Choosing a Waterproof Jacket

My enjoyment of the 5K “Hoofin’ to the Cow” was a bit muddled literally as it POURED down rain the entire morning.  Luckily no storms, but lots of wind and blowing rain.  That was when I discovered my 3 year old Columbia rain jacket … that I got for $39 at the Columbia outlet store was no longer waterproof.   Not good with our upcoming Alaska adventure.   I’m bummed because I loved that jacket and it took me many places, like hiking in the pouring rain over the Logan Pass to Many Glacier, and I remained completely dry.  But nothing lasts forever and it’s time for a new jacket before Alaska … especially since by opting for being in Denali National Park for the August 25, “Christmas at Denali” celebration, we picked the rainiest month in Alaska… how did we manage that?  Moving on.


Columbia Peak 2 Peak Rain Shell

Backpacker Magazine recommends some high-end rain jackets that I’m sure would keep me TOTALLY dry, but would also break the bank.  So I’m pretty sure I don’t need to be THAT dry!   🙂

Here’s what I’m looking for:

1.  Lightweight, but totally waterproof AND breatheable.   There are various weights of “lightweight” I’m finding.  The Columbia & Marmot jackets I’ve owned in the past have a “breatheable” lining that eventually deteriorates, but they’re VERY lightweight – they roll up small enough I can tuck them in a corner of my camera backpack without having to eat up all the extra space for just a rain jacket.  David’s rain jacket, which he loves, is a bit heavier material and rolls down to probably twice the size of mine.  But I may opt for a bit heavier jacket because Alaska is Alaska and I’ve always heard that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing” — was that the Patagonia founder?  🙂

2.  Preferably 27″ or longer.   My current Columbia jacket is 25″ in the back.  The prior Marmot rain jacket I had was 27″ long.  I would have never thought it, but the extra 2″ makes a BIG difference in how dry (or wet) I get!  I guess if I’m wearing my rain pants, it doesn’t matter, but hopefully I won’t be wearing them all the time.

3.  Built in hood, I really don’t care if it rolls up into the jacket collar – in fact, I’d almost prefer it didn’t.  But I DO care about how snugly it fits around my face and neck to keep the water from running down my back, sometimes despite my goretex rain hat.

Marmot PreCip Jacket

Marmot PreCip Jacket

4.  Price tag under $200, under $100 would be even better.

Any recommendations?  Here are top contenders in my jacket search so far.   Anyone own any of these & could comment pro and con? Please leave a comment.  

1.  Columbia Peak Performance:  27.5″ long, meets all the criteria except it’s possibly a big bulkier than I’d like.  It’s also included as the “value” choice from the Backpacker Magazine review above.  But it’s $169.99 on Amazon.


2.  Marmot PreCip – same jacket I had prior to the Columbia jacket I have now.  27″ with 2.5 oz material – very lightweight.  $99 at REI.     I liked this jacket alot and it may become my default choice.



Marmot Oracle

3.  Marmot Oracle.  27.5″ long, 3.0 oz material, a bit heavier and more durable than the PreCip.  $129 at REI.










Patagonia Torrentshell

4.  Patagonia Torrentshell, great jacket, highly recommended by my son, but only 25.5″ in length in the back. Packs down really really small, but at such a light weight, not sure it’s what I need in Alaska where there are sure to be some chilly days & nights.   $129 at REI.



  1. Davet Covillon says:

    I was unaware that there were so many different methods of waterproofing a jacket in Toronto. I had never known that so many options were available. I’ll definitely take this into consideration next time I am shopping! Thanks!

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