Testing Stio Exploit Jacket for review

Stio Exploit Jacket Review

A Near-Perfect, Minimalist, Ultralight Gore-Tex Active Hard Shell

Finally! Stio Exploit Jacket is the Gore-Tex Active shell we’ve always wanted and finally found. This highly versatile and extra breathable 3L raingear is minimalist perfection in an ultralight 3-layer chassis. Shop now.

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  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Price: $349
  • Fabric Tech: 3L Gore-Tex Active, recycled micro ripstop nylon, knit backer
  • Pros: Ultralight. Waterproof. Most breathable type of Gore-Tex. Offset front-zip at mouth. 
  • Cons: No pit zips or hand pockets. Expensive.

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

Stio Exploit Jacket backside

Fabric Technology

What makes the Stio Exploit Jacket so desirable (and so expensive) is the fully seam-taped 3L Gore-Tex Active fabric. This waterproof laminate is Gore’s most breathable variety, yet still is “guaranteed to keep you dry” all the same. What’s more, it’s a 3-layer construction, meaning the Gore-Tex liner is sandwiched between a thin outer shell of recycled micro-ripstop nylon and an inner shell of c-knit fabric.

close up on gore c-knit backer

The outer is durable enough for all trail/hiking/running-based pursuits, but not durable enough super rough activities like bushwhacking or rock climbing. The c-knit inner prevents that clammy rain-jacket-on-skin feel, while increasing the lifespan of the garment by protecting against abrasion/body oil/sweat, etc.

All of that said, we should set a few expectations straight. This jacket is more breathable than average rain gear and more breathable than nearly all other Gore-Tex jackets. That being said, it is still a rain jacket, you will still feel hot and sweaty while wearing it on the move. It is not a game changer, merely an upgrade.

Side view of Stio Exploit Rain Jacket

Stio Exploit Jacket Construction & Features

Moving onto the chassis, we love the Exploit Jacket’s offset waterproof center front zipper. This prevents the zipper pull from grinding on your face when you cinch down the hood in a storm.

On the whole, the fit is very much true to size, you don’t need to go up or down. But if you are in between sizes, we do recommend sizing up as the material is static and has no stetch and you want to be able to move and layer with it. What’s more, the sleeves are plenty long enough to prevent ride up in the event of a large reaching maneuver.

close up on center front zip and pocket

A single, large zippered Napolean pocket sits on the chest. It’s big enough for a phone and is lowered to situate below sternum straps but well-above a hip belt.

Stio Exploit Jacket Cuffs

The hem and hood both have shock cord cinch adjustment mechanisms, though the sleeves are only secured with a half-elasticized hems.

Hood of Stio Exploit Jacket

What Could Be Better?

Not much, to be honest. The biggest miss on the Stio Exploit Jacket, in our opinion, is the lack of pit zips. Gore-Tex Active might be high on the breathability spectrum, but it’s pure hubris to think pit zips aren’t necessary or wouldn’t increase the user experience. Especially if you’re selling the jacket as something to wear while on the move.

While hand pockets are missing, you have to draw the line somewhere lest it continue to get heavier and heavier with added features. While we would gladly an ounce or two of zipper weight for pit zips, hand pockets are less necessary because they tend to get blocked by hip belt pockets anyway.

Beyond that, the only thing holding Exploit back from absolute greatness is the price tag. $349 is simply a lot of money for a rain jacket. While this does compare favorably even to other high end models at that price point, for many people, it will simply be too hard to justify or downright out of reach. But if money is not an issue, then we recommend this jacket very highly.

interior of Stio Exploit Jacket

Stio Exploit Jacket Review Verdict

The Stio Exploit Jacket is a phenomenal blend of minimalist design and premium fabric technology. Few jackets can boast a superior combination of waterproofness, breathability, and lightness of weight. The end result is a seriously excellent ultralight rain shell for a high-but-worthwhile asking price. Nice work, Stio! This rain jacket is truly exceptional.