Of the many pricey investments for the golf season, waterproof rain gear probably doesn’t top your list of most desirable items. Instead, your internet browser’s likely cluttered with links to the latest and greatest golf technology.
But before you sink $400 into another driver, let’s paint a picture.
It’s 6AM and you awake in the quaint town of Pinehurst to the tranquil pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof above. No, not today, you think. It’s your annual bucket-list trip, but mother nature doesn’t seem to care. You arrive at the historic Pinehurst Resort clubhouse, only to be met by an increasingly steady rain, with the radar indicating no end in sight. A rain check’s not an option and you certainly didn’t travel all this way to sip cervesa’s in the clubhouse all day. Time to strap on the waterproof rain gear and experience a bit of history.
Okay, so maybe it won’t rain on you’re once-in-a-lifetime trip, but if you’re an avid golfer, chances are you’ll be faced with plenty of rain-soaked days throughout the year. If you’re more the fair weather type, shelling out a lot of coin probably isn’t completely necessary since the mere thought of rain sends you running back home. But for everyone else, this is one piece of golf gear you quite literally may have forever. Yes, forever.
Similar to investing in a good pair of dress shoes, high-end rain gear is built to last, and will certainly come in hand time and time again. Below we address rain jackets, but the same principle’s apply for bottoms. Whatever brand jacket you do choose, go ahead an snag a pair of bottoms, too.
What to Look For
1) Waterproof is a must
It goes without saying, but be sure the rain gear is 100% waterproof. Many of the premium jackets will feature waterproof GORE-TEX fabric (though it’s not a requirement) and the best will be fully seam sealed (making it impenetrable). If you’re on the hunt for a bargain, just be mindful that the “water resistant” fabrics won’t perform well in anything more than a drizzle.
2) Lightweight construction for breathability
Outerwear technology has come a long way in recent years, allowing jackets to be ultra-light, breathable, and yet still very warm when needed. The very best will keep you dry and cut the wind on breezy days, yet offer some breathability for those humid, summer rainy days.
3) The Perfect Fit
The cut of rainwear varies from company to company, but it’s ultra-important to get it right. The jacket should be large enough to slip on over other layers, but any excess bulk will be detrimental to your swing. Look for a jacket with fabric that carries a bit of stretch to it, allowing for resistance-free mobility. And, adjustable waist tabs at the bottom-sides make for a better fit and in turn, better on-course performance.
There are several key details that elevate a jacket’s function and make it worth the extra coin.
- Waterproof Zipper: Front zipper and pocket zippers that feature a bonded, waterproof design. Without this, water is able to seep into the jacket.
- Adjustable Cuffs: Adjustable cuffs make for a better sleeve fit, and again protect from water getting into the jacket.
- High Collar: Jackets can have varying collar heights. Go with one that covers your entire neck and fits snuggly when fully zipped. Or, choose a rain jacket with a hood for even more protection.
- Hideaway pocket: Many premium jackets feature a hidden, easy-access waterproof pocket to stow your glove or scorecard (often located near the chest).
5) Simple Design
From a design and style perspective, reach for a jacket that can be paired with just about anything. That bright orange might look cool at first, but trust it will grow old over time — not to mention it will clash with many of your looks. Go with a basic black, navy or grey for your first rain jacket. Should you want to expand your arsenal with a second jacket in the future, feel free to spice it up.
A Few Brand Suggestions
Galvin Green Alon Jacket (Price: $695) — The creme of the crop. Galvin Green’s Alon jacket features a crazy lightweight design, trim fit, rubberized collar and sleeve edges, and adjustability of not just the waistband and sleeve openings, but also in the chest area. It’s one of the softest (and thus most comfortable) rain jackets I’ve ever tested. The price tag is big, but trust this one will last you for years to come.
Kjus Pro 3L Jacket (Price: $499) — Golf outerwear by a ski company makes for quite the design. It’s checks all the boxes and is available in a ton of different colors.
J. Lindeberg Paclite Jacket (Price: $425) — Lightweight, breathable, trim fitting, and again, features everything you need in an ultra high-quality rain jacket. I played a round in sideways rain and 35 mph winds, and was completely dry under the Paclite jacket & pants.
Footjoy DryJoys Tour LTS Jacket (Price: $285) — For those wanting a more palatable price tag but still solid inclement weather performance, FootJoy offers the DryJoys line. It’s fit isn’t quite as trim as others (I’ll call it a “relaxed” fit), the fabric a little heavier weight (fine for chilly days, not as ideal in the summer) and the detailing not quite as elevated, but I’ve tested it in some heavy rain and emerged dry as can be.
Linksoul Galway Packable Rain Jacket (Price: $185) — Okay, I’ll admit it; I’ve never actually tested the Linksoul Galway Jacket, but it’s street-worthy style recently caught my eye. It’s touted as waterproof, looks to be extremely lightweight, and will look just as good strolling to Saturday brunch as it will on the first tee. Want a reasonably priced jacket you can put to use anywhere? Give the Galway a look.
Arnold Palmer Apparel The Bluffs (Price: $89) — The Bluffs jacket is made from polyester and doesn’t utilize a fully seam sealed design, but for those seeking a lower price point this jacket is worth a look. It will keep you dry, but shouldn’t be expected to be impenetrable during full-rounds in steady rain. This is the ideal jacket for someone who doesn’t go running out into rainstorms to tee it up, but does seek some protection from those unexpected showers.
The answer to the question — Is expensive rain gear worth the price — all lies with the individual. If you don’t foresee yourself playing in the rain (save for the periodic unexpected shower), then pick up a lower cost alternative.
If you’re an avid golfer like me, who refuses to let a little inclement weather stop you from enjoying a round, then high-end golf rain gear is well worth the money. Rain gear also doubles as a nice layer for windy or cold days, too (I often wear my rain pants to cut the wind — you’d be shocked at how much warmth they add). And if you like to travel and experience new courses, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll face some rain along the way.
Deploy some cash toward a top-notch rain suit and it’s sure to be a mainstay in your closet for decades to come.