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Columbia Watertight II Review

An excellent price, but it doesn't offer nearly as many outdoor activity oriented features as other models we review
columbia watertight ii rain jacket review
Credit: Columbia
Price:  $100 List
Manufacturer:   Columbia
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2020
50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 16
  • Water Resistance - 30% 6.0
  • Breathability & Venting - 25% 3.0
  • Comfort & Mobility - 20% 5.0
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 6.0
  • Durability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

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.
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable
Affordable
Athletic fit
Good wrist cuffs
REASONS TO AVOID
Bulky
Warm
Limited hood adjustment
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.

May 2020

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Pros Comfortable, affordable, athletic fit, good wrist cuffsStretchy material, great freedom of movement, pleasant cut, solid storm protection, lightweight, compresses into its pocket, good valueIncredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volumeBetter breathability than others in its price range, decent ventilation, roll away hood, nice pit zips, affordableGreat value, cut for layering, compresses into its pocket, respectable weight, hood tucks away nicely into the collar
Cons Bulky, warm, limited hood adjustmentSo-so breathability, hood doesn't fit very well over a helmetWets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interiorNo chest pocket, not quite as breathable as models that use non-coated membraneLess durable, poor breathability, DWR is short-lived
Bottom Line An excellent price, but it doesn't offer nearly as many outdoor activity oriented features as other models we reviewA solid all-around option for the price, with great mobility and respectable storm protectionOne of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional featuresA great jacket that offers above-average breathability, with an excellent price tagA great price on a reasonably solid jacket that performs similarly to others in its price range
Rating Categories Columbia Watertight II Black Diamond Storm... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Marmot PreCip Eco REI Co-Op Rainier
Water Resistance (30%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Breathability & Venting (25%)
3.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Comfort & Mobility (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Weight & Packability (15%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Columbia Watertight II Black Diamond Storm... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Marmot PreCip Eco REI Co-Op Rainier
Measured Weight (Medium) 13.5 oz 11.5 oz 12.5 oz 13.5 oz 13 oz
Waterproof Fabric Material 2-Layer Omni-Tech w/ Mesh Liner 2.5 layer propriatary BD.dry 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite NanoPro Peak 2.5-layer waterproof breathable laminate
Pockets 2 hand pockets 2 lower hand pockets 2 hand 2 zip hand pockets 2 lower hand pockets
Hipbelt Friendly Hand Pockets No No No No No
Pit Zips No Yes No Yes Yes
Helmet Compatible Hood No No No Yes No
Stows Into Pocket Yes Yes No Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii and adidas ax 2.0 gtx on a quick day hike to bear...
The Watertight II and Adidas AX 2.0 GTX on a quick day hike to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Water Resistance


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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii is big enough that it kept our head dry, but it...
The Watertight II is big enough that it kept our head dry, but it only features a drawstring around the front of the hood and no cinch on the back, giving the wearer less peripheral vision than other models we tested.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - our testing team was impressed by the watertight ii's water...
Our testing team was impressed by the Watertight II's water resistance, especially considering its price. It performed well in our side-by-side shower tests and kept us dry while working out in the rain.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii uses 2-layer construction with a mesh liner to...
The Watertight II uses 2-layer construction with a mesh liner to protect its waterproof fabric from wear. While this makes the jacket less packable, it does feel nice against the wearer's skin.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii is perfect for around-town use and the occasional...
The Watertight II is perfect for around-town use and the occasional trip to the woods. It also has one of the more stylish cuts, in this tester's opinion.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - this piece has an athletic fit for an inexpensive jacket, and the...
This piece has an athletic fit for an inexpensive jacket, and the two-layer design is warm for casual use in cool weather.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii offered decent range of motion. for some longer...
The Watertight II offered decent range of motion. For some longer armed testers, the sleeves would pull slightly back near the wearer's wrists while reaching, but besides that, the Watertight performed respectably.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Pocket Design

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.

Weight


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.

Durability


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.

Packed Size


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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - this model has a comfortable mesh lining to protect the two-layer...
This model has a comfortable mesh lining to protect the two-layer fabric, and nice cuffs with both elastic and Velcro closures.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Features


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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - the watertight ii's pockets are lower down on the jacket. while...
The Watertight II's pockets are lower down on the jacket. While that's convenient for strolling around town or casual hikes, they get covered up by a harness or a backpack's waist belt. If the pack is heavy, the zippers tend to get pinched into the user's hips.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

The Watertight II has mesh-lined pockets for ventilation, but no pit-zips.

Value


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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - this jacket stuffs into a hand pocket. it's one of the bulkier...
This jacket stuffs into a hand pocket. It's one of the bulkier jackets we tested, but compared to two-layer jackets from even just a few years ago, it is relatively compact.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Conclusion


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.

columbia watertight ii rain jacket review - after a sunny afternoon, cool, misty weather is blowing in over the...
After a sunny afternoon, cool, misty weather is blowing in over the continental divide. The Watertight II is warm and comfortable for setting up and relaxing in camp.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

Ian Nicholson
 
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