Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
So what is the deal with rain pants?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 16:59:36 MDT Print View

So where are rain pants usually warranted? I have a pair of full zip Golite's and a pair of eVent REI Kimtah's but rarely ever wear them and wear my trash bag rain skirt more often. Is it snow and should I keep the Golite ones then because I can fit them better over my size 15s? Just curious. Thanks.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:03:23 MDT Print View

I go out in the rain a lot and never wear rain pants. Just a long jacket that's sort of like a rain skirt, and nylon pants that get wet if it rains enough but they dry out quickly.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:07:13 MDT Print View

I wear rain pants if I am expecting a lot of rain at temps close to freezing. They are invaluable then.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:11:39 MDT Print View

I wear them at work when I am in and out of a truck/stores. Only if it is really coming down will I wear them while hiking. More for lounging in camp when things are wet.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:24:25 MDT Print View

"I go out in the rain a lot and never wear rain pants. Just a long jacket that's sort of like a rain skirt, and nylon pants that get wet if it rains enough but they dry out quickly."

No offense, but this is usually how I know If someone really spends time out in wet weather, versus a few minutes to an hour or so.
If you have been out in the rain all day and may have to do it again, you will soon learn to protect yourself, including rain pants- quality ones.
If you experience the occasional shower but get go home and change/ dry then you are much more likely to be casual about it.

If you ever encounter a down pour or extended periods of heavy rain, and going inside is not an option either because you are backpacking or because you work outside, you will soon get the difference between misery and well, a lot less misery.

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Wet and cold on 06/05/2013 17:26:54 MDT Print View

Wet and cold weather is the only time you need them.

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - F

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:41:51 MDT Print View

Rain pants (Marmot Precip full zip) are the only pants I carry on hikes (in addition to shorts).

So, (rain) pants come out every time when it's cold, windy, rainy or I am bushwacking. Or glissading in the mountains :) That means that usually I put them on every morning, getting out of the bag.

This spring I had these rain pants and merino longjones, it was more than sufficient down to temps in the 20-ies.

The beauty of full zips is that I can dump a lot of heat quickly by unzipping sides. Also, take them off/on w/o taking off shoes.


These Marmot Precips are something like 7 year old. Some holes patched, some delamination.

The new (current) version is a bit heavier, so I did not want to get it.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 17:51:33 MDT Print View

"I wear rain pants if I am expecting a lot of rain at temps close to freezing. They are invaluable then."

Same with me

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
VBL on 06/05/2013 18:43:31 MDT Print View

Not to risk the wrath of Kat P, but I hike very hot and my legs never seem to get cold ... so even in a wet Scottish winter I hike in shorts or 3/4 pants at most. If it is a windy wet cold, I might wrap my lower body with my groundsheet during breaks. I put rain pants on in camp and as a VBL sleeping layer and let my hiking clothes dry out overnight. I just make certain to select shorts that will dry with minimal encouragement.

Edited by cfrey.0 on 06/05/2013 18:54:59 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/05/2013 19:01:06 MDT Print View

I don't hike much in extended rain, but I do winter creek bushwhacking/canyon trips where I am constantly wading through water while the air temperature 30-50 degrees. I love my golite running tights. They don't absorb much water and because tights hug your body, they warm up very well when wet. If I did these trips in shorts my legs would stay painfully cold after exiting the water.

You don't always need waterproof pants. If you have pants that are windproof and water resistant, they will cut the wind and slow the penetration of water significantly allowing you to warm up the water without fresh rain water stealing the heat from you.
If rain pants are too warm then wind pants with a dwr and letting them get wet might work. And it's a lighter option.

I can't see myself wearing rain pants unless it's near freezing and very windy.
But I am very warm while hiking. I have had people on the trail wearing gloves and beanies express concern about my lack of clothing. When I stop moving I get really cold and it's hard for me to warm up.

matt n
Re: VBL on 06/05/2013 19:25:58 MDT Print View

"Not to risk the wrath of Kat P, but I hike very hot and my legs never seem to get cold ... so even in a wet Scottish winter I hike in shorts or 3/4 pants at most. If it is a windy wet cold, I might wrap my lower body with my groundsheet during breaks. I put rain pants on in camp and as a VBL sleeping layer and let my hiking clothes dry out overnight. I just make certain to select shorts that will dry with minimal encouragement."

You're wrong and I know you don't have enough experience to really know what you're saying. But hey, NO OFFENSE! Rawr! Haha.

On a serious note...I'm with Davey on this one.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
which to get rid of? on 06/05/2013 19:59:42 MDT Print View

Here is the deal, I can probably still return the Kimtah since it has been less than a year that I have bought them and really haven't used them. I can kinda get my size 15s into them but it is not easy. I should probably keep the full-zip Tumalos I have since I can't return them and they are easier to get off and on. The don't breath as well but they don't have to for my legs as I can unzip them some. They also don't seem as durable but how often will I use them?

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: where and when on 06/05/2013 20:30:41 MDT Print View

I was in Denali and it rained for 4 days non-stop, no exaggeration. We all had rain pants, it got into the high 30's-40's, our baselayers stayed mostly dry. One out if three of us got hypothermic the last night due to his 40F sleeping bag. I couldn't imagine not having rain pants, it would have been life threatening (even more so than it already was).

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Wet on 06/05/2013 20:36:22 MDT Print View

Sorry for the wrath, but my point is that extended hours with wet clothing, without being able to change is very different than being ok with getting wet for a while. I have worked with a number of people that refuse to wear proper rain gear saying that they are really ok.....but after hours of it, even at 55 degrees, they felt differently.
I am ok with getting wet clothes if there is time to dry them out.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
rain pants on 06/05/2013 20:38:15 MDT Print View

David's experience sounds logical, but mine has been the same as the OP's, no matter how cold and how long the rain lasts. The rainpants just don't get used.

When I was younger, it was a long WPB jacket, patagonia baggies and short WPB gaitors to keep water form running down into the footwear. This worked fine for extended cold treks in the rain as often occurs in the NE US. If I got cold, some fleece under the rain jacket and cap worked better than pants, and I was more comfortable because heat and water vapor could quickly dissipate.

Now I generate much less heat, so find it helplful to wear a light softshell pant in extended cold rain while hiking, and in many other situations as well. Now it is the baggies that stay in the pack. The DWR on the softshell erodes a bit after a while, but can't believe how fast the softshell dries out from the body heat while hiking, and never gets sopping wet. And it is extremely comfortable.

Haven't ever found a use for rain pants, so out they went. But I understand the Pacific NW gives a new definition to wet, so maybe they are useful there.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: rain pants on 06/05/2013 20:41:29 MDT Print View

Then my question is:
Do you all bring a change of clothes? Do you carry the wet set in the pack the next day? The third day? Two extra pants?

Edited. My first post on this was not usually how I like to come off, but it's both too late to change it and it does reflect my experience. I certainly could have made my point without offending anyone.

Edited by Kat_P on 06/05/2013 21:00:39 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: rain pants on 06/05/2013 21:25:37 MDT Print View

Yes, I change out of my hiking pants into some long underwear and then change back into my wet pants in the morning. I do the same thing with my socks. I usually wear shorts in the rain (if it's not too cold) so I don't have to deal with wet pants.

I don't think wet is always a problem. You just need to add more synthetic or wool clothing to stay warm while wet. If you are warm with a rain jacket and a base layer, you might need to add a fleece or wool sweater if you are wearing a windshirt. If you are wearing non-waterproof pants you might need to add some long underwear.
Rain gear is lighter and more practical than being warm while wet.

John Hillyer
(TrNameLucky) - MLife
Re: Re: rain pants on 06/05/2013 22:00:04 MDT Print View

I wear running short tights. I wear them in the rain all day and then to sleep at night. I carry Under Armour coldgear compression long pants that I put on over the shorts once I'm out of the rain if it is cold.

Edited by TrNameLucky on 06/05/2013 22:04:21 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Rain Pants vs. Long Underwear on 06/05/2013 22:18:41 MDT Print View

I almost never carry or us long underwear even when other people think they are mandatory. But I carry rain pants.

I feel like my legs stay plenty warm when I'm hiking. I only have issues if they are wet or there is a cold wind blowing. I'm sure long johns would work but I like the rain pants because they keep my legs dray and they are more then enough insulation to keep my legs warm.

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Re: Rain Pants vs. Long Underwear on 06/05/2013 22:43:21 MDT Print View

I only bring the zip-offs I'm wearing, and my Dri-Ducks rain pants are my back ups to wear when I do laundry, etc. I have yet to wear them in the rain, but they are the lightest pair of pants that I have, so they make perfect back ups. And someday I may actually wear them in the rain.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/06/2013 00:28:55 MDT Print View

I suspect there is a real difference in people's definition of REALLY wet weather.

I consider rain pants mandatory gear for me as it might rain non-stop for the entire trip. In non-stop (heavy) rain you don't get a chance to dry anything out, so staying dry is important especially if you are like me and don't carry extra cloths (that said, I consider my rain pants my extra clothes).

I really don't like hiding away in my tiny shelter when it's raining, I just sit out in the rain and am fine as long as I have my rain gear and can keep warm (and sitting on wet logs really sucks without rain pants!). If I'm hiking all day in wet brush I will also put on the rain pants but only if it's too cold and wet outside to expect my pants to dry out.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/06/2013 02:20:46 MDT Print View

I hike in shorts and I always carry wind pants that are highly water resistant. They work well in the rain and keep me warm and dry in even cold, sustained down pours. They double as a pair of long pants and I can wear them at night or to sleep as well because I don't bring long underwear bottoms. To me the rain/wind pants are more versatile.

My recent experience is the CT, JMT and PCT sections. If I routinely hiked in much colder climates i would probably also carry long underwear bottoms. But in any event, unless I'm in very dry climates in very dry months, I carry my wind pants to supplement the shorts I hike in.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Wind on 06/06/2013 03:38:05 MDT Print View

I always carry, and moderately often use, overtrousers in the UK. It isn't the rain so much as when you get the combination of persistent rain and high winds. That needs protecting against and overtrousers are essentially the only way to do it. They're very light nowadays.

I do normally let my trousers get wet first mind. They dry underneath the overtrousers.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
I usually carry rain pants and sometimes they are vital on 06/06/2013 06:46:23 MDT Print View

I can think of many days where it was raining and windy and cold where rain pants were essential. There have been days where it was so cold and wet that I had to keep walking to stay warm if I didn't want to just camp for the day. Those are the kind of days where, for me anyway, rain pants are one of the most important items of gear I carry. Like most of you, I pack light, and I also often wear them on dry days hiking in a cold wind, or for warmth sitting around camp, or even to wear while doing laundry on days off trail in town.

Mid-summer at low elevations I might not carry them. Most other situations I carry rain gear top and bottoms as standard items. Here's a photo of a day in Glacier where I really needed rain pants. Rain, sleet and snow all day long (and all night.) Not a good situation to get behind the curve on body heat.Rain gear on a cold, wet day in Glacier National Park

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
DWR on 06/06/2013 06:46:27 MDT Print View

Interested to know what DWR treatments people are applying to their wind gear to get good water resistance as described by a few.

In my experience the factory applied DWR on wind jackets from montbell, arcteryx, westcomb, MH, salomon and some others have not been sufficient to keep me dry for more than a couple of minutes in a good rain and the following contact with wet brush and branches.

I've also used wash in and spray on DWR from Nikwax to rejuvenate the coating.

Usually I don't mind getting wet, but would love to get some additional water resistance from my clothing.

I haven't used a Houdini that everyone here seems to own, so maybe that's the secret. But in a test I just saw, the Squamish faired better in water resistance than the Houdini, and I was just out for a run in the rain in that jacket and was soaked pretty quickly.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Rain skirt on 06/06/2013 07:10:06 MDT Print View

Don't neglect the humble rain skirt as a compromise if you don't need the full protection. Mine weighs 1.4 oz and packs to the size of a small pair of socks. I made it out of a scrap of silnylon and some stretchy cord in about 15 minutes. If you are thrashing through brush your lower legs will get soaked regardless.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Rain skirt on 06/06/2013 07:19:59 MDT Print View

And rain shorts. Bought some last year, but admittedly haven't tried them yet.

Perhaps they're better in theory than in practice for me, since like I mentioned earlier, I tend to put on rain pants when the temps are pretty low - and at those temps I don't think rain shorts would be what I'm looking for. I haven't been tempted to put on the WPB shorts in warmer rainy conditions yet - opting instead to just keep my running shorts on and get wet. But I also haven't encountered any prolonged warm rainy days (since acquiring the wpb shorts) where I might want to keep my upper legs dry.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/06/2013 08:11:17 MDT Print View

What is the deal with rain pants?

You wear them on your lower body to stay warm and dry. It seams there is a lot of resistance to packing them. I would love to leave the weight behind, but miles of walking in cold rain with wet pants stuck to my legs isn't on my fun list.

It is much the same vein as trying to use a windshirt as a rain shell, or going without basic shelter. There are some items that can keep you comfortable, if not alive. Do definitely work at finding the lightest version with the highest performance, but don't leave them out all together. UL doesn't have to be a misery tour!

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
rain akirt on 06/06/2013 08:44:25 MDT Print View

Yeah, I think I am just going to use my trash bag rain skirt mainly and pack that because they are more versatile and just keep the Golite ones as an aside.

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Re: DWR on 06/06/2013 10:07:07 MDT Print View

For DWR, I wash the gear regularly to stop my sweat dissolving the DWR, and reproof periodically with NikWax TX Wash In. Note that any DWR you apply bonds to the original factory treatment, so if the original is gone (scraped off by branches or whatever) it's over.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: DWR on 06/06/2013 12:43:24 MDT Print View

In the desert I don't get much chance to test extended rainy weather techniques...except when I canyoneer.

My very first backpacking trip I spent 95% of my time in 40F water that was consistently between ankle and waist deep. Shoes froze solid over night. I would simply change into long johns to sleep and was perfectly fine pulling on icy cold clothes in the morning (okay, maybe not "fine" but it got me moving on the trail proper quick). I just need neoprene socks to keep feet warm and was fine in light nylon supplex pants.

As long as my torso and pelvic region stays relatively dry and warm, soaked legs don't seem to cause me much problem when I'm on the move. When I stop, any plastic/waterproof sheeting does a decent job of preventing evaporative heat loss, or changing into dry sleep clothes.

The only time I've ever been dangerously cold is when I was caught in the dreaded 30-40F wet weather without any waterproof gear. Then the issue was my soaked torso...but non stop hiking kept me alive and warm enough to finish my hike (last day). I was exposed to every form of precipitation from snow to fog for 12 hours straight at elevation. It was miserable but if I had shelter or a rain jacket (again I was inexperienced at the time) I would have waited out the storm or been safely warm. I did promptly by a waterproof jacket when I got home. Everything since has taught me a jacket is critical, but haven't found a need for pants yet.

I'm sure Kat's comments apply to her style of hiking but they are not universal statements. If your style of hiking involves non-stop movement with a bare minimum of short breaks, then wet legs are not a major concern as long as you pay attention to proper thermoregulation (don't get lazy and not wrap up in plastic if you stop more than 30 seconds).

Rain pants do however provide an extra layer of security for minimal weight if you use them as a replacement for wind pants. But I still think supplex pants are good enough in rain weather because they don't stick to your leg as much as a thinner and lighter pant, This keeps the water off you and traps warm air (and they often dry to "damp" over night. I'd much rather have the extra weight of dry long johns to sleep in then the same weight of rain pants.

It just depends on your style of hike. If you move a lot and generate heat all day and have the gear to keep you warm and dry in camp, then rain pants aren't necessary. If you are more stop and go and use the same clothes you hike in for camp as well as the trail because of a slower pace needing more warmth, then rain pants are a better (maybe necessary) option.

EDIT: I should probably put in the caveat that I'm talking about just lightweight backpacking in typical 2-3 season weather. For colder temps with lots of snow or mountaineering the issue becomes a bit murkier. I'm still a strong believer though that bailing on a trip or hunkering down is still safer than "trusting" some gear to see you through conditions that would normally give you pause.

Edited by upalachango on 06/06/2013 12:48:49 MDT.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: DWR on 06/06/2013 12:52:55 MDT Print View

"My very first backpacking trip I spent 95% of my time in 40F water that was consistently between ankle and waist deep."

Do you mean air temperature? Or was the water really that cold? That's brutal. I don't think I could tolerate that for an extended period. But my experience with water at those temps has not been while wearing neoprene socks. It was actually painfully cold. Maybe you get used to it after a little while though.

And rain pants aren't going to help much with that type of hiking anyway.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: DWR on 06/06/2013 13:25:37 MDT Print View

"Interested to know what DWR treatments people are applying to their wind gear to get good water resistance as described by a few"

Yeah, the factory stuff and Nikwax. DWR does well with drizzle and light sporadic rain, leaving you enough protection that you aren't in and out of rain gear all the time.

My last downpour experience in light softshell pants with the DWR intact was poor. I had worn them in light rain with good results, but this time it really started to pour as I was getting back to the trailhead, and I didn't want to stop and change as I was just 15 minutes from the car. The water slid off my rain jacket and when the DWR failed, the pants were soaked through in a couple minutes. No crisis, but cold, wet, and the fabric was stuck to my legs. Not the way I would want to do real miles on a trail and then camping.

A simple 7-10oz pair of rain pants would have taken care of the whole issue. Everyone winces at the weight and the temptation to go without is strong, but it just doesn't pay for me and goes in the "stupid light" column.

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/06/2013 18:35:09 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Thanks Buck! on 06/06/2013 17:46:44 MDT Print View

Thanks for that photo of you in a rain suit in cold rain and sleet. That photo is proof positive that rain pants can be lifesavers. As a ski patroller I have seen enough foul weather hypothermia to know how dangerous it is.

To the OP, definitely keep the REI Kimtah eVent pants. eVent breathes so well that they can be used,like the kimtah parka, as wind protection.
**Just be sure to use Gore's REVIVEX spray for DWR renewal. It is the best DWR I've found. Great on sleeping bags too.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Wet pants on 06/06/2013 19:50:40 MDT Print View

I normally will hike in shorts in the rain combined with a cuben rain jacket. Where rain pants are nice is near freezing temperatures. In those conditions in moderate to heavy rain I will wear rain pants along with cap 1 bottoms. Not as comfortable as shorts but it beats total wet pants. On the last day of the Bob Open trip I had waist deep stream crossings combined with wet overgrown trail combined with rain. My pants were soaked, shorts soaked no I was starting to chafe bad. In this scenario there was no way of staying dry, short of stripping down for stream crossings. But if it were just rain and wet overgrown trail I would have worn the rain pants.

But I did wear the rain pants and jacket as a VBL while spending the night in a tree well. This double use potential is the main reason I carry the pants vs. other options. If it were summering the east I may not even take them.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
rain pants on 06/06/2013 21:07:46 MDT Print View

I guess the posts form Dale W and Buck confirm that weather in NW US and Canada merits rain pants, even though I haven't needed them in Colorado and New England when backpacking.

In mid-May, I was on the Cohos Trail in northern NH for a week, with three days of extended rain. But here the extended rain fluctuates back and forth between light drizzle and heavy deluges, and there is usually some cover below tree line. The Marmot Rockstar soft shell pants I used never got anywhere near wetted out, let along sopped, and dried out completely in the tent each night. Usually, they were dry enough by bedtime, that I just wore them in the bag. Had the same experience with them last year. Hope the DWR holds up.

In response to Kat P's question about bringing a change of clothes, absolutely. In addition to the Patagonia baggies - extra briefs, a fleece top and cap, Cocoon PG Delta puffy top and bottom, 2 pair extra heavy coolmax sox and thinsulate booties stay dry in the clothes bag. These have saved my bacon often enough when the temperature plummeted at night after extended rain that I'm willing to carry that much weight. There have been some nights when it took all of it to sleep comfortably and warm in the sleeping bag. Not sure that this combination would work more than a week of extended rain without a break, but that would be pretty unusual for the NE or CO.

The ReviveX line is made by McNett, the same company that makes Seam-Grip sealer.

What I'm getting from this thread is that what you can leave behind to save weight depends on the region you are going to and the season. The recent increases in fluctuations in climate do make it more difficult to plan, however.

Edited by scfhome on 06/06/2013 21:09:41 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
skirt on 06/06/2013 21:34:21 MDT Print View

Yeah but I really don't see how rain pants are a whole lot better than a trash bag rain skirt which is more breathable.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Haha on 06/06/2013 21:51:24 MDT Print View

Try bushwhacking in Alaska in a trash bag, hahahaha

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
hmmm on 06/06/2013 21:56:13 MDT Print View

I don't and never will, really not a sustainable place to be/thing to do. You go around bushes and thickets, not through them. And rain pants would not last much longer or at least the DWR won't.

And this is not to be rude towards the poster but why do people take an example of what 97% of the community will probably never experience to justify a gear piece?

But at the same time I know I really never want to hike above the tree line and there is not much elevation around where I live. But I do get that they are good to have around freezing temps where it might be windy and/or rainy. I would not take them as wind protection because they are about 12oz for the REI eVent ones and that is a bit heavy for wind and they don't easily fit over my size 15EEs. I will probably use a pant/shorts with the trash bag and then rain pants if it gets below 60F at which point I will the keep the Golite ones as they are more versatile and can vent while the REI eVents ones are going back unused.

Edited by bpeugh on 06/07/2013 08:05:11 MDT.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
rain pants on 06/07/2013 21:06:32 MDT Print View

"...what 97% of the community will probably never experience ..."

Brett, trekking on the higher, and therefore more exposed areas in the Rockies, the Pacific and Appalachian crests, is pretty popular, and that's just in the continental USA. These are areas where inadequate protection from weather can be fatal.

Trash bag skirts and such are fine for places we are familiar with and know will not be overly threatening. But cannot agree that is apropos to 97%.

I guess what concerns me is the continual discussion on this site of weight-saving measures with gear that are likely to lull folks into dangerous situations. I don't just enjoy packing light, I have to pack light due to my age and physical condition.
That is the only way I can still enjoy backpacking, a lifelong passion. But I'm going to make darn sure I have the gear that will protect me "when things go wrong," to borrow form the title of Roger Caffin's super article on this site. With some careful foresight, there is no reason why we cannot be both 'gear smart' and 'gear light' at the same time.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
apple meet oranges on 06/07/2013 21:19:10 MDT Print View

No, that was to point out about bushwacking in Alaska. I know alot of people like going on those trails but the few I have known really never went with any rain pants and were fine. Not saying they shouldn't have. Instead I go on things like the Oregon Coastal trail or just free ranging and bumming. Never felt the need to summit a mountain or be 10k up.

but then again it is that whole thing or trying to be prepared for every situation and taking everything or being light and taking the minimum. Me, I just try not to put myself into situations.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
rain pants on 06/07/2013 22:15:37 MDT Print View

Well, when hiking through unfamiliar mountains, which I'll wager happens with a lot more than 3% of us, it's not always sure if what awaits is apples or oranges.

Sounds like we both spend a lot of time in familiar territory, so we both know enough about what to expect to be able to do without rain pants. But going into unfamiliar territory is exciting, and popular with many. The long stretches well above timberline on the Continental Divide in CO, for example, might well merit rainpants if they were in other regions where the rain gets long and merciless.
Not to mention the current changes in climate that are full of surprises.

And it sounds from this thread that even where rain pants are not critical, they can often make a trek much for comfortable. So while I don't use them, I might in different places, and so don't rule them out altogether.

steven franchuk
Re: DWR on 06/07/2013 22:58:06 MDT Print View

"Interested to know what DWR treatments people are applying to their wind gear to get good water resistance as described by a few."

First you need to understand hydrostatic had and what DWR does. DWR is nothing more than a microscopic coating of fiber that prevents water from sticking to the fiber. The DWR material does not bridge the gaps between the fibers.

Hydrostatic head is a measure of how much water pressure is needed to push water through the fabric. A hydrostatic head of 0mm means zero pressure. Most rain jackets have a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm or more. Wind shirt typically have a hydrostatic head of zero.

If you have a piece of dense nylon non dwr fabric it will block the wind well but have a hydrostatic head of zero. If you then apply DWR to it, its hydrostatic head is now,, zero. All The DWR coating did was to make it easy for the water to roll off the surface. The DWR doesn't fill in the gaps between the fibers so there is nothing to prevent pressure from forcing water through the empty space between fibers.

Now consider the raindrop. If it is very small (mist) it will land onto the fabric with almost zero force. It will just sit on the surface of the fabric and then eventually role off. However larger rain drops will hit the fabric at speed and that speed will apply pressure that can drive the water through the fabric of a wind shirt. However in waterproof fabric with high hydrostatic head the rain simply bounces off. Large rain drops traveling very fast simply cannot generate enough pressure to force water through a waterproof fabric.

siimply put a wind shirt (with a hydrostatic head of zero) in a good rain will never prevent water from getting through.

"For DWR, I wash the gear regularly to stop my sweat dissolving the DWR"

Sweat (a mixture of oil, water, and salt) doesn't desolve the DWR. Its just a contaminant. Rain will stick to oil and salt and dirt while water doesn't stick to the DWR. So if your rain jacket is dirty water will stick the dirt preventing the DWR from doing its job. Frequent cleaning minimizes contaminants and dirt allowing the DWR to work.

dirt also abrades the fibers to the jacket, removing the DWR and damaging the fibers making the fibers sticky. Even if all the DWR wears off you can still reapply it. However you cannot undo the damage to the fibers. And eventually that damage will prevent any reapplied DWR from working.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Wet on 06/08/2013 13:48:56 MDT Print View

> but after hours of it, even at 55 degrees, they felt differently.


I can say with personal experience, hiking all day in rain with temperatures around 50 to 55 degrees, I was completely fine with a long sleeve merino top, a windshirt, lightweight synthetic underwear and supplex nylon shorts.

To each their own, but that works for me in relatively cold temperatures. In colder temperatures, I've found that if you can find a way to keep your thighs and your upper body dry, having wet lower legs doesn't present a danger (i.e. a rain skirt works well).

This includes open/exposed areas to alpine winds/rain.

Edited by lindahlb on 06/08/2013 13:59:39 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
So what is the deal with rain pants? on 06/08/2013 15:31:19 MDT Print View

Hiking hard to stay warm works !

right up until the twist of an ankle, get sick, bonk, or otherwise can't produce enough heat to stay warm.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Rain Paints are the only pants for me on 06/09/2013 20:02:47 MDT Print View

For 3 season trips, besides my base lawyer merinos, rain pants are the only pants I bring. I usually wear shorts while hiking and my rain pants are my camp\ night pants, worn with merino underneath.

If it is too cold for shorts while hiking, which is rare, I wear the rain pants.

My pants are Arcteryx Beta SL. Not the lighest but breathable, multifunctional and durable.