Selecting Packable Rain Gear

Packable Rain Gear - CloudBringing along rain gear is essential on any hiking trip.  Even if the forecast calls for sunny skies, it is better to be prepared.  Having the packable rain gear with you will ensure that you stay dry even if a passing shower appears.  The goal is to keep you warm and dry.  If you are cold and wet, is can spell disaster.

When hiking in rainy conditions, there is a constant battle going on in your head rather you want to put on your rain gear.  During a light drizzle, you would probably resort to your wind protective clothes.  But, when the rain gets harder, you inevitably have to resort to putting on the rain gear.

Varieties of Packable Rain Gear:

  • Rain Poncho:  The rain poncho comes in at least two varieties; Cheap clear plastic and more durable lightweight nylon.   The cheap plastic kind is great if you have nothing else, but I don’t recommend this for extended use.  I keep one of these in my pack for short day hikes (you

    just never know).  The more durable nylon ponchos are a great addition to your pack.  Many are designed for fitting over your backpack.  Some types even have grommets on the corners, so they can double as a makeshift tarp.

  • Rain Jacket: This is a hooded waterproof breathable jacket.  When looking for a rain jacket, make sure it has vents and all the seams are sealed or taped.  Rain jackets today are made of extremely lightweight fabrics.
  • Rain Pants: These can work in tandem with the rain jacket or poncho.   You are looking for about the same features; sealed or taped seams and lightweight fabric.  If your rain jacket or poncho come down to your knees and you have gaiter on, you may not need these.
  • Hiking Gaiters: These are leg and boot coverings that are designed to keep dirt out of your boots as well as protecting your legs.  They can also help by keeping rain out of your boots.  They come in different varieties.  Click for an extensive article about hiking gaiters.

When looking at any rain gear, it is important to look for these options:  Wicking capabilities (pulling perspiration away from your skin), DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coating, Sealed or Taped Seams, Venting and lightweight fabrics.

Purchasing a good quality set of packable rain gear is very important.  If you are planning to use this gear for a long time, opt for the slightly more expensive type.  If you go for the cheaper, heavier material or gear, you won’t be happy with it and then you won’t use it.

Breathable and Waterproof: (Double Prizes)

Most hiking rain gear is breathable and waterproof.  It will let your perspiration out while not letting the rain in.  The reason it can do this is because perspiration vapor is 20,000 times smaller than rain droplets.  So, there are tiny holes in the material that will let out the perspiration and keeping you a bit cooler.

Here is a quick video with Steve Curtis discussing packable rain gear in more detail:

Rain Gear Repair: (It’s Alive…Again)

Over time and use, rain gear looses it’s functionality.  You can reenergize the fabric by washing it in a mild detergent, machine drying and then ironing the outside shell on a warm setting.  (This may not be true for all fabrics, make sure to read manufacturer’s care instructions before attempting.)

Also, a lot of gear is coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) and it can lose the ability to repel water.  You can purchase spray water repellant to “re-seal” the fabric.  These work great to put the water beading properties back.  There are also machine washing products that provide the same treatment.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.