Gear Guy

What's a good jacket for spring storms?

I'm a letter carrier looking for a quality rain jacket to keep me dry in spring showers or pouring storms, all through the New England seasons. Could you please point me in the right direction? Michael Springfield, Massachusetts

A: Plenty of good choices out there—a lot will depend on how much you want to spend. You could, of course, spend a ton for a high-end Gore-Tex jacket like Marmot's Liquid Steel ($375; This is a really nice, light jacket that uses three-ply XCR Gore-Tex and welded seams for greater breathability and lighter weight. It even comes in sort of postal blue. I'd also suggest Patagonia's Lightning Jacket ($199;, a non-Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable jacket that would be a little more packable than the Liquid Steel.

That said, I see no reason to spend a lot here when some cheaper options will give you more or less the same result. Maybe the best alternative is the L.L. Bean Stowaway Parka ( It's made of two-ply Gore-Tex, which is a little softer than the three-ply material used in the Liquid Steel. The knee-length design will keep the rain off no matter how hard it pours, and there's also a hood for your head. Very nice, and only $175. Land's End even makes a shorter-cut Gore-Tex jacket, with a hood, for only $98—it's simply called the Men's Gore-Tex Jacket ( It'll keep you dry, comfortable, and won't take a bite from your wallet.

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