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Rain Protection
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Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
Rain Protection on 03/27/2014 16:21:47 MDT Print View

What is everyone's thoughts on the best rain protection and why? I am not too concerned with the weight.

I have a rain jacket and a pack cover. I am debating getting a poncho instead. I have used the single use emergency ponchos and like them but like the dual purpose of the jacket for weather protection and warmpth.

Has anyone with the jacket/ pack cover combo ever get water down between your back and the pack/ straps? I like idea of a poncho cause you can squat when poring and essentnially stay completely dry.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rain Protection on 03/27/2014 17:28:58 MDT Print View

"Has anyone with the jacket/ pack cover combo ever get water down between your back and the pack/ straps?"

Yeah! I generally consider pack covers as useless and do the trash compactor bag inside. When using a pack cover, you still end up with a cold wet pack to put on after it stops raining and you take your jacket off. Cold wet 3D mesh is lovely to have pressed into your thin base layer. Not!

A well designed poncho will keep you dry to your knees, cover ALL your pack, ventilate well and will cost 1/4 what a 7oz rain jacket might. A true backpacking poncho is much better than the toy-like emergency ponchos.

You get some minimal emergency shelter in the bargain. I carry one with an AMK space-blanket style bivy for my day hiking CYA shelter. A windshirt and a poncho work well together.

Take a step up and get a Gatewood and you will have a real shelter and rain gear for 11oz.

They aren't as good in wind or heavy brush. A little light cord and a toggle for a belt will help tame your poncho in a breeze. They do make you look like a tossed salad coming down the trail. Too bad :)

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 01:41:38 MDT Print View

I don't use pack covers, I keep everything that needs to be dry in ultralight dry bags and let my pack get wet. The nice thing about ultralight frameless packs is that there is very little foam padding in them to hold water (only waist belt and shoulder straps), so they dry pretty quickly and don't gain all that much weight (but make sure you have drain holes).

I don't like rain ponchos either. Too much wind, trail-side brush and ups and downs for me to wear a poncho... I also like to be able to see my feet.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 02:28:14 MDT Print View

You might also try an ultralight umbrella like the GoLite Chrome Dome which you can buy for $25. They are 8oz and will shield you from both rain and sun, which makes them much more versatile and functional than a straight-up rain jacket, IMO.

You also don't invariably get drenched with your own sweat when using an umbrella since breathability is no longer an issue.

The weakness of umbrellas is obviously wind, so you have to consider that. Still, I'd use my own Chrome Dome in up to about 20mph winds before I'd put it away.

Many will combine an ultralight rain shell or trash bag with the umbrella for extra security when it comes to wind driven rain/snow, or to simply use unzipped in conjunction with the umbrella, thereby keeping one's arms drier. That works quite well.

IMO, the Chrome Dome's sun blocking abilities alone make it worth carrying in any exposed terrain.

It also really shines where traditional rain jackets don't-- extended drizzles for days on end.

Edited by dmusashe on 03/28/2014 02:34:27 MDT.

John H
(pastyj) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 07:19:29 MDT Print View

>>I don't like rain ponchos either. Too much wind, trail-side brush and ups and downs for me to wear a poncho... I also like to be able to see my feet.

I had been seriously pondering a GoLite Poncho and you bring up my two biggest concerns. Seems like in tight, brushy areas or in the wind all that fabric flying around would be a real pain. And since I like to hike where there is a lot of elevation change, being able to clearly see where you are stepping is critical.

Anyone else have experience with Ponchos in these conditions? Am I worrying about things that don't need worrying about?

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 08:07:44 MDT Print View

There is always the Packa

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 08:31:54 MDT Print View

I use either DriDucks or an eVENT Packa. The Packa is almost three times the weight. (I always use a pack liner on the inside of the pack anyway.) I can't decide which I like better. Constant rain of 1 day or more often results in me bringing the Packa. But, it's certainly not a perfect solution. When I want to remove my backpack in rain, I can do that with the Packa still on. But then, the backpack is probably going to get wet anyway unless I'm already under cover while I access whatever it is I need from it. Then, I have to put a wet backpack on my dry shirt, defeating the purpose.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Belt? on 03/28/2014 09:09:35 MDT Print View

Does wearing a belt around the waist OUTside a poncho help much in windy situations?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Belt? on 03/28/2014 09:57:51 MDT Print View

You bet. You can overlap/tuck in the sides and draw the back panel up under your pack. If you use light cord, you can hook it over the top of your pack waist belt buckle (through the fabric) which will help keep it in place.

I use a long piece of cord with a toggle, so you can loop the cord over the toggle and adjust it. That gives you a nice length of spare cord too.

See for photos.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 10:14:21 MDT Print View

I have taken my Goretex jacket and put it over my pack rather than between pack and my back. Sort of like a Packa or poncho. Not big enough to zip zipper in front, but it covered both my pack and me pretty good.

I found that sweat from my body condensed on the inside of jacket, above the pack.

The WPB function of the jacket doesn't work unless it's against your body, so there's a temperature difference accross the WPB fabric.

So, maybe a lighter, totally waterproof fabric like silnylon or Cuben is better.

But, WPB fabric would be good for your hood and shoulders, so maybe the WPB Packa would be a good idea.

Maybe the optimum would be to have waterproof back, but WPB hood/shoulders/front.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 10:22:52 MDT Print View

The eVent Packa does indeed have totally watyerproof material on the pack part (33D nylon), with wpb eVent on the body.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Expected Conditions --> Gear Selection on 03/28/2014 10:27:49 MDT Print View

Rain vs Wind driven Rain. Often times the windy part of rain is the initial wave that comes and you can just take a break in some trees or behind a bush with your poncho on until the wave passes. For most rain I think a poncho or umbrella (with rain pants) is a great choice because it offers maximum breathability and good protection.

If you are doing a lot of exposed (above tree line, coastal etc..) travel where wind driven rain is of particular concern then I would go with the rain jacket/pants approach with trash compactor bag as your dry bag inside the pack.

Edited by randalmartin on 03/28/2014 10:28:43 MDT.

John H
(pastyj) - F

Locale: SE US
Technically challenging footing on 03/28/2014 10:41:12 MDT Print View

Anyone care to comment on their experience using a Poncho while hiking steep and/or rocky trails where attention needs to be paid to your footing?

The belt idea is one I have seen before and seemed like a reasonable solution to the wind issue, but doesn't cinching the poncho tight like that kinda defeat the ventilation advantage?

Edited by pastyj on 03/28/2014 10:42:28 MDT.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Brella + Dri Ducks. on 03/28/2014 10:51:48 MDT Print View

I use a Dri Ducks suit ( 10 ounces ) and a Golite umbrella ( 6 ounces ).

For heavy rain I'm pretty much sold on the umbrella idea. Believe it or not, I'm still hiking in and out of our homestead every day, the access road is on a steep north facing slope that holds ice and snow sometimes till early May!

My golite umbrella stays in my day pack that I take to work every day, and is very useful for warding off rain on the short 1/2 mile hike home or down to the car.
It gets used allot in the spring!

Out on the trail all day long, I do prefer to have the 'brella and a breathable rain suit. The suit keeps my legs and pants ( if I'm wearing any )dry and is useful for wind protection and is very warm to sleep in too, so it is a multi purpose item.
It keeps me dry when I have to set the umbrella down to do stuff.

The total weight of the combo of about a pound isn't excessive for me, I get allot of rain!

To keep my pack contents dry, I made a number of very light silnylon stuff sacks, and of course I use a few zip lock bags as well. Good enough.

Now, about umbrellas -

I reckon umbrellas are kinda like guns -

If yer gonna go through the hassle of carrying one, make sure the dang thing is big enough to get the job done right!

The tiny six ounce Golite umbrella is useful to a point but it really is simply too small. I've been looking for a bigger replacement. We have a few other umbrellas that we use and our favorite is a big golf umbrella. To heavy for backpacking, but it is like carrying a tent along with you!

Edited by Bawana on 03/28/2014 10:53:31 MDT.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 11:15:56 MDT Print View

"What is everyone's thoughts on the best rain protection and why?"

It really depends on the rain.

For example, I am heading out backpacing with my son's scout troop this weekend, and the weather is calling for "100% chance of rain throughout the day" and temp's in the high 40's down to mid 30's at night.

As much as I enjoy my poncho (S2S Poncho tarp), and I could easily "make due" with it, the weather tells me the rain pants & jacket are the right fit for me in this case.

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
cool - options on 03/28/2014 12:20:58 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the info. I really like the design of the Packa. Though, I am not in a position right now to pay $120. Got too many other goodies to get first - gettin new backpack and boots today woo hoo! Will get a sale priced poncho.

Has anyone thought of using the footprint of their tent as a rainshield?

Here are my daughters on a warm rainy day:
wet kids

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Whatever works! on 03/28/2014 12:40:49 MDT Print View

Heh, can't say that I have!
Necessity is the mother of invention though!

Dri Duck suits are about twenty bucks if you are on a budget, pack small and are light, make great wind layers too, even pajamas.

I do carry a large yet very light polycro ground cloth and figure it would make a dandy shelter for a lunch stop on a rainy day, set up as a tarp with the 'ol grab a bunch, twist 'n tie method.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Rain Protection on 03/28/2014 12:42:55 MDT Print View

>> but doesn't cinching the poncho tight like that kinda defeat the ventilation advantage? <<

If it goes over your pack you still get better air flow but but tying it up around your waist definitely reduces the air flow.

I just don't find that a poncho makes sense. For me to stay dry, I still need rain pants (I don't get to walk in "warm" rain, it's mostly cold, wind driven rain and wet underbrush). So if I add rain pants to the poncho it is a very heavy solution. My rain pants and jacket weigh under 11 oz (total), so it's hard for a poncho and rain pants to compete with that. I also just don't like the fiddly nature of the poncho (shifts around too much unless strapped down).

I use my rain pants and jacket as part of my layering/warmth system as well, a poncho is less well suited for layering.

Edited by skopeo on 03/28/2014 12:44:22 MDT.

McDowell Crook
(mcdcrook) - M

Locale: Southeast
groundsheet/poncho on 03/28/2014 12:50:50 MDT Print View

Can't beat this for the versatility and weight:

John H
(pastyj) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: groundsheet/poncho on 03/28/2014 13:11:07 MDT Print View

Nice piece of gear, but I'm not feeling it. Compared to the Golite Poncho it's slightly smaller, 3x more expensive and only 1.3 oz lighter. Willing to bet the cuben is more fragile than the Sil/PU nylon as well.