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 option for short hikes, drizzly early morning dog walks, and yard work. It's light enough for longer hikes and backpacking trips but will perform best in cool weather when ventilation isn't as important.
New Colors Available
This jacket is available in a wide array of colors running the spectrum of the rainbow. Shown above is one of the current colorways.
350-D 100% recycled nylon, polycarbonate PU membrane, tricot backer
100% nylon ripstop
2 hand pockets
2 hand pockets
2 zippered hand pockets
2 zip hand pockets
Are Lower Pockets Hipbelt Friendly?
Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight)
Stows Into Pocket?
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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, 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 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.
DWR can be restored or reapplied as it loses its effectiveness. See our Buying Advice article for information on care and maintenance of your rain jacket.
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 wearer's 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's hardly ultralight but plenty light enough for casual day hikes or heading to the baseball game where you might want a just-in-case jacket.
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, other models are more resistant to snagging and rips. This budget model is slightly less durable than some, but the price is right.
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. Similarly to weight, while this model isn't nearly as compact as the majority of products we tested, it's still relatively compressible and is small enough to fit in backpacks for casual outings.
The Watertight 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.
The Watertight II has mesh-lined pockets for ventilation, but no pit-zips.
Often on sale for under the list price, this is a killer deal for a simple, functional rain jacket. If you want a more versatile jacket for a wider range of conditions and high energy activities, you'll want to look elsewhere; a well-ventilated 2.5-layer jacket, like those found in our review, are great values.
For the most budget-oriented shoppers, the Columbia Watertight II is easily one of our favorites. It will keep you warm and dry around town, on the trail, and on weekend adventures — without punching a hole in your wallet. While you can spend more to get a jacket that will perform better, this model gets the basics done.
A rain jacket that keeps you dry when the skies let loose...
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