AFTCO Rain Suit Comparison
Everyone has had the unfortunate event of being out on the water and not being prepared for rain. Even worse, many have been ready for the rain, but the jacket was ill-prepared, and you still ended up soaked. When you get home, the first thing you do is throw out that ratty old jacket and hop on the internet and read all the rain gear reviews you can find. You find that every company has multiple rain jackets, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. We get that, so here is a comparison of all the suits AFTCO currently makes. Something that can help you from the start is learning how to choose the right outerwear depending on where you fish and what you need. Once you know exactly the type of suit you need, you can hop back here and see what suits will fit your bill.
RAIN SUITS FOR LIGHT RAIN
Solitude Vs. Transformer
The AFTCO Solitude rain jacket and Transformer Rain Jacket are ideal options for light rain with 10 K waterproof and 4 K breathability. Both suits are 2.5 layer shells and lightweight enough to be perfect jackets to always keep with you and handle light rain and wind during a day on the water.
These suits are relatively similar in their specifications but diving down you will see some of the features that stick out between them. Firstly, if you want a more fitted hood with quality adjustments, the solitude is the jacket you want. The solitude also provides a more rigid shell, where the transformer is made with 2-way stretch nylon providing more stretch while moving your body. Although the Transformer ends up being a slightly more basic fit vs. the Solitude, it still gives the great advantage of being able to be packed into the right-hand pocket. This is for both the pants and the jacket. These lighter-weight suits are where the packability excels.
Women's Option: On the women’s side, the Women's Transformer Rain Jacket. provides very similar protection matching more closely to the men’s Transformer but in a women's cut.
MOST POPULAR RAIN SUITS
Hydronaut Vs. Barricade
The workhorse suits for performance matching affordability are in this category. The AFTCO Hydronaut Rain Suit and Barricade suit are the most popular suits for many anglers looking for the best quality rain suit without the top-of-the-line price tag that goes with many options. There are more straightforward distinctions between the Hydronaut and Barricade suits but perhaps not what you think. A significant difference is the composition of the suits leading to one suit being more effective in a particular situation. The Hydronaut is an insulated rain jacket that will keep you warm and dry in colder wetter weather. This, however makes it slightly less versatile in warmer weather. On the other hand, the Barricade is a Shell Rain Suit that provides protection from rain and splash and is a more versatile piece that you can wear in the winter in your layering system and in the summer when the summer showers hit.
Looking back at the specs, you immediately see that one is 30K water-resistant, and the other is 20K. Naturally, the thought is one is more waterproof than the other but it’s not quite as easy as that. If we look at the Hydronaut, we see a 2.5 layer rain suit with 30K water resistance. The Barricade boasts three layers yet 20K water resistance. Let’s break this down. When you have a 2.5 layer suit, there is less of an inside layer to protect the membrane and you leaving, resulting in the need for a higher quality membrane to withstand water leaking in. When you have a three-layer suit, it doesn’t require as much of a water-resistant membrane to protect you from water and it can get away with a 20K membrane and will help with the cost.
Although these suits are vastly different and will be used for different scenarios, the suits both boast some amazing similarities that we have found very effective for fishing. The new SpeedVent hood allows both suits to have the hoods up at fast speeds without flying off because of a protected vent at the base of the hood. The cuff features an internal rubberized sleeve inside of another cuff that has retractable Velcro giving you extra protection from water leaking in from the sleeves, a very common problem with rain suits.
Women's Option: On the women's side, we also have a hydronaut. This option spawned from the need for a feminine cut for our best-selling hydronaut build. Check it out the women's Hydronaut here.
TOP OF THE LINE RAIN SUITS
Anhydrous Vs Barricade Elite
When money is on the line or the best is the only thing you will settle for, these suits are exactly what you need. The Anhydrous and Barricade Elite were tested in some of the harshest conditions anglers face. Tested on channel crossings in snotty weather, these suits excel at keeping you dry. Another plus to these suits is that they are the best rain jacket for hot weather as well which is typically hard to find. This is because the top of the line suits tend to be shell suits rather than insulated or overly heavy. The expensive materials are able to be lighter while still being more protective.
The Anhydrous suit has been a staple for freshwater and saltwater pros alike. This shell provides 30K water resistance in a three layer suit providing longer-lasting protection from water versus the Barricade. However, the Barricade Elite takes both the original Barricade and the Anhydrous to the next level with a four layer construction at 30K water resistance. So even though both high-end suits are 30K water-resistant, the added layer in the Barricade Elite is worth the investment, especially when you want to protect yourself from the harshest of environments. How does this 4th layer provide so much for the Barricade Elite?
The 4th layer in the Barricade Elite can be described as a marine-grade layer that adds one more protective layer to the suit and is also the source of corrosion resistance. This extra layer and its protection mean that the 30K resistance will handle water for a more extended period than other articles with 30K. This is where we see the jump from Anhydrous to Barricade Elite. Aside from this added layer, the suit’s design considered the type of environmental conditions it can withstand. Companies design rain gear around how much rain they can handle but rain is not something that pushes water through a suit unless you are running your boat in the rain. When running a boat in general, the wind and impact of water forces water into rain suits. The Barricade Elite was designed with this in mind and effectively keeps you dry in the harshest wind and water impact conditions. This put the Elite above all other rain suits and although the price can be daunting, the investment in a suit like this is well above the price you pay.
Another advantage to the shell suits you see in the AFTCO premium rain suits, is the ability to layer. Wearing many layers in the winter, and being able to wear less layers in the summer all using the same rain jacket, means your top of the line suit is more versatile and more than capable to handle everything you throw at it. New to layering? Check out our 8 Gear Tips for Cold Weather.
Rain suits can be an investment. Even though there are price differences in rain suits, the differences you have to think about are in quality but also the use of the suit. A cheaper suit may still have superior quality material but not be equipped with top-of-the-line features to protect you from the elements. So, just like not wearing a full scuba suit to snorkel in Hawaii, you don’t need the top-of-the-line suit to run from the house to the car in light rain. But you better be prepared when you plan to fish all day outside in a downpour. If you want to learn more about waterproofing in suits then you can read our piece on how rainsuits are waterproof. This is where the investment in a top-of-the-line suit is necessary. When you try to settle with a lesser quality suit or an improperly equipped suit, you will end up soaked and miserable within minutes. These suits will cost some money but will last exponentially longer and keep you fishing longer and more comfortably in the long run. Use some of these tips to decide which suit you need for the area you fish.