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Do non-breathable rain chaps work?
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Joel Benford
(Morte66) - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Do non-breathable rain chaps work? on 06/20/2013 10:26:41 MDT Print View

I've never used rain chaps, but I'm intrigued by the idea of eVent Packa + chaps. There seem to be a lot of rain chaps in non-breathable fabrics. I presume somebody is happy with them, since they're still on sale. This puzzles me.

I have some Rab Hispar long gaiters, meant for boots, which are eVent for about the top 70% and non-breathable polywhotsit around the ankles. If I wear them with shoes, the bottom bit gets entirely covered with a film of water on the inside after about an hour. The eVent remains dry.

I wonder how rain chaps made out of silnylon, PU, cuben etc can be anything but awful, at least for a sweaty guy like me.

Is there anybody who'd only wear a breathable jacket, but would accept non-breathable chaps? Do you wear them loose and flappy enough to get ventilation, or something?

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Non-Breathable Rain Chaps on 06/20/2013 12:35:04 MDT Print View

Your topic caught my eye...I have an eVent Packa (and absolutely love it) and some MLD Rain Chaps in Cuben. The rain chaps weigh all of 1.5 ounces for the pair and I've carried them on every trip where it might rain but have never worn them! It's just never been raining on me hard enough to justify stopping to put them on.

The Packa is just easy...if it looks like rain today I'll put it on in "pack cover only" mode and then, if it starts to rain, I simply pull on the jacket part. When the rain stops it goes back into pack cover mode and it doesn't cost me any time.

I'm curious about how wet my pants would be if I were wearing my cuben chaps over them. My instincts are that I'd only put them on if it were really cold because, even non-breathable, they would really trap heat well.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
chaps work for me on 06/20/2013 21:13:39 MDT Print View

I too have a pair of very light non-breathable chaps. Not only are they very lightweight, they're also very low bulk, so I'm happy to toss them in if a trip looks a bit iffy.

It's not about staying dry, it's about temperature control on colder trips. In that context, breathability isn't important. Indeed, they can breathe a little better out of the tops than do rain pants, but those tops are typically covered with whatever rain jacket or poncho you're wearing, so ---
For me, chaps are something to wear if I'm *cold*, not just wet. I mostly carry them for insurance on some trips and rarely wear 'em.

One issue I find is that if I have on the chaps, I don't want to take off the jacket/poncho without also taking off the chaps right away if on a populated trail, because if you walk along in chaps and no jacket, folks look at you like you're a bit of a perv ... :-)

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Chaps on 06/20/2013 23:53:35 MDT Print View

I have a pair of cuben chaps from Zpacks. I bought them this spring to go with my Zpacks poncho/ground sheet. I wore them for the better part of a day in steady, cool rain and had no issues. They vented well out of the tops. I was wearing a pair of Arcteryx Rampart pants under the chaps and did not notice any any condensation issues. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I prefer non-breathable rain gear that vents to "breathable" rain gear that has never worked for me.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Do non-breathable rain chaps work? on 06/21/2013 00:01:34 MDT Print View

If you sweat in gaiters, then the rain chaps are going to be super sweaty. But is that really a bad thing? I would just deal with being a little wet. I think there are better things to spend your money on than some expensive wp/b chaps.

I don't sweat much on my legs so it wouldn't be an issue.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Chaps on 06/21/2013 08:31:14 MDT Print View

@Brian... It might be the black leather chaps over a spandex speedo that people are taking offense to...

I used to have some MYOG chaps that weren't very breathable fabric. Over shorts they were a bit sticky to my skin, but they didn't seem especially hot. Over pants they were fine. They were cut big enough to act as a chimney. When I "upgraded" to Gore-Tex rain pants those were generally hot and sweaty.

Corbin Camp

Locale: Southeast
neverwet on 06/21/2013 08:36:22 MDT Print View

If this NeverWet stuff is the Holy Grail of DWR, stuff like chaps and rain pants will be obsolete.

William Hill
(Rufty) - MLife
Re: Do non-breathable rain chaps work? on 06/21/2013 16:49:01 MDT Print View

I've got an eVent packa and love it. I've been pairing it with a pair of Berghaus paclite pants and they aren't so great, lots of condensation. Looking around I got a pair of Fjallraven "hydratic" chaps ( Fjallraven claim hydratic is breathable 8000 to 15000 g/m2/day ( Can't say how well they really work; since I've had them they've stayed in my pack an haven't been used in anger.