This is a work in progress. My 2018 Gear post had several entries which were too long and should have been more complete reviews. This is one of those. I make a copy of the text and dumped it here. I will update this page in the next month or so.
ArcTeryx Norvan SL Rain Jacket is one of the lightest, most breathable rain jacket currently available. I can actually wear it comfortably jogging in cool, rainy weather. I have been using mine for more than a year without any durability issues, but people who aren’t as careful as me might have issues.
The first jacket I owned had a defective zipper which leaked in the rain. ArcTeryx replace my jacket free of charge (and offered to switch me to the heavier and more expensive Norvan since even the replacement Norvan SL’s zipper is only water resistant, not waterproof). I stuck with the SL because I preferred it’s fit, feel, breathability and the SHAKEDRY fabric. The zippers still leak a bit in heavy rains but I think the breathability offsets this. Rumor is that ArcTeryx is going to rework the zipper at some point. I haven’t found any jacket which has subjective breathability of this jacket.
I have done a post about rain gear with other thoughts. If the Norvan SL doesn’t sound right for you, I would recommend looking at:
- Hyper Mountain Gear “The Shell” might be a winner in-spite of it’s high price. It’s practical “breathability” might approach the Norvan SL thanks thanks to having pitzips provided the fabric is as breathable as he Focus LT and if it resists wetting out. That’s a lot of “if”s.
- Westcomb’s Focus LT seems subjectively the closest to the Norvan SL in terms of breathability, but will wet out in an extended rain.
- Columbia Outdry Extreme Featherweight Shell while less breathable than the Focus LT should resistant wet out like the Norvan SL, is more durable than the Norvan SL, and can sometimes be found on sale for around $120.
- O2 Rain Jacket is one of the cheapest and most breathable jackets for people who don’t care about fit or looks and don’t need durability.