The LightHeart Gear Rain Jacket (MSRP $99) is a lightweight ripstop nylon waterproof rain jacket made the old-fashioned way, without any so-called breathable fabric. Coated on the outside with silicone and on the inside with polyurethane, this maintenance-free rain jacket won’t wet out like much more expensive waterproof breathable jackets that are coated with Durable Water Repellant (DWR) and need to be periodically reproofed to keep keeping you dry. (See: Why does Rain Gear Wet Out? and Why Does DWR Suck?)
Weighing just 7.0 ounces in a size large, the LightHeart Gear Rain Jacket is fully featured with all of the bells and whistles you’d find on much more expensive jackets. I’ve been wearing mine for months in a wide range of temperatures and there’s precious little that this jacket can’t do.
It has an adjustable hood with side cord-locks so you can cinch down the opening, along with an extended brim to keep rain off your glasses and forehead. The front zipper has a fold-over rain flap to keep water off the zipper and can be zipped up over your chin to keep water off your face in blowing rain.
There are two large pockets on the inside of the coat, handy for carrying a hat or gloves, that are large enough that you can stuff the jacket into one when not in use. In addition, there are two handwarmer pockets on the outside that can be used while wearing a backpack hip belt, along with elastic and velcro cuffs on the arms to keep the rain out.
Since this rain jacket is not made with a “breathable” fabric, it has two 15″ long pit zips that run under the upper arm and down the torso that are used to vent hot air, even when it’s raining.
I’ve worn this jacket in everything from freezing rain to heavy thunderstorms and it will keep you warm even if you’re hiking in the pouring rain. When water hits the surface of the jacket, it beads up and rolls off as you’d expect, rather than soaking the fabric and chilling you. The fact that the LightHeart Rain Jacket is coated in silicone and polyurethane, means that you never have to worry about a DWR coating wearing off or having this jacket wet-out, the most common point of failure for rain jackets made using waterproof-breathable fabrics.
But there’s no denying the fact that this jacket retains a lot of heat when you’re active. While that’s a good thing in cold weather, I start to sweat when the temperature is about 60 degrees or higher, with or without rain. My view: there’s a big difference between sweating on the inside, where it’s warm, and getting soaked from the outside, where your body heat can’t offset the cooling effect of a garment that’s been soaked through by wet-out.
Unlike most waterproof breathable jackets, the seams on the Lightheart Gear jacket are not seam taped. They’re bound which is sewing technique used to finish seams on single-layer jackets and clothing. While the seams are not technically waterproof, they’re unlikely to leak except in extreme conditions. If its a concern, seam seal them.
If you’re like me and sick of waterproof-breathable rain jackets that don’t live up to expectations, I suggest you give the LightHeart Gear Rain Jacket a try. This jacket has found a home on my backpacking gear list and it might just restore your faith in rain gear.
Disclosure: LightHeart Gear provided Philip Werner with a sample jacket for this review.