My big question this week as I move through my list is rain gear. I read an article yesterday that said the biggest misconception about rain gear while hiking is that it is intended to keep you dry. The man said this is nonsense: you just pick which one you want to soak you, the rain or your own perspiration. Time may prove me wrong, but I’m just not convinced it has to be that dramatic.
I am putting the kibosh on rain jacket and pants for July hiking in Virginia. Too hot, not enough coverage with just the jacket. Buying a pack cover and rigging a rain skirt may not be worth the expense and hassle to supplement an existing rain jacket, but really, it’s all personal preference! Here are the options I’m kicking around and why:
What: The Packa
Weight: 13 oz.
Why: I like it because it has full coverage of the pack and good coverage of me. I can wear it as a pack cover and pull this sucker on if it starts raining. The hood looks good, the pit zips seem ventilacious, it folds into its own pocket and can double as a pillow. It has a good reputation for quality and has a 2,000 mile warranty on construction and satisfaction. HOWEVER – 1) I don’t know how long it would be on me and I’m not sure if my legs would get soaked (read that as channel water into my boots). 2) I would have to choose between keeping me dry and keeping the pack dry while setting up camp as well. 3) It can’t be used as an emergency shelter. 4) Kinda pricey.
Weight: 12 oz
Why: It’s a poncho. Ponchos breathe like a boss. They’re really all I’ve ever rain hiked in so I’m partial. This one looks particularly lovely in that the hood is spacious and the side snaps look sturdy. That’s my main beef with ponchos… don’t flap about in the wind, little poncho! This one is also a tarp. Tarps are also the boss. They keep you dry/shaded from above whilst cooking or lounging. They reflect heat from fires. They let you experiment with leaving your tent at home when you’re feeling adventurous. HOWEVER – 1) there’s no waist cinch so I’ll have to rig something to keep it in place. 2) I would have to choose between keeping me dry and keeping the pack dry while setting up camp. 3) Kinda pricey. 4) Not sure if they have a brim.
Weight: 13 oz.
Why: It’s your basic poncho from a good brand with all the double stitched/tape sealed jazz you won’t get from an el cheapo poncho. It also coverts to a shelter. HOWEVER – 1) Can’t find anything that says the sides actually snap together.
What: DIY Tyvek Rain Jacket/Chaps/Gaiters
Weight: 8 oz.
Cost: approx. $10
Why: Cool little DIY project, which I love, and CHEAP, which I love more. Just check this dude’s article out if you want to make it. However, this project is riddled with HOWEVERs – 1) “Showerproof”, NOT waterproof. So yeah. Be aware. 2) You HAVE to seal the seams. Apparently the stitching that it comes with is crap. 3) Those crappy seams should also be reinforced in some areas like the crotch if you’re making the pants. 4) The material isn’t bushwacking worthy. 5) This system obviously has no pack coverage. … I’m probably not going to mess with this, though it sounds like a fun project.
If none of the above appeal to you, I’d say get a poncho big enough to go over your pack, comfortable on your head, snaps on the side, and go hike.
MY PLAN: At the moment, I’m going to drop the bucks on the Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Tarp Poncho, wear a ball cap, and make some Tyvek gaiters. I have an old ripped poncho… I’m going to use it to make a pack cover/wrap for when I’m setting up shelter.