I looking for a rainproof jacket, light enough to wear during south Florida's humid, rainy summers, and still be able to use it as outerwear for a spring Yosemite trip. I was considering the Patagonia Ready Mix. Is that too heavy? Any other ideas? Jorge Mii, Florida
As for the Ready Mix ($199; www.patagonia.com), it's one of two types of soft-shell jackets on the market. In this case, it's sort of a light rainjacketsoft and stretchy, but not entirely waterproof. So it's good for those short downpours you're apt to see in Yosemite. I will say it's also more breathable than most completely rainproof garments, so it might be more comfortable when it's warm.
That said, I admit I don't fully buy into the concept of a rainjacket that isn't really rainproof. I prefer the other evolutionary branch of soft shells, which offer short-term water-repellency along with some insulation. That way they can be combined with a traditional "hard shell" when the weather gets really nasty. So you might also look into a light fully waterproof jacket. Marmot's Essence ($150; www.marmot.com) is one such jacket. It uses Marmot's very good PreCip Plus coating, for a jacket that offers lot of weather-proofness plus modest breathability. Another good choice would be REI's Taku ($199; www.rei.com), which adds some features such as stretch panels and pit zips for better ventilation.
For a little more breathability at a higher price, Arc'teryx's Alpha SL ($250; www.arcteryx.com) is a light jacket made with Gore PacLite, a very breathable material that still offers excellent rain protection. Enough breathability for those times when it's 85 degrees and raining? Um, no. But for all those other times, it's great.
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