Waterproofness isn't the end all be all of rain jackets. There's so much more that goes into making a jacket a pleasant experience to wear, and we tested it all. We took these coats everywhere with us to gather real-life perspectives of everyday use in actual conditions. We also pushed their limits in the lab to really see where each one's breaking point is. Here's how we did it.
As the most important part of any jacket, we wanted to figure out how much each model could stand. We wore them in rainstorms and even early fall snow. We stood in the shower with them on and used a hose to test different water pressures on each model. We poured water on them and left them sitting to see if they took on water. We filled pockets with paper towels in pockets to see if they held up. We noted how each jacket beads water and at what point it stops being waterproof (if at all). We also considered the various materials and features of each jacket. We tested zippers, storm flaps, seams, cuffs, hems, and hoods.
We, and as many of our friends as could fit, wore these jackets to assess their comfort. We wore them against our bare skin and tried them on over warmer layers. We gauged their fit and overall style for different shaped women. We moved in them - biking, kayaking, climbing, hiking, running, unloading groceries from the car, whatever we could do to test each one's range of motion. We scrutinized the fit and adjustability of each hood, cuff, and hem. And we played with every zipper, cinch cord, and pocket incessantly to see how easy to use they are.
We tested both directions of the breathability of each coat. We stood on windy ridges and in front of high-speed fans. We wore them on an elliptical, doing yoga, walking the dog, and running to see how they handle various levels of activity. We tested features of each jacket, like pit vents, dual zippers, and adjustable cuffs and hems to find the line between perspiration venting and precipitation protection.
We wore these jackets at every available opportunity. Under backpacks and climbing harnesses, for months on end. We stretched and twisted each one to see if they would break or crack under pressure. We scrutinized both materials and construction for obvious flaws and potential weak points. And to broaden our scope even further, we combed the internet for other user's complaints of each jacket.
Weight and Packability
Each jacket went onto a finely tuned scale to see how much it weighs. We also packed them all up - whether into their stow pocket or their hood and all into the bottoms of packs - to see how feasible and easy it is to cart them around. We assessed their bulkiness and flexibility, as well.
Through this intensive and rigorous testing process, we learned the best and worst parts of each jacket. We hope that our trials and boundary-pushing will help you identify the best rain shell for your needs.