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Alternative to the Packa?
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Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Alternative to the Packa? on 01/31/2011 08:14:38 MST Print View

On my thru attempt last year, particularly in the Smokies in late March, I really learned the value of staying dry. After getting wet with traditional rainwear and pack cover I got close to hypothermia once so I upgraded from Dri Ducks to a Marmot Essence and North Face rain pants. I also used a Dri Ducks poncho that went over everything. O I also use a compactor bag inside my Mariposa Plus. So I know I probably erred on the side of caution but I did stay dry. As I contemplate my 2011 AT thru attempt ( I had to end my 2010 attempt when I broke my Tibia 300 miles in ) I am seriously considering a Packa but I don't want to carry the 13 ounces. Does anyone know a product that will give the coverage of a Packa ( other than a Poncho ) that weighs less? I am really am only looking for alternatives as I know I can just do the traditional approach ( jacke, pants, and packcover )but would like something that gives my pack full coversge. Thanks

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
OR Pack Hoody on 01/31/2011 08:29:17 MST Print View

Outdoor Research makes a similar pack cover called the Pack Hoody. It only weighs 7.4oz but doesn't provide full coverage.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Alternative to the Packa? on 01/31/2011 08:38:45 MST Print View

Pack Hoodie

OR Gear's Pack Hoodie $60, 7.5 ounces

Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Alternative to the Packa?" on 01/31/2011 08:55:16 MST Print View

Greg thanks for that. It is pretty cool but you still have to carry a rain jacket so you are back to around 13 or so ounces. Of course you would have the versatility of a rain jacket rather than a packa. But still something to think about.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Rain pants? on 01/31/2011 09:34:07 MST Print View

"... as I know I can just do the traditional approach ( jacke, pants, and packcover )"

One way you could consider saving weight instead is to not bring rain pants. I brought very light rain chaps, and can't remember ever using them, and I started in late Feb. I just came back from a 3-day snowshoe trip were it was raining/snowing pretty much all the time and I still just carried my rain pants in my pack. Of course you might opt differently, but there are outfitters on the trail plus there's the option of something being mailed to you if you really want it.
Or get chaps, a light weight (~3 oz) option for if you really need them, with the benefit that you can put them on and take them off one-leg-at-a-time (which I like). Just don't plan to wear them in town while doing your laundry! :-)
Here's one place to look for chaps:
Or if you by a Dri Ducks rain suit, without too much work the pants can be home modified to become chaps.

If you do get a Packa, take care that the pack cover part is sized large enough to cover any pack configuration you might like. On my snowshoe trip this past weekend I had my pack loaded for winter, and it was a very tight fit getting the packa cover over that.

The nice thing about the Packa is how well it breathes/vents, and the ability to toss back the coat or pull it over you (or just the hood) is also nice. I guess what I'm saying here is that the weight is at least somewhat offset by the fact that for many people it's just a more effective piece of raingear.

Though that OR unit does look nice; I guess a person would want to combine that with a light hoodless rain jacket --- but who sells a good, light, *hoodless* rain jacket?!? Nice that when you want to take the pack off, you wouldn't have to pull arms out of sleeves to do it, and of course would still have a rain jacket on (hopefully with a hat of some kind). OTOH, it's overall kind of nice that the Packa covers the pack straps, waist belt, the whole shebang.

That's a big part of the advantage of the Packa, that by not being constrained by pack straps and waist belt, the Packa can vent better. It seems kind of telling to me that in the picture, the OR unit is being warn over a shirt, not any kind of other rain gear, nor does it look like OR sells any sort of hoodless rain jacket.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Packa alternatives on 01/31/2011 10:04:47 MST Print View

There is the "Parcho" sold as a pattern or kit at Quest Outfitters, or Roger Caffin's "mountain poncho" featured in a MYOG article here on BPL. Either should come in 7-9 oz depending on fabric used, size and features. The Packa features a heavier sil/pu fabric that's tapable, and this heavier fabric and the seamtaping add to the weight.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
hoodless rain jackets on 01/31/2011 10:06:19 MST Print View

Thinking about this a little more ...

"... but who sells a good, light, *hoodless* rain jacket?!?"

A dri-ducks jacket is about 7+ oz, so I suppose a person could just cut off the hood (if desired) and have a reasonably light option there, albeit not super durable. Similarly, the Rain Shield o2 Cycling Jacket is listed at 4.1 oz, but again, inexpensive but not super durable. I've had the zipper go out on a Dri-ducks jacket leaving me in a bit of an awkward situation on one long hike, though I should add that I'm not totally sold on the particular zipper on my Packa either (?).

Both of these jacket options are also fairly short --- a great part about the Packa is that it's cut long, it covers well below the hips. If a person were instead inclined to add in the weight of a rain skirt, of course the math comes out differently (!). With the Packa I'm typically okay without rain pants or chaps or skirt or whatever.

And neither of these have pit zips, the only venting is to unzip the front of the jacket.

Yup, thinking through this is leaving me pretty satisfied with what I get for the weight with the Packa --- when looking at alternatives, make sure that you're toting up the various aspects and not just the weight alone.

Of course yet another option is to combine the OR unit with just a windshirt in situations where there isn't wind-driven and/or cold rain. Then if conditions get worse than expected, fashion a rain "vest" out of a black plastic yard waste bag on the spot ...

Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Alternative to the Packa on 01/31/2011 14:58:24 MST Print View

Thanks guys some great ideas. I don't mind skimping and improvising when the weather warms but I am going to make sure I am dry when it is still cold. Brian do you have the silnylon or event? How does it breathe with the pit zips?

Edited by billreyn1 on 01/31/2011 15:02:25 MST.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
eVent Packa on 01/31/2011 20:34:09 MST Print View

"Brian do you have the silnylon or event? How does it breathe with the pit zips?"

I have the eVent, bought it in person from Cedar Tree last year at Trail Days in Damascus --- after meeting him a couple of times on the AT earlier.

The pit zips are pretty deep, large, which helps. And of course you don't have to zip the jacket up fully --- if you're sweating enough then you're going to be wet one way or another.

And again, what really sets the Packa apart is the fact that it goes outside the pack straps and waist belt, which allows for better venting than I think any normal jacket can --- as jackets are inherently restricted by the pack straps. Of course a poncho (or parcho) will have this benefit too. But with the Packa I find it a bit easier to access stuff in waist belt pockets or water bottle holder on waist belt, or things hanging on pack straps. For the latter just unzip the jacket a bit, for waist belt stuff (you know, your batman utility belt ...) just reach under the jacket.

The Packa isn't perfect; there's no gear item that's optimal for all conditions, but despite the weight I'm still liking it.

Note, however, that my size medium eVent Packa doesn't weigh 13 oz, I get it at 16.4 oz (464g). Ouch. At this point I nevertheless plan to use it on my next thru-hike (later this year), assuming I can keep my pack volume down to the point where the pack cover part reasonably fits (!).

Eddie Hinnant
(CedarTree) - F
7.5 oz Packa on 02/23/2014 03:59:06 MST Print View

I now offer Packas made from 10D material.
A medium 10D Packa weighs about 7.5 oz.
Cedar Tree

Jim Jessop
(StokeyJim) - MLife
7.5 oz Packa on 02/23/2014 06:03:03 MST Print View

A 7.5 oz Packa sounds great.

Is the 10d material completely waterproof?

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: 7.5 oz Packa on 02/23/2014 06:24:47 MST Print View

According to the Packa website, "10 Denier ultra-light weight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating (sil/pu)."

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Alternative to the Packa? on 02/23/2014 12:11:19 MST Print View

I have a 10D Packa.

It is LIGHT and waterproof. Just be careful, as it is not (I feel - but I haven't damaged mine) as durable as heavier material.

It is most definitely tougher than DriDucks!!!