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I'm wondering what the difference in performance is between the Paradox Rain Jacket and the Paradox 2.5 Layer Rain Jacket.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Mens-Paradox-Performance-Beyond-Limits-Waterproof-Rain-Jacket-UPF-50-/331441700614

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Paradox-Mens-Rain-Jacket-New-in-Box-/181655200756

They seem to be almost identical other than the 2.5 having the rain flap and the inside mesh, and I'm not sure which is the latest model, but I'm wondering if the laminated zipper design (it's a little hard to see) on the first is going to keep out as much rain as the rain cover.

I know that this is a lot less than most people spend on rain gear, and a lot of outdoors people recommend Marmot and similar, but I'm a student and I commute to work and school on my bike, so I need something light without dropping a lot of $$.

I was looking at this Outdoor Gear Lab review, and it looks like their top pick has the same style zipper and no rain flap as the first jacket.

So the question is, are there zipper designs that mitigate the need for a zipper cover, or are zipper covers inherently better?

4

The answer will depend on the quality of the jacket and therefore somehow also the price. In the high-end range you often find jackets without zipper covers and still they are 100% waterproof (well to be honest this is a lie because at some point water will get through the zippers, still there are standardised tests so they can be called waterproof and not only water-repellent). You often will notice those zippers are specially treated and have quite a resistance while being zipped (I won't say this resistance is a sign for quality).

For lower quality jackets the above might not be the case. The jackets you linked to have no membranes so they aren't that pricey by definition. Still they could be of low quality, especially regarding the zippers. Without knowing the brand, the shop, asking an expert, reading tests, ..., you can't know the quality of the jacket just because you read that price tag.

If the zippers are of low quality, it will be the case that the cover over the zippers will help preventing water getting though. Simply because you add an additional barrier.

Long story short, the answer on your question "Are zipper covers inherently better?":

  • NO for high quality jackets
  • YES for low quality jackets
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2

Good zipper may keep out more water, but a rain flap will do the trick. A rain flap has a vulnerable direction. Driving rain from side with the open edge of the flap will seep further.

Rain gear that will keep you dry bicycling is tough. You are either going to get wet or you are going to sweat, unless you have a flat route done at constant effort.

I have a general rule for outdoor equipment: Don't buy anything that hasn't been made unchanged for 2 years.

An alternative: Get what keeps you comfortable, even if you get a bit wet, then change at school.

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