How much priority you place on the performance of a rain jacket likely has a lot to do with where you live. Desert dwellers who rarely ride in the rain obviously aren't going to have the same criteria as someone in the Pacific Northwest, where fall and winter can bring weeks of wet weather at a time. The same goes for riders who care more about durability than light weight, or who are willing to sacrifice some performance for a lower price tag.
What follows are six new options that cover a variety of styles. Some are obviously more expensive than others, but once again, it's simply a matter of figuring out your priorities (and your budget). Dropping $300 on a jacket that's going to see action once a year is a whole lot different than spending that dough on one that you're going to use 100+ times a season. Pearl Izumi Summit 3L Jacket
Pearl Izumi says the Summit 3L WxB jacket is 'ready for the wettest, rowdiest rides.' It's fully waterproof, with taped seams and a hood that'll easily fit over a helmet. There aren't any pit zips or other means of ventilation, so it's best suited to those chillier, extra-wet days. The fabric of the Commit has a nice soft feel to it – there isn't any annoying crinkling or rustling when you shift positions, and the overall cut is comfortable without being too baggy or aggressively tight.
Summit 3L Jacket Details
• 10k / 10k waterproof + breathable fabric
• PFC-free DWR treatment
• Waterproof YKK main zipper
• Two zippered pockets
• Colors: sage/sunfire, black
• MSRP: $175 USD
• More info: pearlizumi.com
Pearl Izumi do have a higher end, more breathable option in the works called the Summit Pro NeoShell. That jacket is claimed to move a basketball sized volume of air from the jacket every minute, although its $375 price tag doesn't look as attractive as the Summit's more reasonable $175 MSRP.
There are also pants available to go along with the Summit 3L. The $185 pants are made of the same waterproof material, and have an adjustable belt, a zippered side pocket, and plenty of room for wearing kneepads underneath.
Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket
Rapha's Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket is designed for changeable conditions, those rides when it's windy and pouring rain one moment and calm and drizzly the next. It's not 100% waterproof, but that's by design – there's a panel underneath each arm that's designed for breathability, allowing for more airflow during hard efforts. The rest of the fabric is what you'd typically think of when someone refers to a Gore-Tex jacket – it'll easily shrug off a steady rain, and keep the wind out too.
The overall design of the Trail jacket is fairly minimalist, with just one external chest pocket on the left side, and an internal chest pocket on the right. The hood is large enough to fit over a helmet, with a drawstring at the back to cinch it down. The hem of the jacket is also adjustable to help keep water from sneaking in from below.
Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Details
• Made from Gore-Tex Infinium - windproof, breathable, highly water resistant
• Adjustable over-helmet hood
• Inner and outer chest pockets
• Colors: black, blue, purple, blue-green
• MSRP: $375 USD
• More info: rapha.cc
The price is on the high side, but Rapha does offer a free repair service for the lifetime of the garment to help reduce the sticker shock a little bit.
Yeti Turq Commit Jacket
Even if you're riding a different brand of bike, Yeti's apparel lineup shouldn't be overlooked. The collection is extensive, with everything from shorts, gloves, jerseys, pants, and the Turq Commit rain jacket shown here. The branding is pretty minimal, and it's available in two other colors that aren't as flashy for riders who don't want to draw too much attention to themselves.
Personally, I'm a fan of brighter colored rain jackets – it's nice to have a pop of color to cut through the dark dreariness. The Commit's fabric is light yet still tough enough to withstand the abuses of mountain biking, and it compresses easily into a small bundle, making this a good just-in-case option that won't take up too much room in a pack.
Yeti Turq Commit Details
• Toray waterproof 3-layer fabric
• Two-way front zipper
• Two zippered hand pockets / vents
• Colors: turquoise, black, atlantic
• MSRP: $300 USD
• More info: yeticycles.com
The fabric also breathes well, and the chest pockets are well located, preventing the 'I'm trapped in a trash bag' feeling that can come with heavier, less ventilated options.
NF Mid-Weight Jacket
NF's Mid-Weight jacket is handmade in Canada out of the same tough, stretchy material that's used in their DP4 pants. It's not the absolute lightest jacket out there, but it could be a good option for late season laps in the bike park, or during a drizzly day of shuttling. NF says it works best in temperatures below 50-degrees F, and in a drizzle to light rain. In other words, many of the days during a typical Pacific Northwest winter.
It's certainly possible to go out for a pedal with it, just keep in mind that it doesn't pack down that small if you do end up needing to stash it away. The arms are cut to extend slightly over the back of each hand, another measure to help keep rain at bay.
NF Mid-Weight Details
• DWR coated fabric with 10% stretch
• 3 zippered pockets
• 2-way main zipper for ventilation
• Colors: black, taupe, fireweed
• Made in Canada
• MSRP: $259 USD
• More info: ridenf.com
There aren't any pit-zips, but the main zipper can be zipped upwards to help keep air flowing. Other details include two zippered side pockets and a zippered breast pocket, and a hood that works best under, rather than over, a helmet.
Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm Jacket
Patagonia's Dirt Roamer jacket is an anorak-style option, with a ¾ length, two-way front zipper. A three layer H2No fabric is used to shed the rain, and it's treated with a PFC-free DWR coating for further weatherproofing.
There are generous zippered side vents to improve airflow, along with making it a little easier to get the jacket on and off. When it's not in use, the Dirt Roamer can stuff into its own rear pocket for storage - it packs down to about the size of an 8” hoagie (I'm going to start using sandwiches as a unit of measurement whenever possible from now on).
Patagonia Dirt Roamer Details
• 3-layer H2No waterproof / breathable
• 3/4 length front zipper
• Side zippers for ventilation
• Can be stuffed into rear pocket
• Colors: black, wavy blue
• MSRP: $319 USD
• More info: patagonia.com
Patagonia is well known for their eco-conscious efforts, so it's not surprising that the fabrics used to construct the Dirt Roamer are 100% recycled. In addition, there's a prominently displayed link on their website to that allows potential buyers to browse an extensive selection of used clothing - going the used route for a rain jacket makes a ton of sense.
Ion Shelter 3L Jacket
As the name implies, the Shelter 3L uses a three-layer fabric with a 10k/10k water column / breathability rating, and a DWR coating on top of that. There are zippered underarm vents, and a generously-sized main zipper pull. That might not seem like an important detail, but I've found myself saying bad words on more than one occasion due to zippers that are hard to operate with cold, wet hands, so it's good to see that Ion went with a more substantial option.
A microfiber cloth on an elastic band is located inside the right zippered pocket, which is convenient, although it might not be that useful after a few extra muddy rides. Either way, I appreciate the concept.
Ion Shelter 3L Details
• 100% recycled 3 layer waterproof / breathable fabric
• Zippered underarm vents
• Integrated lens cloth
• Colors: evil amber, black
• MSRP: $280 USD
• More info: boards-more.com/
I'd put the Shelter 3L in a similar category as the Pearl Izumi 3L – it's a jacket that's best suited to the really grim days, the ones where you're not going to be taking off a layer any time soon. It doesn't pack down super small, so it'll work best on rides where you don't need to worry about finding a place to store it. It's not an ultralight option, but the flip side is that the fabric feels like it should hold up well, even if it ends up getting dragged on the ground a time or two during unplanned mid-ride dismounts.
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