REI’s Gore-Tex Paclite Jacket: A Sustainable and High-Performance Option

Three-layer fabric have a third lining fused into the membrane that is waterproof, shielding it from the body’s oils and dirt. They provide better moisture control and durability over two-layer fabrics however they also carry a higher price tag.

Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L (PS160) is an example of a hardwearing 3 layer jacket featuring a sturdy 50D ripstop fabric for the face and Gore-Tex Paclite Plus technology. This forgoes the protective lining that is typically found on 2.5-layer jackets and reduces weight.

Waterproof and Breathable

Waterproof-breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex and eVent create jackets that are very protective in stormy weather. They let sweat escape but keep the water out by adjusting the tension between body heat and cool air in the jacket. The top breathable waterproof options come with an interior layer that soaks up sweat, and gives a comfortable close-to-skin feeling. These inner layers protect the membrane’s breathable from dirt sweat, body oils, and wear therefore they need more frequent laundering in order to be at a level of breathable.

Historically 2-layer jackets used to have an exterior face fabric bonded to a waterproof-breathable membrane and a loose (typically mesh) liner hanging on the inside. They have been largely discarded because more cost-effective 2.5 layer jackets have taken the market place by the storm. These jackets must be waterproof and have a long-lasting water repellent (DWR) finish in order to keep rain off the shell. As time passes the finish will begin to deteriorate and must be replaced.


Most jackets come with two layers of membranes. But a few have gone one step beyond. The budget-friendly XeroDry GTX from Co-op ($169) is constructed with two layers of GORE-TEXPACLITE, providing a stout protection against wind and moderate rain. It also lets sweat vapor evaporate. A polyester mesh liner protects the membrane and helps lessen the clammy feel you sometimes get when wearing an inexpensive waterproof jacket in continuous rain. For your jacket to continue running at peak performance, it’ll need an DWR treatment (either spray-on or wash-in) after enough use and click to read more

Three-layer jackets include a third layers of wicking that dramatically improves water- and sweat-management. Jackets built with this technology including Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L jacket ($179) is able to withstand the rigors of all-day rain.

Three-layer membranes with the highest performance include the polyurethane film and ePTFE. Polartec’s NeoShell is a popular choice for its high-elevation, trail-running-friendly balance of water resistance and breathability at 20,000 g/m2. In addition, the Goretex Pro membrane uses multiple ePTFE membranes that are bonded to deliver exceptional water resistance (RET 13) as well as breathability (24,000 G/m2). Depending on your level of activity and weather conditions such as a jacket with pit vents may be required for the person you are.


Almost any jacket can be able to withstand mild rain, however only jackets that are waterproof and breathable technology will keep you the driest during serious downpours. Jacket brands use a wide range of fabrics that face outwards and modern laminates that are layered, and there’s no agreed-upon industry-wide standard for water resistance. So the comparison of claims for water resistance between various brands isn’t easy.

Most commonly, waterproof materials consist of coated fabric and membranes that are slipped in between interwoven layers of fabric. Coated fabrics are typically found in affordable jackets however, they’re more breathable than those with layers, yet give decent protection from water.

If you’re in a particularly wet environment, consider a jacket with 3 layers of construction, or even one that is a combination of a 2.5-layer model. The inner layer of most 3-layer jackets does a better protection of the second-layer membrane from oil, dirt and abrasions as opposed to the outermost layer of a 2.5-layer jacket. However, they’re typically more bulky and heavy than 2-layer versions.

Lightweight and Packable

Contrary to the old oil and wax-coated jackets, which had to be applied regularly and were bulky, the membranes used in modern 2-, 2.5-, and 3-layer styles keep moisture out but aren’t heavy or rigid. They’re light enough to pack into a small case or pouch, making them perfect for backpacking.

A majority of 2-layer jackets have the bonded membrane and an outer face fabric for protection against abrasions and wear. Certain of them, such as Columbia’s $79.95 Watertight II and women’s Arcadia II come with hanging lines that increase the weight and bulk, but also helps to protect the waterproof membrane from scratches, skin oils and clamminess.

The jacket by REI uses Gore-Tex Paclite or Paclite Plus and is a fantastic choice for front-country and casual use. We like that it’s dry and machine washable since it restores DWR (durable water-repellent) as well as breathability. Follow these washing guidelines from the manufacturer. Fair-trade Certified and manufactured using sustainable materials.