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View Full Discussion I think a good rain jacket that keeps you dry, and relatively free of perspiration is an essential outdoor gear item.
However, if you do not want to spend around $150.00 for a rain jacket, then I suggest that you take a long look at the Marmot Precip jacket, which you can usually find on Massdrop, EBAY, Sierra Trading Post, and other sites for around $50.00 to $60.00.
The Marmot Precip is a good rain jacket, (I own one) and is consistently rated as a Best Buy by the reviewers at the Outdoor Gear Lab.
Just to be fair and accurate, the Outdoor Gear Lab has also rated the Helium II as a top pick, so it is no slouch, just more expensive, but lighter, and a bit more breathable than the Marmot Precip. I noticed that REI is selling them for around $160.00, so this drop is probably a bit under market price, but pretty much the same when you add in the Massdrop shipping charges.
However, since I already own several similar rain jackets, and if I was willing to be somewhat redundant, and spend $150.00 for another rain jacket, I would rather try a rain jacket, or an insulated rain jacket for those cold times of the year, made with the Columbia Outdry technology, which purportedly eliminates the clamminess that one often experiences with Gore-Tex, eVent, Marmot Nano Pro, Marmot Nano Pro Membrain, Marmot Membrain Strata, Patagonia H2 No, and other multiple iterations, and versions of the aforementioned multiple fabric layer rain jacket technologies made with "breathable" membranes.
I might also want to try a jacket made with Polartec Neoshell fabric, which is similar to all of the aforementioned waterproof, breathable fabrics, but is considered "air permeable" so in extensive testing and reviews was rated as more breathable.
The Marmot Zion jacket, now discontinued, but still available here and there online is a good example of a Polartec Neoshell jacket that received great reviews regarding the breathability. Other well known names like Rab, Westcomb, Sugoi, and Mammut and others manufacture jackets using Polartec Neoshell.
By the way, all of the technologies mentioned here, have been out on the market for at least two years, and in some cases many more, as in the case of Gore Tex, and eVent.
I own several rain jackets made by Lowe Alpine (eVent), Marmot Precip, (Nano Pro), Marmot Oracle, (Marmot Membrain Strata, Marmot Artemis, (Marmot Nano Pro Membrain), a Gore Tex jacket issued to me by the NPS, and a Sierra Designs Badlands Nylon jacket with DWR coating.
By the way, the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket showcased in this drop uses a similar Pertex® Shield+ 2.5-layer ripstop nylon fabric, which is extremely durable, waterproof, and very breathable.
In most, if not all of these jackets there is a waterproof/breathable membrane sandwiched between two or more layers of fabric.
The outer fabric layer is treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, and the inner layer is a liner that gets the water off your skin and helps move it to the membrane, keeping you (somewhat) nice and dry. There are varying degrees of dry based upon temperature, exertion levels, etc.
Please note that the outer layer of most waterproof jackets will start to "wet out" after some time, and will then have to be cleaned, and then the DWR coating, (Nikwax, Grangers, Revivex) will have to be reapplied again depending upon the usage level, rain, snow, or salt water exposure, ultraviolet light exposure, abrasion, etc.
According to my research Columbia’s new OutDry Extreme tech is built differently.
The exterior of the jacket is covered in a water-tight membrane that makes the jackets look and feel more like a rubber dry bag than the usual fabric exteriors of traditional waterproof, breathable jackets.
Columbia’s external membrane repels the big water droplets from rainfall but it’s not entirely sealed off, as the membrane has millions of tiny perforations that let water vapor evaporate out of the jacket. Below the membrane is a liner made of a nylon fabric that wicks water away from your skin. If the whole system works as advertised, an OutDry Extreme jacket will keep you dry, cool, and comfortable.
So, yes the Helium II is a great jacket, and probably worth the $150.00 price tag, if you are looking for the lightest waterproof rain jacket around.
But as we know, there is always a better mouse trap being built, so in the case of the Columbia Outdry, and Polartec Neoshell technologies, there may be more breathable jackets out there that will keep you bone dry.
I hope that all of this information helps you in some way, and is food for thought!
Following are a few links that you might find useful, informative, and interesting:
Marmot Waterproof Technologies... https://www.marmot.com/technology-articles/technology.html#water
Polartec Neoshell... http://dev.polartec.com/product/polartec-neoshell
Columbia Outdry Extreme Jackets, Reviews, Features and Specifications...