Where We Test
Testing rain jackets require a healthy dose of rain, snow, and drizzle, and the Pacific Northwest gave us plenty for the past 10 years. We took these models up glaciated peaks, on rainforest hikes, on ski tours and fall hikes, and backpacking trips in the sleet and rain. We also wore them around town, biking and walking through November Farmers Markets. We've been testing these jackets for many years, and our objective approach to testing is what sets us apart from any other review you'll find online.
Each jacket has seen its fair share of water, as our testing primarily takes place in the rainy Pacific Northwest. For each jacket, we note features that add water resistance, like a stand-out hood or protected zippers. If we can't find a good rainstorm, we spray each jacket down with water — with us inside!
Breathability and Venting
To see how well each breathes and vents, we hike, ski, and backpack in cool conditions in each. We also note features that allow off-loading of heat, such as pit zips.
Comfort and Mobility
Which feels soft and pliable? Which moves with the body? To test this, we take each jacket on adventures that require full-body use, like climbing, hiking, skiing, and more. Those with thoughtful features and softer, more flexible fabrics typically do better here.
Weight and Packability
A great shell should feel light and airy. For this metric, we simply measured each on a scale. We also stuff, pull, and push to see how small these jackets can get. We also note if any model comes with a stowable stuff sack. Those that stuff better score higher in this metric.
After our period of use (ranging from three months to years), we note and continually update our findings on the relative durability of the fabrics. We search for wear and tear, flyaways, and other issues that might present and become an issue down the road.