Carhartt Rain Defender: Best Jacket For Unpredictable Weather

4.0 rating

Shoulder seasons like Fall and Spring bring dramatically fluctuating temperatures and random weather. Picking out your clothes each morning is always a bit of a guessing game. Generally speaking, the best solution is to combine base-layers with a good, weatherproof light jacket. Carhartt’s Lightweight Rain Defender Jacket is one I’d strongly recommend for the tempermental weather that spring and fall bring.

Carhartt is well known for rugged and practical clothes. Their Rain Defender jacket is no exception and will keep you warm and dry from rain and snow down to around 40℉(4℃). Light insulation ensures you don’t freeze to death in the mornings while not overheating by midday when temperatures rise. Depending on how severe your winters are, it could be used as a three-season jacket with layering.


Depending on the size the Carhartt Rain Defender is listed between $100 and $110 and is available in 8 colors

carhartt rain defender in black


  • Weight: 1.75 ounces
  • Shell: Durable CORDURA®
  • Hook and loop cuffs
  • Quilted nylon lining
  • 100g polyester insulation
  • Scuffs, tears, and abrasion resistant
  • Durable water repellent
  • Mock-neck collar with full-zip front
  • Drawcord-adjustable droptail hem 
  • Front chest zipper pocket
  • Inside zipper pocket
  • Inside hook and loop pocket
  • Hidden snap fastener outer lower pockets
  • YKK zippers
  • 8 colors options

First Impressions

When I first put the Rain Defender on, I was impressed with how lightweight it was. The insulation functioned well and kept me at a comfortable temperature. I thought the external zippers were an appropriate gauge and the lower pockets offered ample room to keep my hands out of the elements. I was particularly impressed that despite being a very lightweight jacket, having heavier items like a cell phone or wallet in the pockets didn’t sway the jacket all over the place.

Quality and Workmanship

carhartt rain defender in blue


carhartt rain defender ykk zipper

The Rain Defender has a full-zip main zipper, an upper-left zipper pocket, and an inner left zipper pocket. They are all YKK zippers and run smoothly without any snags or jams. 

The outer zippers have a contoured gripped tab attached by a cord. They are easy to locate and in wet or dark conditions. In the closed position, the zippers park under overlapping material which prevents rain or sleet from ingressing.


Now, because this is a lighter jacket, there isn’t the heavy-duty stitching you might find on Carhartts iconic work jackets. However, Carhartt has done a good job with the quality of the stitch itself. I haven’t noticed a loose thread anywhere on this jacket.


Breast Pocket

Carhartt rain defender top zip pocket

The breast pocket is perfect for items such as a wallet or a cell phone and zips securely shut. It has an impressive amount of room as well, reaching almost down under the arm.

Outer Main Pockets

carhartt rain defender main pocket

The lower pockets are good for storing either your phone, wallet, or keys, but are also great for keeping your hands warm and dry. 

The top snap fastener is hidden under the outer shell giving the jacket a sleeker appearance. Another great design element was to have a 1-inch overlap which drips rain away from the pocket openings.

Inside left zipper pocket

carhartt rain defender inner zip pocket

Inside pockets in my opinion are appropriate for storing more secure documents or items such as a wallet or passport. I’ve worn many lightweight jackets before, and what I find with most is that heavier items like a wallet could make the jacket flop all over the place. To my surprise that wasn’t the case with the Rain Defender. This pocket also features a zipper but is a smaller gauge compared to the two outer zippers. It also has the material overlap, not that it’s really necessary since it is on the inside, but it doesn’t hurt!

Inside right hook-and-loop pocket 

On the inside right of the jacket is a pocket that I found useful for documentation. The small hook-and-loop square prevents anything from accidentally falling out. It’s sewn on just along the outer edge of the square hook side, but I would have preferred a box stitch, which would prevent the hook end of the hook-and-loop from tearing away from the very thing material when opening the pocket.


carhartt rain defender review

As I mentioned previously, the Rain Defender has clean looks that work for both urban and outdoor adventurers.

The Rain Defender is available in 8 colors (photographed is the Fog Green) including the iconic Carhartt Brown.

Quilted nylon lining makes the Rain Defender easy to put on and take off quickly. No trying to squeeze your arms through the sleeves or bunching up. I’ve found it very easy and efficient putting on and off.

I’ve personally worn this while out hiking wearing khakis and my hiking boots, and when running errands wearing joggers and running shoes. Both scenarios this jacket looked the part.

Staying Warm and Dry

carhartt rain defender collar

The mock-neck collar, when fully zipped, comes up just below the chin, blocking wind and rain from getting inside your jacket. Inside the collar is a warm and soft felt fabric for added warmth and comfort.

The Rain Defender is insulated with 100g of polyester and features a water repellent coating. In light rain, water droplets bead right off the jacket. A quick shake and all of it falls off.

One thing I didn’t realize this jacket had until wearing it a few times was the adjustable elastic drawcords on the bottom tail drop, which allows you to tighten it to stop wind from coming up under the jacket. 

The Rain Defender is the ideal lightweight insulated jacket to keep you warm and dry in cold wet environments.


Carhartt took no shortcuts with the Rain Defender and had the outer shell constructed with the impressive CORDURA fabric.

CORDURA fabric is resistant to abrasions, has a fantastic tear strength, and has a water-repellent coating option. CORDURA fabrics are made to last and keep you dry.


carhartt rain defender style

In my opinion, the Carhartt Rain Defender is a fantastic jacket for the Spring and Fall months. However, since it is a lightweight jacket, once the temperature plummets it’s best to layer up. If you are in the trades, I’d strongly suggest looking at Carhartts more robust winter work jackets. Buyers’ remorse with those puppies are practically unheard of.

Overall, I think Carhartt did a great job with the Rain Defender. I like the overall design and practicality of this jacket. Even though Carhartt is known more for heavy-duty products, this lightweight jacket is perfect for those crisp fall mornings. In reading others’ reviews, I’ve noted that many Rain Defender owners liked it so much, they bought another for their significant other.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Get the very best "Buy It For Life" recommendations and benefit from thousands of hours of unbiased research for free!
I hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
Powered by Optin Forms

Recent Content

Well Rigged