This spring, we’ve been reviewing a handful of rain shells with a variety of materials and construction. After giving them each the individual beat-down, it’s time to compare them head-to-head.
Rab Myriad Hardshell – Editor’s Choice
The Rab Carrington Company, based out of the UK, says that they produce gear for the most extreme situations in the world. True to their word, the Myriad hardshell proved to be the most technical jacket of the line-up. Polartec’s Neoshell fabric gave the jacket a leg up on breathability and overall range-of-motion. The aggressive mountaineering design is complemented by two high-set shallow pockets that feature sealed zippers and a very tall collar that lets you seal out the world. If I had to pick a winner, the Rab Myriad would absolutely be my choice. When you wear this jacket, it’s impossible not to love it. With more range-of-motion than anything else I’ve worn, better breathability and unusually good cuff closures (yeah, I’m still talking about those) the Myriad is a firm favorite.
Buy Now: Available at Campsaver.com
Outdoor Research Axiom
Outdoor Research’s bright green Axiom hardshell impressed me with its sheer performance in wet weather. Gore’s Active Shell continues to be a big player in the backless laminate crowd and the Axiom benefits from Gore’s stipulation that all Active jackets need to be under 14 oz. The Axiom makes the cut at 13.5 ounces, making it the second-heaviest jacket in the lineup. I appreciated the sealed zips all around and OR’s excellent quality control made sure that everything was pulling smoothly when it showed up on my doorstep. The jacket also gains big points for packability, since it stuffs into its own right pocket. Overall I loved how the jacket puts up with no performance shenanigans – Gore Active will breathe and keep you dry, ’nuff said.
Buy Now: Available from REI.com
Patagonia Torrentshell Plus
If I were working as a biologist for National Geographic in some South American rain forest where it poured moisture every single day, I would probably reach for the Patagonia Torrentshell. Patagonia’s lofty design philosophy shows through in the Torrentshell and the way that it’s built to last forever. The laminate is robust and resistant to snags and the fabric is an absolute wall to moisture – that being said, it definitely doesn’t breathe worth a darn so pit zips were a necessary addition. I liked that the pit zips were quite easy to pull, but I wish Patagonia had seen fit to include a fleecy chin guard on the collar. Otherwise, the jacket racks up points since it also packs into its own pocket and is backpacking-specific, making it ideal for my needs.
Buy Now: Available from REI.com
Mountain Hardwear Plasmic
The Mountain Hardwear Plasmic is probably the quirkiest jacket in the lineup in that it’s cheap, lightweight and packable, highly waterproof and moderately breathable. It doesn’t slot into a particular category as easily as the other coats do, but it definitely has a solid place. The Plasmic breathes far better than the Patagonia Torrentshell’s bombproof fabric, but it can’t keep pace with more expensive backless laminates like those in the Rab and the OR Axiom. All in all I like this jacket for its styling and around-town appeal, but I wouldn’t classify it as the same sort of performance gear that the three other jackets are.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com