My review of the Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket, the best packable, ultra lightweight rain jacket for travel.
This review is sponsored by Kosan, however all recommendations and opinions are 100% my own. Some of the links here are affiliate links, meaning if you choose to back Kosan’s Kickstarter campaign by clicking on a link, I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).
As someone who prefers to travel in shoulder season and off-season, I often have to deal with less-than-ideal weather conditions. Rain, wind and sleet are just par for the course.
Whether I’m travelling in snowy Georgia or monsoonal Vietnam, a good weatherproof jacket is one of my packing essentials. But here’s the issue: My current jacket is so cumbersome, I often leave it in the bottom of my backpack or suitcase instead of transferring it to my day pack.
On my last trip to Cambodia, for example, I had to carry around so much gear that I always decided at the last minute to forego my raincoat. I got caught in the rain more times than I can count! Since there’s nothing I hate more than single-use plastic ponchos, I ended up getting soaked on several occasions.
Introducing the Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket
When Canadian startup Kosan Travel Co. – the same team behind the popular Travel Pack System and the Go Travel Dress, which has been part of my travel wardrobe since it was released in 2018 – announced they were on a mission to design the best lightweight rain jacket, I was really excited to try it out. The Go Travel Rain Jacket for women and men just dropped on Kickstarter [affiliate link] last week. I was lucky enough to receive mine early.
The jacket is currently available in three colours. My version is Garnet, one of two extra colourways Kosan will add if they reach their stretch goal (there’s also a cute canary yellow version in the works). Given they surpassed their initial crowdfunding goal in the first 90 minutes, I don’t think they’re going to have any trouble!
Here is my honest review of the Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket. If by the end you decide you want one for yourself, you can back the Kosan Kickstarter campaign [affiliate link]. Delivery is available worldwide and shipments are scheduled for October 2020.
Fabric, quality & comfort
The first thing that really impressed me when I opened up my jacket was the quality of the fabric. (I think I had the exact same reaction to the Kosan Dress. These folks really know their materials!) You can immediately tell this is a high-quality fabric. For a raincoat, it doesn’t feel plasticy at all.
The body of the jacket is nylon, with a nylon/spandex mesh used for the concealed back vent (more on that in a moment). Both outside and in, the jacket has a brushed matte finish that is really soft to the touch. When you open it up and look at the seams, you can see that everything has been finished perfectly.
The outside of the jacket is treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating that can withstand a heavy downpour. Kosan uses an environmentally friendly version of DWR. I haven’t had a chance to test mine out in the rain yet (I’m currently at home in Australia, and we’re in the middle of a drought), but you can see it in action in the videos on Kosan’s Kickstarter page.
The mesh part of the jacket, which stretches across the back of the shoulders, is a stroke of genius. You can’t see it from the outside – it’s concealed by an outer flap – but you can sure feel it. Combined with tiny air holes under the arms, the mesh makes the jacket breathable and prevents things from getting steamy.
I should also mention that the material is anti-bacterial, anti-odour and quick-dry, so you never have to stow it wet. It’s also machine washable – very important for a travel item.
I tried the jacket on in Brisbane where it’s currently the middle of summer (hello, 35-degree days!). I’m confident you could wear it quite comfortably in Southeast Asia, where rain is usually accompanied by high humidity. The mesh feature alone already makes this jacket miles better than my current raincoat.
The Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket is also wind-proof, so it’s equally suitable to wear as a shell in cold climates. The size small fits me perfectly (more on the fit in the next section) – but if I wanted to layer it with a sweater underneath, I would definitely go a size up.
Kosan has incorporated 15 travel-friendly features into the jacket design. There was no guesswork involved – Alex, Joel and Karyna, the three frequent travellers behind the brand, consulted with 1,600 other travellers (including me!) to gauge their needs and gather feedback throughout the design process.
Key features include:
- A sturdy, two-way YKK zipper
- Oversized fasteners concealed by a storm flap – these make the front of the jacket totally waterproof
- A generous interior pocket that zips up
- External hand pockets on either side that also have zips
- Reflective strips on the cuffs and back of the jacket for nighttime visibility (an important feature if you’re walking or cycling after dark)
The hood is one of the jacket’s signature elements. It’s unique because it has a separate ‘visor’ part that’s a little firmer than the rest of the fabric. This gives the hood structure so it doesn’t slip down, and acts as a little peaked roof so rain runs off your noggin. There are drawstrings to tighten the hood – handy if you wear the jacket cycling or if it’s windy out.
My current rain jacket has a zip-off hood. After the first time I removed it, I could never get it to sit quite right again. I love that Kosan decided to make their hood ‘stowable’ instead of detachable. When you’re not using it, it folds up inside the collar and gets sealed down with clasps so it’s completely hidden. The compressed hood adds some extra bulk to the back of the collar so that it stands up, adding to the jacket’s tailored silhouette.
Fit & finish
Unlike an anorak-style raincoat, this jacket is definitely meant to be slim-fitting. The cut of the female version is quite feminine, which I absolutely love (it’s a welcome contrast to the boxy design of all my raincoats past). As I mentioned, the small is quite snug on me.
A drawstring waist gives you the option to make it even more close-fitting (the elastic drawstring and toggles are internal to keep the profile of the jacket clean and minimal).
As you can see in the photo below, the hemline of the jacket sits on my upper thigh. I think it’s a good length for travel, especially if you’re going to be walking, climbing in and out of tuk tuks, riding bicycles, etc. The back is slightly longer than the front, another nice design touch, with notches on either side for freedom of movement.
Pack & go
My main problem with travel raincoats is that they’re always too bulky to fit in my day pack. Does the Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket offer a solution to my quandary?
Even with all those features, it still only weighs 395 grams (14 oz), making it a super lightweight travel jacket. It comes with a soft pouch made out of the same material which you can use to stow it away. I love that the pouch is quite generous so you don’t have to struggle to roll the jacket up – you only need to fold it into quarters. As you can see below, it ends up being about the same thickness as my cotton travel scarf (you could probably compress it down to be even thinner).
Wrapped up, it’s a compact little unit that I easily fit into my tote bag. Kosan even recommend keeping it in your hand luggage so you can use it as a travel pillow. Clever!
The fabric is anti-crease so you don’t have to worry about the jacket looking sloppy after it’s been folded up for a while.
Where is it made?
I try to support sustainable and ethical travel brands whenever possible, so the fact that Kosan are transparent about their production is another big plus for me.
The Go Travel Rain Jacket is made in Hanoi at CF Global, one of the city’s biggest garment production facilities. Kosan audits every producer for social compliance, ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages for everyone involved in the final stages of production.
Fabrics are sourced from Solis Fabric Technology, a Taipei company that is actively working to reduce the environmental footprint of its materials.
As part of their commitment to supporting human rights, of February 2020, Kosan now donates 1% of its profits to Amnesty International.
Kosan Go Travel Rain Jacket: The verdict
I loved this jacket from the moment I put it on. The fit is so flattering, I imagine I’ll be tempted to wear it as an everyday jacket even when there’s no chance of rain or snow.
The high-quality fabric is a stand-out feature, as is the tailored silhouette and the attention to detail in the seams and finishes. But the thing I love most about this jacket is how compact and non-raincoat-like it is. It weighs virtually nothing and packs down so small, there’s no good reason not to keep it by your side when you’re on the go – even if you’re a minimalist traveller like me.
I look forward to taking it for a proper spin on my next trip!
Fancy one of Kosan’s lightweight rain jackets for yourself? Back the Kosan Kickstarter campaign [affiliate link]. Delivery is available worldwide and shipments are scheduled for October 2020.