Hands-on Gear Review

REI Crestrail Review

Price:  $139 List
Pros:  Stretchy fabric good for mobility, durable face fabric and nice wrist cuffs
Cons:  Quite heavy, doesn't stuff into a pocket
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight:  17.1 oz
Material:  Polyester, REI Elements laminate
Fabric Layer Construction:  2.5-layer
Manufacturer:   REI

Our Verdict

The REI Crestrail rain jacket pairs up REI's proprietary 2.5-layer laminate with a burly and stretchy polyester face fabric. It will keep you dry in the rain, and the fabric is more abrasion resistant than the nylon used in lighter competitors. Comfort features like a fleece-lined collar and shaped wrist cuffs make this a comfy jacket for around town, hiking, and other short adventures.

Discontinued — August 2016
The Crestrail is currently being phased out of REI's line of rain jackets, making room for a new line of products from this manufacturer. This product is currently available on the REI website at a large discount. If you're interested in this product, now is a good time to pick it up!

With its burly face fabric, this jacket competes most directly with the Marmot Minimalist and Outdoor Research Foray. While both of these jackets are more expensive, they are both more durable and lighter as well. In the Crestrail's price range, we highly recommend our Best Buy winner, the Marmot PreCip. We find it a much lighter, higher performing rain jacket at a more affordable price.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley

Last Updated:
Saturday
December 5, 2015

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The REI Crestrail Jacket earned good scores in water resistance, comfort and mobility, and durability, but was one of the heaviest contenders we tested, limiting its overall score.

Performance Comparison


We found this jacket moves well and is generally quite comfortable. The design uses a burly polyester face fabric that focused on durability rather than a light weight.
We found this jacket moves well and is generally quite comfortable. The design uses a burly polyester face fabric that focused on durability rather than a light weight.

Water Resistance


The Crestrail kept us dry both in the shower and when sprayed with a garden hose. The hood cinches up well enough around the face and the offset, adjustable cuff design both seals well and provides some extended coverage for the back of the hand. Most notable though, we were impressed with the DWR's performance over our test period; this jacket beads water well. Our one point of concern lies in the chest pocket zipper, which is located under the main storm flap immediately next to the main zipper. We found it a little awkward to operate, and are concerned water could seep in here during a long rainstorm. For a jacket this heavy, we find the Marmot Minimalist and Outdoor Research Foray both provide better protection.

Breathability & Ventilation


Three mesh-lined pockets and larger-than-average pit zips provide ventilation for this jacket. All zipped up and secured against foul weather, we found the breathability of the Crestrail's fabric to be average. Both the Marmot PreCip and Foray were less steamy inside when all closed up against the rain.

Relatively large pit sips ventilate this jacket well  but we found the zipper design both difficult to operate and a little stiff and uncomfortable in the arm pit.
Relatively large pit sips ventilate this jacket well, but we found the zipper design both difficult to operate and a little stiff and uncomfortable in the arm pit.

Comfort & Mobility


The Crestrail presents a mixed bag in this metric, but earned a slightly above average score. The fleece at the chin and around the neck are nice comfort features, and the jacket in general moves really well with you. Sewn-in cord locks make one-handed adjustment of the hood and waist hem cinches easy, and all the zippers have string pulls with plastic fobs attached. But here is our main complaint. The pit zip zippers. The shell fabric is stitched and laminated right up to the edges of the reversed zipper, making it stiff and uncomfortable in the armpit. In addition, we found these zippers more difficult than others to operate while wearing.

Weight


This rain jacket in size large weighed in at 17.1 ounces on our digital scale, which is quite heavy. Indeed it is the heaviest of the 2.5-layer models we tested. Nearly all of the heavier pieces we tested use a polyester face fabric, and this is true for the Crestrail as well. The stretchy polyester face fabric and the fleece-lined collar that extends all the way around the neck account for most of the weight increase over similar competitors like the Marmot PreCip and Patagonia Torrentshell. While the burly face fabric certainly adds some longevity if abrasion is a concern for you, we didn't find the extra 5 or 6 ounces added much to performance.

The Crestrail is one of the heavier contenders we tested. For around town use and dayhiking this is not a serious drawback  but for multi-day backpacking trips we recommend a lighter rain jacket.
The Crestrail is one of the heavier contenders we tested. For around town use and dayhiking this is not a serious drawback, but for multi-day backpacking trips we recommend a lighter rain jacket.

Durability


The face fabric of this jacket is one of the more abrasion-resistant that we tested. As a result, the Crestrail earned an above average durability score. The construction and sewing quality seems top notch, but we do have a concern related to pairing a very stretchy shell fabric with a seam-taped laminate. We did a lot of pulling and stretching checking out this model, and could see the seam tape pucker up. This is a potential wear area on the inside of the jacket.

Packed Size


Unfortunately, this jacket does not stow in one of its pockets. When we want to pack it away, we roll it up into the hood.

The Crestrail does not include an integral stuff pocket. Rolling it up and stowing it in the hood is the best quick packing option.
The Crestrail does not include an integral stuff pocket. Rolling it up and stowing it in the hood is the best quick packing option.

Features


This 2.5-layer jacket features a hood with a stiffened brim at the brow, but unlike what we feel are more comfortable designs, the elastic cinch cord extends all the way around the face opening across the brow. The cord locks are exterior on both sides. In addition, another elastic cinch cord extends from the temples to the back of your head, where the cord lock is shielded by a small hood of fabric.

The collar is well-featured and includes a fleece-lined interior collar that extends all the way around the back of your neck, but there is no fabric hood for the zipper up front. At the back, below the fleece collar is a small hang loop laminated in with the REI logo size tag.

This model features average sized pit zips, and rather than a storm flap, the reversed zippers are hidden with shell fabric that extends right to their edges. We appreciated the low bulk of this design, but find it to be quite stiff and somewhat uncomfortable under the arms. The pit zips do have zipper pulls at either end for convenience of opening. This model features large, mesh-lined hand pockets, but does not stuff away into either one. On the interior left chest is a zippered pocket (just the right size for a smart phone) that includes a headphones port. All the exterior zipper pulls of this jacket have strings attached with small plastic fobs on the ends, a great feature for ease of use if you're wearing gloves.

The cuffs of this jacket are built with asymmetrical dimensions, with the back of the hand side about one inch longer than the inside wrist. They cinch down nicely with a velcro adjustment tab. Finally, like most other models, the hem can be cinched up with a sewn-in cord lock at either hip.

Stretchy polyester face fabric  larger-than-average pit zips  and shaped adjustable wrist cuffs are nice details on this jacket.
Stretchy polyester face fabric, larger-than-average pit zips, and shaped adjustable wrist cuffs are nice details on this jacket.

Best Applications


With a stretchy and abrasion resistant polyester face, we feel Crestrail is best suited to folks who want an affordable rain jacket that can handle rough use. If you aren't too concerned about weight, this is a good jacket for hiking, backpacking, and and all sorts of outdoor playtime.

Value


At $139, the Crestrail is in the middle of the 2.5-layer rain jacket price field. We feel the Marmot PreCip and Patagonia Torrentshell both deliver better value. But if you seek a model with a more durable face fabric than these two, then the Crestrail is a good deal

Conclusion


The REI Crestrail jacket is a good, solid rain shell. The stretchy fabric helps create a comfortable and mobile jacket that seals out the rain well.

This jacket is a solid choice for all hiking and backpacking adventures if you are not overly concerned about the heavy weight.
This jacket is a solid choice for all hiking and backpacking adventures if you are not overly concerned about the heavy weight.

Other Versions


Crestrail Rain Pants
REI Crestrail Rain Pants
  • Waterproofing: 2.5-layer REI Elements waterproof breathable laminate
  • Pants stow inside their own pocket
  • Available in S,M,L,XL,XXL, and XXXL

Brandon Lampley

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Most recent review: December 5, 2015
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
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