Which REI Co-op Rain Jacket Is Right for You?

Don’t let a bit of rain stop you from getting outside. Here’s how to choose the best REI Co-op rain jacket for you, with the help of REI designers, prototypers and a former sales specialist turned product copy editor.

When I first moved to Seattle 15 years ago, I didn’t own a rain jacket and never had. It’s not that I didn’t spend time outside in the rain; I just got wet. Or I’d carry an umbrella. I have vague childhood memories of my dad throwing a plastic poncho over me when our canoe got caught in an afternoon downpour, but waterproof clothing wasn’t a closet staple. 

But now I was living in a city infamous for its precipitation. Plus, I got a job working at the flagship REI store as a sales specialist. My new friends there, well-versed in essential outdoor gear for the local conditions, let me know it was time: I was a Seattleite now, and I’d somehow also become a person who went hiking in my free time.

I needed a rain jacket.

If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume you, too, are at a crossroads: in need of a new rain jacket, whether it’s your first (welcome to the club!), or a replacement for or upgrade from an existing one—which is the position I find myself in 15 years after that first reckoning.

I still work for REI—albeit now as a product copy editor at the company’s headquarters—so for this latest search, I knew I wanted REI Co-op brand jacket. The co-op has been designing and making its own gear for decades, and who knows rain better than a bunch of Seattle people?! (I even live down the street from one of the co-op’s longtime product prototypers—you can see multiple sewing machines through his living room window—so I’m especially tickled by the idea of relying on gear that got its start right here in Rain City, USA.)

It can be overwhelming to try to figure out which product is the best choice for you. Below, I take the guesswork out of that process for you by comparing the three primary REI Co-op rain jackets available this spring. I share what I’ve learned from my own shopping journey as well as expertise from REI designers and prototype testers. Read on for the full article or click on the links below to take you directly to the section most relevant to you:

  • Overview: A quick look at the Trailmade, Rainier and Flash Stretch REI Co-op rain jackets, including shopping links and prices
  • The Details: Drilling down on the design details of each jacket, from waterproofing to breathability and more 
  • Conclusion: Which jacket is right for you?

Overview of REI Co-op Rain Jackets

REI Co-op rain jackets, from left to right: the Trailmade Jacket; the Rainier Jacket; the Flash Stretch Jacket
REI Co-op rain jackets, from left to right: Trailmade, Rainier and Flash Stretch rain jackets

Trailmade Rain Jacket ($69.95; Women’s and Men’s)
REI introduced its Trailmade collection in spring 2023, welcoming new hikers and backpackers into the activities with fun, approachable gear that can be worn on the trail or around town—and that’s exactly what this jacket achieves. It’s intentionally simple and streamlined to make it easy to get outside and go. And like many products in the Trailmade collection, its design was informed by an REI inclusion advisory panel of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, body-positive and adaptive communities.
Rainier Rain Jacket ($99.95; Women’s and Men’s)
This is the co-op’s flagship rain jacket—beloved for years by REI Co-op Members and recently updated with 100% recycled ripstop nylon shell fabric and a nonfluorinated durable water repellent (DWR) finish. It features a HydroWall™ waterproof/breathable laminate plus many of the same technical features as premium rain shells—pit zips, ample adjustability, packability into its own pocket—but at a bangin’ price point.
Flash Stretch Rain Jacket ($169; Women’s and Men’s)
This is the co-op’s top-tier technical rain jacket for hiking and backpacking. It boasts many of the same features as the Rainier, but with the added benefits of stretchy fabric that feels super luxe, elevated trim details, and an advanced feature set, which I’ll dive into below.

The Details

Now, let’s get into the weeds to understand what sets these rain jackets apart from each other. Read on while I break down the differences to help you decide which of these three is bound to be your new favorite piece of co-op gear, or click on the links below to jump to a section.

Fabric and Waterproofing

Let’s start with a rain jacket’s most important job: its ability to keep you dry! How does it do that? Typically, with this combination of elements: water-resistant fabric that’s been treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to help moisture bead up, a waterproof/breathable coating or laminate, and taped seams to help prevent water seepage.

Detail of the fabric and waterproofing on the Rainier rain jacket
Detail of the fabric and waterproofing on the Rainier rain jacket

Both the Flash Stretch and Rainier jackets feature a 2.5-layer HydroWall waterproof/breathable laminate, as well as a nonfluorinated DWR. 

What’s a 2.5-layer construction, you might ask? It means these jackets have a durable outer fabric (recycled nylon on the Rainier; stretch polyester on the Flash Stretch), a waterproof barrier applied inside of that, and then a thin, protective sheen—that’s the half-layer—laid inside of that to help protect the laminate. On the Flash Stretch, a full stormflap, super-soft chin guard and clean-finished interior also contribute to this jacket’s higher-end look and feel.

Detail of the interior of the Flash Stretch rain jacket and its 2.5-layer construction
Detail of the interior of the Flash Stretch rain jacket and its 2.5-layer construction

By contrast, the Trailmade features a 2-layer construction: an outer layer (polyester) with a bonded waterproof/breathable laminate as well as a full, hanging inner layer (breathable mesh in the upper body, and smooth nylon taffeta in the sleeves and lower body).

This construction makes the Trailmade jacket slightly heavier than the Rainier, but also gives it a comfortable feel on the inside and adds a bit more warmth for year-round wear without significant layering.

Detail of the interior of the Trailmade rain jacket and its 2-layer construction

The Flash Stretch and Rainier are both fully seam-taped, while the Trailmade has critical seams taped. This means that on the two former jackets, all seams are reinforced on the inside to maximize the jackets’ waterproofness. Though the Trailmade is also constructed out of fully waterproof fabric with a DWR finish, only its critical seams (the most exposed ones) are taped—in this case, the hood, shoulders and tops of the sleeves. 

The Trailmade is designed for moderate, everyday activity. The jacket will keep you dry on a drizzly hike or dog walk but may be more susceptible to water seepage on longer hikes in heavy rain. (Pro tip: If your rain jacket ever starts wetting out on you, the DWR is easy to revive. Here’s how.)

Detail of the fabric and waterproofing on the Trailmade rain jacket
Detail of the fabric and waterproofing on the Trailmade rain jacket

You almost have to see and touch these three jackets in person to appreciate their shell fabrics’ differences, but I’ll do my best here: 

The Rainier and Trailmade feel and sound like classic rain jackets. They’re louder and more textured—you’ll notice a crinkle sound. 

The Flash Stretch is made with a softer, quieter fabric. The jacket could easily be mistaken for a soft shell, but is indeed waterproof.

The author unzipping the Flash Stretch rain jacket, to show more detail

Waterproofing testing note: In my experience, water did not bead up as well on the surface of the Flash Stretch as on the Rainier or Trailmade jackets. Other than the appearance of the fabric wetting out faster, however, this didn’t actually affect the Flash Stretch’s waterproof performance. 

One awesome thing all three jackets have in common: The primary fabric is bluesign®-approved.


The more energy you plan to exert while wearing your jacket, the more important breathability becomes; a waterproof jacket won’t keep you dry if you’re sweating profusely inside of it. One way rain jackets get their breathability is with pit zips: underarm vents that can be unzipped to provide more cooling airflow to your body.

The pit zips on the Rainier rain jacket provide additional breathability when you’re working up a sweat on the trails. The Flash Stretch has them, too.
The Rainier (pictured) and Flash Stretch rain jackets both have pit zips.

Pit zips add breathability to the Rainier and Flash Stretch. These vents are especially valuable on rainwear, since waterproof membranes make jackets inherently less breathable than non-waterproof options like soft shells or fleeces. Both the Rainier and the Flash Stretch jackets have pit zips, while the Trailmade does not.

Unzip the hand pockets for even more breathability. A thing I didn’t know until I started working at REI: As long as you’re not using a jacket’s hand pockets, you can often leave them unzipped to boost the jacket’s breathability whenever you’re working up a sweat. 

For high-output activities, you may want to skip the Trailmade. The hand-pocket hack will work for both the Flash Stretch and Rainier, but not the Trailmade; while the hand pockets on all three jackets are mesh-lined, the Trailmade’s 2-layer construction means its hand pockets have a solid layer between them and your body, so unzipping the hand pockets doesn’t provide the same airflow as on the Flash Stretch and Rainier. This isn’t a huge deal unless breathability and venting are big concerns to you—which they might be, if you’re planning to wear your jacket for high-sweat-output activities.


Thank goodness for pockets. Not only do they let me keep things like my phone (aka camera) handy on the trail, they also help keep my hands warm on cold hikes if (when) I forget my gloves at home.

Detail of the lower pocket on the Trailmade rain jacket
Detail of the Trailmade rain jacket’s lower pocket

All three of these jackets have zippered hand pockets, but in different positions. While the Rainier and Trailmade position pockets lower on the jacket, close to hip level, the Flash Stretch positions them higher on the waist. Placing pockets higher is a nice technical touch to keep small items accessible for long-distance hikers and backpackers, who may wear a pack with a hipbelt that obscures lower pockets. But for casual hikers and strollers, you may find the lower-positioned pockets on the Rainier and Trailmade to be a more natural spot to rest your hands.

Each jacket has a different number of pockets, with the Flash Stretch sporting a handy, stealth chest pocket. The Trailmade keeps things streamlined with just the two hand pockets, while the Flash Stretch offers an additional zippered chest pocket that’s so sleek, it’s easy to miss if you don’t know where to look for it: tucked under the stormflap along the center-front zipper. It’s just roomy enough for most large phones or a handheld GPS device.

Detail of the chest pocket on the Flash Stretch rain jacket. The model is pulling an iPhone in a black case out of the pocket.
Detail of the Flash Stretch rain jacket’s chest pocket

In lieu of a chest pocket, the Rainier features two large interior drop-in pockets: spacious enough for your phone, wallet or even a spare hat or pair of gloves. It’s the only jacket in this bunch with interior pockets.

Detail of the interior drop-in pockets on the Rainier rain jacket. The model is placing an iPhone in a black case into the pocket.
Detail of the Rainier rain jacket’s interior drop-in pockets

The Rainier is the only jacket with with a designated “packable” pocket. This means you can stuff the entire jacket in its own left hand pocket; it features a double-sided zipper and bungee hang cord to turn it into a neat little storage pouch.

A model, who is wearing a purple long-sleeved shirt and brown pants, holds the Rainier rain jacket, which is folded up into its "packable" pocket.
The Rainier rain jacket folded up into its “packable” pocket

Hood Design

If you think all jacket hoods are created equal, think again. You’d be amazed how much research and development goes into a rain jacket’s hood—and how the various design details and adjustment mechanisms can affect your wearing experience. (Another pro tip, which applies to all rain jackets: Wearing a ball cap or trucker hat underneath the hood can help give it some structure, improving your visibility while also keeping that sideways-slanty rain out of your eyes.)

The authors wears the Trailmade rain jacket in Moss Citron/Goldenrod, which is a bright yellow color way, with the hood cinched and a black baseball cap underneath the hood.
The Trailmade rain jacket with the hood cinched

The Trailmade features a simple hood. You can cinch it down with dual bungee cords on either side of the chin. 

The hood on the Flash Stretch offers the most adjustability of these three jackets. It has dual front bungee cords with sleek, minimalist toggles to cinch down the hood, plus a cinchable rear bungee for an even tighter fit to minimize interference with your peripheral vision.

A model cinches the hood of the Flash Stretch rain jacket, in the Sea Forest/Crater Teal color way, which is a blue color, by holding the fastener in the back of the hood and pulling the drawstring.
How to cinch the hood of the Flash Stretch rain jacket

The Rainier has dual hood-adjustment bungees in the front too, though they’re hidden inside the collar for a cleaner look. In the back, it features a vertical hook-and-loop strap that can be tightened to shift the hood’s built-in visor a little higher up on your forehead.

Detail of the Rainier rain jacket's adjustable hood, with adjustment bungees that are hidden inside the collar for a cleaner look. The rain jacket is a silver color.
Detail of the Rainier rain jacket’s adjustable hood, with adjustment bungees that are hidden inside the collar for a cleaner look

Cuff and Hem Adjustments

All three jackets offer a bungee-cinchable bottom hem to help you seal out cold air and rain, but there are a few differences in the level of adjustability and the fit they provide. 

The Flash Stretch takes it to another level with dual hem bungees. There’s one bungee on each side, which allows for an even more customized fit around the hips.

Detail of the Flash Stretch rain jacket's adjustable hem. The model pulls the drawstring that adjusts the hem away from the jacket.
Detail of the Flash Stretch rain jacket’s adjustable hem

The Flash Stretch was also designed with slightly longer sleeves to provide your wrists and hands extra coverage from the rain. 

Detail of a hook-and-loop strap on the Flash Stretch rain jacket, which allows you to adjust the cuff.
Detail of a hook-and-loop strap on the Flash Stretch rain jacket, which allows you to adjust the cuff. The Rainier rain jacket has the same feature.

The cuffs on both the Flash Stretch and the Rainier adjust with a hook-and-loop strap, whereas the Trailmade cuffs are not adjustable. They are, however, elasticized partway around, which I found did a great job in keeping the rain out and my sleeves in place, without my having to adjust any straps or toggles.
Detail of an elasticized cuff on the Trailmade rain jacket
Detail of the Trailmade rain jacket’s elasticized cuff


The Rainier is the lightest-weight of these three jackets. If you’re an ounce-counter when it comes to your gear, look no further than the Rainier (at 9.9 ounces for a women’s small, and 11.2 ounces for a men’s medium). The Trailmade clocks in at about 2 to 3 ounces heavier than the Rainier, and the Flash Stretch is about 2 to 3 ounces heavier than the Trailmade (weighing in at 14.5 ounces for a women’s small, and 1 pound, 1 ounce for a men’s medium).

A Final Note on Fit

All of these are sized generously to be able to wear additional layers underneath as needed.

The author wears a base layer and purple insulated puffy jacket underneath the Rainier rain jacket to add warmth.
An example of how to layer under the Rainier rain jacket. Here, the author wears a base layer and insulated puffy jacket underneath to add warmth.

You can find a size chart on the individual product pages for each jacket. My body measurements put me at the upper end of the women’s size small range; I can still easily fit a base layer and lightweight puffy jacket underneath a small in any of these jackets without looking like an overstuffed marshmallow.


The REI Co-op Trailmade rain jacket in Moss Citron/Goldenrod

Which REI Co-op rain jacket is right for you?

Choose the REI Co-op Trailmade rain jacket (women’s and mens) if you’re looking for a great price on a stylish, high-quality rain jacket you can wear every day and for exploring local trails. It comes in a variety of styles—fun patterns, bright colorblocking or more subdued colors—to suit your personal taste. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more technical hiking jackets, but it will do a fine job keeping you dry in anything but prolonged downpours.

The REI Co-op Rainier rain jacket in Beachstone Gray
The REI Co-op Rainier rain jacket in Beachstone Gray

Choose the REI Co-op Rainier rain jacket (women’s, men’s and women’s long line) if you’re looking for a high-performing jack-of-all-trades. The Rainier is going to hit the sweet spot for many folks: It’s a full-featured waterproof jacket that’s lightweight, breathable and fully seam-sealed to keep rain out all day long. Its price point is hard to beat for everything you get with this tried-and-true piece of quality rainwear.

The author's daughter in the REI Co-op Rainier rain jacket for toddlers in Astral Purple. We see her from overhead looking up towards the rain and sticking her tongue out.

The Rainier is also the only one of these three jackets offered (with a less technical feature set) in kids’ and infant/toddlers’ sizes. Toddlers have the option of a full rainsuit version too, that’s perfect for those drizzly playground days. 

For the grownups, it’s also available in a longer silhouette; if you, like me, enjoying sitting on benches on rainy days without getting your butt wet, the women’s Rainier Long Line has you (literally) covered.

The REI Co-op Flash Stretch rain jacket in Sea Forest/Crater Teal

Choose the REI Co-op Flash Stretch rain jacket (women’s and men’s) if you’re a hiker and/or backpacker looking to upgrade your outerwear to something top-tier. Its stretchy and comfortable fabric, excellent breathability, and elevated details are perfect for those who love moving a little faster or going a little farther on the trail.

Curious which one was right for me?

The author hiking in Seattle in the Flash Stretch rain jacket in Sea Forest/Crater Teal. She walks hand-in-hand with her 3-year-old daughter who wears the Rainier toddlers’ rain jacket in Astral Purple. They are looking at each other and smiling.
The author hiking in Seattle in the Flash Stretch rain jacket with her 3-year-old daughter, who wears the Rainier toddlers’ rain jacket.

Fifteen years have gone by since I first moved to Seattle. My life looks a little different now. My favorite hikes these days tend to be steep, long ones; I’m a sucker for a great summit view. I tend to sweat a lot—especially when I’m carrying my 3-year-old on my back—so the stretchy, comfy fabric and ample breathability of the Flash Stretch really won me over. 

I also love taking pictures when I hike, so I appreciate the convenience of this jacket’s chest pocket for keeping my phone handy and dry. And though I tend to be a function-over-fashion gal, I can’t lie: I absolutely love the Sea Forest/Crater Teal colorway this jacket comes in. Even on dreary days, it gets me excited to get out there and after it. 

My little one, for what it’s worth, needs no encouragement: Rain or shine (or as is often the case here in Seattle, semi-shine with a good chance of rain), there’s nothing she loves more than going for a hike! In the photo above, you’ll see us in each of our favorite REI Co-op rain jackets: me in my Flash Stretch, her in her Rainier.