Theoretically, I currently live in a desert-like environment. Moab receives ~10 inches of precip a year on average counting snow. Just on the cusp of the threshold of a desert environment.
I do know it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. We are high up. And there is a lot of sunshine and little rain overall. A dry climate by any standard.
Yet, the months of September and October saw a lot of rain.
The perennial red dirt turned into red mud. And our gear room had a perma-grit from the drying of gear in the room.
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And because there ended up being a lot of rain, and cold rain at that, I wore my rain gear a lot while out and about.
While my Montbell Versalite works well for the occasional on-and-off use with moderate scrambling or bushwhacking, for constant precip in colder weather and rougher terrain, the layer would not be my first choice.
Over the years, my rain gear choice for this type and environment of hiking has varied. I used a GoLite Tumalo jacket for many years similar to the classic Marmot Precip. A 2.5 layer jacket that works well for all-around use without being overly expensive.
When that jacket eventually wore out, I bought a Sierra Designs Hurricane on clearance. A similar jacket to the Tumalo in some ways.
But the downfall of these jackets is they did not breathe well. Which, despite whatever miracle claim is made by fabric, is the case with rain gear. Unless they have the old-school, plain vanilla, but ultimately useful and wonderful pit zips!
Enter the Montbell Rain Trekker jacket.
A sub-10oz (for a Men’s Medium) three-layer jacket using Montbell’s GoreTex-like DRY-TEC membrane. The raw specs are a Water Pressure Resistance (WPR) of over 20,000mm and breathability of 20,000g/㎡ ·24 hrs per the Montbell website. As we are comparing jackets made by the same company, the water resistance is comparable to the Versalite at Water Pressure Resistance (WPR) of over 30,000mm but not quite as breathable versus the 43,000g/㎡ ·24 hrs of the Versalite.
But what does this all mean in the real world?
Well, fabric membrane aside, a three-layer jacket tends to have longer-term water resistance for the life of jacket overall vs. a 2 or 2.5 layer jacket.
And though the Trekker does not breathe as well as the lighter Versalite, the conditions I typically use this type of jacket is colder in general compared to my use of a lighter rain jacket. In other words, I am not generating as much heat as the prime season conditions where I’d use the Versalite. And like the Versalite, the Trekker has generous pit zips that allow for effective ventilation vs. just a straight laminate and fabric breathability solution.
And speaking of long-term durability, that aspect is key for my favorite use of this type of jacket. I feel much more comfortable taking the Trekker while clambering through the brush, scrambling over rocks, and other types of similar terrain in comparison to the Versalite.
In addition to the durability, lightweight, and ventilation provided by the pit zips, the Montbell Rain Trekker has the usual features and attention to detail typical of Montbell products. Meaning, Velcro vs. elastic cuffs, an adjustable hood that fits well with a stiff brim, and an excellent fit overall.
At $149, the Montbell Rain Trekker is also $50 less than the Versalite. And compares very well price wise to similar jackets with a comparable price point, features, and quality.
Though the Trekker is about four ounces heavier than the Versalite, the Trekker is perhaps a better overall jacket for the person who needs just one rain jacket in their kit. The Trekker is light enough to stash in the pack for the occasional rainstorm but is durable enough when scrambling through brush during late Fall rains. If I had to have just one rain jacket for 3+ season conditions, I’d have no problem using the Trekker as my mainstay.
Overall view: The Montbell Rain Trekker is a reasonably light jacket at just under 10oz with generous pit zips that aids in breathability. A jacket best suited for colder and constant rainy conditions or extended use when bushwhacking or in rough terrain, but light enough to stow in the pack. An excellent “quiver of one” rainjacket for 3+ season conditions that competes price-wise to similarly high-quality jackets.
Disclosure: Montbell supplied the jacket at no cost to me in January 2018.