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Rain Gear Review: 7 Jackets and Gloves for Staying Dry

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Feb 12, 2016 03:30 PM |
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Staying dry while hiking is one of the most important things you can do, particularly when temperatures drop. These rain gear options will make sure you have a dry, enjoyable outing.

Stay dry. It’s the number one rule of survival and the easiest way to prevent hypothermia during cold weather hikes. When the temp dips, even a light sprinkle can suck heat from your body. So no matter which side of the state you’re on, precip protection is one of the most important collections in your gear closet—year-round.

Here are a few jackets and gloves that get the job done when it comes to rain protection.

Rain Gear Review

Some of these may no longer be available, or full price might be a little steep for you. It's always worth taking a look at a secondhand gear store, or borrow

With a little re-waterproofing, a used coat can serve you just as well as brand-new, and borrowing one can help you know whether or not you want to make the investment in one for yourself. 

Black Diamond Liquid Point

Black Diamond does not disappoint with this sleek, practically-bombproof rain shell. The combination of the seam-sealed GoreTex shell and the adjustable, helmet-compatible hood keep the wind and rain at bay, while the multi-directional pit zips help regulate your temperature when your activity output heats you up. No matter whether you’re out for a hike, snowshoe or alpine ascent, this jacket has you covered. The fit is trim, so size up if you want to add an insulation layer.

Men's version only. $249

Outdoor Research Helium II

The Helium II may just be the perfect jacket for emergency rain protection. At 6 oz., it is so light and compressible that there is no reason to leave it behind. Waterproof and breathable, it’s a great choice for a run in the rain or hikes through wet foliage. The durable fabric and trim fit make this an ideal jacket for hiking, backpacking, climbing, running, cycling or walking around the city. While it may not withstand torrential downpours, or multiple days of heavy rain, it’s a great addition to your Ten Essentials.

Men's and women's versions available. $159

Patagonia Torrentshell

The Torrentshell is a form-fitting jacket that provides good rain and wind protection, while remaining nicely breathable. Under prolonged exposure to heavy rain, it did not perform as well assome of the heavier jackets, but it provided good protection during typical showers and became a favorite for wearing around town on wet days. Plus, the light weight (just 12 oz.) and compressibility make it ideal for throwing in a daypack. New for 2016, the Torrentshell is constructed of all-recycled materials.

Men's and women's versions available. $129

Arc’teryx Zeta LT

When the words “atmospheric river” appear in the weather forecast, this is the jacket you want in your pack. The Zeta LT provides superior rain protection, even during drenching downpours, with its well-designed hood and over-the-hip length. Unlike many hardcore rain jackets, the Zeta LT doesn’t feel bulky or stiff, and its comfortable fit and breathability readily accommodate most active outdoor pursuits. Plus, it weighs less than 12 oz. and compresses nicely for easy stashing when the weather clears.

Men's and women's versions available. $375

REI Shuksan

This breathable, eVent shell has all the bells and whistles you could ask for—including being waterproof enough to outlast even the toughest downpours. When the weather really starts howling, its chin guard and full-length storm guard keep the elements on the outside. The cut is impressive, built long and lean for athletic builds,with an adjustable hood with plenty of room, and pockets in all the right places. With enough layers underneath, you could even use it as a ski coat. REI really nailed it with the Shuksan!

Men's and women's versions available. $249

Youth and Families by Emma Cassidy.jpg
Gloves are crucial for smiles on muddy work parties. Photo by Emma Cassidy.

OR VersaLiner

With detachable waterproof shells for extra protection, OR’s sleek VersaLiner gloves will be your new favorites. Stash the liners in the zippered pockets or, if it’s extra-chilly, put hand warmer packets in there instead—the pockets are the perfect size. 


Hanz Gloves

 Hanz waterproof gloves are perfect for photographers or anyone who’s had to set up a tent in the rain. Grippy and flexible, their three layer construction keeps your hands dry while giving you the dexterity you need when the weather goes south.


This article originally appeared in the Jan+Feb 2016 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.


Helium II not water resistant for us

My husband and I recently returned our Helium IIs to Outdoor Research because they were quickly and utterly saturated in a Mt. Rainier drizzle last month. As in, the top layer of my puffy coat underneath was completely wet within 10 minutes. No wind, and far from pouring. Though OR says this is an "emergency rain burst" product, and it IS super light and pretty, I can get lightweight, waterproof emergency protection from a 29 cent garbage bag. I expected more for $150.

The OR folks were super great to work with. The took our jackets back for in-store credit, which I instantly spent. I recently tested their Clairvoyant rainshell -- my first Gortex product -- on the Duckabush trail on a 10-hour WTA volunteer crew. It's redundant to say it was raining since I just said it was Duckabush. Now that sucker is waterproof! And comfy, and pretty, or was before said trail crew. It's also pricey at over $300 (air! I need air!!), but so far I'm impressed.

Sadly, I cannot recommend the Helium II. But if you come into money, the Clairvoyant is great! I also recommend OR generally. Their products are typically high quality, and their customer service is excellent.

Posted by:

Nutmeg on Feb 14, 2016 04:16 PM

helium ok fer me

ok... my experience is different. i took it on jmt last summer. only 2 days of light precip. but it handled that for me. plus it also helped keep heat in on cold nights at freezing. it gave me wind and solar protection too. i can recommend if showers are a possibility... especially on just day hikes. it dried fast and it's lightweight if you are counting grams like i did that trip. i wore it every day for a month. that said, it seems to hold onto a special smell even after a couple washings... oh well.. keeps bears away at night i suppose.

Posted by:

skiBuhny on Mar 27, 2016 07:40 PM


nutmeg. i would im you this... but i don't think wta has that feature. anyway... i have found that wearing a puffy while hiking or skiing is never good for me when trying to stay dry above 32. it took me a few years to come to this conclusion, but those things, down or synthetic just don't like to be perspired on at all. and what happens is the sweat is nice and warm and below the dew point near your body.. but then as it migrates out to the surface of the puffy... it condenses against the cold rain surface of the shell. i bring them... but i don't wear when exerting.. only on the slow downhill or at nite. if you try wearing an absorptive layer near your skin what happens is your body says 'oh, i'm wet, i don't have to sweat as much...' then, that damp layer is a fast dry-able material. you dry it out, take it off at the top/at nite. this can be tricky on multiday trips with no sun or wind... but if it's raining and i'm exerting... i'm gonna get damp/wet... but my puffy is in my pack... dry and ready when i need to be warm.

Posted by:

skiBuhny on Mar 27, 2016 08:08 PM

Thanks, SkiBuhnny!

For the info. and suggestions. It was the 1st time I'd ever worn a puffy coat in those conditions (I generally go with fleece over the base layer), and I agree with your assessment - save the puffy for the tent! I was taking it pretty easy that day, so the puffy only got wet on the outside, not the inside. I'm glad the Helium has worked out for your purposes.I agree it's great for keeping heat in, and blocking wind. I didn't notice the smell with mine, go figure. I'm still really happy with the OR Clarivoyant. Isn't it nice when everyone's happy? :) Thanks again for the suggestions, and happy hiking!

Posted by:

Nutmeg on Mar 28, 2016 09:20 PM