First Look: REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket

When the rain hits, you want gear that keeps you dry, but not at the cost of breaking the bank. Enter the REI Co-op Rainier rain jacket (women’s and men’s). It’s waterproof, breathable and wind-resistant—and costs $89.

“[The REI] founders’ original intent was to provide people with affordable gear,” said Scott Mosher, senior product art director for REI Co-op Brands. Gear that doesn’t break the bank, Mosher continued, “is your ticket to exploring the outdoors.”

The initial idea was to create a $99 rain jacket. “We knew we would be competing against other jackets,” said Tim Brown, product manager for Co-op Brands. “We knew we wanted this to be a step above those other $99 jackets. Then, at the last minute, we decided to provide even more value and drop it $10.”

Once the idea was solidified, our team, including patternmakers, designers and merchants, started working to get the jackets to the market.

Soojin Chung, manager of materials for Co-op Brands, had a tough job: finding a waterproof, windproof, breathable and affordable material. Even trickier? The team wanted the jacket to be made of recycled nylon, as part of our commitment to reducing environmental impact when making gear. Working with our factory partners across the globe, we developed an ethically right, high-performance, low-cost option. The material, a 2.5-layer recycled ripstop nylon, shields wearers from rain and wind up to 60 MPH, while staying breathable and dry on the inside.

“It’s light and aesthetically pleasing without that super-technical feel,” Chung said. “And we’re really proud of the material we ended up going with—a recycled nylon is a big step forward into the sustainability efforts we are making.”

As Chung was sourcing the right material, our apparel designers were building the jackets from the ground up, developing them to specifically fit women’s and men’s bodies. We also offer this style in tall, petite and plus sizing—part of our ongoing commitment to close the gear gap.

The designers also sought to provide the right mix of technical features—some of which other jackets at the same price point just don’t have. The jacket has pit zips that let you get rid of excess heat as the day warms up or your body temperature rises. Pit zips are a pricey feature. “After fabric, zippers are usually the most expensive item on a garment,” said Britt Berg, product designer for Co-op Brands. “For a zipper to work well over a long period of time it has to be very well made. Zippers are highly engineered and well tested, hence the price.” The three-piece hood has two types of adjustments so you can fine-tune your fit, and you can store it away if you don’t need it. The drawcord hem and hook-and-loop cuffs seal out snow and rain. And the whole jacket even stows away in its own pocket.

“The goal was a highly functional but totally approachable (especially the price) waterproof, breathable jacket,” Berg said.

With materials, design and fit locked down, the team finalized testing and color selections. This jacket bears the REI Co-op logo, which means this style hits our performance outerwear material testing requirements for water repellency (including after washing), air permeability, breathability and tear strength.  We also further tested the taped seams and the way we constructed the jacket to make sure water can’t seep in. It’s held up to all of our testing—and is ready to hit your rainy and windy trails or travels with you. In terms of color, our color designers were most excited about Flash Pink. “It’s a bright, intense, hot pink, not your soft, feminine pink,” said Amanda Russell, senior color designer. “It’s a statement pink: high energy.”

To us, the whole jacket makes a statement: You can have high performance for an affordable price.

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