The hood proved to be the Achilles' heel of this rain jacket, which was otherwise completely waterproof.
The fabric of the Rhyolite sports DValpine technology claiming to ensure proper waterproofing while maintaining breathability, while its DWR coating and fully taped and sealed seams reinforce its water resistance. The fabric backs up its claims, keeping all water out. However, there was a fatal flaw in the design, as the hood was practically nonfunctional, allowing water in in a variety of conditions.
The REI Rhyolite makes a lot of claims about its breathability, with DValpine and DWR technology with a Direct Venting™ membrane and eVent fabrics, not to mention its mesh pockets for added air circulation. However, we found the breathability to be benefitted more by the loose fit than any of its advanced technology. Given that this jacket boasts that it is "perfect for mountaineering, backpacking, and snowsports," the high degree of insulation of this jacket makes it just so—excellent for cold-weather adventures, but not so great for hot, humid days or high-exertion activities.
This jacket ranked as the least comfortable. With its stiff, unflattering fabric, this jacket is built like a rhino. REI's research and development department definitely sacrificed style and comfort for performance with this piece. However, it did have a surprisingly flattering fit for a curvier body.
At 11.6 ounces, this jacket was surprisingly light given its thick, stiff construction.
Built like a tank, this jacket will last you a long time, showing no signs of wear or tear over the several months we tested it. If you want a jacket that will serve as a trusty companion for decades, this is it.
Portability doesn't seem to have been a top priority for REI when designing the Rhyolite, though it did surprise us by coming in at under 200 cubic inches when packed down, making it by far not the bulkiest jacket we tested.
The Rhyolite was not the most packable of all of the jackets we tested, but what it lacked in compactness, it made up for in general ruggedness.
The REI Rhyolite was built for heavy use serving as a great alpine shell or everyday wearer. We would not recommend it for backpacking use, as it will bunch and cause chafing.
This jacket ranked among the higher priced jackets at $189, and while it will keep your torso dry and act as a heavy-duty shell, it is not ideal for all uses. If you live in a rainy area or if you need a shell for frequent mountain excursions, the value may prove itself with regular use.
Designed for alpine use, the REI Rhyolite is a beast of a jacket with water-impermeable fabric and durable construction. As an investment for long-term wear, this jacket may be the only one you need, though it did fall far short when it came to comfort and certainly isn't for the ultralight outdoors person.