One of the great technological breakthroughs of the 20th century came fairly late: breathable fabrics that are entirely waterproof. Gore-Tex, of course, was the big one. It made life in Minnesota infinitely better, because you could stay warm and dry and still, you know, walk around and do stuff. (Most people don't realize that you get wet wearing waterproof clothing because of sweat and condensation.)
Now Gore-Tex has been upstaged in a big way. A new fabric called eVent is up to 50 percent more breathable than the old standby, and what's more, eVent is olaphobic--that is, it doesn't absorb body oils like Gore-Tex does, and therefore its breathability and waterproofing last longer.
You won't find eVent easily: Just a handful of manufacturers are using it in their outerwear. Pearl Izumi, the bike and ski clothing company uses it in one jacket, which we located at Erik's Bike Shop.
But if you're as convinced as we are that this stuff is the greatest thing since stone-ground mustard on sliced bread, check out Showers Pass, a tiny company in the rainy Northwest. Their "Elite" jacket ($179—actually a bargain compared to Gore-Tex products) has been the subject of a widespread whisper campaign suggesting that it may be the best rain jacket ever known to man (and woman). That's crazy talk — which we just happen to endorse.
Erik's Bike Shop, http://www.eriksbikeshop.com/
Shower's Pass, http://www.showerspass.com/