REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket Review

Massive back vents aerate this simple-yet-effective waterproof-breathable running jacket

Running in rain gear is a famously sweaty affair. But the Co-op’s new REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket partially solves for this by adding massive back vents to increase airflow and reduce, but not eliminate, overheating (shop now). Beyond that, it’s a fairly typical 2.5L waterproof shell with standard rain jacket features and fabric breathability, so don’t expect to feel completely cool and dry inside if you’re moving faster than a jog. Nonetheless, the REI Swiftland H20 Jacket is a good pickup and a great value for all weather runners, and we do recommend it!

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  • Weight: 10.4 oz
  • Price: $150
  • Fabric: 2.5L Ripstop nylon laminate
  • Pros: Well-ventilated back. Good value. Lightweight. Clever hood storage mechanism. Lightly stretchy.
  • Cons: Not 3-Layer. No front vents.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to lightweight rain jackets.

REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket wide open
testing for the Swiftland MT H2O Jacket review
back vents from below

REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket Construction & Features

REI Swiftland H20 Jacket Fabric Overview

Starting with the fabric composition, the REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket is a standard 2.5L waterproof/breathable laminate rain shell. And coming in at the $150 price point, you know it’s not setting any performance records on MVTR or hydrostatic head. A quick uphill run in the jacket proved that vents are wonderful, but by themselves are not enough to prevent sweatiness. And as it’s only a 2.5L, rather than 3L, the material can feel a bit clammy on one’s skin. But this is true of all rain gear, so it’s hardly a knock on this specific design. Just setting expectations.

close up detail on 2.5L fabric

Our early wear-testing showed that water does bead up and roll off the surface, protecting the wearer from light rain. Complete interior seam taping prevents water from penetrating in all but the most thorough of soakings. What’s more the fabric has a light dose of stretch to help accommodate movement.

close up on front zipper

Chassis and Features

The REI Swiftland H20 Jacket chassis delivers a fairly standard, true-to-size fit. The waterproof front zipper with storm flap is smooth to operate and helps protect the chest. Two sizable, mesh-lined hand pockets offer storage and a place to shelter your digits. The lower hem is adjustable, while the sleeve opening is elasticized.

close up on Swiftland H2O jacket pockets and zipper

The adjustable hood fits well and the interior has its own soft fabric lining (different from the rest of the jacket) that prevents clammy waterproof fabric from crinkling or brushing onto your ears. Nice touch! One cool feature they’ve added to the hood is how the interior hang loop can be pulled and attached to an exterior hook on the opposite side. This locks the hood down while running and prevents it from trailing behind causing drag.

rolled up and stored the hood on the swiftland h2o running jacket

REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket Back Vents

But unquestionably, the best and loudest feature, the raison d’etre if you will, is the massive back vent which traverses the entire rib cage, roughly from arm pit to arm pit. The opening is lined by a mesh thong which maintains some degree of connection between the two sides of the vent, and bisects two large open swathes. You can literally reach your hand all of the way through this jacket! When laid flat, there are about three inches of overlap between the top panel of waterproof fabric and the opening of the vent.

REI Swiftland H20 Running Jacket vent

What’s more, the large vent panel is connected to two mini-vents, one on either side directly under the pits. These are separated by a seam and while the pit opening is not massive, it is still quite welcome. There is no way to close off the back vent on this jacket; but that’s hardly an issue since there are very few situations where we the added breathability wouldn’t be desirable. You probably aren’t buying this as your first and only rain jacket, so we aren’t too worried about not being able to close off the vents.

close up on open back vent

Our assessment of the back panel is that it is very additive to the jacket and drastically improves the user experience. It is arguably the entire reason to buy the REI Swiftland H20 Jacket. We feel most, if not all runners will appreciate the bonus ventilation. That said, even a back vent as massive as this does not circumvent the fact that running in rain gear is sweaty and uncomfortable. Some jackets are more sweaty, and the Swiftland H2O Jacket is less sweaty than average. But still, you will sweat. It will get clammy. And it’s not some kind of massive game-changer.

swiftland h20 running jacket back vent from outside

Lastly, we add a quick note that this jacket and running vests are not best friends. We found that the friction between them can occasionally cause the vent to ride up slightly, potentially exposing the opening to rain.  This may may not happen to you, depending on how your running vest fits you. But also, why choose a rain jacket whose primary benefit is a back vent, when you will cover up that back vent with a vest anyway.

What’s more, at 10 oz, this jacket is no minimalist shell. Though lightweight in the grand scheme of things, on the spectrum of running jackets, it’s a bit on the bulky side when it comes to storage. As such, we don’t recommend this one as an emergency layer to stash in your vest for a squall, as it’s a bit too large and heavy for that. This is the kind of jacket you throw on before the run even starts, knowing you’ll likely wear it the whole time.

side view lay down of jacket

REI Swiftland H2O Jacket Review Verdict

Thanks to the large back vent and affordable price tag, REI Swiftland H2O Jacket might be the airiest, comfiest waterproof running jacket in the value tier. While fancier, high tech waterproof breathable fabrics exist, this goes to show that mechanical venting gets the job done just as well, if not better. Pick up the great value REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket, and continue to crushing miles in the rain.