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Beating a dead wind pant horse
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 08:57:18 MDT Print View

Ok...I know this has been battered around over and over and over and over and over again...but I am a tad uneasy about my choice.
I just don't have the mountain experience to make a good decision. So...please let er rip:

For 3 weeks in the Sierra in August, I am taking a pair of medium weight arcteryx tights, shorts, and montane featherlite pants. The montane pants are not terribly water resistant...they are a bit, but riding my bike with them this spring definitely wet out my legs.

With the tights (which here in spring Chicago rain, temps in the 40s-50s) I felt fine. The tights did well in terms of keeping me warm when the wind pants wetted through. I plan on mostly hiking in the shorts, using any combination of the shorts, tights and wind pants as needed. I plan on sleeping in the tights as well.

Any reason why I should not feel comfortable with this set up? Or does this sound like a decent plan?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 09:44:02 MDT Print View

IMHO, light running style shorts and wind pants are the practical pairing, vs shorts plus pants. I never thought of tights, but I work light long johns in for shoulder seasons and rainy weather, which is a practical equivalent of tights, so it sounds good to me.

Are you using rain pants too? I normally go with zip off pants, light long johns and rain pants. I might fake it with long gaiters if using a poncho, leaving a small gap exposed to rain.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 09:47:47 MDT Print View


When I use wind pants I am not wearing long pants, or carrying tights or long johns. They are just for wind in combination with shorts. They are not rain gear either. In cold rain, I need to keep by thighs warm, so a poncho usually works out, although I have been experimenting with a rain skirt.

Think in terms of a clothing system. How will you use each item individually and in various combinations, based on the weather expected.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 09:57:14 MDT Print View

I think a lot of your clothing system planning depends a lot on where you will be hiking. I am mostly in the southern Appalachia and have found few times when I feel wind pants are particularly useful. I usually hike in shorts. I have really been liking a non-breathable, light windskirt as well. It keeps my shorts dry. I'm not too worried about being wet below my knees. I like how easy it is to put on and off and how comfortable it is. In colder weather, I would consider rain pants. I just don't find a lot of need for the windpants. I could see that your needs might vary from mine if you spend a lot of time in more exposed areas.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 11:08:14 MDT Print View

I haven't hiked much in the Sierra but I (think I) know a few things about it: there may or may not be rain, but there will be dry and sunny weather at some point after any downpour, maybe the same day, maybe the next day. There just doesn't seem to be any multi-day sustained rain followed by high-humidity (like the South or Mid-west) where gear has no chance to dry out. Also, the temperatures will be such that you can hike in either pants or shorts. So . . . I like it.

Here's how I see it in use:
You start cold mornings in just the tights or tights under the shorts. You switch to just shorts as you warm up.

If you stop to swim, you have the shorts or maybe just underwear. You did remember black underwear, right?

If it gets windy, you slip on the windpants over the shorts, like you would with a wind shirt.

If you encounter rain that lasts more than an hour, you hike in the tights + windpants. After a while that combo might wet out, but the tights keep you warm enough as long as you are moving.

You get to camp and dry out the windpants if needed, wearing the tights (even if damp) until you crawl into your sleeping bag (or sleep in them if they are dry). Whatever you aren't wearing to sleep in is drying out over night.

Rinse & repeat: You start cold mornings in just the tights . . . .

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 12:26:53 MDT Print View

Yes Steven, that is exactly my thinking. My REI rain pants are great when it's really cold out, or I know I'm going to be in extended rain and it's cold out. They were great in Patagonia, for example. But they weigh close to 10 oz and I'm just not sure if I should swap out the 3oz ish wind pants for those (they aren't the greatest to hike in unless its just awful out), or if I need to actually splurge for some 6 oz rain pants or something.

I will have excellent upper body protection from rain (either the Rab Demand or my new pulse) as well as a nice wind shirt...but my unease comes with not knowing if the so-so water protection from the WIND pant will be enough combined with the tights if the weather gets kinda gnarly. Here in Midwestern summer months and most of the shoulder season - absolutely. At 11k feet in the Sierra? I have no idea.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 13:25:19 MDT Print View


For trips where I know I will be carrying my rain trousers rather than wearing then I take 6oz Marmot Essence ones (essentially summer time).

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Beating a dead wind pant horse on 06/06/2013 14:46:39 MDT Print View

Your gear list looks good for dry weather or hiking in wet weather. It doesn't cover hanging around in a cool, breezy, and/or rainy camp after hiking in the rain. On the odd chance that it rains through the day you will need to get out of the wet clothes and into bed, because wet tights and windpants aren't good for standing around.

August in the Sierra seldom has sustained cold rain (except sometimes). My family is going to be on the JMT for most of August and I'm trying to decide the same issue- maybe going with wind shirts/pants plus silnylon ponchos. We will probably sit out any serious rain.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
wind pant on 06/06/2013 16:01:33 MDT Print View

Switching in and out of tights during the day seems like a PITA to me.
I have been experimenting with a shorts and wind pant combo as it weighs the same as my convertible long pants. I also think that thé windpants could be used for sleep wear if they dont get wet during thé day and this would allow me top leave my merino leggings at home in warm weather.

I almost always carry either rain pants or a rain skirt as i get cold if my thighs and groin get wet. I have beeN experimenting with a rain skirt and have been pleased. Unless i am expecting hours of rain above the bushline then i will go with the skirt.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: wind pant on 06/06/2013 16:59:10 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 14:17:34 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
wind vs rain pants on 06/07/2013 08:52:19 MDT Print View

Not sure this is helping, I just feel a bit confused. There is another thread about how rain pants are kind of stupid and no one would wear them unless the temps were near freezing. Then here I'm getting the distinct impression that I would, myself, be a dolt for not taking rain pants on a 3 week Sierra sojourn.

This is why I have a love-hate with BPL.

I guess I'll go shopping for some lighter rain pants :)

So.....does that mean if I bring shorts instead of long pants, do I take BOTH the rain pants AND wind pants?? Argh!!!!

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
"Beating a dead wind pant horse" on 06/07/2013 09:13:50 MDT Print View

You are never going to get a clear consensus on these boards because people's preferences, needs and climates vary so much.

To answer your last question, it is going to be a matter of comfort. Wind pants will be far more comfortable hiking in than rain pants, but if the weather is windy and/or cold enough to need them; in my experience rain pants will suffice. So it is up to you if you feel the comfort is worth the weight of the wind pants.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
rain pants... never take them in Sierra summer on 06/07/2013 09:27:48 MDT Print View

I've hiked the High Sierra many trips over many years... in the summer you don't need rain pants.

My choice: Convertible pants... start hiking in the morning with long pants, zip off the bottoms when it warms up and you have shorts without having to take your boots off. Convertible pants are typically made of some synthetic material and woven tight so they may not be as effective as wind pants at blocking the wind, but they are pretty good.

You can add a rain skirt to that and you are set... both the pant bottoms and the rain skirt go on without having to remove your boots. I think zPacks sells a rain skirt that is just over 1 oz.


Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
You original plan on 06/07/2013 09:29:37 MDT Print View

Your original plan sounded good to me. I have gone with similar quite often and been happy with the combination. It covers a wide range of conditions.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Original Plan on 06/07/2013 10:00:23 MDT Print View

+1 for leaning toward your original plan.

This is basically the same set-up I carry on most of my trips in Southern CA and the Sierra in the summer. I prefer to hike in shorts, have a pair of tights for insulation in camp or cold morning starts, etc. and a pair of wind pants to offer a little wind/weather protection when needed.

I generally don't get concerned with my lower body getting wet from rain unless temps are forecast to get down close to freezing or it looks like I'd be out in extended, cold rain. Even then, as long as I keep moving, I've found I stay comfortable. YMMV (I find I easily overheat and sweat out even the most breathable rain gear).

The only factor about your trip that gives me pause is the duration. It's easy to feel pretty confident about the weather forecast in the summer in the Sierra for about a week out, but past that, it's hard to have any certainty in what the weather will do. For this reason, it might be prudent to consider adding in a light rain skirt.

This way you could retain your original kit (which I agree, wind pants are much more comfortable to hike in than rain pants) but have the added protection of a waterproof rain skirt for only a couple ounce penalty for the off chance of an extended rain.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: wind vs rain pants on 06/07/2013 10:12:26 MDT Print View

Free advice on a forum is worth every penny :)

Here's my take:

Wind gear is not an acceptable substitute for rain gear.

Rain pants will protect you from wind, but can be too hot and less breathable.

Wind pants are best when used with light running shorts; otherwise, I would use zip offs.

Wind pants are fragile. You sit in them and the lower legs are exposed to mud, rocks and sticks/snags. Windshirts are equally fragile, but normally just a bit more out of farms way.

Wind pants are also useful for sun and bug protection.

I hike in a wet cool climate and would only leave rain pants behind on a hot summer day hike and I would still have a poncho.

I normally use 2.5 layer rain gear. Alternatives like rain skirts and DriDucks are good for warmer climates where less use is the expectation. Chaps are good if you use a poncho.

Weight comparisons:

Wind pants: 3-6oz
Running shorts: 3-5oz

Zip-off pants: 12-16oz

Rain shell pants: 7-12oz

I don't have specs for wraps/shirts, chaps, or DriDucks

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: wind vs rain pants on 06/07/2013 12:09:35 MDT Print View

Here's the 2 scenarios I'd be considering for an August JMT trip:

(1) Wool underwear, nylon shorts, power-stretch (or your equivalent Arc'Teryx) tights, windshell pants, a cuben or silnylon rain skirt.

(2) Wool underwear, nylon hiking pants, light wool tights (like Ibex Indie), rain skirt.

I think either of the above, coupled with your ability to find or make shelter and get into a warm bag/quilt, will work well. Either one is a system that can be layered w/o redundancy.

Will either be perfect? Probably not.
Will you be cold at some point? Maybe.
Will you be wet at some point? Maybe.
Will you be too hot at some point? Maybe.

There will be some point in your 3-week trip where you wish you had something else than what you have at that moment. When that feeling passes, make notes and think of this as a challenging but survivable trip where you can test what works for you.

Like Dale, I live in the PNW, so I often have WPB rain shell pants in a pack but that's a different environment.

Good Luck! You're just dickering over the details now and we all do that!

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Weight comparisons on 06/07/2013 12:47:26 MDT Print View

For comparison's sake, here's my 3-season typical clothing system for my legs:

Patagonia running shorts: ~4.2 oz
Patagonia Cap 4 tights: ~5.4 oz
Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants: ~2.6 oz

Adding something like the Zpacks Rain skirt would add another ~1.9 oz.

I wonder what a pair of cuben WPB rain shorts would weigh? I'd be more inclined to consider shorts over pants or a skirt, personally. It would still keep my groin and upper legs dry.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Weight comparisons on 06/07/2013 13:58:04 MDT Print View

"I wonder what a pair of cuben WPB rain shorts would weigh? I'd be more inclined to consider shorts over pants or a skirt, personally. It would still keep my groin and upper legs dry."

I would go with the skirt over shorts for easy changes and ventilation. A poncho would cover more than the shorts and provide topside rain coverage as well as pack coverage --- 7oz or less.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Just my recent experience on 06/11/2013 12:40:21 MDT Print View

Just recently I've taken to wearing running tights or shorts with a mini-skirt for my legs, and carrying wind pants. So far, so good. Went on an overnight last week-end on the coast, weather was low sixties (F) and windy, overcast/sunny, evenings in the 40's. Was plenty comfortable on the move, great ventilation, dried really quickly once stopped hiking. Threw the wind pants on under the skirt in the evening and slipped the skirt off, quick change, boom, comfortable again. I carried rain pants and rain jacket, but didn't require them. I've worn a rain jacket and wind pants in 50-55 degrees constant misty downpour, legs were wet but dried pretty quickly, rain pants would have been a better choice if it had been raining harder. That was over nylon pants, not the tights.

I feel the tights are more comfortable, have better ventilation, and dry more quickly than the nylon pants. I still carry long johns for sleep wear, layering under the tights if it gets really cold, and wind pants and rain pants for on top. The rain pants just aren't breathable enough for me to want to spend all day in them in anything over 45 F.

Plus, I got them from look at the fabric choices! I've gotten so many compliments on my leopard tights--no more boring black for me! P.S.--the only problem is lack of pockets. Now I have to figure out what to do with my EDC items. I guess I just have to be careful and not get bonked on the head and wander away from my backpack.

Edited by dipink on 06/11/2013 12:41:44 MDT.