What to Pack: Rain Jacket or Umbrella

There are many decisions to make while packing for a trip, and for many destinations, one of those is whether to bring a rain jacket or an umbrella. In this post we will explore the pros and cons of each to help you make that decision. Get a good idea of the weather and climate in your destination before using these tips to decide.

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Umbrella or Rain Jacket
Rain Jacket or Umbrella

Rain Jacket Pros

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Adds extra warmth if need be
  • Protects against the wind
  • Better against driving rain
  • Protects against splash on boat transportation

Rain Jacket Cons

  • Hot and muggy in tropics
  • Gets your pants wet
  • Camera still gets wet when taking photos
  • Bag and purse still get wet

Umbrella Pros

  • Lightweight and easily packable
  • Can take photos without getting camera wet
  • Can cover purse and bag
  • Cheaper more easily replaceable than rain jackets
  • Can share with friends or sweetheart

Umbrella Cons

  • Doesn’t protect against wind or driving rain
  • Can break if cheap or blow inside out
  • Always have to be holding it in one hand


Umbrellas are better in the tropics when you will be facing wet, muggy, humid weather so you don’t get so hot.
Rain jackets are better in colder climates for the added bonus of keeping you warm and for recreational activities where you need both hands or will be moving around a lot.
Rain Jacket v Umbrella


You could always bring both a rain jacket and umbrella, but if you’re making a attempt to pack light, choose just one.
Whether you carry a rain jacket or an umbrella, consider buying a stuff-able waterproof cover for your backpack. I bought one because my 50L backpack did not come with one, and it would fit any backpack around the same size.
I have two packable rain jackets, one is Marmot and the other was under $20 online back in the day and still works great. My umbrella is super light, came with a  sleeve, and is plain black, not flashy. Don’t spend too much on an umbrella or you’ll be bummed when you leave it on a bus somewhere. If you are going to a rainy destination and don’t already own an umbrella, you will probably see street vendors bust them out as soon as the rain hits, and these are often the cheapest around (in quality as well, but it doesn’t really matter).