REI Co-op Swiftland H2O Waterproof Jacket Review

Even though this summer and fall have been relatively dry in my parts, it’s still smart to carry a rain jacket. And once November hits, you really need a rain jacket. REI’s Swiftland H20 Running Jacket was designed with runners in mind, but does it also deserve a spot in your backpack? Time to find out.

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket (Men’s | Women’s) At-a-Glance

MSRP: $149.95
Materials: Ripstop nylon (Bluesign approved)
Waterproofing: 2.5-layer laminate
10.4 oz REI weight. My large tipped the scales at 10.9 oz
Origin: Imported

Circumstances of Review

I received the REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket in mid-summer and have worked hard to get it out in the rain during this very dry summer and fall in the Midwest. It has traveled with me on hiking, camping, and backpacking trips to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s upper peninsula, Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and throughout Ohio.

Since Running is in the name, the jacket has taken some soggy trail/road runs as well. I am 6’ 2”, 180 lbs, and the size large fit well.

READ NEXT — Best Rain Jackets for Thru-Hiking

Intended Use

Like the other items in the Swiftland line, REI states the best uses for the rain jacket are running, trail running, and fitness. Since this is The Trek, I assumed I should take it camping and hiking as well.

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket Features

Wear it anywhere: While it’s fully taped and waterproof, the softshell finish and numerous details result in a jacket that looks good and is comfortable to wear. Certainly, not one I’ll need to hide deep in the pack when it’s not raining.

Waterproof, yet breathable: The fabric itself is breathable, but there’s also major ventilation built in across the back. The jacket was pleasantly “airy” while running or on a day hike. However, wearing a backpack blocks the vent, defeating a major benefit of the design.

Small details: The logo and small areas on the sleeves and back are reflective, helping with visibility if road running in rain/low light. The sleeve ends are elastic to help keep the rain off your arms. The pockets can be zipped closed and the jacket itself can be packed into its own pocket.

Innovative hood: I rarely use a hood unless it’s pouring. Generally, I’ll just wear a ball cap instead, especially when I’m running. In those circumstances, a hood can literally be a pain in the neck. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to cut the hood off one of my rain jackets (it didn’t turn out well).

The hood on the Swiftland was a pleasant surprise though. When I did wear it, it fit well, especially over a cap, and could be easily adjusted to stay off my face when I turned my head.

When I didn’t wear it was where it really shined. The “hanging loop” combined with a small hook allowed me to roll the hood up and out of the way when not needed.

How’d it do?

When running or just hiking out in the rain, the jacket worked great. I stayed dry, yet didn’t feel like I was stuck in a sauna. Breathability was good. The hood worked well when I needed it and stayed out of the way when I didn’t. On top of that, it’s a comfortable, good-looking jacket.

For backpacking however, it’s just not that great of a match. As mentioned before, a backpack closes off the main ventilation. And when it does, it’s noticeable. Plus, when compared to the competition, other options are lighter and pack down smaller.

Left to right: Helium, Nalgene, Swiftland.

For comparison, my Outdoor Research Helium Jacket is what I typically bring backpacking. The hard shell finish is a bit noisier and the hood doesn’t fit as well, but it packs down to almost nothing and has a published weight of 6.3 oz. While wearing a pack, the breathability of the two seems comparable, giving a slight edge to the Helium. Since rain jackets spend most of the time inside my pack, the weight and size savings are more important than the back vent which isn’t really useful for my application.

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket Pros

Fills its purpose: The REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket is a comfortable, well-made rain jacket. When running, it keeps you dry while letting your body moisture escape better than most other rain jackets.

Great details: The zippered pockets, well-designed hood, reflective accents, and overall construction result in a jacket I’ll grab even when it’s not raining.

REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket Con

Not the best for backpacking: Running and backpacking are significantly different sports. While I’m hard-pressed to think of a con when using the jacket for running, its specific design does not translate to a great thru-hiking rain jacket. The extra few ounces that mean little on a day hike or run are hard to justify on a multi-week hike. The large back vent serves no purpose when it’s smashed shut by a pack. Pit Zips would provide much better ventilation under those circumstances.

Overall Value

Morning coffee on the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

At $149.95, this jacket is not cheap. If you need a rain jacket for running though, and don’t mind paying a bit more for superior design and construction, it’s definitely worth considering. If however, you’re searching for a rain jacket for hiking the AT, I’d keep looking.

Shop the Men’s Swiftland H2O Running Jacket

Shop the Women’s Swiftland H2O Running Jacket

Similar Rain Jackets

Outdoor Research Helium Jacket (Men’s|Women’s)
MSRP: $170
Weight: 6.3 ounces

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket (Men’s|Women’s)
MSRP: $299
Weight: 5.4 ounces

Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket
MSRP: $250
Weight: 6.4 ounces

Disclaimer: The REI Swiftland H2O Running Jacket was donated for the purpose of review.

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Comments 4

  • Jeff McCorkle : Nov 8th

    I appreciate the excellent review Jim. I need to look you up on I am a fellow Buckeye and starting NoBo from Springer Mountain this coming March. I still am debating so many choices as a gear nerd and have considered running jackets for rain protection. I have been leaning towards my Sitka Dew Point jacket with the 3 layer Gore-Tex and pit zips but 12.5 ounces is a lot. I also have the Helium II but was concerned over reports it wets out quickly and since it doesn’t have venting. I hate to admit I also own a Patagonia H2NO and an Outdoor Research Ascent Shell. Any insights beyond my obvious obsession are appreciated.

    • Jim Rahtz : Nov 9th

      Glad you liked the review. Unfortunately, the only jacket in your personal collection that I have significant first hand knowledge is the Helium. I’ve carried it on thru-hikes of the Colorado, Long and John Muir Trails, among others. It has seen quite a bit of rain/snow/hail and I’ve been overall very satisfied with it. When it wore out, I bought another one. It will eventually wet out, but every jacket I’ve ever owned feels like wearing a plastic bag during an all day rain. To me, the light weight is the deciding factor.
      Good luck with the AT!

  • Greg Kenyon : Nov 8th

    Rahtz is the real deal. His book on Ohio backpacking is outstanding and very accurate. Don’t know him personally but have heard him speak and he is very eloquent.

    • Jim Rahtz : Nov 9th

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you like the book!


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