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Rain Jacket Help

We are looking for recommendations on an affordable rain jacket. We will be in the Swiss alps this August and while we are hoping for sunshine, we realize we may encounter rain. We are looking for something inexpensive and light/compact.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


Posted by
6788 posts

I usually bring a small waterproof jacket from REI. It was cheap, it's 100% waterproof and works, it's feather-weight, and packs down into a lump about the side of an orange. You might also check out your local Costco if you have one, I've seen some reasonable rain jackets there.

It depends on how serious you want to get, of course. If you were to do extended trekking in Scotland during the rainy season (Jan 1 - Dec 31), I'd get something more strong - Goretex or equivalent, and longer (also considerably more expensive, heavy and bigger) but I think for casual tourism during generally fair weather months, you can get by with something inexpensive and modest. You don't need to spend a lot to get "good enough for most situations" coverage.

Whatever you get, make sure it's 100% waterproof, not just "water resistant" ("water resistant" means you will get soaked, it just takes a couple minutes longer than it would if you had no jacket at all).

Posted by
2529 posts

Waterproof jackets are like wearing cling wrap....soaking is self induced.

Posted by
14159 posts

I prefer a waterproof jacket as well. I always pack one for Europe no matter what time of year. I currently have a Cabela's XPG waterproof and it does not get too clammy inside as the breathability of the waterproof fabrics improves with every new generation of jackets. It was, however, not inexpensive.

I second the notion to check with your local Costco as many here have liked the price point offered there for the waterproof jackets.

I had a Marmot Precip for years but decided I wanted something cut a little roomier to accommodate being able to zip up a purse under the jacket in heavier rain. It was small enough to fold up into a ziplock bag and put in my travel purse.

For Switzerland I'd want one that is roomy enough you can layer under it in case it's cooler than anticipated. I'd also want one with a hood.

The cheapest line may be probably Frog-togs (made of Tyvek stuff) but they don't really fold up small. Plus altho I am one of the dorkiest dressers even these are too much for me!

Posted by
11350 posts

My PreCip by Marmot is waterproof and easily packable. I never travel anywhere without it. REI carries them.

Posted by
221 posts

I purchased my current waterproof Columbia jacket from Amazon. Also, check out Sierra Trading Post. They often have jackets, socks etc. at good prices.

Posted by
7495 posts

I've learned that light, packable, inexpensive jackets are coated with PVC. So they eventually leak at the seams. You should not treat this purchase as a lifetime investment. That makes the decision easier.

Posted by
5837 posts

My weather "bombproof" jacket is a 15-20 year old Patagonia 2.5 layer Gore-tex membrane hooded jacket ($300? back then). I carry the Patagonia for winter travel including ski touring and long distance walks in the rainy season (all year) of the UK.

But for lighter summer and spring travel I have a lightweight Columbia rain jacket that I got for $40 or $60 at a Columbia outlet. It's is light and more flexible (foldable/packable) than the 2.5 layer Gore-tex. Columbia uses a proprietary "Omni-Tech™ waterproof/breathable fully seam sealed" membrane.

Waterproof breathable description:

How does it work? The outer shell of Columbia Omni-Tech products
shields its wearer with windproof and waterproof protection.
Meanwhile, its inner microporous liner allows moisture to escape.
Columbia Omni-Tech is often combined with the brand's Omni-Heat
Reflective tech for further warmth during cold weather outings.

Also helps if the jacket has vents.

Posted by
788 posts

I bought the Colombia Glennaker Lake rain jacket at Bass Pro, though it's also available elsewhere. Think I paid $35 or so. It's crazy light and self-packs into a squishy, compressible cube. It is not breathable, so if you wear it very long in warm weather, it's going to get sweaty. But for the occasional light rain, it served me well in Italy as well as around home. My wife bought a similar Colombia jacket, but I'm not sure about the specifics. She's also been happy with her choice.

Posted by
118 posts

Thank you everyone. As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Posted by
645 posts

My husband has a Red Ledge. I have a couple from Eddie Bauer clearance sales and a Columbia someone left in my daughter's classroom and never claimed. They all look fine and serve the purpose. The Alps are beautiful - enjoy!