Until now, I’ve always found descriptions of rain jackets that are both waterproof and breathable to be a lie. Shielding from water is the easy part, it seems, but any promises of ventilation have failed to prevent me from feeling clammy while wearing. Those days of sacrificing rain for sweat are gone, however, now that I’ve got my hands on Goldwin’s latest shell jacket.
Goldwin is a Japanese outdoor brand and the parent company of The North Face Japan and a slew of stylish brands under the Nepenthes umbrella. While its subsidiaries are at the vanguard of fashion, Goldwin proper skews more utilitarian. Its Fast Shell jacket doesn’t have the wild patterns or dynamic lines of TNF Purple Label or South2West8, but I couldn’t care less with how well it works.
When the jacket first arrived, I was shocked at how light the parcel was. This couldn’t be the rain jacket I was given, right? Even knowing how light shells can get, it felt more like my regular Amazon order of chapstick in weight.
Upon opening the package, I could confirm that the Fast Shell was indeed that light. It’s paper thin and made of Goldwin’s Pertex Shield Air, a 100-percent nylon material with resin coating. Holding the jacket sparked another course of skepticism to be proven wrong yet again.
I had to wait weeks for rain to put the Fast Shell to the test, to see if this barely there garment really could prevent any water from hitting my torso. And when the skies did finally pour, I journeyed outside to behold the joyous sight of beads of water building up on the jacket. Wearing it stood in contrast to my mere water-resistant pants, which quickly took in enough moisture for me to feel. As I continued walking through the rain, the clammy feeling I expected up top never arrived. I remained dry on every front, all while wearing a garment that I could hardly notice was there.
My only complaint about Goldwin’s Fast Shell is that it doesn’t have any pockets at the front, instead opting for a rear kangaroo pouch that doubles as a ventilation channel. While I appreciate the dual functionality, it feels strange to stash, say, my mask behind my person. The placement also removes the natural place to stuff your hands, although I did find myself amused placing them in the back pocket and feeling like I was walking around like a monk.
Additional features for the Fast Shell include an adjustable and stashable hood that cinches perfectly around your face, as well as velcro straps on the cuffs that are remarkably satisfying to the touch with what seems to be a rubber coating. Taped seams check off a go-to box to satiate outdoor gearheads, and the whole thing can be stuffed into an attached pouch for storage. When you unpack the jacket, its wrinkles quickly disappear — so you don’t look like a slouch.
I just did a roundup of lightweight rain jackets that encompass a range of budgets, but I had to go longer on the Goldwin Fast Shell. If you can afford the $370 price tag, I wouldn’t recommend any other rain jacket for the spring and summer. Stashing it in your daily bag will hardly add any weight, and when you bust it to wear you’ll hardly feel it either.
More bells and whistles are out there, but at the end of the day you just want something that works. And this Japanese shell jacket is a workhorse in the body of a mare.
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