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Shed Water Like a Duck

Summer showers always seem to catch us off-guard. While it may be hot outside, no one wants to be soaking wet, especially because you’re sweating like a sumo wrestler under your rain gear. So how do you keep the rain at bay without breaking a sweat?

Let common sense be your guide here. If a fabric feels dry and non-sticky to the touch, odds are it will continue to feel that way against your skin. But how do you know if the fabric is breathable or not? Once again, let common sense be your guide. Water shedding fabrics that appear to have a looser weave usually are more breathable. Obviously you don’t need something designed to stave off blizzards and hypothermia in the summer heat.

Marmot has made several lightweight jackets that market themselves as ideal for warm weather. I say beware. Owning one of these jackets, I have to say I never wear it in the summer. In an effort to provide a lightweight shell, Marmot created something that when worn in summer feels something like wearing a garbage bag. The inside is sticky, the fabric is remarkably non-breathable, and the seams tend to leak.

So who is making something worth putting in your closet?

As much as I prefer to go with the smaller companies that have yet to reach the masses, I will say that The North Face does a nice job of providing good quality for a reasonable price. The Resolve Jacket offers a simple waterproof jacket for around $80. My favorite feature: The mesh lining. It keeps the inside of the jacket from sticking to your skin and provides ventilation. The result is a cool and lightweight feel while you stay dry.

L.L. Bean has been around for a long time. Aside from providing what I believe to be the best customer service out there, they provide an array of durable and long lasting products. The Stowaway Jacket with Gore-Tex is just another one of their terrific products. Offered in a variety of colors for men and women, this jacket hits the mark. Adjustable cuffs that are not too tight or rough on the wrists, a soft flexible feel, and good breathability are all part of what makes this jacket great. At $159 the price is a bit higher than what The North Face offers, but as anyone who has purchased from L.L. Bean knows, this jacket will probably be around longer than its owner.

Last but not least I mention Columbia. While Columbia has not provided the most technical gear over the years, they have begun to change this. They have always provided a durable product at a great price. Over the past few years, they have begun using lighter weight fabrics, adding more technical features, and still keeping the price of their gear lower than most. The Arcadia Rain Jacket is a good example of the technical transition Columbia has made. This jacket is lightweight, breathable, and has adjustments and added features in all the right places—like the soft fabric where the zipper touches your chin.  At $72 how can you say no?

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