Lightweight Alternative Rainwear: State of the Market Report – Part 1: Introducing and Defining Alternative Rainwear

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Lightweight Alternative Rainwear: State of the Market Report – Part 1: Introducing and Defining Alternative Rainwear

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    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana
    James holden
    BPL Member



    Have you used such systems in alaska in the rainy seasons? I would be most interested to hear of such succesful use on a multiday trip under wet and windy conditions

    If i remember correctly even mr skurkas rain jackets failed in alaska …

    a b


    Thats the point Eric..
    Andrew Skurka's jacket failed.. but his adventure did not.
    The same failures happened to everyone i met after extended periods of rain on the trails.
    There is no perfect, fool proof, solution to rain gear, shelter systems, or anything else.
    Sitting back and expecting gear to do everything for us will leave us dissapointed.
    It takes strategy to succesfully use gear and sometimes even that isn't enough.
    Carrying 75 lbs of gear is no more a gurantee than 7.5 ounces of gear. Sometimes the results are the same and we all get wet.
    I met people wearing your favorite Arcteryx jackets, some wearing trash bags, some wearing ponchos, some with umbrellas, and others without any raingear at all.
    At some point on a long distance hike every one of those people had their raingear system overwhelmed.
    After meeting these folks actually out there hiking thousands of miles the one common thing besides that was their resilience and will to go on or try a different system and go on.
    I don't think anyone is claiming the "holy grail" of raingear and thats what will make this thread so interesting.

    James holden
    BPL Member


    I agree that will is important

    I own and sometimes use a sil poncho during the summer out here … However, hype aside, there isnt usually constant non stop rain during the summer even in the coastal rainforests of the canadian pnw

    I would not want to use it right now here … November in squamish is basically constant freezing rain where hypothermia is a very real possibility …. And i use a synth bag … Nor would i want to use it in the alpine where i need both hands free … Or in places in the rain forrest where the trails are faint to non existant

    The point is simply that many people infer their experience in one environment to be suitable for all environments … This is not saying you do

    However i do see quite a bit of post on bpl recommending equipment without regard to the conditions or even the users fit or requirements

    And conversely i see alot of gear on gear trade … I assume that at least some of it stem from recommendations gone awry

    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    I wonder if Andy Skurka's jacket failed because of long term wear on tear on the DWR finish. I'd agree though that no system is perfect and sometimes you're just going to get a bit wet. I got a heavier raincoat because of issues with my Golite Virga but we'll see if its noticably better. If not back to the lighter coat and the occassional wet out. I think if I expected a lot of rain rather than a heavier rain coat I might consider a second baselayer so I'd have something to change into once I was out of the rain. When your tired drying wet clothes with body warmth is no fun!

    James holden
    BPL Member


    Luke … I belive it was determined that the dwr failed

    Without a heat source to renew it …

    Now the interesting question is would 3 layer vs a 2.5 layer work better in terms in wouldnt have leaked after dwr failure … Or a non brethable jacket …

    Many people use 2.5 layer jackets just fine … However for certain conditions it may not be the best or even a safe choice

    Just like any other system

    Link .
    BPL Member


    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Good discussion everyone.

    The umbrella question I previously answered. Pretty much all the others will be answered in either the second part of this series, or in my upcoming SOTMR on sub 8 oz WPB jackets.

    Paul Schnoes
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Count me as an Umbrella fan! Though it may go against the "gram counter" philosophy, I carry one all the time. Even in sunny Colorado it rains nearly every day in the Mountains.

    Umbrellas have a long history in Ultralight Backpacking, (see Ray Jordine's books),but reviews like this one always seem to exclude them.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Folks, Ron Bell brought to my attention that the 7.5 oz claimed weight for the MLD Simple poncho is for the smaller size. The claimed weight for the large, which was the one tested, is 8.5 oz.

    Those weighing size v. grams would do well to take poncho size into account.

    [Now fixed in article.]

    Matthew Alan Thyer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific North West

    I use a compact umbrella while on long distance walking trips. I've found it very helpful in the Pacific North West in particular, but one thing this piece of gear is not and will never be is light-weight.

    Otherwise great write-up. I haven't used a poncho in a long time and it might prove way more useful when compared to the jacket-pants combo.

    Ceph Lotus
    BPL Member


    Locale: California

    I guess it depends on your definition of light weight. The Golite Dome Umbrella weighs in at 8 oz.

    Paul Schnoes
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    8 ounces for a multi-use tool for use as a rain top, sunshade, Tarp "beak", wind blocker, animal frightener(and if necessary a club), fishing pole, and more, or separate single purpose item to do the same. One of the hallmarks of a good lightweight backpacking item is its ability to do more than one thing.

    I will go with the very breathable rain gear and multi-purpose tool: the Umbrella.

    Check out 12 amazing ways to use an umbrella: … The light saber use may not be light weight backpacking at its best ;)

    wayne clark


    new zealand is full of narrow and or steep valleys, the wind often blows hard and upward ridges, and the rain can come up with it… not the best for staying dry with ponchos and umbrella.s

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