Begging for State of the Market Rain Jacket Report
Mar 9, 2023 at 9:51 pm #3775381Robert SpencerBPL Member
@bspencerLocale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah
Loved my Marmot Essence rain jacket (6.7 oz) for many years, but it’s time for a replacement. It needs to be waterproof and preferably under 8 ounces since my jacket stays in the pack often and is worn as much for wind, bugs, and warmth as for prolonged rain. Given all the promising options from several years ago, I was excited to see what might be calling my name.
The reason for my excitement was the emergence of shakedry and similar technology several years ago — The Montbell Peak Dry Jacket, the ArcTeryx Norvan SL Hoody, and even some very light and intriguing Columbia Outdry products. Now? None are available in the sub 8-ounce variety.
Okay, but there were some great conventional W/B 2.5 layer jackets like the Montane Minimus jacket and pullover or the ArcTeryx Zeta FL. Now? Both companies have dropped these jackets from their current lineup. Too many returns due to poor durability?
And finally, the very popular Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket coming in under 6 ounces! I was thinking this was the jacket for me to try next. Now? No sign of this jacket (or pants) to be found. Does anyone know if the Visp has faded from the scene like the others I just mentioned? Supply chain strikes again?
I know we still have the Zpacks Vertice, Montbell Versalite, OR Helium, ArcTeryx Norvan LT Hoody, and a few others to choose from, but is it just me or did we take a step backward on the very light rain jacket options from a few years ago?Mar 9, 2023 at 11:18 pm #3775382Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
yes all good questions.
Arcteryx and others drastically pruned their offerings.
I would suppose the product offerings in this space have thinned for a combination of reasons: fabrics/garmets failing to meet customer needs and expectations 2) supply chain issues and 3) manufacturers tweaking manufacturing processes and fabric contents to meet climate friendly goals if not comply with local and international regulations, especially if they want to sell in the European Union, and 4) too many products chasing too few customers/too little revenue.Mar 10, 2023 at 6:50 am #3775385Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
There’s a big move away from PFAs in the process as well as moving away from ePTFE to ePE at GoreTex.
As Bruce said in his points 3 and 4.
I think these are the biggest factors right now shaking up the rain jacket market.
Also sucks because I’m also in the market for a new shell jacket before I go take a 6-day “Alpinism 101” course on Baker in late July.Mar 10, 2023 at 12:19 pm #3775409Rex SandersBPL Member
The Covid-triggered surge in outdoor gear purchases has reversed, and some reports say that retail sales are down compared to pre-pandemic.
In 2021 Arc’teryx opened 21 new stores, and planned to open 20 more in 2022. But they closed two San Francisco Bay Area stores this January without fanfare. Even REI has paused or reversed plans for expansion.
In addition to all the other factors listed above, gear makers might be cutting less-profitable products. Plus inflation is eating into optional spending.
A SOTMR for lightweight rain jackets might be pretty short! And in my experience, products appear and disappear while researching and writing a longer article, making the results almost an historical snapshot.
— RexMar 10, 2023 at 1:18 pm #3775411
Enlightened Equipment says that the Visp is on hold due to supply chain issues. They hint, but do not firmly state, that they intend to produce it again when they can get the fabric.
For wind and bugs, the 3oz/90g Dooy Wind Jacket is more breathable than any WPB (size up; maybe 2 sizes). EE Copperfield is in the same class (with normal sizes). For rain, Lightheart Gear or AntiGravityGear have UL jackets that are more waterproof than WPB.
As you say, Vertice, Versalite, and Norvan if you want WPB that is mediocre at waterproofness and/or breathability.
Front-Zippered Poncho if you want the most ventilated solution (9oz).Mar 10, 2023 at 7:13 pm #3775435Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Has anyone tried the Lightheart Gear/Antigravity Gear non breathable stuff? How would it work at say 40 degrees? I always sweet under rainwear. Is it worse?Mar 10, 2023 at 8:27 pm #3775445
Rain gear is all about tradeoffs and conditions. There is no perfect garment for all weather and work levels.
Expect non-breathables to be sweaty when working (but cozy when walking casually or stopped). People who prefer rain jackets usually cite wind and bushwhacking for their reasons (not sweat). To my way of thinking, the best use case for a rain jacket is 30-40F (0-5C) with high wind. In those conditions I might want the warmth of a jacket.
Both Lightheart Gear and AntiGravityGear jackets have long pit zips, which are great if you are not wearing a pack.
Lightheart makes a “hoody pack cover” which is an interesting piece for warmer weather. It only covers your head and shoulders, which is exactly the part that I sometimes want to have more protection than a wind garment. It is like half of a mountain poncho or Packa. Probably easy to MYOG the hood-and-shoulders part from Tyvek coveralls or an old Frogg Toggs jacket.
A rain jacket gets pressed against my back by the pack, resulting in a large surface area that gets no ventilation at all. The shoulder straps similarly press the jacket against my chest and shoulders, even when I unzip the front.
Personally, I prefer the breathability of a good soft shell for most conditions, including light rain. Very little water penetrates; no more than the moisture from sweat. High breathability allows the system to dry quickly when the rain stops, and is generally more comfortable at other times.
In heavy rain, a poncho works better than a jacket when the goal is not warmth. It goes over the pack, so there is no sweaty layer pressed against my back. The front drapes over the pack straps, providing similar ventilation in the front. All it takes to get a boost of fresh air is to raise my arms. The motion of trekking poles provides a small pump of air on each step. My poncho has a front zipper like a jacket, which gives even more ventilation options.
I do have a WPB jacket for around-town use or in-camp. For the trail, the soft-shell-and-poncho is the most comfortable combination I have found for most conditions that I face. Tall gaiters protect my legs when needed.
If I have to pack for a variety of conditions, then a breathable windshirt, poncho, and light rain jacket (even Frogg Toggs) makes a complete system over a base/mid layer. Combined weight is just over a pound and is suitable for any condition below treeline. Having both a jacket and a poncho allows the poncho to do double duty as ground cloth, vestibule, or tarp.Mar 10, 2023 at 9:08 pm #3775446Weekend Gear GuideBPL Member
Have you checked out the ultralight WPB offerings from Rab?
Phantom Waterproof Pull-On Jacket – 86g/3.03oz (Size M), 7D Pertex® Shield 2.5L fabric with stretch (40gsm) HH: 20,000mm/MVTR: 20,000 g/m2/24hrs
Cinder Phantom Waterproof Jacket – 94g/3.3oz (Size M) – 99g/3.4oz with stuff sack, 7D Pertex® Shield 2.5L fabric with stretch (40gsm) HH: 20,000mm/MVTR: 20,000 g/m2/24hrs
Either of these jackets are so ultralight you can always keep in your pack for emergency use while at camp or around town, since like some of the other WPB shell jackets you mentioned with low denier fabric, it will not last too long under heavy backpack straps, thus a softshell and/or poncho for use when on the trail.
As for ultralight WPB pants:
Phantom Waterproof Pants – 79g/2.8oz (Size M), 7D Pertex® Shield 2.5L fabric with stretch (40gsm) HH: 20,000mm/MVTR: 20,000 g/m2/24hrsMar 10, 2023 at 9:38 pm #3775448talagnuBPL Member
look at the yamatomichi offeringsMar 11, 2023 at 8:54 am #3775465
Interesting web site. Using Google Translate, yamatomichi gear appears to be lightweight, technical, and expensive. Their MVTR numbers look low compared to GoreTex and Montbell, although Stephen Seeber has pointed out that comparing MVTR between laboratories is difficult due to a large number of “standards”.
They appear to use Asian sizes. Their “XL” is for a 39-inch chest. That would be a Medium in American sizing.
Their return policy is limited.
The Haramaki kidney belt is an interesting piece. I haven’t seen anything like that. It seems like a good idea; building on the concept of a vest.
Their breathable pad for UL backpack panel looks interesting as well.
Many of their products appear to be well-thought-out and designed.
Overall, it is an interesting company. I wonder if Montbell started out that way?Mar 11, 2023 at 11:47 am #3775496Scott SmithBPL Member
@mrmuddyLocale: Idaho Panhandle
Thanks for the tip on the Rab Phantom!
Just ordered one 🙂Mar 11, 2023 at 12:28 pm #3775497
I’m a fan of WPB poncho’s. It is surprisingly easy and cheap to make a WPB fabric combo. (Would be even easier if tightly woven, UL, polypropylene fabrics were readily available).Mar 11, 2023 at 1:31 pm #3775500
Cool idea. I don’t know of many WPB ponchos for sale, so I just bought a Frogg Toggs poncho with the intention of slicing the front open and adding some sort of fasteners such as snaps.
Would there be enough material in a couple of those ponchos for your project?Mar 11, 2023 at 2:59 pm #3775504
Yeah, unfortunately hard to find pre-made. Not sure if there would be enough fabric in the above example, but it is a moot point because the material in question is not air permeable enough (imo).
I had made one previously out of a combo of low HH silnylon that I folded up and ran under a non threaded sewing machine to puncture. Sewed that (perimeter wise) to some “kite” tyvek (style 1443R I believe). Later on, I added some nylon tulle to the inner/body touching side (but kind of regretted that). So low HH punctured silnylon on outside, tyvek under and then tulle over the tyvek. Whatever water got through the punctured silnylon would not get through the tyvek.
If I were to do it again (and I will since I lost the above piece), I would instead do the following. Get an uncoated, uncalendared 40 or 70D nylon or preferably polyester fabric that is fairly breathable, and take some silicone caulk and thin with naphtha in a ratio of 1 part caulk to 7 to 8 parts solvent (by volume) and put a coating of silicone on the fabric.
Then I would get a polypropylene non woven material that I can suck a little air through (imo, the tyvek isn’t air permeable enough), then that PP non woven would be sandwiched between some monolite (with the silicone coated fabric on the outside), and the 3 layers would be sewn up.
The back and pack covering part of the poncho can just be an UL waterproof fabric of some kind. In the first iteration, I used membrane silpoly, but I would use a more robust material for the above 2nd iteration. Maybe a 10D silicone only coated 6.6 nylon or the like.
Oh, and rather than using a hood, I took a wide brimmed synthetic sun hat and sewed velcro to it and then corresponding velcro to a highly water resistant fabric (in this case, it was EPIC). Added very little weight to the hat, but made it sufficiently water resistant with the fabric on it, though it wasn’t tested in very heavy rain. In hindsight, I would probably use a 2 layer system for a significantly higher HH. Same fabric combo as the front of the poncho, but without the monolite layer.Mar 11, 2023 at 3:17 pm #3775505
Tightly woven polypropylene fabric is very hard to find for some reason. Nonwoven PP material is super easy to find, and in different weights and air permeability levels.
You can cannibalize Terramar PP baselayers (non wicking unlike the heavier military style PP baselayers) for the woven PP part, but tightly woven it is not. Why do I bemoan the lack of woven polypropylene fabrics out there? Woven PP is significantly tougher and more durable than non woven PP material. And if you get black colored, the UV resistance is fine. Plus, no need for extra coatings, the surface energy is low enough to not require an extra DWR coating.
So yes, a tightly woven PP fabric would be an excellent outer for nonwoven PP or PE, or would be a great inner for a an EPIC polyester or nylon outer, etc.
Two moderately high HH and permanent DWR materials in combo is better than 1 low HH/non permanent DWR mateirial with a super high HH membrane as is the norm.
The HH of more than one layer is a non linear increase. For example, say you take a single layer of fabric with an HH of 1500 mm and compare it to a two layer combo where each layer has 750 mm of HH. The latter’s total HH will not be 1500 i.e. adding the HH of the 2 layers together. It will be significantly higher, because the first layer absorbs most of the energy of the falling rain, and the 2nd layer just needs to sit pretty and deal with more “static” water droplets–doesn’t need a high HH to effectively block the outside moisture.
This is essentially the concept behind Paramo and similar systems whose individual layers are not technically and fully waterproof on their own. But they use too heavy and warm of fabrics, and ones you need to reapply DWR to. The 2 big flaws of these systems imo.Mar 11, 2023 at 4:52 pm #3775510
Oh, I remember that MYOG project. I was wondering when you were going to give us a long-term test report. I have a couple of thoughts, but I will post them on your original thread rather than continuing to hijack Robert’s.Mar 11, 2023 at 6:24 pm #3775518Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I will note that Montbell is still selling the Dry Peak Shell made from Shakedry. No idea how long they will continue to be available since Gore is discontinuing Shakedry. I just purchase a second Dry Peak to be stored until my existing shells wear out because I have been so pleased with the performance of shakedry. As I have mentioned elsewhere I can do a zone 2 run / backpacking push up hills, tempo bike ride, etc when it 50F with no water accumulation inside the shell in conditions that range from dry to torrential rains.Mar 11, 2023 at 10:11 pm #3775537jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I’m picturing an over the pack poncho with front zip, and two little belts with clips attached sewn to the back panel at each side, halfway down. I’m picturing clipping the back panel onto my pack, right and left, as a way to keep it from blowing around.
That, in conjunction with the Rab Phantom, might be a pretty versatile and bombproof system.Mar 11, 2023 at 10:57 pm #3775538
+1 That is a cool idea, jscott. Gonna try it.Mar 12, 2023 at 6:49 am #3775541JCHBPL Member
Bill Budney – is the poncho link on Amazon that you posted above the actual poncho you use? If so, how much does it weigh and how happy are you with it as opposed to say, something like a Frogg Toggs poncho?Mar 12, 2023 at 1:25 pm #3775564
JCH: The link I posted is pretty close. My poncho came from a different link but same company (because it was on sale). So, “mostly yes”.
It weighs 9oz and a Frogg Toggs weighs 8.5oz on my scale. So they are very close in weight; the zipper may be the difference.
I very much prefer the front zipper over any other poncho I have tried. I do intend to cut open my Frogg Toggs poncho to see how that performs with a front opening.
Other than the zipper, there is nothing fancy about my poncho. It’s just a poncho with a zipper. I have no doubt that it could be made with lighter or fancier materials, or other features (such as jscott’s clip-to-pack).
Justin W: I was going to folllow-up with you on your original thread, but now I cannot find it. Am I correct in thinking that you discussed your multi-layer zoned-fabric poncho concept elsewhere? I could swear I even saw pictures of the earlier prototype you mention above.Mar 12, 2023 at 1:36 pm #3775566JCHBPL Member
Bill – At that price I think the poncho is worth a bet, but one last question…what size backpack do you wear under it? Do you think it would do well over a (not stuffed completely full) 55L Arc Haul? The only thing I don’t like about the FT is the fragility of the fabric.Mar 12, 2023 at 2:07 pm #3775567
I wear the poncho over a 65L Osprey sometimes. I don’t have a mirror on trail, so I don’t know how well it covers the pack, but at least the top is covered, which is where rain usually comes from. Isn’t the Arc Haul mostly waterproof? So do you even care?
To me, the main advantage in covering the pack is NOT having the back of a rain garment stuck to my back by the pack. In other words, any amount of over-the-pack is far better than UNDER the pack.Mar 12, 2023 at 4:27 pm #3775581Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
any amount of over-the-pack is far better than UNDER the pack.
Exactly. And totally.
CheersMar 12, 2023 at 5:08 pm #3775587Victor JorgensenBPL Member
@dblhmmckLocale: Northern California
For people who would consider the Lightheart Gear or AntiGravityGear UL jackets mentioned above in an earlier post. I would include the Warbonnet Outdoors “Stash Jacket” in that category,
It’s available in their tarp fabric, 30D 2000mm NeverMist™ Silnylon. At 6 ounces for size XL. It comes in an assortment of colors, including several versions of camouflage. It has 22″ long pit zips. I like the cut including the hood, and it hangs pretty low covering the butt. So far I have not tested it in strenuous backpacking situations, but may have that opportunity next week.
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