjustable suspenders, stretch back panel, cargo handwarmer pockets, top loading thigh pockets, kill switch/lanyard D-ring, plier pocket
- Colors: Carbon, black
- Breathable fabric keeps you dry while letting moisture escape
- Innovative pockets keep essential gear at your fingertips
- Articulated arms and legs provide excellent freedom of movement
- Zippers on bib allow for rapid on/off even over bulky footwear
The best raingear for fishing does more than keep you dry in a downpour. Advanced outwear like Simms Pro Dry jacket and bibs are versatile shells that keep you comfortable on the water all year long—even when it’s cold enough to stand directly on it. My set has kept me warm and dry through day long ice fishing adventures and trying my luck on the Atlantic coast. The Pro Dry even stopped 30 mph winds that bit into exposed skin.
Pro Dry rain gear is the perfect outer layer for long days on the water. Sized large enough to accommodate all the layers you’ll need to stay warm even when the mercury dips; the articulated arms and legs provide plenty of freedom of movement to set the hook and dance across the bow. The bib’s zippers allow you to easily get them on, even over clunky winter boots. The hood quickly deploys and offers an unobstructed view even when racing to the next honey hole.
Innovative features like a reinforced plier’s pocket keep necessities ready, so you can quickly release that hefty bass and get right back in the game. Ample pockets keep tackle boxes, soft plastics, and other must-haves right at your fingertips. The jacket and the bibs incorporate a D-ring for kill switch or tool lanyards, so you’ll stay out there. Get a set of Simms Pro Dry rain gear to ignore the weather, whatever it’s doing. —Joseph Albanese
Best Fly Fishing Wading Jacket: Orvis Ultralight Wading Jacket
Why It Made the Cut: This wading jacket is lightweight, durable, and packable—ideal for fly anglers looking for protection from wind and rain without the bulk of traditional rain gear.
- Materials: Nylon with PU lamination, DWR finish, YKK AquaGuard water-resistant zippers
- Accessories: Waterproof cuff system, front storage pockets, rear net attachment
- Colors: Alloy/Ash
- Lightweight and durable
- Waterproof cuffs
- Adjustable storm hood
- Breathable nylon fabric
I’ve used my fair share of wading jackets over the years. Some were good, others, not so much. So, what makes a good wading jacket? I look for fit, mobility, durability, and of course, waterproofness. The Orvis Ultralight Wading Jacket hit all of these checkpoints and more on my last couple of fishing trips.
A major flaw of many wading jackets is bulkiness and weight. Traditional wading jackets tend to be heavy, structured, and bulky. The ultralight jacket from Orvis is extremely packable and comfortable to wear, even on hot summer evenings. It most recently came in hand on a late February fishing trip. Granted, this jacket isn’t going to provide any warmth, but keep in mind that isn’t the reason to buy it. I was layered up and pulled out the ultralight jacket when it started to rain and stayed dry the rest of the day.
The waterproof cuffs are a strong feature and prevent your entire arm from getting wet, which is important on cold days. I will say this jacket is ideal for the spring and summer months. The lightweight and breathable design make it a pleasure to wear in warmer conditions. It has a true-to-size construction without any restrictions in the arms or shoulders for easy casting all day long. —RC
Best Waterproof Fishing Bibs: Grundens Herkules 16
Why It Made the Cut: The toughest conditions call for the durability of professional grade gear. These Grundens bibs have been serving the commercial fishing industry for decades.
- Materials: PVC-coated cotton/polyester blend
- Accessories: Adjustable shoulder straps, side snap gusset
- Colors: Green, orange, or white
- Heavy-duty construction stands up to abuse
- Impenetrable by even the biggest waves
- Won’t wet out like fabrics treated with durable water repellants
- Repels stains, grime, and fish slime
- These aren’t light and don’t move as well as breathable models
- Can be hot
I was given my pair of Grundens Herkules 16 bibs by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service during a stint working in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Those bibs kept me dry during the constant rain and protected me from the copious amounts of bird poop that accompany working on sea bird colonies. I wore them every day for that entire field season, and I’ve worn them fishing on the Atlantic coast for about a decade after.
The only damage inflicted on these bibs to date came from the tin of tobacco I kept stuffed in my back pocket during my twenties. The rubbing eventually led to a ring-shaped spot where the PVC coating wore off, but some duct tape and glue prevented any water intrusion. The secret to the bib’s longevity lies in their intended purpose: Grundens built the Herkules line to stand up to the rigors of commercial fishing.
The heavy-duty construction starts with a tough poly/cotton blend and is coated with a thick and durable layer of PVC. The result is a fabric that can shed water, stains, and fish slime day after day. Unlike fabrics coated with a durable water repellant, the PVC will never “wet out” and let moisture through. So, you can take wave after wave without getting wet. Because it’s not porous, it won’t pick up odors either. The downside is that the bibs are heavy and can be hot because they don’t breathe. But if you need a pair of bibs that keeps everything out, these are it. —JA
Best Waterproof Fishing Boots: Huk Rogue Wave Boots
Why It Made the Cut: A comfortable and fully waterproof boot that can be submerged in water and still keep your feet dry.
- Materials: Neoprene and rubber construction
- Outsole: GripX Wet Traction Non-Marking design
- Accessories: Molded footbed and heavy duty pull tabs
- Comfortable fit
- Strong grip and non-marking outsole
- Can submerge boots in water and stay dry
- Unique color designs
- Not adjustable
- Can get hot
Most anglers don’t put much thought into fishing shoes or boots, but they should. I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes—they really do make a difference. I took my new pair of Huk Rogue Wave boots for an ultimate through-the-wringer weekend of testing to see what they are made of, and this is what I learned:
- Dry feet make fishing a lot more fun
- The Rogue Wave boots are extremely versatile
- Keeping a pair of waterproof boots in the truck is beneficial
I expected the boots to perform well during typical fishing adventures, and they did. What surprised me was how useful these boots are for other situations. For example, I pulled my duck boat out of the water for the season, and the Rogue Wave boots were perfect for navigating the slippery ramp. The GripX wet traction design helps keep your footing when maneuvering around wet surfaces.
I also kept the boots on as I made my way to the river for an afternoon of fly fishing. The parking lot was a mess—mud, snow, and puddles everywhere. The boots were ideal for getting out of the truck and rigging up in a mucky parking lot. These things are meant to get wet, dirty, and frankly just have the crap beat out of them. The final test came during a full day of pond hopping. These boots shined and kept me dry in muddy banks as I worked my way around different ponds.
If it can handle all of this, you can bet it will do just fine on a boat. The soles are removable, and the ankle area is made with neoprene for a better fit. If you’re a half size, I’d suggest buying up. I wear a size 11 ½, and the size 12 boot fits perfectly. Not to mention they are just dang comfortable. I wore them all day fishing and didn’t even think twice about it. If you’re looking to keep your feet dry, these boots are for you. —RC
Best Packable Rain Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket
Why it Made the Cut: A lightweight, packable jacket ideal for summertime fishing. Throw it in your fishing pack and take it out when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Materials: Waterproof, breathable 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite fabric
- Accessories: Adjustable hood, zippered hand pockets, adjustable cuffs
- Colors: Dark Storm, Blue Horizon, Fiery Red
- Waterproof and lightweight
- Gore-Tex design
- Extremely packable
Gear is situational. I am a big believer in that philosophy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t versatile pieces of equipment that can get the job done in multiple situations, but sometimes, a piece of gear tailored to a specific pursuit, tactic, or environment will outperform the rest. When it comes to lightweight, highly packable rain jackets, the Mountain Hardwear Exposure 2 is hard to beat.
Few rain jackets can pack down to the size of a 32oz water bottle and still keep you dry. The Exposure 2 jacket is ideal for anglers who fish in warm climates, backwoods streams, and remote lakes. It is made with Gore-Tex technology and is light as a feather. During the summer months, here in the Northeast, I can pack this jacket into my sling pack and hike up to remote streams where native Brook trout reside. For the backpacking angler, there is no better choice.
With this jacket, you lose some durability, and I wouldn’t recommend it for saltwater anglers braving the elements out in the ocean. By all means, this is a shell. There is no insulation, but that is by design. This jacket is made for backpackers, hikers, and campers who need to lighten their load. It quickly became my favorite summertime fishing rain jacket for two simple reasons; it’s lightweight, and it keeps me dry. If you want something to just keep the rain off of you, take a close look at the Exposure 2 from Mountain Hardwear. —RC
Best Rain Gear for Kayak Fishing: NRS Riptide Paddling Jacket
Why It Made the Cut: Kayaks pose unique challenges for anglers trying to stay dry. The combination of spray skirts and waterproof cuffs keeps water from above and below out.
- Materials: Waterproof/breathable HyproTex fabric treated with DWR finish, YKK zippers, neoprene cuffs, urethane neck
- Accessories: Kayak overskirt, waterproof cuff system, urethane neck closure, sculpted hood, shoulder storage pockets
- Colors: Salsa or lime
- Waterproof cuffs
- Tight-sealing waist and neck
- Adjustable hood
- Less expensive than dry tops
- Though cheaper than a dry top, this is still pricey
- The skirt can get in the way
I’ve always enjoyed kayak fishing, but it can be a wet endeavor. Even on days when the clouds haven’t opened up, the splashes that occur on the river are enough to provide a thorough soaking. A quality jacket like the NRS Riptide can keep you dry from water coming from above—and below.
I’ve been wearing my NRS Riptide for several years, both on the river and in the pounding surf. The jacket’s overskirt and tight-cinching neoprene waistband easily mate with a kayak’s spray skirt, keeping all water out as I navigate Class III rapids searching for trout. On days when I ply calmer waters for smallmouth, the Riptide’s skirt and adjustable waist work well with a pair of splash pants to keep me dry from paddle drips and raindrops while seated. That same tight-cinching waistband keeps waves at bay when fishing the surf, preventing breaking waves from filling my waders.
The combination of skirt and waistband, punch-through neoprene cuffs, urethane neck collar, and sculpted hood keep water out, no matter where it’s coming from. So go ahead and reach into the water to release that fish; your arm will stay dry. The hood features a bill to keep water out of your eyes, and a bungee cord around the back ensures you don’t lose your peripheral vision. Pockets on the shoulders hold small essentials like tippets, spools, and small fly boxes, and the zipper pull provides a handy place to hang your forceps. —JA
How We Made Our Picks
We have a combined 45 years of fishing experience, and in that time, we have seen our share of rainy days on the water. We’ve fished in downpours, hailstorms, and blizzards—all of which we’ve used rain gear in. What makes us authorities on this subject is not only knowing what the right gear to wear is, but also knowing what not to wear.
Our testing process has been from trial and error over the years. Being soaked on a boat is not fun—trust us, we know. Here are the criteria we based our selections on to determine the best rain gear for fishing:
- Construction: How well is the rain gear built? What materials is it made from? What waterproof technology does it use?
- Waterproof Ability: Is the rain gear waterproof? Will you be able to all day in the rain and not get wet?
- Durability: Can you get multiple seasons out of it? Will you be able to trust this gear in the harshest conditions you face?
- Comfortability: Is the gear breathable and comfortable? Can you fish all day in it without any restrictions?
- Value: Are you getting what you paid for? This is an important question because you need to make sure that if you choose to spend a lot of money, then you need the best materials.
Q: What is the best waterproof fishing gear?
The best waterproof fishing gear depends on your style of fishing. For instance, fly fishers will look for a waterproof and durable wading jacket to pair with their waders. While serious bass anglers want a durable rain jacket and bibs to keep them completely dry all day, and maybe even a pair of comfortable waterproof shoes. Saltwater anglers may need something heavier to face rough environments like the ocean. This means extended cuff designs, adjustable hoods, and indestructible designs.
Q: What rain gear do pro bass fishermen use?
Pro bass anglers will usually wear a durable waterproof jacket and a pair of waterproof bibs. The Simms Pro Dry Jacket and Pro Dry Bibs are perfect examples of what you would see a professional bass angler wearing on a rainy tournament day. The Grundens Gambler jacket is another great option for bass anglers. These high-quality Gore-Tex jackets and bibs keep bass anglers fishing through the nastiest conditions so they can land more fish.
Q: Is Goretex worth the price?
Yes. Gore-Tex is a breathable, waterproof fabric that repels water while allowing water vapor to pass through. This design keeps anglers comfortable on the water and, more importantly—dry. Gore-Tex is also lightweight and designed for all-weather use. You will find Gore-Tex in some of the most reputable fishing clothing brands like SIMMS and Grundens. While it isn’t cheap, it is worth the money.
We have tested numerous rain jackets, wading jackets, and bibs over the years. We’ve found that the best rain gear for fishing has a few things in common, including quality construction and materials, a proper fit, and durability to last many seasons. Our selections above meet these criteria and more. Stick to this guide when selecting your rain gear, and you won’t go wrong.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.