Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

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Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Orbita_Serenitatem » Tue 25 Aug, 2020 10:55 pm

Hi forum -

I was slightly pleased last weekend after walking ~12k (2.5hrs) in ~6ºC (Springmount ~600m) moderate / heavy rain and gusty winds to 'feel' that the Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid had 'maybe' kept me dry.

I had purchased the jacket on eBay last January - but skeptical on its rain-proof performance. So last Saturday was a good time to find out.

On the last stretch after 2hrs weather I reasoned that it was A: wet and windy outside, but B: I felt warm and dry inside...

Doffing off the jacket, my cheap Columbia mid layer felt misty damp (I has a cotton T underneath) ... and the jackets Paclite insides were damp - maybe sweat condensation - but not 'sopping'.

I had to split some wood for the house fire and on coming in I opened the zips on the jackets pockets and the pockets had a pool of water in them.

So I have deducted that:

A: the aqua guard zips on the pockets are obviously not waterproof over that timeframe - my mobile phone is dead because of that.

B: The jacket may be water'proof' but doesn't breathe - at some stage on my walk I did heat up and slow down to compensate for sweat.

C: I glare at this 'top brand' Arc'teryx and consider:
C1: That is is a nice jacket for light showers
C2: That I was perspiring a fair bit on the walk
C3: Make a frame and put a sprinkler on it for 3hrs

How do you test a rain jacket / shell.. in your own back yard? Make a scarecrow frame and soak it for a bit..? Wear it in the shower?

Would you prefer waterproof and put up with condensation..?

Any recommendations on a new jacket..?

Thanks - Robt
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby CraigVIC » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:07 am

Sounds depressing. I also have a jacket that does the same thing, pockets fill up with water from leaking 'waterproof' zips. I was looking at an outdry ex but it also has exposed pocket zips (pu vislon). I wonder if any if these type zips work?
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:12 am

Nothing worse than spending a lot and being disappointed. I'm not trying to be funny but I reckon you already tested the jacket well. Were you wearing a ruckie as well? Were you walking at a good clip? Sounds like your metabolic rate was such that your perspiration overwhelmed the fabric. Cotton against the skin was not a good idea, but did you feel warm and largely dry (you seem to suggest so?) under the jacket? If so sounds like you found what a lot of these jackets will 'do' and not pass anywhere near enough moisture out when working at a moderate level and especially not a high level and it gathered on the inner surface. Were there wet patches on the outside of the fabric? If so I reckon after two hours you have a claim with the company. Otherwise it may have done what it was designed to do and keep you from wetting from the outside. If they claimed no matter how hard you work you would remain dry under(none say this I think) you probably have no claim unfortunately as it seems(?) you largely remained dry in a downpour.
Next time I would say you need as little underneath as you can wear and something that will drag the moisture off your skin and allow it to disperse off your skin such as a Thermalweight Capilene.
Or UL fleece-100 Wt trying to keep your skin as cool as possible. Six degrees is not too cold so wearing the right thing and very little of it under under should help.
Good luck.
Last edited by Lamont on Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Huntsman247 » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:16 am

I've got a Beta AR.
Pockets fill up faster then buckets in decent rain. In hindsight looking at the design of the zips I don't understand how such a premium company could think that they will not allow water in.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby ChrisJHC » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:17 am

Try putting your phone in a ziploc bag - keeps it waterproof and you can still use most functions.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 7:22 am

CraigVIC wrote:Sounds depressing. I also have a jacket that does the same thing, pockets fill up with water from leaking 'waterproof' zips. I was looking at an outdry ex but it also has exposed pocket zips (pu vislon). I wonder if any if these type zips work?

If they are vertical Craig they may be fine. Mine have not let water in on my Columbia jacket nor my Marmot Nano AS. Both are vertical right on the front of the body. I walk often with them open in some rain and no water in. I would never trust any zip that's exposed. My Lightheart Gear jacket Sil/pu also has vertical pocket openings and no zips and gets very little water ingress.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby north-north-west » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 8:10 am

Those zips are not waterproof, they are water-resistant. A truly waterproof zip is a bulky and expensive thing.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Eremophila » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 8:22 am

I'm also in the process of testing a new jacket, my issue being that the fabric appears not to be waterproof. We've finally had some decent rain over the last few days, but the good rainfall has mostly been in the middle of the night or during times when I'm working. So I think I'll don the jacket in the shower today.

Amongst the features listed for your jacket: Note: Our WaterTight zippers are highly water resistant, but not waterproof. We do not recommend keeping items in your pockets that may be damaged by moisture

I've started re-researching, anticipating that I'll need to return this jacket and buy another one. I'm quite surprised at the proportion of rain jackets which now have exposed zips. Is this part of a trend in "exercise" gear towards a sleeker profile? AquaGuard zips are specifically marketed as water resistant and not waterproof, which kinda defeats the purpose of the garment.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby CraigVIC » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 8:51 am

Lamont - looking at the Reign, the only model that's easily available.

NNW - I get that but I'm not expecting it to be a dry suit. It seems reasonable to expect zips put on the front of a rain shell to be effectively waterproof in normal use.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby wayno » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 9:37 am

if the outside or inside of the jacket is covered in water, the jacket won't breathe, it provides a barrier, the jackets let water vapour through and the wicking process doesnt work when the fabric is wet,

when the atomspheric humidity is high, that reduces the amount of moisture that will move through the fabric, when its raining if the air is around 100% humidity, the jacket isnt going to keep up with shifting your sweat...

three layer are better, two layer rainshels the sweat often smears over the inner fabric wetting it out, stopping the moisture moving through teh garment
three layer have an extra layer to reduce the smearing of moisture on the moisture permeable layer... which can keep allowing hte vapour to move through it.
breathability ratings are the maximums under perfect conditions, when its raining or humid, its far from perfect conditions.
air permeable membranes are better than non air permeable ones at breathing... but can be colder as they do let some outside air in...
gore tex paclite isnt air permeable. it's gotten a bit better over the years with new versions, but it was never great on breathability to start with...
the biggest benefit of rainshells is they keep most of the rain and wind out and reduce the body being cooled down too much...
if its wetting out on the outside then look at trying to retreat the DWR coating with one of the market products like nikwax or grangers, but that is often of limited use once the factory treatment has worn off.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby crollsurf » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 9:49 am

I've got the Arc'teryx Beta AR and it is 100% waterproof. I agree the breath-ability could be better but the outer layer of the AR is bombproof and opening the pit zips and loosening the collar avoid wetting out so I stay dry. I've bought jackets that claim to be waterproof and breathable and have failed pathetically at both. I've read reviews about jackets and how breathable they are but turns out the reviewer has only been caught out in a shower. A jacket that keeps you dry in driving rain for long periods of time AND is highly breathable may well be a myth.

The AR is GORE-TEX PRO and the SL uses 2L GORE-TEX with PACLITE, so that is different but the zippers are the same. I've used mine a bit. On one occasion I walked 2 days in the rain, heavy for the first day and I stayed 100% dry and got no water in the pockets. They do say the zips aren't 100% waterproof so maybe a little did get in but not noticeable. I was impressed with the zippers because I had my doubts to start with. Having said that, I do forget to zip the pockets up sometimes but even then, never had anything like a pool of water.

There are fakes around and there are ways to tell apparently. What you have reported is not right and you should chase it up. If it's the real thing, you should be able to get a new one.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby north-north-west » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 10:03 am

CraigVIC wrote:NNW - I get that but I'm not expecting it to be a dry suit. It seems reasonable to expect zips put on the front of a rain shell to be effectively waterproof in normal use.


I never have, because that is simply not a property of a standard or even a water-resistant zip. The only way to have a waterproof pocket is to have storm flaps on it and fully sealed seams. This is one of the big issues with lightweight gear - effective function is lost. Those few extra grams of a decent storm flap on front closures and pockets are well worth it.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby commando » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 2:23 pm

The best jacket i ever had was a RAAF tarmac jacket, rugged blue vinyl leather lookalike where nothing penetrates
water, oil, fuel, diesel.

is it good for hiking (not really)
is it good in windy cold snow country (yes)
is it compressable to put in a pack (no)

Spent years in a NZ wool swandri under a wet oil skin japara which is now out of vogue.

Plenty of choices out there i think the best decision is to ask where is to going to be used the most?
On the side of a mountain or bushwalking in a National Park as the best breathable jackets seem to suffer in high winds.

The Nato jackets in camo at around $130 i like, as the mil spec testing and requirements is extensive with long design criteria
as for any military equipment especially Nato
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Orbita_Serenitatem » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 4:13 pm

Thanks everyone for your input!

I have collated some really pertinent information from you all:

• Aquaguard zips are not waterproof - treat all exposed zipped pockets as water resistant and use a ziplock bag for your phone!

• Water on the outside of the jacket prohibits water vapour wicking from inside to outside (my 2.5hr walk was without a pack and covered ~12km - I didn't undo the pit zips until over half way as I felt the prickle of sweat coming on) - there was a build-up of moisture that the Paclite and 2L Goretex couldn't shift.

• Paclite isn't air permeable (it was quite windy and I didn't feel cold).

• If exerting wear as little as possible under the jacket but chose a material that will drag the moisture off my skin eg: Thermal weight Capilene/UL 100wt fleece.

• Reapply the DWR coating (I do have a Nikwax) but that may be ineffective once the factory treatment has worn off.

• "A jacket that keeps you dry in driving rain for long periods of time AND is highly breathable may well be a myth."

• On eBay there could be 'fakes' around - sheesh... I have only compared the construction of the jacket with online photos and it 'seems' ridgy-ridge... I'd hate to have been ripped off..!

-- My other concern regarding this Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket was the fact that on the day I was also wearing a pair of Kathmandu Aysen Rain Pants - Paclite Pro - over the top of Lowe Alpine Stormweave pants, and my legs, which coped the same about of driving rain, were bone-dry... :shock:

I'm going to do the scarecrow test ASAP - at least to understand if the fabrics are at least waterproof. I can modify my work-rate/clothing/venting etc. for the moisture, but not the properties of the materials.

I might do it for my other rain jackets - Rab Latok (eVent old version) and Rab Flashpoint (2.5L old version)

One more thing... those UL 'Frogtog' jackets look like plastic bags... they'd have to be sweaty, right?

Thanks again all - brilliant information!
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby wayno » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 4:20 pm

your pants are paclite pro? never heard of it,
or are they gore tex proshell? proshell is air permeable and more breathable than paclite.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Orbita_Serenitatem » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 4:25 pm

I've never been a big fan of Kathmandu, but the rain pants were 50% off and I took a punt on them for snowshoeing as I nearly froze a leg off last year.

The spec are: GORE-TEX® PacLite® Plus – I actually thought about purchasing the jacket I was so impressed (and disappointed at the same time re: Arc'teryx) but not at full price..!
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 5:03 pm

Just to add OrbSm I never find pants wet as much as my jacket-unless you are constantly brushing them on scrub/foliage so for me, for what it's worth, I would not necessarily compare the two just on rainfall alone.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby crollsurf » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 5:19 pm

My jacket is due for a wash and DWR so I'm going to wash and treat and then do the scarecrow test as well. I want to find out what the story is with those front zips as both Orbs and Huntsman reckon they are portable swimming pools.
And Lamont, I think you're right about scrub and pants. It crossed my mind a while ago that a pair of rain pants I first used walking through knee high bush for hours probably deserve a DWR and a second chance.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 5:26 pm

crollsurf wrote:My jacket is due for a wash and DWR so I'm going to wash and treat and then do the scarecrow test as well. I want to find out what the story is with those front zips as both Orbs and Huntsman reckon they are portable swimming pools.
And Lamont, I think you're right about scrub and pants. It crossed my mind a while ago that a pair of rain pants I first used walking through knee high bush for hours probably deserve a DWR and a second chance.

Do you use Nikwax or Graingers Crolly?
I keep hearing that Graingers is better. I've not had a lot of luck when I Nikked but kept using it on my shirt because I had a fair bit left over.
Have you heard that as well?
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby crollsurf » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 5:36 pm

I'm actually old school and only ever used Scotch Guard in the past! I wont be using it on my precious so I'm happy to take advice on tech wash and DWR because the outside is not beading as it was.
Arc'teryx seem to push Graingers and recommend washing regularly, opposite to old school thought. I know DWR has been talked about ad infintum on this forum so need to educate myself first.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Wed 26 Aug, 2020 5:43 pm

crollsurf wrote:I'm actually old school and only ever used Scotch Guard in the past! I wont be using it on my precious so I'm happy to take advice on tech wash and DWR because the outside is not beading as it was.
Arc'teryx seem to push Graingers and recommend washing regularly, opposite to old school thought. I know DWR has been talked about ad infintum on this forum so need to educate myself first.

Regular washing is recommended to keep the pores clear. Body oils especially and maintain breathability. Go Grainger.
Don't put Scotch Guard on your Arc jacket or you may void the warranty. I have an Arc Squamish and Nik did nothing but give it the nice Nik vinegar smell.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby stry » Mon 31 Aug, 2020 12:02 pm

north-north-west wrote:
CraigVIC wrote:NNW - I get that but I'm not expecting it to be a dry suit. It seems reasonable to expect zips put on the front of a rain shell to be effectively waterproof in normal use.


I never have, because that is simply not a property of a standard or even a water-resistant zip. The only way to have a waterproof pocket is to have storm flaps on it and fully sealed seams. This is one of the big issues with lightweight gear - effective function is lost. Those few extra grams of a decent storm flap on front closures and pockets are well worth it.


Agree 100%. I have both old tech (flaps over) and new tech (cheaper to make) zip closures.

I never take new tech if I am expecting heavy or protracted rain with no hard roofed safe haven.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby crollsurf » Fri 04 Sep, 2020 3:20 pm

Just got to test the jacket pockets.

Used Grangers Performance Wash and Grangers Performance Repel. Followed the Arc'teryx and Grangers instructions. I did give the Repel a bit of a wipe down because there was still some beading after the wash, so wanted to make sure it was an even cover. I was generous with it so wanted to wipe off the runs as well.
After the wash, spray and tumble dry, I hung it on the line and hit it with the Garden Wand. Definately not a fair test, I reckon it was equivalent to close to 2 metres of rain and I targeted the pocket for around 4 mins.

Results:
The photos suggest Grangers Repel did an amazing job. I wouldn't go that far, it did a good job and it's worth doing but not as good as the photos suggest.
The pockets.... drum roll... had pools of water in them. I don't think it was a fair test, with large amounts of fine water droplets hitting the zip at once but never the less, it does show the zippers are not rain proof. Personally I think they are adequate and the inner material was 100% dry but still...

grangertestbefore.jpg
Hit it with the garden hose before putting in the wash
grangertestbefore.jpg (101.73 KiB) Viewed 13586 times


grangertestduring.jpg
4 mins probably equated to 2 metres of rain
grangertestduring.jpg (100.22 KiB) Viewed 13586 times


grangertestafter.jpg
After the rain test and a shake
grangertestafter.jpg (89.17 KiB) Viewed 13586 times
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Fri 04 Sep, 2020 4:00 pm

Hey Crolly, where are the pockets with the zips you are referring to (that let water) in the photos? The long one in the centre is the main zip isn't it?
Are they below and out of the frame?
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby crollsurf » Fri 04 Sep, 2020 4:19 pm

Actually didn't take a photo of those side zips Lamont. The photos do show the main zip and the general state of the outer material before and after. Should have checked the main zip as well. Doh.
I don't want to test again because I could see the DWR had deteriorate a little where I hit it with the wand. It dried quickly so wasn't soaked but damp as in it had absorbed some water. So not only does wear and tear rub off the DWR, water does as well.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Fri 04 Sep, 2020 4:48 pm

crollsurf wrote:Actually didn't take a photo of those side zips Lamont. The photos do show the main zip and the general state of the outer material before and after. Should have checked the main zip as well. Doh.
I don't want to test again because I could see the DWR had deteriorate a little where I hit it with the wand. It dried quickly so wasn't soaked but damp as in it had absorbed some water. So not only does wear and tear rubs off the DWR, water does as well.

I was just wondering if the zips were hidden under the horizontal seams visible.
Yep, your right. Any pressure and or abrasion including water and scrub/foliage etc is going to do it.
I fear a hard belting of water from a really jet like concentrated stream of water would do as much to remove the WR than anything unfortunately.
I reckon if you lay in a raging river the DWR would be washed away almost completely.
You may be wise to give it another rinse of the Graingers. Costs a bleeding fortune doesn't it.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby danman » Sat 05 Sep, 2020 1:40 pm

this might be a silly question.. but is there anything that's going to keep you dry when walking through wet vegetation?

rain is one thing, but when you're walking through some scrub the volume of water you get hit with just seems too much. my allegedly good Mont hydronaut jacket gets pretty damn wet inside after anything more than pretty minor wet scrub. not sopping wet, it's definitely doing something, but still very damp.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby Lamont » Sat 05 Sep, 2020 3:04 pm

danman wrote:this might be a silly question.. but is there anything that's going to keep you dry when walking through wet vegetation?

rain is one thing, but when you're walking through some scrub the volume of water you get hit with just seems too much. my allegedly good Mont hydronaut jacket gets pretty damn wet inside after anything more than pretty minor wet scrub. not sopping wet, it's definitely doing something, but still very damp.

You'll have to find a jacket that is; not affected by abrasion, won't cause you to overheat and perspire, wont allow the outer fabric to become saturated and will, no matter what, always drag perspiration out. :shock: Nice. I want one. :D
Or live with the damp from the one you have, at least you'll be warm. :D Probably have much the same luck with any other jacket once you warm up.
Do what Crolly did-refresh the DWR, slow right down in the wet to make less perspiration whilst wearing much less under the jacket, because the holy grail of fabrics is something that will cope with constant wet and scrub abrasion and keep the wearer dry-on the inside -whilst exercising and wearing a rucksack to make things nice and toasty.
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Re: Testing a Hard Shell Rain Jacket

Postby north-north-west » Sat 05 Sep, 2020 5:20 pm

danman wrote:this might be a silly question.. but is there anything that's going to keep you dry when walking through wet vegetation?


There is no breathable fabric that will do so. You need a solid, non-permeable barrier, which will keep that water out and the sweat in. In other words, learn to live with the damp, or keep to wide, groomed tracks (or desert).
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When is a Hiking Rain Jacket like a Wet Suit?

Postby wayno » Sat 05 Sep, 2020 5:54 pm

https://sectionhiker.com/hiking-rain-ja ... -wet-suit/

When is a Hiking Rain Jacket like a Wet Suit?
Hiking rain jackets don’t keep you dry in the rain; they keep you warm. If you don’t believe me, go hiking in the rain for 4+ hours and see if the clothing inside your jacket stays dry. Unless you’re hiking someplace with extremely low humidity, I bet the clothing under your jacket will get wet, if not soaked-through by sweat and condensation
from the land of the long white clouds...
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wayno
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