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Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)
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Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
JMT rain gear on 02/13/2013 12:33:14 MST Print View

For commercially available gear the Zpacks poncho/groundsheet would be my first choice. Even a custom order with 0.5 oz/sqyd cuben would work for me, and save a few ozs.

I didn't bring rain pants on my JMT thru in 2011, or on the SHR in 2012. While wearing a poncho or parka the short afternoon downpours felt good and my legs were always dry by the time I stopped to sleep.

On the JMT I used a homemade cuben rain parka with pit zips that was long enough to cover my shorts. It weighed 2 oz and was made with 0.5 oz/sqyd cuben. At one point it rained every day for 4 days and it was enough to stay warm and dry while hiking or setting up my tarp. Although I brought silk long john bottoms for my legs I only hiked in them the last morning on the way up to Witney. Most days I was plenty warm in shorts, s/s shirt, wind shirt and glove liners as long as I kept moving.

Last summer I switched to a homemade poncho/groundsheet/pack cover that was long enough to cover my shorts in front and back and my pack. It weighs 2.8 ozs and was made with 0.5 oz/sqyd cuben. I run hot and most waterproof hoods are uncomfortable, so I made the head hole with an adjustable 4" collar. For my head I made a removable waterproof hat cover using 0.5 oz/sqyd cuben. After getting very cold arms and hands in a hail storm going over Old Army Pass last summer I added cuben arm chaps/sleeves (0.4 oz) and some Zpacks W/B mitts (0.8 oz). This 'system' worked well going over Muir Pass during an August monsoon a few weeks later.

I was reluctant to use this on the SHR due to possible limited mobility and the whole thing blowing around in the wind on the cross country passes. Adding two connections using elastic cord and small plastic hooks keeps it in place while still allowing room to hike or climb comfortably. In groundsheet mode the same connections can be used to make a waterproof cover for my quilt, although its important to leave some openings for venting.

Have fun on the JMT!

Edited by bluewater on 02/13/2013 12:49:31 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
@ Andy on 02/13/2013 12:41:32 MST Print View

That sounds like quite a set-up. I'd be curious to see some photos of the various pieces in use.


Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
JMT rain gear on 02/13/2013 13:01:45 MST Print View

Hi Nick. I'm taking some pxts and will post after lunch. Good excuse to dig thru the gear closet:)


Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
JMT rain gear on 02/13/2013 14:04:50 MST Print View

Some homemade rain gear:



Velcro hat cover attachment:



The arm chaps/sleeves are attached with adjustable elastic cord on either side of the neck. When not in use they tuck inside the poncho:



Groundsheet is 50" x 91":


In bivy mode. The shell material is Momentum 50, the 40 degree quilt is 56" x 80":





Not that any of us are keeping track. . . here's the breakdown;

Poncho/groundsheet/pack cover: 2.7 ozs
Zpacks w/b mitts: .8 oz
Arm chaps/sleeves: .6 oz
Hat cover: .2 oz
Stuff sack: .1 oz

4.4 ozs total.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Liberty Ridge Pants kit from Thru-Hiker on 02/13/2013 14:21:57 MST Print View

It seems like I made one pair out of the heavier material, and then I thought that it was overkill. I made one pair out of the lighter material, and that is what I've carried around during summer backpacking.

Depending on the leg length and how I walk, there could be a durability problem on the cuff, on the medial side next to my ankle bone. One boot sometimes kicks the other, and if the cuff gets in the way, it can shred. If you cut the length to be shorter, then you are kicking rain and mud up at your ankles.

From your talk about cold and wet, I think you would want to go with the heavier material.

Forgive me, but I have only been to Louisiana in the summertime, so I had no idea that you knew about cold and wet.


John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: Re: Liberty Ridge Pants kit from Thru-Hiker on 02/14/2013 04:46:39 MST Print View

Hi Bob,

"Forgive me, but I have only been to Louisiana in the summertime, so I had no idea that you knew about cold and wet."

Newton does cold and Newton does wet but Newton does not do cold and wet! ;-)

Lately I have been doing my longer hiking trips in Virginia. On my last outing we encountered cold but zeroed out on the one rain and snow day.

Thanks for the info about the Liberty Ridge Pants Kit.

Party On,


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 09:19:02 MDT Print View

I'm resurrecting (and hijacking) this post for the sake of my diminishing sanity...

Ok. I read. I study. I review SOTM reports. I shop. I read some more. And I am no closer to being comfortable with my clothing choices for the JMT than I was a month ago.

Sooo...sorry to be a noobie pest, but how does this look...particularly rain gear?? I mean, take frogg toggs. No it hails. Take a windshirt AND a shell. Take rain pains, take chaps, take wind pants.....I DON'T KNOW!!!! Argh!!!!

We are leaving July 29 from happy isles. I hate ponchos. I'm cold blooded (from Chicago). I have virtually NO mountain experience (8 days in the southern Winds last year; gorgeous weather the whole time). None. Nada. I am truly a noob.

MH convertible pants vs nylon shorts/wind pants (leaning to the latter)
Merino 1 long sleeve
Patagonia active briefs
Darn tough 1/4 cushion socks
Salomon XA ultra 3D blah blah (non GTX version)
White rock sun hat

Montane featherlite pants (wind, NOT rain pants)
Rab demand pullover (10 oz, eVent)
Montbell alpine light parka
Houdini windshirt
Extra merino 1 long sleeve shirt (maybe merino 2 for variety?)
Extra 1/4 darned tough socks
Extra patagonia active briefs (sorry guys, we girls DO need a second pair)
Black rock gear hat
Ibex liner gloves
Arcteryx AR tights (for sleeping, insulation)

Here are my questions:
1) I can't imagine it's worth $250 to save 2 oz on a different rain jacket...
2) will the wind pants be adequate for lower limb protection from rain/etc?
3) from what I've read it IS beneficial to have both the rain and the wind jackets, right? If I DID get a lighter rain jacket (say a minimus or something)can that double as the windshirt?
4) I just feel like I have a lot of jackets.........could I swap out the MB down parka for a thermawrap vest to use with the demand (and both shirts if necessary?)

Anyway, just feels like a lot of clothes, but I have virtually NO mountain experience here so I don't really know what I really need...know what I mean??

Edited by Jenmitol on 04/06/2013 09:20:16 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 09:57:12 MDT Print View

Jennifer - the weight issue aside, it all depends on if you are a worst case or best case planner when putting together your clothing and gear list.

there seems to be an awful lot of Best Case planners on this web sight.

I've seen enough bad weather that I tend to plan for worst case.

What kind of planner are you ?

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 10:00:54 MDT Print View


I, too, don't have a lot of experience in the Sierras. But, that's ok, they will still let you (and me) on the trail. : )
You have a good clothing system above, even if you take every piece listed. You have the ability to carry maybe 8-16 oz less with judicious choosing. However -- carrying that 8-16 oz won't ruin your trip, as long as you've given careful consideration to what works for YOUR JMT trip, i.e., are you going to speedhike it less than 10 days? Are you going to take 3 weeks or more? Are you going to take lots of side trips up peaks? Are you going to carry a heavy camera set-up that needs to be offset by less ounces somewhere else?

(1) I wouldn't spend $250 for 2 oz unless it is a jacket that you want to have for other hikes down the road, not just for the JMT. I would spend $15 on a DriDucks/FToggs jacket, however. If it rips, who cares? If it sits in the bottom of your pack the whole trip, who cares?

(2) If you choose the windshell pants, you do already have the Arc'Teryx tights as insulation. The shorts-tights-windpants would be a good system and should give you adequate rain protection. The difference between my favorite hiking shorts right now and my favorite hiking pants is about 3-4 ounces, so not anything to get to worried about. Just choose a system of layers that gives you a rotation of pieces that will protect you from sun and rain, allow you to swim if you want, and give you something to put on in camp if you have been caught in a storm (sleeping quilt draped over your bare legs will work here too!).

(3) I carry my windshirt and rain jacket on most trips and I would do so on the JMT without thinking about it. You do see some CA folks here on BPL using just one jacket for both windshell and rainshell, but I think that is often in places other than the high Sierra or on short trips. I think CA is just a place where that is possible.

(4) A lot of jackets: I wouldn't take just a insulated vest into the mountains on a 2-3 week hike. It doesn't seem enough and the weight differences just aren't that great to chance it. Your Alpine Light lists at 12.2 oz (MB's site). You could go with a UL Down Parka (8.3 oz) but you'd have to spend $175 to save a few ounces and have a nearly similar (in function!) jacket. You already said you run cold, so it doesn't seem worth it.

My take-away message: trust yourself, you've already got a great kit to pick-and-choose from. Maybe buy a Driducks jacket just to have in your arsenal of jackets.

Jan S
Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 10:02:11 MDT Print View

"from what I've read it IS beneficial to have both the rain and the wind jackets, right? If I DID get a lighter rain jacket (say a minimus or something)can that double as the windshirt?"

Depends on breathability, how much you sweat, how fast you walk and temperature. As I understand it windshirts breath better, but I'm quite new to them and have always just used a Gore Pro Shell jacket for wind and rain protection and (almost) never had any problems. But I know people who can't stand wearing any membrane clothes and who only wear them if it's raining really hard, so for them this is not an option.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Something seriously wrong on 04/06/2013 14:01:55 MDT Print View

"I spent Saturday night having an argument with a friend of mine about schrader vs presta valves for a mountain bike. And I enjoyed it."

Presta is only required for skinny road-bike rims, where you don't want to weaken the rim with a 5/16 hole. Should always carry a presta-valve adaptor in your seat bag. Schrader valves FTW!

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/06/2013 17:09:57 MDT Print View

Jennifer: I carry a Rab Demand; it's bombproof. I don't carry my Houdini because to me it's redundant. I hike mostly in the Sierra and during the days I'm in a shirt. If I stop at a pass and it's windy, on goes the Rab which is much better at wind blocking than the Houdini. Come evening I put on layers and the Rab which is warmer than the Houdini. If it rains, you want the Rab. So that's my thinking. You save the $250.00 AND the extra oz.s that a new shell would gain simply by leaving the Houdini at home. And you have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a top notch rain shell.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/06/2013 20:57:48 MDT Print View

Good to know Jeffrey. I just feel like I have sooo many jackets on that list!!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 21:18:16 MDT Print View

Keep the RAB Demand, it's a great shell. Personally, if it's going to be chilly, I'd get a RAB Boreas and carry that instead of the Houdini. I used one in the Sierra last August and loved it - wore a fairly light baselayer shirt, put on the Boreas when it got windy/chilly/lightly drizzly and kept going (breathes great, blocks just enough wind to help in that department, but not as much a true wind shirt), and then threw on my rainshell when it got too cold or too rainy. That combo kept me quite comfortable the entire trip.

I'm not a fan of cold and wet hands when hiking, so other than the Boreas, the only other thing I'd add to your list is some light waterproof mitts. I've even got an extra set I could loan you for your trip so you don't have to spend money, just ship 'em back to me when you finish.

Might also look at light rain pants instead of light wind pants. My legs never get cold when I'm hiking unless it's a cold rain, so I never use wind pants, but I certainly use rain pants. FWIW.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) on 04/06/2013 22:17:45 MDT Print View

Do the Sierras have a monsoon season in the summer? Here in Colorado I only make a point of carrying my Rab Drillium eVent pants regardless of weather forecast during the ~ 6 weeks or so from late June to early August when heavy rains are a good possibility. And still I rarely have needed them. Most of the time I carry my Montane Featherlite pants and they are more than enough for a prolonged shower and they dry superfast. That being said, I always carry the Rab Demand jacket, year round. To me, wet legs are less crucial than a wet torso.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/06/2013 22:22:23 MDT Print View

I do have a pair of REI soft shell gloves that did unexpectedly well in Patagonia, and I may bring those instead of the wool ones. The weight is nearly identical, so it's just sort of which one I like better; maybe the water resistant ones would be better?

The wind pants are new for me. I've been using them on spring dog walks and they've been first hiking trip with them is this coming weekend, so we'll see. This is most definitely one piece I'm not sure about.

I am feeling much better about the demand, so thanks for that. It's such a great jacket I really do like it...

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) on 04/06/2013 22:45:14 MDT Print View

"Do the Sierras have a monsoon season in the summer?"

Not exactly. The winter is when the most precipitation falls. For most of California, the rains all stop by May, and then it stays completely dry until about October. The Sierra Nevada is a bit different, mostly due to the high elevations. The summer there is unpredictable. It used to be that the weather pattern was for a rain shower from 1 until 3 p.m. on most days. But then if you try to count on that, it will go completely dry for a week or two. If you try to count on it being dry, it will rain some for ten days straight.

So, if you go without any rain gear at all, you are begging for a deluge. If you take good rain gear and keep it handy, it will never get used.

Last August I was out for five days, and I got rained on for 2-4 hours each day. It was never of monsoon intensity.


Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Monsoon on 04/07/2013 00:05:47 MDT Print View

Bob - Thank you for your succinct explanation. I learned more in your reply than anywhere else on the forum today. Our weather patterns sound similar, but it sounds as though summer precipitation is less 'reliable' but when it happens it's longer lasting in the Sierras than in the Colorado high country. Our deluges are pretty intense, but tend to be over and done with in less than an hour most of the time. Prolonged heavy rain is unusual, but not out of the question. And yes, most of our precipitation should be in winter also, but the last two years Mother Nature seems to have forgotten that. Still, my softshell pants get more use than my hardshells most years.

Jennifer - Definitely feel good about the Rab Demand. I find it just long enough, with a terrific hood that provides great coverage and is really adjustable. In three season use I've never missed having pit zips, although for winter trips I'm considering a heavier-duty eVent jacket with a few more bells and whistles. Make sure it's clean before you leave for the trip to maximize the DWR. As for the Featherlite pants, maybe you'll get an opportunity to test them out in a spring Chicago storm. I've found they work well at altitude in warm and wet conditions, but they won't be as comfortable if the rain is falling in ambient temps in the 30s. If you're facing conditions like Bob mentioned, they will wet out, but they should dry quickly once you reach camp assuming decent airflow and shelter.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Monsoon on 04/07/2013 00:12:09 MDT Print View

"Our deluges are pretty intense"

I do recall one trip on the Keyhole Route of Long's Peak. I thought I was going to drown.


jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/07/2013 13:46:20 MDT Print View

Jennifer: It's true that you can't predict the weather, even in the Sierra, from months out. However, your late June starting date puts you in the best possible window for good weather--outside of afternoon thunder storms, which are not a problem if you stay off the passes during lightning strikes.

Bob's comment about bringing rain gear so that you won't have to use it is true. But the odds are that you'll have terrific weather for your trip. And it will be warm, even if it rains. I grew up hiking in the Pacific Northwest and the Sierra are a lot easier to pack for!

Maybe check the 10 day forecast just before your hike and make last minute adjustments based on that. I always bring layers and a rain shell, but never rain pants unless I see rain in the forecast. Of course, you'll be out for longer than 10 days, so it depends on what you're comfortable with.