Begging for State of the Market Rain Jacket Report
Mar 25, 2023 at 5:45 pm #3777163
As I said, this poncho for for warm weather, and < 40F, use a rain jacket. I’d be silly to wear it at -5C in a gale, its not meant for that.
I already have a sleeved poncho. I really like this design as it breathes much better, at the cost of less protection. For >40F, good trade off.Mar 25, 2023 at 6:00 pm #3777164Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
When the weather is much above 0 C we don’t bother with a poncho. It would be too hot and sweaty. We just get wet and then dry off later. Being wet does not matter, as long as you are warm enough. After all, you go swimming, don’t you?
As for using our ponchos at -5 C in a gale – that is what these ponchos are meant for (and worse):
(Near Mt Blanc, Europe, in summer. The weather in the mountains . . .)
Yes, we had gloves and over-gloves, but we were climbing hard, and were warm enough. You can see the straps under the pack if you look closely. We had lunch in the Refuge at the top.
CheersMar 26, 2023 at 9:52 pm #3777325Robert SpencerBPL Member
@bspencerLocale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah
Thanks for the Adventure Alan link sent earlier by Wisner. He’s always a trusted resource, but in this case, his best of 2023 rain jackets are the heavier variety built for more serious rain than my occasional summer showers. The exception is his suggestion for the ever-popular OR Helium.
I tried that jacket many years ago and found the hood horrendous so even though OR probably addressed it (I hope so) I still find myself hesitant. The new men’s Helium looks more or less unchanged from recent iterations, but the women’s model added two zippered hand pockets instead of the usual single chest pocket. Sadly, the pockets sit right where the hip belt usually goes. Sorry but I have to keep looking.
Maybe it’s been talked about, but Arc Teryx came out with some new jackets. Despite the name, the new Beta Lightweight is heavier than the Beta (13.4 vs 10.6 oz) probably due to a more robust 40D fabric. Maybe it replaces the Beta LT (13.9 oz) although both are listed on the website. Hard to keep up with all the name variations.
For the same weight (6.7 oz.) and price ($400), the new Norvan Shell joins the Norvan LT Hoody. Slightly different fabrics, but both have Goretex with C-knit backer. Both are geared toward the running world I think. I assume the new is phasing out the old.
Finally, there is the new Ralle Lightweight Jacket (9.2 oz) with 13 D Goretex with C-knit backer as well. Not sure where the extra weight comes from, but maybe this one will be a contender for hikers and not just runners.
Maybe this is just the usual dance of “new and revised” options, but one can hope better and more innovative is around the corner. Of course, the poncho crowd is rolling their eyes.Mar 26, 2023 at 10:59 pm #3777327
Robert: I wouldn’t rely on Adventure Alan. OR Helium doesn’t exactly get rave reviews from people who own them. It’s main strength is being light and packable, but it isn’t known for being reliably waterproof. Nor is it tops at breathability. So kind of mediocre performance in general.
Montbell Versalite looks like a far superior jacket in that category. Or watch Rab for a new version of their Phantom when it comes out this Spring (presumably soon).
But if you want reliably waterproof and as-breathable-as-you’re-gonna-get, then ShakeDry and Outdry are really the only games in town, as you pointed out in your OP. (Or Frogg Toggs Ultralight, which is a budget version of the ShakeDry/Outdry concept. Probably not as breathable as either of them, but I have never seen a test report for it.)
Stephen Seeber tested the recent Columbia Outdry Extreme Mesh at 2720 MVTR, which is slightly better than EE Visp or ZPacks Vertice and it’s Outdry so not prone to wet-out like virtually all other WPBs.
If you want a jacket, that appears to be a top contender.
As Mark Verber pointed out, Montbell’s Japanese site still lists the Peak Dry Shell, which has the top-measured MVTR of any of Seeber’s rain jacket tests (see Table 2). I have never seen a negative report on that jacket.
If you wear a pack, then I wouldn’t get too distracted by pit zips (or lack of them). They work best without a pack.
The jacket-vs-poncho debate appears to come down to expected conditions. For dry climates, WPBs with face fabrics may perform well enough that people buy them. Many of us in more humid climates have never seen them work as advertised. I have seen reports that GoreTex works great in Antarctica and Afghanistan.
Either way, though, having an outer face fabric is, at best, a maintenance issue. If you want bulletproof water resistance, then it’s either ShakeDry/Outdry/Frogg Toggs UL or permanently waterproof.
Timmermade makes waterproof jackets in silpoly and Dyneema. His Mega-Zip Pullover has a unique zipper arrangement for side ventilation under a pack. I mentioned LightheartGear and AntiGravity Gear previously.
That is pretty much the current state-of-the-market report that you requested. Spring season is coming, so there will be new models soon. Other than the new-ish Columbia Outdry Extreme Mesh, I haven’t seen any rumors of any better technology in the works. On the contrary, it appears that ShakeDry is expected to fade away. Perhaps it will be replaced eventually, and that is something to look forward to. But, as I write this, that is still just one possible future.Mar 27, 2023 at 8:05 am #3777332
I have tried the OR Helium rain Jacket a few times and I could never get it beyond 20 minutes in a shower. Not waterproof.Mar 27, 2023 at 8:56 am #3777342Robert SpencerBPL Member
@bspencerLocale: Sierras of CA and deserts of Utah
Thanks Brett. I will steer clear of the Helium. Your comments make me question Pertex Shield in general. I thought the knock was on breathability more than waterproofness.
Good overview Bill. It’s disappointing that a product like Shakedry with some promising reviews is going away, but maybe something down the road to look forward to like you said.
Do you have any info on a new Rab jacket in the spring? Are you referring to the Cinder Phantom Jacket? Marketed to the cycling crew, but impressive at just over 3 ounces with full zip and hood. Again, the Pertex Shield dilemma.Mar 27, 2023 at 9:05 am #3777343
@ Victor For the Warbonnet Stash jacket, how durable is the 30D fabric? Or what would you compare it to? Thank you.Mar 27, 2023 at 9:28 am #3777344
I’ve been researching the topic of back packing rain coats a bit obsessively for the last year. Our Canadian Shield summers are swampy, hot, very humid with rains that can last for a day or two and black fly, deer fly and mosquito infestations that are relentless. Tough conditions for any rain gear.
I almost went with AGG but they dropped the grey colour, and now only carry blue, scientifically shown to be preferred by black flies, and orange, scientifically shown to be preferred by mosquitos. AGG responded to my query telling me people aren’t buying grey. Looks like market is driving fashion over function.
I’ve read many reports of the Helium wetting out, the Frog Toggs UL being very fragile, LH Gear leaking, Visp wetting out and getting clammy, Black Diamond Stormline Stretch having too large a hood (meant to go over helmets), Marmot Precip Eco being very sweaty despite it’s good bench MTVR and still wetting out, Eddie Bauer Cloud Cap Stretch not breathing well. The 3L construction has some better luck not wetting out, but I find it a tough sell @ $500C & almost 1lb, with still marginal breathability. Shake Dry reportedly doesn’t work long term under packs
One that looks interesting is the Marmot Bantamweight, 2.5L, 5.6 oz, good reports so far but not many field reports.
In a bag with zips approach, the Warbonnet Stash look interesting. 30D 2000mm, 5.6 oz, packs down tiny, reasonable pricing. Anyone here give this a serious rain work out? 2000mm is not much. I’ve read promising reports of jackets that take the pit zips to or almost to hem like the Stash, opening from the bottom, less air blockage from straps.Mar 27, 2023 at 9:59 am #3777349
Robert, I don’t know anything special about Rab’s plans, other than their current Phantoms are only available in a few sizes. Typically that is a sign of a new product coming. As you say, it appears to be similar to Helium. Montbell Versalite at least is GoreTex Windstopper; many reviewers have been happy with it, although some have moved on to other solutions.
David D, that’s good to know about colors. Light grey is my favorite Summer color; glad that it won’t be a bug magnet.
I have a Frogg Toggs Ultralight. While it isn’t tough in any way, I wouldn’t call it “fragile”. Just don’t snag it (or most other fabrics) on thorns or scrape it against boulders and canyon walls. It is my “backup”; reliably waterproof, light weight, windproof. Easy to fix or replace if/when necessary. It seems to breathe some, but it isn’t comfy like a soft shell.
I haven’t seen any actual usage reports about ShakeDry disintegrating under pack straps. That is mostly speculation. It’s an expensive experiment, so I don’t think many have tested it. If your pack fits right, then most of the weight won’t be on your shoulders anyway.
Some people like umbrellas as well. I think the common issues with WPB membranes are the reason why there are so very many varieties of rain gear. Nothing is perfect, and there is no real issue with being wet, as long as you are warm and can dry quickly when you get out of the rain.
For ultralight reliably waterproof, a $1 emergency poncho could be a backup plan.Mar 27, 2023 at 8:30 pm #3777404HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
Its properties (totally impermeable for the DCF rainwear) and use, alongside other serious jackets, need to be taken into account. Was kicking the tires on the basic DCF pullover then saw it is really warm and probably winter-only. So there’s adding a chest zip and keeping the bottom loose to vent. Maybe. I run pretty hot while hiking, so a chest zip could be useful at stops. Analysis paralysis..
Where L = layers
Eddie Bauer 3L [and] Marmot Bantamweight, 2.5L
The 3L vs 2.5L decision is the nature of the beast. 3L will be more durable/thicker, while 2.5L will generally be lighter/not as durable even DWR-wise, with some exceptions like the (discontinued) Montane 777 which was 3L of 7d fabrics, one being WPB Pertex Shield, another looking like 7d ripstop fabric (maybe the Vertice and Visp from US makers took up too much market share?). Trying to get the perfect 0.5L for the 2.5L seems pretty tough though to keep sweat and oils away from the membrane .. seen patterns, sprayed on microscopic rocks, etc… Thinking about a 3L Patagonia rain jkt with pockets and lifetime warranty.. call it a day then wait out better tech, anorak designs, etc…
Then there’s intended use. Expedition mountaineering in the cold/wet will demand a more durable garment. Most weekend backpackers avoid the cold rain however, and even if used, maybe just launder the jacket/reapply DWR according to instructions if it wets out a bit. Even thru hiking season mostly out west takes advantage of only brief showers, though there will be tales of true misery if hit with days of constant rain at altitude .. the same w/weeklong trips. Granted I’d likely bring a sil poncho or similar device on most of the AT’s general area in warmer months.Mar 28, 2023 at 10:50 am #3777451
Hi Bill, I’ve been using a Patagonia Houdini unzipped in light rain and then a $1 emergency poncho for when its heavier (carry 2 @ 1.6 oz each), but the emergency poncho is really hot under a packMar 28, 2023 at 6:17 pm #3777500HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: The West is (still) the Best
Researching the typical rainjacket, ran into this from Arc’teryx. The short version is they recommend reapplying the DWR for every 10-12 “heavy” rain days of their shells ..
The desert Southwest US gets afternoon summer rains, so I could see that being extended out to a few weeks if on a long backpacking trip there. Of course that’s Arc’teryx.
Other types may need more frequent service.Mar 29, 2023 at 6:03 am #3777523Stephen SeeberBPL Member
The posting says heavy activity. Not heavy rain. That seems to be the sad truth with the C6 chemicals. I have no idea how any of the PFC free treatments last.Mar 29, 2023 at 3:25 pm #3777573Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I don’t think it is specific to the C6 chemicals. I think that any very thin film put on fibres can be rubbed off fairly easily. In the case of the silicones, they can also be (slowly) washed off.
Mind you, a solid layer as in a silnylon fabric is going to last a very long time in comparison.
CheersMar 29, 2023 at 8:48 pm #3777587Weekend Gear GuideBPL Member
Stephen, have a look at GTT Empel’s PFC-free DWR (2 samples: 0 washed fabric and 10x washed fabric) vs C6 DWR (2 samples: 0 washed fabric and 10x washed) put through the ISO 9865 Bundesmann Rain Test:
The test seems to show that Empel’s PFC-free DWR (both the 10x washed fabric and 0x washed fabric) remain dry, while both the 10x washed and 0x washed C6 DWR treated fabrics wet out.
Here’s another ISO 9865 Bundesmann Rain Test with Empel PFC-free DWR vs C6 vs C8 test, again showing Empel winning out again.
While these videos from GTT Empel are definitely marketed towards their favor, it would be interesting to see whether Black Diamand’s GTT Empel PFC-free DWR jackets achieve similar results vs existing C6 and newer alternative PFC-free DWR jackets from Patagonia and Arc’teryx.Mar 31, 2023 at 9:33 am #3777704Ross BleakneyBPL Member
I think any “state of the art” rain jacket report would need to set some parameters, otherwise there is just too much to cover. This started out as a discussion of jackets (note the title) and yet it is mostly a discussion of ponchos. They are similar, but not the same thing.
Even within jackets there is a wide range. There are several considerations, like cost, durability, weight, breathability and how waterproof it is. I’ve tended to focus on the ultralight end of things. I used to use a Propore jacket, which was fairly light, breathable and cheap, but ridiculously fragile. After going through a few of those, I got this jacket. I’ve had this for a few years, and it still works. Those Phantom jackets look similar. Ultralight, breathable and yet reasonably durable.
But for some, it isn’t enough. I can easily see how people want a jacket that is more breathable, for example. I have no interest in pit zips — when it rains, it is usually reasonably cold. But there are other parts of the world where being able to vent is as important as rain protection. Likewise, I’ve been in steady, heavy rain with my current jacket, but not the biggest storms I’ve ever encountered. It is possible it would “wet out” at some point, but I’ll take my chances. Likewise, I’ve caught my arms on branches that would have ripped my Propore jacket to threads, but it is fine. At the same time, though, I wouldn’t go bushwhacking with it. I also have no idea how long my jacket will last (I’m hoping 20 years, but who knows?).
Then there are jackets that aren’t waterproof. Like ponchos, they are a different beast. It is all about trade-offs. Any state-of-the-market report would have to focus on a particular category. For example, ultralight breathable jackets. Setting the cut-off point is difficult. Maybe 4 ounces for men’s medium, give or take. The tricky part is that one of the key features with any jacket is durability, and that is hard to test over a short period.Apr 1, 2023 at 3:01 pm #3777824MontmolarSpectator
IMO nothing comes close to Shakedry performance in terms of WP/B and weight.
Thus it’s a real shame they’ll discontinue it.
I personally just stocked up on jackets and hope to be using it for years to come.
PS: Never had a problem with durability – even while mountaineering / climbing.Apr 3, 2023 at 9:13 am #3777957
I wonder if they’re gonna replace Shakedry with a new version once they have ePE figured out?
With it essentially off the market and impossible to find except for a few specific sizes, it seems like Columbia Outdry Ex is the only alternative left on the market.
:-/Apr 3, 2023 at 11:32 am #3777972
Also, does anyone remember when Marmot announced EvoDry several years ago as a sort of permanent DWR or waterproofing? Seems like the Marmot Eclipse and Phoenix fizzled and EvoDry has “evo-vaporated” (pun, haha) from the market.Apr 3, 2023 at 11:47 am #3777974Chris LBPL Member
Having used a Gore Shakedry relatively extensively in prolonged wet weather, it’s been major game changer for me. The non absorbent outer dramatically improves breathability in wet weather, reduces dry times, and the reduction in evaporative cooling has been a surprising side benefit in cold, wet, and windy weather. No other rain jacket has come close to matching it’s comfort for me.
Durability is definitely a concern, although with some care, I’ve had no issues. It’s definitely not a jacket for bushwhacking, but so far I’ve seen no issues from wearing under a 20-45# pound pack.
I don’t think it’s the perfect fabric, but I do strongly believe that the nonabsorbent outer shell is the way forward. It’s a bummer to see a lack of innovation in this direction. Maybe it’s the lack of curb appeal for the casual user?Apr 3, 2023 at 11:52 am #3777975
Curb appeal: Could be. I have similar thoughts about Outdry Ex from Columbia. I bet the shiny look turns off a lot of people.Apr 3, 2023 at 11:56 am #3777976
strongly believe that the nonabsorbent outer shell is the way forward. It’s a bummer to see a lack of innovation in this direction. Maybe it’s the lack of curb appeal for the casual user?
Agreed that membrane-on-the-outside is the way forward.
Maybe the high Price:Durability ratio is part of it? Frogg Toggs sells a ton of membrane-on-the-outside at $20-30. People don’t care much about durability at that price. Perhaps they care more at 10x+?
Nevertheless, I wish it were more available; not less.Apr 6, 2023 at 7:27 pm #3778258GumboBPL Member
@redgumLocale: Aussie in exile in the PNW
have a look at GTT Empel’s PFC-free DWR
Videos look amazing. I dug around, and found this Feb 2023 DWR 101 blog post from snow apparel company Trew. They mention using Empell GTT in a couple of their products, though interestingly both products appear to be discontinued, and no other reference to Empel can be found on their web site. The blog post goes on to say that:
However, today, for laminated fabrics like the waterproof fabrics that we are using, there is a steep enough decline in performance of C0 options as to give us pause for full integration in our most waterproof and durable product lines.Apr 6, 2023 at 8:11 pm #3778264
Marmot EvoDry uses or is based on Empel GTT. Or it was. I think all EvoDry jackets have been discontinued.Apr 6, 2023 at 9:00 pm #3778268
Is it me or is the uber tech side of this stuff just in free fall? I just wish they still made things like the OR Rampart. Thick 70D, PU, full Torso zips, waterproof outside fabric, all the pockets were mesh, inner and out storm flap, great hood. 15oz for an XXL. I have my old one where the inside coating was deteriorating but now I am thinking, I water down some seam sealer, coat the outside of the jacket and just keep wearing it. If I could sew I would make Roger’s though.
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