When Andy and I started planning our trip to Ireland, we knew that we'd have to invest in decent rain jackets, something we don't even think of owning in Texas.
If it rains around here, there's probably going to be thunder and lightning and possibly a tornado thrown in for good measure, so we don't mosey around in the rain. We either cower under the stairs, praying to survive, or we dash from the car into the store and back again, praying to survive.
But in Ireland, it's different. For one thing, the rain is kind and gentle, not traumatizing. For another thing, it rains frequently. Very frequently. The sun may be out right now, but in 10 minutes it's going to drizzle, and then 10 minutes later the sun will come out again, and after a while, it will drizzle again. This keeps Ireland nice and green and covered in rainbows, but it also means that you should not go farther than 20 paces from your car without your rain jacket.
Andy undertook extensive research on waterproof jackets for this venture. We didn't want to spend a huge amount of money, but we also couldn't take a chance on buying something cheap that would fail us and ruin our entire trip. The jackets we bought had to allow us to walk in the rain with minimal bother. Bonus points were achieved for finding something highly packable.
Kay's Pick: Columbia Women's Switchback II Jacket
While this jacket comes in a bunch of really pretty colors, I chose basic black. I knew I would be wearing the jacket in both city and country settings, and I didn't want to look trail-ready all the time. I bought this jacket in a bigger size so that I could layer anything I needed underneath, including another jacket if it got really cold.
Here I am, out for the evening in Dublin. About 10 minutes after we took this picture, the rain poured down and I was grateful to Columbia once again.
Andy did achieve his bonus points by finding a jacket that folds down into its own self-contained pocket. Somehow. I can never remember exactly how. But there are video tutorials on YouTube. I mostly just mush it flat in the top of my carry-on, and that works also.
Andy's Pick: Columbia Men's Watertight II Jacket
Another great jacket that folds down small and does its rain-protecting job for under $50, Andy got his in graphite grey so we wouldn't be too matchy-matchy.
We both wore our jackets as light windbreakers on a recent hiking trip to Utah, proving that they work great when it's not raining, too!