Specialized Trail Rain jacket review – simple, effective waterproofing

Specialized have dropped the price and fancy branded fabrics, but the result is actually a better fitting and performing jacket for most riders

A man wearing the Specialized Trail Rain jacket
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

BikePerfect Verdict

Specialized’s Trail Rain jacket has restored our failing faith in ‘waterproofs’ by genuinely fighting off rain while staying comfortable, versatile and reasonably priced.

Pros

  • +

    Properly prolonged waterproofing

  • +

    Full hood and closable cuffs

  • +

    Packable chest pocket

  • +

    Mid weight and cost

  • +

    Versatile styling

Cons

  • -

    Adequate breathability

  • -

    Parachute hood

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The new Trail Rain coat is one of the best waterproof jackets we've used recently. It replaces the previous big bucks and big bulk of Specialized's previous Polartec Neoshell jacket with a more budget conscious and packable coat. It still does a good job of keeping rain at bay longer than most without being excessively sweaty or looking too ‘bike’ for general use. There's lots of women's sizing and color options too.

Design

Specialized don’t currently give many details on the fabric apart from that it’s a 2.5 layer construction, but we’ve asked for specifics and will update if we get them. The built in membrane mid layer is combined with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) surface treatment. The zips are water resistant YKK AquaGuard and all the seams are fully taped too.

Specialized have given the jacket a properly stout ‘over the helmet’ hood that’s well shaped enough for us not to miss the lack of tightening cords. Unlike the previous Neoshell jacket, the sleeves are a decent length and they have broad Velcro tabs to snug them down. Specialized have ditched the hand pockets in favor of a zipped hand pocket that you can bundle the whole jacket into and bulk and sub 300g  weight (the Neoshell was 540g) are OK for a proper waterproof. There’s no weird duck tail either so it looks totally normal just wandering about with the dog. They have got rid of the side ‘love handle’ zip that let you get into jersey or SWAT bib back pockets without pulling the whole jacket up. There are no tabs or loops on the pocket stowage parcel either, which is a bonus feature we're starting to see more often.

Specialized Trail Rain Jacket

Works great on the bike, looks fine off it. That hood can 'parachute' though (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

There are huge amounts of bike brand mid-price ‘waterproofs’ before you even start looking at all the general coats that work OK on a bike. The Trail Rain is definitely one of the better ones we’ve used recently though. 

Firstly, it’s got a relatively soft face handle though and the printed inner face means it doesn’t feel too cold and clammy against a thin base layer. While the generous cut means you don’t really notice or need the built in stretch, it does make it quieter and more ‘natural’ feeling in use. This all helps make it a jacket I’ve been happy to use on and off the bike and my daughter has already put plenty of Welsh hill walking as well as riding time into her women’s sample.

The other big plus is that while I’ve noticed the performance and durability of many DWR coatings decline dramatically recently. That’s generally because eco concerns are killing off the use of environmentally unfriendly high carbon content mixes. I don’t have any information (yet) on the C14 levels of what Specialized are using but it definitely keeps water beading up and rolling off rather than soaking in, even if you add wind or bush swipes into the equation. Add the sealing, zips and big hood all help this feel much more like an actual waterproof than just a weatherproof. While there’s no extra venting or perforations etc besides the double-ended main zip to help air con, breathability seems OK too. Or at least I haven’t sweated in it more obviously than other waterproofs and the fabric feel keeps it cosier when damp too.

There are some potential grumbles like the way the hood doesn’t have any securing tabs so it can parachute if you’re going quick. This was the one piece in the Specialized Fall/Winter range where that SWAT side zip actually made sense too. The casual/baggy/boxy fit won’t suit everyone either, but it comes in a very broad range of sizes – particularly in the women’s fit – and the ladies get an extra Dove Grey color choice too.

Specialized Trail Rain Jacket

Baggy cut makes Specialized's Trail Rain Jacket socially versatile and it comes in tons of (particularly women's) sizes (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

If I’m totally honest I was just expecting the Specialized Trail Rain jacket to be another example of why I always tell people to get softshells not ‘waterproofs’. The fact it’s kept me dry in serious prolonged rain got my attention though and it does it without feeling/sounding/breathing like a plastic bag. The styling adds versatility too and this all makes the price seem like a bargain compared to more expensive, more disappointing jackets. 

Specialized Trail Rain Jacket

Waterproof zip and full over the helmet hood keep the weather out and it still stashes into its chest pocket. (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Tech specs: Specialized Trail Rain jacket

  • Price: $175 / £125
  • Sizes: S – XXL in men’s and XXS – XXL women’s fit
  • Options: Harvest Gold and Black (pictured) in both men’s and women’s fit. Dove Grey in women’s only 
  • Weight: 280g (men’s medium)
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect's technical editor-at-large. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg

With contributions from