Words by Simon Stewart
Dakine has stepped up its game in the rain jacket department with the Caliber. It fills the void in the lineup for a technical feature-laden waterproof shell. While previous Dakine rain jackets have been solid, they were still not my first choice for big high-country adventure rides where the likelihood of getting pummeled by weather for days was a given; those duties were typically handled by the likes of Patagonia, Arcteryx or Helly Hansen. With the Caliber, however, Dakine has a legit alternative.
The Caliber's features read like the rain jacket wish list I've envisioned many times while slogging through deluges up on the Colorado Trail: 4-way stretch nylon with a waterproof and breathable membrane, sealed seams, pit zips, helmet compatible hood and waterproof zippers. All of this doesn't really mean shit if it doesn't do the one thing it's supposed to do–keep you dry. I haven't been unable to test this jacket in the those previously mentioned environments, but this will happen, as I will definitely be bringing this jacket with me when guiding high-country Colorado trips this summer. I wouldn't usually bring an untested crucial bit of gear, but in the case of this jacket, I've a good feeling it's going to be bomber.
Waiting for it to rain in the southwest has turned into a lost cause this spring, so putting this jacket through its paces has proven a bit challenging. Not one to give up, I resorted to wearing it in the shower. In my simulated shower monsoon it performed excellently with no leaks after about a 20-minute soaking. I've also skied, hiked, commuted and bar hopped in it and can verify that it breathes well, but because I couldn't fit my trainer in the shower I was unable to test it in the combination of sweating and getting hammered by rain. Dakine achieves this level of waterproofness with its proprietary DKDRY technology, which incorporates a DWR coated 2.5-layer waterproof and breathable membrane that effectively keeps the water where it belongs–on the outside.
I found the fit to be spot on, with the size large offering a good balance between a tailored fit and useful roominess necessary for layering. I like the overall soft feel of the fabric and it is a nice contrast to the often plastic-y-ness of many rain shells. So far the only thing I would've like to have seen is some sort of felt lining on the inside of the collar for my sensitive chin.
The Caliber is really well thought out. It's become a go-to jacket for me and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can really do when things get rowdy at 12,000 feet.