Gore-tex XCR Jackets, worth the $?

6:56 p.m. on February 20, 2007 (EST)
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I am looking for an honest to god breathable rain jacket.Is XCR my best bet? I just moved to th Pacific Northwest, and am being hammered by the rain. I want something that will hold up on the trail and in town. I ride, as in cycle. to work about 4 miles each way which is more than enough time for my cruddy North Face jacket to not only get saturated outside, but completely drench me within. Not much fun at 6 a.m., nor in the woods.
I'm looking at Arc'Teryx Beta AR, and SL. They both have the features I'm looking for especially in the hood design.
Are there similar jackets from other brands?

8:44 p.m. on February 20, 2007 (EST)
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There are several other fabrics that compete well with Goretex XCR. eVent is one I find to breathe better than gtx.

BUT ... none of the waterproof breathable fabrics really breathe well enough to keep you dry in PNW rain. Reason is they need a differential in temperature and humidity between inside the jacket and outside to really drive your sweat out while keeping the rain on the outside.

One clue, though, is in your statement that "my cruddy North Face jacket to not only get saturated outside, but completely drench me within". All wpb fabrics have to be properly cleaned and have their "durable water-repellent coating" renewed from time to time. When they get dirty, especially with body oils, they (1) wet out (what you call "saturated outside") and (2) don't breathe worth anything. You can use regular detergents in a regular washer (look at the label for whether to use powder or liquid detergent, since different manufacturers recommend different types). But the best bet is to use one of the special wpb cleaners by McNett or NikWax, then renew the dwr again using the renewal chemicals per instructions from McNett or NikWax (Revive-X is one I find works well).

That said, different generations of gtx work differently, and even different levels within a generation. My TNF Kichatna doesn't hold its dwr very well at all, while my Marmot Alpinist 3 jacket holds it quite well. But both hold the sweat in if I am exercising hard (bicycling, hiking up a steep hill with a big pack, doing a XC ski tour, etc), even when I have the pit zips full open. My two eVent jackets work much better in these conditions. But still, if you are riding hard enough to sweat, you're gonna get wet inside the jacket in almost anything.

6:57 p.m. on February 21, 2007 (EST)
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On this theme, question for you Bill. Is it better from a utilisation view ( or budget view) to have a wind shell and a seperate waterproof shell when backpacking or hiking, or to purchase a breathable. I ask because as I work my way back into the sport I am using my old 60/40 as a wind shell and haven't walked in any heavy rain. I've got to replace it at some point and, to tell the truth, I am very confused with all the options I see in the stores and read about on the internet.

8:47 p.m. on February 21, 2007 (EST)
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That is a question that is very dependent on personal preference and what conditions you are going out in. Since I have acquired multiples of windshells, waterproof not-very-breathable, and waterproof/"breathable" over the years, I get to choose. Except sometimes I make the wrong choice. For example, in my Dec-Jan trip to Antarctica, it would have been far better to have taken a windshell and not anything waterproof - it is cold enough that you aren't going to get wet except by sweating, in which case you want the breathability in huge quantity, more than any wpb on the market can come close to. But in most of the US (all 50 plus possessions and territories), if you have snow or rain, you need waterproof plus breathability. I have found that in desert regions (think Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and perhaps even summer Colorado Rockies), the rain showers last a short enough time with the air so dry after the rain that you dry fast, and a wind shell is usually adequate (note I said "usually" - meaning not always, as in sometimes you can really get soaked and very cold). Snow throughout the US is frequently wet, so waterproof is needed (even Alaska during parts of the year). Summer in the Sierra and Rockies, I sometimes even take a completely waterproof poncho, despite their many disadvantages (you can get really wet with a poncho if it is blowing, since most ponchos have very poor to no way to fasten the sides to prevent blowing, and you still need rain pants in most situations with a poncho). But the open sides on a poncho provide lots of ventilation (good), as well as allowing the wind to blow the rain and snow in (bad)

I guess if you had to get just one jacket for the time being, having the 60/40 jacket which you say serves as a windbreaker, I would get a light eVent shell to go over it (or maybe a light Gtx XCR).

But you will only be able to tell by considering the conditions you will be hiking in and a bit of experience. There is no perfect solution out there at this point in history.

8:23 p.m. on February 23, 2007 (EST)
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Seattle gets roughly the same amount of rain as New York City, only it rains less often and harder in New York.

Given that the rain is mostly very light in Seattle, maybe you could mostly get by with a more breathable "softshell" and something cheap for the occassional spells of slightly harder rain.

1:55 p.m. on March 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I ended up with a Mountain Hardwear Swift Jacket. it's awesome, and performs how I need it to. I can ride in the rain and not get soaked from outside or inside.

2:44 p.m. on March 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I do not think you do better than an arc'teryx jacket, I own 2 and they are absolutely brilliant. Be prepared to pay through the nose for it though. I would also recommend that you consider buying a soft shell, something like a rab Vapour Rise, not the smock but the one without a hood and use that to keep warm as I have found on Dartmoor the rain is kept out but it is still very cold.

2:48 p.m. on March 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I forgot to add in the previous post that Gore-tex XCR is being phased out so out for the new Gore-tex jackets. I know arc'teryx for example are keeping the designs on their current range but using the new membrane, you should expect to see improve breathability to put it on a par with eVENT and also about a 15-20% improvement in weight.

9:01 p.m. on March 26, 2007 (EDT)
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If breathabiliy is paramount I would go with any of Montane eVent jackets. It's a company from the UK but their jackets have great reviews. Also, they use 100% eVent and nada of Goretex. You can get one for about $230.00 from Outdoorgb.com. They have the Super-fly the Super-fly XT and Contour and the Quick-Fire. Also the new Goretex won't be as brethable as eVent since they will still be a liner between the membrane and the actual goretex. Check www.montane.co.uk

12:20 a.m. on March 27, 2007 (EDT)
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In response to Aviprk's comment on the Montane Superfly, we have two of them, with mine being about 6 months older than Barb's. I had mentioned earlier that I have 2 eVent jackets, one being the Montane, the other being an Integral Designs, and will repeat that I have been very pleased with them (they serve somewhat different purposes).

You might check with Liberty Mountain. They had some that were overstocks in their outlet store for about half price. As far as I can figure, the only reason they were overstocks is that the Montane name is not well known in the US, so some shop wasn't able to sell them against the better known names here. And the sizes available were not the most popular sizes, some smalls and some XLs, if I recall.

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