There's a place on many consumers' coat racks for a simple, affordable, entry-level rain jacket, and the Columbia Watertight II is our favorite of the more budget-oriented models on the market. It fits well, looks sharp, provides good mobility, and — most importantly — will keep you dry. The Watertight II is built for the budget-conscious and is a perfect, everyday cool, raisseason option for short hikes, drizzly early morning dog walks, and yard work. It' light enough for longer hikes and backpacking trips but will perform best in cool weather when ventilation isn't as important.
Columbia Watertight II Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, affordable, athletic fit, good wrist cuffs
Cons: Bulky, warm, limited hood adjustment
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Columbia Watertight II
|Price||$40.49 at Amazon|
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|$249.00 at REI||$172.46 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Comfortable, affordable, athletic fit, good wrist cuffs||Top-tier storm-worthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness and hip-belt friendly pockets||The most breathable material in our review, lightweight and compressible, stretchy fabric, top-tier hood design, extremely stormworthy||Stretchiest fabric in our review, cozy interior feel, breathability, robust, pleasant low-profile wrist closures, hood design is comfortable and maintains good peripheral vision||Awesome hood, fantastic fit, very durable, exceptionally versatile, good breathability and ventilation, waterproof pockets|
|Cons||Bulky, warm, limited hood adjustment||No ventilation options, expensive, no easy way to clip to a harness||Cut is slightly on the boxy side, not as durable as other models||No chest pocket, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, size up this model to accommodate layering||Heavy for a "minimalist" design, slightly more expensive than non Gore-Tex jackets|
|Bottom Line||An excellent price, but it doesn't offer nearly as many outdoor activity oriented features as other models we review.||This storm-worthy and function-focused model is exceptionally versatile, offering some of the best across-the-board performance in our review.||One of the best jackets for backpacking and hiking, it's and packable, yet still provides top-tier storm worthiness.||A solid alpine performer for mixed weather conditions, this mega stretchy model moves with you - without holding you back.||While this jacket didn't win an award, it remains one of our favorites and is an awesome do-anything jacket offering excellent stormworthiness, functionality, & durability.|
|Rating Categories||Columbia Watertight II||Arc'teryx Zeta SL||REI Co-op Drypoint GTX||Rab Kinetic Plus||Marmot Minimalist|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Breathability & Venting (25%)|
|Comfort & Mobility (20%)|
|Packed Size (5%)|
|Specs||Columbia...||Arc'teryx Zeta SL||REI Co-op Drypoint...||Rab Kinetic Plus||Marmot Minimalist|
|Measured Weight (Medium)||13.5 oz||11 oz||10.5 oz||10 oz||15 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||2-Layer Omni-Tech w/ Mesh Liner||2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus waterproof breathable laminate||3-layer Gore-Tex Active||Proflex™ 3-layer||GORE-TEX with PacLite technology|
|Face Fabric and Layer Construction||Nylon w/ coated waterproof breathable insert and hanging mesh protective liner||40-denier ripstop (N40r) GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus||20D ripstop nylon||Propriety Proflex waterproof membrane 2.5L||100% recycled polyester|
|Pockets||2 - hand pockets||2 hand||2 zip hand||2 hand||2 zip hand, 1 chest|
|Are lower pockets hipbelt friendly||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight)||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Stows Into Pocket?||Yes||No||No||No (but included stuff sack)||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We consider the Watertight II to be one of the better entry-level rain jackets on the market. Constructed with two-layer fabric technology and a mesh liner, it's comfortable and waterproof for around town and a good option for cool weather work and casual hiking or a day of resort skiing now and then.
This jacket kept us dry during our side-by-side shower tests and kept the rain out while working in it. The hood is simple and doesn't offer any cinching feature on the back, meaning it can feel floppy and loose and doesn't offer particularly great peripheral vision. However, it performs well enough as far as keeping the wearer's head dry goes. The Watertight II offers a fairly large brim over the brow, mostly keeping the rain off the wearer's face, but it is not stiffened.
This hood fits well over a baseball cap, though not as well over a lower-profile bike helmet, should either of those items ever end up being part of your regular rainy day costume. If you plan to climb or bike with a helmet regularly, we'd steer you toward the Marmot PreCip or Patagonia Torrentshell, which feature bigger hoods that work better with a helmet. The wrist cuffs have a simple Velcro tab for cinching them down, which is helpful for gardening or working in the rain. Finally, this jacket beads water well, but the DWR will need maintenance over time. After a few hikes, areas that are vulnerable to wear — primarily the forearms and shoulders — were losing their DWR and beginning to wet out.
Breathability & Ventilation
This product uses Columbia's Omni-Tech waterproof breathable two-layer laminate; this is an entry-level fabric technology that doesn't breathe as well as many other 2.5-layer fabrics we tested. That said, during low energy and cool-weather activities, many folks will find the mesh liner (which protects the two-layer fabric on the inside) to be very comfortable. Besides being slightly less breathable, this jacket doesn't feature pit-zips, meaning it's not that great for more aerobic activities like hiking and backpacking.
Comfort & Mobility
This model is very comfortable; it's also form-fitting enough for around the town use. The smooth nylon taffeta lining feels nice on the chin and brow when the hood is snugged up; the hood moves okay when looking around, and the athletically cut jacket allows reasonable freedom of movement for the arms without exposing your waist; however, while reaching up, the wrist area of the sleeve did pull back.
All the zipper pull tabs on this rain jacket have small strings attached to make things easier, especially when wearing gloves. Additionally, the simple cord that locks at the hood and waist hem is easy to tighten or loosen with one hand. However, it is difficult to adjust the hood once the collar is fully zipped. Instead, it's necessary to adjust the tension before zipping the collar. While this is inconvenient, the design keeps everything inside the hood away from the water.
The Watertight II features two handwarmer pockets, one of which is a stuff pocket with reversal zipper, allowing for a tight little package. These pockets do get in the way while wearing a backpack because the waist-belt ends up directly on top of them, rendering them unusable. The zippers would also bite into the wearers' hips with heavier loads or extended outings.
This rain jacket weighed in at 13.5 ounces, which despite its two-layer construction, is comparable to many of its closest competitors. It is barely heavier (0.5-2.5 ounces) than the Marmot PreCip, The North Face Venture 2, or the Patagonia Torrentshell.
The nylon face fabric on this model is thick, but it does not have a ripstop weave. If you're planning to bushwhack or prune your berry bushes, The North Face Venture 2, Patagonia Torrentshell, or Marmot PreCip are more resistant to snagging and rips.
This model is one of the bulkier ones we tested. On the plus side, it does stuff into and stows in its left-hand pocket. It fits well, is easy to stuff, and the zipper is easy to operate.
This rain jacket has a simple hood with no brim stiffening and only a single elastic cinch cord around the face. The cord locks are located on the inside of the hood and must be tightened before the collar is zipped up; there is no back adjustment to change where the brim falls on your brow. Being of two-layer construction, the nylon taffeta lining fabric of the hood and collar touches your face.
There is a hang loopback of the collar, but it's important to note that this jacket does not have pit-zips. It has two hand pockets that have traditional zippers covered by storm flaps, and the wrist cuffs have elastic on the inside of the wrist, as well as a Velcro cinch tab. The elastic hem cinch cord has one cord lock on the right side.
This is a killer deal for a simple, effective rain jacket. If you want a more versatile jacket for warmer weather and high energy activities, a well-ventilated 2.5-layer jacket like the Marmot PreCip, Patagonia Torrenthshell, or The North Face Venture 2 are great values but significantly more cost.
Of the three 2 layer, mesh-lined jackets on the market, the Columbia Watertight II is easily one of our favorites. It's great for casual and around-town use and is simple and effective; the price is also right. This jacket will keep you warm and dry around town, on the trail, and on weekend adventures.
— Ian Nicholson