REI Rhyolite Overview
Long gone are the days of potato-sack rain jackets constructed with the sole intent of keeping water off the wearer. Rain jackets today are trimming down, detailing-up, and are built to be comfortable and water-free. One jacket that takes the stage in water-repellent fashion is the REI Rhyolite rain jacket.
Offered in specific cuts for men and women, the Rhyolite is a lightweight rain jacket weighing in at roughly 12 ounces. The jacket has essential yet simple features, like a drawcord hood and high hand pockets, and uses eVent, a three-layer fabric that breathes better than Gore-Tex on the whole. There are fine details that will satisfy a gear nerd, and the coat even has a soft felt neck guard, for goodness gracious.
The Rhyolite rain jacket is lightweight, not exorbitantly expensive, and as waterproof as it gets. If it had slightly more functional pockets, this jacket would be the cream of the crop.
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||11 oz. (312 in g)||An average weight for a 3-layer rain shell today. Not exceptionally light, but not overly heavy.|
|Layer||3-Layer||This is a full 3-layer rain jacket, which means excellent breathability and comfort. More on rain jacket layers in our Guide.|
|Waterproof Membrane||eVent DValpine||eVent is a competitor to Gore-Tex, and breathes better than nearly all waterproof membranes. This jacket uses REI’s unique application of eVent. More on rain jacket waterproof membranes in our Guide.|
|Face Fabric||Not Listed||We wish REI would list the more specific tech specs of its products.|
|Lining Material||Not Listed||We wish REI would list the more specific tech specs of its products.|
|No. of Pockets||2 hand pockets||Two high-set hand pockets remain accessible even when wearing hip belt. They have a mesh backer for breathability.|
|Pocket Placement||Above Hip Belt||The pockets are set well above your waist so you can always access them.|
|Pit Zips/Vents||Kind Of||The hand pockets are technically listed as “vents” by REI, and the mesh backer in them makes this true. Though opening pockets to vent while raining means rain will get inside the jacket.|
|Water Resistant Zippers||Yes||The specific water-resistant tech for the zippers is not listed, but they work well.|
|Storm Flaps||No||The water resistant zippers means no storm flaps.|
|Packs Into Itself?||No||This jacket does not fit into a pocket, but it does fold down fairly small.|
|Hood||Adjustable, Stiff Brim||The hood fits well, has a stiff brim, and a single point for adjustments.|
|Fit||Casual/Athletic||The fit is loose because it’s a rain jacket meant for layering, but also tailored to fit well under those layers.|
|Seams||Fully Taped||All seams are fully taped and sealed.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Limited Warranty||REI is best known for its one-year return policy, in which you can return for any reason. Technically this jacket has a limited lifetime guarantee for defects in workmanship and manufacturing issues, but it can be hard to process those through REI after the year is up.|
|Retail Price||$189||A very decent price for a 3-layer rain jacket from a reputable brand.|
Gear Review of REI Rhyolite
Origins: Easing You In
I love the rain. It’s invigorating, purifying, and always justifies a big bowl of pho. Yet, as my readers may know, I have somewhat of a reputation for being as sun-junkie. Sunflowers are my favorite. Sunshine is my fuel. Heck, even my social media handle is an homage to the glorious combusting star of hydrogen and helium. If you want to get technical, technically the sun is at the center of all our universes.
Warm sunny weather has a dress-code designed for simple folk like myself, and when the clouds rush in and the temperatures drop I find my wardrobe can be somewhat of a hassle. Rain gear is (typically) heavy, non-moveable, putrid yellow, and just plain unsexy. It is probably the reason I have been so shy about my rain-loving secret. Until recently I didn’t think rain gear could be — gasp — sexy!
The REI Rhyolite rain jacket is durable, lightweight, and decked out in tech-specs. It also happens to be sexy. The Rhyolite uses eVent fabric and is a three-layer jacket (see our Rain Jacket guide for more info), with strong water-repelling and wind-resisting capabilities.
For hardcore sun worshippers, this jacket will alleviate the pain when the weatherman says, “Rain,” and for all-weather adventurers, you will appreciate the thoughtful technology that REI has put into this coat. The Rhyloite kept my sun-happy heart dry as I embraced the elements while exploring city and wilderness.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
While I found it to be a perfectly acceptable jacket in most situations, I did not fully trust the Rhyolite until it kept me dry during one of my life-goal moments. On Thanksgiving day I chose to run 26.2 miles around Mercer Island and, as my luck would have it, it was pouring rain that day. The Rhyolite is usually used as a hiking and backpacking jacket — and it totally works for that — but it was also the perfect lightweight, layerable companion for my run.
Our finest moment was on the eastbound bridge with strong gusts of wind, spray from the lake, the rush of passing cars, and a gray, wet sky. With the hood tightened around my head and the wrists cinched up to keep out any water, I was extremely comfortable and most importantly, dry. The only dampness was from my own personal exertion, which is saying a lot, because I was running.
Added bonus: no rubs, no rashes, no problems!
Before receiving this jacket I had never thought twice about the location of a front pocket on a jacket. I have always been like — “That is where the pocket is, cool” — and clipped my pack around my waist strategically so as to not smash my essentials that were stored in the jacket pocket (such as my cell phone, a camera, or map). The Rhyolite, however, has identified the small nuisance of jacket pockets being trapped under pack straps and has created a pocket that extends from mid-breast to belly-button. The higher pockets made it convenient to strap my pack around my waist while still being able to access my cell phone quickly in case of a cool photo-op.
The Rhyolite is a lightweight water-repellent powerhouse.
The fabric is constructed with eVent, a material that uses ePTFE technology to build three layers of rain resistance. This fabric, much like Gore-Tex, is famous for partnering with brands to put out durable, water-repellent gear. In fact, my hiking boots use eVent and they work well. I’ve found that the eVent fabric is softer than most other rain jackets, is less crinkly, and does an average job of keeping off the grime. (Note: eVent does need to be washed more frequently than Gore-Tex, so if you are a dirty hiker make sure to give it a rinse and re-apply the DWR.)
Let’s take a look at the hood. It has a stiff brim, which stays above the head during mellow activities. On the backside is an adjustable toggle that adds an extra securing measure, and allows you to keep it from flying around in strong wind. On the inside of the hood is a soft patch of fabric that rests behind the neck, which says, “thoughtful design.” I particularly appreciated this, as it kept my neck skin chafe-free. (Chafe-free is the way to be.)
The back of the Rhyolite extends a little past your bottom and there are adjusting bands at the waist to secure your jacket even more. When fully zipped-up, the jacket covers up to the nose, which is an added bonus when trekking in windswept wet wildernesses.
The zippers are reliable, smooth-sliding, and can be pulled using the looped elastic bands. The sleeves are flexible and extend past the palm, and the wrists can be fully secured using the hook-and-loop pull-over strap. Even the hook-and-loop is softer than other jackets, meaning it doesn’t get stuck to furry objects — my last jacket’s closure totally shredded my knit scarf!
The Rhyolite is a softer nylon shell, with flex in the fabric, making it a comfortable option for outdoor trekking. On my major run I had no issues with fabric rubbing or crinkly, stiff movement, which is a huge step above the standard crunchy rain jacket.
The Rhyolite is built with quality construction in mind. I am not saying that because I am biased, but because I have had a less than stellar experience with rain jackets in the past. The body material is not flimsy and the zippers will survive rough zipping. Still, don’t go poking holes with a knife in this thing.
The lightweight nylon is made of eVent, which makes the Rhyolite naturally more breathable than its thick-plastic cousins. I ran in it, in the rain, and did not overheat.
That said, when hiking with a heavier load in a mildly damp forest the jacket fared about as well as other jackets — I was warm, and while I didn’t get wet from the outside, I did start to heat up inside. In warmer, damp weather you may start to steam up, and I have yet to find a rain jacket that can claim no steaminess in these climates.
Let’s not pretend we don’t care about how our heavy-duty rain gear looks — it typically does not boast sleekness. Yet there is no denying that the Rhyolite is fashion-forward and capable of keeping you dry in the woods, where only bears can judge your outfit.
The Rhyolite comes in a multitude of colors (each year they are new). I tested the Indian Ocean, as pictured in this article, and there is a huge chance I would not have been as fond of the brown or red version. The Indian Ocean blue was a pleasant dark teal with seafoam blue details (my signature color). Hopefully REI has a color that is your signature color!
The Rhyolite is a shell that’s designed to zip up over other layers. While I am not an expert on sizing, I did wear a Small, when I typically opt for Medium-sized jackets to accommodate arm length and upper torso area. I think it is safe to say this edition of the Rhyolite fits a touch larger than true-to-size.
With all of the perks of the Rhyolite, I was still able to find two grievances: the interior of the pockets and the breathability.
The interior of the pockets are made of mesh. They do this to help with breathability, but it also means there’s no waterproof barrier between your body and the pockets. Even while the pockets were mostly zipped up, the interior of the pockets get wet. This has to do with the unzipping and zipping of the pockets in the rain, which I did as any normal person would do to reach the objects in those pockets, or to help the jacket breathe.
There’s too much functionality here for two pockets — do they help you breathe or protect your items? They can’t do both, yet they try to.
Next, that breathability. The Rhyolite is a great water repellent adventure companion, but it does not enjoy exhausting cardio exertion under heavy loads. Too much sweat makes it hard to discern if the jacket is, in fact, water repellent because your skin can’t breathe. Those same pockets are advertised by REI as “Core Vents,” and if you open them the mesh backer does help the jacket breathe. But then the zippers are open, and rain can get in!
Pit zips are the standard type of vents for a reason — you don’t use your pits to store items like a normal pocket, and rain has trouble getting in a pit zip.
Lose the fair-weathered excuses and get out in the rain with the REI Rhyolite rain jacket. The Rhyolite is light, comfortable, and insanely water-repellent. Your excuses are invalid when this is in your closet.
Where to Buy REI Rhyolite Rain Jacket
We tested the women’s version of the REI Rhyolite Rain Jacket in a size small. It’s offered in other sizes, and in a men’s version, which has the same construction and materials, but a different fit. You can only find these rain jackets at REI.
Compare REI Rhyolite rain jacket prices below.]