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Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice
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Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/20/2010 17:59:46 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I'm trying to make a waterproof garment I can carry in my pack while climbing, only to be worn in emergencies (like if it starts hailing while I'm stuck at the belay). In the past I've traded off between a gore-tex jacket and a plastic trash compactor bag with holes for my head and arms. I think what I need is basically a hooded anorak made of silnylon, with no pockets and a long front zipper. I'd pattern it after an old WildThings windshirt. All the commercial versions I've seen have too many 'features'-- I just need something for emergencies.

I'm wondering:

1) Has anyone done something similar, and if so, did you discover anything you'd like to share?

2) What did you do for a storm-flap at the zipper, if anything?

I've made a bike frame bag and an ice screw case before, but never an actual coat, so I'd love to hear any advice, either specific to the project, or just general stuff about working with silnylon, etc. Thanks!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/20/2010 18:06:27 MDT Print View

Similar. A few days ago we discussed the Gossamer Gear Rain Jacket, which is made out of Sil-nylon. It weighs 4 ounces and has few frills. No pockets. It is a zip-up hooded jacket instead of a hooded anorak, so it is a little easier to get on and off. There is a velcro flap over the zipper.

I have another one, almost identical, that I sewed out of Pertex.


Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
like this, in silnylon with a hood on 05/20/2010 18:08:23 MDT Print View


Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
GG on 05/20/2010 18:13:15 MDT Print View

Hi Bob,

Yes, I've looked at the GG jacket, but the full-length zipper turned me off. I guess the velcro stormflap is the way to go, though. Maybe I could do snaps instead; I'm trying to avoid the bulk of a big zipper and flap combo.

I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs. How much fabric did you use for yours?

Edited by elliott.will on 05/20/2010 18:13:57 MDT.

David Franzen
(dfranzen) - F

Locale: Germany
Re: Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/20/2010 18:30:03 MDT Print View

I've made my own windshirt copying a Mammut Ultimate softshell jacket. so pretty much the same thing you want to do, only using nylon instead of silnylon. this is how i did it:

-I used newspaper sheets to get the pattern. for each section of the jacket, place a sheet over it flat on a table and trace the edges of the jacket's section (the seams) with a pen.
-When you have all patterns drawn on newspaper, cut them out.
-Place them on the silnylon and trace the paper's edges on the silnylon with a non-permanent marker. (you might get some problems here due to the coating. maybe try the uncoated side of the fabric. or try other pens.)
now you have the pattern on your fabric.
leave enough space between the pieces for seam allowance.
- cut them out, but remember to cut about 1/2 inch away from the line you drew for the seam allowance.
- now sew the stuff together along the lines you drew.
- i used flat felled seams, about 8-10 stitches/inch

storm flap: so far a water resistent zipper has always sufficed to me.

Edited by dfranzen on 05/20/2010 18:31:10 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: GG on 05/20/2010 18:40:50 MDT Print View

Hmmm. I'm not certain why a full-length zipper would be a problem. And the velcro flap over it is very narrow. I can fold it up and stick it in a shirt pocket. In the GG jacket, I bought the medium size, and it is a half size roomy for me.

For the one I made out of Pertex, the fabric is thinner and probably slightly less waterproof. I sewed it from a Rain Shed pattern, but I deleted several features like pockets to simplify and lighten it.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/20/2010 18:51:08 MDT Print View

Hi Will

Sounds to me that what you want is what the Europeans call a cagoule (although many cags didn't have a front zip even). The absence of 'features' is a prime feature of the cag. It is a 'standard' bit of mountain gear in Europe - so you are pretty close to the mark.

To quote Wikipedia:
"A cagoule which can be rolled up into a very compact package and carried in a bag or pocket was invented by Noel Bibby of Peter Storm Ltd in the early 1960s. It has an integral hood, elasticated or drawstring cuffs, and a few poppers or a short zip at the neck. It does not open fully at the front and must be pulled on over the head. In some versions, when rolled up, the hood doubles as a bag into which the rest of the coat is pushed. It became very popular in the United Kingdom during the 1970s."

I'll emphasise that the hood is an integral part of a cag: without a hood the jacket is NOT a cagoule. The classic cag does not have a front zip, and you should consider whether you really need a zip.


Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Bothy? on 05/20/2010 19:30:09 MDT Print View

Is what you want actually a Bothy shelter?

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
bothy on 05/20/2010 19:42:35 MDT Print View


Nope, just a windshirt-weight rain jacket to wear while we hurry to flat ground.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Anorak on 05/25/2010 00:00:56 MDT Print View

Why don't you just buy the windshirt that you want (Montbell has an anorak windshirt at 2.3oz) and then waterproof it? I think you can just mix some silicone caulk with paint thinner and then paint the windshirt. You might want to check first though to make sure this will stick well to regular nylon. I imagine it would though.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/25/2010 01:01:44 MDT Print View

If it's just for emergency use, you could consider the 'trash bag plus' option.

Festival ponchos will cover you and your pack, have a hood, and weigh about 2oz. Only cost about $1 too, so you can buy a few and regard them as disposable (they tear easily, but are easily fixed with some tape).

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/25/2010 10:17:42 MDT Print View

Why not a new windshirt of silnylon by WildThings?

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - F
Silnylon Jacket on 05/25/2010 10:52:43 MDT Print View

I made a silnylon rain jacket with full zipper to replace the garbage bag I carried while bikepacking and hiking. It weighs just under 3.5oz, packs really small, and works well for emergency use while riding or hiking in the mountains plus it's a great wind shirt around the camp. I wouldn't recommend it for prolonged use while exercising since it doesn't breath at all. I didn't add a storm flap and don't believe one is needed.

Edited by gdw on 05/25/2010 11:41:46 MDT.

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Hey climbers: silnylon anorak advice on 05/30/2010 17:05:18 MDT Print View

get the liberty ridge kit from and just get silnylon fabric. there is also a hood pattern on there, but I think I modified it....
The LR pattern is for partial zip but it isn't hard to do a full length either.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
cagoule on 05/31/2010 06:44:52 MDT Print View

I had a coated nylon cagoule for many years until the coating wore off. It would not meet lightweight categories like silnylon, but I really liked the length which went well down below the knees. It is also warm to wear around camp. or even sleep in. Cagolues shortened to anoraks which I really like. The Marmot precip was made in th anorak style for awhile.

My current rain gear of choice is the Packa.

Here is a pattern for a cagoule: (Rainshed, Seattle Fabrics)

Of further interest:

Edited by rambler on 05/31/2010 06:57:31 MDT.

Nick Badyrka
(oldcrank) - F

Locale: Northwest
What I would do. on 06/07/2010 20:15:47 MDT Print View

I have been caught out in a couple of serious thunderstorms while on long rock routes. Here is what I would make and why. A knee length cagoule with no zippers at all. It would include: a neck opening big enough for your head and a short length of pull cord at the throat to snug it up just a little. A hood that fits over a helmet and enough elastic pull cords around the head so you can look up. A draw strring at the hem so you can tie it above your harness, but the now short skirt keeps your waist area drier. I would worry more about leaks than breathability. When you rappel on a wet rope it wrings all the water out and you will get soaked from the waist down. The long length allows you to hunker down when at the belay and keep everything dry and alive. If you put neoprene cuffs on it you will not get the waterfall down your arm when you reach up. This kind of cagoule is really rock climbing specific. That's what I would do anyway.

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
brilliant! on 06/07/2010 20:45:56 MDT Print View

Absolutely great idea, Nick. Something like that is what I'll have to do. Have you tried this or are just imagining it? Pics forthcoming.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
silnylon anorak advice on 06/07/2010 23:35:44 MDT Print View

I made two silnylon raincoats. We take them on backpacking trips where we don't expect rain, but need protection just in case -- same as your plan. We've used them occasionally for ~8 years and they've been great. On one Dirty Devil Utah trip we had ~4 days of very rainy 50 degree weather and they were fine. Sweaty, but not leaky or soggy inside.

I used a pattern that I got from OWF. I can find out the pattern name if you want. I found the pattern very helpful for making a hood that works well -- I had confidence about winging it for the body and sleeves, but I did want a hood that would work and I wasn't confident I could copy one from a raincoat.

I made the sleeves really long, so I can have my hands fully retracted with plenty of extra fabric hanging down, without having to scrunch up my arms and shoulders. I love it that way, and I've never found a commercial rain jacket that has really long sleeves.

And, instead of a zipper I just used narrow velcro, 1/4 or 3/8". I did that primarily because it was easy to avoid the nuances of a zipper. The velcro overlaps, so there's no need for a storm flap. The velcro is in 2-3" lengths, with 1-2" gaps between velcro. You don't need much velcro since there's no stress on it. Mine is not a pullover -- the opening runs the full length of the front, but I generally use it as a pullover and don't disconnect the velcro. I'm not sure there's any disadvantage to the full open front, unless you want to have a drawcord at the bottom.

Also, I didn't hem the bottom. The silnylon doesn't fray if you don't use it much.


Amy L

Edited by drongobird on 06/08/2010 21:53:02 MDT.

Nick Badyrka
(oldcrank) - F

Locale: Northwest
Re: brilliant! on 06/09/2010 07:13:25 MDT Print View

No, I have not tried that design in particular. Those ideas are just the best parts of emergency storm wear I have had in the past. If you are only two or three raps from the ground, a cheapo coated jacket will do. If the climb is longer and the weather is threatening I usually, don't go up anymore. Because, being on a cliff in a thunderstorm is like being in a waterfall and can be life threatening. All zippers will leak and hunkering down during the worst of it is your best bet. On big walls during the spring or fall rain suits are in order. For summer craging, I just bring a cheapo coated jacket, just enough to get down. If I was going up on the Diamond, a long route on Fairview, War Bonnet or something similar, I would want a storm cagoule. I am mostly hiking and craging these days. Would love to see what you come up with.