Unfortunately, that was the case for every single jacket we tried—we put a backpack on over all of them—with the exception of the Montbell Thunder Pass, which you could hike up a bit to get full access to the pockets.
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Featured Shipping Pass Products Household. Kristin Hostetter, gear editor at Backpacker for two decades, a site that has thoughtful and extensive coverage on backpacking-specific rainwear and features; and Stephen Regenold, founder and editor in chief of Gear Junkie , who has now guided us through both iterations of this guide. An inexpensive rain shell is an uninsulated jacket meant to repel wind and rain, but not necessarily keep you warm. We started by researching other gear sites and reading up on outerwear—fabrics, construction methods, and uses.
We studied jacket lines from all the major brands we could find, and then consulted our experts, including Regenold and Hostetter, to figure out what to look for. One thing that you can look for to combat that is pit zips—which are vents under your arms. Though less important, our ideal rain shell could also be easily used while wearing gloves, and has a hood that articulates—meaning when you turn your head, the hood turns with you.
Using these guidelines, we selected 10 jackets and took them hiking in torrential downpours in the giant redwood forests of California, where the average yearly rainfall is 46 inches a year—9 inches more than the US average; through misty forests in the eastern Sierras on the way to the summit of Mt.
Whitney; and on depressing gray days in limp snow flurries through Avalanche Gulch and Casaval Ridge, the easiest and most difficult technical climbs on Mt.
Then we tossed in a few day-long hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park for good measure. We stress tested for almost a year before making a decision. The deep hood and wide, straight cuffs are a key ingredient, but the front zipper is also properly fortified, with a double storm flap and zipper garage at the neck.
What keeps you dry is a hood big enough to extend past your hairline, and a stiff visor that keeps water moving to the sides of your face—not straight down. The cuffs on the Torrentshell have no elastic, which is also helpful for keeping dry.
A fully elasticized cuff, like on The North Face Resolve jacket, sends water straight to your hand instead of flicking it away toward the ground. There is a Velcro closure if you want to cinch them down over gloves. The lined pockets are an asset, too. It runs off your sleeve and into the interior. There is a trade-off to this design—Hostetter really likes the mesh pocket feature: Because the air flows through to your torso.
Pocket vents are good. In the quest to find the jacket that would keep you the most dry, we think the fully lined pockets on the Torrentshell are an advantage. What about the zipper? This led us to prefer the double storm flap on the Torrentshell, since it hides the front zipper without the use of Velcro, which tends to get caught on gloves and jackets. We like this shell a lot for hiking since you can operate the hood pulls with one hand, unlike on the Marmot PreCip , which requires really getting in there to operate the drawstring.
We know this seems like a minor issue, but keeping on-trail adjustments fuss free is the goal. Fuss less; hike more. All the features on the Torrentshell can be used with gloves on, including the front zipper, hood pulls, and arm and pocket zippers, since they have pull tabs. And finally, this jacket can ventilate. While working as a guide at Yosemite National Park recently, a friend of mine had a client who kept fully zipped up in his rain jacket the entire time, and was turning red hot from exertion.
It should do it itself. I prefer manual ventilation. I just pull my jacket up. Patagonia excels at traceability of its textiles, but if the company wanted to improve it would have to work with companies that offer a better living wage to the employees that harvest, spin, and cut the fabric.
Patagonia also offers one of the best warranties you can get. This is a 2. The straps cover them. Unfortunately, that was the case for every single jacket we tried—we put a backpack on over all of them—with the exception of the Montbell Thunder Pass, which you could hike up a bit to get full access to the pockets.
But then you have a big goofy coat hiked up over your waist strap. Some elements differ from the Torrentshell—Velcro on the front flap which helps keep the flap down, but catches on gloves and less user-friendly hood pulls. The back and side of this coat are cut slimmer, which makes the fit really flattering.
This jacket has mesh pockets, a feature that—as mentioned earlier—can have advantages and disadvantages. The flip side is that you can use them for more ventilation if you need to. The North Face Venture 2 has all the other good stuff that makes it great for backcountry trips, like zipper pulls and hood tabs that you can use with gloves, enough room to layer under, and the all-important underarm zippers.
The hood is not as deep as the Torrentshell, but it has the other design features that make a hood useful——the drawstring runs the entire length of the brim as do our other picks which makes sure that it remains still and sends water away from your face.
The toggles are also on the exterior, and operate with easy-to-use pull tabs, just like those on the Torrentshell. We still think the Columbia Watertight II, a former pick, is a great value, but for a few dollars more the Trail Model has a lot to offer, including a broad range of sizes for both men and women, including tall, petite, misses and womens.
We noticed an older model had pit zips, while the newest one we tested for this review does not. This coat has the same features as the Trail Model Rain Jacket, but is longer. It has the same excellent construction and useful features of its shorter sibling, like external toggles and full hood drawstring, but will also keep your thighs and seat dry, where the Rain Jacket leaves those uncovered for extra mobility.
But now almost every brand has its own in-house technology, and there are other manufacturers, like Pertex and Polartec, that make similar fabrics. Q from Mountain Hardware. Dirt can clog up your waterproof-breathable layer, so you need to wash your jacket every now and then. In addition, you might need to revitalize the DWR layer after you take it out of the wash.
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