View Full Version : Rain gear?......can someone recommend...

06-17-2010, 20:20
a lightweight shell, waterproof, windproof...Also, if I have a backpack waterprrof wrap, and a good rainsuit, it a poncho that can accomodate backpack overkill?? I guess my question is how much raingear can one possibly need...So, would you bring a good rainsuit or poncho?

06-17-2010, 20:43
I personally don't like ponchos. I don't skimp on my rain gear unless I'm out West. Here in the southeast, I carry a Mountain Hardwear Cohesion jacket and Sierra Designs Lightning pants.

Two Tents
06-17-2010, 22:00
I say look at getting a Packa. I think it's a pretty sweet piece of gear. Just sayin.

SGT Rock
06-17-2010, 22:02
Vote Packa as well. For legs (if you want cover) then you only need chaps.

06-17-2010, 22:04
If you're hiking in the heat, you're better off without raingear - just a windproof shell and some polyester or wool underneath.
I've tried almost everything - old Goretex, Packlite, and eVent, and all are waterproof until the DWR (durable water repellant) finish (something like Scotch Guard) wears off. Then the water sheets across the fabric surface essentially sealing it, making it much less breathable (and possibly less waterproof, too - I can't tell because at that point I am drowning in my own sweat).
I'm a big fan of ventilation, pit zips especially, and a loose fit for venting up the neck. Just about anything coated will do if it vents well. The fancy fabrics require more care to work (breathe) most effectively, and I question the effectiveness even when they're new. I used to use Marmot Precip, and would get a couple of years out of a jacket if I rinsed my sweat off the inside on a regular basis. Sweat oils and salt eventually cause polyurethane coatings to peel off. Precip is rugged, too. I'm sure there are others too (I used a lightweight version of the polypropylene fabric used in Frogg Toggs, and was relatively impressed with how dry the inside felt, but that was probably due to the fuzzy nature of the inner side of the fabric rather than its breathability. It's much more fragile, but lighter, than Precip.

06-17-2010, 22:10
In response to the Packa - it looks to be more water and windproof than a poncho, but I'll bet it's hotter, too. I still occasionally carry (and wear and sleep under) a poncho - but only on overnighters or weekend trips when only a shower, at the most, is predicted. They are possibly the best ventilated raingear possible, but they are insufferably hot wherever the fabric (especially silnylon since it drapes so well) contacts your bare skin. I prefer a stiffer fabric in any case.

SGT Rock
06-17-2010, 22:14
Naw it vents REALLY well. Large pit zips, the pocket is mesh on the inside so that is a place in the front to get air in as well. Unlike a jacket where your straps segment the torso into lots of hot sweaty pockets which would make a sil-nylon jacket hell, the straps are all under the jacket like a poncho but without the problems in high winds that ponchos have. It also doesn't feel like a wet drape over you like a poncho can. One thing I love about it is how you can rapidly change back and forth from pack cover to rain jacket while on the move. I vastly prefer it to a poncho or any rain jacket I've used.

Funny thing is I had it for a while but never used it. It wasn't until I did some real hiking in it that the light came on. The Packa is tha poop.

06-17-2010, 22:18
Over the past 40 plus years of backpacking I've used:

* plastic - terrible

* 60/40 cloth - Good for snow, works for a couple of hours in rain before it soaks through, HEAVY

* coated nylon - works but can become a sauna if not careful

* coated nylon poncho, comfy but difficult in the wind

* GoreTex - worked for about 1/2 hour, then becomes a sauna just like coated nylon, plus it's HEAVY

* back to coated nylon - it's become much lighter today, still a sauna

* Frogg Togg generics - work surprisingly well, breathable and keeps repelling rain all day, not as durable as other options, not as compact and light as my current set-up

*Currently very happy with a very light silnylon jacket with hood combined with a ULA Rain Wrap. Can become a sauna, but with good wicking layers below and paying attention to temp and exertion, I've found it surprisingly comfortable in all-day, cold and windy rain and snow. If it's too warm, you usually don't need any rain gear.

My problem with things like a Packa is not being able to remove your pack and keep both you and your gear dry at the same time. I carry a 2 oz pack cover from ULA along with packing "must stay dry" gear in plastic bags.

Have NEVER had a problem with all my gear getting wet.

In case you hadn't realized yet, the PERFECT rain gear (other than our skin) has not been invented. Every solution entails trade-offs, you just have to decide what is good for you.

SGT Rock
06-17-2010, 22:21
Keep my stuff inside sil nylon bags and a pack liner. I'm paranoid about getting stuff wet, so the pack cover (packa) is not the only layer.

06-17-2010, 22:28
"The Packa" - http://www.thepacka.com/
"Dri Ducks/Frog Toggs" - http://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/Hiking.shtm
Restless Legs and I were hiking in pouring rain to the Jenny Knob shelter last Sunday. He was soaked with sweat wearing raingear while I was dry with a sub-5oz umbrella.

06-17-2010, 22:41
Poncho / Rain suit? I would vote not poncho. I find (especially off trail on in high winds) ponchos get in the way, and don't provide the right protection. Also, I always end up with a big wet spot on my chest where the water condenses and then transfers back to me.

When it comes to "jackets" I have been most happy from a price/performance perspect with driducks and frogg toggs. eVENT is more breathable, but quite a bit more expensive.

I tried the Packa in sil-nylon and didn't find the venting enough. I have used an eVENT packa (pack cover is sil-nylon, rest is made from eVENT) on a few trips. Seemed to work pretty well. If I was expecting a really wet trip I expect I would do the Packa rather than my driducks.

I wouldn't do both a poncho and a rain suit.


06-17-2010, 22:48
I can't recommend raingear while hiking if your body is like mine. Even without a gear I will soak my shirt in sweat unless it's really windy. I figure I might as well get wet from the rain if I'm going to get wet. An umbrella is nice when I can keep it from blowing inside out, but I dislike having to carry it the rest of the time.

Mountain Wildman
06-17-2010, 23:10
I have the Packa, It covers the pack completely once deployed, no water dripping down between me and my backpack and once you put it on the pack it takes about 15 seconds to pull it out and put it on effectively covering you and the backpack completely.

06-17-2010, 23:52
I'll add my vote for the packa. the only modification it needs is a snap or velcro under the chin so you can leave the zipper open if you want but keep it snugged under the chin. Often I'll take my arms out of the sleeves and or just unzip it.

06-18-2010, 00:09
I guess I'll have to try a Packa.

Does anyone use and like the Gatewood cape (actually, Grandma Gatewood used a plastic shower curtain and an umbrella as rain and sleeping protection - she also regularly used shelters and stayed at homes along the AT)?

06-18-2010, 08:09
QiWiz (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/member.php?u=12511) uses a Gatewood cape for raingear/shelter. He seems very happy with it.

06-18-2010, 09:34
In case you hadn't realized yet, the PERFECT rain gear (other than our skin) has not been invented. Every solution entails trade-offs, you just have to decide what is good for you.

Agreed! I haven't tried everything, and I can't - or won't - shell out the big bucks for the good stuff.

In my experience, waterproof/breathable fabrics are neither very waterproof nor very breathable (maybe the top dollar stuff is, but I'm not inclined to experiment). YMMV

My preferred, and very affordable, solution while hiking is an umbrella. If it's cool, I'll wear a breathable nylon windshirt at the same time

Cedar Tree
06-18-2010, 14:58
I'll add my vote for the packa. the only modification it needs is a snap or velcro under the chin so you can leave the zipper open if you want but keep it snugged under the chin. Often I'll take my arms out of the sleeves and or just unzip it.

The newest version of the Packa has a dual separating front zipper, which means you can unzip it from the bottom. This allows you to keep it closed under your chin with the zipper open in front.

SGT Rock
06-18-2010, 15:18
Good idea.

06-18-2010, 17:24
Another Packa fan here.

06-18-2010, 18:20
My vote is for a poncho. Reason, at 9 oz it does several things, a pack cover, rain suit and could use it for a tarp vents well . My only down side is it sinks in the wind and tight trails w/ thorns.

06-18-2010, 18:35
For hiking in the rain the idea is to stay warm enough, not necessarily dry.
To that end I don't wear anything if I don't need to. If I do, I have Marmot Precip jacket and pants. They work OK but aren't anything special.

12-28-2010, 17:23
QiWiz (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/member.php?u=12511) uses a Gatewood cape for raingear/shelter. He seems very happy with it.

Yes, though a poncho or cape is more vulnerable to wind and trail-side vegetation damaging it than a rain suit. On the AT I think you could use the Gatewood as both shelter and raingear, especially in the VA --> New England portion of a thru. When I hike NOBO from Springer this coming April, I'm going to use the Gatewood as shelter, but carry eVent rain suit so that I can keep hiking in almost all nasty weather (and also just as a wind shell). I could still use the Gatewood when it's not too cold and windy.

12-28-2010, 23:17
Packa and MLD chaps....or gaiters.
The MLD chaps are so light you won't know you're carrying them.

12-28-2010, 23:44
if you do decide to go with a poncho you'll be hard pressed to find a sweeter deal than golite's combined with the 40% off coupon that's floating around...

12-28-2010, 23:58
I use a integral designs Event jacket and marmot precip full zip pants-friend of mine stopped using a poncho because he had difficulty seeing his feet -maybe more of a weight problem personally i dont like a bunch of fabric flying around and prefer what i have used for years

12-29-2010, 00:36
Have used the Marmot Precip jacket and pants for years, the new design, for which I've used 2 times seems to be even better. I don't want anything flapping in the wind causing a distraction or snagging anything to cause a spill. I'm sure there are other good solutions, it's just that the Precip works for me and I'll stick with it. Marmot is a fine company and has corrected any problems I've had with their gear.

12-29-2010, 12:24
Dri Ducks. They're dirt cheap, very breathable, and ultralight. You can carry the Dri Ducks jacket and pants for the same weight of most jackets. They are fragile so you wouldn't want to bushwack with them but they work fine on the AT. If they break just duct tape 'em or buy a new pair for $25.

01-03-2011, 19:08
I have a Montbell Peak jacket and really like it. A lot more durable than dry ducks, but still relatively light. I also love that it has pit zips. I have to have them. Not sure if montbell is producing them anymore, but if you can find one, grab it. My 2 cents.

01-03-2011, 20:20
I posted this reply in another thread but here goes again:

How about the Six Moon Design Gatewood Cape as a rain jacket? I realize it is expensive compared to other choices mentioned here; but I can think of several advantages:

1) It gives complete coverage over body and pack. When hiking along and rain suddenly starts, just reach back in the pack pocket and throw over pack and all without stopping to remove pack.

2) Unlike ponchos, the Cape is closed on all sides and affords protection from wind blown rain.

3) Unlike ponchos, he Cape zips up/down the front for ventilation.

Potential Disadvantages:
1) Arms are exposed outside of Cape and can get cold.

2) Material is silnylon and not breathable, however is totally open on the bottom. The Cape hangs about knee length.

3) Expensive ~ $130.00 but total coverage at 11 ounces.

If anyone has a Gatewood Cape, I would like to hear their experiences.

01-04-2011, 00:29
I have a Gatewood Cape, and have used ponchos prior to owning it. I started my AT thru-hike this year with the GC and a very light (not waterproof) bivy, intending to swap the bivy for the bug net that mates with the GC when it warmed up, but I ditched the cape fairly early on (at Fontana Dam).

Not that it's a bad option, it's just that I started the AT on the early side this year, and there were lots of blowdowns. The first day it rained/snowed I was wearing both my only raingear and my only shelter combined and maneuvering through blowdowns that could easily have caught and torn it. On a maintained trail I think it would have been fine.

Ventilation: mixed. It does zip in front, but this design choice is all about it being a tent. I personally prefer the way a normal poncho vents on the sides, though on occasion it's nice to be able to unzip to access things underneath. But "closed in on all sides" isn't necessarily an advantage, for this reason --- ventilation.

In general I don't like it as well as a poncho as my Golite poncho. I always "belt" my poncho to keep it under control (especially in wind), and I have to hike the GC up a bit to do this and still have freedom to move my arms (I'm a trekking pole user). The result is less "rain skirt" type of coverage than I get with a conventional poncho. It's also just a little bit more "fiddly" --- have to make sure a couple of fabric loops that are part of the tent aspect are secured inside, for example, and each time you morph from cape mode to tent mode or back there's some fiddling required. Not a huge deal, but something.
Bottom line is that it's acceptable as a poncho but not optimal.

Arms exposed: I bought some very light tyvek sleeves that are made for folks that work with chemicals and the like; these work okay, though a little weird looking at times (who cares ...).

The issue you didn't address is how it works as a tent, and in particular, as a tent for relatively tall people. Some folks find it challenging to keep both their head and the foot end of their sleeping bag from touching the (single-wall) sides when setup as a tent. Since it's floorless, I liked the idea of a very light bivy for relatively cold and wet periods, but this of course adds weight (and fiddle factor, plus potential for condensation inside the bivy when used).

And if it's buggy out, you either need to be the type of person that's happy with just a head net, or buy and add the weight of the inner bug net for it. Which latter is a bit constraining to live inside of. The tent itself is surprisingly roomy, other than the length issue, given the weight. The inner net tent: less so.

I like carrying it on day hikes where it's my emergency shelter, or on trips where I don't anticipate tons of rain or bugs. If the weather is pretty iffy or it's buggy out, I'm inclined to another shelter + raingear combo.

I'm definitely not trying to speak for all GC owners here; I know that others weight things a bit differently, this is just my personal take on a piece of very clever gear that on occasion evinces some awkward compromises.

01-04-2011, 01:46
how much do the DRI DUCKS weigh? i know how much the Packa weighs. But what do the DRI DUCKS weigh? Thanks