REI Rhyolite ReviewMay 24, 2016
- Highly breathable eVent fabric
- Awesome price
- Great design
- Loud fabric
- No third pocket
- No pit zips
There’s a reason companies have their own waterproof-breathable membranes. Cost. Using Gore, Polartec or Pertex fabric costs more. The Rhyolite is the exception. It harnesses the excellent breathability and watershedding of eVent with a sticker price under $200. That’s crazy. And it’s a great jacket, with only minor knocks. This may be the deal of the year for a rain shell.
After years of testing eVent, we’ve found it to be highly waterproof for long periods. The secret is to wash it often. The DVAlpine version of eVent brags 60 mph windproof. We didn’t have a hurricane to test it in, but on a 40 mph day we didn’t feel a whisper sneaking through. A solid hood helped deflect rain off our head, though it won’t fit under a helmet. Cuffs and hem were easily snug for battening down the hatches.
EVent delivers top notch breathability. Again it performs best with regular cleaning. No pit zips, but we only missed them in really steamy conditions, where we’d be sweating anyway.
The front waterproof zip is a little stiff, but otherwise all the features—cuffs, hem cords, and helmet adjustment—worked well and intuitively. The two hand pockets sit high, away from a waist belt. They’re a little higher than we’re used to, but that created more pocket for holding stuff. The high position eliminates the opportunity to include a chest pocket which we didn’t miss, but some might. What we did notice is the scratchy nature of the fabric. It’s a bit stiff and crinkly.
EVent is a more open membrane than its competitors. That means it gets clogged more easily. Regular washing helps. Otherwise the material feels durable.
At just shy of a pound, it’s not a lightweight. But for a fully featured, three layer membrane, it’s a descent weight. Waterproof zips add some bulk, so it doesn’t pack down as small as other 14 ounce shells.