Begging for State of the Market Rain Jacket Report
Mar 12, 2023 at 5:21 pm #3775588Robert SpencerBPL Member
@bspencerLocale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah
Good insightful comments from all. I hope EE secures the material they need for another run of Visp jackets and pants because that appeals more than the poncho or non-breathable approach for now.
I may have to dive in and try something UL before working back into ponchos, etc. if not satisfied. I’ve been eyeing the Rab Phantom for a while or something like the Berghaus Hyper 140 – not thrilled that the hood barely reaches the chin when things turn cold, but what do you expect for under 5 ounces? As mentioned earlier these are tradeoffs.
Has anyone tried the Ortovox 2.5 Civettta Jacket? Weighs in at 6.2 ounces and appears to have a very tailored cut and minimal features which appeals. I’m not familiar with TORAY DERMIZAX DT, but I remember Outside Mag mentioned this jacket a year or so ago. It is PFC free so that is in line with the move to more climate-friendly materials/techniques. Mostly a ski touring company so maybe that is why I’ve heard very little from the backpacking crowd. Snow is one thing, but rain is a different animal.Mar 12, 2023 at 7:07 pm #3775611Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
Don’t need a full SOTMR, which would take a lot of time. I’d be happy with a shortlist of dependable, decently breathable rain jackets in the 7-12 oz range with and without pit zips (my preference is with) that are durable enough for backpacking. And with good length front and back if it’s not too much to ask for. Appreciate any suggestions.
There are jackets mentioned in this thread that from everything I’ve seen and heard I don’t believe are durable enough for backpacking, either in their waterproofing or in the integrity of the thin material or both.Mar 12, 2023 at 7:45 pm #3775615
Ethan, the starting point in looking for WPB jackets would be Stephen Seeber’s MVTR article.
Two of his top three fit into your 7-12oz range. His top jacket, ShakeDry, may not be tough enough for backpacking. The other two: Marmot Precip (pitzips) and Outdoor Research AscentShell probably are. AscentShell is a type of WPB membrane; there are several jackets made with it. AFAIK the only AscentShell jacket with pitzips is the heavier military version currently being made for Ukraine.
Speaking of military versions, they are always rugged but usually heavier than your 7-12oz range. L7 jackets can be found on eBay for bargain prices considering their premium materials.
Your “decently breathable” criteria is up to you to decide. Some would say there is no such thing regarding rain jackets, while others are happy with their WPBs. I suspect climate has something to do with it. WPBs work better when the humidity is well below the dew point.
Another option is Paramo/Buffalo. They tend to be expensive and heavier. However, they take a different approach: Instead of a mostly-waterproof jacket with some breathability, they make breathable garments treated with DWR for rain resistance. They excel in British climates (where day-long drizzle is common).
Soft shells are similar: Breathability first; with light rain resistance a secondary consideration.Mar 12, 2023 at 8:42 pm #3775619Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
Thanks for the rundown Bill. To me decently breathable = doesn’t feel like wearing a plastic bag.
I’ve heard great things about ShakeDry from runners and cyclists (including people here like Mark V.). For backpacking I don’t think the durability is there. It seems like an ideal material for a trail running or cycling jacket when you’re not wearing a heavier pack for backpacking. I considered a Columbia ShakeDry jacket, but heard bad feedback on it so passed.
Manual ventilation from pit zips and the front zipper will always beat any material performance, so I always prefer a jacket with pit zips, unless a good ShakeDry jacket is really so good they’re not needed.
I’m really surprised the Marmot Precip makes the cut now – I had one many years ago and it felt like wearing a plastic bag, but maybe they’ve improved the material? Also heard good things about OR’s AscentShell.
I should have written I’d like a 7-12 oz jacket for 3 season use and a more durable 15-24 oz jacket for winter, so I’m open to a heavier jacket for winter. I’ve had jackets in both categories from Montbell, Patagonia and some other brands, as well as a winter soft shell. Also have used a wind shell for a long time (3-4 oz for 3 season use, and a heavier one for winter running and x-country skiing).
Aside from the Marmot Precip and AscentShell, which jackets performed best in Stephen Seeber’s testing? I’ll take a look at the report and hope there are some specific recommendations.
I’m familiar with the Army’s Extended Cold Weather Clothing System. Level 6 = Gore-tex Paclite jacket and pants, L7 is a synthetic parka and pants.
I’ve seen the Paramo/Buffalo material, it’s a very specific use case and on the heavy side.Mar 12, 2023 at 9:12 pm #3775624
Yes, I meant L6. Doh!
I’m really surprised the Marmot Precip makes the cut now – I had one many years ago and it felt like wearing a plastic bag, but maybe they’ve improved the material?
I wouldn’t interpret it that way. My interpretation is that the best WPBs are not very good. (And, yes, I own a 2022 Precip).
Columbia Outdry Extreme Mesh was mentioned recently. It might be a more rugged variant on the ShakeDry concept. Maybe. Would be nice to have more field reports. Probably still fragile with the membrane on the outside.
Some people like pitzips. I can only imagine that they are not wearing a pack. Pitzips don’t appear to do much when shoulder straps pinch off air flow from the front.
If you have been successful with wind shells, why change? If you are hoping for that magic that GoreTex has been promising for forty years, I think it is safe to say that they have not perfected it yet.Mar 12, 2023 at 9:24 pm #3775627
A report from the field – the Pyrenees in Europe.
Several showers each day – it’s the natural weather for there. So:
See approaching clouds
Drop pack and open it
Get jacket out
Put jacket on
Do up pack
Put pack on back
Walk for maybe 15-30 minutes until the rain has gone, then:
Drop pack and open it
Take jacket off
Pack jacket away
Do up pack
Need I explain how we got absolutely fed up with this?
So I made some ponchos for Sue and me. Now it goes like this:
After striking camp, if weather doubtful put poncho on pack (not on me)
When rain comes, flick poncho over me, while still walking
When rain stops, throw poncho back over pack, while still walking
In other words, the rain no longer affects us. And guess what? We stay dry.
CheersMar 12, 2023 at 9:43 pm #3775629
Yeah, your mountain poncho is awesome.
When are you going to start selling them? (I want the David Byrne-size Taslan shirt, too).Mar 12, 2023 at 11:32 pm #3775634Mar 13, 2023 at 1:12 am #3775636
I know. I mentioned your plans and the Packa somewhere early in the thread.
I have gotten as far as finding a sewing machine that I could use. Haven’t figured out how to string it yet. Or with what.
Even if I do, I have it on good authority that sewing is a craft. Hence my preference for gear made by a suitably experienced craftsman/person/thing. Which is why it would be cool if you would start a company, or at least license out your designs. I suppose that would mean less time in the Pyrenees though. Tradeoffs.
I think I’m pretty far away from making a shirt. Or a mountain poncho. Those hood instructions make me think about wearing a hat instead.
Packa could be a possibility. Not yet sold on its sleeves/weight/fabrics. I don’t currently spend much time above treeline, so not sure that I need all that. A regular zippered poncho might better fit my use case.
The shirt actually seems like the more important (and elusive) part of the system.
In the meantime, I plan to see what I can accomplish with fabric that does not require those folded-up edge things. What do you call them? Seams? Gonna try scissors on my Frogg Toggs poncho with Gorilla Tape reinforcements and snaps for my first attempt. Maybe elastic and clips if I get fancy.
IFF I ever develop any skill at all, then I suspect that I would put it to use on a multi-zoned garment. I kind of like Justin W’s concept. Wish I could find his old thread. I may just have to post my thoughts about it here. It is off-topic from Robert’s original question, but I guess the thread has wandered around a bit anyway.
I’m thinking that I don’t NEED a poncho if I could fix the usual problems with a rain jacket. Like removing the back completely, or using some kind of breathable mesh/monolite/Capilene-like stuff. Torso zips (like OR Foray) that open around the pack’s shoulder straps might solve the front problems. Shoulder and arm tops are the only part that need to be waterproof (maybe hood if used). The rest could just be tightly woven windshirt material. The vertical parts don’t need to be highly waterproof except in high wind. (The main advantage of a jacket is that it is easy to take the pack off.)
But that seems like a lot of work, and my front-zippered poncho has been fine so far.
A Hoody Pack Cover (HPC) over a windshirt could be an off-the-shelf zoned solution. Maybe I could talk LightHeartGear into adding zoned sleeves: Waterproof on top, breathable on the bottom?
Still, though, I keep coming back to the Taslan shirt as the primary puzzle to solve, because that is the most-used part of the system, isn’t it? None of the usual windshirts breathe as well as I want. My Ferrosi soft shell does, but it is too much for Summer rain. I need something lighter. My best candidate for a Summer windshirt is a Columbia Silver Ridge Lite PFG shirt. It is mostly a polyester sun shirt, but I recently discovered that it is a credible wind shirt as well. Over a Summer-weight base, it is good down to 40F/5C while hiking with a pack. Not quite as versatile as your shirt, but maybe as good as I can expect to find. Between the Silver Ridge and the Ferrosi I can cover a very wide range of conditions.Mar 13, 2023 at 7:34 am #3775652Alex RBPL Member
Shakedry is still available from Gore-wear. They have the R7 Shakedry Trail Hooded Jacket available for $300 while they work through the last of the PFE fabrics. Some other caveats on top of the price and known durability issues with Shakedry are the 6.2 oz weight, no pit-zips, only a single small breast pocket, European zipper orientation, and you can have it in any color, so long as it’s black.
But all those aside it’s a Shakedry you can actually buy.Mar 13, 2023 at 10:22 am #3775677William ChiltonBPL Member
Gonna try scissors on my Frogg Toggs poncho with Gorilla Tape reinforcements and snaps for my first attempt. Maybe elastic and clips if I get fancy.
I took a FT jacket, cut the back out, and taped in a pack cover made from a FT poncho, giving me an FT Packa, if you like. It was much easier than sewing.Mar 13, 2023 at 10:58 am #3775678
Nice. +1Mar 13, 2023 at 12:39 pm #3775683DWR DBPL Member
How do you get a Packa on if you are solo?????Mar 13, 2023 at 1:19 pm #3775689William ChiltonBPL Member
How do you get a Packa on if you are solo?????
The Packa first fits on your pack. Then you put your pack on and slide your arms into the sleeves of the Packa. It’s easier than putting a poncho on when you’re solo.Mar 13, 2023 at 3:00 pm #3775696Michael SirofchuckBPL Member
@mr_squishyLocale: Great Wet North
I live in a very rainy, marine climate and my go to jacket is a Columbia OutDry with pit zips. It isn’t breathable, but it is 100% waterproof and with pit zips I can vent fairly well.Mar 13, 2023 at 3:48 pm #3775699
The secret to my poncho design and I think the Packa is that it is tied to the pack.
The two straps hook under the shoulder straps so the poncho cannot blow away. The straps are sewn to a solid seam behind the neck.
What can I say? It works fine.
CheersMar 13, 2023 at 6:11 pm #3775710jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Roger: they (or is it you?) stole my idea!!! before I had it. Or maybe I thought of attaching the back panel of a poncho to the pack because I’d already heard about this, and forgot.
In any case, this simple attachment does make the notion of a poncho acceptable to me.
I don’t need the poncho to keep the contents of my pack dry: I use a Schnozzle and dry bags for that. But keeping it off my back and more open for ventilation—without blowing around!–is necessary. And without a belt across my belly. I may yet become a Poncho convert.
that said: my Rab Demand three ply event pullover is still going strong after many years. I doubt that it’s still being made. That’s worked brilliantly in cold heavy rains/sleet/snow. If the air is cold, I never sweat out from inside. I think it weighs in at jsut under 9 ounces.
no longer made. a Pity!Mar 13, 2023 at 9:03 pm #3775713
I dunno. I started making ponchos in 2007 (or maybe 2006).
Ventilation across the back? Too right!
CheersMar 13, 2023 at 10:32 pm #3775715Brett PeughBPL Member
Anymore I am leaning to jackets/poncho that are 100% waterproof and hopefully with some pitzips. I did try a AntiGravity gear jacket and the sizing just didn’t work so I am using a $25 one without pitzips from Decathalon. I used to have an OR Rampart but it finally started to degrade. Just not many jackets out there that are fully waterproof and I mainly need something in cold temps with low exetertion.Mar 14, 2023 at 6:50 pm #3775785Iago VazquezBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
I found that the Warbonnet and Timmermade offerings have much better fit and feel like higher quality than my Light Heart Gear pieces, which are much older.Mar 16, 2023 at 4:35 pm #3775961Edward HBPL Member
Roger bought 2 Packas before he invented his mountain poncho.Mar 16, 2023 at 5:47 pm #3776009
Roger bought 2 Packas before he invented his mountain poncho
I corresponded with the owner after I got the basic idea, but I have NOT bought any Packas. After all, I did not need to.
CheersMar 17, 2023 at 7:49 am #3776044John S.BPL Member
Edward H / thepacka dot com.Mar 17, 2023 at 10:49 am #3776065AK GranolaBPL Member
Roger, would your packa style poncho work in rough terrain? I’m thinking mild scrambling on rock, climbing over blowdown logs, etc. I’d be worried about tearing it, over a pair of rain pants and jacket. Maybe the risk of damage is the same. I do like that easy on/off without removing the pack.Mar 17, 2023 at 11:52 am #3776067Edward HBPL Member
Roger is correct and I was mistaken. I thought you bought a couple Packas, but I went back through my records this morning and could not find it. My apologies.
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