Mom Goes Camping

Best Kids Rain Pants (for Serious Outdoor Play)

best rain pants for kids

If you want your kids to be able to play outdoors even when it’s raining, they will absolutely need rain pants (it’s kind of pointless to have a rain jacket if you don’t also have pants!).  I have two daughters and they’ve had lots of rain pants over the years. Here’s my insight on the best rain pants for kids, including which features are actually worth paying for.

Have little kids? See these best rain suits for babies and the best rain pants for toddlers.

Quick Picks:

Best Overall: Marmot Youth Precip Eco Rain Pants
Why? They are lightweight and breathable, have zipper ankle openings for easy on/off and don’t leak. It’s just too bad they only come in black.

Runner Up: OAKI Rain Pants
Why? They are incredibly waterproof, rugged enough for serious outdoor play and come in lots of colors.

Budget Pick: Columbia Cypress Brooks II Rain Pants
Why? These are very durable and have good breathability and several color options, all at an affordable price.

 

Features to Look for in Kids Rain Pants

Here is what you should look at when choosing rain pants for your kids, especially if you want to do any hiking, camping or splashing in puddles.

 

Pants or Bib?

If your kids want to jump in puddles, then rain bibs are the way to go.  These will ensure that they don’t get wet from below.  However, rain bibs are fairly annoying to take off (especially without also taking the rain jacket off).  This can be problematic for potty training or going to the bathroom outdoors.  For this reason, I personally prefer rain pants over bibs for my daughters.  You can get a rain jacket which cinches around the waist to protect them against splashing from below.

 

Waterproof Rating and Taped Seams

Waterproofness is measured using a Hydrostatic Head test and listed in millimeters: the higher the rating in millimeters, the more waterproof the material is.  For everyday use, a waterproof rating of around 2,000mm is fairly good.  However, if your kids will be sitting in water, kneeling on wet ground,  or playing in torrential downpours, they will need a much higher waterproof rating.   The downside is that a high waterproof level means less breathability.

You’ll also want to make sure the kids rain pants have taped seams so water doesn’t enter through the seams.  Almost all rain pants – even cheap ones – have this feature now though.

 

Breathability

By their nature, waterproof pants are not very breathable.  This isn’t such a big deal in cold weather when your kids wear several layers under the pants.  But, in warm weather, the lack of breathability means your kids will start to sweat quickly.  They end up getting wet from sweat instead of the rain.

Really high-quality youth rain pants are made from multi-layer materials with breathable membranes. A Moisture Vapor Permeability (MVP) test measures how breathable a material is in grams per square meter (g/m2).  A rating of 2,000g/m2 is a good level of breathability for something that is completely waterproof.

 

Stirrup Straps

Rain pants should be worn over rain boots (otherwise rain will just drip down the pants and into the boots).  To keep the rain pants from riding up, you’ll want to choose a pair which has stirrups to go over the boots.  Velcro cuffs also help keep the rain boots from riding up, but aren’t as good as stirrups.

 

Adjustable Leg Openings

If your kids put the rain pants on before they go outside, then the leg openings don’t really matter.  But my family spends a lot of time hiking and camping. We often have to put our rain pants on once we are already outdoors.  That means getting the rain pants on over boots.  It’s even more difficult to get rain pants off over boots – especially when the boots are really muddy.

Good rain pants will have adjustable leg openings to make it easier to get the pants on/off over shoes.  The best option is to have a zipper going up the side. Infuriatingly, very few kids rain pants have this option.   Most just have a Velcro cuff or snaps at the bottom.   A lot of the “cute” rain pants don’t have any adjustable opening (just elastic cuffs) and are a major pain to put on/off over boots.

zipper leg openings on rain pants

 

Style

My girls are annoyingly fashion-conscious (not something they get from me!).  Neither of them like wearing clothes that look “dorky.”  I try to explain that it’s cool to be prepared, but the argument doesn’t work.   I got my older daughter a cheap pair of black rain pants once and hated wearing them. Since then, I’ve been more considerate about choosing “stylish” rain pants with cute colors and better fit (so they don’t look like80’s style parachute pants).

My tween daughter sulking on a camping trip because I made her put “dorky” rain pants on. I got her purple ones next time and she doesn’t complain anymore.

 

Best Rain Pants for Kids

While there are tons of options when it comes to rain pants for babies and toddlers, there are surprisingly few options for kids 3+.  And you can mostly forget about getting any fun designs or styles for kids 8+.  I’ve scoured through the options though and here are the best rain pants available for kids now.

 

1. Marmot Youth PreCip Eco Rain Pants

marmot pricip rain pants for kids

Best For: Hiking rain pants which have zippered leg openings
Available Sizes: XS to XL (4-15 years)

While I wish that these youth rain pants came in colors other than black, they are by far one of the best options for hiking and outdoor play.  They have a zippered opening at the legs so you can easily get them on even over hiking boots. The inseams have gussets which allows for better range of motion.

The NanoPro recycled nylon material is very thin but is still rip-proof and durable.  Marmot doesn’t list the waterproof rating but the pants definitely keep water out.  They are also the most breathable rain pants I’ve found.

There are two zippered pockets.  There aren’t any stirrups but the snaps at the leg cuffs help keep the pants in place over boots.  The waist is elastic but isn’t adjustable, so check the sizes before buying.  See the size guide here.

Pros

  • Leg zippers
  • Two hand pockets
  • Fantastic breathability
  • Durable material
  • Lightweight
  • Gusseted inseam

Cons

    • Pricier than other options
    • Elastic waist isn’t adjustable
    • Only come in black

 Buy Here


 

2. OAKI Rain Pants

oaki rain pants for kids

Best For:  Older kids who play outdoors a lot
Available Sizes: 2-15 years

Based out of Utah, the brand Oaki specializes in clothes for outdoor explorers.  Like most of their gear, these rain pants are meant for all sorts of bad weather.  The waterproof rating is 10,000mm and will not let any water through – even if your kids kneel directly in a puddle.  Despite being so waterproof, the material isn’t rubbery at all and it’s very breathable.

I wish that there was a zipper up the side to make it easier to get these rain pants on/off but the Velcro cuff is a nice touch.  Because there is no stirrup strap, these are better for slightly older kids.  Note that Oaki also makes a full rain suit for hardcore rain play!

Pros

  • Soft fabric
  • 10,000mm waterproof rating
  • 3,000mvp breathability
  • Adjustable Velcro cuffs
  • Elastic waist with drawstring
  • Lots of colors available
  • Rip-proof polyester

Cons

  • No side zipper or stirrup straps

Buy Here


 

3. Columbia Cypress Brook II Rain Pants

columbia kids rain pants

Best For: Durability and budget
Available Sizes: 2-16

While my daughters haven’t tried these specific pants, my younger did have a Columbia rain suit made from this same material.  I loved that rain suit! The material is very thin but still really durable and doesn’t have a plastic feel to it.  It didn’t tear even with her crawling over rough ground.  The breathability isn’t the best, but it is decent.

There is a Velcro tab at the cuffs so you can get the pants on/off easily.  It’s also nice that there is a pocket.  Considering how affordable these rain pants are, they are a great choice for all sorts of activities.

Pros

  • Very durable material
  • Velcro leg cuffs
  • Nice material with decent breathability
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Lots of colors

Cons

  • No zippered leg openings or drawstring on waist

Buy Here


 

4. REI Co-Cop Kids Rainwall Pants

REI kids rainwall waterproof pants

Best For: Durable rain pants
Available Sizes: 4-18

These REI rain pants do exactly what they are supposed to do.  They won’t leak and the breathability is good enough for hiking and active play.  The material is also durable enough that you can pass them down to younger kids. I love that the elastic in the waistband is adjustable so you don’t have to worry about them squeezing your kid’s waist.

I can’t understand why REI would make rain pants that don’t have side zippers though.  They are supposed to understand the needs of hikers and campers.   Because they only come in one color and are slightly pricy, I ranked them below the Columbia kids rain pants.

Pros

  • Partially-elastic cuffs with Velcro closure
  • Side pocket
  • Good breathability
  • Elastic waistband is adjustable
  • Fit true to size
  • Durable material

Cons

  • Only come in black
  • No leg zipper

 Buy Here


 

5. Mountain Warehouse Kids Pakka Rain Pants

Mountain Warehouse Pakka Kids Waterproof Rain Pants for kids

Best For: Packable pants for light rain
Available Sizes: 2-14 years

If you just need something that your kids can wear in light rain, these overpants from Mountain Warehouse are a good option.  They are much thinner than other rain pants, so you wouldn’t want your kids crawling through bushes.  The pants are also only rated for 1,500mm waterproofness, so aren’t the best option for kneeling in wet spots.

However, the thinness and lower waterproof rating do have their benefits.  First off, the pants are very packable. These are something your kids could keep in their schoolbag for rainy days.  The low waterproof level means that the pants are incredibly breathable and not as clammy as most.

I still wish that the pants had some pockets or other features for the price.  But they are a good option when you need something lightweight for mild rain.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good breathability
  • Snaps at cuffs
  • Come with stuff sack

Cons

  • No drawstring on elastic waist
  • No pockets
  • Thin material rips easily

Buy Here


 

6. Playshoes Rain Bibs

Playshoes rain bibs for kids

Best For: When you needs bibs for better rain protection
Available Sizes: 1-10 years

These rain bibs by Playshoes are one of the few which actually have stirrups.  This means that the pants actually won’t ride up on your child, so they can jump around and still stay dry.  There are some other nice touches too, like the reflector strips for better visibility, snaps around the waist so your kid can get in/out easier and the elastic around the back for a better fit.

The material on these rain pants isn’t the best though.  It does have a plastic feel to it and rips fairly easily.  Definitely do not put them in the washer or dryer!  Despite that, they are still a good option – especially if you want bibs for better rain protection.

Pros

  • Have stirrup strap
  • Snap at waist
  • Elastic at back for better fit
  • Lots of colors

Cons

  • Sizes run large
  • Not very breathable
  • Material is plastic-like and tears easily
  • No side zips

Buy Here


 

7. Hatley Splash Pants

hatley kids waterproof splash pants

Best For: Little kids
Available Sizes: 2-10 years old

Hatley is a small family-owned business which makes rain gear with cute prints and styles.  They have several waterproof pants (aka splash pants) for kids. The raindrop ones shown in the picture change colors when wet.

The splash pants are really well made and won’t leak anywhere.  The rain pants are a bit annoying to take on/off since the cuffs aren’t adjustable.  Even though these are available in sizes up to 10 years old, they are best for little kids who splash around in puddles.

Pros

  • Good quality
  • Super cute designs and patterns
  • Elastic waist with drawstring
  • One exterior pocket

Cons

  • No stirrups
  • No adjustable opening on cuffs

Buy Here


 

8. Jan & Juls Puddle Dry Rain Pants

jan and jul rain pants

Best For: Breathable pants for playing in mud and dirt
Available Sizes: 1-10 years

These polyester pants have a waterproof rating of 10,000mm and are breathable at 3,000g/m.  They are one of the more comfortable pants for your kids to wear.  The stirrups straps mean the pants won’t ride up. There are several cute designs that little kids will love.

However, a lot of people complained that the pants started to leak at the seams (which are supposedly sealed).  Because of this, these are better for playing in the mud or dirty conditions.   The breathability means that they are more comfortable for play and will keep your kids’ clothes clean.  It’s hard to get stains out of the pants though, so maybe choose a darker color!

Pros

  • Stirrup straps
  • Good breathability
  • Comfortable material
  • Cute designs and colors
  • Waistband elastic is adjustable

Cons

  • May start to leak at seams
  • Hard to get on/off

Buy Here


Image credit:”Puddle Splasher !!!” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Geoffery Kehrig

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About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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