The RaidLight HyperLight MP+ Waterproof Jacket is one of the lightest no-frills rain jackets on the market. Though designed for the storm-surprised trail runner, the soft finish quality and 3 oz (85 g) weight could be attractive to a minimalist-minded backpacker looking for an ultralight waterproof layer. In this review, we specifically examine the women’s version, but a men’s version is available as well.
Features and Specifications
- Stuffs into hood pocket for storage
- Taped seams
- Slim fit
- Watch window on left wrist
- Elastic wrist cuffs
- Thumb loops
- Elastic hood with slim visor
- Elastic waist
- Reflective strips on hood, back, and arms
- Soft, quiet fabric
All manufacturer-reported specifications for the RaidLight Hyperlight MP+, including weight, are identical for the men’s and women’s version.
- Weight: 3.0 oz (85g)
- Waterproof rating: 20k mm
- Breathability rating: 25k
- Membrane: 4-Way Stretch MP+ Membrane
- Zipper: waterproof
- Membrane: 100% Polyurethane
- Shell: 100% Polyamide
- Finish: DWR treatment
I spend close to 200 days a year in the backcountry as a professional educator and guide. I’m continually trying to improve my rain-jacket game. I consider it a mandatory piece of equipment because it can be the difference between comfort and discomfort. In very cold, wet, and windy conditions – it’s a safety item as well.
I’m always searching for a jacket that is lightweight and compact enough to “forget about” in my pack and yet gives me full protection during an all-day storm. I want a jacket that performs equally well during active pursuits like hiking and scrambling as well as passive activities like cooking and providing first aid.
I ask myself the following questions when choosing a rain jacket:
- What level of rain will this handle? A sprinkle? A deluge? A monsoon?
- How easily can I pack it? Will it fit in an easily accessible part of my pack?
- Will it function as a multi-use piece of gear? Can it be used as a wind shell? A pack cover? An insulator?
- What are the bushwacking capabilities of this layer? How well will hold up to abrasion?
- Is this harmonious with my current layering system?
Description of Field Testing
I primarily tested the Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ on a 10-day backpacking trip in Big Sur, California. Luckily for this review, it has been a rainy spring in central California. We experienced 4 in (10 cm) of rain during our trip. When it wasn’t raining, we were “swimming” through Pacific coast fog. Temperatures ranged from the low 70s to the low 40s.
I also tested the Hyperlight MP+ while:
- Trail running through mist
- Standing under waterfalls in Zion National Park
- Cycling through light rain
I evaluated the RaidLight Hyperlight MP+ by the following criteria:
- Finish quality
- Durability & Breathability
Taped seams are a must for rain gear. The seams on the RaidLight Hyperlight MP+ are soundly taped, but I do wonder how well they will hold up to long-term use due to the light fabric. The DWR treatment on the lightweight polyamide fabric was sufficient waterproofing (I did get wet, but it wasn’t from fabric soak-through – see the “Zipper” section below). The fabric itself is incredibly soft and quiet – when I pulled it out of the box my first thought was, “this fabric is supposed to keep me dry?”
Fit (length, hood, cuffs)
The hood fits snugly with enough room to go over a baseball cap. As a weight saving measure, the elastic band is not adjustable.
The Hyperlight MP+’s zipper reaches to just under the chin. I found this design to be a little uncomfortable – I got some chafing with the zipper all the way up. This design had ramifications once it started to rain – see the zipper section below.
The elastic thumb-loops functioned as expected, keeping the sleeves in place during activity. My worry is one of durability: the seam connecting the fabric and loop doesn’t seem secure enough to hold up to long term use. I don’t see them lasting long, particularly not with the kind of use I’d be giving this jacket as an outdoor professional. On top of that, I found the loops to be somewhat uncomfortable on my thumbs – the thin elastic loop digs into the skin a little.
I have an athletic build and stand 5’5” and 130 pounds. I found the RaidLight Hyperlight MP+’s fit short in both the torso and arms and too tight for a layer beyond a thin fleece. I’d like to see this jacket cut slightly more roomy – even if it added a little weight. Of course, that’s a backpacker talking – most trail runners are going to layer this over a thin shirt.
The waterproof zipper is my main gripe with the RaidLight Hyperlight MP+. As seen in the photo above, I experienced significant moisture entry around the zipper during a four-hour rain and hail storm in the Big Sur. I believe this came from the design of the zipper rather than its waterproofing – because it chaffed my chin, I had to leave it unzipped slightly, allowing water to enter from the top.
Durability & Breathability
The RaidLight Hyperlight MP+’s fabric is so soft that it almost feels like tissue paper. It breathes well – making it ideal for shielding you from light rain during heavy exertion. The downside is the fabric’s fragility – this is not the rain jacket I would grab first for off-trail excursions or bushwhacking of any kind.
The MP+ is fairly compact for a rain jacket, compressing down to slightly larger than palm-sized. The built-in stuff pocket is located in the hood. The jacket fits into the pouch easily (no struggling to get it stowed) and continues to compress if necessary – meaning it’s easy to cram into whatever nook or cranny you have available in your packing system.
Product Strengths and Limitations
- Incredibly soft and quiet – unlike standard hardshell fabrics
- The clear watch window is a nice touch
- So light and compressible (3 oz / 85 g) that I lost it a few times in my pack
- Minimalist design for weight savings – the trail running pedigree is evident here
- Short torso and short arms – no room underneath for anything beyond a light fleece
- Uncomfortable elastic thumb loops
- Uncomfortable zipper design when fully zipped; allows for water entry during a hard storm if not fully zipped
- Lack of features (pockets, adjustable hood, etc) might be a turn-off for some
- Falls victim to the curse of women’s gear – only available in bright blue with a hot pink zipper
The RaidLight Hyperlight MP+ can have a seat at the ultra-light backpacker table. That table should have less than 20% chance of precipitation and temperatures above 50 F (10 C). The overlap between ultra-running gear and ultralight backpacking gear is growing but still imperfect – and that shows in this jacket.
The fabric feels great and has above average breathability for a waterproof layer – what you’d expect from a jacket designed for moving fast and working hard. As a runner, I can appreciate the minimalist lack of features and weight-saving (i.e., not very roomy) cut. But as a backpacker, I want to be able to move freely and access pockets without exposing my insulating layers to moisture. You just can’t do that in this jacket. However, the Hyperlight MP+ does function well as a wind shirt when paired with a light long-sleeved layer underneath, so it does get points in the “multi-use gear” department.
Some of the design features – like the elastic thumb loops and under-the-chin zipper, were uncomfortable. The clear watch panel is a cool and thoughtful touch.
Finally, as a professional in the outdoor industry and a woman in my thirties, I don’t want my only color option to be baby blue with hot pink.
Here is how the Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ compares to a couple of possible options for an ultra-light backpacking rain jacket in terms of price, performance, and features. The weights listed here reflect women’s sizes.
|RaidLight Hyperlight MP+ Women's||$219.95||3 oz (85 g)||Membrane: 100% Polyurethane Outer Fabric: 100% Polyamide||none||Elastic, pre-tensioned||No||Slim|
|ZPacks Vertice Jacket||$259.00||4.9 oz (139 g)||1.92 oz/sqyd Vertice Waterproof Breathable Fabric||Pit zips||Adjustable, helmet compatible||No||Long, slightly roomy|
|Arc’teryx Zetal FL||$325.00||6.9 oz (195.61 g)||20-denier (N20p) nylonGORE-TEX Pro with 2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus||none||Adjustable||Two at hips||Roomy|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear The Shell||$450.00||5.8 oz (164.42 g)||DCF-WPB||None||Adjustable, helmet compatible||One, at hip||Roomy|
|Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket||$159.00||5.5 oz (155.92 oz)||Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate on nylon||None||Adjustable||One, at chest||Roomy|
While the Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ is the lightest jacket in our table, it is also the most minimally featured and tightest fitting. This design demonstrates the Raidlight Hyperlight MP+’s origins as a jacket aimed at trail runners and highlights its limitations as a piece of ultralight backpacking gear.
Rating: Above Average
I recommend this jacket to a trail runner who occasionally backpacks, or for absolute ounce shavers who can be confident they will only have to contend with light showers during a trip. The weight is hard to beat, and the fabric feels great, but the short, slim cut makes it vulnerable to competition from similarly priced jackets like the Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket or ZPacks Vertice Jacket.
Where to Buy
- Buy the Women’s Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ at Raidlight.
- Buy the Men’s Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ at Raidlight.
- For an in-depth consideration of rain jacket features and materials, check out Ryan’s review of Hyperlight Mountain Gear’s The Shell.
- You can watch our video review of the Arc’teryx Zeta FL rain jacket here and read our print review here.
- How we acquired these products: Product(s) discussed in this review were either acquired by the author from a retailer or otherwise provided by the manufacturer at a discount/donation with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review to the manufacturer(s).
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