REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket: Our Detailed Field Test and Review

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Light, packable, and backed with GoreTex protection: We tested the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX to find the limits of affordable two-layer performance.
REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Introduction
We took the XeroDry in the wild to see if it is as good as promised by REI!



The REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Rain Jacket

– Price: $170
– Weight: 12.5 oz (354 g)
– Waterproofing Fabric: 2-layer GoreTex Paclite
– Waterproofing Rating: 28,000mm
– Number of pockets: 3
– What we like: Affordable, loaded with premium features, light and packable
– What we don’t: Not the most breathable, boxy fit



The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict

This is a review of the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX, a rain jacket that’s become well-known as one of the least expensive ways on the planet to get into a GoreTex membrane.

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - TWA Verdict
Value for days: The REI XeroDry GTX delivers the goods on a budget like only REI can.

While the nation’s largest outdoor retailer likely needs no introduction, their top-of-the-line rain jacket, the REI XeroDry GTX, is a relative newcomer to the outdoor scene. It’s not every day you see a rain jacket that’s both top shelf and bottom dollar, but with its approachable price point and a host of premium features including GoreTex Paclite waterproofing, the XeroDry represents a value-added proposition that could only come from the Co-op’s massive economy of scale. 

So just how good can a sub-$200 rain jacket be? We took the XeroDry out for a wet weekend in the woods alongside a few of its closest competitors to find out. Due to the XeroDry’s unique combination of technical construction and an affordable price, this included budget-focused proprietary jackets as well as ultra-premium GoreTex shells, and our findings might surprise you. 

(Want to learn more about how we test our rain jackets? Check out our first-hand process here.)

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Detailed Evaluation of the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

Our test of the REI XeroDry GTX revolved around wet weather hiking, backpacking, and camping, but we also spent a solid month living with the jacket to see how it holds up under day-to-day use. All of this was part of our yearly intensive testing of the best rain jackets. Throughout our testing, we took notes on all the most important features we look for in a rain jacket ranging from essentials like weather protection and breathability to more nuanced topics like build quality, adjustability, and overall value. 

Water Resistance

REI utilizes GoreTex’s “Paclite” technology with the XeroDry, which is the lightest and most breathable membrane the company produces. Despite its comparatively thin and simplistic construction, GoreTex backs its Paclite membrane with the same guarantee as their premium three-layer options, meaning it’s guaranteed to keep you dry for the useful life of the product or they will repair it, replace it, or refund your money. 

With that being said, no waterproof/breathable membrane is 100% waterproof (they all fail at some point, although some last significantly longer than others), so we were anxious to find the limits of the Paclite material compared to some of our three-layer GoreTex Pro shells like the Arcteryx Beta AR. We’re happy to report that the XeroDry went toe-to-toe with the best in our testing in terms of outright water and wind protection, and we have yet to experience any leaks or failures with the jacket. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Water Resistance
Getting creative: During breaks in the rain, our testers put the XeroDry to work with an impromptu submersion test.

That testing included hours of hiking in constant light to moderate rain, both with and without a loaded pack, mind you, and neither the fabric, seams, or main zipper allowed moisture to break through. We will point out that although the main zipper of the jacket is waterproof (a major plus in a jacket this affordable), both the pocket zippers and chest zipper are only protected by simple storm flaps, which stayed dry for us, but aren’t the sort of thing we’d be comfortable trusting a smartphone to in an outright downpour. 

Our testers also noted that the hood of the jacket was particularly well-designed, with cinches on either side of the face as well as the back of the head that allowed us to dial in a snug fit in heavier rain. The brim is sizable and relatively stiff as well, and did a great job of keeping moisture rolling down outside of the opening rather than into our faces. 

Breathability

Expectations were high for the XeroDry’s breathability, as GoreTex explicitly advertises their Paclite laminate as the lightest and most breathable of the bunch. We managed to do our fair share of sweating during a series of repeated uphill climbs, and found the XeroDry did a solid job overall of managing heat.

With that being said, our testers did note that the XeroDry certainly wasn’t the most breathable jacket we’ve used, which was surprising considering the lightweight two-layer construction. Ultimately we chalk that up to a lack of adjustable ventilation, as the XeroDry relies on it’s mesh-lined chest and hip pocket as direct vents, which can’t be left open when it’s raining for obvious reasons. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Breathability
Mesh backed pockets are the XeroDry’s only source of direct ventilation, which is unfortunate as they can’t be left open when rain is coming down.

Still, the breathability of the fabric alone is undeniably impressive, and we felt it would serve your average hiker or backpacker well enough even without pit zips. You wouldn’t want to take it on more intensely aerobic outings (trail running, backcountry skiing, etc.), but for your average outdoor enthusiast, it’ll get the job done. 

Fit and Comfort

Overall we found both the fit and comfort of the XeroDry to be high points of the build. As is the case with most 2 layer designs, the interior can start to get a bit clammy after a few hours of rain and sweat, but the jacket benefits from an interior treatment that makes the material feel considerably less “plastic like” than other two layer jackets we’ve used. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Fit and Comfort
The XeroDry is definitely a bit roomier than your average jacket, and while the cut isn’t exactly flattering, it still serves its purpose well.

The fit is definitely on the boxier/bulkier side, as is often the case with REI’s in-house garments, but this also allows for plenty of room to move and layer up underneath without ever feeling restrictive. Our testers felt they could likely get away with sizing down to a medium where they’d usually opt for a large, but we’ve yet to test that hypothesis so the jury is still out in that regard.

Durability

Another highlight of the XeroDry’s spec sheet is the fact that REI uses multi-density fabrics in the garment’s construction. Heavier wear areas like the shoulders and elbows are covered in a more robust fabric to accommodate things like pack straps and skiis, while the less wear-prone sections get a lighter material to cut down on weight and bulk. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Durability
The dark blue sections seen here in the shoulders are made from a tougher fabric than the rest of the jacket, which bodes well for durability.

Overall our testers found the jacket’s durability to be a highlight of the build. Other models in our testing such as Patagonia Torrentshell or the Arcteryx Beta AR felt considerably tougher, but apart from hard-wearing three layer hardshells like these, the XeroDry feels above average for its size and weight. 

Weight and Packability

Speaking of which, the XeroDry is a solid contender for both weight and overall packability, which surprised us considering the added fabric from its generous cut. Weight wise the XeroDry tipped our scales at 12.5 ounces, which is a few ounces heavier than ultralights like the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic we tested it alongside, but also lighter than our three layer shells like the Patagonia Torrentshell. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Weight and Packability
The REI Co-op XeroDry (light blue), packed down alongside a few of our other contenders from Arcteryx (green), Marmot (blue/mesh), and Patagonia (dark blue).

In terms of packability, the XeroDry doesn’t include a dual-use stash pocket, but our testers found it packed down relatively well inside its own hood. Compared to other jackets in our test, the XeroDry essentially split the difference, packing down a bit smaller than more robust options like the Arcteryx Beta, and slightly larger than minimalist options like the Rab Downpour 2.0 and Marmot Precip Eco. 

Features

Features for the XeroDry got high marks from our testers, and proved to be another area where this jacket punches well above its price point. All of the adjustments on the jacket work well and feel built to last, from the dual cinch pulls on the hood and hem down to the rugged velcro closures on the cuff. 

We also felt that REI’s choice to source a waterproof main zipper rather than a simple storm flap was a big bonus here, and added value to an already sweet overall package. We’ll also give props to the XeroDry’s pocket layout, which works well with a hip belt (so long as you get the right size), and adds a convenient chest pocket for stashing your phone when the weather allows. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Features
Adjustability is above average here, and we particularly appreciated the XeroDry’s multiple hood cinches for dialing in a snug fit in heavier rain.

The only real downside we felt the XeroDry suffered from here was a lack of pit zips, but again, it still did a commendable job handling heat and moisture thanks to its GoreTex Paclite construction. We also noted a missed opportunity with a pocket/stuff sack combo, which we feel has become a pretty standard feature that you’ll even find on budget picks like the Marmot Precip Eco nowadays. 

Value

Despite it’s minor shortcomings, there’s just no denying the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX is an industry leader when it comes to value. The fact that you’re getting a certified GoreTex membrane for under $200 is reason enough to celebrate here, and REI’s elevated approach to both materials and construction added even more value to the equation for our testers. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - Value
From the premium GoreTex treatment to the elevated material quality and construction, there’s no shortage of value to be had in this budget-friendly rain jacket.

Ultimately the value of this jacket comes down to its weather protection, and while we’ve read our fair share of customer feedback stating this jacket wets out quickly and is prone to leaks, REI seems to have solved whatever issues they had in the past if our experience is anything to go by. Adding pit-zips to the design seems like a no-brainer to us, and is a feature we’d have no issue paying an extra $20-$50 to have. Truth be told this jacket already feels undervalued as-is, and considering the fact that REI regularly puts it on sale for an extra 20-30% off, it feels like a bonafide steal for the typical hiking/camping crowd. 

What We Like

To put it plainly, this jacket is all about bang for your buck, and it’s arguably the most impressive option for the money on sale today. GoreTex protection, smart design, and above average durability at under $200 is a tough package to beat, and the fact that this jacket can often be snagged for closer to the $100 mark puts it miles ahead of similarly priced options. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - What We Like
The XeroDry is an excellent companion for your average trek, and represents an incredible value in terms of quality for the money.

We’re also big fans of the overall build quality of this jacket, which is evident in everything from the cleanly taped seams on the inside of the shell to the rugged YKK zippers used throughout the garment. Everything looks, feels, and functions like a much more expensive jacket, and we’d happily recommend the XeroDry to anyone looking for a solid all-around performer on a tighter budget. 

What We Don’t Like

Our single biggest gripe with the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX is the lack of pit zips. We know from experience that the folks at REI know their stuff, and to leave all the direct ventilation up to mesh-backed pockets feels like a major oversight. We’re not alone in that critique, so we imagine future iterations of the XeroDry will include a sizable pair going forward, a feature we’d be more than happy to spend an extra $20 or so to have available. 

REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket - What We Don_t Like
The XeroDry looks and feels a bit baggier than most, but the generous cut has no real drawbacks in practice. 

Aside from that, our complaints here are minor. We’re not in love with the bulky fit, but it does allow for ample freedom of movement as well as room for warm layers. We also found that making use of the jacket’s multiple adjustment points helps to limit any “oversized” feeling in the field, and for larger folks with more athletic builds, we’re sure the extra space will be seen as a positive. 

Alternatives

The Bottom Line…

After spending a month in the REI Co-op XeroDry GTX, we’re big fans. REI absolutely nailed this jacket from a value perspective, and its combination of GoreTex weather protection and premium features will be a welcome upgrade for anyone shopping on a reasonable budget that doesn’t want to splurge on a hardcore three-layer rain shell. 

Again, the jacket isn’t without its faults, and some added direct ventilation with pit zips would go a long way in our eyes, but it’s hard to complain considering the XeroDry’s asking price. It isn’t the best in any particular area, but it’s above average pretty much across the board, which is exactly the sort of product we’ve come to expect from the folks at REI. 

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