Gear Review: Keep Spring Showers at Bay With Filson’s Swiftwater Rainshell

With Spring officially in full swing, we know it’s a mixed bag of rain or shine for the foreseeable future. If you’re looking for a rain shell that can handle the shifting temperatures, you’ll want to consider the Filson Swiftwater ($195).

With the Swiftwater, Filson has designed a lightweight and packable waterproof outer layer. Together with the Reliance Neoshell, the Swiftwater is one of two new technical rain jackets in the Filson lineup. The Reliance Neoshell, Filson’s other offering, features a more rugged outer face and a tricot lining for additional warmth.

We recently had the opportunity to test out the new Swiftwater as a series of late-season rainstorms arrived in California. We loved the breathable and weightless feel of this jacket, especially with California’s spring temperature swings.

Photo: Courtesy of Filson

Construction and Features

The first thing we noticed when we pulled the Swiftwater out of the box is the soft texture of the fabric. The ripstop nylon outer face of the jacket has an almost silk-like texture. Filson lines the neckline and chin area with a microsuede fabric, which feels soft against the skin, even when wet. The Swiftwater is one of the more lux-feeling rain jackets we’ve worn.

Filson uses 2.5 layers to construct the Swiftwater. On the outside, there’s a smooth nylon ripstop. A polyurethane membrane comprises the middle layer, and this perforated film provides the breathable, waterproof magic. Last, a liner material is screened to the membrane, designed to offer a more comfortable feel than the membrane alone would provide.

A selection of small details add functionality to the Swiftwater. Filson seals the jacket’s seams and zippers against leaks. Velcro closures at the wrist customize your fit. We wore them loose when paired with a puffy jacket and wrapped more tightly with a thin lululemon running top. Filson also includes a drawstring around the waistline.

A second drawstring in the back of the hood allows for an adjustable fit. In the wind, we cinched it down and it helped keep the hood on our head where it belongs. This was especially handy for cruising around town by bike. A built-in visor gives the hood structure and helped direct the rain drips away from our eyes.

Photo: Courtesy of Filson

How We Used It

For most of the 2017/18 winter, California hasn’t exactly been the place to test raingear. A relentlessly dry La Niña season has meant rainfall well below seasonal norms. (It’s also made for a lot of unhappy surfers!) We were about ready to call a road trip when a series of late season storms showed up this month.

We slipped the Swiftwater into our backpack and used it regularly throughout the three weeks of rainstorms here in Central California. We wore it around town, on bike rides to the coffee shop, and walking the trails to go surf. Water obediently beaded up on the jacket’s surface and the Swiftwater kept us plenty dry. It’s the kind of gear you can put on and forget, which is frankly our favorite kind of gear.

Photo: Courtesy of Filson

Our Take

Sizing for the Swiftwater is generous. We chose a men’s size small, instead of our usual medium. Even going a size down, there was still room for layering and a puffy jacket fit underneath the Swiftwater for a wet evening surf mission. If you prefer women’s sizing for outerwear, keep an eye out for a new shell from Filson coming this fall.

The Swiftwater’s fit is comfortable and relaxed without any weird binding or tight spots. The Swiftwater wears easily over both outdoorwear such as fleece jackets and street clothing like our favorite oversized flannel shirt. The Stillwater is cut slightly longer than some of other rain gear, too, which is handy for when we forget to tuck in our shirts.

The lightweight and easy packing of the Swiftwater make it a great option for sliding into your backpack “just in case.” We recommend it for travel, camping, or cruising around town. The Stillwater wouldn’t be our first choice for a long run or bike ride, though it’s plenty breathable. We’d likely grab a more closely tailored jacket for our more intense outdoor efforts.

The Swiftwater is not inexpensive, but we found the quality to be comparable to similarly priced gear from other outdoor brands. Given the relatively short period of our test, we can’t speak to the long-term durability, of course, but we didn’t see any obvious fail points right out of the gate.

In short, the Swiftwater is versatile piece that smoothly transitions from outdoor adventuring to your favorite brewery on a rainy night. It’s simple, stylish, and functional.

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