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Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/07/2013 18:14:56 MDT Print View

"Maybe check the 10 day forecast just before your hike and make last minute adjustments based on that."

That is kind of funny for Sierra Nevada backpackers. The weather forecasts always include some variation on this phrase: Isolated afternoon thunderstorms.

That means, if it gets right over you, you get wet. In many cases, however, you can watch the rain storm go by ten miles away.


jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/07/2013 20:03:57 MDT Print View

Yeah but I interpret "isolated afternoon thunderstorms" to mean one to four hours of rain. You can wait these out high and dry under a big tree or just hike on through at lower elevations. It's the fronts coming in from the west, or that damned monsoonal moisture coming up from Mexico on the east side, that cause sustained rain problems. A good weather site will show these.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 11:15:32 MDT Print View

Jenifer- I am a california Kid also.

I usually carry frog tog rain pants no matter the season in the sierras. If you are as you say a "noob". I would suggest you carry them. Now I dont always use my rain gear even if i have it but carrying it is a no brainer for me.

Wind pants? I dont see a function for these while moving. but I could see you wanting to slip these on when night starts to fall and it gets a little colder(frog toggs could do the same). But during the day it will be either to hot to wear these or raining and these arent water proof.

1. If your jacket works and is 10oz stick with it.

2. No, not to me. Most wind pants will not stand up to anything more than a sprinkle. Driving rain will seep right through.

3. I dont see the point of bringing both a rain jacket and a wind shirt. but a LOT of people would disagree with me. Usually saying the wind shirt is to light to leave at home. I use my UL paty down sweater where most use there wind shirt.

4. Rain shell, down jacket these two I never leave home with out. with my Arctyrex alpha Sv, UL Patty down sweater and frog togg rain pants I feel safe. I could sleep leaned up against a tree if I had to and be fine. BTW that has happened to me with out that stuff and let me tell you sleeping leaned against a tree in a storm with out the above gear is not fun.

You dont have a lot of clothes. You pack very similar to me minus the wind stuff.

note: I noticed you dont have any tshirts, collared shirts, or neck buffs. It can get really hot in the summer. I would get rid of one of the long sleeve layers and add a t shirt and/or a collared shirt. The neck buffs are nice cause you can get them wet and wrap them around your head, wear as a beanie, protect your neck from the sun ect.

Edited by needsAbath on 04/08/2013 11:18:28 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT)" on 04/08/2013 12:04:51 MDT Print View

You should have rain gear of some kind. To do otherwise is risky and at the least, miserable. "Walking through it" seems noble and adventurous, but not so much in reality and dieing from hypothermia would really suck!

I don't think much of using my poncho for a ground sheet, as it will get trashed by rocks, dirt, sticks and roots. To me, the whole idea of a groundsheet is to have a cheap replaceable sacraficial surface to take the abuse instead if my sleeping gear. My groundsheet gets UGLY! I use Tyvek or polycryo.

That said, a Golite poncho is just 7oz and costs far less than anything made in Cuben. It has the right features to be used with a backpack and give good coverage. A poncho makes a great CYA shelter and rain gear option for day hikes too.

I like the Frogg Toggs pants idea. Other than that, one of the light 2.5 layer rain pants will work--- at greater weight and cost, but with better fit and durability.

I think the only way wind pants pay off is when they are combined with super light running style shorts. Otherwise, you might as well wear zip-off convertibles. If the weather is getting cold and windty enough for wind pants, then rain pants will do. Wind pants are fragile and are exposed to more abuse than windshirts. FYI, you can find unlined runner and warm-up style pants by Nike, Brooks and others in the 6-7oz range. They are a couple ounces heavier than ones by Patagonia, Montane, or Mont Bell, but are much more durable. You can buy them on the charp in most discounters like Ross and Marshall's and they are commonly found in thrift stores, so you won't mind so much when you shred them.

IMHO, windshirts are never a substitute for a poncho or rain shell, but I use one a lot and it is a core part of my layering system. They make a great combo with a poncho too. I have no problem packing both windshirt and rain gear. Packing both a windshirt and abutton down collared shirt doesn't add up for me. Conversely I don't think a rain shell is a good substitute for a windshirt, with breathability being the issue.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 13:53:34 MDT Print View

I am bringing the two long sleeves because I burn WAY too easily to carry a short sleeve. So not sure what other shirt I should consider...

So the vibe I'm getting is that the montane featherlite pants will NOT be adequate for the JMT but that I should bring some 2.5 layer rain pants instead.

I was thinking the shorts, arcteryx tights and the wind pants would be sufficient for pretty much anything on the JMT, then I use the dedicated rain shell and the windshirt as necessary. Montbell puffy for insulation....


Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 14:57:20 MDT Print View

"I was thinking the shorts, arcteryx tights and the wind pants would be sufficient for pretty much anything on the JMT, then I use the dedicated rain shell and the windshirt as necessary. Montbell puffy for insulation...."

That's what I would pretty much take. You might get afternoon showers, or not, there's no guarantee of rain like there would be in CO or NM. If it does rain, it stays pretty warm and the rain doesn't last forever. You could hike thru in what you got or pitch a shelter and take a nap. I'm thinking about a high sierra trip in early Sept and I'll probably take a windshirt and driducks poncho. I really don't see the need for taking rain pants on the JMT during later summer.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 15:08:21 MDT Print View

Here's the clothes I bring for Sierra hiking...

All clothing carried (warm and rain) weighs 1 lb 7 oz and lives in a supermarket plastic bag, except for the down jacket, which gets stuffed around the bear can. There is no dedicated sleep gear. At night I always strip and clean my entire body then put my clothes back on. My clothes don't get too dirty since I usually jump in a lake with them on once a day.

Clothing worn consists of: cotton dish towel to protect ears and neck, visor, white long sleeve synthetic shirt, synthetic stretch work-out pants, synthetic boxer briefs, synthetic under the ankle socks, Dirty Girl gaiters and running shoes. Also shown are Iniji toe socks, which I bring as backup socks in case I start to develop toe-to-toe blisters; for this trip, they stayed in my pack. If I get hot while hiking, I simply roll up the pants.

Warm clothing carried consists of: fleece hat, Montbell UL Down Sweater and wool sleep socks. I used to bring fleece mittens but now simply pull my hands into my jacket.

Rain gear carried consists of a 3M Porepro jacket and Tyvek pants.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 21:25:06 MDT Print View

Jeniffer, how much body heat do you produce while hiking? Are you a warm or cold hiker? If you are a very warm hiker, then you probably don't need rain pants. Tights will still keep you pretty warm while wet, as long as you are hiking and producing heat. I use my running tights for hiking up creeks in the winter. The wind pants will keep the wind off and slow down the rain, so I think you would be plenty warm with anything you could encounter in the summer Sierras. But this is coming from somebody who has very little experience in the Sierras.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Raingear on 04/08/2013 21:55:42 MDT Print View

Jennifer I have never done the Sierras but after a couple days of rain on the CT I changed my approach a bit. Hiking in cold rain gets old fast especially if you get wet and the sun doesn't come out quickly to dry you out. Here are my thoughts on your questions.

1. No its not worth $250 to save 2 oz on a rain jacket.

2. I like rain pants for mountain trips. Imagine this - its 50 degrees, raining and windy, would you like rain pants? I definitely would. I feel like I hike better when my leg muscles aren't cold. In my opinion wind pants are unnecessary if you have rain pants.

3. I like my windshirt. I can wear it when its cool but too warm for a raincoat. You could live without it but its pretty nice.

4. I've only hiked in my insulation layer a couple times. The windshirt is much less warm and much more breathable then a puffy.

If you want to compromise on rain pants you could try a rain skirt. Personally I'd just take one wool shirt. My garage sale wool shirt didn't smell that bad after 3 weeks on the trial (I was much worse).

Hope you have fun.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: Re: Re: Thoughts on Rain Gear (JMT) - redux for a mountain noob on 04/08/2013 22:12:34 MDT Print View

Yeah the collared shirt would be long sleeve and made of some sort of breathable UPF fabric which should shield you from the sun better than a normal long sleeve shirt. At least that is was I was thinking. "I" use my normal long sleeve shirts as insulating layers and would get way to hot hiking in that in july.

If you think that the wind pants and the layers you mentioned are sufficient, then they are. You will live no matter what the weather on the JMT that time of year. I was suggesting the rain pants because I would bring them. I've hiked in the rain with no shirt in the summer and been fine in the sierras. but I've also been there and it started snowing/raining in the middle of summer.

Also the frog toggs are 10 oz for the suit so the pants are probably 4-5 oz and they are cheap. The 2.5 layer pants are likely heavier and more expensive.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: JMT rain gear thoughts on 04/08/2013 22:13:00 MDT Print View

Just to add another possibility, which has worked for me for 40 some years, but is not real popular given the dominance of "breathable" water proof fabrics.

Back in the day, I started with a nylon poncho and chaps. Today I use an MLD set of cuben poncho and chaps - much lighter! I've used them (poncho and chaps in whatever fabric) in the Cascades, the Rockies and the Sierras, and they've never let me down. Yes, the poncho can blow around, but a waist belt of cord or light bungie readily solves that problem. The poncho can act as an emergency shelter, or a tent/tarp extension. Or even a ground cloth. It also acts as a pack cover, preventing any rain from getting into or onto the pack. It does not build up wet sweat in my clothes, since there is so much air circulating under the poncho. If wearing shorts, I don't bother with the chaps.

They are not "ideal" above tree line, due to blowing, but with a waist cord, I haven't really had any problem.

The MLD cuben set is incredibly light weight.


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: re: JMT rain gear thoughts on 04/09/2013 21:29:06 MDT Print View

Thanks much to think about!

I do have rain pants, I really like my rain pants, but they are something like 9 oz and I was hoping the wind pants would do enough to keep me comfy while hiking. I am a hot hiker (especially if there is climbing involved) and generally have a difficult time hiking in my heftier rain pants even when it's chilly.

I used the rain pants in a nasty hours-long steady rain in Patagonia...but I didn't put them on until my pants were already soaked through. I found that all I needed to do was block the wind and I was a seriously happy camper; my pants were wet inside the rain pants but I was just fine. I've got time so ill keep trying the wind pants in some chilly spring Chicago rains and see how well that works with the tights. I can always pick up a lighter pair of rain pants if I have to. Since I intend to relocate in the rainy PNW after my pct next year, I guess they'll get a fair amount of use.

Thanks again everyone...I'm getting the impression that all in all it doesn't really matter. Right?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: re: JMT rain gear thoughts on 04/09/2013 21:41:21 MDT Print View

I use a good compromise for rain pants. The fabric is about half waterproof and half breathable, and I sewed them from a Thru-Hiker Liberty Ridge pattern--2.45 ounces


Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: re: JMT rain gear thoughts on 04/10/2013 17:13:59 MDT Print View


I would definitely recommend reliable rain gear, top and bottom, for the JMT. I did it in August last year and we had rain, hail and snow most of the time, especially in the afternoon and of course on the passes. You may find that you definitely need to plan to go "up-n-over" long before noon.

For the JMT last year and the CT in 2011, I have used the Montbell stretch wind pants. They are super water resistant, even waterproof actually, I have never had them soak through even in prolonged downpours. They are also very breathable. For the CT, I took both capilene bottoms and my montbell's, but since I never wore them both at the same time, for the JMT I carried only the Montbell's and they worked out fine. On cold nights, I slept with them on and had no condensation. Best part, women's small weighs just over 3 oz.

have fun!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: re: JMT rain gear thoughts on 04/10/2013 18:13:51 MDT Print View

Jennifer wrote, "I do have rain pants, I really like my rain pants, but they are something like 9 oz and I was hoping the wind pants would do enough to keep me comfy while hiking. I am a hot hiker (especially if there is climbing involved) and generally have a difficult time hiking in my heftier rain pants even when it's chilly."

Try wearing rain pants with silkweight long johns. The smooth fabric allows the rain pants to move easily and the long johns breathe and keep the cold rain shell farbic off your skin. Rain pants with full side zippers can be opened to vent like pit zips if it isn't pouring. Some pants have pockets and ankle zips that can be used for ventilation too. If I know I'm going to be out in the rain all day, I don't even start with regular hiking pants, and wear the shells and long johns from the trailhead parking lot.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Re: Re: What about bottoms?? on 05/12/2013 17:00:54 MDT Print View

I like wind pants only for summer sierras - or convertibles for a minor weight penalty. Typically I hike in shirts and use wind pants (old, simple GoLite Trunk model) for bugs, briars, and rain. Over my sleep/base layers (typically a cap 2 or 3, down in winter) they give me plenty of warmth and protection. I would look at the Montbell pants (dynamo or something?).