On the face of it, rain jackets are a dime a dozen. It seems like every outdoor brand and every style brand has its own spin on the classic garment, whether it's a straightforward, stylish waxed jacket or a highly technical shell outfitted with any number of proprietary monikers and superlatives. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that those superlatives and technologies really do make a difference when it comes to protecting the wearer from precipitation, and will dictate the situations where reaching for a raincoat makes sense.
To sift through the noise, we took our two favorite raincoats, the Patagonia Granite Crest and The North Face Dryzzle FUTRELIGHT, and put them through their paces, hoping to determine which is the true GOAT of the rain jacket world.
The Specs, At a Glance
Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket
- Weight: 14.1 ounces
- Membrane/Laminate: Non-PFC DWR treatment
- Shell Material: NetPlus 100% postconsumer recycled nylon ripstop
The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Membrane/Laminate: Futurelight
- Shell Material: 100% recycled polyester
First Up: Patagonia Granite Crest Jacket
What I liked about the jacket
This jacket is certainly purpose-built, which I very much appreciate in a world where every garment is expected to thrive in any situation. Patagonia has always taken care to ensure that its garments actually perform well in the field, no matter how many finance bros start rocking puffy vests to work in midtown Manhattan or downtown San Francisco. The Granite Crest Jacket is no exception — you can tell it's truly made for the outdoors from the first time you put it on. Hell, even some of the studio shots of the jacket on Patagonia's website show the model wearing a climbing harness. To me, this is a huge draw.
I also appreciate the fact that Patagonia is sticking to its guns and helping shape a better future for all of us with its sustainability practices. I don't want to overstate this, because manufacturing is still a flawed system in the end, but the Granite Crest is made about as responsibly as you can get. It is crafted with 100 percent post-consumer recycled ripstop made from fishing nets. Its waterproofing features a PFC-free DWR finish (a durable water repellent coating that does not contain perfluorinated chemicals) and still meets Patagonia's stringent H2No performance standard.
What I didn't like about the jacket
While I love that it's purpose built — the hood is even perfectly sized to fit over a climbing helmet — I found that this makes it a little more difficult to wear each and every day. When I wore the hood without a helmet, it came down over my eyes, making it tough to see anywhere but straight forward and straight down, which isn't ideal for checking both ways before I cross the street. The jacket also has that semi-glossy shine that is common with ripstop outdoor gear (think tents, rain jackets and puffers, just to name a few). This isn't inherently a bad thing — I dig it in the outdoors —but it does make it tough to mix it with clothes that don't strictly follow the Gorp-core guidelines. When I wear it with jeans or nicer pants and shoes that aren't hiking boots or sneakers, the jacket looks distinctly out of place.
The jacket is also very warm, but not necessarily in a good way. It doesn't tout itself as a particularly breathable jacket, and it's not, so keep in mind that if you want to rock this on a humid day, you may come to regret it. The pit zips are an essential feature of this jacket, but even then, I can really only wear this on cold days. Don't even think about wearing it over a tee shirt, unless you like sweaty arms.
Next Up: The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT Jacket
What I liked about the jacket
To start with a direct contrast from the Patagonia jacket above, I love the Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT because of its versatility and breathability, which make it perfect for city wear. While I get to the outdoors as often as possible, the reality is that most of my life is spent in the concrete jungle, so I need garments that can thrive with any outfit and in any condition, from a drizzle (pun not intended by me, but intended by TNF) to a downpour to a snow storm. It also lacks the shine of the Patagonia jacket, making it ideal for city dressing — it just looks better with most of my wardrobe.
The shell is fully waterproof and crafted from a soft stretch-woven face and stretch-knit backing, which is extremely comfortable and a bit easier to move in than the Granite Crest jacket. Like the Granite Crest, it also features a non-PFC DWR finish, adding a bit of extra water repellency to the waterproofing and taped seams. I also appreciate the small details like flaps over the pocket zippers to keep moisture out, and pocket locations that are perfect for keeping your hands dry and comfortable. The brand says this is a slim fit jacket, but I'm a medium in almost all outerwear and the medium fits me perfectly, even with a bulky hoodie or light puffy layer underneath.
What I didn't like about the jacket
Honestly, there isn't a lot I don't like about this jacket, so I won't belabor the point. I'd prefer a hood that fit just a tad better and had a longer, more protective bill, but it still fits nicely over a hoodie and kept my head dry.
The fit, while it isn't as slim as they said it was, could be a bit more boxy, but that's definitely a personal preference. As I stated above a medium is the perfect fit for me, but it'd be great to be able to sport a warmer puffer underneath, especially if I'm looking to take advantage of the waterproofing on a really cold day.
My only other complaint is that the zipper doesn't zip straight to the top very smoothly — the flap behind the zipper tends to get caught 3/4 of the way up.
Which Rain Jacket Is Best for You? The Verdict
Best Purpose-Built/Technical Rain Jacket: Patagonia Granite Crest
Our rain jacket buying guide features the Granite Crest as the top rain jacket you can buy. For the outdoorsman that spends their time on the trail, on the side of the mountain or on the river, this is absolutely my pick. The features are tailor-made for outdoor recreation and sport, with pit zips for ventilation when your heart rate rises and a clever fit that works hand-in-hand with other outdoor gear. The waterproofing is excellent and even in a downpour I never got wet. My only real qualm is that the jacket really is quite warm, making it difficult to reach for on warm or even cool days that I know will entail some sweaty activity (though, alternatively, that makes it a great pick for cold climates).
Best Everyday Rain Jacket: The North Face Dryzzle FUTURELIGHT
This is our pick for the best upgrade rain jacket, and I agree wholeheartedly. For my money, this is the best one of the bunch and I've now tested four of our top picks extensively. This jacket is versatile, and still crushes outdoor activity while being ideal for city living. Thanks to sleek looks, a soft, non-crunchy shell and impressive mobility, I find myself opting for this jacket anytime the weather starts to sour. It's dubbed the Dryzzle but is still able to bring a tempest to its knees — I've never gotten even a bit damp while wearing this jacket. It has a pleasing combination of gorpy outerwear and classic styling that makes it easy to style in any situation. There are very few downsides to this jacket.