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REI Co-op Stormbolt GTX Review

Top tier weather protection and breathability, coupled with an excellent set of outdoor oriented features make this one of our favorite models for soggy excursions into the backcountry
REI Co-op Stormbolt GTX
Photo: REI Co-op
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $279 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Great weather resistance, long-lasting DWR, breathable, pack-friendly pockets, helmet-compatible hood maintains good peripheral vision
Cons:  Average weight and compressed size, bulky cut
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2021
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Water Resistance - 30% 9
  • Breathability & Venting - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Mobility - 18% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Durability - 5% 6
  • Packed Size - 7% 7

Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Stormbolt GTX offers some of the best overall weather protection and breathability in our review. This coupled with its outdoor-centric features like raised, pack-friendly handwarmer pockets, helmet-compatible hood, large pit zips, and layering-friendly cut makes it ideal for folks who still find themselves going out into the backcountry whether the weather is rain or shine. While not the lightest or most compressible option the Stormbolt is hardly heavy either and ranked pretty average overall in our review. Plus for those 4-6 more extra ounces over an Ultralite model, you get a significantly more storm-worthy shell.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
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Pros Great weather resistance, long-lasting DWR, breathable, pack-friendly pockets, helmet-compatible hood maintains good peripheral visionTop-tier storm-worthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness and hip-belt friendly pocketsStormworthy, versatile, durable, comfortable, high level of ventilationGreat storm protection, above average breathability, no clammy feeling, packs tightly into reversible stuff pocket, deep helmet-compatible hood, less crinklyIncredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volume
Cons Average weight and compressed size, bulky cutNo ventilation options, expensive, no easy way to clip to a harnessOn the heavier sideAverage freedom of movement, less stretchy than most other air-permeable models, fit, low handwarmer pockets could be more functionalWets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interior
Bottom Line Top tier weather protection and breathability, coupled with an excellent set of outdoor oriented features make this one of our favorite models for soggy excursions into the backcountryThis stormworthy and function focused model is exceptionally versatile, offering some of the best performance in our reviewA fantastic all-around shell with some of the best ventilation features out there, in a fairly light, durable, and stormworthy packageThis jack-of-all-trades jacket offers some of the best weather protection and durability for an air-permeable modelOne of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional features
Rating Categories REI Co-op Stormbolt GTX Arc'teryx Zeta SL Outdoor Research Foray Outdoor Research Microgravity REI Co-op XeroDry GTX
Water Resistance (30%)
9
9
9
8
8
Breathability & Venting (25%)
8
8
8
8
8
Comfort & Mobility (18%)
8
8
8
8
7
Weight (15%)
6
7
5
6
6
Durability (5%)
6
8
8
8
6
Packed Size (7%)
7
7
5
7
7
Specs REI Co-op... Arc'teryx Zeta SL Outdoor Research... Outdoor Research... REI Co-op XeroDry...
Measured Weight (Medium) 14.5 oz 10.9 oz 16 oz 14.5 oz 12.5 oz
Waterproof Fabric Material 3-layer GORE-TEX 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof breathable laminate 2.5 layer Gore-tex with PacLite Technology Ascentshell 3L 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite
Face Fabric and Layer Construction 30-denier ripstop nylon 40-denier ripstop (N40r) Gore-Tex Paclite Plus 50D w/ Gore-tex PacLite waterproof breathable membrane 100% nylon stretch ripstop Polyester
Pockets 2 hand 2 hand pockets 1 chest pocket, 2 hand pockets 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand
Are lower pockets hipbelt friendly Yes Yes Almost No No
Pit Zips Yes Yes Yes No No
Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight) No No Yes Yes No
Stows Into Pocket? No No Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

One of REI's higher-end pieces of rain gear, the Stormbolt GTX is a function-oriented piece of storm protection geared for the outdoors. With some of the best weather protection in our review, along with raised, pack-friendly handwarmer pockets, a helmet-compatible hood, and a layering-oriented fit, this is a jacket that any outdoor enthusiast will appreciate.

Performance Comparison


The Stormbolt is one of our review teams' favorite overall models...
The Stormbolt is one of our review teams' favorite overall models. Its versatility and all-around performance can be appreciated by almost any user but is most welcomed by backpackers, climbers, and hikers who will most appreciate the majority of its features which feature more a nod towards outdoor activities than most others we tested.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Water Resistance


The Stormbolt uses a 3-layer construction with a Gore-Tex membrane. It performed exceptionally well in all of our tests, proving to be one of the absolute best models at keeping us dry, even for extended periods in heavy rain. After directly comparing it to the rest of the products in our fleet, via a series of hose and shower tests, as well as a week-long backpacking trip in the North Cascades, it truly impressed all of our testers.

Photo: Ian Nicholson

It took longer to "wet out" than some in our fleet, and its hood, front zipper, and cuffs did a great job of sealing out the elements. Its front zipper isn't a true waterproof zipper, and it's designed with a

minimal storm flap on the bottom; however, this was not an issue for us during testing.

Featuring one of our favorite hood designs, the Storm bolt maintains...
Featuring one of our favorite hood designs, the Storm bolt maintains very good peripheral vision and with the cinch of a toggle, stayed put during aerobic activities or in windier conditions, regardless of headwear.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Hood Design

All of our testers loved the oversized hood; it features a wide range of adjustments, yet still maintains some of the best peripheral vision of any model we tested. It easily fit over nearly all bike or climbing helmets, but still cinched down nicely on just our bare heads. If you have a particularly bulky helmet, this model should still fit — it just might be a little tight.

The Stormbolt's well-designed hood maintains excellent peripheral...
The Stormbolt's well-designed hood maintains excellent peripheral vision. All of our testers were easily able to turn their heads side-to-side without their face turning into the jacket and found it to be one of the nicer hoods overall in the review.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Breathability and Venting


The Stormbolt's Gore-Tex fabric is among the more breathable options in our review, particularly if we are working hard — which is when you generally want a jacket to breathe more.

Made with a thin face fabric and a Gore-tex membrane this model was...
Made with a thin face fabric and a Gore-tex membrane this model was one of the more breathable in our review and was among the last clammy feeling especially among the non-air permeable models.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Air-permeable models have a generally lower, but more static level of breathability. In contrast, this amount of breathability in this model (and all other Gore-Tex options) fluctuates more depending on internal heat build-up, and to a lesser extent, external temperature. When we were building up heat, say during a hike, this model (as well as most others in our review featuring Gore PacLite Plus and Gore-Active) breathed better than models featuring an air-permeable fabric, such as the Outdoor Research Microgravity or the Rab Kinetic Plus. However, these models performed better if it was exceptionally hot and humid out, or once we had cooled off (say, while setting up camp), and allowed us to keep drying out.

One of the few jackets in this category (Gore-tex, sub-$300 and...
One of the few jackets in this category (Gore-tex, sub-$300 and sub-1-pound in weight) to feature pit zips. While the Outdoor Research Foray would also fit in this category for those who run warm should take note that this model offers functional (but otherwise unnoteworthy) pit zips to help facilitate dumping heat even while hiking up the trail in a heavy downpour.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Comfort & Mobility


The Stormbolt's articulated shoulders offer decent mobility. We could reach our arms straight in front of us and straight up with, minimal movement at the hem and cuffs.

We found this model to offer slightly above-average freedom of...
We found this model to offer slightly above-average freedom of movement and range of motion. We think some of that comes from good articulation but some also comes from its slightly baggier-than-average cut.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

While we liked the freedom of movement, we do think some of this mobility comes from its slightly boxy cut. It isn't so big that you need to size down, but it is slightly on the bigger side, and is certainly cut with layering in mind.

Overall this model's modestly mobility-oriented and...
Overall this model's modestly mobility-oriented and layering-friendly cut allowed for an above-average range of motion and made the Drypoint suitable for most outdoor activities, even the fairly rigorous. Our testers could lift their arms forward and raise them above their heads with very little sleeve pull-back.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Pocket Design

Our entire review team absolutely loved the pocket set up, particularly for those looking for a more outdoor-focused piece of rainwear. Its handwarmer pockets are slightly raised, keeping them accessible, even with the waist belt of a pack on. More importantly, having the pockets raised up of the way means they are unlikely to pinch your hips if the zipper gets pinned under the waist belt. We like the single, Napoleon style chest pocket, which was big enough to fit a smartphone, and was completely waterproof.

All of our testers appreciated the functionally positioned pockets...
All of our testers appreciated the functionally positioned pockets that didn't pinch and remained accessible even when wearing a pack with a waist belt or a harness.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weight


At 14.5 ounces, the Stormbolt weighs an average weight among models in our fleet. As far as a hardshell goes, it's on the lighter end of the spectrum. It's on par to other models in its price and performance range. It's still light enough for most backpackers and hikers, and packs in significantly more weather protection than any sub 10 ounce model. While it is a little heavier, it provides better weather protection for only 4-5 ounces more of weight.

The Stormbolt was one of the few models that didn't compress into a...
The Stormbolt was one of the few models that didn't compress into a reversible pocket which wasn't a big deal to most of our testers but we found it pretty average overall in our review. Here it is next to a 1-Litter Nalgene for size reference.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Packed Size


Similar to weight, this model is pretty middle-of-the-road in this metric. It's compressible enough for most outdoor enthusiasts and is ideal to carry as a just in case layer.

Lead tester Ian Nicholson swapping into the Stormbolt.
Lead tester Ian Nicholson swapping into the Stormbolt.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

While this model offered okay weight and packed size performance, these two attributes are what kept it from earning our top award. The

Arc'teryx Zeta SL offered similar performance characteristics for weather protection and breathability, and was 3.5 ounces lighter and 15-20% more packable, pushing it into the top spot.

The Stormbolt offers pretty average overall packability and is seen...
The Stormbolt offers pretty average overall packability and is seen here, the second model from the left with a number of other models in our review.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Durability


This model is made with 30-denier ripstop nylon and is reinforced with a slightly thicker 40-denier ripstop nylon in the shoulders/waist. This was fairly average, with the Stormbolt providing middle of the road abrasion and tear resistance. Our review team was impressed by the longevity of its DWR, and its ability to bead water and not wet out.

While you can buy a rain jacket for roughly half the price of this...
While you can buy a rain jacket for roughly half the price of this model, the Storm bolt will easily outperform these more price-oriented models. Overall we think this jacket represents an excellent value as it performs near as well or as well as several jackets that are $100 more expensive.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Value


The Stormbolt is fairly expensive; however, it presents a good value. It bring a high level of performance, particularly among jackets in the sub $200 range, particularly in weather protection and breathability.

The Stormbolt's top-tier weather resistance and breathability, a...
The Stormbolt's top-tier weather resistance and breathability, a host of very function oriented features coupled with respectable weight and packed volume, make it one of the more most versatile jackets we tested. A
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


The REI Stormbolt GTX is a top-tier contender; it's perfect for any outdoor enthusiast, and brings across-the-board performance that any user hunting for a reliable rain shell will appreciate. From its raised handwarmer pockets to its oversized hood, the majority of this model's features are geared towards outdoor users. It also boasts excellent weather resistance and breathability, and is prepared to keep you dry for days of stormy weather when out on the trail.

Ian Nicholson