I recently tried out two rain jackets. I realize it’s June but, tragically, here in Seattle I still need rainwear. I was looking for jackets in colors that weren’t girly, something that kept rain off my glasses, and something that fit over my average sized hips and whatever sweater I might be wearing at the moment.
Land’s End AquaCheck Jacket
I really liked this jacket except for one crucial detail which I’ll get to. It is lightweight and packable into one of it’s own pockets, the hood stores away in the collar, the bottom is cut wide enough to allow for wearing a bulky sweater underneath, the Napoleon pocket would allow for a iPod, I even liked the pocket on the sleeve. Only, the visor on the hood of the first one I got was hopelessly bent, and it’s not something I could fix by ironing it. A little excellent customer service later and I had a second jacket, with a visor that was less severely bent but no more likely to shield my face from rain. I tried getting the visor to stay flatish by putting weight on it over night, but no luck. I returned the jacket, but Land’s End, if you ever figure out that hood thing, give me a call.
L.L. Bean Weather Challenger Jacket
I’m a little shy about prices like the one on this jacket, but in this instance I think it’s worth it. It came highly recommended by a friend, and everybody who has one likes it. The jacket has a zip in fleece liner, which is fine to wear on it’s own, and the jacket allows me to wear a sweater under both layers if I wanted. It’s not packable, but it’s nice and sturdy, the hood stores away in the collar and the visor of the hood has a rigid plastic frame which prevents any of the tragedy above. (This jacket also comes in a lovely combination of two green colors which the site is not currently showing but I suspect will reappear at some point as I watched the black/gray color disappear and return earlier this year.)
I was undecided on this jacket for a while but found myself wearing it in a few situations where it proved itself. First was a trip to the Olympic Peninsula where I was glad to have it for a hike in the woods, a walk in the rain forest and visits to very windy beaches. The second was a point where I walked a few miles in the rain and discovered all the ways the hood could be adjusted so you could really cinch yourself in, but still see out from under the hood. Also, all the little metal bits on the inside of the collar are nicely covered with fleece so they don’t rub against your chin or neck when you’re really hunkered down.
So, I kept this one and I’m feeling oddly secure to know that, if I wanted, I’d be all set to go hiking in some freezing rain.
I also looked at L.L Bean’s less expensive Storm Chaser jacket. One of the main reasons I didn’t choose it is that it doesn’t have a collar that stands up separate of the hood. I really like being able to stay snug while in a situation where I’ll be putting the hood up and down a lot. This is one of those features I didn’t know about until I started shopping for jackets, so I thought it might be worth mentioning here.
Two wishlist features:
– A two way zipper that will upzip from the bottom up, which will make it easier to wear while driving. You know, for those moments where it’s pouring but I just need to return some books to the library, just a quick in-and-out of the car moment. While I’d like to claim I’ll only be wearing my hi-tech jacket for hiking in treacherous weather, the truth is I’ll be wearing around town a lot more often.
– A hood made deep enough to accommodate a ponytail. Outerwear manufacturers of the world, I’ll be your first loyal customer for this one.