Spring is downright schizophrenic. One moment the sun is warming your skin, the next the skies open up with a torrent of rain so intense you’re soaked to the bone before walking a full block—to say nothing of temperature shifts that can jump more than 30 degrees in a single day. Which is why this season travel demands the right coat. Here are seven of the best.
1. REI Stormrealm, $249; 2. Baro Demarco, $375; 3. The North Face Apex Flex GTX Disruptor Parka, $230; 4. Arc’teryx A2B Hardshell Blazer, $449; 5. Fjallraven Travellers, $225; 6. Rapha Wool Wind, $320; 7. Helly Hansen Loke SOL, $180.
William Neuheisel, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Though the Stormrealm was made with hikers and backpackers in mind, it'll keep you dry and comfortable in pretty much any condition when the rain starts falling. It uses waterproof eVent three-layer fabric that breathes remarkably well, an essential for high-octane activities, and blocks wind up to 50 MPH. The zippered hand pockets sit high to accommodate a pack, with a fully-adjustable hood and pit zips for added ventilation. Better still, the all-black version blends nicely with most urban scenes.
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Baro's line of rainwear leans heavily into a sartorially-focused solution, updating classic silhouettes (think Macintosh or moto-style coats) with waterproof/breathable fabrics. Like their other jackets, the Demarco hides tech behind a soft-to-the-touch cotton-like look; a bonded layer inside keeps things comfortable, and sealed seams lock out the elements. The removable hood lets you style as desired. It may not breath as well as an ultralight, vented jacket, but if you're typical hiking trail is of the paved variety, you won't notice.
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The North Face Apex Flex GTX Disruptor Parka
Don't let this jacket's unassuming profile fool you. A lot of tech and research went into the Apex Flex GTX Disrupter (maybe that's why the name is so long?!). It's The North Face's first fully waterproof/breathable soft shell jacket, and utilizes a stretch-woven exterior for added mobility along with a soft knit inside to keep you warm and comfortable; this ain't your average, crinkly rain shell. The longer-length hem drops midway down your thigh and comes with a stowable hood, covered chest and hand pockets, and Velcro-adjustable cuffs. It's warmer than some of the others on this list, so it may not be ideal for hotter climates.
The North Face
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Arc'teryx A2B Hardshell Blazer
This fashion-forward tech jacket blends all of the hard shell weather protection you need while cycling with the clean, urbane silhouette you want when you're out of the saddle and on your way to a meeting. It boasts two highly breathable Gore-Tex fabrics to shed wind and rain, with a trim, articulated fit, a vented back, pockets with laminated zippers, and a subtle snap closure. Reflective elements at the collar and sleeve also fold back to stay hidden, and an central inner panel assures that no moisture or wind gusts will sneak inside.
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Even though the Travellers Jacket is new, it feels timeless, in large part thanks to its simple, classic profile and the use of lightweight, stronge G-1000 Lite Eco fabric, a mix of recycled poly and organic cotton. Hidden behind the two front panels? Pockets for…everything: mesh pockets hidden under the yoke on the left, a vertical chest pocket on the right, a detachable security pocket to keep your essentials on your person even when you've ditched the coat, and loads more. The fixed hood stows in the collar, and two pairs of zippered pockets—one at the hands, another pair inside—will inspire you to create your own personal carrying logic. It won't fend off a deluge, but it dries quickly.
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Rapha Wool Wind
Much of Rapha's allure lies in its cycling roots—you know that their products will perform while enduring the various elements of cycling. Think wind, rain, and road rage. Unlike their core line, however, the Wool Wind jacket rejects body-hugging Lycra for a more tailored, fashion forward fit. The almost-all-wool jacket employs a lightweight poly panel to create a full windproof front, along with a breathable mesh lining back panel, with a dropped rear hemline to keep you covered while bending over the handlebars. Subtle reflective highlights and a zippered back pocket lean into the cycling side, while twin hand pockets, micro-suede lining the collar, and a concealed front zip keep things clean. It isn't exactly waterproof, but it will shrug off light rain easily—and thanks to wool's natural properties, will always keep you warm. The sleeve length is a tad short when compared to other cycle-specific jackets; expect a gap to appear if you favor cycling with gloves that stop at the wrist.
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Helly Hansen Loke SOL
Thought it won't breath as well as some of the three-layer jackets on the market, the two-layer Loke SOL provides waterproof protection suited to save yourself from a sudden torrent of cold rain. All seams are tape-sealed, with lower zippered hand pockets folded behind the tulip flap hem detail. Helly Hansen's sailing pedigree also comes into play with the Loke's high-vis, laminated hood brim and black reflective three-layer indicator logo at the center right and a high-vis laminated logo at the center back.