My cotton cargo shorts were a soaked mess. My Gore-Tex lined sneakers were dry for about 2 minutes before my smartwool socks sucked the water right it (wicking layers work both ways!). From the waist down, I was sloshing. But my torso, clad in a cotton t-shirt, was dry as a bone under my 13 ounce Patagonia Rain Shadow jacket.
At just 13 ounces, the Rain Shadow has become a go-to travel layer for me. It’s done weekend get-aways to Chicago, road trips through the northeast, Canada, and the American west, and several weeks on safari in Kenya. Balled up in the bottom of a daypack or carry-on, it’s unnoticeable.
When the wind starts to blow or the sky opens up, however, the waterproof breathable nylon ripstop shell is a godsend. It’s breathable enough that it keeps the rain off in warm weather without dousing me in sweat, but married to a fleece it’s a great wind and wet barrier in cooler weather as well. Sure, there are high-end layers that are a third the weight, but they are typically water-resistant. I.e. they’ll keep some sprinkles off you, but they’re gonna wet through in a hurry. Not so with the Rain Shadow.
For me, this thing has been worth twice the price!!
Speaking of . . . while I may like the performance of “technical” outdoor gear, I don’t exactly live a life that involves climbing mountains. Thus, I find it hard to justify spending full price for this sort of performance apparel. The Rain Shadow was something I picked up on super-clearance from a vendor who was getting out of the Patagonia M.A.R.S. line. Mine was about half what the Patagonia web site asks. When Patagonia does their season clearance sales, their stuff can often be had at a similar discount. In fact, the “Web Specials” section of the Patagonia web site even has it on pretty good sale as I write this.
Patagonia Rain Shadow jacket: http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/product/product_focus.jsp?OPTION=PRODUCT_FOCUS_DISPLAY_HANDLER&catcode=MAIN_FA_US.CLOTHING_GEAR.MENS.JACKETS&style_color=84470-886&ws=