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In the market for a rain jacket specifically for over a down jacket.
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Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
In the market for a rain jacket specifically for over a down jacket. on 10/15/2012 22:58:32 MDT Print View

As the title states, I'm in the market for a new rain jacket. I just recently ordered my first down jacket and the golite wind shirt I use now isn't going to cut it. I need something a bit more waterproof.

The problem is that I really haven't the slightest clue what to look for. I'm hoping to purchase a rain jacket I can use for all 4 seasons and not specifically for winter. The main thing here is for it to be sufficiently waterproof so as to keep the down jacket dry. I'd prefer to keep the price under $100. Is that realistic?

Is there a specific type of fabric I should be on the lookout for? I've heard "event" thrown around but I'm quite clueless of the positive and negative attributes of the fabric.

A push in the right direction would be killer. Thanks!

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: rain jacket on 10/16/2012 03:46:23 MDT Print View

Hi Christopher,
Don't wear your down under a raincoat. Keep that baby tucked safely away in your drybag until you have set up your shelter, then put it on. If you need to keep warm while walking, use something that will be more tolerant of damp, like a lightweight fleece. Protect your primary insulation- it could be a lifesaver.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Stoic vapor on 10/16/2012 07:14:03 MDT Print View

Backcountry has a killer deal on the stoic vapor shell jacket or anorak. You can find a review on then here on BPL in the state of the market report on ultralight waterproof breathable jackets. They're both sub $80.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Re: re: rain jacket on 10/16/2012 07:15:43 MDT Print View

Christopher, your goal is realistic and your intent is correct: you do wear a "rain layer" over your down as part of a layering system. There are many rain shells of various designs that will meet your needs and the basic "trick" is simple: you get one that's sized to fit over your insulation layers, rather than just over your "tee-shirted shoulders", for example.

The variety of rain shells available to you range from really cool, ultralight products that experienced outdoorsmen (a gender neutral term in intent for my sisters in outdoorsnicity) are using to great effect as an outer layer alone and in combination with other layers, on down (in price) to somewhat heavier weight (and heavier duty) shells that others of us use. An exception to the heavier weight/duty but lower price pattern are the first ones I'll suggest you check out:

--DriDucks. These are "breathable" (uh....not really), super lightweight rain jacket/pant sets that you can get for under $40. They are cut large, intending that you put them over an insulation layer. They pack down super tight, don't weigh much and aren't very resistant to brush/twig snags, etc... but at this price, killer.

--Marmot PreCip. Available as pants and "tops", the jackets are in sale season right now and go for about $75 in adult sizes. This "breathable" product sheds rain, has pit-zips, packs down nicely, is reasonably light unless you're using the high-end stuff and comes in tall sizes if you need it. My family use this product and it performs very, very well in High Sierra rain.

--Uber-shells. Not a brand, but a whole variety of super-lightweight shells made by either boutique companies like Mont-Bell or tiny outfits run by gram-shaving, design-optimizing zealots. This is up out of my league, but there are plenty of people on this site who can (and have already) post reviews, photos and details about these products -- a few of which might beat your $100 threshold (several will not).

Finally, to reiterate what I think you know: your layer system will include components that you can wear separately or combined for different purposes. The rain shell is an essential part of that system. Happy Hunting!

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: In the market for a rain jacket specifically for over a down jacket. on 10/16/2012 09:15:15 MDT Print View

I don't wear down under a rain jacket if I am moving around. Moisture from my body wets the down from inside out. When I am hiking in the rain I wear wool or syn layers to keep warm and do so at 30 degrees and above and expect to get wet even with a rain jacket. If I am still and in the rain when it is cold enough I want my down inner jacket I seek shelter, either natural or what is in my pack.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: In the market for a rain jacket specifically for over a down jacket. on 10/16/2012 11:16:24 MDT Print View

For temps above freezing:

If you're moving, down under a rain jacket will wet out from your perspiration. This is only marginally better than letting the jacket get wet from rain directly. So as others have mentioned, don't wear your down under a rain shell while on the move and if you need warmth, usually a fleece midlayer will keep you warm enough while active.

In camp you'll throw on your down layer and should ideally just spend your time under shelter, but having a slightly bigger jacket to throw over your down is still useful here.

For temps below freezing your local conditions play an important role. In the Rockies and similar mountainous regions, the snow is usually very dry and a rain jacket isn't necessary. A highly breathable windshirt with a DWR works well to keep you dry. In very cold situations (10F and colder) this is almost always the case since the air just can't hold much moisture. In situations closer to freezing you can get wet snow (especially in the American East or PNW) where a rain jacket is still necessary. But these temps aren't so cold that you need down or puffy to keep you warm while moving, so the above comments apply.

All that said, to answer your question the cheapest solution is the DriDucks jacket. One of the most breathable rain shells you can find, one of the lightest, one of the cheapest, and sadly one of the least durable. It's a great intro jacket until you do more research and have more experience on what you want.

That said, the above poster that mentioned Stoic Vaproshell jackets is right. While not extremely light (13-14oz) and not even fairly light, (many rain shells can be had for 6 to 12 oz) they are VERY cheap right now. The fabric is also one of the most breathable, just below eVent (the gold standard for breathability). They have an anorak for $70 and a jacket for $50. They even have pants for $50 though most people won't wear rain pants. Stoic makes quality outerwear products but sometimes their sizing is off. The Vaporshells seem to run small based on user comments, probably cut for summer hiking and not winter layering so size up.

So if you just want something cheap to get the job done at a bare minimum until you figure things out better, get the driducks. If you want something a bit more fool proof and don't mind the weight penalty, I highly recommend snagging a vaporshell. If you get a better idea of what you want though then look at some of the $125 to $175 jackets that can often be found on sale for under $100 (OR Heliums I/II come to mind around ~6.5oz and usually under $100 on sale, again sized small).

Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Thanks on 10/16/2012 13:33:24 MDT Print View

You guys are an absolute wealth of knowledge. Thank you for the insight.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
rain jacket... on 10/16/2012 14:28:28 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 15:45:41 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
REI eVent parka on 10/16/2012 23:46:27 MDT Print View

I bought an REI Kimtah eVEnt parka in size XL -I normally take a size Large- to fit over my EB Down Sweater (the one in my avatar).

Works great with no binding in the parka sleeves.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: REI eVent parka on 10/17/2012 04:26:14 MDT Print View

I can easily fit a Parka with 4oz down under either of my shells without much compression but anything more will get squashed.