Begging for State of the Market Rain Jacket Report
A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!
Home › Forums › Gear Forums › Gear (General) › Begging for State of the Market Rain Jacket Report
- This topic has 147 replies, 38 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks, 3 days ago by David D.
Apr 7, 2023 at 2:16 am #3778281John S.BPL Member
Brett said, “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.”
That, or seam seal the seams only and DWR the outside. I may try that with an old Golite rain jacket.Apr 10, 2023 at 10:01 am #3778548
The Montbell Versalite rain jacket seems to have a good reputation and not surprisingly it has come up in this thread as a good option in the very light category. What was surprising to me is that it uses Goretex Infinium which is listed only as water-resistant (not part of Gore’s Guaranteed to Keep You Dry grouping). So “water resistant” is one of the better jackets to keep me dry (besides Shakedry, ponchos, and Goretex Pro)? BTW for an extra ounce in Montbell’s line, you go from the Versalite to the Torrent Flier which gets you into Gore’s “waterproof” family.
I know that “waterproof/breathable” is somewhat of a misnomer and many of you have gone to full waterproof only jackets or easier-to-vent ponchos, but I agree that the technology is somewhat lost, looking for a place to land. Testing, promising, discontinuing?Apr 10, 2023 at 10:54 am #3778553
Yes. Although we have had Gore-Tex for 40 or 50 years, the waterproof-breathable dream has yet to be fully achieved. Montbell Versalite is an excellent example of the tradeoffs between waterproofness and breathability. The Torrent Flier uses Paclite, which is substantially less breathable than Infinium.
Side Note: I see that the Torrent Flier is on closeout, and the Peak Dry Shell is gone from Montbell’s USA site (still on the Japanese site). I wonder if that means we can expect new garments from Montbell soon?
People like their Versalites. The reason that I have never bought one is that, like most WPBs (including Gore-Tex Pro), it requires DWR for breathability, which is unreliable in practice.
It has been suggested that permanent DWR would reduce the need for a WPB membrane. Attempts to do that (EPIC and Empel) have, so far, been unsuccessful in that goal without compromising breathability. I’m not a fabric expert, but the examples of both that Stephen Seeber has tested were unremarkable in MVTR and CFM. My military-surplus PCU L4 is more rain resistant than other wind shells I have tried, but it isn’t waterproof, and my other wind shells breathe better.
So, yes, the market is in turmoil. To be fair, it has been in turmoil as long as Gore has existed. Before Gore we used 60-40 parkas for wind and light rain, and fully waterproof gear for heavy rain. Nobody expected to stay dry in the rain. Some of us still don’t.
If I wanted a reliably-waterproof jacket with the highest breathability currently available in all sizes, the Columbia Outdry Extreme Mesh appears to be the only remaining choice. However, it is not as breathable as a wind shell, nor as well ventilated as a poncho or umbrella. Tradeoffs.Apr 10, 2023 at 11:12 am #3778557Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
You’d have to go through Google to search backpackinglight.com for “Goretex infinium” or “montbell versalite” because there have been some discussions about this in the past.
Here’s what I recall, but I could be remembering incorrectly.
There’s speculation that Infinium is actually an older version of the ePTFE membrane used in other GoreTex jackets, or maybe a modified version. That maybe it lacks some components that are required to deliver on Gore’s “Guaranteed to keep you dry” guarantee. One of the components could be a thin PU coating on the inside that prevents the Waterproof membranes from getting fouled by contaminants (dirt, sweat, oils).
It seems that MontBell’s use of the Infinium membrane in the Versalite as a waterproof jacket is “off label” so to speak. They make it work by seam sealing which is unique of any GoreTex Infinium/Windstopper garment.
I don’t remember there being any verification of this speculation from either W.L. Gore & Associates or from MontBell. So, it could be wildly inaccurate, or I could have even remembered some of the details wrong. Please take with a heavy grain of salt.
With GoreTex moving away from PTFE to PU, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Versalite in the future.Apr 17, 2023 at 11:54 am #3779112
I found another front-zippered poncho from OneTigris. This one has semi-sleeves and is much longer to accommodate large packs. It is large enough to pitch as a shelter. Listed as 22.5oz/640g, including stakes and guylines.
The SaphiRose front-zippered poncho mentioned previously weighs about 10oz/290g.
IME the front zippers add more ventilation options. Also easier on/off.Apr 17, 2023 at 12:39 pm #3779117Glen LBPL Member
@wyatt-carsonLocale: Southern Arizona
We live in arid country where we can go over a hundred days without rain so probably not near the experience as others but with the canyons climbing into the mountains we do need rain gear for safety. I’ve worn the OR Helium rain jacket and pants some in the winter months and find them comfortable. They each weigh about 6 oz. I don’t think they would be a good choice for bushwhacking. This is what I keep onboard these days. It is a little breathable.
The eVent parka I got on sale in 2006 is super breathable and has a tough outer fabric. It is heavy and bulky but still keeps me dry. It’s more of a townie jacket anymore. Don’t know why they haven’t done more with eVent.
The Snugpak Patrol poncho keeps us and our packs dry down to our knees. It weighs 11 or 12 oz. It is a very shelterous garment. It isn’t breathable but fits loosely with half sleeves to keep the arms dry and doesn’t flat badly in the wind. The sides are not open but built like a muumuu with sleeves. It’s tough enough for some bushwhacking.Apr 17, 2023 at 12:48 pm #3779119Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
One of my first jackets was made of eVent and I thought it was fantastic in terms of breathability. It was a minimalist jacket with pit zips and a napolean pocket but no handwarmer pockets.
Looks like the eVent brand and IP changed hands several times:
Now living under: https://www.eventfabrics.com/products/outerwear/
Searching around, it seems that very few products are currently in production using the DVAlpine, DVExpedition, or DVStorm variants of eVent as they are now called.Apr 17, 2023 at 8:40 pm #3779142David DBPL Member
I spent a few hours looking for other longer lightweight front zip ponchos but the only one I came across was the packa for $230Can
If a non zip is worth thinking about, the S2S ultra-sil nano at $140Can is 5.5oz, this onewind cheep ($40Can) and cheerful 9oz poncho adds ~ 9″ length vs the SafiRose (even comes smelling like fish) and Exped makes a 8.3oz poncho that can fit over a 100L pack (unobtanium here)
A poncho is a hot weather item and the front zip makes too much sense to give up in those conditions. If my butt gets wet in the Safi, so be it, it’ll be an interesting experiment.Apr 18, 2023 at 12:23 am #3779151
the front zip makes too much sense to give up
Yes, that is my experience; front-zip required. I sliced open the front of my Frogg Toggs poncho as an experiment. Will report back after I get a chance to try it. I’m thinking snaps at first, but I may have to learn to sew. (Around here, rain mostly falls down, so coverage doesn’t matter much unless it is also windy).
The OneTigris poncho looks a lot like the SMD Gatewood Cape (the Cape weighs half as much but costs more). I just realized that the Gatewood Cape may have a front zipper. I’ve looked at it several times in the past, but the text doesn’t mention a front zipper and the picture isn’t great. On close inspection, it’s there, I think.
That brings the number of front-zipper poncho choices up to four: SaphiRose, OneTigris, Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape, and Packa. Plus Roger’s Mountain Poncho for MYOG-ers.Apr 18, 2023 at 7:23 am #3779156Dustin VBPL Member
The Gatewood Cape does have a front zipper, adjustable from top or bottom. However, it is huge when worn (like wearing a tent) even with the sides snapped up which puts it at about knee level. The arm slits put it at about mid-forearm. Mine came with a little shock cord to use as a belt or clothesline or extra tie-out… I wouldn’t want to go bushwhacking in it, though.Apr 18, 2023 at 9:46 am #3779178David DBPL Member
Hi Dustin, I saw the Gatewood but once you add $50 shipping to Can and convert to $C, it costs a liverApr 18, 2023 at 12:58 pm #3779196
For sure there are less expensive ways to shelter from rain, but people actually camp in Gatewood Capes. SMD offers a net inner tent that weighs 11oz. That’s 22oz for both shelter and front-zippered poncho. It’s not luxurious (or inexpensive), but it sure is lightweight.
I like the suggestion of carrying a $1 Coghlan’s emergency poncho to wear around camp while setting up the cape-shelter.Apr 18, 2023 at 6:21 pm #3779227JCHBPL Member
This is an excerpt from a review by Cameron Windham of the Gatewood cape from the SMD website:
Not to be understated, this badboy can be set up while you are still wearing it. That means that I don’t even have to take my pack off during a storm to get it pitched. This particular maneuver takes some practice, but trust me, with the longevity of the tent in mind, you will have plenty of time to perfect this art. It also makes a great conversation piece, as everyone is curious and a little skeptical to start, followed by intrigued, followed by sold in pretty much every introduction that is made.
I would pay good money to see that demonstrated!Apr 18, 2023 at 9:50 pm #3779234
DWR’s are totally the achilles heels of waterproof breathable fabrics.
I did a Suter (hydrostatic) Waterhead test on a garment yesterday that a customer had returned as he believed it was “leaking”. I tested the garment in five seperate places, all of them over seams which is a real potential leak point. The jacket passed with flying colours, which I expected.
The thing that blew my mind was how COLD the fabric felt, on the inside surface (not the wet outside), at the point where the tests were taken. Noticeably cold. The water used in the machine had come straight from the tap, so not that cold. I was in a warm office and the jacket had been sitting on my desk, so it was at room temperature. I did discuss with a colleague whether an IR Thermometer would have been able to pick up the actual temp difference between the “dry” and “wetted out” areas. Anyway I’m rambling. My point is, where the jacket fabric had wetted out the outside surface fabric was noticeably cooler than the air temperature, if I had been wearing the jacket my perspiration would have definitely condensed on the cold surface of that fabric, on the inside.
Robert Spencer commented further up in the discussion that due to some comments about the OR Helium he is now questioning Pertex Shield, be careful with those thoughts. I have a test sheet from a certified testing lab of 17 different Pertex Shield fabric configurations, all with wildly different test results. It not just the membrane that affects the performance, or lack there of….one Shield is not necessarily the same as another…
I’m not even sure if what I just typed is relevant or interesting.
Cheers, Scott in NZApr 18, 2023 at 10:14 pm #3779235
Both relevant and interesting, Scott.
BPL does a terrific job of investigation; trying to understand what is going on with technical fabrics, because the industry sure isn’t going to tell us.
It’s really nice when someone well-informed chimes in.
Agreed that DWR is the problem. If we had truly good DWR, then we wouldn’t be so dependent on WPB membranes. The idea of “permanent” DWR is appealing, but not when they compromise breathability.Apr 19, 2023 at 2:06 pm #3779258
Scott, your comments are very helpful and always welcomed. Do you care to pass along those test results from the lab regarding Pertex Shield?
I’m afraid to see the list because I ended up purchasing a Montane Minimus Jacket which checked the boxes in weight (6.5 ounces), hood design (coverage to the nose) and simplicity (no extras). It helped that it was on sale since this version is discontinued.
Of course, I am trusting the Pertex Shield will be waterproof enough and durable enough. Breathability is less critical to me.Apr 19, 2023 at 2:23 pm #3779261jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“One of my first jackets was made of eVent and I thought it was fantastic in terms of breathability.”
I bought a first generation event jacket by REI that was pretty good. Then I got a Rab Demand three ply Event smock that I still have many years later. This last has been rock solid for me in terms of keeping me dry in long soaks, plus it’s been durable. Light too! (well, for the times. 9.7 ounces.) I was happy to carry the extra few ounces in exchange for a true three ply garment. It simply didn’t wet through, even in driving rain. Of course it’s been discontinued, as all good things eventually are. I can’t really speak as to the Rab’s breathability as temps tended to be cold when I needed it most over long hours–rainy, but cold. So I wasn’t sweating all that much. I think manufacturers began going with 2.5 and 2. layers in order to shave ounces, and performance may have suffered. Here’s some images for those who like to walk down memory lane.
Yes, I reapply DWR refreshers at the start of the season and maybe once more come late season. Once you accept the ground rules, it’s not that big of a deal.Apr 19, 2023 at 4:14 pm #3779266
Hi Robert, I am not able to do that sorry, it is sensitive IP. The other thing is that you would still need to make an educated guess about what the actual fabric used in that particular garment. Pertex Shield is basically a marketing name for any number of fabrics using the same membrane. An apparel manufacturer can (to a certain extent) have a fabric “built” to their own specifications/requirements OR you can rely of the expertise in Pertex and select an “off the shelf” fabric that closest fits your requirements. The MOQs are much lower on these fabrics, but still pretty high for a little business like ours!
I have asked Pertex repeatedly if they are developing a membrane on the outside type fabric but they say no. It’s not durable enough is my take away from those meetings/questions.
My experience here, dealing with end users, has shown up mostly a lack of understanding and completely unrealistic expectations. I asked a customer the other day if they have ever ridden up a hill in a cycling jersey (no jacket) on a mild day and arrived at the top and noticed that that were damp, or that their cycling jersey was damp? Of course they said yes! Yet, that same person was complaining that they got “wet” whilst wearing a waterproof breathable garment on a 15°C day in the rain. They were totally over-dressed for the conditions, and consequently overheated, but couldn’t see that as the issue because they were wearing a waterproof breathable jacket! I ended up refunding them for the jacket because they had lost faith in the garment and it was an argument I was never going to win!Apr 19, 2023 at 7:46 pm #3779286
I can see both sides. Yes, he should never have expected a WPB garment to actually be very breathable. On the other hand, what if he didn’t know that and made his purchase based on the label’s claim?
Yes, his expectations were entirely unrealistic. But where did those expectations come from? Could fifty years of misleading advertising be involved?
Agreed that lack of understanding is the core issue. It is less clear where the fault lies.
The customer was at least fortunate to have you involved in the transaction. Must be frustrating sometimes.Apr 19, 2023 at 9:12 pm #3779291
Thanks for the extra insight, Scott. Had to ask.
I used to work at a gear store and the customer demands for conflicting characteristics were downright comical — lightweight and durable, waterproof and breathable, cutting edge and dirt cheap, etc. But now that I’m wearing the consumer hat I have admittedly slipped into greedy backpacker mode.
So NZ Scott, what is your go-to rain jacket?Apr 19, 2023 at 9:31 pm #3779294LARRY WBPL Member
I avoided this thread because it is obvious that the simplest and lightest way to make a waterproof raincoat is with a silicone fabric. Lightheart gear makes a raincoat with outside silicone but not the inside. There are a few improvement that could be made to their design IMO though. I’ll skip that because that is not the focus of the thread.
I have three raincoats and a packa. All three are waterproof. One is a three layer goretex with two zips in the front (LOL) to make sure no rain could possibly get past. Bought it in New Zealand in ’98/99, I forget. Thick fabric. Yes it is the warmest. The others are made of thinner fabric. They radiate more cold through. My personal belief is that that is why people espouse so many different opinions on what rain gear to wear in cold rainy conditions. In cool/warm conditions ventilation is the key. Active 60F, no rain gear till you stop. Maybe lower but wanted to be a bit conservative. I have run a rainy marathon in the 40’s (F) and overheated in a wpb rain jacket.
Anyway to make a point forget waterproof breathable and try for waterproof. If you feel still feel cold you need a warmer base layer or you need to generate more heat. If you are a crossing guard ask me to sell you my 30 oz. Katmandu rain jacket. ( just weighed it, ha). It really is warm though. But no more rainproof than my 6 oz. jacket. And less breathable by far.
If you think your rain gear is too hot you need to take it off, or add pit zips and a way to allow air to flow from the front. Think two way zipper like cyclists use. Or a mesh chest pocket. And if you don’t use a backpack a opening covered by a flap in the back. Anyway this can be done. Or give up and use a Packa and some shockcord. Come on you guys can sew. It’s not that hard. Nobody has made anything completely optimal maybe, but those are the components. And cheaper than chasing a damn unicorn. OK I’m out.Apr 19, 2023 at 9:55 pm #3779295jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“Could fifty years of misleading advertising be involved?”
Are you shocked, shocked, to discover that ads can be misleading? Really? I think it’s a given that folks should do a bit of due diligence before buying. It’s easy enough to discover the limits of WPB garments before buying. Or you’ll discover it for yourself and soon enough adjust your expectations. More importantly, you can figure out effective ways to keep dry and warm while using these garments.
I’m not disappointed when my toothpaste doesn’t make me smile like Brad Pitt, as the ads imply. It does, however, do a pretty good job at keeping my teeth healthy, when used as directed.Apr 19, 2023 at 10:08 pm #3779296
But your toothpaste doesn’t cost over $500!Apr 19, 2023 at 10:24 pm #3779297
Interesting question Robert, of course I have to say a Pertex Shield garment that the company I work for uses ;-) BUT I do test plenty of other Pertex fabrics. My current favourite is a Pertex Shield AIR version. As this is a personal interest (obsession) of mine I also (stupidly) spend my own money on other brands jackets to test – mostly based off Stephen Seeber’s recommendations. I tried, and really liked a Kathmandu ShakeDry garment, but found it too fragile (managed to put several pinprick holes in it, still miffed as to how or where), and this is my current favourite https://www.macpac.co.nz/macpac-mens-tempo-rain-jacket/120107.html?dwvar_120107_color=High%20Rise&dwvar_120107_clearance=no#start=8 .I have been testing this fabric for work also.
I am keen to try the OR Helium Ascentshell but I’m not prepared to shell out (see what I did there?) $699.99, my obsession has a monetary limit ;-)Apr 19, 2023 at 11:03 pm #3779299
Larry, Kathmandu were still making that same jacket in 2005 when I worked there! I am racking my brain for the model name, it’ll come to meThat jacket probably has a similar level of DWR now as it did then, but that is unacceptable from an environmental standpoint now – rightly so I might add.
I totally agree with the thinner fabrics radiating more cold through them, it is astounding how much difference the thickness of a waterproof breathable fabric makes to comfort. This is why 2.5 layers are so bad IMHO – 3l all the way for me.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.
Gear Research & Discovery Tools
- Browse our curated Gear Shop
- See the latest Gear Deals and Sales
- Our Recommendations
- Search for Gear on Sale with the Gear Finder
- Used Gear Swap
- Member Gear Reviews and BPL Gear Review Articles
- Browse by Gear Type or Brand.