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Rainwear for dangerous rain…
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Logan Spader
(___o2) - F

Locale: .
Rainwear for dangerous rain… on 02/13/2011 16:18:10 MST Print View

By “dangerous rain” I mean down pouring rain at near freezing temperatures. AHH! I am having such a freaking hard time finding a balance between ultralight and safety. I will be thru hiking the SHT (about 15 days) this May and will see temps as low as 30 degrees. Being soaked at 30 degrees would be miserable and dangerous.

So do I need to buy a rain jacket?

I have only used a rain jacket one time in a downpour and ended up being freaking wet and cold by the end of the night. Now I just make friends with the rain and wear a Patagonia R1 hoody baselayer under a Montbell Mistral wind jacket. I get wet but I stay warm and these items dry as soon as the rain stops. However, I have never used this setup below 60 degrees. I have faith in my gear but I need to know what you guys think:

I will hike in these two layers. I will be using a two person floorless pyramid style shelter so if it is raining at camp I can do everything (except take a poo!) under my shelter to stay dry and I can switch into my dry layers which are a light weight baselayer for sleeping and a down jacket. This means that I may have to rely on my own body heat to keep me warm while hiking when I am soaked to the bones. So is this a safe setup or should I start looking at rain jackets?

Edited by ___o2 on 02/14/2011 14:06:52 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rainwear for dangerous rain… on 02/13/2011 16:37:32 MST Print View

If you are on a budget, get a Driducks jacket. Cabelas is selling the emergency poncho version for $5

Sierra Trading post has the top-and-bottom set for $19 (less if you are on their mailing list):


Getting wet and cold *can* kill you in the wrong conditions. There's no reason to be that miserable-- it is supposed to be recreation!

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Definitely! on 02/13/2011 18:27:57 MST Print View

You definitely need something that can shed the rain and keep you dry. With all of the lightweight options out there, there is no reason why you shouldn't have such a garment with you at all times.

You say that you can stay warm as long as you're on the move. So, what happens when that becomes impossible (twist/sprain an ankle, break a leg, etc.)--you're no longer moving sufficiently enough to generate heat.

Hypothermia is one lesson you really don't want to learn the hard way...

Logan Spader
(___o2) - F

Locale: .
Re: Dale & Chris on 02/13/2011 19:03:53 MST Print View

Dale- THANK YOU! Cuz yes, I am on a budget, haha, but since my life depends on it I am definitely willing to spend good money. I went to Sierra Trading post and added it in my cart for a total of $13 and was ready to hit the submit button when I decided to check the reviews on BPL. Looks like half of them are broken right out of the package so I decided to wait and see what others say.

Chris – I never thought of a sprained ankle! Haha, I know, naïve, but I thank you for pointing out the fact that I may not be able to build body heat up. I have dangled on the edge of hypothermia once in my life and I never ever want to be that cold again.


So do you guys think I should look at a waterproof/"breathable" garment like GoreTex or will a simple nylon jacket with a coating work? I used a Marmot Precip Plus and wow did that thing get wet.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Rainwear for dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 19:08:32 MST Print View

How about an umbrella or a Coghlan's emergency poncho? Cheap insurance. Wind is always an issue but so what. And in a disaster a garbage bag with hol;es for your head and arms may keep you alive. Dual use as it is your pack liner before that.

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Rain vs. Sweat on 02/13/2011 19:11:14 MST Print View

"So do you guys think I should look at a waterproof/"breathable" garment like GoreTex or will a simple nylon jacket with a coating work? I used a Marmot Precip Plus and wow did that thing get wet."

Bear in mind that not only do you have to deal with precipitation on the outside of your coat (e.g., rain), you'll also have to deal with "precipitation" on the inside as well (perspiration). Since the goal is to stay dry, then you'll want something that repels moisture and breathes well.

Look into eVent...

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Rainwear for dangerous rain… on 02/13/2011 19:13:22 MST Print View

After going through lots of options, I've decided that expensive rain gear really is worth it to me. And yes, I still get wet.

Currently, I've got a lightweight event jacket from Stoic as my main piece.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Rainwear for dangerous rain… on 02/13/2011 19:15:00 MST Print View

At those temperatures? Paramo. Nothing else works as well both on the outside and inside.

BPL article by Chris Townsend.

Edited by butuki on 02/13/2011 19:17:22 MST.

Logan Spader
(___o2) - F

Locale: .
Re: dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 19:41:45 MST Print View

John – umbrella? I was just looking into it! The only thing is that an umbrella only serves one purpose and I hate that.

Chris – exactly! I would rather get wet from rain then soak my clothes with my stinky sweat. This is the reason why I only bring a wind jacket in the summer. I’ve owned an ArcTeryx Goretex jacket that I purchased through an employee discount, wore it once, then ended up selling it because I can’t imagine how bad it would feel to rip a hole in a $300-$500 jacket which is a similar price range of most eVent jackets.


I was just thinking, maybe an Umbrella (7 oz), paired with a wind jacket (which I will be carrying anyways, 0 oz) to stop anything that the umbrella doesn’t catch, and some driduck pants (4oz) that will only be used in an extreme downpour so durability isn’t of much concern. Total cost to me is $50. Thoughts?

And I am definitely checking into the paramo stuff

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Rainwear for dangerous rain… on 02/13/2011 20:01:21 MST Print View

You definitely need something to keep most of the really cold rain off you. That much we all agree on. But whether it should be a jacket is another question. My wife and I have given up on jackets: your back gets just too sweaty. Instead we have gone to ponchos.

Col de Bressons France GR5 4097
Col de Bessons in France. It was absolutely bucketing down on the up side of the pass; on the down side it was snowing. We were wearing Taslan windshirts under silnylon ponchos.

Col de Bonhomme France 2007  4087
Going up the Col du Bonhomme, on the Tour du Mont Blanc. It was snowing, as you can see. Essentially the same clothing.

In each case the ponchos worked better than a jacket, in our opinions. We were actually adequately warm inside them. These ones were MYOG - see

But you can get a very similar commercial one called a Packa, from
I have no connection to that company. You can also gets lots of simple ponchos from all sort of places.


Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Re: dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 20:02:48 MST Print View

Buy some non-breathable Impertech or similar rain gear if you are really concerned with sustained rain in near freezing temperatures. By sustained, I mean days and days. If you are only looking for enough time to get back to the car -- less than a day or so -- then go with something that might be good enough until it wets through.

My wife in her Impertech during a lull in the four days of rain we experienced this past summer.

Eve on the fine beach above the Endicott River

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Rainwear for dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 20:06:22 MST Print View

Umbrellas. One to a person for sure because bigger Golf Umbrellas catch too much wind. The best options? Purchased in the East -silver umbrellas as light as possible designed to protect female completion hence very popular. Next best? Golite umbrellas with fiberglass ribs. Don't attract lightning. King of the hill golite Chrome Dome able to withstand sun and lightning. Right up there Birdypal on STP. But moreso yopur local dollar store. A generic for a buck trumps all.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Re: dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 20:10:35 MST Print View

If you went with that setup, I'd still carry a DriDucks poncho or jacket, just in case. As you say, your life depends on it- and the cost in both ounces and dollars is pretty minimal. I'd forgo if I had a heavier shell with me, but if you're going to be relying on a wind shirt and umbrella I'd bring the DriDucks poncho or jacket for insurance...

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
LONG poncho on 02/13/2011 20:10:35 MST Print View

for good protection on a budget I'd get a totally waterproof "long back" poncho(as in urethane coated). A poncho with a "long back" is made to cover your backpack. With that coverage you'll have plenty of air circulating beneath to help get a lot your sweat vented out.

Plus a long poncho doubles as a pack cover, one more item you won't have to carry.

But you MAY want to get some UL rain chaps - and GTX boots for sure.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
dangerous rain on 02/13/2011 20:41:12 MST Print View

Driducks: light , inexpensive, doesn't leak and stays as dry inside as anything else and frankly drier than most. Patch if necessary with duct tape, roomy fit and good generous coverage with no worries about rain getting in under or over. Yeah it won't last forever but what does and it's not like as I'm fond of saying that you're hunting redcoats (they ran through the briers and they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go, ran so fast the hounds couldn't catch 'em down the mississippi to the gulf of mexico. hey hey

Stephen B
(8bodi7) - F

Locale: Michigan
re: Rain Jacket on 02/13/2011 20:59:48 MST Print View

I hiked the SHT a year and a half ago during the exact same window you're looking at. My cousin and I may have been the first thru-hikers that year. We picked the worst possible year to go early. 50-75 miles were insane bushwacking through the ice damage of the century.

Back to the topic though:

DEFINITELY take a nicer rain jacket. I don't wear hiking pants so I also took rain pants.

I got poured/hailed on one day, it rain/snow/sleeted another day, and misted for two days while we were hanging out along the lake walk section. I think that sums up all of the precipitation we had.

I carried the discontinued North Face Diad rain jacket. It worked very well. The times that it was actually wet, it was also fairly cold as well. But the jacket has venting options if it had been warmer.

If it hadn't been raining I would have been wearing the jacket for warmth anyway since I don't carry a windshirt. There were several cold days (30s) even without rain and I was wearing everything including rain jacket/pants except my Montbell Down Inner and couldn't really stop that long. Our water froze a few nights and we woke to frost several times as well.

My cousin had a North Face Goretex ski jacket that turned out to be a fake. It leaked like crazy at the seams. He ended up buying a poncho in Tofte and may have been converted to ponchos from that point on.

edit: Pic of us getting drenched on at Caribou Falls the evening of May 5th 2009. Also got some good size hail and snow during this storm. Here is where my cousin found out his jacket leaked. I am toasty and dry in my diad (on the right).

Caribou Falls

Edited by 8bodi7 on 02/13/2011 21:37:05 MST.

a b
Roger style poncho on 02/13/2011 21:03:37 MST Print View

This is so ironic that I read this thread as i am currently sewing up a version of Roger Caffin's poncho for my AT thru hike.
As for dangerous rain that is the reason i am going back to a poncho. After trying 2 Marmot precips, a generic, and an MEC Hydrofoil on the CDT in Montana I am convinced there has to be something better.
At least for a long distance hike the abrasion renders the DWR on breatheable jackets less effective after several days of wearing a pack. Drying the jacket in a hot dryer in town brings some of the DWR back but never as good as new. Yea, i could apply some sort of product.
Personally I have decided to go for a "dumb" ureathane coated poncho that covers me AND my pack. I am making modifications real similar to what Roger has in that awesome article(THANKS ROGER!).
The breatheable stuff is great around town or on short trips but on a thru hike like the CDT.. frankly it was outmatched by the Montana rain. I am talking hail and rain in heavy gusts of wind. I began to call it "Raintana" as everyday at 2pm on the divide was "party time". Usually it would rain ridiculously and then clear up just as the sun set and be colder than heck under a clear night sky.
Anyhow I ain't the only hiker to go back to stone age tech with rain gear. two other hikers i met on the CDT had the same notion i did.
Anyhow back to sewing!

Edited by Ice-axe on 02/13/2011 21:10:51 MST.

Logan Spader
(___o2) - F

Locale: .
Re: on 02/13/2011 22:20:23 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for the pictures! I’m a visual kinda guy.

Roger- I love your idea. I never wanted to try a poncho because the arms are too open and flappy but thepacka seems to trump all of my worries. I have a feeling that this is what I will be choosing.

Stephen- THANK YOU!!!! Wow is it great to have info on what the trail is like at that time of year. I now know that driducks would be a bad choice if I have bushwacking to look forward too. I chose May because I would way rather battle rain, cold, and hypothermia versus mosquitoes! Seriously. And how long did it take you two?


I have been trying to find other makers of a poncho/packcover with long arms like The Packa but to no avail. What other makers can I search for?

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
rain on the CDT on 02/14/2011 11:55:23 MST Print View

"The breatheable stuff is great around town or on short trips but on a thru hike like the CDT.. frankly it was outmatched by the Montana rain. I am talking hail and rain in heavy gusts of wind. I began to call it "Raintana" as everyday at 2pm on the divide was "party time". Usually it would rain ridiculously and then clear up just as the sun set and be colder than heck under a clear night sky."

Hey, Iceaxe, since I'm prepping for the CDT (SOBO) and just swapped my rain gear to a lightweight breathable jacket to save weight (pretty big base weight for this trip it seems) --- I found your comments interesting, if not unsettling.

I had been planning to use an eVent Packa at just over a pound, but when I realized that a lighter somewhat breathable jacket could also replace my windshirt, I decided to switch. Now you have me thinking of switching back ...


While I generally like ponchos fine, I'm less of a fan in "heavy gusts of wind", and in sustained hard rain I'd prefer something with sleeves.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: rain on the CDT on 02/14/2011 12:36:43 MST Print View

I was on the CDT last year too. At least one hiker tried the windshirt only approach to rain. Really bad idea. Luckily, he was able to bail to town on a dangerously cold day and sneak into a hotel. I think that it's terribly dumb to not have rain gear on the CDT. In fact, for segments of the trail that are likely to have dangerous rain, I think you also need a fleece. A rain jacket over a baselayer really isn't enough in dangerous rain. And none of us want to sacrifice out only warm jacket (typically down) to get wet while we hike in the rain. So, for these conditions, I recommend a high quality rain jacket (not PU coated) and a microfleece.

Heck, a group of us got hypothermic WITH good rain gear and fleeces to hike in. One in the group that lacked rain pants was in worse shape, more quickly than the rest of us. By two in the afternoon we had no choice but to stop hiking and get into shelters and sleeping bags ASAP.

I'm a proponent of really expensive rain gear :)