It may not seem like a hard necessity to have a waterproof jacket if you don't live in a wet place (such as Seattle). But when you think about how unpredictable the weather is in the fall and winter, the realization will set in that it's time to buy a waterproof jacket. However, choosing the right waterproof jacket can be quite a daunting task given the variations of features, construction, and fabrics they use. Depending on the materials used, waterproof jackets can vary in quality to a great extent. Hopefully by reading this review you will be able to pick the perfect waterproof jacket before the wet season arrives.
Waterproof jackets can start from $40 to $200 depending on the quality and features. However, some premium models can cost above $200 and cross the $400 mark.
What features should you consider before buying a waterproof jacket?
What are more advanced features that you can expect in a more expensive jacket?
The Venture 2 sits under the $100 price range and is considered a good value for your money. Compared to its predecessor "The Venture", it is more durable and tough. However, it isn't as breathable and snug fit as you would expect. If you like to go hiking, backpacking, or downhill skiing, this jacket can be your perfect companion for a reasonable price.
Some reviews online do point out a few bad experiences with the jacket, such as it not being as protective as other jackets in the same price range. But being a decent or basic rain jacket, it checks all the boxes of a good waterproof jacket.
This jacket is quite lightweight: weighing only 300 grams. It has 100% windproof capability but is not 100% waterproof like the Resolve 2 model. It also has adjustable Velcro sleeve cuffs that the Resolve 2 lacks. One impressive feature that a jacket of this price range has is its 2.5L fabric construction which ensures better and more reliable waterproof ability.
Almost all of the features that the Venture 2 models come with are standard in most jackets. The positioning of the hem in this jacket is a bit odd: it sits a bit high on the waist which may leave your back uncovered when you stretch up. All the straps and adjusters work quite nicely keeping you comfortable no matter what your body shape.
Another budget friendly waterproof jacket is the Marmot PreCip. It sits in the $100 price range. It is pretty lightweight and able to shed rain consistently. It has a number of adjustments capabilities, ensuring that rain won't break through.
The jacket has recently been updated with a NanoPro 2.5 layer coated fabric with breathability and waterproof ability. Robust ventilation features, excellent hood and cuff closures are the other features you should take into consideration when making your decision on this jacket.
When compared to its competitors, The North Face Venture 2 and the Patagonia Torrentshell, this jacket holds up quite well through extended use in moderate weather. In terms of waterproofness, the PreCip performs as well as the Helium II and Watertight II. This jacket is surprisingly mobile and comfortable even with the added pockets and pit-zips. Being on the cheaper side of the spectrum, this jacket can be a good do-everything jacket. If you're doing high energy activities, such as climbing trips and backpacking, then PreCip can be a good choice if you can compromise on a few features.
Don't expect high end water resistant zippers in this budget jacket. Its thin construction doesn't seem to be able to keep up in heavy downpours. You may also feel the cold and wet sensation if you're wearing short sleeves and these are results of its value oriented and lightweight design. After prolonged use, the interior coating may eventually break down. And lastly, the Velcro may lose its stickiness over time.
When you wear the Outdoor Research Aspire, you will immediately fall in love with this jacket because of its smooth fabric, sleek design, and a dozen of other amenities. True to its functionality, Aspire can keep you dry and comfortable in a range of weather conditions. Even though it is not quite a budget friendly jacket which costs around $150, it does have some good core features which are present in superior models, such as DWR coating, Gore Tex protection, and inner lining.
The jacket seems to deliver on the price and offers comfortable and long lasting resistance. The Aspire is not as affordable as the Resolve 2, PreCip, or Venture 2 which may leak at some point, but it does its job pretty well keeping you dry, warm, and comfortable.
Because of its trusted Gore Tex and DWR fabric, the jacket won't let any water through its comfy fabric. Their focus has been on breathability in recent updates. Unlike its predecessors, it has the TorsoFlo design that includes pit zips going all the way down. You can put on a base layer or two inside without looking too bulky.
The hood is quite nice and loose and can be tightened down to a snug fit in extreme conditions. From athletic to curvy, the shell offers a stylish and sleek design for different body types.
The Patagonia Torrentshell cannot be called a standout in terms of price (above $100), but still the jacket is a common sight on the streets and muddy trails. It has a versatile shell that offers quality that is typical of Patagonia.
It is a fully featured rain jacket that offers pit zip ventilation and a great hood. However, it weighs almost twice than the OR Helium II, so it isn't as light as you would expect. Nonetheless, the Torrentshell is much warmer and more durable than its competitors even if you use it for rough activities.
It is packed with 2.5 layer waterproofness which is certified by H2NO (Patagonia's internal test standard). Like most of the waterproof jackets out there, the Patagonia Torrentshell does come with durable waterproof repellent, DWR. But the coating may come off when exposed to the elements or when it rubs against other surfaces for a longer period of time. For better leakage prevention, it has a secondary storm flap underneath the zipper but it is not as good as that of Marmot PreCip. It also may not be as breathable as REI Co-op Drypoint GTX and the Outdoor Research Realm.
The first thing that you would notice right after putting this jacket on is the weight. It weighs around 11.3 ounces, which is more than what the Marmot PreCip weighs. For a lighter option, the Patagonia Alpine Houdini is a better choice. Being a 2.5 layer jacket, it won't be a great breathable and durable jacket. The zipper may develop some issues, for example a lot of customers have complained of their zipper getting stuck often.
Being a budget friendly rain jacket, the the North Face Resolve 2 jacket performs quite well across the board compared to those in the same price range. If you are looking to wear a rain jacket for occasional usage or around town usage, then the Resolve 2 could be a good choice. It has been designed to keep you warm in cold conditions but it might struggle to keep you cool when it starts to get warmer.
The waterproofness is good but it could use some improvement, especially because the competitors in the same price range are doing quite well. With the jacket's sealed seams and Dryvent technology, it is highly waterproof but you can get in to trouble when it comes to moving around in this jacket.
The Resolve 2 has been created with user comfort in mind. The Dryvent technology, which is also available in the North Face Venture 2, allows the moisture and heat to escape while keeping the water out. The Resolve 2 may not be the most breathable jacket which, however, turns out be useful in cold weather. The jacket has fleece fabric around the high neck (similar to other North Face models) making it a comfortable shell for colder weather. The outer fabric is quite rigid and could hold up quite well and retain waterproofing for a long time.
The North Face Resolve 2 is not quite lightweight, so it may not be appropriate for high performance use. When moving around in the rain, water can leak through. The fabric has been found rather crinkly and the mesh liner can be troublesome when wearing a backpack. It does not include a pocket stuff sack which can be annoying for some buyers.
Columbia Switchback II rain jacket is a light and fashionable option whether you are going to a picnic or taking a hike. It is quite capable of resisting light rain and can ward off breezes keeping you comfortable and warm. It's quite a low cost rain jacket which is why it lacks a number of features which may render the jacket inappropriate for use in heavy weather.
The Switchback II is quiet and can be folded into a small pack making it easy to carry around. It allows air ventilation though the mesh lined back vent which is a welcomed feature given the price of this jacket. It also has adjustable cuffs and hem enabling you to seal out extreme weather.
Columbia has designed this jacket with its trademarked Omni-Shield advanced technology that they apply on their more expensive jackets. The Omni-Shield technology can resist stains and moisture, which is probably the only great feature that this budget friendly rain jacket has. Its drawcord hood can be stowed in the collar when you are not using it. Like many other rain jackets that cost more than $100, this reasonably priced jacket offers adjustable cuffs and hem for superior sealing.
Paradox Waterproof & Breathable Women's Rain Jacket is an affordable choice. It costs less than $50 on Amazon and other online shops. It's constructed of durable polyester fabric with a waterproof coating for light weather conditions. It does not come with total seam sealing like the more expensive models in this review.
The hood has dual adjustments, helping keep the elements out and the warmth in; however, keep in mind though that the Paradox Waterproof & Breathable Women's Rain Jacket is not the most breathable rain jacket, so you shouldn't wear this for high performance activities.
Even though Paradox Waterproof & Breathable Women's Rain Jacket is a cheaper option for a waterproof jacket, it doesn't lack the necessary features you would expect in an ideal jacket. For example, it has a waterproof layer with a repellent finish like its competitors, such as the Resolve 2, PreCip, and the Venture 2, which cost quite a bit more. It's critically seam sealed meaning it will ward off light breezes. It's lightweight, rolling up small and could fit in a quart Ziploc bag.
Attached inside the jacket pocket, it also has a travel pocket which can be used to stow small items into. And its zippered hand warmer pockets are another plus point.
The Paradox Waterproof & Breathable Women's Rain Jacket does not taper in quite well. As a result, it may not produce the perfect feminine shape for everyone. For high performance activities, the jacket is not quite breathable. The design has some flaws as well, for example the green dot pattern fails in the fashion department.
Not intended for super cold conditions, the Helly Hansen Long Belfast can keep you dry and warm if you are running errands on a brisk day or walking your dog in a light rain. Waterproof, windproof, and breathable, this jacket could be your next favorite if you live in a wet climate.
Sitting in the price range of $100, this jacket provides such protection that is comparable to Patagonia Tres 3 in 1 models. If you are not looking to spend too much yet long to look athletic, then Helly Hansen Long Belfast jackets could be a good choice.
Let's start with some bad news: you will feel cold if you wear this in a super cold condition. It's insulated with Primaloft synthetic insulation and it's nowhere near its competitor Marmot Montreaux in terms of warmth. You will feel cold particularly in the hood and hand pockets areas. Clearly, the Helly Hansen Long Belfast is intended for milder climate. However, it does deliver on waterproof and breathable promises: the 2ply fabric will stop water from seeping in and allow moisture to escape at the same time. It's quite comfortable to wear and probably one of the least restricting for its price tag.
The worst failure of this jacket is its inability to keep you warm in harsh and cold conditions. The fleece lined pockets are comfortable but not great keeping your hands warm. The chest pocket is quite small and it lacks interior media pockets.
The jacket lacks a stylish look, rather it has a sporty look.
Charles River Apparel Women's New Englander is highly waterproof and breathable. Made from polyurethane, the jacket is lined with grey mesh for better air ventilation.
In order to seal out the wind and rain, there are heat sealed seams and wind flaps in place. The jacket also has A line styling, adjustable cuffs with hook and loop closure, and zippered side pockets.
Made from 100% Polyester Polyurethane, the Charles River Apparel Women's New Englander offers superior protection from the wind and water thanks to its heat-sealed seams. For greater freedom of movement, it offers 2 way zipper. There are also reflective strips across front and back for higher visibility - a welcome feature for people who like to jog or walk their dogs at night.
It has covered zipper side pockets where you can put your valuables. The hood is pretty good, too - well sized and comes with cords at the sides making it adjustable for windy weather.
The Columbia Arcadia II is a good choice among the budget conscious shoppers. Not considered a high performance rain jacket, the shell performs quite reasonably against the leading rain jackets in the market. If you are planning to go on a day hike or a sporting event and you are expecting occasional downpours, then the Columbia Arcadia II could be a good purchase.
Wearing this, you will find yourself magically repelling dirt, thanks to its patented technology called Omni-Tech. For a rain jacket that costs less than $50, the Columbia Arcadia II does share some features that some of its superior, higher priced competitors also have.
The Arcadia II can serve as a fairly waterproof rain shell thanks to its Omni Tech 2 layer membrane. The coating with a mesh liner allows air to move through and helps keep the fabric from sticking to the skin if you sweat. The inner mesh liner is quite smooth and soft.
Great for occasional use, the Columbia Arcadia II is not a long term heavy use shell. Made from inexpensive fabric, the jacket can prove a trusty companion if used occasionally.
When shopping for a good waterproof jacket, there are quite a few things to look for: waterproofness, breathability, durability, comfort, fabric, construction, and other features such as hood, pockets, and zippers. You should not expect to find all of these features in every jacket. Also, understanding some key terms and the basics of rainwear technology will surely help you navigate to find the perfect rain jacket.
When you are paying a high price for a jacket, you are actually paying for the research, development, and testing that goes into making the jacket. So, typically the higher the price, the better performing the jacket. Nonetheless, the affordable models are worth a try.