Should I bring rain gear or wind layers or both?
Jun 16, 2021 at 6:11 pm #3718960
I’m headed off for a 7 day hike in the Sierra from Ebbetts Pass crossing Sonora pass and then wandering around Northern Yosemite a bit. I’m having some decision making trouble about rain gear. I could
a) bring just Froggs Toggs
b) bring just Houdini and dance warm up pants
c) bring both
If I bring my wind shirt and pants, I will definitely get a lot of use out of them. They are comfy and add easy warmth. The Froggs Toggs are not particularly comfortable but they will work if it rains. I’ll also have my trusty umbrella. Right now I’m leaning towards wind shirt and pants since the forecast is dry. But a lot can change in 7 days. This is probably a case of “I know the answer already”, but I’d still appreciate the collective wisdom from BPL – what would you take?Jun 16, 2021 at 6:20 pm #3718961
Always bring a real rain jacket to the Sierra-that is my 2 cents. That will double as a wind breaker. For me, no need to carry both.Jun 16, 2021 at 6:45 pm #3718966Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
As you already know multi-purpose gear is the Holy Grail of UL backpacking. For me a light eVent rain parka is all I want to carry. Heck, I paid through the nose for my Dyneema Tarptent Notch Li solo tent ao why add more weight with a wind shirt?
A rain parka is a safety item so you can’t make the”either-or” choice of rain parka or wind shirt. It’s just as you said, should you add a wind shirt? I say no unless it’s short trip where you expect a lot of wind.Jun 16, 2021 at 7:37 pm #3718983DWR DBPL Member
ALWAYS TAKE A RAIN JACKET IN THE SIERRA… though it has a reputation for having little rain… it can actually rain VERY HARD and for days. I once check weather report the day I entered for a week… forecast was for sun and no rain… sunny forecast for a week. Well… two days in it started to rain and didn’t stop for a week… and I’m not talking just afternoon thundershowers… it rained !!! And it’s cold up high when it is raining…Jun 16, 2021 at 7:42 pm #3718985Luke SchmidtBPL Member
I’m going to be contrary and say bring both.
Bring the rain gear because getting wet in the mountains is a serious safety issue. I don’t care for the “I’ll get wet and hike till I’m warm” theory, been to close to the edge to many times. What if the sun just won’t come out?
Bring a wind shirt because it saves wear and tear on the rain coat. There are probably a dozen threads here about the DWR layer wearing off rain gear. My rule is to only wear my raincoat if its actually raining. My 3oz windshirt is a small price to pay to make my raincoat last twice as long. I don’t believe Frog Toggs have a DWR but they aren’t super durable anyway if I recall.Jun 16, 2021 at 7:55 pm #3718987
Just bring the rain jacket. Actually at this time of year, you should also be reviewing your mosquito protection. Nylon pants (like REI’s) don’t let mosquitos bite. Neither does a rain shell. Dance warm up pants will probably let skeeters bite. Bring sun grubbies for your hands, and a bit of Deet to spritz on them. And netting. sorry to drift! but the worst mosquitoes I ever encountered were in Northern Yosemite. I came out and people gave me a shocked look. My face was bruised, like I’d been mugged. With proper clothing, it’s not an issue.Jun 16, 2021 at 9:41 pm #3718994
@jscott I don’t mind the mosquito reminder. Mosquito head net is a must during the season. I’m living in the Sierra right now and just walked my dogs and wished I’d had a head net on. I was up in Tuolumne when the hatch happened around the 1st, but got out before they started really biting. But given the choice between mosquitoes and smoke – this year I’m picking mosquitos.
It sounds like you had a rough go with them. Yikes!Jun 17, 2021 at 8:05 am #3719020Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
There’s a tendency to look at gear that looks similar and say that’s a redundancy. A rain jacket and a wind jacket look similar so they are redundant, goes the thinking. But what if your wind shirt and wind pants are actually redundant with your sleeping clothes, not your rain clothes? What if instead, you slept in your wind shirt and wind pants and left the sleeping clothes home? I started doing that with my EE Copperfield wind shirt and pants and they’re like sleeping in silk pajamas.Jun 17, 2021 at 8:56 am #3719026Paul SBPL Member
Hiking in rain jacket when it’s windy (but not raining) is too hot, too sweaty, and if carrying a backpack it degrades the DWR on the back and shoulder of the jacket. Being that a wind jacket can be so lightweight I take one always, even if bringing rain gear. Hiking in a windbreaker is WAY more comfortable (in every way) than a rain jacket. And, if it rains, then, use the rain jacket. 4-5 oz. for decent windbreaker (or even less). It’s so lightweight and small (when packed) that I can’t think of a reason to NOT bring it.
I used to ONLY bring a rain jacket and thought that bringing a windbreaker along was silly. Not anymore.Jun 17, 2021 at 9:21 am #3719029
@Paul S, some good points, but if it’s raining, the rain jacket will see the same wear regardless. If it’s cold enough to need a wind jacket-I wouldn’t wear any jacket in warmish wind-a rain jacket with zipper venting would allow for adjustments for heat escape.
What may be a good compromise for weight is a real rain jacket and the Fauxdini that was recently discussed here. Cheap, very light-2oz or so-and compacts to almost a nectarine. It’s also really breathable.Jun 17, 2021 at 9:30 am #3719030
I wear a nylon long sleeve sun shirt that also deflects mosquitos. It also deflects wind to a degree. I’ve hiked for decades in the Sierra and at this time of year never needed to hike in a wind shirt or rain jacket, unless it was raining. Almost always I welcomed wind, unless I stopped at a cold pass. Then I bring out the rain jacket, which is a better wind jacket than a Houdini in those colder conditions. If I ‘might’ use a wind shirt once or twice for twenty minutes, but a rain jacket will do instead…I feel that I don’t need to bring the wind shirt. I can’t bring everything for every contingency.Jun 17, 2021 at 9:43 am #3719033Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
As my wind layer is very lightweight, I always bring it even if I’m bringing rain gear. I hate hiking in hot, sweaty, barely breathable rain gear, which means all rain gear I’ve ever used. Perhaps my UL bona fides are suspect!Jun 17, 2021 at 10:33 am #3719040Jim MorrisonBPL Member
@plinyLocale: Pacific Northwest
I always carry my Frog Toggs in summer because they are so lightweight. The top could act as a windbreaker, but I haven’t used it as such. However, I live in the Pacific Northwest where rain gear is one of the essentials year-round. The advice from people with experience in the high Sierras would be better than mine.Jun 17, 2021 at 10:52 am #3719045Steve ThompsonBPL Member
I am also in the “both” camp. I have the houdini jacket and pants (christmas gifts are great!), combined weigh less than half pound and provide wind, drizzle, and mosquito protection. For rain gear I bring a dcf poncho and if windy/cold with rain I’ll wear the houdini’s underneath. (i’ve not had to do that in the Sierra – have a 10 year good no rain to speak of streak going – but for fall hikes in the northeast I’ve worn it all plenty.)Jun 17, 2021 at 11:04 am #3719066
@ Steve You lucky dog. I would have loved to have a pair of the Houdini pants before they stopped making them. I really love my Houdini jacket.Jun 17, 2021 at 4:49 pm #3719089Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
I don’t think there’s single right answer here. A lot depends on:
a) how sweaty you are on the move
b) how frugal you want to be about the life of your rain shell.
For people who are sweaty or frugal, the wind-shirt is good value for its minimal weight, provided that wind-protection is actually needed. For many, walking in a rain shell is something they prefer to avoid unless it’s absolutely essential for safety.
While there are many others who are perfectly happy to use a rain shell as a single multi-use solution.
It’s really very personal.
But Diane makes the great point that a wind-layer can double as sleep clothing.
I like to project my down from body-oil, but have a good warm bag so rarely need additional insulation. A heavy sleep layer is very inefficient compared to putting the same weight into extra down in your bag.
Using a wind-shirt and pants is an almost-free multi-use solution. You get wind and bug protection during the day, and a comfortable sleep layer at night. Even if it gets slightly damp, it’s so wispy that it will dry on the body soon enough.
Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s the kind of insight that makes this such a great community…Jun 18, 2021 at 8:41 am #3719115Dustin VBPL Member
Totally agree with Diane. Wind and rain layers look the same, but are suited to different jobs, like a sledge vs a tack hammer. You need to decide if you can either adapt your technique for each of your expected uses or if you need to bring the specific tools. You can pound a 1/2″ tack with a sledge or a 6″ spike with a tack hammer, but you’ll need to be careful or resourceful to do it.
I hadn’t thought of using wind layers as sleep layers, though. Never tried silk pajamas, but this still sounds like an interesting idea. Hope I don’t slide off my pad. Now that I hear that Houdini pants aren’t made anymore, I’m going to be extra careful with mine.Jun 18, 2021 at 9:06 am #3719117
“sledge versus tack hammer…”Oh come on. That’s a ridiculous comparison.
My guess is that the OP will be hiking in either piece…never. At this time of year the Sierra are very warm. Of course, if it rains–and that would likely be from a thunder storm–she’ll want a rain jacket.
By the above logic, she should also bring two pairs of shoes for when the terrain changes; a tent AND a tarp and bivy for different scenarios in camp.
One can’t pack to fine tune all eventualities.
Oh and I find the notion of bringing a wind shirt so as to pamper the rain jacket silly too. when did rain jackets become too fragile to bear being worn?Jun 18, 2021 at 11:08 am #3719132
OP here. I run cold so I will definitely be wearing the wind shirt a lot if I bring it. At this point I’m leaning towards wind shirt + rain jacket. The rain jacket is Froggs Toggs so no worry about DWR. But it is a steamy tent to hike in and if it rains and I’m in a reasonable location I’ll just pull over and wait it out. I agree with the safety points of having the jacket though. It is not heavy: it weights 5.25 oz. I have a better rain jacket for real rain but it comes with a real weight penalty. I’m still mulling over the pants – I need one pair to put over my down pants in camp.
I love the idea of wind layer as PJs. I’ve got my sleeping system tuned, so am loath to mess with it on this trip, but I’m gonna give that a go on a shorter outing.Jun 18, 2021 at 6:59 pm #3719201Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I did a Sierra trip last year in July and after a swim in a cold lake, I put on my wind shirt and pants and laid in the grass in the sun and I was so warm I fell asleep. I just find so many times when wearing my wind stuff is what I need.
And yes, they’re sort of slippery to sleep in. It’s so much easier to roll over so it works out well for me.Jun 18, 2021 at 7:43 pm #3719214Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
To bring up another angle, we often take umbrellas as they are so much more comfortable to hike under when it’s raining and not too windy (have to bring a rain jacket as backup, so we don’t quite fit the UL mentality). Many times we found ourselves dry and comfortable under umbrellas while others were sweating away in so-called waterproof/breathable rainwear.
One time in Hawaii it rained every 30 – 45 mins, we just kept our umbrellas handy and opened them when needed. Other people were hiking in full rain suits and looked miserable, too much trouble to take them off and put them on again over and over.
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