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Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket Review

Frogg Toggs Rain Jacket Review

The Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket is an inexpensive and durable rain jacket with a fully adjustable hood, zippered side pockets, velcro wrist closures, and a cord-adjustable waist. This well-fitting jacket is a great waterproof and windproof layer with fully-taped seams to keep rain out. Priced at an MSRP of $45 (but available for much less), it’s an excellent budget backpacking and hiking rain jacket that weighs 10.3 oz in a men’s XL.

Waterproofing and Breathability

The Xtreme Lite is sold as a waterproof breathable rain jacket. The waterproofing is a permanent property of the fabric, unlike DWR-coated breathable fabrics (Gore-Tex, eVent, Pertex, etc), and requires no maintenance to stay waterproof for the lifetime of the garment. That’s a real strength of this jacket. Rain beads up when it hits the surface and rolls off. It’s really a reliable and low maintenance rain jacket on that score.

The breathability of the Xtreme Lite isn’t that good however and I have experienced noticeable moisture built-up inside the jacket (from perspiration) while backpacking in rain. It’s not as bad as the , but it’s still noticeable. While the Xtreme Lite jacket does have two grommets located near the underarms, they’re so small to be inconsequential for any kind of water vapor emission and most of the time they’re covered by the jacket’s folds or blocked by an internal garment.

For completeness, I asked Frogg Toggs to supply me with the breathability ratings for this jacket. Breathability tests measure the amount of water vapor (in grams) that can pass through a square meter of fabric during a 24-hour period. But it’s important to understand that there isn’t a universally accepted breathability test in the outdoor industry, so the following stats are directional at best.

With that qualification, the Xtreme Lite has a breathability rating of 200-300 g/m2/24hr. Compare that to Gore-Tex PacLite @ 15,000+ g/m2/24hr ) or Gore-Tex Performance 3-layer @ 10,000-15,000 g/m2/24hr ) As you can see, the Xtreme Lite is far less breathable than DWR-based waterproof breathable fabrics, and effectively non-breathable.

The Frogg Toggs XTreme Lite has a fully adjustable hood and soft brim
The Frogg Toggs XTreme Lite has a fully adjustable hood and soft brim

Temperature Regulation Features

I don’t think the Xtreme Lite’s lack of breathability is a big deal in a rain coat intended for backpacking because I don’t think there’s a foolproof way to stay dry if you’re hiking 2-3 miles per hour, all day, in the rain, while carrying a 20-30+ pound backpack.

It’s exercise, you’ll perspire, and quickly overwhelm the breathability of any rain jacket. End of story. If you accept that fact, it’s easy to conclude that the primary function of a backpacking rain coat isn’t to keep you dry, but to keep you warm . This requires having a nonabsorbent waterproof barrier that prevents conductive heat loss and venting features that can be closed to trap heat or opened to vent it.

Waterproof Barrier

The Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket is made with a translucent 2-ply 100% polyester fabric that has a tight weave and gives the jacket a silky feel. Water beads when it hits the coat and rolls off naturally. All of the seams are fully taped and while the zippers themselves are not waterproof, the main zipper and side pockets zippers have fabric flaps to prevent water from leaking inside.

The Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket has zippered side pockets
The Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket has zippered side pockets

Hood

The hood is fully adjustable with a velcro strap in back that lets you adjust the volume of the hood and cord lock loops at the neck so you can adjust the size of the face opening. The hood also has a soft brim, one that’s not stiffened by a wire, but still useful for draping over a billed-hat to keep it dry and wind spray out of your face. I think fully adjustable hoods are super important to trap heat, especially if you hike in wind or wind-blown rain. Non-adjustable hoods might be sufficient for dry or hot climates, but not in places where it gets cold, windy, and wet.

Jacket turned inside out. The side pocket liners form interior pockets which can hold items you want to keep warm inside the jacket
Jacket turned inside out. The side pocket liners form interior pockets which can hold items you want to keep warm inside the jacket

Pockets

Zippered side pockets are also included, though they get trapped under a backpack hip belt, since they’re not located higher up on the torso. The interior of the pockets is made of mesh, so you get a modest venting effect if you leave the zippers open. More importantly, the mesh liners act as interior pockets that can be used for storing gloves, hats, and food close to your core, where they can be kept warm with body heat.

As a backpacker, I view pockets as an extension of my packing system because they let me carry food, gloves, hats, etc. where I can reach them without having to stop and unpack my pack. This helps eliminate many stops and keeps me moving and generating body heat to stay warm in challenging conditions.

Wrists

The Xtreme Lite’s arms have velcro wrist closures, which are good for insulating the blood stream at your wrists, or for rolling up your sleeves and dumping excess heat. The closures can also be used to trap rain mitts if they’re long enough to fit partway up the sleeve.

Appalachian Trail Mid-Point Sign, Pennsylvania April 2018
Appalachian Trail Mid-Point Sign, Pennsylvania April 2018

Waist

A cord-lock adjustable hem completes the feature set and is another useful temperature regulation feature for sealing in torso heat, particularly in windy weather.

Durability

How durable is the Xtreme Lite Jacket? While I wouldn’t recommend hard-core bushwhacking with it, the exterior of the Xtreme Lite is much stronger and durable that the rain jacket included in , which gets cut up quite quickly when it comes in with branches, shrubbery, or high grass.

Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket

Water Resistance
Comfort & Mobility
Hood Adjustability
Weight
Durability
Packed Size
Perspiration Management

Great Value

The Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket is an inexpensive, durable rain jacket with a fully adjustable hood w/brim, zippered side pockets, velcro wrist closures, and a cord-adjustable waist. With a generous fit, it's a great waterproof and windproof layering piece, with fully-taped seams to keep rain out.

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Recommendation

In terms of value, the Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket is a win because it’s permanently waterproof, fits well, and has superior temperature regulation features that make it good in rain and wind. I also think it’s a fantastic value at this price and enjoy using it.

How does the Xtreme Lite compare to the clownishly oversized ? The Xtreme Lite is 4.5 ounces heavier in a men’s XL. But it’s far more durable, fits better, has a volume adjustable hood w/ brim, velcro wrist closures, and a hem adjustment strap that are all missing on the Ultralite Rain Jacket. I personally care more about the fit and durability than the added weight, but your mileage may vary.

How’s does the Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Rain Jacket compare to the Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket? For starters, it’s far less expensive, weighs 3.3 oz more, and doesn’t have pit zips, which really make a difference in warm weather. But the Xtreme Lite does have a hood volume adjuster, velcro wrist cuffs, and adjustable hem, external pocket zippers, and is seam taped, which are all missing features on the Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket. Those pit zips are pretty damn important in my opinion which is why I still prefer the Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket, but the Xtreme Lite is still a pretty good value in a side-by-side comparison.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds.

Published 2018.

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18 comments

  1. Does Frog Toggs make Extreme Lite rain pants? I remember you saying those made by LightHeart were overly baggy.

  2. Thank for this review, Philip.

    Do you have any plans to review Columbia’s new Outdry Extreme Featherweight jacket?

    An analysis posted to BPL found it to be light, durable enough for bushwhacking, permanently water-resistant (no DWR), more breathable than eVent and able to continue breathing during multi-day rains (unlike eVent) and relatively affordable ($200). After shaking my head at DWR-dependent and expensive shells for years, this might be the waterproof breathable jacket I finally buy, as it appears to be truly waterproof and breathable, unlike everything else on the market. Might be the one to force retirement of your silnylon jacket.

  3. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for the review. Any thoughts on sizing? I seem to always fall inbetween a L and an XL and never quite know which way to go.

    Thanks!

    • I wear an XL and the XL fits me well with enough space to comfortably layer underneath. Depends on what you plan to put underneath. I almost always wear a fleece under a rain jacket.

      If in doubt, just order both from Amazon and return the one that doesn’t fit.

  4. Phil
    I’m a big driducks fan. I go another direction and use their poncho to keep my pack and myself dry.
    My hands and forearms take a beating from cold, wet rain. But my core stays dry.
    I live in a harbor at the coast and walk in the rain often. I test all gear before I head for the backcountry. Every rain jacket I’ve tested other than driducks has failed.
    Thank you for your website and insights.
    Dan aka Footnote

  5. I also use the DriDucks for hiking. Super cheap and super light weight. However, I have the heavier set of Frogg Toggs for working in the rain.

    It is hard to find a better value though than the DriDucks. I always have a new set each time I go out on a multi day backpacking adventure.

  6. You must have an older model LightHeart Gear rain jacket. I bought a LightHeart Gear rain jacket in November 2017. It has Velcro fasteners on the sleeves and has a cord with a cord lock to cinch up the hood around my face. (Is that the same as a “hood volume adjuster?) While the seams are not taped, they are bound, and I have found them to have excellent waterproofing ability. True, the LHG jacket does not have zippered pockets, but it does have two large pockets on the inside of the jacket. Like you, I wear an XL, but my sleeve length is 37 inches. Most of the standard size XL jackets don’t have enough sleeve length, and not many of the ultralight jacket providers have sizing for tall men. I was able to order a jacket from LHG with two more inches of sleeve length. The jacket wasn’t cheap, and the add-on for the longer sleeves was a little pricey, but I now have a jacket that fits right. It served me well in the wind and rain when doing the “O” Trek at Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, where I wore it almost every day.

  7. Thanks for the review of the light Gear rain jacket. The sweat warmth vs rain cold makes sense and I too searched far and wide for a “waterproof “jacket with DWR and figured I would always sooner or later get soaked and cold. I prefer what the Light Gear can do for me and since I can slow my speed and open the pit zips, I will stay drier than the 6999 jackets once they start wetting out. I have saved a lot of money. So, Thanks Again.

  8. Philip – I have and use the Frogg Toggs Extreme but I much prefer my Red Ledge Free Rein Parka. It’s a similar rain shell but has nice arm pit zippers that work very well mitigating sweat and moisture inside the shell. It is quite warm but comfortable when its not so cold outside. In fact I am wearing mine today in Maryland where its 55 right now but rain in the forecast. Costs about $50 on Amazon and is available in a mess of colors including several high vis. I 1st noticed this jacket when I saw several crew on Deadliest Catch wearing them. I figured if it was good enough as an outer shell on the cold, wet Bering Sea, it would work just fine in the less demanding Mid-Atlantic. You should check it out.

  9. Just wanted to let you know that I purchased the Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite rain jacket from Amazon several days ago and received it July 5th. I am 6′ 0″ and 180 lb. and I ordered the large. I have a thin build and it works for me with long enough sleeves and room underneath for a light fleece although I think if some one has a more robust build with the same height they might prefer the XL. I live in Northern California and won’t get to try it in rain until our rainy season this fall and then plan to use it on a walking tour of Dingle peninsula in Ireland next April or May. I bought the jacket on your recommendation and found it to be exactly as you described it. I have used the cheaper Frogg Toggs in the past and liked them except for the weird fit and lack of durability, but the price was right. This jacket fits me much better. I have given up on Gore-Tex because once the factory DWR wears off they wet out and don’t work anymore even after trying to replenish the DWR. Thanks for the review, it was spot on.

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