Gear Review: Columbia Hail Tech Rain Jacket

A cold-weather rain jacket that's $90.

[best for cold]

“Perfect for winter layering,” says one tester who wore the roomy (but not baggy) Hail Tech from October to January. “I never felt overstuffed and restricted, even with a puffy jacket underneath.” The hood, too, is oversized; it accommodates helmets well, but tended to flop and impede peripheral vision when worn solo.

The mesh-lined Omni-Tech membrane staved off daylong downpours in the Olympic rainforests, and proved sufficiently breathable when testers cruised the relatively flat forest trails of the cool Hoh Valley. But the softer-than-average, woven 75-denier polyester shell fabric eventually wetted out, causing testers to sweat in temps above 55°F. (“Wetting out” does not equal leaking, but it does limit breathability by clogging the fabric’s pores. Plus, it makes the jacket feel heavy and cold.)

Flap-covered underarm vents (a cheaper version of pit zips) add a touch of extra ventilation, but testers deemed them only moderately effective.

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