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GoLite Reed Rain Pants REVIEW

The lightest waterproof/breathable rain pants available: nearly perfect, with one glaring problem - that we show you how to address "easily enough" without adding a lot of weight.


by Will Rietveld | 2005-10-25 03:00:00-06

GoLite Reed Rain Pants REVIEW


The Reed Pants are one of GoLite’s original products and have been around a long time. Weighing only 4.4 ounces in size large, they weigh half as much as most other nylon rain pants. They’re simple, light, and fit well. There’s just one teensy-weensy little problem…

What's Good

  • Very lightweight
  • Fully seam-taped
  • Simple elastic waist cord
  • Long inseam
  • Good fit

What's Not So Good

  • No ankle zips


Year Model

2005 GoLite Reed Rain Pants


Size L tested. 4.4 oz (123 g) measured weight, manufacturer’s specification 5 oz (142 g)

Shell Fabric

2005 model is GoDri, a polyurethane membrane laminated to a 30-denier nylon face fabric with DWR, fabric weight is 69 g/m2; 2006 model is Alchemy 2, a polyurethane membrane with silk protein inner layer laminated to a 30-denier nylon face fabric with DWR, fabric weight is 60 g/m2


Taped seams, elastic cord waistband




Two Backpacking Light editors tested the Reed Pants as part of a SuperUltraLight backpacking system (base pack weight less than 5 pounds) in the Pacific Northwest and Southern Rockies. Our combined impressions are covered in this review.

I want to point out the drawback with these pants right up front – no ankle zips. That means you have to take your shoes off to don or doff the pants. Bummer, especially when a thunderstorm is closing in on you. A smaller-size hiking shoe can (barely) slip through, but my size 11.5 low-cuts don’t make the passage.

These waterproof/breathable rain pants weigh only 4.4 ounces; 0.6 ounce below the manufacturer’s specification of 5 ounces and half the weight of many other rain pants. In addition to their impressively light weight, the Reed pants fit well. They layer well over other clothing but are not baggy. Articulation is very good (see photo below). The GoLite inseam specification is 32 inches, but I measured it at 34.25 inches, which is great for a taller person, and also for an average height person because the pants cover the tops of your boots well. The waist has a simple elastic drawcord that you knot to provide the desired stretch. The pants have no pockets, zippers, or other extra features.

The GoLite Reed Pants have a simple elastic waist drawcord that you knot to give the desired stretch (top left). Because of the pant’s longer inseam, they barely rise above the ankles when I bend my leg (top right). I like to wear my rain pants as an outer shell layer in camp (bottom left), and the Reed pants layer well over other clothing. A trick I use in camp is to wear my hiking shorts over the pants to protect them from sharp rocks and tree stubs (bottom right). Not the height of fashion, but it works.

The Reed Pants reviewed have the older GoDri waterproof/breathable technology, which uses a polyurethane-laminated ripstop nylon with a DWR finish on the outside and a matrix of harder polyurethane to protect the inner face. GoLite describes it as highly waterproof and “adequately” breathable. I agree. I have found in general that polyurethane laminate rain pants are fairly comfortable on the trail, more so than a jacket made with the same fabric, because the body doesn’t perspire nearly as much through the legs as it does through the torso. That said, while these rain pants are comfortable to wear in overcast, cool, windy, or rainy weather - when the sun comes out they need to come off.

On our SuperUltraLight and ultralight trips, we found that the Reed Pants worked in harmony with a poncho/tarp to keep our legs and boot tops dry while walking in the rain or wet vegetation. The lack of ankle zips was a major frustration, and we had a tendency to go without the rain pants rather than taking our boots off to put them on. In camp, the Reed Pants served as an outer shell layer over insulation.

We also tested rain chaps as SuperUltraLight rainwear, and found them to be lighter and well-suited for rainwear under a poncho, but they did not provide adequate coverage for the butt when worn with a rain jacket. The Reed Pant provided full protection from the waist down, was much better suited for wear with a rain jacket, and functioned better as an outer shell layer in camp.

The Reed Pants are made of thin, tightly woven nylon ripstop, which is much more durable than Propore (a laminate of a 3M™ microporous film to a polypropylene nonwoven, used in RainShield and Dri-Ducks rainwear), but not invincible. Thus, some special care is required to avoid puncturing or abrading them, causing them to leak. A trick I use in camp is to wear my hiking shorts over the Reed Pants, so when I sit on rough granite (as shown in the photo above) the shorts take the wear instead of my rain pants.

New for 2006, the Reed Pants have GoLite’s Alchemy 2 waterproof/breathable technology, which consists of a tightly woven nylon face fabric with DWR finish, a polyurethane laminate, and a hydrophilic silk protein coating to reduce clamminess. This is basically the latest iteration of polyurethane laminate technology. It is a step forward from the old GoDri technology, but the breathability allowed by the technology is still limited compared to Gore-Tex or eVENT. For rain pants, this is adequate, in my opinion

Since my wife and I like to make and modify gear (she does all the work), we couldn’t resist the urge to add ankle openings to the Reed Pants. We chose to keep it as simple and light as possible by inserting gussets with Velcro closures in the lower legs. The job was a bit tedious: she cut the seam tape and ripped the seam up 16 inches, sewed in a 17.5 by 10-inch triangle of silnylon, and added two Velcro closures. The modification expands the leg diameter to 11 inches - enough for my size 11.5 hiking boots to go through - and adds 0.37 ounce to the weight of the pants (total weight now 4.72 ounces). We estimate that adding zippers instead of gussets would add at least 0.4 ounce.

Our modification of the Reed Pants adds a simple gusset 16 inches high (left). We added a middle Velcro tab after this photo was taken. The pants roll up to about the size of a soda can (right).

What's Unique

The GoLite Reed Pants are the lightest waterproof/breathable nylon rain pants available.

Recommendations for Improvement

The obvious recommendation is to add ankle zips, keeping them as light as possible. Yes, it adds a little weight but the convenience is well worth it.


"GoLite Reed Rain Pants REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2005-10-25 03:00:00-06.