Burton Gore-Tex 3L B-17 Rain Jacket would be our pick for a single jacket for extended travels. Its casual, pocket rich style would blend in city crowds, draw compliments from hipsters and brags enough technology to impress outdoor geeks. While it’s on the heavy side compared to the competition, it’s still lightweight enough and is ready for the worst possible weather. It could go from rainforest backpacking to waiting in line for the Louvre better than any other jacket we can think of.
The Burton B-17 is made with Gore-Tex’s Pro fabric, their burliest and most dependable water shedding builds. A to-the-thigh cut and a generous hood add tons more mechanical protection, keeping water off a big chunk of the body. Rather than a waterproof zipper, like a lot of the jackets in this category, the B-17 has a storm flap running down the front zipper.
As a rule, the heavier the fabric and tougher the membrane the less well it breaths. This is true on the Burton B-17. There’s a lot of fabric to breathe through here, so this jacket feels warmer than the other jackets we tested in this category. But there’s a vent across the back that helps dump heat and moisture without having to open pit zips or pockets, but doesn’t work that well with a pack on.
By far the most stylish and casual of the Storm Shell Jackets, the Burton B-17 could easily blend into the crowd in the city, making it a good choice for traveling. It’s loaded with pockets: chest, sleeve and hand warmers. There’s enough storage to leave a pack behind on short trips. The large hood is adjustable with two pulls along the sides. These work easily and are more readily found than messing with tiny pulls and toggles at the back of the head, but they were more likely to interfere with other motions and get tangled up. There’s also a chafe resistant chin guard that felt like heaven when we were hunkered down on a soggy boat trip.
Gore makes the most dependable waterproof-breathable membranes and the Burton B-17 is made with the toughest of the Gore options. This jacket is made for long trips and the nastiest weather. The Pro membrane is backed by a micro-grid liner that adds even more abrasion resistance.
This thing is a beast compared to the other Storm Shells. The Burton B-17 is by far the heaviest and bulkiest jacket in the test. Its long cut and heavier Gore membrane make this inevitable.
Ryan Stuart is freelance writer and jack of all sports—trail running, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, surfing, climbing, skiing and mountaineering—based on Vancouver Island. Follow his testing on Google+.