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May 2017 Issue
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2017’s best raincoats

Outdoor Research Women's Aspire jacket
View 2018’s best wet weather jackets
A good rain jacket will keep you dry, inside and out when the heavens open and when you build up a sweat.

Abrasion resistance
Technical rainwear is made of two, two-and-a-half, or three layers. The outer face fabric is generally abrasion-resistant nylon. The fabric might be reinforced at high-wear points such as elbows, shoulders, knees and inside lower trouser legs.

Hoods can remain fixed or roll into the collar. Most hoods have drawcords or Velcro so the volume can be adjusted to snugly encase your head. A reinforced, self-supporting brim can keep rain out of your eyes, ensuring good vision in all directions.

Water-resistant zips are common. Pit zips running under the armpit improve breathability and air movement. Zip sliders often tuck into a ‘garage’ to prevent rain entering through the top of the zip.

On trouser legs, full-length or quarter zips allow for easy on and off without having to remove boots.

Collars, cuffs and gutters
The collar should stand high enough to prevent water running inside the jacket. Cuffs that can be tightened will prevent water running up your sleeve when you raise your arms to climb.

Below-the-waist designs tend to be heavier, but provide better protection and a ‘tail’ to sit on. To-the-waist jackets are lighter and often with stretch panels in key areas to prevent the hem lifting. Rain pants can be pulled up high to create an overlap under the jacket.

Handwarmer pockets are ideally positioned so they can be accessed while wearing a pack or harness. Mesh-lined pockets help with ventilation and breathability but can make stored items wet from perspiration. A chest pocket (or Napoleon pocket with a vertical opening) can provide easy access to map and compass.

Wash your wet weather gear as often as you would wash your jeans. Because laundry powder can affect the garment’s breathability, your best bet is to use a technical wash that rinses out completely. This will usually restore moisture transfer through the membrane.

If the outer fabric is starting to wet out (water pools in the fabric), a wash-in or spray-on durable water repellent may be required. The DWR needs heat to set it, so read the garment’s care instructions and iron or tumble dry as recommended.

Water resistance and breathability
Technical rainwear fabric works much like your skin: tiny moisture vapour droplets pass through its pores toward the atmosphere, while larger rain droplets are blocked from passing through the other way. Garments can be tested to determine water resistance and breathability.

Water resistance: The amount of water pressure (in millimeters) a fabric sample can withstand before leakage occurs – e.g.: 20,000mm

Breathability: The amount of water vapour (in grams) that can pass through a square metre of fabric during a 24-hour period. e.g. 20,000g/m2.

Because there is no standardised test to measure breathability and water resistance, the products featured here do not have this information displayed.

Now you know what to look for, time to choose a model…


Macpac Lightweight Prophet AP $599.99
Slim fit, fully seam sealed, helmet-compatible adjustable hood, high collar, chest and handwarmer pockets, YKK zippers with garages, cuff and velcro closure, adjustable hem. Fabric  Pertex AP nylon Weight 480g (m); 400g (w).

Outdoor Research Men’s Axiom $599.99
Trim fit, seam-taped, underarm stretch panels, adjustable helmet compatible hood with wire brim, YKK water-resistant zips, chest pocket, media pocket, pack-friendly hand pockets, hook and loop cuff closure, drawcord hem. Fabric Gore-Tex Active, three-layer Weight 402g.

Earth Sea Sky Nano Primaloft $599
Seam-sealed, front zip with storm flap, articulated elbows, drawcord hem, internal chest pocket, hand warmer pockets, internal security pocket, visor wire on adjustable hood, Primaloft Gold insulation. Fabric Entrant Shell, nylon Weight 730g (m/w).

The North Face Apex Flex GTX $500
Three-layer, active fit, adjustable hood, chest pocket, hand warmer pockets, pit zips, water-resistant zippers, Velco adjustable cuffs, drawcord hem. Fabric Gore-Tex Weight 680g (m); 409g (w).

Earth Sea Sky Hydrophobia $499
Full-length three-layer jacket, seam-sealed, domed watertight double flap zip cover, underarm gusset, waist drawcord, adjustable hood with visor wire, external map pocket, top and side entry hand pockets, made in New Zealand. Fabric Entrant D-EV, nylon Weight 750g (m); 630g (w).

Outdoor Research Men’s Foray $399.99
Standard fit, seam-taped, adjustable hood, double-separating water-resistant front zip with storm flap, pit zips, Napoleon pocket, hand pockets, hook and loop cuff closure, drawcord hem, pocket doubles as stuff sack. Women’s version is the Aspire. Fabric 50D Gore-Tex Paclite Weight 463g (m); 388g (w).

Arc’teryx Men’s Beta SL $449.90
Trim fit, DWR finish, seam-taped micro-seams, gusseted underarms, adjustable StormHood with laminated brim, chin guard, water-resistant zippers, hand pockets, zip garages, Velcro cuff closure, drawcord hem. Fabric Gore-Tex Paclite 2-layer Weight 315g.
Marmot Minimalist $499.95
Seam-taped, pit zips, adjustable hood, chest pocket with water-resistant zipper, zippered hand pockets, centre zip stormflap with snap/Velcro closure, drawcord hem, Angel-Wing Movement. Fabric Gore-Tex Paclite Weight 425g (m); 383g (w).

Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow $399.99
Helmet-compatible hood with laminated visor, watertight zippers, DWR-treated pit zips, chest pocket, handwarmer pockets, stuffs into pocket, hook-and-loop cuff closures, drawcord hem. Fabric H2No Performance Standard, 2.5-layer with DWR Weight 294g (m); 260g (w).

Marmot Essence $399.95
Seam-taped, helmet compatible hood with mouldable brim, single chest pocket with water resistant zips, integrated cooling vents, asymmetric cuffs with elastic, 360-degree reflectivity, drawcord hem, Angel-Wing Movement. Fabric 20D stretch NanoPro Membrain, nylon Weight 179g (m); 142g (w).

The North Face Stormy Trail $330
Running jacket, media-compatible, secure-zip hand pockets, internal venting system, 360-degree reflectivity, reflective print on shoulders and arms, drawcord hem, rain skirt. Fabric DryVent, nylon ripstop Weight 236g (m); 211g (w).

Outdoor Research Valley $299.99
Standard fit, seam-taped, stretch fabric, adjustable wire-brimmed hood zips into collar, water-resistant YKK zippered chest pocket, pit zips, hand pockets, pocket doubles as stuff sack, double separating front zip, elastic cuffs with hook and loop tabs. Fabric Ventia 2.5-layer, nylon Weight 398g (m); 337g (w).
Marmot Magus $299.95
Seam-taped, attached hood with side cord adjustment, pit zips, chest pocket with water resistant zipper, zippered hand pockets, asymmetric cuffs, Velcro adjustment, drawcord hem, Angel-Wing Movement. Fabric Stretch NanoPro, nylon Weight 300g (m); 281g (w).
The North Face Venture $240
Relaxed fit, seam-sealed, adjustable hood, Velcro storm flap, pit zips, secure-zip hand pockets, Velcro adjustable cuffs, drawcord hem, packs into pocket. Fabric DryVent, nylon ripstop, 2.5-layer Weight 400g (m); 300g (w,).

Patagonia Torrentshell $199.99
Two-way-adjustable hood with laminated visor, microfleece-lined neck, centre zipper with storm flaps, chin guard, zippered handwarmer pockets, pit zips, DWR-treated zippers, hook-and-loop cuff closure, drawcord hem, stuffs into pocket. Fabric H2No 2.5-layer Performance Standard, recycled nylon with DWR Weight 343g (m); 300g (w).

Outdoor Research Men’s Foray $299
Seam-taped, water-resistant zips, elastic waist with drawcord, zippered rear pocket doubles as stuff sack, 3/4-length side zips, gusseted crotch, articulated knees, snap/elastic cuff closure, loops for instep lace. Women’s version is the Aspire Rainpant. Fabric 40D Gore-Tex Paclite Weight 327g (m); 266g (w).

Outdoor Research Helium $199.90
Standard fit, seam-taped, elastic waist with drawcord, gusseted crotch, rear pocket doubles as stuff sack, ankle zips, accepts accessory suspenders. Fabric Pertex Shield 2.5-layer Weight 166g; 152g (w).