The REI Drypoint GTX is our Top Pick Award Winner for the best rain jacket for backpacking and hiking and remains an excellent option for a multitude of other outdoor activities. It won our award because it is light and compressible enough for everything from hour-long day hikes, where it might be a just-in-case layer, to soggy week-long backpacking trips. However, that is just the start of its performance attributes for its outdoor prowess. The Drypoint GTX was the most breathable jacket we tested; this, coupled with its stretchy material, and top-tier storm worthiness, means it can also perform well during backcountry skiing, mountaineering, or ice climbing.
REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Review
Cons: Cut is slightly on the boxy side, not as durable as other models
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Drypoint GTX is an all-around superb jacket that was very nearly our Editors' Choice. Despite narrowly missing our highest award, we awarded it our Top Pick for Backpacking and Hiking. It won this award for a variety of reasons; most notably, it proved to have the most breathable material we tested and was one of the most storm resistant - while still being lighter and more packable than the competition. Its stretchy fabric allowed for excellent freedom of movement and its exceptional versatility made it tough to beat for a majority of outdoor activities.
The Drypoint GTX uses a Gore-Tex Active waterproof breathable membrane in a three layer construction. Gore-Tex Active is Gore's lightest and most breathable material in the Gore-Tex fabric line.
The hood was one of the best in the review and did an excellent job of keeping our test team from becoming wet out by the elements. The Drypoint hood also offered fantastic peripheral vision, and no matter how far we turned our heads to either side, our faces never were forced into the hood. This contender featured sweet but straightforward low-profile laminated velcro cuffs and a watertight front zipper.
A small internal storm flap, which is tucked behind the main zipper, revealed no water on our base layer after directly spraying the jacket down with a hose. After several weeks of intense testing, the DWR held up exceptionally well, though average, among similarly priced jackets.
Breathability & Venting
After both real-world testing and our side-by-side treadmill test, we think the Drypoint GTX, with its Gore-Tex Active waterproof membrane, offers the most breathable fabric in the review, even more than Gore-tex Paclite. While there wasn't a major difference between these two materials, all of our testers agreed that discounting differences in ventilation, the Drypoint's Gore fabric appeared to be more breathable than any of the Paclite models.
The Drypoint doesn't feature traditional pit-zips, but it does sport two pockets that are lined with mesh (that can double as vents). These pockets do an okay job of ventilating; after a fair amount of real-world use, this feature worked better than our testers initially expected. In the end, most of our testers thought the combination of the Gore-Tex Active fabric, with the zip-to-vent pockets, allowed enough moisture to pass through. It was our second highest performing contender overall and was competitive with nearly any jacket out there, particularly when it came to breathability and moisture management.
Comfort and Mobility
The Drypoint GTX features one of the stretchier materials in our review, creating impressive freedom of movement. Its cut lets users lift their arms forward or raise them above their heads with only minimal sleeve pull-back. These two attributes contributed to this model offering some of the better range of motion, making it suitable for most outdoor activities, no matter how rigorous.
The Drypoint GTX features one our review teams' favorite overall hood designs. Not only does it do a fantastic job of keeping its wearer's head dry but it stayed put during aerobic activities or when the wind picked up. The sleek single toggle design cinched around our head snugly, regardless of headwear. The hood also did a great job of maintaining decent peripheral vision and was above average when compared to other models we tested. This rain jacket fits over a bike or climbing helmet wonderfully; unlike several other jackets we tested, the user didn't lose much in their field of vision, nor did it detract any considerable amount from the wearer's comfort.
Our testers loved the functionally designed pockets; while slightly on the higher side for classic handwarmer pockets, none of our testers minded. Our entire review team liked that you could access these pockets while wearing a pack or a harness and appreciated that the zippers didn't press into the wearers' hips under a waist belt while backpacking with heavier loads.
At 10.5 ounces, this award winner is one of the lighter membrane-constructed jackets on the market. It's also lighter than all the Gore-Tex Paclite models.
If you're truly after a super light jacket, we suggest checking out the Outdoor Research Helium II at 6.5 ounces or the Black Diamond Fineline (8 ounces). However, you'll find that for a few extra ounces, you get a LOT more breathability, superior weather resistance, and a longer lasting waterproof fabric (with the REI model).
This model is constructed with 20-denier ripstop nylon and offers enough durability for most backpacking and hiking. However, its fabric is slightly on the thinner side and is prone to tearing a bit more than other models with beefier exteriors. It's certainly tougher than the only two models we tested that were slightly lighter (the Outdoor Research Helium II and the Black Diamond Fineline), and we found its weather resistance and DWR far more longlasting.
Top-tier packability is one of the primary reasons you buy this jacket. The Drypoint GTX packed down smaller than all 3-layer construction jackets and was one of the most compressible models in our review. As a whole, it compressed to a smaller size than the Arc'teryx Beta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, The North Face Dryzzle, and the Marmot Minimalist. The only two models that packed down slightly smaller where the Outdoor Research Helium II at 6.5 ounces or the Black Diamond Fineline.
One very small disadvantage is unlike many of the jackets in this review, the Drypoint GTX does not stuff into its own pocket. While we rarely use this feature backpacking (because we more frequently pack it to fill empty spaces), it is nice for day hiking or general use, where it keeps it a little more contained.
The Drypoint GTX is one of the best all-around models that not only performs among the very best for most outdoor activities but its also versatile enough to be a solid do-everything jacket. Its high pockets work well with a backpack hip-belt or a harness for climbing. It is also light enough to be tucked away in the bottom of your pack as a "just-in-case layer" on any day hike. The Drypoint GTX's freedom of movement makes it ideal for climbing or backcountry skiing. For rock climbing applications, the face fabric is not quite as durable as other models we tested, and a little more care should be taken to avoid tearing the sleeves.
At $250, this is one of the more expensive models we tested. However, we found the REI model to offer a decent value, especially when you take its performance attributes into account. While you can buy a jacket for half the price, the Drypoint GTX's performance characteristics, primarily its combination of low weight, stretchy fabric, minimal packed volume, and excellent storm worthiness were enough to justify paying the extra money. This jacket is of particular value if you favor a model that is weather resistance, lightweight, and of decent durability.
The REI Drypoint GTX is a top-tier contender that nearly any user can appreciate. This performance-oriented jacket offers superior breathability, with enough venting that allows for as much moisture movement as you could hope for from a rain shell. Its hood design is one of the best and is helmet friendly. Its only real downside is it offers good, but not the best durability and range of motion.
— Ian Nicholson