Every time I slip on a rain jacket and Regenjas dames, I’m thankful that we no longer have to wrap ourselves in smelly sealskin to stay dry. Advances in weatherproof textiles and apparel design mean that today’s rain jackets are more comfortable and waterproof than ever before. But depending on the climate and your activity level, sorting through the different styles, technologies, and waterproof ratings can be confusing.
Each year, I test about 10 to 12 Regenjas in the wet Pacific Northwest winter. I hike, bike, run and walk my dog; sometimes I stand in the shower with my clothes on when the weather isn’t cooperating. I also got advice from Amber Williams, a consumer science educator and lecturer in textile science and pattern making at Utah State University’s outdoor product design program. These are our favorite rain jackets.
Right now, every outdoor gear company is desperately trying to figure out how to make effective rainwear without using carcinogenic per fluorocarbons (PFCs). Modern durable water repellents (DWRs) use PFCs in the manufacturing process, which are then transferred from your clothing into soil and streams when you’re out and about.
I would argue that one of the best ways to avoid PFCs in an everyday jacket is to use a polyurethane jacket or a classic rubber raincoat. Manufacturers of technical rain jackets tend to shy away from polyurethane, because it feels too rubbery. But the material is durable, long-lasting, windproof, and waterproof, and it’s also PFC-free! The coats are made from RPET, a plastic derived from recycled water bottles.
The Trawler is not a rain jacket designed for climbing or extreme activities, but I wore it hiking and boating. The polyurethane outer fabric did a great job of deflecting rain and breaking strong, gusty winds while still being stretchy enough to comfortably move my arms and torso and keep the bag on. I can It’s not incredibly breathable, but it has pockets and an adjustable hood plus armpit vents.
$99 AT REI (Women’s)
It’s pretty much spring in Portland. In fact, it broke the city’s all-time rain record, and low-spec soft-shell Regenjas heren just aren’t cutting it. For the past several months, I’ve been reaching for Patagonia’s lightweight windbreaker, the Houdini.